Flowerless African violet may need a new
I have a beautiful African violet and it blooms away.
Now it has stopped blooming, but continues to grow. Is my pot too
small and if I transplant it will it continue to grow? I hate to
try without knowing if that is right, to transplant it. I'd hate
for it to die.
I asked Ingrid Bowman of the Violet Society what you might do.
"Lots of African violets get suckers -- new little plants growing
up from the base. You have to pinch those off. You can pot the
suckers separately and they'll grow but if you leave them, the
original plant can get too crowded to bloom. Also, if it's been a
very long time in the same pot, it might need to be repotted. We
repot our violets more often, every six months, because we have
them under grow lights and keep them growing very rapidly."
Bowman described other problems that can make an African violet
stop blooming, including overwatering and a dead gray center
indicating crown rot. Since you didn't indicate any such symptoms,
just good growth without bloom, she came back to pinching off
suckers and, "increasing the amount of light the plant receives.
Give it as much sun as possible, short of direct south sun, which
can burn the foliage."
You probably shouldn't worry about the plant dying. It doesn't
need to flower to be healthy. Assume it is in good health if it
continues to grow and does not show signs of trouble such as new
leaves dying. Do expect an old leaf to gradually yellow and die
from time to time. Older leaves are those around the bottom edge of
I saved dahlia tubers from last year and thought to
check them just the other day. They've started to sprout. What do I
You can stall their growth by putting them in a place that's
cooler -- such as the refrigerator. Or you can pot them.
The trouble with potting them now is having to accommodate those
potted plants indoors for almost three months. You'll need grow
lights. Even if you put them in the sunniest place you have, the
light may be too weak so the growth will be spindly.
To start dahlias indoors but delay as long as possible their
need for a place in the light, I do this: Put just a thin layer of
soilless potting mix at the bottom of a deep pot. Set a tuber on
that and barely cover it with soilless potting mix. Moisten it and
put the pot in a warm place. It doesn't need light yet.
When the dahlia's shoot shows above the surface, add another
thin layer of potting mix. Keep burying the emerging shoot until
the pot is full of potting mix. Then move it into full sun or put
it under lights until early June.
Don't expect much bloom from a dahlia until August. Then, if
you've kept the plant well watered and fertilized, it should bloom
heavily until frost.
I enjoy answering questions you mail to me or post on my
school's website. However, some problems have no solution. Don't
expect much help from me if you pose a "stumper" such as: How come
my kids didn't catch the gardening bug when they were young, when I
could have made them happy with a plastic shovel and a packet of
sunflower seeds? Why did they only get the urge to garden when they
got their own home, a place in need of expensive trees and
Green thumbs up
to the gardeners who are creating large, slightly sunken beds to
collect run-off from roofs and paved areas. These beds of
moisture-loving perennials and small shrubs are places where water
can slow and settle, rather than run straight and dirt-laden into
storm drains. In these "rain gardens" water is used by the plants
or seeps down to replenish groundwater reserves. It's better
filtration than water can get in our overtaxed stormwater treatment
Green thumbs down
to using "pine tree" as a generic term, lumping spruce, pine,
fir and hemlock into one category. The roots, density of the
foliage, growth cycles and chemical interactions are different for
each tree species. This year, clip a twig with needles, leaves or
leaf buds from each of your unknown trees and shrubs. Go to an MSU
Extension office or garden center for help identifying them. Then
you'll grow them better and garden better around them.
Originally published 3/12/05