FAQ - Blooming

Blooming - Chimera

Question: I have an African violet chimera that used to "bloom true" but now it is not. Do you have any reason why and will it bloom true again? 
Answer: Chimera African violets can be free sporting which means that they mutate easily. Stress factors such as uneven cultural conditions, age, or even electrical currents seem to affect African violets and result in sporting. Occasionally just a single leaf will sport and throw a solid blossom, while other leaves will continue to bloom true. When that happens, it is wise to take a blossom stem to propagate so that you can keep the original chimera traits. If it has been blooming incorrectly for several months, from all parts of the plant, it is safe to assume that the chimera trait is lost and it will not be likely to reappear. Happy Growing! Joyce Stork


Blooming - Grooming

Question: Once a flower or cluster of flowers is spend do you trim it back just below the flower or do you trim it back to the base of the plant at the dirt. The original crown of flowers on my plants are all almost done. I see new buds emerging but not to the extent as the first time. Is this usually what happens. 

Answer: Trim off the individual flowers as they fade, and when the entire cluster is gone, remove the flower stem by rocking it from side to side until it comes loose from the main stem. This trimming has the effect of increasing future blooming, so it is important to keep up with it. Happy Growing! Joyce Stork


Blooming Questions

Question: I just received some miniature African violets in the mail. They all have a full ring of leaves, but no blossoms. How soon can I expect to have blossoms? 

Answer: The answer depends first on the company who shipped them to you, and second on your conditions. It isn't usually a good idea to ship African violets with flowers since they often arrive in poor condition or with powdery mildew. If the grower has brought them to maturity before shipping, they should be setting buds very soon and flowers may be open in a matter of perhaps six weeks, providing that you are giving them good light conditions along with moderate temperatures, even soil moisture, and fertilizer. Happy Growing! Joyce Stork

Question: I've had my African violet for about two and a half years. It's growing great but I have yet to see a single bloom. is there something I'm doing wrong? 
Answer: African violets need several things to bloom well.

1) It must receive adequate light. African violets prefer to be within 12 inches of a bright window or 12 inches away from a fluorescent light unit that is turned on for 12 hours a day. If it isn't getting enough light, the leaves will usually reach upward.

2) It must be fertilized regularly with a balanced mix for African violets. There are many good brands.

3) African violets bloom best when in small pots, ideally only one-third the diameter of their leaves. A plant that measures nine inches across should be in a three inch pot.

4) African violets bloom best when the roots are well-developed. The best roots form in very porous potting mix that is kept evenly moist at all times- never saturated and never bone dry. We recommend a mix that is equal parts of sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite and perlite.

5) If the air is very dry, the flower buds may be drying off before they are even visible. Humidity levels of 40% are ideal. Check also to see if a vent might be blowing dry air across the surface of the plant.

6) Some African violets become vegetative, meaning they are so comfortable that they only grow leaves. To convert them to being reproductive, you must give them a little scare. Repotting is one method. It also works to tap the pot firmly on a hard surface to create a minor earthquake. This seems to cause the plant to awaken the survival-of-the-species instinct and it will often set buds.

7) Some varieties are shy bloomers. If you have tried all of these techniques and it still does not bloom, discard it and try again with a different variety that may be more suited to your conditions. Happy Growing! Joyce Stork

Question: I have several African violets. They are all in the self-watering pots. One is a mature plant that has been blooming regularly. Recently two of my African violets have begun to get buds as if they were going to bloom, but before they actually bloom they wilt and die. The leaves look really healthy. I fertilize when I water and they get natural, indirect sunlight 8-10 hours a day. Can you tell me what I am doing wrong?

Answer: I can make a few suggestions as to why your buds are not opening.

1) Low humidity can be a factor. African violets thrive on 40% humidity and when the air around the African violet is dryer than that, the buds can fail. This is especially bad if there is a dry air draft blowing across the surface of the plants.

2) Similarly buds may collapse if the African violet potting mix gets too dry. If you have been allowing the self-watering pots to go dry, this could be the problem. Once potting mix goes dry, it can be difficult to get it moist again because peat moss tends to shed water. In self-watering pots, especially the kind that have no drainage, it can be especially hard to restore the balance in the soil moisture. Repotting is often the only answer.

3) Powdery mildew is a fungal disease and looks like white powder. It can appear on many parts of the plant. If it should happen to grow on bud stems, it could cause the buds to fail. A fungicide may be needed to control it.

4) Cyclamen mites are a pest that feeds on the newest growth of the plant, which includes bud stems. If the center part of the plant seems to be twisting, gnarling, or stunting, or if the buds stems are growing in a similarly distorted way, you may have an infestation of mites. None of these are a certain diagnosis. There are some less common reasons why buds might fail, but these are the most likely. Hopefully it will be an easily solved problem. Happy Growing! Joyce Stork

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