If you've ever been to an African Violet Show you will remember the glorious plants holding court with their blue and red ribbons and rosettes for Best in Class or Best in Show. Often they are for sale, after the judging, near the end of the Show. The temptation is there to buy these marvelous plants. My advice is "Don't" and I'll tell you why.
First, a diversion into Bodybuilding Competitions which you may have seen in the news or on television Sports channel where these muscled and well-proportioned men and women, their bodies gleaming with oil, are posing and flexing. They seem to be the epitome of health and fitness. Wrong! Their perfection has been forced by an extreme diet and over-exertion. They are dehydrated, since this is the state in which the delineation of musculature is most pronounced. They are least healthy when ready to compete. Like bulbs indoors anticipating Spring they have been forced to unnatural growth.
Back to those African Violet Show plants, whose growth has also been forced. These plants have been subjected to a rigorous regimen of fertilizer, light, water and the plucking of all blooms. They are poised for the magic date when they will be ready for the Show. These plants are as beautiful as they will ever be but their beauty is fleeting. All is aimed at the magical Show date.
It takes a lot of plant energy to produce blooms. The Show violet has been trying to bloom with increasing effort, especially for the magical spring Show. All it's efforts have been thwarted until that special Countdown-to-Show clock begins ticking and they are finally allowed to bloom. They will never be this perfect again. Once can almost fancy a sigh of relief as the plant, finally, wins its blue ribbon and can relax and just grow normally again.
You may buy it and take it home. Not having a plant stand, perhaps you place it on your windowsill. Within a week or so its glorious head of blooms wither and die. When next it blooms the flowers are fewer, smaller and not the same brilliant hue as they were formally. This is because of a change in light and temperature. The leaves, which formed a geometrically perfect circle around the plant, start to grow less perfectly. Some of the leaves die off. Assuming you haven't made the usual beginner's mistake of killing the plant by over-watering, the less than perfect blooms and leaves are completely natural. You can still enjoy the plant in its natural state. To expect the plant to be always perfect is unnatural.
Like the body builder during competition your plant has excelled and, having done so deserves a well-earned rest.
If you want a plant better-suited to your own growing condition start your African Violet at home from a leaf or buy a small plant. Supermarket African Violets have their own problems, so you're better off buying from a grower.
© Sonia Brock 2017