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African Violets and Gesneriads: Best transplanting technique for AV?

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Forum: African Violets and GesneriadsReplies: 37, Views: 196
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CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

July 13, 2011
5:26 PM

Post #8690819

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!
aspenjocop
Northeast, MO
(Zone 5b)

July 13, 2011
6:18 PM

Post #8690902

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
bsimpson1972
Chicago, IL
(Zone 6a)

July 13, 2011
7:30 PM

Post #8691024

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!
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

July 14, 2011
7:51 AM

Post #8691739

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.
bsimpson1972
Chicago, IL
(Zone 6a)

July 14, 2011
8:34 AM

Post #8691805

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. :)
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

July 14, 2011
9:19 AM

Post #8691890

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. :)
bsimpson1972
Chicago, IL
(Zone 6a)

July 14, 2011
11:19 AM

Post #8692082

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
Click the image for an enlarged view.

bsimpson1972
Chicago, IL
(Zone 6a)

July 14, 2011
11:19 AM

Post #8692083

And that's the stump:

Thumbnail by bsimpson1972
Click the image for an enlarged view.

CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

July 14, 2011
11:37 AM

Post #8692109

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!
bsimpson1972
Chicago, IL
(Zone 6a)

July 14, 2011
12:11 PM

Post #8692162

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. :)
aspenjocop
Northeast, MO
(Zone 5b)

July 14, 2011
1:49 PM

Post #8692329

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
aspenjocop
Northeast, MO
(Zone 5b)

July 14, 2011
1:53 PM

Post #8692340

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
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

July 14, 2011
3:19 PM

Post #8692497

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!
bsimpson1972
Chicago, IL
(Zone 6a)

July 15, 2011
2:22 PM

Post #8694377

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
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

July 16, 2011
10:16 AM

Post #8695872

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.)
bsimpson1972
Chicago, IL
(Zone 6a)

July 16, 2011
1:14 PM

Post #8696128

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.
aspenjocop
Northeast, MO
(Zone 5b)

July 16, 2011
1:18 PM

Post #8696133

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
aspenjocop
Northeast, MO
(Zone 5b)

July 16, 2011
1:19 PM

Post #8696136

posts crossed. Sorry.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

July 17, 2011
8:31 AM

Post #8697465

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).
lbrabec
(Lynn) Omaha, NE
(Zone 5a)

July 17, 2011
11:13 AM

Post #8697803

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

Lynn
bsimpson1972
Chicago, IL
(Zone 6a)

July 17, 2011
11:16 AM

Post #8697812

Someone call the police!!! ROTF
lbrabec
(Lynn) Omaha, NE
(Zone 5a)

July 17, 2011
1:15 PM

Post #8697977

Between our pot stashes and lights running at odd hours I am surprised nobody has! :-)
bsimpson1972
Chicago, IL
(Zone 6a)

July 17, 2011
1:39 PM

Post #8698009

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
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

July 18, 2011
12:38 PM

Post #8699896

Lynn - my family has kidded me for years about my indoor grow lights. They even make fun of my Japanese maple leaves.
lbrabec
(Lynn) Omaha, NE
(Zone 5a)

July 18, 2011
1:09 PM

Post #8699943

LOL me too.Besides I have a Perennial that looks a little like marajuana :-).
bsimpson1972
Chicago, IL
(Zone 6a)

July 18, 2011
2:44 PM

Post #8700097

One that always works is Cleome spinosissima before it starts to flower... LOL
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

August 15, 2011
6:18 AM

Post #8757207

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!
lbrabec
(Lynn) Omaha, NE
(Zone 5a)

August 15, 2011
11:27 AM

Post #8757785

Let us know how they do Cindy.

Lynn
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

August 15, 2011
12:51 PM

Post #8757893

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.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

October 26, 2011
4:38 PM

Post #8864943

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!
bsimpson1972
Chicago, IL
(Zone 6a)

October 26, 2011
5:16 PM

Post #8865003

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
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

October 27, 2011
7:49 AM

Post #8865664

Couldn't have done it without all of the encouragement!
lbrabec
(Lynn) Omaha, NE
(Zone 5a)

October 28, 2011
11:59 AM

Post #8867083

Good for you! :-)
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

November 4, 2011
9:12 AM

Post #8876197

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?
bsimpson1972
Chicago, IL
(Zone 6a)

November 4, 2011
9:32 AM

Post #8876222

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...
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

November 4, 2011
10:25 AM

Post #8876295

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.
bsimpson1972
Chicago, IL
(Zone 6a)

November 4, 2011
1:31 PM

Post #8876534

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.
CindyMzone5
Hobart, IN

November 4, 2011
2:04 PM

Post #8876581

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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