GROWING AFRICAN VIOLETS
HOW TO CARE FOR AFRICAN VIOLETS
By The Editors
African Violets are delightful houseplants and will brighten up any room with their purple, pink, or white colors.
African violets are small houseplants that produce clusters of white, blue, or purple flowers over fuzzy leaves. Here’s how to care for African violets in your home!
African violets will bloom with lower light, but medium to bright indirect light is best. They can be a bit fussy, so check out more tips on how to make sure your African violets bloom.
HOW TO PLANT AFRICAN VIOLETS
· You can use an actual African violet potting mix or an all-purpose potting soil, as long as it is well-draining. Here’s how to create your own mix.
· Keep African violets planted in small pots and re-pot once a year to mix in fresh soil.
· The soil should be loose and well-drained, and high organic matter content is beneficial. Learn about organic soil amendments.
HOW TO CARE FOR AFRICAN VIOLETS
· Keep the soil lightly moist and use room-temperature water.
· Leaves are susceptible to rot if kept in high humidity, so water African violets from the bottom to avoid getting excess water on the leaves.
· Dust dirt off the leaves with a small, soft brush.
· Fertilize every 2 weeks with a high phosphorous plant food, but only during the active growing season (spring and summer). Only start to fertilize when the plant appears to need an extra boost. Over-fertilizing is a more common problem than under-fertilizing.
· Many varieties prefer warm conditions (65°F / 18°C or warmer) though some can tolerate cooler conditions. Keep away from drafty windows in winter.
· Thin, dark green leaves and leggy stems tell you that the plant is getting too little light; light green or bleached leaves indicate too much light.
· Plants should be shifted to larger pots as they grow, but keeping African violets slightly root-bound can encourage them to bloom. The optimal time for repotting is after some leaves have wilted a bit.
For more information on African violets, visit the website for the African Violet Society of America at www.avsa.org.
· Cyclamen mites can occur. They are nearly impossible to remove completely, so disposal of the infected plant and isolation of nearby plants is recommended.
· Powdery Mildew
· Various forms of rot and blight
There are hundreds of varieties and hybrids, from miniature violets to trailing varieties! They differ mainly in the colors of their flowers, which range from white to purple, though some varieties have variegation in their foliage and flowers as well.
African violets are typically classified by size, based on how wide they grow:
· Miniature: less than 8 inches across
· Standard: 8–16 inches across
· Large: more than 16 inches across
WIT & WISDOM
· Violets (Viola)—though unrelated to African violets—are one of the February birth flowers, so a potted African violet can make a bright gift for a February birthday.
· African violets originally come from Tanzania, in East Africa. Find out more about these dainty flowers here.
· The violet symbolizes loyalty, devotion, and faithfulness. Find out more flower symbolism here.
A FEW LITTLE LAUGHS
MARCH BIRTH FLOWER: THE DAFFODIL
DAFFODIL SYMBOLISM AND MEANING
By The Editors
March 1, 2021
March’s birth flower is the daffodil. It’s no surprise why! These cheerful flowers are a harbinger of spring! Learn more about the daffodil’s flower meaning and symbolism.
MARCH’S BIRTH FLOWER
Daffodil is actually just a nickname. The botanical or Latin name is “Narcissus” which comes from the Greek word “narkissos” and its base word “narke,” meaning a narcotic or numb sensation, attributed to the sedative effect from the alkaloids in its plants. All members are poisonous, which is great for gardeners, because that makes them critter-proof. The bulbs and leaves contain poisonous crystals which only certain insects can eat with impunity. They may, however, dig up the bulbs.
March’s flower is sometimes called the jonquil. However, note that this term is sometimes misused; jonquil is one group of daffodils, not all daffodils. The Royal Horticultural Society divides Narcissus into 13 divisions from the large showy cup to trumpets to jonquils (division 7) to wild variants.
DAFFODIL FLOWER MEANING
The daffodil symbolizes unequaled love, so giving this flower to someone expresses a deep love that can not be rivaled or imitated.
The daffodil has also been associated in history with death and rebirth—from the death of the self-loving Narcissus in Greek mythology to its perennial return as an Easter flower.
Certainly, one of the first flowers of spring brings us new beginnings and, as the poet Keats said, daffodils bring “joy for ever”. With their bright yellow petals, daffodils seem the perfect way to say that the sun is always shining whenever your loved one is around.
From Lois. . .
THE MONTH OF MARCH 2021: HOLIDAYS, FUN FACTS, FOLKLORE
EVERYTHING YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MARCH
By The Editors
March 1, 2021
March brings with it the promise of gardening and warm(er), sunny days, as Earth turns its frostbitten cheek to winter and springs forth from the vernal equinox. Read about this month’s holidays, happenings, seasonal recipes, gardening tips, Moon phases, folklore, and much more!
THE MONTH OF MARCH
“March” is named for the Roman god of war, Mars. This was the time of year to resume military campaigns that had been interrupted by winter. Read more about how the months got their names.
In the early Roman calendar, March (or Martius) was the first month of the calendar year. As March brought the first day of spring with the vernal equinox, it was the start of new beginnings.
March became the third month when January and February, which were added to the end of the Roman calendar around 700 BCE, instead became the first and second months around 450 BCE.
I Martius am! Once first, and now third!
To lead the Year was my appointed place;
A mortal dispossessed me by a word,
And set there Janus with the double face.
–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet (1807–82)
· March 8 is International Women’s Day, which is a day that not only celebrates the achievements of women and the progress made toward women’s rights, but also brings attention to ongoing struggles for equality around the world.
· March 14 is the start of Daylight Saving Time, which begins at 2:00 A.M. that day. If your area observes it, don’t forget to “spring forward” and set the clocks one hour ahead, or you may find yourself an hour late to everything!
· March 15 is the Ides of March! Legend surrounds this ill-fated day. Beware the Ides of March!
· March 15 is also Clean Monday. Also called Pure Monday, this day marks the beginning of Great Lent for followers of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church. This day is similar to Ash Wednesday of the Western Church.
· March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day. According to folklore, folks wear a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day because the saint used its three leaves to explain the Trinity.
· March 20 brings about the March equinox—also called the vernal or spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere—marking the beginning of spring. In the Southern Hemisphere, this date marks the autumnal equinox and the beginning of fall. On this day, the Sun stands directly over Earth’s equator.
· March 27 is the start of Passover, which begins at sundown on this day.
· March 18 is Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter and the last Sunday of Lent.
· March 29-31 are known as the Borrowing Days. According to lore, the last three days of March have a reputation for being stormy.
· Looking ahead: This year, Easter Sunday will occur on April 4, culminating the Holy Week for Christian churches and commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Read more about Easter Sunday and find out why the date changes every year.
The brown buds thicken on the trees,
Unbound, the free streams sing,
As March leads forth across the leas
The wild and windy spring.
–Elizabeth Akers Allen (1832–1911)
“Just for Fun” Days
Did you know that March is National Umbrella Month? Here are some more wacky things to celebrate this month:
· March 3: What If Cats and Dogs Had Opposable Thumbs Day
· March 9: International Fanny Pack Day
· March 13: National Ear Muff Day
· March 16: National Panda Day
· March 21: Absolutely Incredible Kid Day
· March 23: World Meteorological Day
· March 31: World Backup Day
The Full Worm Moon
March’s full Moon, the Worm Moon, reaches peak illumination on Sunday, March 28, at 2:50 PM EDT. Look for it that evening as it rises above the horizon!
March Moon Phases
Last Quarter: Mar. 5, 8:32 p.m. EST
New Moon: Mar 13, 5:23 a.m. EST
First Quarter: Mar 21, 10:41 a.m. EDT
Full Moon: Mar. 28, 2:50 p.m. EDT
In Like a Leo, Out Like an Aries
You may have heard the weather proverb, “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb,” which means that if the month starts off stormy, it will end with mild weather. There is, however, a different interpretation: The constellation Leo, the lion, rises in the east at the beginning of March and thus the month “comes in like a lion,” while Aries, the ram, sets in the west at the end of the month, and hence, the month “will go out like a lamb.”
The Start of Spring
The March equinox occurs on Saturday, March 20, 2021. In the Northern Hemisphere, this is known as the vernal, or spring, equinox and marks the start of the spring season. In the Southern Hemisphere, autumn begins.
At this time, the Sun crosses the celestial equator on its way north. Also on this day, the Sun rises exactly in the east and sets exactly in the west—a good thing to know if you get lost in the woods.
The March equinox occurs on March 20 at 5:37 A.M. EDT this year, ushering in the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere. At this time, the Sun’s position will be at which of the following coordinates on the celestial sphere?
A. 0 hour right ascension, 0° declination.
B. 6 hours right ascension, 23.5° North declination.
C. 12 hours right ascension, 0° declination
D. 18 hours right ascension, 23.5° South declination
Answer: A. B describes the Sun’s position during the June (summer) solstice; C, during the September (fall) equinox; and D, during the December (winter) solstice.
· According to folklore, wear a sprig of rosemary in your hair to improve your memory!
· March brings rain and mud! Sprinkle salt on carpets to dry out muddy footprints before vacuuming. Find more cleaning tips.
BIRDS & FISHING
According to Henry David Thoreau, the call of a bluebird is a song that “melts the ear, as the snow.”
Check birdhouses for damage and give them a spring cleaning before tenants arrive for the season.
Spring means fishing!
FOLKLORE FOR THE SEASON
· A wet spring, a dry harvest.
· On St. Patrick’s Day, the warm side of a stone turns up, and the broad-back goose begins to lay.
· March comes in with adders’ heads and goes out with peacocks’ tails.
· Thunder in spring, Cold will bring.
· So many mists in March you see, So many frosts in May will be.
· In beginning or in end, March its gifts will send.
· Bleak winds assault us all around;
Dances aloft, or skims the ground:
See the school-boy—his hat in hand,
While on the path he scarce can stand
March’s birth flower is the daffodil or jonquil. The daffodil signifies regard or unrequited love. The jonquil means “I desire a return of affection.”
March’s birthstone is the aquamarine. This gem is a type of beryl; its color can be pale to dark blue, greenish-blue, or blue-green; deep, intense blue versions are more valuable.
March’s Zodiac signs are Pisces (February 20 to March 20) and Aries (March 21 to April 20).
GROWING SNAKE PLANTS
HOW TO CARE FOR SNAKE PLANTS
By The Editors
Snake plants, also known as “Mother-in-Law’s Tongue” and Sansevieria, are one of the easiest houseplants to take care of. This succulent plant is very forgiving and perfect for beginners. Here’s how to care for a snake plant in your home!
Too much water and freezing temperatures are two of the few things that can really affect this plant. Soggy soil will cause root rot.
Native to southern Africa, snake plants are well adapted to conditions similar to those in southern regions of the United States. Because of this, they may be grown outdoors for part of all of the year in USDA zones 8 and warmer. However, they spread by sending out underground runners and may become invasive, so treat snake plants like you would bamboo; plant it only in contained areas or pots.
HOW TO PLANT SNAKE PLANTS
· Choose a pot with a drainage hole in the bottom. Terra cotta pots work well for snake plants, since they allow the soil to dry out more easily than plastic pots.
· Use a well-draining potting mix. A potting mix designed for “cacti and succulents” is ideal, as it will be more resistant to becoming oversaturated with water.
· When repotting snake plants, don’t bury them too deep. The plant should be planted as deep as it had been in its prior container.
CHOOSING A LOCATION IN THE HOME
· Snake plants prefer bright, indirect light and can even tolerate some direct sunlight. However, they also grow well (albeit more slowly) in shady corners and other low-light areas of the home.
· Keep the plant in a warm spot with temperatures above 50°F (10°C). In the winter, be sure to protect it from drafty windows.
HOW TO CARE FOR SNAKE PLANTS
Watering Snake Plants
One of the most common problems encountered with snake plants (and other succulents) is overwatering. These plants do not tolerate soggy soil well; they tend to develop root rot. To avoid this, follow these watering practices:
· Do not water too frequently. Let the soil mostly dry out between waterings.
o Tip: To know when it’s time to water, don’t just rely on how the surface of the soil looks. Instead, carefully stick your finger or a wooden chopstick a couple inches into the soil. If you feel any moisture or see soil stick to the chopstick, hold off on watering.
· Water from the bottom of the pot, if possible. This encourage the roots to grow downward and deep, helping to stabilize the thick, tall leaves.
· During the winter, while the plant isn’t actively growing, water less often than you would in spring and summer.
Caring for Snake Plants
· The large, flat leaves tend to collect dust; wipe them down with a damp cloth as needed.
· In good conditions, snake plants are rapid growers and may need to be divided annually.
· Divide and repot in the spring. Cut out a section containing both leaves and roots and place in a pot with well-draining potting mix.
· If a snake plant is pot bound, it may flower occasionally. Fragrant, greenish-white flower clusters appear on tall spikes
· Root rot due to overwatering is the most common issue.
o If this occurs, remove any dying leaves and allow the plant to dry out more than usual. Snake plants are resilient and typically recover. However, if the plant continues to die, remove it from its pot, discard of any rotted roots and leaves, and repot in fresh soil.
· Sansevieria trifasciata is the most common species of snake plant. It has tall, dark-green leaves with light grayish-green horizontal stripes.
o ‘Bantel’s Sensation’ — Narrow leaves have white vertical stripes and grow to about 3 feet long. This variety can be hard to find.
· Sansevieria hahnii:
o ‘Bird’s Nest’ — Short, wide leaves of dark and light green form a tight nest shape, like that of a bromeliad. Leaves only grow 6 to 8 inches long. This variety does need much light to grow well.
o ‘Golden Hahnii’ — Like the standard ‘Bird’s Nest’, but with leaves variegated along the edge in yellow.
· Sansevieria cylindrica:
o ‘Cylindrical Snake Plant’ — As its name suggests, this species of snake plant has cylindrical leaves that end in a fierce point.
o ‘Starfish Snake Plant’ — The starfish snake plant has cylindrical leaves that fan out from its base, giving it a starfish-like shape.
· Sansevieria masoniana:
o ‘Whale Fin’ — These interesting snake plants have large, wide leaves that resemble the fin of a whale breaching the water’s surface.
WIT & WISDOM
· Snake plants, along with spider plants and peace lilies, are reportedly very effective at cleaning the air, removing toxins such as formaldehyde. However, further studies are needed to determine the true extent of these plants’ air-purifying capabilities!
· Sansevieria trifasciata, a type of snake plant native of tropical Africa, yields a strong plant fiber and was once used to make bow strings for hunting. For this reason, it also goes by the name “Bowstring Hemp.”