African violets will always remind me of Mama. She loved them. She loved growing them...along with her peonies, daylilies, daisies, roses, their large vegetable garden and several varieties of fruit trees. She loved taking a "cutting" (a leaf at the steam) and creating a whole new plant - or propagating them. Mama never took a botany class or a horticulture class, but she grew up on a farm in Mississippi. Maybe that explains her amazing touch and love of all growing things.
The first time Mama started growing african violets, that I recall, was after Daddy retired and she and Daddy moved to Mississippi. There, they built a new house in the country, next door to my sister's house on the hill. There was a large laundry room with a nice sunny window and that's where the african violets lived. All colors and varieties lived happily side by side and thrived. Mama would mix up the special blue food for the violets, which she kept in a gallon milk container beneath the cabinet, and would feed the beautiful african violets regularly with it. I don't know how she knew what to do, but she did.
Several months ago, my husband, the macho logger tree farmer, came home with two small african violets for me. They were potted in the tiniest little green plastic pots and were beautiful. Totally different but each one exquisite. One had dark purple blooms and the other one white lacy blooms edged in purple. I sighed and shuddered at my next thought - I was afraid I'd kill them.
I tried to remember just what Mama had done and then I googled african violets. Come to find out, even without Google, Mama had been right all along. African violets need to repotted right away in a special soil mixture just for african violets. I purchased the special soil and two larger pots made of a lovely green glazed pottery. The tree farmer repotted them for me. I cautioned him that "they don't like to be touched", which they don't. Somehow, he managed to get them carefully in the pot.
African violets don't like to be too hot or too cold. Basically, they like the same temperatures that people do. They don't like to be too dry to too wet. They don't like water on their leaves! They need enough indirect light but not too much. Come to think of it, they're just downright finicky, but they reward you for your effort with the most beautiful blossoms.
I'm beginning to wonder if maybe, just maybe, I have inherited a tiny speck of Mama's african violet gene...