Recently, October 4th to be exact, I put up pictures of some of the African Violets I have…those that were currently in bloom. I like African Violets, especially the newer ones with fancy leaves and fancier blooms. As I mentioned in that post, I think I stumbled on the secret with them…less is more. I just leave them alone until I happen to notice they are bone dry, then I add water (from the bottom, usually). Most, not all, respond to this pretty well. They’re keepers, as far as I’m concerned. Those and the orchids which, so far, seem to make it with my neglect, are my idea of houseplants. I just can’t seem to keep up with them like I should (or as most require). Okay, I have a spider plant that seems to hang around (my air cleaner), a Christmas cactus (a Thanksgiving one, I think, really) and a hoya….There are a few others, but they are probably on their way out as I acknowledge (to the world) that I am a neglectful, neglectful houseplant person…
Anyway, those African Violets really brighten my day. Such a small thing, but I find them charming. If you haven’t checked out some of the newer ones, you’ll be amazed at how big the blooms are getting. If I’m at a show, I try to hop over to the African Violet vendors to see what they have. They’re very hard to resist! Plus, they’re usually not expensive (always good). I’m constrained by space (they sit on a table with some of the orchids and other plants), but when has that ever stopped me.
So, on one of my, of late, infrequent jaunts about the gardening blog world, I happened upon Carol of May Dreams Gardens’ post about African Violets. Reading along, and giving Carol the benefit of the doubt that she means it humorously, I was still rather taken aback at her characterization of African Violets as “your grandmother’s plants” and how you should only have one per decade of age lest you be thought of as old. My first intention was to leave a comment, but I realized I had quite a bit to say and thought it would be better addressed here. By the way, I attempted to copy the section I mentioned to quote it exactly here, but was unable to. I saw at the bottom that Carol does allow 100 words with credit, which, of course, I would do, but I’m ignorant of how to actually copy it. (Appreciate the heads up though to the right click folks. Think I’m might try that, too.)
Anyhow…although I am coming upon a big birthday, I still don’t think of myself as old…unless I am joking with someone or wanting to claim some benefit of age! I didn’t know either of my grandmothers very well, so I don’t really know if they had any African Violets. I do know my dad pretty well, however, and he once propagated and grew numerous African Violets (he’s never been a grandmother or an old woman…). I think he was fascinated with the process and the reward they gave, something I can identify with (Thanks, Dad!). Usually, the vendors at the shows I’ve been to are men as well, sometimes women, but I haven’t yet met one who was elderly.
Now, there are African Violet clubs and societies just as there are for other plants people like to collect such as daylilies, orchids, daffodils and others you could probably name. There are…ahem…some older folks in these groups. I think that is probably because they have the time…finally…in their lives to be active participants. My experience has been that some of these folks are hard to keep up with!
I don’t know this, but I’m just putting a guess out there that maybe this thought (one I’ve never had) about them being grandmother plants might have come about because 1) they are inexpensive and 2) they make great plants to take to someone who is ill and/or in the hospital (small, blooming, and, again, not costly)….
Since it’s a big blog world out there, I’m putting forth that you can have as many as you like…no rules…have fun with them! Shouldn’t gardening, whether indoor or not, be fun? Like what you like, collect whatever moves you, and certainly grow whatever brings you pleasure.