Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - January 08, 2010

From: Des Moines, IA
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Problems with non-native African violets in Des Moines
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My violets have stopped blooming after years and have developed a growth in the middle of the plant. Can I save these plants and how can I revive them. Thank you, I am desperate to salvage them as they are gifts.

ANSWER:

There are 27 violets, members of the Viola genus, native to Iowa. However, they are all summer-blooming plants. We just checked your weather, it is 5 deg. there, with heavy snow on the ground. Any violets are peacefully sleeping under all that, waiting for Spring.

So, we are pretty sure you are referring to the African violet, not a true violet but Saintpaulia ionantha, which is a popular houseplant that grows and flowers under light conditions found in the average home or under artificial light. 

At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we are all about plants that are native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. One of the most heavily hybridized plants around, Saintpaulia ionantha originated in (where else?) Africa, specifically Tanzania.  Both its nativity and the hybridization put those plants out of our realm of expertise. The University of Florida Extension has a website on the culture of African Violets that should give you some leads to the solution of your problem. Also, the African Violet Society has a Des Moines chapter. Your best bet is to find someone who has specific experience with these plants and has grown them over a period of time.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Smarty Plants on Pittosporum
August 05, 2005 - Need to know if "PITTOSPORUM" (TOBIRA VARIEGATA) will grow in my area of SE OK. I have purchased two of them and the nursery said that they would do great. Just needed an extra opinion. Than...
view the full question and answer

Invasive non-native mulberry and groundcover in Jacksonville FL
October 02, 2011 - Northeast Florida (Jacksonville) inland. My mulberry tree provides dense shade in the summer and filtered light the other seasons, leaving sand in its growing area. What fast growing ground cover woul...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Concord grapes in Hilo, Hawaii
September 10, 2009 - Hi, I live in a area that does not freeze over winter, and humidity is quite high. Do you think that Concord grapes will fruit?
view the full question and answer

Help with non-native plants in California
January 14, 2014 - I am growing some beads of pearl in my front yard in front of a pepper tree that has been around for over 150 years. My question is what can I do to get my beads of pearl to grow without cutting down ...
view the full question and answer

Control of invasive non-native Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
June 11, 2009 - What can I do to control garlic mustard that has moved into my wild area and what should I plant to combat this aggressive plant? Ostrich ferns, Pagoda dogwoods and emerald hemlocks have been recommen...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.