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African Violet Chimera Bloomstalk Propagation
With Keikigrow Plus

By Janet Stromborg, Hybridizer of Allegro African Violets

Chimeras (pronounced ki-meer-ah) must be propagated by suckers or blossom stalk. This is because they have two different types of cells in the leaf and stem. One genetic type is located in the skin cells and the other type is located in the middle cells. When a leaf from a chimera African violet is put down to root, either one cell type or the other will generally produce plantlets. As a result, the vast majority of plantlets will bloom with only one color rather than the bicolor pattern.

Keikigrow Plus is a plant growth hormone (more precisely the cytokinin benzyladenine) which promotes cell division. It is produced by Plant Hormones Canada and sold in a lanolin based paste with added vitamins. It was originally introduced in the orchid industry to propagate orchids and took its name from the word "keiki" which is the Hawaiian word for "baby".

Keikigrow Plus should be stored tightly covered in the refrigerator when not in use. Just before use it should be removed from the refrigerator and allowed to warm and soften for a few minutes before applying it to the bloom stalk. A sharp, pointed object such as a needle, bent paper clip or toothpick makes an ideal applicator.

Using Keikigrow Plus, we can induce sucker formation just above the flower "bracts" which are the tiny leaves that can be found on the flower stems of blooming African violets. Plants to be treated should have a blossom stem that has flowers with well defined stripes and good shape as well as the largest possible bracts beneath the flowers.

Only a very small amount of Keikigrow Plus is needed on the tip of whatever sharp object is used as an applicator. Excess should be scraped off since too much will cause the plant to produce green masses of tissue that will not develop into plantlets.

The flower stalk should be very gently scratched with the Keikigrow covered applicator on both sides of the stem just at the point where the bracts join the stem. Great care must be taken to avoid damaging the stem which will be supporting the plantlets that will develop later.

The treated flower stem should be labeled so that it is not accidently removed while grooming other faded flowers. A highly visible, waterproof tag can be made from brightly colored paper by sticking it to one end of a long strip of clear plastic tape and then doubling the other end of the tape over to seal the paper between the two layers of tape. A hole punched in one end with a paper punch and then cut at one side, makes a tag that is easy to attach just below the treated bracts.

The treated plants should be fed and watered on a regular basis just as they were before being treated. Within about two weeks, the first signs of cell division will be visible where the Keikigrow Plus was applied. A magnifying glass makes watching the growth process much easier. At first the new growth may appear as just a small yellowish blob about the size of a pin head, but as the weeks pass, it will begin to look more and more like tiny leaves. Sometimes, instead of plantlets, a secondary blossom stalk will grow from the point where the bracts were treated. These will grow very quickly and may eventually have buds that open or buds that abort and dry up without ever opening.

The new plantlets may appear in clusters of several white to yellowish babies growing from the same point and the first leaf of each individual plant may be cone shaped at first, but will later turn green and unfurl to look more like a normal violet leaf.

Treated bracts may continue to produce new growth even after plantlets have begun to grow quite large on one side. The bracts on this blossom stem were both treated at the same time.

If a plant has had more than one blossom stalk treated with Keikigrow Plus, there can be several types of new growth being supported by the plant at one time. The photo below shows a plant with a well developed cluster of plantlets on one flower stem as well as secondary bloom stems on two others. Often the secondary bloom stems will be thicker than the original ones and may carry both aborted and developing buds.

If the flowers are left on the treated bloom stalks, the ovaries may begin to swell resembling a developing seed pod. However these "pods" contain no seeds. Also some of the developing plantlets may have flower buds on them.

As the babies grow larger and stronger, they can eventually be separated and rooted like a sucker that has been removed from the trunk of any African violet.

For more information, visit Plant Hormones Canada,
makers of Keikigrow Plus

I'd like to extend my sincerest thank you to Janet Stromborg, hybridizer of Allegro Violets for allowing us to include her article on our site. Click on the images below to see a larger view a some of Janet's beautful Allegro violets. (Images will open in new browser window.)

Allegro Easter Morn (Chimera)
Allegro Thisbe
Allegro Midway
Allegro Aspenglow
Allegro Filegree
Allegro Pink Charisma