to get Serious about Growing to Show!
Look at one of your African violet plants. It consists of a system
of stems, leaves, and blossoms above a network of roots. The roots
are growing in potting mix contained in a pot. You provide food,
water, and light ~~ and the plant grows more leaves and sends up blossom
stalks. This is 'growing' an African violet.
"Growing to Show" will not require much in
the way of new equipment, but it WILL demand a few changes in your care
routine. You will continue to provide light, water, and food for your
'show hopeful'. You will also repot and
treat for pests.
However, you will be doing these things in a
slightly different way. Ordinary tasks such as watering will become
more important and removing those wayward suckers will become absolutely
The two most obvious differences between
windowsill growing and growing to show is the schedule, and
disbudding. As you complete the assignments for this lesson, you
will begin to follow a schedule and to practice disbudding.
What is the purpose of the schedule? Possibly the most
important function of the schedule is to simplify, to create an easy to
The schedule includes many things but one
special technique has the most obvious effect on the final show plant ~~
What is the purpose of disbudding?
Taking off blossom buds as they form, turns the plant's energy to
producing foliage. The idea of taking off blossoms seems strange, and a bit scary at first, but after you try
it on one plant, and see the results, you will be hooked on 'Growing to
There are two types of schedules which we will be using:
plant/disbudding schedules and show schedules. The plant/disbudding
schedules help us with the cultural, grooming, and timing of growing the
plant. These schedules include times for repotting, increasing light
hours, changing fertilizers, and grooming. By following a schedule,
we can coax a violet to bloom on the day we want it to impress!
Show schedules are drawn up by the show
committee and include lists of the various horticulture and design
classes, as well as the rules for exhibition and dates of entry.
These two schedules work together to help
us begin the journey to a fun and exciting experience!
Good advice from Pauline Bartholomew, from the introduction of Growing to
Show: "At first reading, the processes may seem hopelessly
complicated. Don't be dismayed. for
the first year, refer only to the basics..... After you have become
experienced, the more technical details will be of interest to you."
There are a few terms we need to learn! But we will take them one
at a time
First: choose a plant. Keeping it
simple: the only necessary
requirement is that the plant must be healthy, and pest-free. You may
begin with a young starter, old enough to have an established root system
and to have bloomed once to make sure the plant blooms true. Or an
older plant may be used.
To more experienced growers, the
options become more specific. Some varieties do make better show
plants than others. Checking the winners at past shows may give
hints on which varieties other show growers choose.
Reading the show schedule is also
recommended, insuring that there will be a class in which to correctly
enter your plant on show day.
While reading the show schedule, make note
of entry date for the show. Our next step is to
set up our growing schedule. Dedicated show growers will begin weeks or even days
after THIS year's show is over. For this class, the generally
accepted schedule of 12 weeks will be sufficient. Mark your
calendar with the appropriate dates.
POTS Most shows require plain and simple
pots, although a few classes are for plants grown in decorative
containers. For our group project, any basic pot will be
fine. Several sizes will be needed, as well as some method of
watering. You may continue to water as you prefer: wicking,
POTTING MIX Use a potting mix that you are
confident with, or try the recommended recipe of 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3
perlite, and 1/3 peat moss. The mix should be light and open,
encouraging rapid root growth.
FERTILIZERS The schedule first calls for a general purpose
20-20-20 type fertilizer. At the beginning, we are concentrating on
growing perfect foliage, so we will use a balanced fertilizer with ample
nitrogen to feed the growth of the leaves.
Later, we will use a blossom booster in which
the amount of nitrogen is lowered and the phosphorus increased, to
encourage heavy blooming near the end of our schedule.
Foliar feeding is a practice used by many show
growers to give an extra boost when needed. Different growers have
different applications and opinions.
MISC As the plant grows,
you will 'pot up' to slightly larger pots, and may use a leaf support
ring to 'train' the leaves into perfect shape. Some growers use
household items, such as picnic plates, toothpicks, or clothespins, for
this purpose. A sharp lead pencil will remove small suckers as
efficiently as an 'official' sucker plucker.
SUPPLEMENTAL LIGHTING in the form of a plant
light and a timer will make increasing the light hours easy, but the
spring season in North America should also provide longer, more intense
sunlight hours for windowsill grown plants. Natural light is harder
to control and predict, so if you have a plant light, set aside a center
area for your show plant.
Choose your plant. 2) Set up your
schedule. 3) …And then
begin! Bathing your plant is recommended, especially at the
beginning of the schedule. Make sure the plant is labeled properly,
and that you have not potted up into too large a pot. You may
remove young, immature leaves, or leaves that are old and yellowing.
Also remove those leaves that have blemishes or that are misshapen.
This is when we begin to use the
tools, mentioned in Lesson One. Pay attention to good
culture habits, observe how your plant is
responding, and stay on schedule.
time to get to work! Read the information on the Reading Lists and begin
work on the Assignments!