Inovative African Violets from Space

. . .African violets are the most popular collectible houseplant, Holtkamp said. Nell said African violets easy care has led to their widespread popularity among indoor plants. The violet is very easy to take care of. The more you neglect them, the more they like it, Holtkamp said.

. . .

Innovation took off again in 1984 aboard the space shuttle Challenger. The greenhouse partnered with NASA to send 20,000 violet seeds to an unmanned space laboratory, where they were exposed to microgravity and other elements of space.

The seeds were to remain in orbit for one year, but delays and then the Challenger explosion in 1986 postponed retrieval for several years. When they were finally brought back to Earth in 1990 by space shuttle Columbia, 7,000 germinated, more than Holtkamp expected.

They were very deformed creations, he said, but there was one particular flower that stood out unique. It was blooming very nicely and very profusely.

Holtkamp realized multiple generations coexisted on the same plant ” which he affectionately named his space baby” so that when one flower died, another fresh bloom was ready to take its place. That characteristic, multiflorescence, is now patented for Optimara’s EverFloris series, which bloom continuously.

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