Monday, February 26, 2024

Spent (old) blooms

Question:  I am new to taking care of African violets.  I don’t know the correct way to “snip” spent or dead flowers.  I looked it up on the internet but they just said “cut them off”.  But, just where–on the petal stem or do I take off the entire stem?

Answer:  Though the answer may seem obvious to some, we do get this question surprisingly frequently, so it’s worth addressing.  First, some vocabulary.  Each blossom stem (peduncle) produced by the plant will likely branch (pedicels) and produce many individual flowers.  If it’s just one flower, of many, that is “spent” (no longer fresh) or unsightly, just cut (snip with small scissors or your fingernails) off this one spent bloom.  Cut at the base of the pedicel, close to where it branches from the main blossom stem (peduncle).  When you’re left with just a couple of flowers remaining on the blossom stem, remove the entire stem (for appearance’s sake, if nothing else), down to its base.  You can cut it off or, with some practice, “snap” it off with the flick of the wrist.

African violets generally only will bloom once from the same axil so, unlike orchids, for example, there’s no need to leave old bloom stems on the plant.  These will eventually brown and/or rot anyway.  Don’t fee squeamish about removing old or unsightly blooms (or leaves).  Old or unhealthy blooms and leaves don’t benefit the plant and, should they begin to rot or decay, only invite other problems (pests and disease).  Don’t worry about losing a few flowers–a healthy plant in the proper environment is capable of blooming nearly continuously.  It won’t  be long before your violet is producing more!

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