Wednesday, August 19, 2015
I think I should have been more consistent about posting about my project plants. For the past month, I have been buried in my soon-to-be-released third book in the Community of Faith mystery series. (More on that in my next post.) My existing African violets are all in Oyama pots or double pots made of clay and are well-established, so they can tolerate a few days of neglect.
Not the project plants. Since it takes time for new plants to adapt to a new environment, I left the project plants in their original plastic pots. I added a plastic “saucer” underneath and started out by using the bottom watering technique. Sometimes, when I stuck my finger in the soil, it felt dry, despite water remaining in the saucer. Then I added water from the top.
One plant seemed to do okay. The second one, not so much. I put it under a plastic baggie, trying to create a mini-greenhouse where it might be happier. I kept thinking I should have done that earlier.
The plants continued to deteriorate. I couldn’t decide whether they had too little water or too much, so one day I’d give them water when they probably didn’t need it, another I’d let them go longer and possibly dried them out.
Panic set in.
Before I knew anything about letting plants adapt or tenting them in plastic, I’d take newly arrived plants and repot them immediately. They all did fine. So I decided I should try repotting the project plants, my last ditch effort to have them survive.
I did that this past weekend, putting them into small Oyama pots. I discovered that the soil, although dry around the edges, was wet around the roots. So I was probably over-watering them, not under-watering. The soil was much denser than I use. Another problem. African violets need air around the roots to breathe. I doubt my project plants were getting any air.
I am hoping for a miracle. While one plant has at least one semi-healthy leaf left, you have to look very carefully to see the two tiny leaves remaining on the other. I think I waited too long for my intervention.
At least I know it’s not totally my fault. At the last meeting of the Tucson chapter of the African Violet Society, I was talking to an experienced grower, a woman who has grown hundreds of plants. She told me she didn’t even take the project plants this year because minis and semi-minis are so hard to grow.
Just because I don’t want you to think I’m totally inept, I’m including a picture of my trailer. If nothing else, seeing all the flowers cheers me up.