2021 New Introduction Hybridizers
Margery was introduced in the 80s to sinningias by the late Bill Foster. She began hybridizing miniatures in the 90s. When she attended the Gesneriad Society’s convention in 1993, each member received a compact sinningia (then described as a dwarf). Margery returned to Texas extremely curious and began making crosses; few hybridizers were producing them. She has since branched out to include other genera.
St. Petersburg, Russia
Natalia was born and still lives in St. Petersburg. She became seriously interested in violets in 2013. Very quickly, the chimera violets caught her attention. She began to work with the chimeric sports that appeared in her collection in the process of growing. Natalia’s plants all use her “Nik-“ prefix.
Natalia & Sergey Burkatsky
About Natalia & Sergey
The first hybrids with her husband, Sergey, appeared in 2013, but Natalia had already been growing and enjoying African violets for many years. She calls it a soul love for violets. When Natalia’s husband joined in with her hobby, he was even more enthusiastic! He began to delve into the world of not only collecting, but also hybridizing violets. Currently, the Burkatskys are working on hybridizing miniatures with bright, variegated foliage and large double flowers on a small rosette. They also hybridize smaller standards with a focus on huge double flowers on strong peduncles over compact rosette foliage. Their hybrids carry the “BR-” prefix.
Steve modestly describes himself as “just someone doing something called hybridizing African violets and Streptocarpus.” His goal is to create the perfect package hybrid for the show grower and the home hobbyist. Steve’s plants all have the prefix “Steffano’s.”
St. Petersburg, Russia
Natalia is a member of the Central Association AV growers “Fialki na Neve” in St. Petersburg. She has been hybridizing for almost 8 years. All her hybrids use the “ND-“ prefix.
Kevin has been hybridizing on and off for about 40 years. He does not consider himself a serious hybridizer, but enjoys the possibility/mystery that comes with hybridizing — and of knowing that he might create something different and/or unique. Kevin’s ultimate goal is to create a beautiful blossom with unique or unusual colors on symmetrical well-behaved foliage.
About Pavel and his wife, Elena
Pavel and his wife, Elena, started hybridizing Streptocarpus in 2008. They have worked with more than five hundred varieties from other hybridizers before starting their own hybridizing program. They often work with 10,000 seedlings a year! Pavel and Elena have developed a new, unique, star-shaped streptocarpus blossom. They have hybridized giant varieties with 6-inch blossoms, and giant dense-double varieties with 4-inch blossoms. They have worked on all sizes and shapes, and similar to African violets, Pavel and Elena focus on the neatness and harmony of their plants. They hybridize to increase the saturation of red, burgundy and yellow pigments in streptocarpus blossoms. Their work on fantasy varieties has led to the emergence of several unique varieties, including the roulette color pattern. Pavel and Elena also hybridize African violets. Their plants all have the DS- prefix.
Natalia is a hybridizer of florists’ gloxinias – Sinningia speciosa. She started hybridizing in 2006 and has created many varieties. Hybridizing is Natalia’s favorite activity, and her hybridizing focus is on varieties with large flowers and new colors. One of the more important points in Natalia’s work is the selection of parental pairs for crossing with certain characteristics, such as color of the throat, opening of the flower, and the length of peduncles. She chooses seedlings based on the harmonious development of the rosette and stable peduncles, with large flower sizes. Natalia’s plants carry the “NG-” prefix.
St. Petersburg, Russia
As long as she can remember, Nina always brought home different cuttings from school and rooted them. Most of all, she remembers a beautiful flower on her grandmother’s window in the village — a large white gramophone of Sinningia speciosa. At one point about 20 years ago, she thought, “why don’t I try myself to make a cross and see what happens,” and her passion for hybridizing began. Nina’s first attempts were not very successful; many seedlings died. But she didn’t want to give up, because she really enjoyed hybridizing. So, slowly, Nina began to introduce her first varieties of Sinningia speciosa. She chose varieties strictly according to these criteria: neat rosette, strong peduncles, and abundant flowering. Nina’s hobby touches more of the other gesneriads. She has also done very interesting work with kohleria, introducing some interesting varieties. Currently, Nina is also hybridizing mini sinningia. Nina’s plants carry the “GriN” prefix.
Peralta, New Mexico
Kathy’s interest in hybridizing began when she was very young. She has been hybridizing consistently for the past 15 years. Her goal is to produce beautiful and unique African violets that are well-adapted to the high desert environment in New Mexico. Kathy also teaches high school science. She looks forward every year to getting her botany students involved with learning how to grow and show African violets in conjunction with her local Albuquerque African Violet Club.
Anatolii says that violets are good for the soul. In 2005, he met Elena Lebetskaya, a violet hybridizer from Vinnytsa. That’s when he thought he should try to hybridize. Anatolii began to introduce varieties with the prefix “Leo-“. He wanted yellow violets, so he has a series of yellow-flowered varieties. In his plants, like all hybridizers and lovers of violets, Anatolii wants something unusual and beautiful, as well as different forms of flowers.
Irina Kabanova and Elena Trofimenko
St. Petersburg, Russia
About Irina & Elena
Irina and Elena have been hybridizing Streptocarpus since 2007. They were the first to get hybrids from the Silvia variety, and in 2009, their KT-Prada variety was introduced. It had red-yellow color, the first of its kind. Many other varieties were hybridized using Irina’s and Elena’s varieties as parents. In 2017, they became interested in hybridizing African violets, and introduced several show-winning varieties. Irina and Elena feel that they have a great advantage because they are a team: seedlings are double-checked, and they often find that they like completely different seedlings, so their varieties are very different. Irina and Elena hybridize to get perfect violets and streptocarpus. They feel they are very lucky, in that nature helps them and provides very beautiful seedlings. Their hybrids carry the “KT-” prefix. In the photo, Irina is on the left, and Elena is on the right.
Marina has been hybridizing African violets and Streptocarpus since 2010. Marina’s plants all have the “MK-” prefix.
Yana is 28 years old and is an underground pipeline engineer! She has been hybridizing for four years, and chooses miniature plants with bustle foliage and wasp blossoms. Yana also loves exotic leaf shapes. Her plants carry the “Hodss-” prefix. You can find her on Instagram at @fialki-hodss.
Elena has been hybridizing large-flowered violets for more than 20 years. She is one of most well-known and successful hybridizers in Russia. American growers also love her hybrids, especially EK-Goluboglazaia Rossiia (EK-Blue-eyed Russia), which has been seen at a number of AVSA Convention shows. More than 100 of Elena’s varieties have been registered with AVSA; her varieties all have the “EK-” prefix.
Natalia is 49 years old. She has been hybridizing for about 10 years. Her new introductions in 2021 are green and variegated standards, some longifolia varieties, some semiminiatures, and some trailers. Natalia’s plants carry the “NK-” prefix.
Losino-Petrovskii, Moscow Region, Russia
Natalia has been hybridizing since 2015. Her plants carry the “KNN-” prefix. Natalia loves the standards!
Klin, Moscow Region, Russia
Galina is an engineer. She has been growing violets for more than 30 years and began hybridizing in 2002. There are more than 260 varieties with her prefix “LiK-.” Most are standards, but there are a few minis and semis, and in 2020 Galina starting working with trailers. She loves variegated leaves and chimeras. She focuses on increasing blossom size and lush flowering on compact rosette foliage. In addition to violets, Galina is fond of needlework, creating paintings from bird feathers, three-dimensional fantasy paintings, dolls made of polymer clay, and much more. She strives to live actively and fruitfully.
Tatiana has been hybridizing for about 10 years. At first it was African violets, but her interest shifted to episcias. Tatiana began to hybridize episcias in 2015. She says she is always surprised by the variety of colors of seedlings. Tatiana says her hybridizing dream has not yet come true, but she is working to get an episcia with a contrasting combination of green, red, and silver shades. Tatiana’s plants have the “TM-” prefix.
Zlata has been hybridizing since 2014. Her main focus is double streptocarpus, streptocarpus with unusual patterns and colors, and miniature streptocarpus. She also hybridizes Sinningia speciosa and schlumbergera (more commonly known as the Christmas Cactus!). Zlata looks for bouquet-flowering plants. In the hybridizing of sinnigias she focuses on a stocky rosette with short and thick peduncles. Her hybrids all have the “ZM-“ prefix.
As long as she can remember, Elena has always loved flowers, and drew energy and inspiration from them. Sinnigia speciosa (also called florist gloxinias) have a special place in her heart, and they are where she concentrates her hybridizing efforts. Elena obtained her first gloxinia more than 20 years ago. They were simple bells brought from her grandmother. In 2014, she decided to try hybridizing and now there are more than 400 of her hybrids! Elena’s plants all carry the “EN-“ prefix. More recently, Elena has been on double varieties for seed production (mainly using her own hybrids). She carefully selects pairs and colors to get something interesting and with good parameters for the rosette and peduncles. To get new varieties, Elena grows hundreds of seedlings every year. The main goal for her is to get varieties with large, multi-row flowers on strong peduncles with neat rosettes, as well as memorable unusual colors of flowers and leaves.
Anna’s passion for flowers began in childhood. She remembers her childhood home — her grandmother’s windowsill was always filled with plants! Anna has been hybridizing gesneriads since 2009. She says that at that time it was very difficult to buy an interesting plant in Bishkek, especially a violet. But Anna really wanted new introductions. For her first efforts she got results hybridizing Sinningia speciosa. She introduced her African violet varieties a little later. Anna’s varieties are distinguished by neat rosettes and abundant flowering, beautiful variegated leaves, and large, up to 3-inch blooms. When choosing parent pairs, Anna first focuses on those characteristics. Her plants all carry the “AP-” prefix.
Tatiana has been hyridizing since 2007. Her main requirements when selecting a seedling are a good, symmetrical rosette, strong peduncles, lush long-lasting flowering, unusual color, and consistent qualities of a variety during cultivation. Tatiana prefers large flowers, and she’s not afraid to experiment with unusual foliage (e.g., longifolia and girl foliage). In the future, Tatiana would like to hybridize for bright red and yellow varieties on variegated foliage. Her plants carry the “PT-” prefix.
When American violets came to Ukraine at the end of the last century, Svetlana was struck by their beauty and charm, so she began to hybridize them, always on the hunt for the best blossoms. In addition, before 2014, when hybridizing work with violets was at its peak, she decided to try hybridizing Streptocarpus. She worked with standard varieties, and then worked to diversify the color of mini and semi-mini Streptocarpus. Svetlana faced great challenges with her plants due to the war in Eastern Ukraine. During the war there was absolutely no water and it was necessary to carry it in tanks from the outskirts of the city to water her entire collection. In the future, Svetlana wants to create more unique varieties that will be seen and remembered by even the most famous hybridizers and growers in the world! She thinks it is right to try to surpass yourself and always strive for more outstanding results. Svetlana’s hybrids carry the “RS-” prefix.
Olive Ma Robinson
Naples, New York
Olive has been an indoor gardener for most of her life. She is a native of Taiwan and has been seriously collecting and growing plants since 1986. She had her own business in Taiwan, Violet Fun Greenhouse, before marrying and moving to the United States. Olive and her husband, Dr. Ralph Robinson are the owners and hybridizers at The Violet Barn. You can read about their love story here. Olive won the prestigious AVSA Bronze Medal (2011) for her achievements in the African violet world. She is also an award-winning designer. Olive loves the standards, and her Ma’s varieties have won countless awards at local, regional, and national shows. That’s one of their dogs, Pookie, with Olive in her photo.
Natalia started hybridizing in 2010. In seedlings, she looks for symmetrical rosette, strong peduncles, abundant and long-lasting blossoms, unusual color, blooming true when propagating, and large flowers. Natalia always asks herself if she would like to have such a seedling in her collection. In her future work, Natalia plans to hybridize for long-lasting and profusely blooming red-flowered varieties, varieties of unusual/rare color, bright varieties, and varieties with very dark colors on variegated foliage. She also works with unusual foliage (e.g., longifolia and girl foliage). Natalia’s plants carry the “RM-” prefix.
Dolgeville, New York
Paul Sorano was 12 years old the first time his grandfather, Lyndon Lyon, had him come up to the second floor of his home where he was growing all sorts of plants. Paul’s first job was potting up seedlings of all kinds! He started hybridizing in the early 2000s. He says he wishes he could devote more of his time to hybridizing, but maintaining the greenhouses also takes time. Paul travels to shows in an old 1984 Chevy van with plants stacked in boxes floor to ceiling, often bringing 1,000+ plus plants to sell at AVSA national conventions. Lyndon Lyon Greenhouses is one of the largest commercial greenhouses devoted to African violets and other gesneriads.
Before moving to Kursk, Natalia lived and worked on the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia, where winters were long and frosty. While flipping through the Uzambarskaya Fialka Magazine, she was very attracted by a photo of Elena Korshunova with one of her new introductions. Under a large flower there was a tied thread – it was a pollinated seed pod marked with a thread. Natalia is always interested in trying something new, so as an escape from the monotony of Siberian winter days Natalia began her first trial pollinations. She says her collection is currently dominated by pink varieties. For a long time she struggled with girl foliage not wanting to pollinate. Now, she has seedlings with girl foliage, but again in pink tones! Her future plan is to work on NON-pink flowers. Natalia’s plants carry the “SN-” prefix.
Nina began to grow violets in 2005. Mainly she grows miniature and semiminiature violets and primulinas. At shows, Nina’s miniature violets have done well and even won Best in Show. At the AVSA Convention show in 2017, one of Nina’s violets, N-Avatar (which was exhibited by Dmitry Ozherelev), won Best Semiminiature and Third Best in Show! Nina says that nature sometimes gives us gifts — like the one she received: a chimera sport from Optimara Little Trio. In October 2019, the violet (which was grown from a leaf) bloomed with a beautiful chimera blossom. Nina decided to grow it out for three generations, and then presented this violet (named Star Trio) at show. This is Nina’s early hybridizing experience — she says it is inspiring for the future. Her plants carry the “Star” prefix.
Svetlana has been growing violets for 10 years. About three years ago she decided to hybridize her own “SV-“ varieties. Svetlana focuses her hybridizing efforts on variegated violets.
Marina says she lives in one of the most beautiful and picturesque places on Earth! Marina became interested in violets in 2008, and they have become a source of inspiration, joy, and peace for her. She has more than 700 varieties in her collection, and more than 450 varieties of chimeras! For several years Marina has been testing chimeric mutations of violets. She has more than 25 proven chimeras introduced with the prefix “MT-” and she says there are more in the works! Marina says that she enters her home filled with flowers, and it takes her breath away and frees her soul at the same time.
Spanish Fort, Alabama
Jere holds B.S. degrees in biology and chemical engineering, and a Master’s in Engineering. He became interested in violets about 40 years ago. He has been hybridizing since his retirement in 2009 from the UOP Honeywell Molecular Sieve Manufacturing plant. Jere has produced hundreds of seedlings from his crosses, many of which he has donated to senior centers, hospice care, nursing homes, and charitable fund-raising events. Jere loves the standards!
Doğan (in Turkey he is known as “meneksecibaba”) trained as a forest engineer but was involved in floriculture and greenhouse work since childhood. He discovered African violets and renewed his interest when he retired. He has made violet friends all over the world, and finally decided to try hybridizing in 2012 — a new focus that demands patience and experience. He has hybridized more than 100 plants, 22 of which are registered. Doğan goes to “work” early in the morning and prepares his tea, then the plant paradise that he has built surrounds him, and he forgets all his troubles. You can find him on Facebook.
Tatiana became fascinated with hybridizing years ago, and after seeing what wonderful new varieties were introduced by others she decided she decided to try it herself. She wanted to see fantasy colors on her favorite variegated foliage! Tatiana looks for seedlings that are interesting and beautiful. She hybridizes for large, double flowers; fantasy; plain and edged colors; different blossom shapes; the size of the rosette; and the shape of the leaves on both minis and standards. Tatiana also hybridizes streptocarpus and looks for large-flowered bright varieties with strong peduncles and a good rosette of foliage. Tatiana’s plants carry the “VaT-” prefix.
Irina is in love with African violets! In the late 1990s, after graduating from Kazakhstan Agricultural Institute, Irina became fascinated with African violets – her favorite plants. After growing for 10 years, Irina had the time and opportunity, and — most importantly — the desire to try hybridizing. She wondered if she would get something new, something that others might like. Irina feels that the most important part of hybridizing is identifying the advantages and disadvantages of seedlings. She attributes her success to the correct choice of candidates for varieties — they must be fast — and grow easily, with beautiful self-forming foliage and a cap of bright, large flowers. Irina’s plants carry the “KZ-” prefix.