Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pixie Runaround Sport anyone?

Last year I didn't propagate any of these great little trailers for sale.  This year I won't (rather you won't) miss out.  They are coming along quite nicely!  It is one of my favorite little trailers that just blooms and blooms!  And it is also very easy to propagate.  Win/win!

There be SEEDLINGS in those trays!

It feels like it has been forever since I posted a blog entry and apparently it has been!  Here is a sneak peek at some trailer seedlings I have been cultivating over the winter.  Hopefully by February I will see a few blooms!  Time will tell....the foliage parent is Alan's Fallen Angel...hence the variegated foliage!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Darth Vader has returned...sort of!

This was without question the largest flower on any plant in the LSAVC show and boy is it ever showy!  Although commonly referred to as "Florist Gloxinia" these plants are actually Sinningia.  In this specific example we have Sinningia speciosa 'Peridots Darth Vader'.

Streptocarpus Blueberry Butterfly

This was a STUNNING plant at the LSAVC show in Fort Worth.  I've almost purchased this variety several times but for some reason never pulled the trigger.  Now I wish I had!  UGH!

Rebel's Rose Bud

This is a GORGEOUS standard variety that made more than a few heads turn.  Simply gorgeous!  

Rebel's Rose Bud (9288) 11/12/2003 (R. Bann) Double light pink two-tone star/ruffled fuchsia edge. Variegated dark green and cream, pointed, quilted/red back. Standard

At Home with Hortense Pittman

I always take a few extra days when I attend the Lone Star African Violet Council show to spend time with my old and dear friends Ray & Hortense Pittman.  This year was no exception and I managed to capture a good picture of Hortense grooming some of her entries for the show.

Lone Star African Violet Council Show (2011)

The 2011 Lone Star African Violet Council Show is in the books and what an amazing show it was with over 450 horticultural entries.  I'll be posting some of the exhibits from the show over the new week or so.  So keep checking back!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Harlequin Blue goes Batty...just in time for Halloween!

I seem to be on a roll lately with Streptocarpus sporting on me.  Here's the latest.  This is occurring on a plant of Dibleys Harlequin Blue.  The flower shape is now "tubular" (trumpet shaped) and the color within the tube is yellow but the outside is still the original blue.  Strange but true!

Myfanway - a strange name but a pretty little Streptocarpus!

Did you know the general public goes CRAZY over strepts?  Me either!  Well, I didn't until I started putting them in my gift store.  Some months they almost pay the rent!

Here's a newer variety from Dibleys in the UK.  I'm not a "fan" (no pun intended) of the name but I do like the plant.  It blooms young, is very prolific blooming and the foliage is well behaved.  It should definitely be on your wish list!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Lone Star African Violet Council Show (a.k.a., Texas State Convention)

I'm just a few weeks from taking my annual pilgrimage to Texas to participate in the Lone Star African Violet Council Show (LSAVC).

This year it is being held October 27th - 29th in Fort Worth, Texas.  The convention hotel is the Crown Plaza Fort Worth South.  The theme of the convention this year is, "A Violet Traveler's Guide to Cowtown".  

The guest speaker this year is Dr. Bill Price from Vancouver BC, Canada.  He is an avid grower of the "other gesneriads" and is recognized as an expert on many.

If you're in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area come pay us a visit!

There be SEEDLINGS in those trays!

I sowed the seeds on September 22nd and 14 days later...presto!  Seedlings.  The mother plant is Alan's Fallen Angel.  The pollen parent is TOP SECRET! :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Doc...I'm seeing SPOTS" or "Me thinks Streptocarpus Cajun Shrimp has sported!!

My friend was kind enough to send me a starter plant earlier this year.  It was shy about blooming so when this first blossom came on I paid close attention.  Much to my surprise it has SPOTS!

It will be interesting to see if the spots continue or if this is a "one and done" type of aberration.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Lifecycle of an African Violet seed pod or "We're going to have BABIES!"

I think it is fair to say that my interest in hybridizing saved my interest in African Violets.  After growing them for over 20 years I had really lost my passion for the plants.  Fortunately my good friend Hortense Pittman kept putting a bug in my ear, "Why don't you do more hybridizing?"  So I took her advice and have once again embarked on the quest for the perfect violet! 

For those of you who may need a new challenge with your violets, let me introduce you to the initial result of crossing "this variety" with "that variety".

The first photograph was taken about a month after I crossed Rose Garden onto Alan's Fallen Angel.  The seed pod, as you can see, has grow to a nice size in only 30 days.

The second photograph was taken four months after the cross was made and the seed pods are fully mature.  I do allow the seed pods to fully mature on the plant (turn brown) before harvesting them.  Once harvested, I place them in a cool/dry place for about 10 days to complete the drying/maturing process.

The last photograph are the actual seeds that came from just one of the seed pods.  There are well over 100 seeds pictured.  The large, round, "plump" looking seeds are viable and should germinate in 7-20 days.  The other seed (the ones that look like dust...left side of the picture) are likely not viable and will therefore, unfortunately, not germinate.

Come back in about three weeks and I should have pictures posted showing the germinated seedlings!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Here's a tip for you...grow Interlude!

Interlude, (4935) 08/09/1982 (Eyerdom) Double silver-blue lavender star/white fluted edge. Glossy, ruffled. Standard, is one of the best tipped blossom varieties ever hybridized.  Unlike many tipped blossomed varieties that lose their tips in the heat of summer, Interlude shrugs off the dog days of summer and delivers a brilliant boutique of blossoms richly tipped in deep lavender.

I periodically offer starter plants and leaf cuttings of this variety on eBay.  My eBay store is http://stores.ebay.com/Hoovers-Hybrids


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Stand Your Ground!

Just what I needed, another stand!  This makes six!  Does anyone really need six stands?  Probably not but for some of us, we just can't help ourselves.

Yes, I bought another chrome food & beverage cart at Costco ($84) and added three lights from Home Depot ($29.86 each) plus Natural Light T8 bulbs ($35 for 10 bulbs).  I haven't moved anything to the top shelf yet which is why it isn't pictured.

I've been selling quite a few strepts in my gift store and really needed a stand that I could focus growing them on.  These stands come with five (5) shelves but I only put three up so I could get some space between the plant and the light fixtures.  Similar stands growing my miniature violets have four shelves.  I can grow 54 strepts in 4" Oyamas with this configuration.  I sell about 20 - 25 plants a month in the store so I just need to keep up with the rotation so I don't run out!  What you don't see is another stand (with four shelves) that has several hundred starter plants just waiting for their turn at the "Big Stand".

If you need/want a stand - these chrome stands are very economical and work very well.  Give one a try!

What's Blooming - Kohleria 'Manchu'

I don't grow many of the "Other" Gesneriads but when I say this one pictured I thought, what the heck...give it a try.  WOW!  This thing never stops blooming, produces vigorous new growth/chutes and seems pretty hardy.  It also doesn't seem to be overly sensitive to my inconsistent watering schedule.  Not growing any Kohlerias?  Give this one a shot.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What's Blooming - Streptocarpus Bristol's Black Cherry

This blossom is so dark, creamy and rich that it should be adorning some delicious dessert!  The foliage is just about as dark as the blossom.  A compact grower with a simply stunning blossom.  The foliage is neat and tidy. 

What's Blooming - Streptocarpus Butter Blues

I just love a blue/yellow combination and this one doesn't disappoint!  It does grow a bit on the larger side so if you're looking for something in the compact range this may not be the variety for you.


What's Blooming - Streptocarpus Black Tie Affair

If you're looking for the ultimate center piece at your next wedding, here it is.  David so appropriately named this variety.  The center is a dark purple (versus black) but that doesn't matter a bit....it's one of my favorite Streptocarpus to grow.  It stays quite small with very tidy foliage.  The blossoms are produced freely and in good quantity.

What's Blooming - Streptocarpus Franken Amy

This is quite possibly my favorite blossom on a Streptocarpus.  It's just delicious!  If there is a prettier bloom I haven't found it yet!


Friday, July 8, 2011

Second Bloom - True as the first

I believe I'm just about ready to officially announce the first chimera blossom ever to appear on a streptocarpus.  The blossom below is the 2nd blossom to appear and is also showing the distinct middle stripe.  Even more exciting is this bloom is on a completely different leaf on the plant.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Heartland's Peacock - coming soon to eBay

Dale Martens, the hybridizer of Heartland's Peacock, was kind enough to give me a start of this plant earlier this year.  I put down numerous leaf cuttings and I'm pleased to report I will have starter plants to offer in September/October.  Stay tuned!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm pregnant....sort of

I'm back at it making my annual early summer crosses which normally start to produce flowering sized plants around Christmas...what a great Christmas present to myself!  I'm far too picky about what I ultimately release which is why you don't see much in the way of new introductions from me.  I do have a few things showing great promise right now so look for something new from me in the spring.

This is Alan's Fallen Angel holding a few seed pods from various pollen donors.  If memory serves I put Baby Brian, Cirelda and Dancin' Trail onto it this year.  Time will tell.

Here's some general information on crossing.  Once you pollinate the seed parent it takes approximately four (4) months for the seed pods to mature.  After I harvest the seed pods from the parent I normally store them for about 10 days to fully dry/ripen.  I then sow them onto a dampened seedling starter mix with a tight, clear cover and place them about 8" below my florescent lights.  Germination normally occurs within 7-27 days.

So yes, it's almost a full year from initial cross to seeing if you've developed anything interesting.  Definitely not a hobby for the inpatient!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chimera Streptocarpus?

I arrived back from Paris today to find this very interesting blossom on a plant of Streptocarpus 'Texas Hot Chili'.  It appears the blossom has sported into a chimera bloom.  I haven't see this before on a Streptocarpus so am finding it quite interesting.  Now the question is...can it be successfully propagated?  I don't know yet but I intend to find out!

Time to Pack the Violets

My least favorite activity associated with selling African Violets is the packing and shipping.  These 36 boxes have over 120 plants packed away.  It's no small feat packing orders so they arrive in perfect condition.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Finally! Shirl's Blue Passion

After patiently waiting for almost THREE YEARS I finally got a starter plant of Shirl's Blue Passion.  

I have already put leaves down and will have starter plants in 2012!  I know, you have to wait a year.  On the upside, you don't have to wait three!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Shirl's Pearl Pink - A great tribute to a great lady!

Shirl's Pearl Pink is one of the last varieties Shirley Sanders hybridized before her passing.  In fact, the seed pod that contained this gem had not been sown prior to her passing and was given to Steve Spachek by Shirley's husband Sandy.

Steve took great care with these final seed pods and made several seedlings available to a few of us at the Texas State Convention in 2009.

While you might look at this plant and remark, "Nice show plant", it's not a show plant at all.  It's one of my stock plants that I have growing and I just happened to notice the remarkable display it was putting on this past weekend.  No, I didn't groom it...disbud it...nothing.  It just did this with no persuasion on my part.

Try growing this variety for yourself.  I'm sure you'll enjoy growing it as much as I do.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rainbow's Peewee Nocturne

It's funny how some varieties just seem to hang around my collection and Rainbow's Peewee Nocturne is one of those that continues to hang out.

I originally got this plant from Patricia Champagne (Hortense Pittman's hybrid, Pat Champagne is named after her) who always seemed to find little gems to grow for show.  Pardon my picture taking abilities...the year was probably 1987 and digital cameras didn't exist yet.  Fortunately, I took a lot of slides back then which seemed to hold up better than standard prints.

I do offer this variety for sale on eBay from time to time.  But you've just got to keep your eyes peeled!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pixe Runaround Sport: A Great Trailing Chimera

I'm not a huge fan of chimera (striped) blossoms as they are difficult to propagate and aren't very useful in my hybridizing program.  However, I came across this trailing chimera a couple of years ago and it quickly became a favorite of mine.  I should have a few for sale on eBay this summer.

Monday, March 28, 2011

eBay: A Pretty Good Outlet for the Larger Grower

I am often asked if I only sell my violets on eBay and the answer to that question is largely, yes.  There are of course some exceptions but those usually involve the selling of blooming extras at my gift store.  Why do I only sell my violets on eBay?  Here are the main reasons:

1.  I don't have another outlet.  Unlike like other growers, I don't maintain a separate website for the violets.  I suppose I could but I'm sure given the lack of free time that I have I wouldn't be able to keep it current which would only serve to frustrate me and my customers.

2.  I like to sell on eBay because it allows me to sell what is available, when it's available.  How often do you order from a grower via a list only to get a bunch of substitutes?  By selling on eBay the buyer is NEVER disappointed with substitutes...they will ALWAYS receive the variety they purchased...always!

3.  I like to sell on eBay because I can usually get a fair price for my plants.  I know the word "fair" is rather subjective but consider the time invested in raising a starter plant.  It takes me about 8 months to grow out a plant to the size that I ship.  Consider the labor involved and the cost of the supplies (electricity, water, fertilizer, etc...) required to nurture the plants.  So yes, I feel at a minimum I should be able to charge $1.00 for every month I care for the plant.  Growers who are selling plants for $3.50 are just nuts...plain and simple. 

4.  I sell on eBay because I can reach a much larger audience.  Any seller who thinks they can drive as much traffic to their website as eBay can drive to an individual listing has lost touch with reality.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Great Semiminiatures for Show

Here's my list of "Must Grow" semiminiatures.  Pssst...Kurt...these are semiminiatures!

1.  Precious Pink (Pittman) - I don't care, it's still the reigning champion hands down!
2.  Dean's Cupid (H. Hobbs) - You've probably never grown it...and shame on you!
3.  Beginner's Luck (Pritchet) - Hortense Pittman gives it a thumbs up...so do I!
4.  Rob's Fuzzy Navel (Robinson) - The name is creepy but the plant is awesome! 
5.  Sweet One (Pittman) - A lost treasure.  Picture perfect.
6.  Pat Champagne (Pittman) - Great lady...great plant! 
7.  Jolly Frills (Pittman) - D'oh...just look at it!  AWESOME!
8.  Irish Angel (Egenites) - Class never goes out of style!
9.  Bogeyman (Scott) - What?  You've never seen it?  Newbie!
10.  Ness' Crinkle Blue (Ness) - No, I didn't forget about this perpetual winner!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Great Miniatures for Show

I was going to do a "Top 10" but once I started listing varieties it was not possible to limit it to ten.  They are presented in no particular order.

p.s.  Ann-Marie gave me grief for not adding comments on each one like I did the semis so I've come back and added my two-cents!

1.  Cloud Puff (Pittman) - This girl kicks butt.  Seriously...you need to grow it!
2.  Honey Puff (Pittman) - Sweet!  Get it...Honey = Sweet?  Nevermind!
3.  Jolly Orchid (Pittman) - Heaviest blooming plant I've ever seen - no kidding.
4.  Windsome (Pittman) - Look at the picture - nuf said!
5.  Petite Jewel (Pittman) - Definitely a jewel of a plant.
6.  Petite Tart (Pittman) - Don't let the "plain Jane" description fool you.
7.  Rob's Chilly Willy (Robinson) - Really nice - really!
8.  Jolly Diamond (Pittman) - Oh, aren't you growing this one?  Fool!
9.  Petite Blarney (Pittman) - "I don't like girl foliage" - that's what I used to say!
10.  Tamsen (A. E. Adams) - You've probably never grown it...and you should!
11.  Damas (A. E. Adams) - OMG!  Can't believe this one isn't on everyone's shelf!
12.  Precious Red (Pittman) - Hortense's BEST miniature (did I just say that?)
13.  Texas Space Dust (Pittman) - Oh, Hortense's 2nd BEST miniature!
14.  Pink Dove (Sorano) - Overlooked but not overrated.  Grow this one!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Caught Up?

I must say I was quite surprised when I discovered I had potted up all the starter plants from my leaf trays.  That's not to say in another 6 weeks I won't have another crop to deal with but for the moment - I'm caught up!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Introducing, "Chuckles"

Yes, it's been far too long since I posted anything and even longer since I had a new release.  I've been playing with this plant for about three years now and finally decided it's worthy of releasing.

The plant is named in honor of my faithful four legged companion Charlie.  "Chuckles" came to be when I was taking pictures last year and told Charlie to "smile".  He obliged so I've called him "Chuckles" since.  The formal description is:

Chuckles (D. Hoover) - Double white star with pink center/eye.  Medium green, quilted foliage.  Miniature.