Monday, April 15, 2024

Self-watering pots

Question:  We received our order of 8 various African violets.  Most of them we potted into self-watering planters.  They are not progressing.  I would appreciate any help you can give.

Answer:  This is likely the single most-asked question we receive.  There is nothing inherently wrong about growing in self-watering, Oyama, or “violet” pots, but when using them you MUST use a VERY porous, light soil mix.  Do NOT use commercially sold “violet soil” (like those found at your garden center, supermarket, or department store) for “violet” pots (for that matter not all “violet” fertilizers are best either).  Putting the word “violet” on the label doesn’t make it good for your violets–in fact, usually worse.  It’s good marketing, and plenty of soil, pots, and fertilizer is sold because of it, but this doesn’t make it correct.

So what kind of soil should be used for self-watering “violet” pots?  One containing at LEAST 50 percent perlite or other relatively non-absorbant material.   Vermiculite, though it does help lighten the soil, still absorbs too much water to be sufficient as an additive.  Select soils using the following rule: the wetter you intend to keep your plant, the more perlite to include in the mix.

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