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Karen's Growing Hints

Updated 28.2.01




Try growing the free Mixed Seed from AGGS

I High recommend this Society to Join and Seed Fund To Purchase from!

The Gesneriad seed sowing is very easy! I sowed my original mixed seed from AGGs (yes, you get a packet of Free seed when you join up) into my usual soil-less mix, like I do all my gessie seed.

First, I put the mix into the lidded clear container, levelled it, and soaked in warm water, then drained it. I sprinkled/sowed the seed very carefully, on top of the mix, covered the container, then placed up close under my lights, approx. 4” away, till germination started.

I keep a close eye on the container for drying out, and condensation... they mustn't ever dry out, and heavy condensation must be allowed to escape by lifting the lid. Once most were through, I lowered the seedlings under the lights.

After that, it was just a matter of time before they all came through, then, when they are big enough, the lid was gradually taken off, each day, until they were acclimatised to the open air.

I use a very weak fertilizer for them, occasionally only. And always watered from the bottom, so that the small plants and their roots are not washed away.

And next time, I would use 2 containers, for this particular seed mixture, and sow only half a pkt in each one! I am sometimes slow to pot up the seedlings, or prick them out, and they get very crowded and also leggy.


The “other Gesneriads”, like African Violets, propagate so easily from cuttings. The Sinningia tip cuttings, stem cuttings or leaves, will root, then produce a plant, or a tuber first, then a young plant.

Just trim the cutting or leaf neatly, plant into your favourite rooting medium, cover, and put under lights, or in a well-lit area. Keep warm and moist, but not wet. In a few weeks you will soon have a new plant, or in the case of a Sinningia leaf, mini or speciosa, you will in time get a new tuber, then a new plant from that..

The leaves take longer to produce the tuber, but with the lid on the container, there is no worry of it drying out.

Its fun, don't throw them away, try growing a new plant to swap with friends or for the sales table.


Usually I grow my Mini Sinningias in my usual soil mix, wicked, and under lights, just the the same as I do my other African Violets and Gesneriads.

But after reading of using other methods I thought I would give these a try also.

This is to grow the tubers in purely New Zealand Spaghnum Moss, on a Constant Feed wicked system.

Here is what I did:

First of all I removed all of the soil mix from the tiny tuber, and planted it into the moss.

I prepared the moss by soaking a “cork” ie compressed pellet of milled NZ Spaghnum Moss, in warm water for a few hours, fluffed it up with a fork, then placed some fairly loosely in a 2in pot with a wick in the bottom. Then I carefully added a little of this moss to the top of the tuber, not much, just barely covering it.

I then soaked the wicked plant in warm water for approximately an hour. Then I placed this onto a small reservoir, under the lights, amongst the violets, wherever there is a little space!

I did not do all of the Sinningias this way, as I would not risk all of anything on something quite new to me. The rest of them carried on, alongside this experimental one.

Very soon the plant came away again, and very strongly too. I have kept the reservoir topped up at all times, sometimes with a little weak fertilizer in it, and sometimes with plain water. The plant is now blooming for the 2nd time, and has several more buds this time round.

I am very pleased indeed with the growth of the plant. To me it is clearly happy and the foliage is lush.

I now consider this experiment to be a complete success and I would recommend that you try this also! It is fun and easy, and the results are worthwhile. When the rest of my Sinningias are tired and need to be repotted, I will use this method. Happy Growing!


Once the winter was over, in October, it was time to select and repot any possible entries for our upcoming Show on 8th and 9th April this year. To do this I looked amongst the plants and plantlets I now had in my collection and made sure those with a good shape, ie symmetrical and flat, were repotted. But unfortunately it was November by the time this was completely done, as all of the plants by then needed a repot. So some plants didn’t make a new pot in time because of time constraints.

However, I was satisfied with the growth on the ones that responded to the repot by putting out new larger growth, and these were groomed again, smaller leaves removed and the stems gently scraped and put back in the same sized pots, and just a few of the larger ones were potted into the black Aussie pots. Some of these were Burmese, Tomahawk, Kimono, My Freckle Face sport chimera, Pink Patti, Victorian Velvet.

These six or so were given the best position on my lightstand in the house. They were under my watchful eye all the time, and were groomed first, brushed regularly, disbudded, and never allowed to dry out during the hot summer months. The others were all in the plantroom outside, and received regular care also.

12 weeks were counted back from the Show date as per Pauline Bartholomew’s wonderful book, Growing to Show, and these guidelines were followed by me on a regular basis. I think the only difference was that I didn’t use a bloom booster. It was a busy time and I didn’t really get around to buying any, though in the past I have never felt it was necessary for my plants.

Also at this time, my bulbs were replaced with new ones, half of them at the 12 week time, and the rest a week later. The lights were reduced by one hour for the 2 weeks. Then they were increased according to the Growing to Show Schedule. After this, the plants noticeably grew almost daily, the leaves all soon touching and having to be moved apart regularly. December and January are warm months so the temps contributed to the rapid growth.

I used 2-3 different fertilizers, but the main one I used was Miracle Gro which I found at The Warehouse, it was a good price so I bought a box for the plantroom and a box for the house. This is good for all kinds of plants, wick-watering, foliar feeding and also helps with transplant shock. I like the results I have been getting with this.

The plants were all Foliar fed say once a month during the 3 months, but only a light mist, during the heat of the day, never saturated or dripping.

The reservoirs were given a constant feed except now and then they would have plain water. During this period we had a short break away, and they coped well; being on reservoirs can keep them going for 3 weeks without refilling. But they couldn’t move apart by themselves! To not quickly move them apart when they touch, inhibits their growth.

Of course all kinds of mishaps occurred, one of them was the top light fitting falling down on the plants in the house, and smashing parts of the bloomheads and foliage of the nicest ones. They recovered ok, but my nerves were slower to recover. Every time the family walked past the stand it seemed someone would snap off a leaf; every time I moved a plant, or reached over it, a leaf snapped off. Still, thats all part of growing for show, and everyone has these worries. We get through it all, and have a wonderful show, after all!

The last week before the show was the the most hectic, the time for checking that final suckers were removed, topping up the pots with mix, or potting down, brushing the leaves, removing wrongly placed leaves or adjusting them, checking all pots for dirt, putting name tags under the pots, and making up a list of those being entered in the show, for the entries. This makes the packing up to take the plants to the hall a much easier task as the main grooming work is done, and only a final brushing is needed before placing on the show benches.

It was at this time that I observed a few plants did not respond to the larger pots, and these had to be returned to the smaller ones, to keep them in proportion. This was tricky as they were so large and brittle, but only one plant was unco-operative and had extra leaves removed.

Because the temps dropped considerably before our show, I was caught out with disbudding my variegates too long, they were all held back and not ready, and the semis and minis, mostly these all came into their peak about 2 weeks to a month after the show, this is also Murphy’s Law. Still its nice to have a private show at home to enjoy.

So this is how I did it, and there is no secret, just consistent and regular care to a set schedule, and attention to detail. Hopefully this will inspire more of you to have a go and enter next time.


More Tips and Techniques will be added from time to time, do call back!


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