Sunday, May 29, 2011

Will They Shape Up? Part II

Today, we're going to talk about Symmetry and Condition. Why all this talk about symmetry and condition?

I grow my violets for show. That means that I am more concerned with the shape of my plants than the average grower who just loves some violets around the house. In an AVSA-judged show (AVSA is the acronym for the African Violet Society of America), all plants are judged using a scale of points. For standards, semiminiatures and miniature violets, Symmetry (Leaf Pattern) and Condition (Cultural Perfection) are 25 points each - that's HALF the points. All of a sudden, Symmetry and Condition are looking a lot more important than before . . .

Here's what The African Violet Society of America Handbook for Growers, Exhibitors, and Judges has to say about Symmetry:

"Symmetry is the shape of the plant. The leaves of the plant should form a rosette with the foliage evenly distributed over the entire plant. The foliage should grow straight out from the center of the plant to the edge of the outer leaves. Each row of leaves should overlap the row below without gaps or spaces in the rows or between the individual leaves in a row caused by missing leaves or poor culture However, some cultivars do not have leaves that overlap and in those cases the leaves should radiate like spokes on a wheel."

and Condition:

"Condition applies to the cultural aspect and grooming of the plant at the time is is judged. Cultural perfection is controlled by the exhibitor."

Let's look again at the project plants, Decelles' Triomphe (DT) and Rainbow's Limelight (RL). Just so you know, both of these plants should grow in the rosette formation, not the wheel spoke formation.

The first step in the process is to disbud. That means to remove all the blossoms. Here is DT. Now that the blossoms are gone, you can clearly see (because I marked them in red :-D) some of the things I mentioned yesterday plus some others. The center leaves (top red arrow) are bunched up and not growing nicely. See that middle red line? It's marking an area where there were blossoms under the top row of leaves. You want your blossom stalks to come up through to the top rather than come out the sides.

This large gap is a serious symmetry issue, not to mention the last red arrow, which is pointing to the middle row of "immature" leaves. Immature? This term confused me for years. How can they be immature? They are older than the top leaves! The are termed immature because they never grew to their full potential. You can see that some of the newer leaves are larger than this stunted row below them.

Here's RL. Again, now that the blossoms are gone, you can really see the problems. The first red arrow is the leaf so twisty that it twisted itself upside down!

The middle red line shows the gaps in the foliage where blossoms were growing underneath instead of over the foliage.

And that final red arrow is showing two leaves twisting back-to-back. It remains to be seen if the twistiness can be worked with - some plants just throw a twisty leaf once in awhile.

Let's talk about Condition for a moment - this is the one area that is completely within the grower's control, and it's an area that judges look at very closely (I know I do when I'm judging a show). Condition is all about the cultural perfection of the plant. Neither of these plants have received consistent care, and it shows. I know I've said this before, but it bears repeating: the care your violets receive is directly reflected in their foliage.

Did you get that?

The care your violets receive is directly reflected in their foliage.

It's very clear that I have not been a good violet mama in the past months - and both DT and RL reflect that in their foliage. In the last series I did on Plant Care, I talked a lot (what a surprise :-D) about consistent care in this post. You might want to look it over :-) I'll be repotting both of these plants in the next few days and will pick up the series then :-)

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