Caring for African Violets
Description:African Violets are very popular among plant enthusiasts. They’re low growing plants that produce small, dainty flowers year round with the right lighting, water and temperature requirements.
They have soft, furry feeling leaves that are thick and arranged in a rosette and are either green or dark green in color. The underside of the leaves are usually either lighter green or a red violet color.
Plant varieties include single, double and even ruffled flowers. Some African Violets will even have ruffled or serrated leaf edges and may even have variegated leaves. Leaf shape can range from long and thin to serrated or ruffled edges and some will have heart shaped leaves.
African Violets do best when they’re kept in bright indirect east or north sunlight. They will also grow very well with grow lights if you don’t have a area to give them natural sunlight.
Bright light should be provided for 8-12 hours each day. If the plant isn’t receiving enough light it won’t produce any flowers. But, if you notice that the edges of the leaves are turning brown or you see some brown spots on the leaves, the plant is getting too much light.
Over watering is one of the fastest ways to kill an African Violet. Don’t water them on a schedule, such as a certain day of the week. Feel of the top of the soil and water them when the it becomes dry.
Avoid getting water on the leaves as this can cause the leaves to spot. African Violets are best watered from the bottom by setting them in the sink or a saucer. These plants don’t like water that is hot or cold, adjust the water to room temperature before adding it to the plant.
Violets need a rich soil that will retain water yet that will also drain well. Potting soil especially for African Violets if widely available, but you can mix your own soil.
When mixing your own potting soil it is recommended to use a half and half combination of peat and perlite. The best pot will have a drainage hole in the bottom. This will prevent overwatering and allow you to water the plant from the bottom.
Feeding can be done every time you water the plants if you use an extremely diluted mixture. Or you can choose to only fertilize once per month with a mixture at half of what is recommended on the plant food label.
Plant food that is specifically made for African Violets is highly recommended, although any type can be used. A plant food high in phosphorous will stimulate flowering.
Propagating violets is very easy through both division and leaf cuttings and can be done at any time of the year.
Regular potting soil can be used, but a mixture of perlite and peat makes the best planting medium.
Choose a good healthy, firm leaf and remove the entire leaf from the plant at the stem. Trim the leaf stem to about 1-1 1/2 inches long and plant the leaf into the soil and water thoroughly.
Roots will generally begin to appear within 3-4 weeks and leaves should begin to grow about 3-4 weeks after the roots appear. Repotting can be done once the plant has several leaves which can take anywhere from 2-6 months depending on conditions.
Plant division can be done on larger plants by carefully separating the plant into two separate plants. Be careful when dividing the plant to make sure that each new plant has it’s own root system.
To get more flowers on your African Violets, keep them rootbound. The pot should be approximately 1/3 the size of the plant itself. The suggested repotting time is twice a year, but they often will do very well with transplanting done on a yearly basis.
There are two things that you can do to grow really large violet plants. While keeping the plant rootbound will increase blooms, allowing extra room for the roots will cause the plant itself to grow larger.
You can also remove the buds to increase the plants size. To still have some flowers to enjoy, only remove part of the buds. But, if you remove all of the buds the plant will grow much faster.
Common Name: African Violet
Plant Type: Perennial
Blooming Time: Year round
Color: White, lavender, purple, pink, red, yellow and bi-color
Insects and Diseases: Mealy bugs, aphids and mites
Written by Connie Corder for HouseplantsForYou.com, Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved