Growing In Wick Pots For African Violets

That 16” inch Double Neptune, completely hiding its wick-fed pot 18 months ago, was the size of the small Double Neptune, just beginning its wick-fed career. The new 3” inch pot with paraffin edge is the same size pot the plants are growing.

The large one, until two weeks before the picture was made, cultivated in a 2 ½” inch pot! Blooming all fall lavishly, in mid-December, it passed its peak of bloom and, although still flowering, showed it needed attention. The leaves deep within the plant’s heart were contorted from crowding.

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It was transferred to a 3” inch pot to tide it over until it could be given a complete overhaul. Because the leaves were intermingled and leaf loss unavoidable, 45 mature leaves with full petiole length were removed first before any attempt was made to divide the plant into its eight crowns.

Reduced to a manageable size, the mature African Violet plant was torn apart, and 16 other leaves broke off in this operation. All the leaves served for propagation, and the eight new plants were better without them as their absence offset the roots lost.

Divide When Small

Three of the eight new plants already in wick-fed devices. In the background is the pickle jar with the pot in which the plant was growing. This Double Neptune was permitted to produce many tons enormous blooms before repotting. This plant has been wick-fed for one year.

Some Useful Tools

The ice tea spoon and the plastic sugar scoop are in the picture to give a sense of size and show excellent tools for easing soil around plant roots in repotting. Also note the tiny 1 ½” inch “thumb” pot to the extreme right in Figure B, where it holds a leaf cutting.

This size “little” pot, cute as a button, is handy for growing small African violet plants and leaves. Figure A shows other useful wicking accessories are the braided nylon stocking wick and the painted pickle fork labels.

The commercial brand is better because it comes painted and lasts longer. Pickle forks are graceful but must be painted often as they rot quickly.

Adjusting The Pots

In wicking pots, they may be fitted to stand above the container (the round marmalade globe and the tall, ribbed, pickle jar) or arranged with the pat recessed, supported by the rim of the jar fitting just under the flange of the pot. A jelly glass is shown to recess a 2 ½: inch pool.

The three repotted crowns pictured in Figure B are in 2 ½” inch pots. Note the aluminum foil rim coverings. Without this protection, the large plant would have had fewer leaves to salvage. The little group of a few bruised leaves, marked “Discard” in the right foreground, Figure B, were the only unusable parts of the giant Double Neptune plant.

So convinced are we of the worthiness of the wicking method, we find ourselves buying groceries with an eye to what the jar, or can, will be suitable for — what size pot it will fit. Prized finds are the jars with wide mouths, big enough to recess a 3” inch pool or prop a 4” inch one.

The soft cheese jars are a delight — sized to fit the hand quickly, with stable balance and pleasing proportions. The cheese is good, too!

For growers who do not wish to improvise, there are splendid plastic planters, shown in Figure C. These are readily available by mail order and in the stores. They have a wick and a reservoir for wick-watering.

44659 by Patricia C. Foulness