After the National Show – Behind the Scenes


As you saw last week during the look at what’s on the stands, there is a lot to accomplish when you come home from a show – any show – where you’ve taken a number of plants and/or where you’ve added to your collection.

One of the things that I generally do, is take leaves from all the plantlets I’ve acquired.  I do this as a safety precaution – it’s not foolproof, but you are far less likely to bring anything nasty in to your collection by practicing this method of increasing your collection.

I can hear you now: “But Annie, aren’t you the one who is always telling us to limit our collections??”


Why yes, that would be me  :-D  But as you also heard me say last week – if you are going to ramp up, National is the place to do it.  All the vendors there are commercial members of AVSA, and the selection of plants is pretty great.  This year I found a great balance between new/vintage/species, and yes, I did come home with a whole lotta plant material!

Here is how I approach the process of “putting down leaves.”  I get my space ready – for our purposes, I’m working in my kitchen rather than down on my potting bench, because the sink is handy and it’s much easier and faster upstairs!

Getting ready to put down leaves

Annie’s kitchen counter – ready to work on the plants coming home from National.

Now that my space is ready, I pick a plant to start with.  Here is the plantlet of Mark (3007) 09/20/1976 (Union County Chapter AVS/Max Maas) Double dark red frilled. Quilted, ruffled. Standard.  This is a vintage variety that I grew years ago – an old Max Maas variety that I was thrilled to see again!  The plantlet is healthy and in great shape.

Photo 1 - African violet Mark

African violet Mark as I brought it home from National.

I write the date and the name of the variety on each pot.  (I actually did three pots.) I use 3 oz. Solo brand cups for this purpose.  Do not neglect this step.  You think you’re going to remember which leaf is which . . . you won’t. (Do you even need to ask me how I know?!  ;-D)

Pot preparation

I prep two pots. I use 3 oz. Solo brand cups. (I changed my mind and actually did three!)

Next I choose the leaves I want to propagate and gently snap them off at the neck of the plantlet.

Two leaves on the counter, and the remaining plantlet in my hand.

The initial two leaves are on the counter.

Then . . .

Plantlet ready to go to its Great Reward.

I keep the leaves and toss the plantlet.

I let the plantlet go to its Great Reward.  Some of you are freaking out and saying, “Why????”  Because if I kept the plantlet and its root system, I would need to repot it completely in to my potting mix, adding some Marathon in the process as a systemic to (hopefully) kill any pests that could be hidden in the soil.  Please Note that it is my firm belief that no one intentionally sells a plantlet with pests, but stuff happens, you guys.  I’m not in any hurry for these plants – I have a large enough collection as it is, so I don’t mind waiting and starting a plant from a leaf whenever possible.  Better safe than sorry.

Plantlet in the trash

So long!

Next, the leaves get washed.  I put some dishwashing soap in my hand, suds it up, and gently wash the leaves both front and back.

Soapy leaves

Leaf washing! I use lukewarm water and dish-washing soap.

Then they get set on paper toweling to partially dry off.  I go through this process for multiple plants at at time.  And yeah – see the identifier stakes/labels?  Don’t skip this step, you guys!!  (See above!)

Leaves and their tags

Leaves and their tags, drying off from being washed with dish-washing soap.

But back to our Mark!  Next I prep the pots I set up earlier.  First – the wick. I use nylon Mason’s Twine.  It works well for me.

Inserting the wick

Next, I insert a wick.

Then, a layer of coarse perlite on top of the wick.

Adding coarse perlite

I add about an inch or so of coarse perlite in the bottom of the pot, over the wick.

Then I coil the wick on top of the coarse perlite

Coiling the wick

I coil the wick on top of the coarse perlite

And then add the potting mix.

Adding the potting mix

I add potting mix on top of the coarse perlite and coiled wick.

I use an X-acto knife to make a fresh cut on each stem of each leaf I am putting down.

Leaves ready to be sliced

Getting ready to slice the leaves (I’m using a pop flat flipped over as my base because I’m working on my kitchen counter).

I also slice off the tip of each leaf.  In theory, this forces the leaf itself to stop growing and send its energy downward, to make roots and start new plantlets.

Stems cut and tops sliced

Fresh cut made on each stem, and the tops sliced off

The leaves get placed in the pots.  Do not tamp down the potting mix.

Leaves placed in pots

I place them in the prepped pots

And then I water the leaves in with my squeeze bottle (sometimes called a tattoo wash bottle).  This is what sets the leaf in place and keeps it stable.

Watering in the leaf

I water them in with my squeeze bottle (aka: tattoo wash bottle)

Finally, they get placed in the domed tray where they will stay until they sprout babies and are ready to be separated into their own pots!

Leaf pots placed in the tray

Placed in the tray!

You can also look for this process soon on All About African Violets’ Pinterest page.  It will be documented there, as well.

Coming home from show is definitely a process, but once you determine your own post-show process, it gets easier every time you do it!