“I have a huge, beautiful African Violet that is very healthy. How can I grow new plants from it?”
Forest Lake, Minnesota
It’s as simple as removing a healthy leaf with the stem attached and burying the stem in moist, well drained potting soil, leaving just the flattened round leafy blade above the surface. Water it thoroughly and put it in a warm, bright location. I even put the container in an open, clear plastic bag to increase the humidity level around the cutting to further encourage the stem growing roots. I used to have an old neighbor lady with quite a green thumb who had incredible luck with just putting the leaf stem in a glass of water with the leaf hanging over the lip of the glass. Once the stem started sprouting roots she’d then stick it in a small pot of potting soil and off they’d go!
A more aggressive approach would be division by carefully splitting apart the plant itself between the plant’s crowns, keeping the roots intact and then replanting them into individual pots. Be prepared to see your plants suffer a little shock for awhile, but with good care they’ll snap back.
Don’t forget to either root dip your cuttings and/or water them in with Monty’s 4-15-12. All you need is a weak solution (one-two drops per cup of water). This will stimulate root development and almost completely eliminate transplant shock. (See more detailed information here) After the plant has rooted well, you can start feeding with Monty’s 8-16-8, 4-15-12, or 2-15-15 – depending on the current growth stage of your plant. One note for AFRICAN VIOLETS, the leaf surface and flowers are very susceptible to spotting. For that reason African Violets are one of the few plants we DO NOT RECOMMEND using Monty’s products as a foliar application. Instead you can either wick feed or feed through the roots by mixing 1-2 drops per cup of water and pouring on the soil when you water. Check out our PDF on the care of African Violets, here.
“I transplanted hydrangeas from pots into my flower beds two springs ago but I haven’t seen them bloom yet in their new home. Is there any hope of their blooming this year or did I waste my time and energy?”
Patience is the key here and I think you have proven that. Plants moved from containers to larger bedding areas will spend the first couple of seasons putting down roots and getting comfortable in their new environment instead of blooming. Once established and no longer needing the excess energy to stabilize their root system, they will shift into a flowering mode. Make sure you’re not using a fertilizer with excessive nitrogen, which can also retard their natural flowering attributes.
To explain this, let’s think like a plant for a minute. The presence of N tells a plant it is time to grow. So you can end up with a plant that has a lot of showy foliage and can become quite large, but never blooms. This results in what gardeners refer to as a ‘leggy’ plant. This can also cause more than just aesthetic problems; the excess growth can lead to damage during heavy winds. Your plants have natural cycles: germination, growth, reproductive, and dormancy. It needs to go through each of these phases to maintain good overall health. By understanding this and allowing the plant to go through its natural ebb and flow you will get the best results. That is why Monty’s Fertility products come in three “flavors”; each one is designed for specific needs of the plant during each one of these stages of development. This season, try using Monty’s 2-15-15 at least once a week on the foliage. I think you will be amazed by the results. Check out our PDF on Hydrangeas, here.
“There are so many different types of grass on the market. How can you even begin to know what to choose for your lawn?”
Mt. Airy, North Carolina
There are a lot of variables to consider when choosing the right grass for your lawn, and the top one evolves around where you live. If you are newly landscaping or starting from scratch, it’s always best to drive around your area and see what lawns have the look you’re after and make note of it. Your local nursery, a good landscaping company or your local extension office are going to be excellent, professional reference points for you. Many larger towns and cities even have arboretums that not only feature plant variety, but label them for guests and lawn grasses are often incorporated into their design.
Keep in mind though, if you want your lawn to look like a golf course, it comes with a price and a great deal of maintenance. Grass grows best in the spring and the fall when it is cool, so keep that in mind when you’re looking at other lawns too. Cool-season grasses are hardy enough to survive freezing winters and hot summers and include varieties such as fine fescues, perennial ryegrass and bluegrass. Warm-season grasses are your tropical climate lovers and include St. Augustine, Zoysia, Bermuda grass and centipede grass. There are also transition-zone grasses for hot summer climates and chilly winters that blend both your cool-season and warm-season grasses, but types a little more versatile include tall fescue or buffalo grass.