Q&A – Pro-active or reactive when it comes to pest management?


Joseph asks Annie:

Q  Hi Annie, LOVE the podcast!! I am wondering if you are pro-active or reactive when it comes to pest management. I know that you prefer to grow from leaves to prevent infestation, but is there any other measures you go to to protect your collection?

Thanks for your service to the AV Community.

A  Thank you, Joseph!  I’m so glad you are enjoying the podcast!

You asked about pest management.  I would say that I’m a mix between preventive and reactive in this area.  You are correct that I prefer to grow from leaves, but if I do bring a new plantlet in to my collection, I isolate it from the rest of the collection for at least 12-16 weeks.  I have a small, 2-shelf stand in my basement that I use for this purpose, but if you don’t have a separate shelf, I learned long ago (from Darryl Hoover), that a bottom shelf of a stand can work in a pinch as an isolation area – crawly bugs have a harder time crawling up than down.

I will spray for mildew should it arise (as it did recently for me), but other than that, I’m not a big proponent of preventive spraying for pests. Rather, I limit my collection, practice good preventive care, and I pay attention to what’s going on on the stands.  Having a reasonable number of plants makes it a lot easier to keep an eye on things. When I learned to grow, I was a member of the late Pauline Bartholomew’s club in Ventura, California.  I never met her, but all my friends there knew her, and they taught me all they knew and had learned from her.  I also had the benefit of learning and being mentored by some of the best growers in the country – back then, a lot of them were in SoCal and many of them were in my club!  Still, things happen once in awhile.  I have had mites before.  That was no fun and I did spray with Avid – but I won’t do that again. Even though I don’t have pets or small children in my home, I don’t like having such strong chemicals around me.  You must use these types of things carefully.  In the case of Avid, that meant I had to be completely covered – even my hair – and that all the clothing had to come off and go immediately in to the washer after each of the three treatments.   I’ve found it better to go with what Pauline used to say:  “When in doubt, throw it out.”   Believe me, there are always more plants.  :-)

Finally, when I bring show plants home from show, I do two things.  First, I completely disbud the plants before even leaving the showroom.  Second, when I get them home they are also isolated again.  Usually I’ll pick one stand and put all the show plants on it – it’s often the one in my guest room.

I hope that helps!


 If you have a question about African Violets that you would like answered, you can submit it at  Ask Annie!