African Violet Blog

Welcome to my blog! I plan to blog about all things African violet and related to that end. I hope you will find it interesting, and maybe even learn something new. More importantly, I hope to learn from you, so please feel free to add your comments, critiques, and criticisms at the bottom of the page. Thanks for visiting TheFranklinhouse!

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July 27, 2011

Wow, I can't believe it's been so long since I posted last. Sorry for that long gap, I'll try not to let it happen again if I can help it. I'm not sure where you're located, but many parts of the United States have been under a major heat wave for the past several weeks. For us that means heat indexes in the triple digits.

As this is a violet blog, I blog about violets. But, for any of you that follow TheFranklinhouse on facebook, you also know I am into outdoor gardening as well. Since the heat wave started, and because we have a water ban where we live, you can only water with watering cans filled from the inside. This makes watering my many many flower beds, perennial gardens, vegetable gardens and potted annuals especially challenging. So, that's what's been taking all my time. Keeping the outdoor gardens alive in a heat wave, as well as keeping up with the indoor violets, has me constantly watering.

So, what has this got to do with violets you ask? Well, I'm getting to that. When I started watering a few weeks ago, I noticed all my hydrangeas were blooming pink. The problem with that, is that they are blue hybrids. Why are they blooming pink? Well, it's because of my soil conditions. If I wanted them to bloom true to their variety, I'd have to give them Miracid. So, that's what I started to do.

What was incredible, was how fast the blooms reacted. On the same bushes, I had both pink blooms, which opened before I watered with Miracid, and, I had blue blooms, which opened after I watered with Miracid. Also, I'm not talking subtle changes. I'm talking about getting clear and bold color changes. On one bush, that blooms with more bold colors, you can see where the first bloom to open was pink, and the second bloom opening is a true blue. On another pastel bush, you can see both a light pink and a light blue bloom on the same bush. And, on the other pictures, you can actually see on the same blossom the petals change from pink to blue.

Here's where I get to the violets. This made me remember a violet presentation where the presenter, (I wish I could remember who it was) mentioned that they used Miracid to feed their violets. This makes me want to do an experiment. I want to see what Miracid does on violets. Since I'm not willing to risk my entire collection, I am going to try it on one variety. I currently have three plants of 'Spring Cardinal.' I plan to water one with Miracid. It ought to be interesting to see what happens. Especially since this is a variegated variety. I am also growing them near each other on the same shelf, and they seem to all be doing about the same thing and growing at the same rate. I think this will be a good experiment. I am going to give it about three weeks, to see if I notice anything different in the variegation of the new growth. Plus, I want to let it bloom, to see if I get a deeper color as well as any increase in flower count. So, anyone else out there ever use Miracid to feed their violets? If so, please tell me your experience. In the meantime, stay cool!




July 7, 2011

Oops, I almost forgot to show you the plants I actually bought at the Illinois state show. I say I actually bought them because it's rare that I buy a plant. I prefer to start leaves. Even when I do get a plant, I still start my own leaf. I never add a new plant to my collection. The only thing I ever add to my collection is a plant that I have propagated myself and grown out myself. So far, knock on wood, I have not had any pest infestations since I have been growing at my house.

Anyhow, I think I mentioned that the plants I bought at the show are all weeds! No, I'm not converting, just expanding slightly. I bought four different types of plants. One Episcia, one Kohleria, one Columnea, and one I have no idea any more what it is, I need help. Here are the four plants:

The one with the little yellow flower is my mystery plant. I can't remember what it is. The only label on the plant says 'Jim's Hall's Choice.' I have no idea what that means. And, I don't know enough about the weeds to identify it myself. Anybody that can help me on this? I would really appreciate it.

In the meantime, I am going to give these little guys a try. Right now they are on my counter with a table-top grow light. I am treating them like violets. If I should be doing something differently with them, again, someone please let me know.

I am particularly excited about the Columnea 'Broget Stavenger,' because I saw a huge one at National and it was just spectacular. Mine is about 1/50th the size of the one at National. I have no idea how long it takes these things to grow. Wish me luck!

July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day everyone! I hope everyone is having a safe and happy holiday. I realized as I was going through my pictures from the Illinois state show, that I didn't even get pictures of all of my own plants. But, I did get a few, so here they are. Also, I'm happy to announce that I entered my very first episcia in a show, and I'm proud to say it did very well. I even heard through the grapevine that it was being considered for a best in class. That's way cool for a violet grower like me. As I mentioned before, the weeds can be kind of catching. I now have about a half dozen various weeds. I'll let you know how I do with them.

Little BusybodyJolly Ace

Episcia 'Silver Skies'

July 2, 2011

Well, I've had a few weather issues over the past week or so. A couple of days without power, followed by several more days of random power outages, have been very challenging. Couple that with extremely hot weather, and you've got a problem when it comes to growing violets. No lights while the power is out and very hot may have been a good thing, since I didn't need the extra heat from the lights. But, then again, if I had power I'd have the a/c on, so it wouldn't matter. Bottom line, violets don't like extreme temperature changes, especially when that change leads to very hot temperatures. And by hot I mean about 99 degrees or more in the plant room. I am already seeing browning on some of the leaves, and I'm sure I will continue to see more damage over the next several weeks.

However, I still have a few more things I want to show you from the Illinois state show and sale last weekend. We had some great vendors there selling plants. It felt like a mini National. There was Rob and Olive Robinson from the Violet Barn. They had a beautiful display and tons and tons of plants for sale. Gary Mikita was there from out of Africa. He had a ton of "weeds," as I call them, meaning the other gesneriads, and that would include episcias and such, which I have a newfound appreciation for. More on that later.

Anyhow, also selling violets were Richard and Lana Gernady, who in addition to selling and growing violets, also run a wonderful shop called The Cat's Meow gifts, in Glenview, Illinois. There was a table from Charles Snyder, with beautiful plants from Violets by Snyder. And, there was a table of violets sold by Fox Valley club members Tomi Griesenauer and Patricia Nichols. All in all, there were a boatload of goodies to choose from, and even the most disciplined, ahem, could not walk out of that room without several new plants. Ironically, none of them were African violets. (What have I done?? I fear I have been bitten by the "weed" bug.)

June 29, 2011

We had about 80-90 plant entries at the Illinois state show and sale this past weekend. Here are some pictures of the plant exhibits. If you participate or attend a local or state show, I'd love to see what's growing in your neck of the woods. Send me your pictures. In the meantime, here are some entries from the show.

June 28, 2011

Hello folks. Yesterday, and over the next few days, I will be posting pictures from the Illinois AVS show and sale from this past weekend at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Here are just a few pictures of the show tables. Next, I have individual plant pictures from the show to post. I will also have pictures of the sales vendors, and some people pictures, to show you some of our participants. Now, I have to go and water some plants. Ta for now.

June 27, 2011

Whew, what a weekend. I spent yesterday and the day beforeat the 2011 IAVS Annual Spring Show and Sale. It is held at a beautiful venue, the Chicago Botanic Garden. It was a lovely room, surrounded by windows which viewed the Garden on all sides. One side was the Bonsai Gardens, which were particularly beautiful. But, we are here to talk about the violets, so this is what I shall do.

Anyone who has ever chaired a show or worked in a show knows how long the hours can be. I was there Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., on my feet and running around, with the exception of a quick lunch. I'm awfully tired today, but I wanted to send a quick post to show you the top winners. I'm proud to say that my local club, Fox Valley African Violet Society, did very well, taking several of the top awards. Congratulations to them, and all the winners this weekend. Here is the winner of the Best in Show with her Best Mini 'Rob's Jitterbug,' Tomi Griesenauer. Judi Dupont sports her winning Best Standard of 'Sonoma Mystique,'. And, I am there with the Best Semiminiature, 'Ness' Sno Fun.' Also shown, Best Trailer 'Linda Darnell,' won by Lana Gernady from Barrington Bloomers.

Over the next several days I will show you more pictures from the Illinois state show and sale. Stay tuned!

June 21, 2011

Once again, my Texas friends came through! Thank you to Aron Johnston for these photos from the Denton, TX workshop that just happened this past weekend. I had previously posted a notice about this event. It turned out to be a huge success. About eighty people made it through the workshop, seeing continuous programs by Hortense Pittman, Bill Foster, Danny Tidwell, Richard Nicholas, Janet Castiglione and Barbara Kelly. The Masters taught programs all day long on minis, trailers, all types of violets, episcias and more! Can you imagine all that information in one arena? I am soooo jealous of the people that got to go to that workshop. Plus, they had sales tables and from what I heard, the best BBQ pulled pork west of the Mississippi. Food, friends and violets — I can't think of a better combination. All that was missing was me, (and cupcakes). :) Anyone who attended want to weigh in on the workshop? Let us know about your day. Go on, rub it in!

Click on the image to see a larger image and caption.

June 19, 2011

Hello everyone. One thing I have never talked about before are streps. No, it's not a disease, but a cousin of the African violet, so to speak. The correct term is Streptocarpus, but they are often called "streps." Back in the day, when I had many more plant stands, I used to grow streps. I even got Best Gesneriad one time at an AVSA judged show. Now, unfortunately I only have two stands, and I simply don't have room to grow them anymore. But, I still love them. I think they're just beautiful, and the varieties becoming available are just more and more gorgeous.

Dale Martens, from Illinois, is a famous Streptocarpus hybridizer. She really produces some beautiful hybrids. Below is a picture of 'Texas Hot Chili,' one of Dale's streps, grown by Richard Nicholas and photographed by Anne Nicholas. Thanks Anne for the photo, keep 'em coming!


June 14, 2011

Hear ye, hear ye, major announcement! Did I mention that the Illinois state show is just around the corner? (Check my June 1, 2011 post for show details). Well, we just happen to have violet celebrities Rob and Olive Ma Robinson, of the Violet Barn, right here in Illinois! Yes folks, they will be here for two days at the show, selling plants and giving programs. Pick out your very own plants from their huge selection of varieties. Now you don't have to go to National to see a stellar program and pick out your very own plants to take home.

On Saturday, June 25, 2011 Rob will give a presentation on his hybridizing secrets. On Sunday, June 25, 2011, Olive will give a presentation on Interpretive Plant Arrangements. Anyone who's ever seen Olive's designs knows this is a "can't miss." Don't miss a great show and two great presentations. Be there or be square!


Dr. Ralph "Rob" Robinson and Olive Ma Robinson and their furry family.

June 12 , 2011

Woo hoo fellow bloggers! I'm so excited! I got some e-mail and pictures from a reader and fellow violet grower that I get to post for you. And guess what, they're from Texas! I'm telling you, gotta' love those Texans! (And I do). I'm doubly excited because this is from a young grower who's just getting back into violets, and we all know, the violet world needs more young people. Thanks Chris, and welcome back to violets!

Chris is going to get a special prize package from me, for being the first person to send me violet info. for my blog. I'll tell you what it is after he gets it, because I want it to be a surprise. With his permission, here is Chris's post and some pictures of him and his violets. Great job Chris, keep up the good work. (Photos by Chris Abdo)

"These are some pictures of me and my violets. I grow mostly minis and semiminis because I don't have very much space, only three shelves. 1 shelf is full of leaves that are sprouting and the other has some AVs that I just got a few weeks ago. In the picture of me there is 'Ma's Crime Scene,' 'Rob's Jitterbug,' and 'Damas.' The other pictures are of 'Damas.' I really like that its color varies so much, the older blooms are white with pastel pink netting, and the younger blooms or hot pink with green edging. It also really contrasts with the very dark foliage. I have 8 african violet plants right now, and those three are the ones blooming. They are all pretty young. I hope to get a lot more though. A little bit about myself, I am a month or so away from graduating from the University of North Texas with my music degree in voice. I've been a voice teacher for about a year now and sing opera, other classical vocal genres, and pop. I just started getting African Violets again and it's such a fun hobby! I love it. I grew some when I was 13 or so but because I traveled a lot at the time I couldn't keep the hobby going...until now :) I love your blog and all your pictures of the AVSA convention!"




June 10 , 2011

A big thank you to Anne Nicholas, who sent me this news release about a special workshop being held in Texas next weekend. Y'all know how much I love Texas! This workshop has several times set aside where you can plant and mingle with some of the "big boys" (and girls). And I'm not saying big because everything's bigger in Texas, these are some top-name violet growers at this event — Anne and Richard Nicholas, Dr. Bill Price, Danny Tidwell, Bill Foster, to name just a few. Between the folks at this workshop, you can learn how to grow ANYTHING. From all varieties of violets, standards to trailers, and the different "weeds" (ok, gesneriads and such), you can get instruction and direction at this workshop. If I could be there I would! I should be able to get some pictures from the workshop after it's done, and I'll post them for you. Anyone attending, keep me posted!

June 8 , 2011

Hi there. I know I told you that I was done talking about the 2011 AVSA National convention. But, as it turns out I'm not. The one thing I didn't show you from the convention was the plants that I entered. So, for better or for worse, here they are/were. They all got blue ribbons.

I still am trying to have something ready for the Illinois state show. As it turns out, I did not disbud in time. (I know I know, you're getting tired of hearing me whine about this). But this time it's because I was trying to get them to bloom in time for National. By the time I realized that they were not going to be blooming enough for National, it was already too late to disbud them for state. But, I did anyhow, and the end result is the same, no flowers yet. I'll keep you posted as it gets closer.

June 3 , 2011

Hey people, what's going on? I mean that literally. I want to find out what's going on out there. I have been telling you and showing you pictures from the AVSA convention, but I know there's lots more going on out there. 'Tis the season for shows and sales. Many local clubs and state clubs have been or are having their shows and sales. I told you about the upcoming Illinois show, and I will post pictures from that. But, I want to see pictures from your local shows. Send them to me and I'll post them on the blog.

Also, I want to hear about what you're growing. Do you grow standards, semiminis, trailers, all of them? Do you grow mainly new varieties or the oldies but goodies? Do you have anything you're particularly fond of that's blooming for you that you can send in a picture of? I want to see it! And, the pies de resistance, a picture of you and/or your plant stand. Let's see how you're growing. How generous are you out there? Are you willing to let us take a peek into your violet world? Ok, here goes. First person to send me a picture (violet related) that I can post on my blog will get a prize. Now, any takers?

June 1 , 2011

Happy summer everyone. Alas, the AVSA National convention is over, and I must now set my sights on the Illinois State AVS show and sale. It will be held at the Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, Illinois, on Saturday and Sunday June 25-26, 2011. Entries are on Friday, June 24 and Saturday, June 25, 2011. Specific rules apply. If you are thinking of entering and need a copy of the show schedule and/or rules, contact me and I'll direct you to the right people. Special guest speakers are Rob and Olive Ma Robinson. I'll be blogging more about this in the upcoming days. And of course, I'll be posting pictures from the show.

In case you think I forgot, here is the best in class from the AVSA 2011 National convention underwater design division. Did you guess correctly? Great job to Amy from AR, who was brave enough to publicly guess, and was right! Amy you will receive a special gift for being the only one to guess, AND to have guessed correctly. (On the second try, I know, but you get points for being the only one to try.) Here's what you will get, an emergency AV note pad. Just what you need to carry in your pocket or purse at a show when you need to write down all the new varieties you need to buy. Congratulations Amy!

Oh, and no, I won't be giving away a free gift every time I ask a question in my blog and someone answers. But, from time to time I will, and you never know when, so participate folks. It's interesting for other people, and you never know what your answer might get you! Stay tuned! :)

underwater design



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Comments to date: 7. Page 1 of 1.

Kurt   from Miami

5:57pm on Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Great to see recent posts. The reason I said I needed an update was because when you click on AV Blog on your homepage it takes you to May's page and not the current page. This made me believe that you hadn't updated. I am sure you are able to fix that. Thanks for a great blog!

All the best

Chris   from Texas

10:00pm on Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Thanks so much Andrea!!! I got my prize in that had 9 different AV varieties, with three leaves for each bag! and a suckerplucker! Some of the favorite I got were Rob's Slap Happy, Dean's Bunny Blue, Jolly Frills, Jolly Blue Clouds, Cupid's Jewel, and Shirl's Hawaiian Lei

Andrea   from TheFranklinhouse

7:00pm on Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Thanks Joe!

Joe   from Illinois

6:55pm on Thursday, July 7th, 2011

The mystery plant is Episcia 'Jim's Hall's Choice'.

Chris   from Texas

2:18pm on Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Thanks! Nope I was born in San Antonio Texas

Amy   from AR

1:00pm on Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

It's nice to hear from new grower Chris. Nice plants and nice pictures, too! By the way, you aren't from Illinois originally, are you?

Amy   from AR

5:41am on Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Awesome! Thanks!

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