Caring for African Violets


    What’s the most likely cause when African violets go into decline? Mike McGrath, host of You Bet Your Garden, will discuss the special care these popular plants require. Plus your fabulous phone calls!

    Question of the Week

    “I have two African violet houseplants that are between 15 and 17 years old. They are kept on a plant stand near a window that faces south east and were thriving until recently. One of the plants has started to wilt and droop, basically looking like it’s ready to die off. I have cut back on watering as I thought maybe it was too moist, but to no avail. The top of the other one fell right off when I brushed the plant with my hand. I promptly placed the broken part (leaves, flowers and thick stem) into a glass of water. How can I save it? Can I re-root it? Or should it be put directly back into soil? “

    Sandy in Chester County, PA

    African Violet Care and Damage Control »

    • African Violets

      Photo: AP Photo/John Russell

    Highlights from show for March 7, 2015:

    Arrowhead Worms

    Richard in Rockport, PA was picking cabbage and found strange worms on them and found out they were Arrowhead worms. Mike was surprised to hear that name, because they are mostly found in Texas. These look like earth worms with a hammerhead shark shape to their head. Richard said they did no damage to the cabbage. Mike says that they could be beneficial because they are predators of slugs and snails, which could be very helpful to a gardener. Their only downside is that they go into the ground and prey on the occasional earth worm. Mike urges Richard to find out more info from Howard Garrett (The Dirt Doctor) or the Texas State Extension Service.

    Pruning Elderberry

    Stephanie in Newport, Washington about an hour north of Spokane just moved into a new house and the property has some mature elderberry trees and wants to know how to prune the tree. Mike points out that she needs to wait and see what she has on the property, as she enters spring, before she does anything drastic. He notes that elderberries are the most potent anti viral in the plant world, so she’s very lucky to have them. Mike says that she doesn’t have to prune them, but right around this time of year it’s good to go out and remove some of the older wood that is more gnarly and less green. “They are kind of wild plants and get by pretty well on their own.”

    Growing Vegetables in the Shade

    Nate in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia, PA has a series of small raised beds to grow veggies, but he has a very shaded lot. He’s interested in using cover crops for raised beds. Mike assures him that his square footage is so small that he doesn’t have to worry about doing that as long as he’s applying fresh compost to the best. Mike is much more worried that the veggies are sun starved. Nate admits that he only gets sun starting at Noon and the plants didn’t bare fruit till late in the summer. Mike suggests going crazy with salad greens, herbs and potatoes, but to stay away from fruiting crops, because of the lack of sun.

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