African Violets And My Mom

Apr
25
by Christine

My mom was not an outdoors person. She did not garden, camp or participate in water sports. Like many of the families in the 1950's and 1960's, Mom tossed the salad in the kitchen while Dad grilled the steaks in the backyard. She did not venture out into the wilds of the backyard. Mom firmly believed that her children were born for the sole purpose of mowing the lawn, weeding, sweeping the front porch and deck so that she would not be required to go outside.

She did have one love that put her in touch with nature, African violets. Mom was the Alexander the Great of African violets. She conquered and subjugated every African violet that came into our home. In her later years, African violets multiplied under her care to the point that every surface in her kitchen was covered with plants that bloomed in a range of colors from white to dark purple. Mom had a lot in common with the neighborhood cat lady.  If one African violet came into the house then 50 were sure to follow. She grew them in little tea cups and ceramic pots. The introduction of African violet pots allowed for more plants with less work. Mom propagated plants by leaf cuttings and as a kid watching a whole plant emerge from a single leaf reinforced the feeling that my mother had powers beyond normal people.

African violets were the perfect flower for my mother. They came to the United States from Tanzania and southeastern Kenya in 1894. I would love to visit Tanzania or Kenya one day to see these beautiful plants growing in the wild. The African violet develop a reputation for being difficult and finicky to grow in the States because they were and are temperature sensitive. They need a night time temperature of 68-70˚ and day time temperature of 75-80˚ and homes in early 19th Century were drafty and uncomfortably cold at times. The introduction of the florescent light and better built homes helped increase the popularity of African violets. An estimated 22 million African violets are sold a year in the United States.

My African violet took a real beating this winter in the kitchen window. The herb window was a cold and drafty place for a little hothouse flower. I divided the plant in two and gave it a good dose of African violet fertilizer. When it blooms I will post pictures on the Footsteps FACEBOOK page. Did your mom have a favorite flower? Does she now? What good memories come to mind with spring flowers?

Hugs,
C