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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There are many plants that can grow using hydroculture methods, which is essentially how our riparium plants are grown. According to a couple of websites, Saintpaulia, AKA African Violet, is one of those. So, I'm trying it to see if that can be true.


This is my wife's African Violet plant after a few months of benign neglect, with dried up flowers, dry soil, but still healthy looking foliage. The first step is to wash off all of the soil from the roots, remembering that this plant has delicate roots. I did this in a 5 gallon bucket with just warmer than room temperature water in it, and it took 3 buckets of water to do it.



This is after the next to last rinsing steps, still some soil in the root ball. And, those roots don't look delicate to me, but maybe they are.



With the plant in a Riparium Supply planter cup. Notice that I nearly filled the cup with little fired clay balls, "Hydroton", which are recommended for best drainage and circulation around the roots. The cap soil is Flourite "dark".


And, with the planter in my 10 gallon experimental riparium. I dunked it below the water for a few seconds, then raised it and secured it.

Now, we wait to see how this works.
 

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Having been a life member of the AVSA. The plants should do well. The only problem would be "extreme" humidity and getting the crown wet. They will rot out.

I use to keep them on a wicked system. The plants were suspended over a tray of water with a wick of yarn or something similar from the drainage hole of the pot and into the water. Plastic egg crating worked well. This way the roots were kept consistently moist and NOT SOAKING wet. They will rot with their feet constantly in water.

There are other plants in the Gesneriad family that would do well and can tolerate wetter conditions. They will produce and continue to produce flowers pretty much indefinitely. There are some tiny minis that are adorable.

I got out of the hobby many years ago and I doubt the basic requirements have changed much. I'm sure there are oodles of info out there in cyberspace.
 

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This will be interesting to watch. That was a wise move to fill the bottom 1/2 of the planter cup with Hydroton--I bet that it will grow that way. African violet could be really nice as a steady source of blooms. One question that comes to mind for me is how it can be situated in the riparium scape. It is a tight rosette, so the whole plant is going to sit tight against the glass and could be obscured by larger plants that reach out into the midground more. One good spot to put it might be on a side panel closer to the front of the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
This will be interesting to watch. That was a wise move to fill the bottom 1/2 of the planter cup with Hydroton--I bet that it will grow that way. African violet could be really nice as a steady source of blooms. One question that comes to mind for me is how it can be situated in the riparium scape. It is a tight rosette, so the whole plant is going to sit tight against the glass and could be obscured by larger plants that reach out into the midground more. One good spot to put it might be on a side panel closer to the front of the tank.
If someone were to develope a raft supported planter cup, that could sit out in front of the background plants, that could make it work very well. Or, just limiting the background plants to the African Violets plus 2-3 grassy plants could work too, with lower plants on rafts in front.

Incidentally, my wife picked up a potted blooming chrysanthemum today. That may be another possibility for hydroculture. I took a cutting and have it in my nursery tank now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The African Violet plant is looking very good, after 10 days. I kept it above the water, except for 2-3 times a day dunkings, for almost a week. Since then it has had the water line about a third of the way up the planter cup. The largest leaves are a bit droopy, but the newer ones look perfect. I think it would have wilted badly by now if it were not going to work well. I may cull some of my other standby plants and start a couple more of these in a few days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That African Violet is still doing well, even though I dropped it into the tank once, spilling our half of the substrate. Today I found another one at Home Depot, that is nearing the end of its blooming time, but still healthy looking. So, I just planted it too:


The planter cup is one of the new magnet supported cups that Riparium Supply now sells. It worked much better than the other jury rigged one I have. This is part of my collecting of plants for my 45 gallon rimless riparium, which I'm still making the stand for.
 

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Any of you riparium guys tried calla lily yet? I'd bet those would work in these types of setups.

African violets are among my favorite of houseplants. I usually keep them on a windowsill, but I might have to try a riparium setup one of these days...
 

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Looks great, Hoppy. I've got to do one of these for myself. Those planter cups - do they have holes in the to let the water in? Are the roots constantly submerged?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Looks great, Hoppy. I've got to do one of these for myself. Those planter cups - do they have holes in the to let the water in? Are the roots constantly submerged?
Yes, the planter cups do have holes in the bottom that let water in constantly. I'm keeping this particular cup mounted high enough that only the bottom inch of the cup is constantly in the water. Hopefully, once the plant develops new roots, adapted to being in water all the time, I can lower it more. I'm still not absolutely sure that African Violets can be successfully grown this way, but it looks like they can be.

I haven't tried Calla lilies yet, but I'm sure they would grow ok, since they are a marginal plant anyway. There are some dwarf varieties that would be nice to try some day. Unfortunately, there are many, many other plants that would also be nice to try. Or, maybe that is fortunate, since it gives us a huge number of options for a riparium layout.
 

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Any of you riparium guys tried calla lily yet? I'd bet those would work in these types of setups.

African violets are among my favorite of houseplants. I usually keep them on a windowsill, but I might have to try a riparium setup one of these days...

I did try some calla lily, but it got to be kind of leggy and quit blooming in the riparium setup. It grew well enough though. Callas prefer cooler temps so for blooming they might do better in a setup that is not so warm. In the fall they had a lot of remarkably short callas (only 10" tall or so) in many different colors at (once again!) Home Depot. They were cheap too.

That page with the magnet planters is still sort of buried and hard to locate, but you can find it right here.

I am so interested to see what these African violets. If they keep blooming they could be a great way to add bright color to a setup. I imagine they will look really cool growing as rosettes near the bases of taller plants.
 

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I've grown Saintpaulia in that kind of setup, they should do fine. I cut off the roots (established roots die off anyway, new ones form fast), and set them directly on wet gravel (lava rock, so it did wick up some water) with the water level about an inch below. They bloomed pretty much constantly. I switched them for miniature varieties after a while because they get bigger than in the open air.

In older tanks with established bacteria etc., I never had any crown rot problems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
African violets do just fine in a riparium. Both of the two I have planted are looking great, growing with typical African violet slowness, and one is starting new blooms. I not only got them wet, I soaked them for a couple of minutes, and dropped one into the water for an hour or so too. No crown rot that I can see.

The single problem I have is that the process of washing off the planting medium from the roots left bits of that medium stuck on the hairs of the leafs. I can't brush them off, and water doesn't remove them. They kinda spoil the looks, so I need an idea for cleaning them - no, I don't want to try the wife's vacuum cleaner!

I also cut 3 leafs off of one of the plant and have them stuck through aluminum foil into a cup of water - they are growing roots now. I wonder how they would do if stuck through a nano raft with the stems dangling into fertilized water in the riparium.
 

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That's awesome Hoppy. This makes me want to try one out. An African violet could look cool in my 20-gallon setup. It would most definitely be nice to be able to enjoy those little blooms.

I wonder what kind of habitat they use in the wild. I went and looked and didn't find anything more specific than "cloud forest in Africa". There are quite a few common horticultural plants that are extinct or nearly extinct in the wild and there isn't much recent ecological information because the habitats just aren't there anymore.

There certainly is a lot of potential to design trellis rafts for specific kinds of plants and growth habits. I just need to order enough pieces to meet the foam shop's minimum. It could be worthwhile to consider a design that could accommodate an African violet or similar plant. Afrcian violet could look really cool as a hedge down in front of taller background plants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yes, the disadvantage of African Violets is their low growth habit, and slow growth. The will soon be lost if in the background of most ripariums. I plan to use them on the ends of the new riparium I'm setting up, probably attached to the end glasses. We need someone to invent a way to get rapid growth to just the size we want, then very slow growth from then on.:icon_mrgr Ah....steroids!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·


Here are the 3 leaves of the second African Violet I have in the riparium, stuck through aluminum foil into a cup of water to try to start new plants. This is after about 6 weeks. Turning the piece of aluminum foil over, this is what has grown, so far:




Having done more research on the internet, I decided this should work better if I had started them in a planter cup, with the ends of the leaves clipped. So, I did that today, transferring all three to one planter cup, with a few tiny beads of Osmocoat in the hydroton under them, in case they want some nutrients.


And the planter cup is now in one of my ripariums.


Let's watch for a few more weeks and see how this works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I'm not sure what I did wrong but this was a huge flop for me... Might try again soon.
It seems to take patience and a good healthy plant to start with. Although, one of the two I switched to hydroculture wasn't really that healthy to start with, but it is still alive, not growing much of a root structure, but still looking healthy now. The leaf cuttings seem to be just a matter of patience and mature, but healthy leafs to start with. The leaf I tried from the less healthy plant, was more mature, and just rotted off in the water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
There are some other plants in the Saint Pauli family that look promising for a riparium. Here is one: from http://www.violetbarn.com/episcia.htm


Not too expensive, has beautiful foliage and seems to grow higher than African Violets do. I may try this one if the shipping isn't too expensive.

EDIT: I just ordered one - only $12 priority mail shipping, but with risk of weather damage.
 
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