Why I stopped buying African Violets in stores


When I first started growing African Violets ages ago, I used to buy only leaves from a couple of reliable collectors. So I’ve never met an African Violet pest. I have never put a new plant in a quarantine. Until last summer.

When thrips arrived with the new violet from the store, I didn’t notice. I was ignorant long enough for all my standard violets to be infested. And a couple of weeks after that.

When I did notice, all blooming violets had pollen on the flowers – thrips style. So I took Mavrik gun and killed them all. Thrips, not violets. I threw away heaps of duplicate plants and generously and repeatedly bathed the rest of them in pesticide. Removed all flowers and buds, too. For months.

Next time I saw a new violet at the nearest garden centre, I instantly noticed the signs of thrips. I liked that violet but didn’t want its dwellers. The violet won (they always do), and I brought it home, along with a new bottle of pesticide.

This time I didn’t even let it in the house before the Mavrik bath, and after that, the violet was put in quarantine. It looked sad without its fabulous flowers. It also seemed multi-crowned. So I removed four extra crowns. Now the violet was both sad and shabby. And I repotted it.

Half of its roots were rotten. Minor surgery didn’t help – after six weeks the plant still was in a deplorable condition. I beheaded it and now try to re-root.

Looking back, I feel sorry that I bought it. All I wanted was a beautiful red flowered African Violet. All I got was a crippled plant on hospital care and CPR in the end. It will grow, of course. Eventually.

But you know what – it’ll take months to make it bloom again. If I bought a leaf from a reliable collector, I’d spend the same time growing it from leaf to healthy flowering plant. Minus all Mavrik baths.

I have no one to blame but me – I should know better than buying an infested plant. It was idiotic bringing it home and risking to introduce pests again to my whole collection.

So my new regime is the following:

  • Never buy sick plant again.
  • Quarantine every new addition to the collection.
  • Stop going to garden centres to avoid temptation.

The last rule is the hardest so far. But I am trying. Really.

Next Post
Miniature violet hunt begins…


  • Fern Miller
    03/01/2019 14:18

    As my collection has grown, it’s gotten thrips, fungus gnats and finally mites. It has been a lesson in quarantine, quarantine, quarantine. I also spray for mites as the new leaves are started. I’m considering doing a brief soak in 5-10% bleach solution to any new leaves I order. Have you had any experience with this procedure?

  • Lynley Breeze
    01/10/2019 03:48

    Hi where can I get a bunch of leaves from some unusual african violets. Can they be posted to Dunedin? Thanks Lynley

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