Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Update on the A batch Seedlings

A fellow African Violet forum member suggested I visit Optimara on Facebook to post about the Optimara Violets I own. One I had the label, but lost it shortly after I got the violet years ago. The other Optimara's did not come with labels, but I was able to find the greenhouse I got the violets from and receive a list. I took the advise and posted a couple of my violets along with the time I bought them and whatever details I could think of. From there Optimara was able to confirm the parentage of my A batch. It turns out I was on track with my identification.

The white African Violet (father) is Optimara Montana II. (they noted the curled center petal as a distinguishing trait.)
The light purple one (mother) was harder for them to identify because mine was older. It was replaced by a newer version that did not share the same leaf type. (variable red reverse) It was a plant I had since 1995/1996. They posted back that Frank Nentwig, in charge of their variety development, identified it as Stephanie.

Now that I know the parentage I believe I can register some of my A batch seedlings. I have two that I am considering.

A12 "Porcelain Butterfly Wings" (or "Porcelain Butterflies")

I've grown this one both under fluorescent lights and by my window. I've neglected it and let its neck get far too long. I've let it wilt (accidentally) seen it lose its lower leaves. I cut off its crown and repotted it. In all this time it has continued to grow vary well. It did go through a period of suckering when I forced it under nearly 21 hours light, but it seems to have calmed down. So far, I'd say under my conditions it seems to have what it takes to be a solid performer.

Leaves have a distinct red streak near the petiole, and lighter green near the veins.

Underside shot will have to come in one of my next posts. Veins are dark red regardless of backing color.

Ideal bloom looks something like this (with or without the notches).

It goes through some cycles with single blooms, but eventually they open up with curled/folded petals in the center. (Montana II's trait) with mother (Rhapsodie Stephanie I's bloom shape.) Color is pink to light pink, sometimes darker near the center.

So far this one seems to grow consistently on the small side. I don't recall it ever getting much larger than 8". The two full size ones I have growing right now (at the time of posting) are close to exactly at 8". That puts it either at the maximum size for a semi-mini or at the minimum size for a standard. I'm not sure if it is considered a fault for a standard to be small or a semi mini to be big. That may be a problem, but I'll wait it out and see how the generation test goes. The 2nd gen leaf props so far seem to grow to 8". I'll update if it grows bigger.

A13 "Lilac Butterflies"

Another seemingly solid performer. This one appears to have near perfect symmetry if grown ideal (provided I don't break it or remove the wrong leaves when grooming) It's been through abuse like my A12 and thrives just as well.

The blooms and the leaves are what make it stand out to me. Leaves are similar to A13, but wider with variable ruffling. The red streak and lighter veining on the top is there but not as pronounced. I still love the leaves. They have Montana II's wideness. Size is a clear standard. (Average Optimara size.)

Blooms vary from singles to having one or two folded center petals. An ideal bloom looks something like this.

A3 (unnamed right now) is a potential, but I haven't seen it bloom enough to make a judgement. It's got nice wide leaves, but it is another pink. So far A12 beats it as the better blooming pink of the batch.

A10 (solid white) isn't a consideration. I keep it because it is a solid white, but it seems fussy (it dies back too severly if it dries out. It grumbles if over watered.) and I've had to restart it a number of times. It's proven to recover from crown rot at least once if I take leaves from it (and survive even if I plant those leaves in the same pot). It shows some disease resistance, so I'll keep an eye on what the restarts do. I may keep it around until I find another better suitable white violet.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lilac Butterflies

Labeled as "A13" in my first batch of seedlings, this African Violet never ceases to amaze me. It's a heavy bloomer. I counted About 12 or 13 possible buds on one stalk (including two flowers that bloomed, faded and I removed, and one bud I accidentally broke off. I'm not sure if all will open, though it would be amazing if they did. I find it interesting how long the stalks are and how each blossom is spaced far apart from the other. Most African violets I've seen bloom so tight that sometimes not all blossoms can open fully.

It just keeps on blooming and producing new buds.

I love the smaller flowers. I'm not sure why, except it just seems graceful. The graceful stalks and small flowers remind me of a species violet or some of the older varieties. It makes me wonder what Optimara used to in making the parents. Neither of them (Stephanie or Montana) show this trait. Stephanie seems to have a more species like bloom shape. At least that is how I identified it, besides the time I bought it and what violets I remembered being sold with it at the time. (It was sold at a Pick in' Save around winter 1995 or 1996 along with Clementine.) At the time I picked out my African violet, I didn't know what the names meant. The newer version seems to have wider lower petals than the 1995 version, at least based on internet photos I've seen of both.

Long spaced out bloom stalks seems to be recessive to the thick clumping bloom style. I'm not sure about smaller flowers, but I think that may be be recessive too.

I have two of them growing at full standard size. One up in my bedroom and one in the basement. They grow differently, but yet the same.

The stalks on the basement one are shorter.

Note: Veining and curved petal shape.

Side view:

Blooms have a ligher backing. Pale lavender blue with darker blue overlay.. Darker eye.

Plant view:


It lost a lower leaf. I think I knocked it either dusting the plant or when I took everything off and repainted the plant shelf.


To me, the leaves are just as important as the blooms. For my goal to be met, the leaves and blooms of my hybrids need to work together and create an impression. Symmetry is also a must. I don't want to go through extensive time forcing a plant to grow symmetrical. I like to just put it under some fluorescent lights or grow it by a window (turning it ever so often) and have it look like it could be shown just like that. I desire a plant that looks showy when not in bloom. The flowers add to the show. So far "Lilac Butterflies" is meeting those requirements.

I'll need to come up with a description for this violet. More photos of it are visible in my photobucket gallery. Each of my favorites will eventually have their own gallery of images.

Rethinking Parentage of my A batch seeds.

I'm fairly certain the Mother is Rhapsodie Stephanie in both the A and B batch seedlings using what clues I can remember. Time purchased, 1995/1996 at the floral center of a Pick 'n Save in Milwaukee, WI. I think it was February or March. (I don't know why I remember it being those months, except it was cold out and I was very worried getting it out of the store.) I either begged my parents to buy it for me or bought it with my allowance money. It cost me about $5. I was in grade school at the time, either 5th or 6th grade. For some reason I think it was 1996, which would put me in 6th grade.

There was an Optimara label talking about the company and some blurb about Women. I can't remember if they were American Woman, but something about them contributing to history. It was a limited edition violet. There was a woman's name on it. (I can't remember if it was printed on the pot or the tag.) "Clementine" was the name on one violet with star shaped petals, that were also light blue lavender. I picked Stephanie over it because I thought the violet shaped flowers were more interesting and unique. There was also some pink violets (another Rhapsodie variety), but I liked the blue better.

Once I got home I set the violet under my grow light in the basement. I reread the label and peeled it off. I was bothered by the "propagation prohibited" part, thinking it was stupid. All plants naturally propagate, right? (At least this was my reasoning as a 12 year old.)

Sadly the plant started to rot. (I think it had powdery mold too.) Remembering the advise my grandma gave me on how to propagate violets, I took two leaves and planted them in the soil. The stem broke off on one. One leaf died. The other produced a baby. At some point I ended up with two of them. I gave one to my grandma and kept the other. I grew them unlabeled along with a deep violet African violet from my grandma. Later on (1996 or 1997?) I ended up with two nearly dead african violets my mom rescued from a store. One labeled as "Flash" The other lacked a name, but had an Anthroflores tag. Both pots were stamped with UltraViolet. I took leaves from both and potted them int he same pot. I grew them together for a while. The other I later identified as A. Ramzey. (Not sure on the spelling. it seems all over the board on the internet.) It was the only Anthoflores that resembled my violet.

Back to the A batch:

About the pollen parent:. It is a White violet. I previously thought Montana, but when dug through my email to retrieve the list of violets I received from Woodhill Greenhouses in 2008 I am left with this list:

I looked up Kazuko and compared it with my very few photos of the parent. (I only had it for about a couple weeks before it got overwatered and gave way to crown rot.)

Old photos of the violet before it died:

I wish I had more experience growing either or could see them up in person. I'm left with just my very detailed memories of my violet and my pictures. It seems like the internet is all over the board on it as well. Even some of the show pictures don't look correctly identified. (one picture that appears to be taken from a show, clearly shows purple shading on one of the petals, which would make it one of the bicolored violets, not Montana or any of these violets.)

Mine was definitely a solid white. Even if I didn't get to keep it long enough to see it through several bloom cycles, it lacked the genetics for bicolored flowers. All of the offspring are solid color or showing variable shading of one color/ with or without veining. (trait inherited from the mother, R. Stephanie) If it were any of the thumbprint violets I would have seen it in the A batch babies by now.

I'm left with these choices (based on the greenhouse list)


Pot Size: 4-inch medium standard (Yes)

Bloom Type: Single span style="font-style:italic;">(? possible, though mine was a semi-double. it's offspring are mostly singles)
Bloom Color: White (Yes)

Leaf Type: Ovate serrated (Ovate - Yes. Serrated No.)
Leaf Color: Medium green (? Either that or light green. I can't tell. Most of my other violets are dark green, so this stuck out as much lighter.)

Year Introduced: 1987
Year Revised: 1991, 1995, 2004 (purchased 2008. (Greenhouse list doesn't indicate "New". Other than that, I'm not sure what was "revised" so I don't know what to look for here..)

AVSA Registration Number: 6579/7495

Patent Number: 7685

Additional Comments: Formerly variety number 83.


Variety Number: 248

Series: Optimara

Pot Size: 4-inch large standard (4"yes. Large, not sure.)

Bloom Type: Single span style="font-style:italic;">(? possible, though mine was a semi-double. it's offspring are mostly singles)
Bloom Color: White (yes)

Leaf Type: Plain (Yes. Though no mention of being ovate? Internet photos eem all over the board here. Some show ovate examples like my plant and some don't. Previously I used the ovate leaf shape to rule out this variety.) I may still. It seems even the more rounded examples show a point at the end of each leaf. Mine did not. They were clearly rounded.

Leaf Color: Light green (maybe.)
Year Introduced: 1996
Year Revised: NA (No guesswork on what year or version, thankfully)

AVSA Registration Number:

Patent Number:

Variety Number: 283

Series: Optimara

Pot Size: 4-inch small standard (? Seemed medium standard. 4" pot yes.)

Bloom Type: Star (NO. Mine was Violet shaped. It couldn't have been this variety.)
Bloom Color: White (yes)

Leaf Type: Wavy serrated (No.)
Leaf Color: Medium green (Maybe.)

Year Introduced: 1987
Year Revised: 2003

AVSA Registration Number: 6557

Patent Number: 4782

Additional Comments: Formerly variety number 189.

Ontario. I didn't include this one because it wasn't listed on Woodhill's list.


Conclusions: Out of those listed Montana still seems to be the best match. Based on the call, they clearly mentioned they grew Optimara violets. That rules out all other varieties.

I wish I could find out what the difference is between the original 1987 version, the 1991 version, 1995, and 2004 versions. I'd like to know if any of those had ovate leaves with smooth edges.

Has anyone grown white Optimara violets? What are your thoughts?



Optimara confirmed the father as Opt. Montana II. Apparently the curled center petals were what distinguished it from the others.

Frank Nentwig of Optimara confrimed the mother to be "Stephanie". Now I have both parents identified from the A batch.