When learning how to care for African Violet, you need to consider all the small details. The plant is not only beautiful but also elegant. The African Violet is scientifically known as Saintpaulia. It is a great houseplant and can be used in different pots. One of the best ways of growing the plant is in groupings because it produces showy displays. This post looks at African Violet watering, fertilizing, propagating, lighting requirements, and more.
African Violet Facts
The African Violet leaves are oval-shaped and wide. They also have a dark green color.
The plant produces bright clusters of purple, blue, or white flowers. The plant is slow-growing especially when growing indoors. It can take several years to reach any substantial height.
African Violet Varieties and Types
The African Violet is available in over a hundred varieties. There are also many more hybrids that have been developed over the years. The varieties and types of African Violet are differentiated based on size.
They range from miniature all the way to trailing types. The miniature African Violet varieties are less than 8 inches wide. The standard African Violet varieties are between 8-16 inches wide, while the large African Violet types are more than 16 inches wide.
The African Violet types can also be differentiated using the color of the flowers as well as the variegation on the leaves.
African Violet Watering
If you’re learning how to care for African Violet plants you should pay attention to watering. Most people mess this up because the plant is rather picky. The watering requirements of the African Violet can be tricky especially for people who are used to dealing with succulents.
Unlike succulents that like to be watered when they are completely dry, the African Violet doesn’t like to get completely dry. The plant likes it when the soil is evenly moist but not too dry or too soggy.
When you water, do so with room temperature water or slightly warm. You can also use tepid water that was allowed to stand in a warm place for about 48hours.
African Violets also hate having water on their leaves. So, no misting of any kind if you want your plants to thrive. Even as you water, make sure the water lands at the base of the plant and doesn’t splash on the leaves. Any water splashes on the leaves can cause leaf spots and eventual damage.
If you are an experienced plant owner, you can try the wick watering at the bottom. If you aren’t experienced, avoid the method as it can lead to devastating results. The African Violet undergoes a dormant period during winter. Reduce watering during these months because the plant is not growing as much.
African Violet Soil
The African Violet can do well in an all-purpose potting mix. There are also special African Violet soil mixes available in the market. Watering through is also important because it will tell you a lot about the soil. If your soil is too porous that means that the water is just pouring right through when watering and your plant is probably not going retain enough moisture in the soil.
If you find that you’re watering your African Violet a lot like every couple of days you should think about changing your soil out. You could also add some peat moss or coco coir to help absorb and keep the water near the roots.
You can also decide to make your own soil mixture:
1part vermiculite, 1part coarse sand or perlite, 1part coconut coir or peat moss, 1pinch of lime dust.
As with many other plants add a layer of rocks or gravel at the base of the pot. The layer will protect the plant from sitting in water.
The soil should overall be well-draining and loose. It should also be high in organic matter content to be beneficial to the plant.
Fertilizing African Violet
The African Violet doesn’t love to be fertilized a lot. It is good to note that with almost all plants, people tend to over-fertilize them than under-fertilize them.
The plant should be fertilized with high phosphorous food. An example is NPK with a ratio of 15:30:15. Fertilize every two weeks during the growing season, that is in spring and summer.
You can also mix the fertilizer with water every two weeks during the growing season and then slow-down in the fall and then stop in the winter.
Basically, watch your plants for signals, if they are still growing and producing new growth, you need to feed them. The growing season depends on where you live. If you live in the tropics or anything higher than zone 8, your plants are probably going to continue growing and not go dormant.
On the other hand, when you notice pale leaves and reduced blooming it is an indication that the African Violet is not getting enough food.
African Violet Temperature
Many of the African Violet varieties do well in temperatures higher than 650F. Some of the varieties can also tolerate lower temperatures but I wouldn’t go lower than 550F. The hotter it is for the plant the more frequent the watering.
African Violet Humidity
The plant is highly sensitive to high levels of humidity. This is not the plant for your high humid areas in the house. If you try and keep it in high humid areas, it will keep getting spotted leaves and dying.
Just to reiterate, avoid all forms of misting with the African Violets.
African Violet Pests
The plants can be attacked by most common houseplant pests including cyclamen mites. If you notice any changes in your plant you should take a closer look and inspect the leaves.
Controlling the pests is important because if you don’t the bugs will decimate your plant and also spread to other plants. It’s also worth noting that leaves can also begin falling from the top because of overwatering and root rot.
The most common pest that attacks African Violets is cyclamen mites. Unfortunately, the mites are nearly impossible to get rid of completely. In the majority of the cases, you will have to dispose of the plant after a cyclamen infestation.
One of the common diseases with African Violet is powdery mildew. The disease should not be taken lightly as it can kill the plant completely.
African Violets can also suffer from different forms of bright and rots. One of the common types of rots results from over-watering. If you notice it early enough you can stop over-watering and perhaps save your plant.
African Violet Leaf Cleaning
I suggest that you guys do clean the leaves. Leaf cleaning is not only important when learning how to care for African Violet. The plants need to produce energy using their leaves and keeping the leaves clean makes the process efficient. All you really have to do is take a soft brush and dust the leaves.
I would definitely not use leaf shine on any of your plants because it just clogs the leaves’ pores. Clean the leaves as often as you can, the plant will thank you and not only look pretty but also grow faster.
Light Requirements for African Violet
The light requirements for an African Violet are bright filtered light. The plants will do well with light that ranges from bright to medium intensity. They will become healthier, bushier and lose fewer leaves. But you might need to be watering them more often if you’re putting them in a brighter light area and especially if it’s warm.
The plants don’t like direct sunlight because it scorches and damages their leaves. Exposing the plant to direct light can kill the plant.
If your plant has thin, etiolated (leggy) stems with dark green foliage, it’s an indication that it’s not getting enough light. On the other hand, if the plant has leaves that look bleached or light green, it’s an indication of them getting too much light.
Moving the African Violets around as well as turning the pots is good practice to ensure that they get just the right amount of lighting. If you are growing your African Violets in a location where they cannot get about eight hours of lighting, you should consider supplementing. You can use fluorescent lights to supplement the light and still get good results.
African Violet Soil, Seed, Sucker Propagation
Propagation Using Cuttings
Propagating the African Violet is one of the easy steps in learning how to care for African Violet. Leaf-cutting is the easiest and most popular method. Choose and make cuttings that are a couple of inches long below a leaf node. You should apply the rooting hormone but its optional and establish the cuttings in moist soil.
Keep the soil moist for a couple of weeks and just watch it and let those roots grow. Create a small greenhouse environment for the cuttings by covering the pots with plastic bags. Place the pots in a location with bright light. Don’t forget to give the cuttings fresh air occasionally.
Propagation Using Seeds
Seed propagation can be tricky especially for beginners because the seeds require specific conditions to sprout. The soil used for sprouting should be a light mixture of vermiculite, peat, and greensand.
After establishing the seeds, make sure the soil is moist. The soil and the environment should be maintained at between 65-750F. If the conditions are optimal the seeds should sprout in 8-14 days.
Propagation Using Plantlets
The African Violet can also be propagated by dividing the plants. This method is also easy for beginners. The process is simple and involves separating the suckers or pups from each other. Ensure that each division has both parts; the crown and the roots.
The method is also perfect for when your African Violet has grown too large for its pot. Just divide it up into small plants and establish each in its pot.
African Violet Re-potting
Re-potting is also part of learning how to care for African Violet. Although the plant is a slow-grower, re-potting is necessary when it becomes root-bound. As mentioned above you can use the African Violet potting soil mix or just the all-purpose soil mix when re-potting. Re-potting should be done during Spring.
As an extra tip, allowing the African Violet to get slightly root bound forces it to bloom.
African Violet Pruning
The African Violet doesn’t require much pruning. If you want to encourage your African Violets to bloom more, you can pinch off any spent blooms.
African Violet Cats and Dogs
The African Violet is not poisonous to cats and dogs. The plants don’t contain any toxins that can affect dogs or cats. It is a great choice for a houseplant for people who are concerned about the safety of their pets.
African Violets are perfect plants for people with limited space. The plants can be grown successfully in small pots. They are also awesome flowering houseplants. Check this post for many more flowering houseplants.
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