Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Do you have any Trailers?

Primulina diffusa described by GCCC
Do you have any trailers?

In the future when the Asian Violet Society of America (AVSA) holds judged flower shows and plant sales, there will be hobbyists looking for trailers.  What will that mean?

Our mythical plant society will someday rival the African Violet Society.  Maybe even take it over.  Most of the members of the Asian Violet Society will have come from their interest in African Violets.

African Violet trailers are collector varieties that are interesting when each crown makes continuous side crowns which can make a dense cluster of plants.  Therefore a lot of flowers are possible.

We already can see that the genetic pool of Primulina species is far greater than the species pool of Saintpaulia.  There are blue, white, pink and yellow flowers.  Bracts can be big and will enhance the flowering.  We have plain green and highly variegated foliage, big and tiny plants.

And yes, we have trailers.  The species P. diffusa and P. hoehiensis feature stolons and form clusters of adjoining plants from sideward stolons.  There may be other species that have stolon capabilities and this trait will carry into hybrids.

In African Violets, single crown plants dominate commercial production.  So far single crown Asian Violets are preferred.  But who knows what will happen when trailing species find their way into Primulina hybrids.

            Hide and watch!

Primulina hoehiensis (L) from GCCC

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Bracts have it...

Primulina eburnea from GCCC
Primulina 'Chiaki' with Colorful Bracts

Several of the Primulina species have large, colorful bracts ------ the sheath that shields the corollas that emerge as the flower unfolds.  These dramatic colorful wings will play a significant part in future hybridization of Asian Violets.  They will be just as important as the side petal on Pathiopedilum Orchids that give them a stately appearance.

            As new Primulina species are found in China by the researchers at the Gesneriad Conservation Center of China, the botanical descriptions include the bracts.  They are observed and described with size, color and even the degree of open positioning when in full flower.  Examples are 180 degree open, 45 degree open, and 120 degree open.

            Since bracts are a variable trait and since all traits segregate independently, then we would expect infinite bract possibilities in hybrids.

            I predict that some future hybridizer will specialize in bract selection.  We are already seeing that the bract color can contrast with the corolla cluster.

            The recently described Primulina ‘Chiaki’ is a great example of the exciting possibilities.  Bract/corolla combinations will enhance the flowering beyond the mundane blues that many species have.

            I predict that someday Gesneriad and African Violet shows will have a category for Primulina in flower featuring bracts.

Pathiopedilum hennisianum

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Featured Story from the Past.

Asian Violets by the Hundreds

            The Google blog platform has a new gadget that allows me to place a selected blog post as a featured story.

            Amazingly Google still supports their blog system at no charge.  Is this a great country or what?  Thank you, Google.

            So what do I want to bring to your attention?

            I got an email from Alcie, a Gesneriad hobbyist, who likes my name for Primulina as Asian Violets.

            The common name is an important issue for the long term success of Asian Violets as common houseplants.  So I am showing my thinking on the name and how it is the most logical one.  The featured story is at the bottom of the blog window.

            If you don’t like the common name ‘Asian Violets’, please tell me what you like.  If you like the common name ‘Asian Violets’ use it as often as you can.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Designing The Perfect Houseplant

Primulina 'Loki' grown by Scott in his office.

If we wanted to design the perfect houseplant from scratch, we would want it to be carefree with culture requirements similar to what we humans like.

That would mean the plant would be adaptive to a wide range of light, temperature, humidity and occasional lack of water.  It would be decorative and have enough interesting qualities to make it worth giving it some time and space.  If it would flower occasionally, that would be a bonus.

I gave my son a Primulina ‘Loki’ to see if he would have success.  The picture shows a good looking plant with flowers.  Even though he grew up around my greenhouse business, even he would describe himself as a ‘non-plant’ person.

I interviewed him about his success:

Is this your office or apartment?
This is on my desk at the office.

Is it window light or only fluorescent?
Mostly fluorescent.  The windows are open all day, but my desk is probably 20 feet away, so it would be indirect most of the time, except for briefly at sunset when the sunlight comes straight in horizontally.

Did it have buds on it when I gave it?
Not sure. I don't think so.  Maybe they were hidden under the leaves. I think the whole stalk/stem with the flowers on it grew from "nothing" to 6 inches or so, surprisingly quickly.

Does it have a wick in it?

How often did you water it?
Because the pot is suspended inside the silver container, I found that when I water it, it all runs straight through the pot and the dirt would dry out again while the water pooled in the bottom.  So, I've been trying to water smaller amounts every other day or so.  Sometimes I take the pot out and recycle the collected water through the pot again.

Have the other buds opened up?
There is another stalk with 3 more flowers on it.  The first ones from the picture have mostly died by now in the last two weeks.  I'll send a new picture.

              His story shows that Asian Violets are perfect houseplants and causal plant- tenders can have success with Primulina.