ASK THE GARDENERS. Questions & Answers.
Q I have become enthused about African violets and decided to try producing some seeds. Using a very tiny artist's brush, I dabbed pollen from one plant's blooms onto blooms of another. To my delight, several blossoms have slipped off, showing enlarging seed pods. How long must I let the seed pod stay on the plant before I can remove the seeds and sow them? W. N. Ukiah, Calif. Disturb the plant as little as possible, and avoid getting water on the little pods. These seed capsules will take from five to six months to mature and turn brown on the plant. After browning, they should be picked off and put in a small plastic bag, but LEAVE BAG OPEN, in a DRY place, to cure for about two months. Then open pods and sprinkle seeds on a moist soilless (peat-lite) mix. Keep moist (use warm water) and at a temperature of 70 degrees F. (21 degrees C.) until they germinate (about 25 days). Don't be disappointed if only a few seeds germinate. Enjoy the expectation of seeing the results of your efforts at cross-pollination. Q We need to plant our tuberous begonias in hanging baskets this coming year to avoid demolition by dogs, cats, children, and garden hoses. Last year we tried some this way, and the plants began to hang over the edge of the basket. Stems did not break, but neither did they bloom in this position, although they had handsome leaves almost like squash plants. Could it have been due to the pot, or did we not feed them enough? H. W. E. Gig Harbor, Wash.
The container probably had nothing to do with nonblooming. More likely, the soil was too rich in nitrogen, producing leaf growth but no blooms. We suggest you change to Non-Stop hybrid begonias, especially suited to hanging containers. Eight-inch plants will produce an abundance of 2-inch blooms. They grow in bright shade with good air circulation. Seeds can be started 21 weeks before you want to plant them outdoors or you can buy started plants. They will form small tubers by fall, which can be saved over for next year.
If you have a question about your garden, inside or out, send it to the Garden Page, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115. Doc and Katy Abraham are nationally known horticulturists.