Thursday, June 1, 2023

Algae in water

Question:  Is there any way that I can keep the water in my wicking reservoir from turning green with algae? Answer:  Since the algae won’t grow in the dark, one solution is to use a dark, light-blocking, reservoir.  Another is to add about 1/4 teaspoon of Physan 20 for every gallon of water.  Physan 20 is a popular, easy, and relatively […]


Question:  I have some violets as well as a few orchids.  My problem is aphids, which I think came in on some mini roses from a local nursery.  I’d like to get some more violets, but I’d like to get rid of this problem first. Answer:  Aphids aren’t usually a common problem in violets, though they have […]

Rust color in plant center

Question:  I purchased a violet at a department store along with a “violet pot” and some potting soil.  I’m now noticing a “rust-colored” crust in the center of the plant, rotting patches on the leaves, and a white crust on the soil.  What am I doing wrong? Answer:  In a nutshell, the soil is being kept too […]

Water pH

Question:  My violets have seen to suddenly stopped growing.  The centers are tight and the new leaves seem to be deformed. Answer:  This question is one that we recently received by phone and that we found particularly interesting.  The answer was obvious, but didn’t come to mind until the conversation was nearly ended and the critical information […]

Soil mites: thread like pests on soil surface

Question:  I wick-water my plants and have noticed very tiny, thread-like insects hopping around on the surface of the soil and sometimes in the water.  How do I get rid of these? Answer:  What you most likely have are “springtails” or “soil mites”, which are long, thin, grayish-white insects perhaps 1/8″ long.  They can occasionally “hop”, but […]

Mealy bugs: white substance on stem

Question:  My violet hasn’t looked very happy lately.  The leaves look dull and a bit limp.  There is a white substance around the base of the stem, which makes me suspicious.  Could this be a pest problem that’s causing my plant to look this way, and how do I get rid of it? Answer:  It sounds like […]

White crust on soil surface

Question:  A white crust has appeared on the soil surface of my plants, as well as “brownish crystals” on the leaves in the center.  The crown of one plant has rotted.  I wick-water and use a soil mix containing one-third perlite.  Answer:  These are some of the symptoms of a violet that is being kept too wet.  […]

Neem oil for powdery mildew

Question:  My sister sent me some “Neem oil” to use for powdery mildew, but I haven’t a clue how to use it.  Could you tell me? Answer:  “Neem oil” is processed from seeds of the neem tree, native to eastern India and Burma, and is a wonderful product that can be effective as an insecticide, miticide, and […]

Brushing leaves

Question:  I’ve been told that my violets shouldn’t be brushed, as this might scar the leaves, and that I should wash them instead.  I’ve seen others brushing the leaves of their plants, though. Answer:  It’s all right to brush your violet’s leaves.  We’re big believers in regular brushing.  A clean plant is a healthy plant.  Why wait […]

Yellowish center growth

Question:  Seemingly overnight, two of my repotted plants leaves have turned a light yellowish-green in the center growth. Answer:  When we got this question, we immediately thought back to one of our local club meetings the week before.  A member brought in a “problem plant”, whose outer rows of leaves were its usual shade of green, […]