My sister called me last week to tell me that our neighbor who moved away after 46 years next door came by and gave her one of their African Violets.
I immediately offered to come and get it.
Then a few days later, she called me at work to ask me if African Violets are poisonous. I was kind of busy so I said, "I don't know, google it." So she did, and I got an email from her later telling me that they are not poisonous but I'd better come and get the plant because their cats had discovered it and were starting to eat the leaves.
Then yesterday she left a comment here on my blog "it's been less than a week and the African Violet is gasping -- drooping and gasping - you better come rescue it."
So this evening, while she wasn't home, I rescued it.
When I saw it, sitting in a saucer of water, I immediately diagnosed it as "overwatered" and emptied the saucer. Now after just an hour or two spent drying out at my house, it already looks a little better.
I've had a few African Violets in my time, but not more than a two or three at a time. I would definitely not consider myself a collector of them or one who would join a plant society dedicated to them, because, really, aren't these your grandmother's house plants?
At least I remember my grandmother always having some on her dining room window sill. And I remember seeing the little old ladies selling them at the annual flower and patio show, all dressed up in their African Violet print aprons.
I think I have some fear that I might be considered 'old' if I have too many African Violets. In fact, I'm making up a new rule right now that a gardener should only have one African Violet for every decade they've been alive, or they are aging before their time.
Counting this new African Violet, I now have three. So I'm under my quota, I'm not old, at least if you measure age by the number of African Violets you have.
I have a used book I bought several years ago, "1,001 African Violet Questions Answered by Twelve Experts" edited by Helen Van Pelt Wilson. I have no idea why I bought it, other than it looked interesting and was cheap. I've been looking through it tonight, somewhat amazed that they could come up with that many questions about one kind of plant.
I did confirm my initial diagnosis that the plant was overwatered.
Question 245. What is the appearance of a plant that is overwatered? The plant is limp and the leaves flop down over the sides of the pot. (That's exactly how this one looked.)
Question 243. How long should an African Violet plant stand in water? Not over four hours for large plants; for plants in 2-inch pots, an hour is quite long enough. Roots will begin to deteriorate if kept soaked too long because air cannot penetrate the soggy soil mass. (I'm guessing this one sat in water for a day or longer.)
And so on for 1,001 questions, all about African Violets.
Do you have any African Violets or questions about them? I'd be happy to look up answers for anyone, just let me know. In fact, I challenge someone to come up with an African Violet related question that isn't in this book.