Saintpaulia, Drainage, New Beginnings

How the hell do you actually start a blog? I’ve had various forms of blogs over the years, but nothing really for serious. Now I feel like I’m going to get serious, and I have been thinking for days about what my first post should be.

A before and after of my house? Well, the after isn’t all that great right now. But you love works in progress, right? I’ll definitely do some of this sort of thing.  An explanation of my experiences of gardening in my new to me house that I’ve lived in for three years? That’ll happen too, perhaps next post.

Tonight I was in my office room, and I decided to do something about an ailing Saintpaulia.  Earlier today in Facebook land, we had some great conversations about drainage – I was worrying about Manzanitas, Australian plants, and various others I’ve collected this summer and now need to put in the ground. And then here’s this little plant. It’s just an Orange Box Special (I rarely buy plants there but one day several months ago this one followed me home. It has been flowering for me quite regularly and even now, and its current state of distress.

But I want to explain to you why the Saintpaulia is important. As an introduction to me and my garden blog, I think it’s appropriate to explain that the very first plant that got me into gardening was of all things Saintpaulia.

When I was a kid, somehow I got entranced with them. I tried so hard to grow them, but the house that we lived in had wood stove heat and very bad light. You can imagine how that combination of very dismal humidity, rapidly changing temperatures, and crap light made it very difficult to grow these things.  I’ve since almost never been without one.  I’ve killed many, propagated many, but I would never consider myself any kind of expert with them.  I just like ’em, which is weird because I don’t really like anything else in that plant family.

Anyway here she is, this evening.  In this pic I have removed the plant from the pot it was in.  I suspect poor drainage and maybe overwatering caused crown rot.  Look at these droopy leaves.  Major drought stress.

I started to prick away at the root mass with my handy chopstick. These roots are looking possibly dessicated.

I pulled off a dessicated leaf stem that was attached pretty low, and look at this dark HOLE that was left!

Absolutely no question: this is evidence of crown rot and I have to cut that thing NOW.  So I did.

Oh you poor plant.  How long has this been goin’ on?  I cut until I got to something that looked alive.

Then I put the thing straight into a jar of plain water.  These guys don’t need rooting hormone.  I set it in a low-light area and will pot it up once it gets roots going.

I also pulled off all the flowers and some of the more wilty lower leaves.  It’s here in the very upper right of this pic, just out of reach of the direct gaze of my red/blue LED here.  Good luck, little Saintpaulia.

I did a similar dissection to another Saintpaulia several weeks ago: it had grown a double crown and then got crown rot.  I split it and put each clean crown into water and now both are growing lovely roots.  They will go into a more free-draining potting medium tomorrow in small pots.

Welcome to my blog and thanks for reading.  I hope you enjoy it.