In the mid-20th century, hybridizers from all over were on a mission to create the first double pink African violet. And Paul Sorano's grandfather, of Lyndon Lyon greenhouses, was the winner.
"In '54 they showed him in St. Louis and caused quite a stir. And then he became famous practically overnight and that brought people in from out of state and all over the country then oversees actually," says Sorano
The double pink is a multi-layer pink African violet, as opposed to having just a single layer of petals. Sorano grandfather, Lyndon Lyon, was hybridizing flowers as a hobby when he created the double pink, but that grew into much more. Eventually, his grandson, Paul, took over the operation 1982. And the greenhouse has come a long way since creation of the flower. Sorano says customer often say they feel like kids in a candy store here, with so many varieties to choose from.
"There's a full gamut of edged flowers, glittered flowers, striped flower which we call pinwheels, fantasy, bi-colors."
And there are all sorts of sizes. Serrano says it takes a knowledge of genetics and an eye for good traits to make the perfect hybrid.
"It's nice to be in a greenhouse every day, it's quiet and peaceful and you walk around and you've got the color," says Sorano.
And this central New York greenhouse is one of just a few still alive and well. "A lot of them are from my grandfather's era so a lot of them have disappeared there's just a few of us left," Sorano tells us.
To care for the flower, Sorano says they're indoor plants, they like 65-75 degree conditions, bright light, and filtered sun. He says people make often make the mistakes of over-watering, over-potting, and under feeding the flower. They like small pots with a loose medium, and they need food.