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Our Planter Story

By Connie “Swift” Cornell

Our story begins with my parents, June and Jack Swift. My mother wasn’t afraid of much and took on hard challenges and my dad was very artistic and talented in many ways. In the 60’s they began growing African violets and the rest is history as they say. Mom grew very large violets and sold them to local florists to bring in much appreciated extra money for our household.

At the time she was using a rectangular planter (the Aquamatic) which had a sponge filled hole in the bottom to control the flow of water from the reservoir into the planter. At the time it seemed to be the best planter available for African violets.

In the early 70’s they opened a local full-service African violet shop and sold the violets along with all the needed supplies and accessories, including the Aquamatic. Unfortunately, the Aquamatic went out of production around 1974 which left Jack and June in a quandary. As I mentioned earlier, my father’s many talents made him the right man for the hour. He simply designed a new and better self-watering African violet planter, got it patented, put into production at a local plastics manufacturer in Dallas, and presented the Swift Moist-Rite Planter to the very appreciative African violet community.

Instead of a sponge controlling the flow of water, which didn’t work all that well anyway, the Moist-Rite works on a vacuum system. It has an inner and outer wall with the space between acting as a water chamber. There is a fill hole at the top of the planter that is closed off with a rubber stopper. To complete the system there are 4 very small holes in the bottom of the planter and after filling the chamber with water and closing off the upper hole with the stopper a vacuum is formed preventing the water from flowing into the planter. Instead, the violet draws the water out of the chamber as it needs it, like a baby sucking milk out of its bottle.

My parents went on the promote the Moist-Rite, nationwide, for the next 40 years. Mom also went on the become a prolific hybridizer with over 550 to her credit. They traveled every year to wherever the violet conventions were held and were well known by African violet enthusiasts nationwide.

As the years went by my father had multiple strokes and finally passed in his sleep in 2007. In her 80’s then, Mom’s energy began to fade after dad died, and the promotions and traveling came to a halt. A few planter orders came in during those last years, but the business slowly faded into the past. She finally passed at 93 on January 5, 2018. At her funeral several African violet old-timers asked me if I was going to keep the planter business going. At the time it was the furthest thing from my mind, but a seed was planted.

Last year my already retired husband, David, and I began discussing the possibility of bringing the Swift Moist-Rite back on the market. I retired in October 2019 and after much planning, and lots of logistics we finally got the ball rolling and David built a nice little shop in our backyard to assemble the planters in. They come in 5 colors, white, terra-cotta, hunter green, sky blue and lavender.

I believe my parents are happy to see what we have accomplished and are smiling down on us as we carry on a dream which they started over 50 years ago.