Laci wrote:Paul if you have any experience how to cross the varietes please share with us. I also like to know about more how to pollinate a violet.
I'm trying to make my first own hybrid, but I don't have any seedpods at all The only only one which gave me seeds is Chirita tamiana.
I have experience with getting seedpods, but hardly with planned cross-breeding I guess that the experienced growers of new varieties carefully bring pollen from one flower to another with a tiny paintbrush. I didn't try this yet. Occasionally fungus gnats and other insects might pollinate a flower, like this you suddenly get a seedpod as a surprise. Some violets also seem to self-pollinate, S. shumensis quite regularly forms seedpods without my help. But I found another trick which seems to work for self-pollinating.
In nature African violets are pollinated by certain species of wild bees. These bees have a special technique to collect pollen, called "buzzing" (please forgive me if I don't remember terminology correct). You can see bumblebees do the same in rose-flowers in the garden. The bee uses it's flight muscles to make it's whole body vibrate, when it sits on a flower. Also the flower vibrates and this causes the pollen to get lose. Pollen lands on the bee and the bee collects it from it's fur. Some pollen ends on the stigma (= tip of the female part of the flower), which is self-pollinating and when the bee visits the next flower, some pollen ends on the stigma of that flower as well (cross pollinating if the flower is on another plant).
We don't have the correct bees in Europe for pollinating violets (would be interesting to see if any native insects visit an African violet: maybe I'll try this springtime ). But we do have something that buzzes: a shaving machine I found that if you hold a shaving machine against the flower stem and briefly turn it on, the buzzing shakes enough pollen loose that most of the time a seedpod is formed. In modern cultivars it might make sense to remove the corolla (flower-leaves) as soon as it stops looking nice, in species and in older cultivars this usually falls of by itself ("droppers"). The corolla can otherwise stick to the forming seedpod and you get a deformed seedpod as a result (but seeds develop normally in a deformed seedpod, so you can also leave it be and just see what happens). It takes a long time before a seedpod is mature, count on half a year at least. Only remove it from the mother plant when it starts to turn brown, otherwise the seeds might not mature enough.
So it is quite easy to get seedpods to try sowing violets and see how it goes. The real difficulty is to know enough of genetics to try planned hybridising and to prevent accidental pollinating while you try something more planned.