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!
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.
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)
Next I choose the leaves I want to propagate and gently snap them off at the neck of the plantlet.
Then . . .
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.
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.
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!)
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.
Then, a layer of coarse perlite on top of the wick.
Then I coil the wick on top of the coarse perlite
And then add the potting mix.
I use an X-acto knife to make a fresh cut on each stem of each leaf I am putting down.
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.
The leaves get placed in the pots. Do not tamp down the potting mix.
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.
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!
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!