Watering African Violets and Wicks

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Watering and temperature methods have much to do with success in caring for African violets, although plants watered in different ways may bloom equally well.

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As a triumphant record, here is an account sent to me. “I have an African violet, four and one-half years old. It has been reported but once.

Yet in that time, it had bloomed continuously, sometimes with twenty flowers and never with less than five blossoms at any time, winter or summer, even when it was being repotted. I allow the plant to get fairly dry, then water thoroughly by setting the pot into a pan of water overnight.

Again it is allowed to dry out fairly well before the soaking process is repeated. I pinch off the bottom leaves as they ripen or turn yellow.

Some amateurs also report excellent flowering from plants placed in deep hot water containers every other day. They remain until the water cools. Success in caring for African violets is taken not to permit the water to reach the leaves or wash over the pot’s rim.

Since the size and type of the pot, the weather, the season, the temperature, and the amount of sunshine are factors affecting the amount of water needed. It may be that quite the opposite practices will succeed under varying conditions.

I have known plants to bloom long and well, grown in flat pots or azalea pans with a constant inch of water maintained in the pot saucer.

Beginners will perhaps do their best to follow the successful watering program below:

“Mine are given a drink every morning, early. The soil is never allowed to become dry on top but remains soft and crumbly to the touch. Occasionally a bit of mold appears as a warning to give a little less water.

Still, this mold never seems to have been harmful, and I consider it entirely different from a mold resulting from acidic soil. Two or three times a year, I gently loosen the surface earth with a fork. This breaks the crust, which forms from the sun’s heat and radiation.

My plants are always watered from the saucer and never given more water than can be absorbed by early afternoon. The water is near room temperature, but I do not bother to check it with a thermometer. I believe that with proper watering, more and larger flowers are produced.”

Here’s more advice based on trials made on the African violet by twenty-six cooperating Connecticut women over eighteen months:

  • The African violet is not a cactus plant. To be successful, it should have all the water it can use.
  • The entire ball of soil should be soaked thoroughly at each watering, but to avoid danger from overwatering, water only when the top of the ground is slightly dry to die touch.
  • It may not require daily watering, but it does require daily checking. Severe drying seriously limits flowering.
  • Indeed, it is easier to water saintpaulias thoroughly from below than from above since the leafy crown is thick, and the surface area for absorption is limited by the broad spread of the foliage over the top and sometimes down over the sides of the pot as well.
  • But top or bottom watering is a matter of convenience, not a necessity. Water on the leaves will not harm them if they are shaded until the hairy foliage dries and the water is at room temperature.
  • This is most important. Even in watering the soil, when leaves remain dry, warm rather than cold water should be used as a health measure.

Wick Watering Of Saintpaulias – African Violets

Related: Watering Key To Success In African Violets Buds and Blooms

One reasonably certain way of giving saintpaulias the proper amount of moisture is using “wicks,” which automatically draw water from some vessel to the soil. Wicks operate on the principle of the coal oil lamp with water substituted for oil.

The best wicks are made of woven glass fiber, about one-fourth to one-half inch in diameter and 3″ to 6″ inches long. A lamp wick can also be used but only temporarily. You can even wear a strip of cotton t-shirt.

Attach the wick to the soil by removing the plant and the drainage material. Then push the wick through the drainage hole of the empty pot.

Unravel the wick a little so the fibers can be spread out over the bottom of the pot on the inside, and pack a little sand or soil over them to keep them in place. Next, put the plant back securely, and water dies ground sufficiently for the wick to drip water.

To supply the wick constantly with water, use a glass jar or pottery flowerpot as a water-holding vessel or even a soda bottle.

It must be of a size to fit the flowerpot so tightly that it supports it up to the rim, thus holding the plant well above the bottom of the outside container.

The wick hangs down into this lower area, where a constant water supply is maintained for the plant to draw on and relay to the soil as needed.

If the outside container becomes empty and the earth goes dry, it will be necessary to thoroughly soak the soil surface from above before the water from below is replenished. Only in this way will absorption again be in operation.

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