African Violet & Gesneriad Society of Syracuse


African Violet & Gesneriad Society of Syracuse

Newsletter April 2018

The meeting will be held on April 12th at 7 pm in

Pitcher hill Community Church, 605 Baily Rd., North Syracuse

Guests are always welcomed.

Greeter – Jim Wildman

Refreshments – Reba Spencer & Donna Coleman


The program will be presented by Paul Kroll, he is a long time grower of African Violets and Gesneriads. He is also a excellent designer of many, many years with many awards in the field. Bring your notepads and pencils for a most interesting and informative program.

Notes and Reminders:

On your Show Schedule under Section I, line 4 should read:

“New York State registered originations. Single plant, need to be registered. Open to NYSAVS members only.”

If you are doing designs, the reservation has to be in by April 24th with Penny (315-834-7442).

Start checking your plants, the show is only 3 weeks from now.

Anyone wishing to make a donation for the show awards, please see Lee Hoke at the meeting. Any amount is appreciated.

African violets were first described for the western world about 130 years ago by several African explorers. In 1926, a company named Armacost and Royston of West Los Angeles, California, imported seeds and soon after introduced violets to growers. Grandparents learned a lot in those early years. Terry Stevens a member of Facebook's AV Buddies Group quoted her grandma saying "Take care you don't leave their fee wet." That's great advice if you want to avoid the common problem of root rot.  Other grandmas warned that "you shouldn't get their leaves wet" (important if you don't want spotty leaves or a dead center), and  "they'll die if you touch them" (this one isn't true, but maybe it kept curious children from breaking leaves). In a time when most homes lacked air conditioning, many recommended the north window as the best location because it was cooler there in hot months. And similarly, they often chose clay pots, which have a cooling effect on the roots when it's hot. We've continued to study African violets since AVSA was formed in 1946. Our homes and our standard of living may have changed, but much of the training we received from our grandparents is still useful. They'd be proud that we listened and that we've continued to love and grow African violets.

Sports (And we aren't talking about the Olympics)

One of the most confusing terms for new African violet growers is the word "sport." It is synonymous with the word "mutant." Both words are used to describe a sudden change or variation in the appearance of a cultivar due to changes in the chromosomes or genes. In the world of plants, African violets are often described as being free-sporting, which means that almost any grower is likely to have an occasional sport occur.

To understand what sport means, take a look at these two photos from the Photo Gallery on the AVSA website. 

"Rebel's Splatter Kake" is described as a single-semidouble pink large fluted star/darker eye with purple fantasy and a white-green edge. 

"Rebel's Splatter Kake" often sports  during propagation to "Rebel's Night Breezes" which is described as single to semi-double dark blue large star with a white ruffled edge.  That's a dramatic change! Who gets to name the sport? The person who first experiences it and recognizes it in their collection. Not all mutations deserve the recognition of having the sport named. Oftentimes the difference is slight or uninteresting such as a multicolor cultivar that sports to a single color. On the other hand, important new traits, like variegated foliage, have been discovered because a hybrid sported. Both "Tommie Lou" variegation and "Lilian Jarret" variegation, seen here on "Lilian's Sparkler", are the result of a mutation from green leaves. 

Sporting in African violets is so common, and often so predictable, that AVSA website provides a list of many common sports as a tool for growers. If you should experience a sport and think it deserves a name, please check the list to see if your sport is one of the common ones which has already been named.  Sports are sometimes fun and surprising, and sometimes irritating.  No one buys and beautiful unusually-colored variety hoping that it will mutate to a commonly-seen plain color. Unfortunately that happens often. It's just part of the sport of growing African violets.

Variable Variegation?

It can happen. One month your variegated violet's leaves are a beautiful blend of green and cream, pink and white, and the next they've lost their luster and those lovely patterns that made them so pretty. What happened?! And how do you get that variegated leaf pattern back? 

Variegated foliage comes in different patterns and can be found on violets of all varieties. The first recognized pattern of variegation was Tommie Lou, a distinct, white edging that is consistent on the entire plant. Other forms of variegation include mosaic and crown.

Variegated leaves contain less chlorophyll than all-green foliage plants do. Because chlorophyll is a key component of a violet's ability to grow, the more variegation a plant has, the less energy it will produce. Heavily variegated plants can be very slow growers, and leaves that are all-white have very little chance of propagating. The variegated trait is sensitive to light; the more light a plant gets, the more likely variegation will fade. Fertilizing with a high-nitrogen preparation can cause a variegation pattern to diminish or seem to disappear, as can warm temperatures. 

As variable as variegation can be, there is hope if your prettily patterned plant goes green - Adjust the factors that can cause variegation to fade: light, fertilizer and temperature. With a little attention, you can bring your plant back to its former glory!

Variegated violets are some of the winningest plants at shows. To find out which varieties take home the prizes, see the latest Tally Time!  For more information about variegation, go to AVSA's FAQ section.

We regret to hear of John Cooks passing after suffering a heart attack at his home, our thoughts and prayers go to Barbara Cook and their family.

As a tribute to him, the club is making a basket to take to the convention in May, we are looking for items that represent what he did for the AVSA and the clubs that he served as a commercial member. Things like pots, fertilizer and other items he once sold.

Anybody that can volunteer to help Jerry Finger with the Dickman Farms event on the 14th and 15th would be great, give him a call if you can help.

ASVSA-AVSC Convention is in Buffalo NY, at the Adams Mark Hotel and Events center I May 20th – 27th.  Lee Hoke is in charge of the Court of Honors display.

The secretary’s report copies will be brought to the meeting due to a computer problem in sending it to me.

African Violet & Gesneriad Society of Syracuse

Newsletter March 2018

The meeting will be held on march 8th at 7:00 Pm in Pitcher Hill Community Church, 605 Baily Rd., North Syracuse.

Greeter – Donna Coleman

Refreshments – Shirley mills, Jerry & Sue Finger

Violet Cousins – Linda Rowe

The program will be led by Penny 

"Do you have a blue ribbon African violet living at your house?"

Pick a Favorite!

I'll bet you have some favorite violets. I know I do. The African Violet Society of America invites members to vote annually for up to 25 of their favorite African violets. The votes are tallied to create the Best Varieties List. It is published in 2 places: in the For Members area of the AVSA website and in the Nov/Dec issue of the African Violet Magazine. The Best Varieties List and Honor Roll (which includes varieties which have been in the top 25 at least three times) are a reliable guide for growers who want to buy good plants. Here's some recent winners:

In 2015, the variety winning the most votes was "Milky Way Trail" which is an easy-to-grow semi-miniature trailer. Trailing violets, grown properly, have multiple crowns all attached to one main center stem. Trailers are labeled according to the size of their leaves since it is possible to grow nearly all trailers to a large overall size as the plant develops more and more crowns.

In 2014, the top variety was "Irish Flirt", a beautiful (but somewhat variable) green semi-miniature which may grow up to 8" in diameter. This single crown plant is a great size to fit into a small growing area, and those green flowers last a long time.

In 2013, the winner was "Picasso" a long-time favorite large size standard. All standard-sized violets are expected to be 9" in diameter or larger. Those described as "large" grow easily to 18" or more. Large standards are spectacular at show; if that's too big for your home, keep it smaller by limiting the size of the pot.