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Saintpaulia - kalkonhals och för stor kruka fix

This little Raspberry Charm violet, a small standard saintpaulia, has not been thriving in its pot, for a very long time.

If one looks at it carefully, poor plant's neck is too long, and the pot is apparently too big.

Saintpaulias like their root system bound and limited, and the rule of the thumb when it comes to the appropriate size of a pot is that the diameter of the pot should be 3 times smaller than the diameter of the crown.

This was one of my first plants and it managed to survive in spite of the bad treatment. I feel ashamed because I have ignored the problem for so long and now I will do something in order to fix it.

To start with, I took the scalpel I use to work with my saintpaulias and pulled the plant out of the pot. I held onto the neck gently, and took care not to damage the crown.

The plant is out. Here we can see a long and thick neck and rhizome, a weak root system and poorly developed crown.

Some of the leaves are damaged and unhealthy, and they should be removed. I cut those damaged leaves off with the scalpel, as close to the plant's neck as possible.

Now, the scary part. I took the scalpel and cut the plant's neck, about 1,5 - 2cm from the lowest leaf of the crown. Yes, I literally decapitated the plant.

This is the state of the matter now. We have a crown with a 2 cm long neck that we will work with further on.

We have to scrape the neck. The outer layer of the neck is hard and it is very difficult for our little new plant candidate to grow the new roots through that hardened layer. We will help the plant by removing that layer with the scalpel.

So, we start scraping. Be careful, only light scraping of the hardened surface is enough, we do not want to remove too much.

And we scrape some more...

Voala! Now the scraping is done!

Now we will put the new healthy plant candidate in a small pot (anything 3-6cm in diameter will do) so that it can grow new roots.

I make my own medium for saintpaulias - I blend vermiculite, perlite and an ordinary pot flowers' dirt in an approximate 1:1:1 volume ratio. Such a mix I used here as well.

I made a hole in the pot.

Put the plant in the pot, gently, and tuck the neck in. Do not pres the medium too hard around it, but see that the neck is well covered.

Do not forget to mark it with a label.

Pour the water in a plate. Always use the water that is room temperature, and always water the violets from the plate.

Okay, you may water the plant from above, but try not to drop the water on the leaves; it can leave ugly permanent marks on them, especially if the water is too cold.

Saintpaulias like some lukewarm shower now and then, but that is another story...

Put the pot in the plate and let the dirt soak as much as it can so that medium gets really moist.

While the plant is soaking the water, take a plastic transparent bag (that can take 0.5-1 l) and cut the corners off it.

See - the cut off corners, the bag, the plant that soaked the water. (When the level in the plate is not changing anymore, spill the extra water, so that the plate is empty before the final step.)

See - the holes!

Put the bag over the plant and the pot, gently, so that you do not hurt the crown.

Adjust the bag so that the holes are open and the bag sits fine, not touching the crown too much.

The plant needs the humidity so that the leaves can survive while the plant is growing new, healthy roots, but too much humidity will make it rot. That is why we made the holes, so that some fresh air can circulate through the mini green house we've just made!


Put the covered plant to a light place with no direct sun; a north window is good. Check on it from time to time, and water it from the plate when needed (remove the bag when watering, and put it back afterwards).

If the plant looks fine and healthy after 10-20 days, you can remove the bag. If the leaves hang down and still stay so within two days after the removal of the bag, put the bag back and wait some more.

I have done this whole process many times before, and it has always worked. Some times it took a longer time for a plant to recover, but they have always recovered and grew into strong healthy plants.

Do not forget - re-pot the plant when it is big enough, otherwise you will be back to the picture #1 from this page in no time...

Happy decapitating!