Question: What is the maximum number of rows of leaves a violet should have?
Answer: This is really a matter of personal preference. When exhibited, good symmetry (or form) is rewarded, not quantity of foliage. The number of rows necessary to achieve good symmetry usually depends upon the size of the leave blade relative to the length of petiole. Varieties with relatively long petioles and small leaf blades (imagine a badminton racquet) will need more rows of leaves to fill the same amount of space than those with shorter petioles and larger leaf blades (a racquetball racquet). Symmetry is also easier to achieve with round, rather than pointed, leaves, since the former fill more space and provide a smoother outline to the perimeter of the plant.
When growing standard-sized varieties for show, bigger is usually better. However, keep in mind that more bloom, or larger bloom is needed to complement the additional foliage–bigger, but not necessarily biggest. Some of the better varieties make a terrific, good-sized show plant with as few as three or four rows of leaves–the individual leaves are so large that not many of them are needed to produce a large plant. For miniatures and semiminiatures, our feeling is to grow as few rows as necessary to achieve good symmetry. Since, by definition, these varieties are supposed to be small, unnecessary rows of leaves are just that–unnecessary. Finally, remember that bloom is usually only produced from the first few rows of leaves. All of those older, outer rows of leaves won’t be providing additional flowers