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Need a quick pick-me-up?

This can provide continuous indoor bloom while you wait to garden outdoors

African violet houseplant.

March can be one of the hardest months for an avid gardener to endure. It is still winter, not much can be accomplished yet in the outdoor garden, and we are tired of the same old, same old in the house. At this time of year, I look around for inexpensive and quick fixes to my dilemma, a plant that will insert some fresh colour and interest into the indoor landscape without breaking the bank — I am saving my money for all the plants I want to buy for my outdoor garden!

One plant that serves this purpose very well is the African violet. These lovely little plants are available almost everywhere and usually are priced below $5 — a bargain. They come in full bloom that can be white, white and blue, or white and pink bicolour. There are red, pink, coral, purple and various other shades available, so you should be able to find one that suits your fancy.

If you see a display of African violets and decide to buy one, choose carefully. Select one with no spent blooms and one that has lots of unopened buds. This will give you bloom for a couple of months before the plant begins to flag — and by that time you should be outside gardening!

From the Grainews website: Couple ‘farms’ city garden plots

When you get your violet home, slip it out of the foil sleeve and place the pot in a suitable container, one in which you have placed an inverted saucer or some other device to keep it from sitting in excess water. Use warm water and avoid tap water. Use a liquid fertilizer specifically designed for African violets, and follow the label directions. Pinch off any damaged leaves or spent blooms, both to deter disease and to enhance the plant’s appearance.

Although African violets like bright light, because you want your plant for display, put it where it can be enjoyed. Unless the location is unusually dark, your violet will receive enough light to keep it healthy until all the buds have opened and produced bloom. If the leaves get dusty, use a soft paintbrush (or an unused makeup brush) to gently brush the dust off the leaves. Be careful not to get droplets of water or fertilizer on the leaves or permanent marks might be the result.

Don’t keep the planting medium of your violet overly wet; water the plant when a finger poked into the soil determines that it is drying out, but don’t let it totally dry out. If you take proper care of your plant, it will reward you with continuous bloom until you are able to get outdoors into your garden and will no longer be in need of a spring tonic — spring will have arrived!

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