Save my plant?
May 6, 2009 4:39 PM   Subscribe

Help me bring an African violet back from the dead?

I have a potted African violet which has some sentimental value (passed down for years). I was out of town for a while and forgot to have someone water it in my office and now its in a very bad state! There is one semi-viable leaf and the rest are pretty dried out. Is there any way to bring it back from the dead? Or can I use the root to sprout a new plant? Can anyone with a green thumb help me out?
posted by kms to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
You could propagate a new plant from the semi-viable leaf by cutting it off and poking it into a pot of dirt. The link has more detail.
posted by artifarce at 4:52 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Probably. First off cut off all the dead bits. Then put it in a sink and briefly pour water over the soil and let it run out the bottom of the pot for 10 seconds or so being very careful not to get the leaves or stem of the plant wet. Your goal is not to make up for the lack of water over a week but to get the organic material in the soil to re-expand and begin to adhere to the sides of the pot again. It also sort of "wakes up" the roots. Then sit the pot in a bowl of water that comes a max of 1/4 of the way up the side of the pot and keep it at that level for a week in a place out of direct sunlight but with some light and good airflow. This is for a couple reasons: African violets do much better if they are allowed to soak water up from below rather than watered from above, the water level is high enough to encourage the roots to take it up but not enough to drown the thing or make fungus and the lower light allows the plant to save water while it rebuilds green bits from the energy stored in the roots. If it begins to sprout again I (and I bet it will) gradually give it more and more light and treat it extra nicely for a while until it gets it's mojo back.

In future add those moisture absorbing crystals to potting soil or place a soaked felt liner in the drip tray to avoid watering related tragedies.

Alternatively you could re-pot it and drastically but it back but I have never done this with an African violet and have no idea how it would react.
posted by fshgrl at 11:30 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I can only manage to keep alive plants that thrive on neglect, and african violets are one of those plants.

I wouldn't be surprised if it sprouts a few leaves and then a bunch of flowers. My african violets always seem to bloom after I've let the soil totally dry out and then give them a good soak as fshgrl describes.
posted by burntflowers at 10:16 AM on May 7, 2009

Thanks for the great suggestions...its currently sitting in a bowl of water, I'll let you know if it works!
posted by kms at 1:09 PM on May 8, 2009

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