Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Hybridizer's Nightmare: Dehiscence (African violets)

I was going to blog about my new African Violet Seedlings. I now have a C and D batch of seeds sprouting. C (Butterfly Bombshell x Self) is already putting up it's 1st set of true leaves.)  D batch is going to be huge. (over 30 plants coming.)

But, as usual, something came up and took precedence for my attention.


and this.

Those are seeds, fully formed, and fallen on the leaf below.

As if the plant couldn't wait. As if it felt mad that I picked two other AVs to plant pods. As if it felt it's seeds were important to plant NOW ...  And by Golly if the hybridizer wasn't going to make a move, then she was gonna to do it herself.

Okay, that wasn't my first thought when I saw the horror. Was it bugs?  Recalling all the fears I had about the mites, bugs, etc..  Mice?  No. Not a bite mark. It looked too cleanly opened along a natural seam. I've been watching this pod and others. Could they open at those lines? No, I kept telling myself. African violet pods do not open, or do they if grown under certain conditions? After all Steptocarpuses and Sinningias () do this all the time, I think? Well, there seems to be plenty of info to find on it anyway. But African violets? Not a thing.

Recalling my troubles this summer,  I was dealing with too much light, too much heat, and maybe too much fluctuations between wet and dry, and lots of humidity to go around. Enough to stink the basement. Pew.  Not to mention what all I did to try to treat such things. I sprayed with Forbid, tried to treat cown rot, root rot, eventually just kind of letting go and seeing if the plants will recover on their own. It seems the AV's growing away from the lights are faring better, so it leads me to believe the light is the main issue with my tight crowns and possible poorly thriving plants.

So this all leaves me with lots of questions.  Was the seed pod dehiscence related to what I did, or can all African violets display this behavior under the right conditions?  Stress? Is this what happens if the pods do not dry out before the seeds reach maturity? Could this be one way African violets disperse their seeds in the wild?  Has anyone been able to observe them in their natural habitat? And see them go to seed too?

Meanwhile I watch my other upcoming pods. I am thinking about putting a paper bag or something around them and just letting them do their thing. Let's see if they open up and how wide they go if they do. The seeds will hopefully stay contained and ready to plant at my convenience. Not theirs. :P

P.S. I did salvage and plant the seeds in question. Will see if they are as viable as I suspect they are.  Most of the seeds were well formed, clearly visible, and hard, like wood to the touch. I could roll them between my fingers.

----------------------------August 18-12 Update-----------------------------

The seeds I planted from B26 x Woodland Sprite are sprouting. Aready. About 3 of the sprouts are fully open and clearly visible. I'd guess they probably sprouted yesterday, but I missed seeing them.

That was quick!  At least as far as I know, based on my limited experience planting African Violet seeds. That would be like only 3 days after planting. (I have had other flower seeds sprout that quick, but that's another topic.) Most of the sprouts have just started. They have put out their first root and have their leaves folded with or without the seed shell still attached.  To be a safe guess I'd say 4.5 days for the earliest one can probably expect to see African violet sprouts from planting.  But considering this was from a seedpod that opened on its own (something not observed or documented as far as I know), anything "normal" is irrelevant here.

Photo updates of the sprouts below.

----------------------------August 22-------------------------

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