Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Who's Behind the Name? Pat Champagne

I had only been in San Antonio for a few months, courtesy of the US Air Force, when I attended my first Lone Star African Violet Council (LSAVC) convention.  Having just arrived I didn't have a chance to groom any plants to exhibit so I simply attended the first year as an observer.

What I observed was something I had not seen before; perfectly grown miniatures and semiminiatures that were about 1/3 their normal size.  I was amazed at these oddities.  I quickly learned that they were all grown by a lady in Spring, Texas by the name of Pat Champagne.  It didn't take long for our paths to cross and so I inquired as to how she was able to grow these varieties so small (particularly living in Texas where it's hot and everything grows BIG!).  We'll, to my disappointment there was no secret and she couldn't explain it.  "That's just the way they grow in my house."  Over the years we became good friends and competed against each other every fall at the LSAVC convention.

I haven't seen my old friend in many, many years.  So Pat, if you're still out there...I have a Pat Champagne with your name on it!


What's Blooming in the Plant Room Today?

I snapped a few shots tonight and thought I'd post them.  I haven't grown these varieties in the past and find that I quite like them!  Don't forget to visit my eBay store if you're interested in purchasing plants.  Click here and I'll send you right there!

Friday, June 25, 2010

New Page - "In Search of...Lost Violets"

I've added a page (the link is in the lower right corner) that will document violet varieties that other bloggers are trying to locate.  If you know where one of these hard to find varieties can be found, please let me know and I'll pass along the information.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hortense's Care Package!

Hortense Pittman and I make it a point to send each other "care packages" a couple times a year just to brighten each others day.  Today it was my turn as I received a care package from her in today's mail!

She has several new varieties that I'll be propagating and making available next year.  I don't have all the descriptions yet but here's who they are:

Jolly Bells - This one was in FULL bloom when it arrived and the small, symmetrical foliage was COVERED (I mean LOUSY) with cute little white bell blossoms with a strong blue center.  Miniature.  This one is going to be very popular.

Jolly Happy Time - Description forthcoming!

Jolly Snow White - I saw this one in November at the Lone Star AVC show in Kerrville, TX.  It's a beautiful pure white (doesn't blush with pink) pansy atop medium green foliage.  Semiminiature.

Jolly Dimple - Description forthcoming!

Jolly Angel - Description forthcoming!

Jolly Jill - Description forthcoming!

Jolly Lavender - Description forthcoming!

She was also kind enough to send me a couple of previous releases that somehow managed to stay out of my collection.

Jolly Daybreak - (10018) 12/06/2008 (H. Pittman) Semidouble creamy white and yellow. Light green, plain. Miniature (TX Hyb) 

Jolly Champ - (9711) 01/15/2007 (H. Pittman) Semidouble-double red pansy. Medium green, quilted, wavy. Semiminiature

I will hurry to make them into beautiful specimen plants so I can photograph them and share them with you.  Hopefully it won't take too long!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Plants Under Lights or "Who Needs Natural Light!"

I must say, without any heir of boasting here, my plants look better this year than I think they have ever looked in the past and I'm growing at least 50% more this year than in previous years.  Perhaps it's the realization that I must stay on top of the general grooming/care.  You know, watering them when they need it, feeding them when they're hungry and grooming off unnecessary leaves/suckers before they become a problem.

I believe I've mentioned in past blog posts that I mat water 100% of my collection.  Living in Denver, CO where the average humidity is about 20% (on a good day) the added humidity mat watering offers certainly doesn't hurt.  I did also add a rather nice humidifier to the plant room back in March which keeps the humidity at a constant 45%.

The material I use to mat water is the same material used to line the inside of ski boats.  It's an acrylic based material that is very durable, about 1/8" thick and is capable of holding sufficient water for 3-4 days during the hot summer months.  In the winter, I can normally get away with watering on a weekly basis.

Here are a couple of pictures of one of my many fluorescent stands (it's actually four tiers but only three are pictured in the one picture).


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"A leaf with no purpose...serves no purpose"

I have people from time to time ask me what I mean by the statement, "A leaf with no purpose...serves no purpose."  Well, it's quite simple.  Leaves must serve one of the following purposes in order to be productive.  If they are not capable of supporting one of these areas, then it is usually an indication that the leaf should be removed.

Symmetry or Form - If you exhibit African Violets in competitive shows it's easy to understand that leaves create the symmetry (in the case of rosette varieties) or form (in the case of trailing varieties).  If a leaf is not adding to the symmetry or form of the plant, it is best to remove the leaf.

Propagation - Leaf propagation is the most common method of propagating African Violets.  Ideally, you want a healthy leaf that is still showing vigor.  When a leaf is no longer adding to the plants symmetry or form and is no longer a viable candidate for propagation, it is best to remove it.

Photosynthesis - Our violets, like other plants, use their leaves to collect light energy in order to convert it into chemical energy.  If a leaf has been damaged (by trauma or disease), it is best to remove the leaf as it's ability to contribute to the photosynthesis process has been greatly diminished.

So as you can see, "A leaf with no purpose...serves no purpose!"

s. clone grotei Silvert or "Where it all started!"

Saintpaulia clone grotei Silvert is a remarkable species.  I believe it and other former species have recently been reclassified as subspecies.  I haven't followed the reclassification very closely so I'm not an expert in this area but did want to share with you how well and free blooming some of the original African violets can be under the same care as their modern day hybrids.

A friend of mine does happen to be an expert in this area so I'll get the scoop on the reclassification and pass it along.

Anyway, if you're not growing this remarkable plant you should.  I grow it as a trailing variety and it does quite well.

Visit my eBay store at Hoovers Hybrids to see this variety and others.