Friday, December 19, 2014

Miniature African Violets in Winter

Miniature African Violets aren't that hard to grow. I've found that they need a location with several hours of medium indirect light. They like to be watered from the bottom every other day with just a teaspoon or two of water. They die if they sit in water for more than a few hours. They burn quickly in direct sun. They like occasional applications of dilute violet fertilizer. That's about it! They are only about 5-8cm in diameter, but really cheer up a room in winter; I call them Fairy Flowers:
Mini African Violets, MR, 2014
I'm particularly excited about the mini violet on the right. The buds are bright green, and the flowers are yellow-centered with white petals with green edges. Gorgeous! I have seen these new cultivars on web sites but they are even more captivating in real life.
Green-blooming mini African Violet, MR, 2014
I hope you'll be seeing them soon in your town!


  1. Lovely green AV that! The varieties availble here date back to world war I :-(

  2. Hi, Paddarotti! Glad to hear from you. Why are the newer varieties not available for you? Is it because of concern of losing the genetic blueprint of the originals through hybridization?

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  5. Hehe. No it's nothing as noble as that. We're a teeny tiny market on the tip of Africa. The consumer here is not at all discerning. In such a small market there is no incentive to update varieties. Our currency is worth nothing, importing is not economically viable in the short term, the market is dominated by a small number of players and there are intellectual property issues. But that does create niche opportunities too. From time to time someone steps in with something new and there are also individuals with a special interest in a particular species who wheel and deal to get more interesting and rarer things. But you're never going to walk into a supermarket or nursery and pick an Optimara off the shelf. For decades we have had 2 (yes two) oriental lilies available. Cassablanca and Stargazer. Commercially available hybrids in the rest of the world run into hundreds. A year or two ago we got the first pot oriental on the market and they walked off the shelf. Africa marches to a different beat. Actually we have our own orchestra. But fortunately the climate for Lithops is magnificent :-)

    1. Thank you for filling us in, Paddarotti! Where I live is much more in the swirl of world (read "corporate") markets, but it's almost impossible to find the old species. People have special "seed savers exchanges" for heirloom varieties and try very hard to keep these rare old plants viable for future generations, and away from Monsanto et al! I'm really glad you can grow Lithops well there. They survive in my climate but don't really thrive.