How to - Gardening with Kids

Kids and African violets

By
Tina Forrester
Photography by
iStockphoto®

Surprise your child with a leaf that grows plantlets!

Water plants from the bottom with a mild solution (1/4 teaspoon per 4 litres) of African violet fertilizer. Keep the soil moist but not soggy using room temperature water that hasn't been through a softener. African violets like humidity and one way to create moisture is to set the plant on a saucer filled with gravel and water, making sure the water level is below the base of the pot.

You can also create a wick system that lets the African violet to take up water as it's required. You'll need a recycled half-pound butter container with a lid and a length of pantyhose or synthetic yarn. Poke a hole in the lid and pull a one-centimetre wide strip of pantyhose or yarn through the hole. The wick needs to extend from the hole in the bottom of the flowerpot to the reservoir of water-the plastic container. Salts often build up in the potting mix when plants are watered this way. Once a month leach the salts away from the root system by watering from the top. Don't pour water over the plant's crown because this might cause it to rot.

African violets thrive at temperatures between 18 and 24 degrees C (65 and 75 degrees F). In winter, keep them away from windowpanes where temperatures can dip below 15 degrees C (59 degrees F). Most of the year, African violets prefer indirect sunlight such as from a window facing north or northeast, but in winter they enjoy southern light. Too much sun cause leaves to yellow and the edges burn; too little light and the foliage is a beautiful dark green, but flowers are few. Encourage your child to turn the pot a quarter turn every couple of days to help it grow evenly. To keep new plants looking tiptop and promote more blooms, pick off old blossoms and remove up to 3 leaves per month from the bottom row.

Related Web Sites
African Violet Society of Canada canadian
www.avsa.ca

Frequently Asked Questions about African Violets
www.avsc.ca/faqs.htm

Caring for African Violets
www.ianr.unl.edu/pubs/Horticulture/g182.htm

Get Growing Gardening Tips: African Violets
canadianwww.devonian.ualberta.ca/getgro42.html

African Violet Problems
hgic.clemson.edu/factsheets/HGIC2250.htm

Read more in How to and Gardening with Kids

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