Saturday, June 2, 2012

Will They Shape Up for Show, Part IV

We last saw the two plants in January.  I'm sorry to report that there has been a plant disaster here, Chez A.  :-(

Last fall, I switched to a different potting mix - and unfortunately, I didn't realize that in addition to micronutrients, it also had a hefty shot of nitrogen in it . . . those of you who grow violets might already see where this is going.

Because I have been following my normal watering/fertilizing schedule, all my show plants - hell, ALL my violets - have been getting double doses of fertilizer.  This is bad.

Really bad.  So bad that many of the plants will not recover.  Others who have fallen down this rabbit hole have advised that even taking a leaf that looks good from an affected plant will about 80% of the time produce a plant that has the center go whack.  There's no point in spending all the time time propagate a plant that likely won't make it anyway.

So - the short answer to my year-long question, is no.  They will not shape up for show this year.  Neither Rainbow's Limelight nor Decelle's Triomphe will be going to National.  In fact, I will be lucky to have maybe two or three plants to take.  This makes me sad.

And you're probably asking what I've been asking myself:  "A, you're an AVSA Senior Judge.  How come you didn't figure out what was going on???"  

Well, it's true, I am a Senior Judge.  It's also true that in the United States it is now very difficult to find any sort of potting mix without added fertilizer.  After talking to a few people who swore by ProMixBX, and said that no, it didn't have fertilizer, I found a source and got a bale.  This is not to say that this mix wouldn't work for others, it just didn't work for me. 

"But how come you couldn't see what was going on?"  There's no easy answer for that one.  I have been very, very lucky in my violet career.  I have had very few disasters, and so I didn't know what to look for.  I knew that the plants weren't coming along as I had hoped (I mentioned this a couple of months ago), but I didn't know what the problem was.  I was really just thinking that I must have lost my touch - that my normally exceptionally green thumb had taken a powder.  (And isn't that just like me, to think I was failing . . . )

It was kind of a perfect storm.  I ramped up and had MANY more plants that I can comfortably grow.  I changed my potting mix last fall, and it seemed to be doing well (in th beginning) so I repotted everything into it.  And I didn't do enough reseach.

So - take a look - and just so you know, these are NOT the two plants in the other posts in this series:

Stunted centers
IMG_8334 IMG_8356

Demolished centers and pronounced hairiness on the leaves


Altered blossoms, dull leaves, yellowing and the beginning of the stunted center.


Here's what one of my friends who is much more experienced than I am, said: 

"I just found out that ProMixBX has a nutrient charge with micronutrients as well as nitrogen. If you were fertilizing plants that were planted in it, they were getting a double dose and that could definitely explain the wonked centers and the exaggerated hairy leaves."

I leached everything with distilled water on Thursday night, and will leach again today or tomorrow on the show hopefuls, but other than putting leaves down from the plants that do not look affected, there's just not much I can do.

So, live and learn, I guess.  I'm going back to the mix I used in the past, and I'll repot what I can downstairs.  And at least there will be good shopping at National  :-)


Linda M said...

I'm so sorry to hear this!! I hope you can find some good leaves and maybe get clones of the two experimental plants - they had so much potential.

As far as the shopping goes... have fun!

candy said...

Sure it's not mites? Did you loose the true Neptune? Gary Mikita mixes soil with no fert in it.

A :-) said...

No, not mites (although that was a concern early on). Gary's mix is the one I'm going back to.