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Best transplanting technique for AV?

Hobart, IN

Can anyone please direct me to info on the best technique to use when transplanting AVs? I always end up damaging the bottom leaves. Thanks!

Northeast, MO(Zone 5b)

Here ya go. This might be easier than explaining because there are some great pics to go with it. Good luck!!

http://www.robsviolet.com/lessons/repotting_violet.htm

Connie

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

Well, I couldn't agree more with Connie's suggestions if I tried...

The point is to remove everything but the youngest leaves. Your Violet WILL look tattered but that's a good thing!

I've been through this catharsis with one of my Violets a few months ago and all I can tell you is that it has never looked better!

Hobart, IN

Thanks so much for posting that link! And the recommendation for removing the old leaves as well. I've had a couple of AV's for over 10 years and, while I pull off dead leaves off the bottom, I've never purposely removed live leaves. Some are several years old and look a little tired. Is it normal to use a pot one size larger or is the goal to keep it in the same pot by doing root pruning? I have repotted them every couple of years to give them fresh soil but have always returned them to the same pot.

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

If your Violet is that old, you might want to consider decapitating it and restart the crown. This rejuvinates the plant and gets rid of any neck. As an additional benefit, you can start with a much smaller pot.

Just cut off the crown and remove all but a few leaves, dip in rootone (or something similar with a fungicide) and plant into your favorite medium that you use for cuttings. Dome and wait. After a few weeks, the plant will start growing again and you can pot into your regular medium. It takes a few months and you'll have a much better looking plant than you started out with.

You can either toss the stump or just leave it alone. It will produce a few new crowns that you can pot up once they're strong enough.

I know, this sounds scary but it's an easy and rewarding process. :)

Hobart, IN

Decapitating does sound scary. I'd love to get rid of the look of the bare stem at the bottom. I had always root-pruned so that I could set the bare stem deeper into the soil. Is this a bad way of doing it? Is it true that AVs like to be pot-bound? Not that my roots ever fill the pot and I don't know why that is. Maybe I need an AV growing primer. :)

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

Yes, it does sound scary but it is very rewarding. The reason that your Violet hasn't filled its pot with roots may be that it has lost its vigor and needs rejuvination by decapitation.

This is a standard Violet a few months after decapitation which is in need of some leaf removal:

Thumbnail by bsimpson1972
Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

And that's the stump:

Thumbnail by bsimpson1972
Hobart, IN

I will admit that the leaf growth on mine far exceeds the root growth. Do both parts of the decapitated plant need to be under a dome? Or do they need bottom heat or special lighting? I'm tempted to try it with one of my AVs to see if unexperienced me can pull it off. Thanks for all of the very useful information!

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

I didn't dome the stump and only kept the crown domed for maybe 10 days. They root fast and resume growth within a few weeks.

You can do it. Don't be scared. This was my first time doing that as well. :)

Northeast, MO(Zone 5b)

Cindy,

Here is another link for you that you need to look at BEFORE you put your baby under for neck surgery aka decapitation. If you have never done this before, you might have success the first time doing this like Olaf but this will help you see what he is talking about. It is up to you to decide whether your A.V. needs the surgery or not. If it is several years old, I agree that it is something to consider. Don't want it to look like a palm tree lol. Anyway, I hope this helps you out and you are very welcome for the links :)

http://www.robsviolet.com/lessons/necks.htm

Connie

Northeast, MO(Zone 5b)

Here is one more you might want to look at:

http://www.robsviolet.com/lessons/restarting_violet.htm

Please keep us updated and good luck :)

Connie

Hobart, IN

More good info! The first "robsviolet" link is exactly what I've been doing but the roots just don't seem to adequately develop. And OF COURSE, I used African violet potting mix which the article says is the wrong thing to use. While my babies aren't as bad as the "palm tree" in the second link, perhaps it's time I try that on the worst of the group. And I confess, I don't repot them every 6 months. I do water from the bottom about once a week. Is clay or plastic better? Right now they're in clay pots that sit inside more decorative pots so that evaporation through the clay is reduced. Thank you both for the wealth of helpful info!

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

Clay vs. plastic is one of those debates that have been going on for decades and will probably never be resolved...

I have had good experiences with both while others haven't.

Unfortunately, it's one of those things that you'll have to find out for yourself...

BTW: If you go on YouTube and just search for "african violet" and you'll find a boat load of videos on propagation, growing, repotting etc.

This video here is about "decapitation":

http://www.youtube.com/user/m3rma1d#p/a/u/2/3E41MZG8Keg

Have fun!

Olaf

Hobart, IN

Thanks again for more great info!
For a standard AV, what's the recommended pot size for a mature plant? (Assuming that 10 yo AVs are mature.)

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

When you go to a show, you will be surprised what small pots are used compared to the, sometimes enormous, size of the plants.

Keep in mind that Violets in their natural habitats grow in rock crevices or similar situations with little soil around their roots.

So, while repotting should be done frequently, not at last to prevent fertilizer buildup in the soil, you can often put the plant back into the same size pot just with fresh soil.

I have rarely seen a standard Violet in anyhing larger than a 4 inch Azalea pot, while semis don't need anything larger than 2.5 or 3 inches. Minis can be kept in 2 inch thimble pots. All the pot sizes are for mature plants.

Northeast, MO(Zone 5b)

4" pot normally. On the large size A.V.s you can go up usually to a 5 " pot. You will want one that is shorter than the standard pots if you can find them. Kinda like an azalea pot.

Connie

Edited to say I am assuming your A.V. is a standard.

This message was edited Jul 16, 2011 3:20 PM

Northeast, MO(Zone 5b)

posts crossed. Sorry.

Hobart, IN

Good point about the natural growing habits. Two of my AVs may be in pots on the small side but when I repot, I check the root development. I'll have to check to see if I have anything in the azalea pot style here in my pot stash (OK - that sounded wrong).

(Lynn) Omaha, NE(Zone 5a)

LOL that's okay.I think all of us addicts here have a 'pot stash'.

Lynn

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

Someone call the police!!! ROTF

(Lynn) Omaha, NE(Zone 5a)

Between our pot stashes and lights running at odd hours I am surprised nobody has! ^_^

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

Add to that the weird language that plant people tend to be using and you got a conspiracy greater than "The Da Vinci Code"................ ROTF

Hobart, IN

Lynn - my family has kidded me for years about my indoor grow lights. They even make fun of my Japanese maple leaves.

(Lynn) Omaha, NE(Zone 5a)

LOL me too.Besides I have a Perennial that looks a little like marajuana ^_^.

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

One that always works is Cleome spinosissima before it starts to flower... LOL

Hobart, IN

I finally carved out the time yesterday to attend to my project. I ended up decapitating two of my AV plants because once I removed older, faded leaves, I had necks too long to bury in soil. They're now resting under inverted glass bowls to keep up the humidity levels. I'm even experimenting with the root stock of one of them to see if I can grow a new plant. And just for insurance, I've stuck some discarded leaves in water to root until I can get them in a container of perlite to root.
Thanks again for all of your help!

(Lynn) Omaha, NE(Zone 5a)

Let us know how they do Cindy.

Lynn

Hobart, IN

Will do. Getting up the courage to do the AVs also got me going on dividing florist cyclamen. Good thing those were dormant when I cut them up.

Hobart, IN

Reporting in on my AV adventures. I started with 3 AVs. The first one just needed a bit of a "neck" trim so took off some of the root mass (not all) from the bottom which shortened it up just enough. Transplanted it to a slightly bigger pot with fresh, lighter soil (added perlite to some Dr. Earth Premium potting mix). This one didn't lose a single leaf and is getting ready to flower. The other two needed much more dramatic surgery so I cut off just below the crown, dusted the cut bottom with some rooting powder, repotted in fresh soil and kept a plastic bag over them for a couple of weeks. They're doing great now and didn't lose a leaf on either of those. I did harvest some leaves and got them to root in perlite and they just got potted into soil this past week. I'm keeping them covered though until they show the first new green growth. I also tried to regrow one of the stumps but it didn't cooperate. All in all, a major success, mainly due to all of the good advice I received here! Thanks again for all of your tips!

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

This is great news! I love to hear this kind of success stories.

I know how scary this procedure can be the first time and remember just how squeamish I was... LOL

Happy growing!

Olaf

Hobart, IN

Couldn't have done it without all of the encouragement!

(Lynn) Omaha, NE(Zone 5a)

Good for you! ^_^

Hobart, IN

Hesitant about starting a new thread but have a question. If bare necks appear again as bottom leaves get "lost" and if I have space in the pot, can I top-dress with my potting soil rather than repot the plant again?

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

You can certainly take a bit of mix off the bottom of the root ball and then simply place the plant deeper into the pot. This works with a lot of other Gesneriads as well. However, with AVs, the "decapitation" at some point will be pretty much inevitable...

Hobart, IN

Had no idea about the "inevitable" bit. Wonder if these plants end up as shrubs in their native habitat. It also makes me feel a little better - that I'm not a total brown-thumb when it comes to growing AVs.

Chicago, IL(Zone 6a)

I would assume that in their natural habitat the main stem would be creeping with the oldest parts dying off and being replaced by new growth.

Hobart, IN

Very interesting reading about AVs and funds for preserving ecosystems in Kenya.
Do you fertilize your AVs during the winter or should I hold off on fertilizers til spring since they are all currently growing in fresh potting soil (Dr. Earth mixed with perlite)?

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