Question: I have a variety with “girl” foliage and would like to enter it in our local show. I’ve been told that this foliage can be difficult to grow. Can you explain?
Answer: “Girl” foliage is described as “deeply scalloped, with white to yellow markings at the base of each leaf”. It has nothing to do with the sex of the plant (a violet can be either parent), and instead, refers to its ancestry, ‘Blue Girl’ being the first variety having this type of foliage. The “deep scalloping” and usually curly nature of the foliage is what makes it difficult to deal with. Leaf blades are rarely smooth and flat, so that good symmetry is harder to achieve.
They can make good showplants, though, if the grower is diligent in keeping unnecessary rows of outer leaves removed. Doing this allows the inner rows of leaves some room to lay flat, and accomodates their curly nature. If outer leaves are not regularly pruned away, the plant takes on a “bunched” appearance. Not only does this spoil symmetry, but it inhibits the production of flower buds.