Where to get African violets in New Zealand

After seeing an online discussion on where to buy African violets in NZ, I thought I’d write a post on this.

As you probably know, African violets are mega-popular overseas, particularly in the US and Eastern Europe. While these beautiful plants are regaining their popularity in New Zealand, it’s often hard to find a store that actually stocks them, and the selection of African violets in NZ shops is also quite limited.

For those readers who are interested in expanding their collections, read on for a list of options.

1) One of the big stores (e.g. The Warehouse, Bunnings, Mitre 10 etc)

Pros:

+ Convenient location – these shops can be found in most major towns

+ Relatively low price per plant

Cons:

– The quality of care provided to plants varies greatly from store to store. While some stores are great at looking after their violets, others over- or under-water them.

– It is not uncommon for big store plants to have pest issues (A few violets I bought from one of the big stores had aphids and/or cyclamen mites (cyclamen mites are very hard to get rid of).

– Not always in stock, some stores never seem to offer AVs for sale.

– Often the violets sold in big NZ shops have multiple crowns and suckers that need to be separated. It often takes a plant a very long time to regain proper symmetry.

2) Garden centres/shops (e.g. California Home And Garden, Oderings etc)

Pros:

+ Semi-convenient location – these centres and shops can be found in many towns, but are still not as common as the big stores listed above.

+ Seem to be slightly more likely than the big stores to look after AVs properly.

Cons:

– Usually more expensive than the big stores

– Same as above, violets are not always in stock, and some centres/shops never seem to offer AVs for sale.

3) Trademe

Pros:

+ Usually sold by people who propagated the violets themselves and looked after them well.

+ Usually relatively low price per plant

+ Convenience of online shopping

+ Access to varieties that may not be available for sale elsewhere

Cons:

– Many sellers are unwilling to send grown plants in the mail, due to the risk of damage.

– You have to rely on a photo to make up your mind whether you want to buy a particular plant.

– Waiting for the plants to arrive in the mail

– High shipping cost for grown plants

4) Friends, family and online groups

Pros:

+ Often free or low cost

+ Easy to quickly grow the collection by swapping and propagating leaves

+ Opportunity to talk to other African violet growers

Cons:

– None I could think of 🙂

5) NZ-based hybridisers

Pros:

+ Access to new varieties that are only available in New Zealand

+ Access to rare types of AVs that are usually not sold in stores (e.g. miniatures, trailers, variegated plants etc.)

Cons:

– Same as in Option 3 (Trademe)

6) Hybridise the AVs you already have

Pros:

+ You get to create/select new varieties that no one else has

+ Excitement of waiting and seeing what your hybrids will turn out like

+ Can use the plants you already have to hybridise new varieties – no need to pay for new plants

Cons:

– It takes a very long time and it is so hard to wait patiently for the new hybrid to flower. IMO, it’s definitely worth the wait though!

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