Performing African Violet Surgery

African violet

One of my seemingly millions of interests is the growing of African violets.  I am definitely still in the beginner category here, but I’ve played at keeping these little guys alive for a few years now.  In May 2014 there was an influx of purchased violets, which really solidified this interest.

Originally purchased to look nice on my desk at work, I quickly learned that the flowers fall off and don’t come back again easily on their own.  And also that these plants need a fair amount of sunlight and warmth.  (Up until very recently, neither of these came in ready quantities at work.)  So, the plants would look pretty for a few weeks and then end up coming home with me to care for them there.

Well, something exciting is happening.  The plant featured at the top of this post is (… get this …) actually getting ready to flower!  And in a big way!  You see, I keep them alive pretty well.  They stay nice and green.  But after some time passes, it’s tricky to remember which ones were which colours.  When you look at the photo, you can see some of the several buds getting ready to flower and can tell this particular plant had pink flowers!  Wuhhoo!

But today was no ordinary day for the violets.  I had two, long overdue missions – both involving surgery.  As in olden times, the kitchen table became the operating theatre and, there, I set to work.

Patient #1

The first mission was taking another one of the plants purchased last spring (maybe the burgundy one?) and separating it.  This guy had multiple crowns — which basically means leaves grew every which way because multiple plants began growing in the same space.

The surprising thing (at least to a novice plant surgeon) was there were a few other little guys in there beyond the two main plants. And so a secondary goal became giving the little guys a new place to make it on their own.  (More on that in a moment.)

Patients #1a and #1b

Pictured here we have our separated patients.  They should adapt and became quite happy on their own in a few days, I think.

The other little guys got mixed in with some new friends, which I will get to in a moment.





IMG_20150125_161707Mission number two was dealing with the plants I was propagating intentionally.  Back in the spring or early summer I tried my hand at a few different techniques of propagating new plants from cuttings.  The method that was the hands down winner was sticking cut leaves directly into the soil and waiting until little guys start to sprout.  And sprout they did.

In a single pot I placed three leaves and all three of them did their thing.  My goal today was to separate the little guys and get them into their own space.








Again, in my inexperience, I was thinking each leaf had started one new plant.  But that’s not the way it goes necessarily.  So, as with the first operation, there were multiple candidates for transplanting.

In the photo showing the candidates, you can see the three large leaves.  They were still in great shape, with some roots of their own, so I thought I’d try an experiment and pot them together again and see what happens this time.


IMG_20150125_173337These are all the transplant candidates.  Some are reeeeeally tiny.  Others will probably do just fine in a few days.  Once they’re happy, I’ll probably try keeping a few at the office and see how that goes in the new space — which has both heat and good sun exposure in the window.











IMG_20150125_173350In this photo you can see three pots of cuttings to begin some new plants.  The one at the bottom left is the retry experiment with the original three leaves.  The other two (bottom right) are new leaves cut from the plant I separated out.  Then other two on the right are the newly separated plant.

The larger plants on the left are just concerned family members who didn’t undergo surgery themselves today.

Well, that’s about it… hopefully in a few days there will be an exciting post about the flowering of the pink violet plant. :)