How to Avoid African Violet Chimeras
What in the world is an African violet chimera? It sounds like a cross between Audrey, the man eating plan from Little Shop of Horrors, and your grandma’s African violet sitting placidly on her kitchen table. Most people know the trick to starting new African violets. You take a leaf cutting, sit it in a glass of water, and after about 2-3 weeks, roots appear. You can plant the rooted leaf and grow a new plant. Sometimes, however, you find that when the plant blooms, it’s an entirely different color from the parent plant! Congratulations, you’ve stumbled across an African violet chimera. Many ruffled leaf varieties and varieties with two-toned flowers are actually chimeras. The leaf offspring will not grow a plant identical to the parent plant. So how in the world do you grow a new plant? Here’s how to avoid African violet chimeras and grow plants identical to a lovely hybrid parent.
things you’ll need:
- African violet with color-edged white flowers – these are likely hybrids
- African violet with ruffled or multicolored leaves – these are likely to be hybrids
- Sharp knife
- Potting soil
- First, do you know if your plant will reproduce true from a leaf? Try rooting a leaf first. If you root it and get it to bloom, and it’s the same as the parent plant – keep rooting new plants from the leaves. It’s a lot less traumatic to the parent plant! It takes a long time but worth it.
- If you absolutely know that your parent plant and its offspring produce differently colored flowers, you have a chimera. Wait until the parent plant is potbound (too big for its pot). It needs to have a very well developed crown. The crown is the tight bunch of leaves in the center.
- Using a sharp, clean knife, slice the plant in half through the crown and down through the root system. Separate the halves gently in your hands.
- Plant each half in a new pot with fresh, sterile potting soil. Water and baby the plants through the shock of division. Division produces two genetically identical plants. When the crowns reform and the plants bloom, you should have identical plants!