African violet care: water, light and soil

African violet is one of the most popular flowering houseplants. As their name suggests, they come from the warm, tropical rainforests of East Africa, where they naturally grow along shady woodlands and riverbanks.

Although these colorful beauties have evolved as houseplants, they require special care.

“African violets may be more delicate, but it’s worth the extra effort,” says Lindsay Pangborn, a horticultural expert at Bloomscape, an online gardening center.

When it comes to African violets, a deep purple flower may come to mind at first, but there are many varieties that include pink, blue, and even white flowers.

Regardless of the shade, these beautiful plants provide a colorful look all year round. In fact, if cared for properly, African violets will last for decades.

Common African violet varieties

African violets close up

African violets are available in a variety of colors such as pink, white, purple or blue.

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There are many different varieties of African violets, marked by the shape of a flower (corolla) and a petal (lobe). Individual flowers (corollas) usually have five petals (lobes) that can have smooth or curled edges. Some varieties have single flowering, while others have double flowering, wavy flowering, and cup-shaped flowering.

Water

African violets are sensitive to temperature, so always use water at room temperature. Be careful not to soak the blurred leaves or stems of the plant, as water can get stuck and cause rot or fungus.

The best way to irrigate an African violet plant is from the bottom up. Place the plant in a shallow water tray for 30 minutes, allowing the soil to absorb water through the drain holes in the bottom of the pot. After half an hour, allow the pan to drain in the kitchen sink or bathtub to prevent the roots from soaking in water – this can cause root rot.

“It aims to keep the soil moist by watering when 25% of the soil volume has dried up,” says Pangborn.

Flowering and fertilizer

Potted African violets on the kitchen counter

Make sure the soil is slightly moist and transplant the plant once or twice a year as it grows.

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“African violets prefer it [soil] which drains well but retains some moisture, “says Pangborn. These should be placed in pots with holes at the bottom to allow it to drain easily after watering. There is flowering on the market made specifically for African violets, although this is not a requirement.

“A potted mix of regular peat-based houseplants with a large handful of perlite is a good choice if you don’t want to put it in a flower pot specifically for this plant,” says Pangborn.

The African violet blooms all year round with proper care. They should be fertilized monthly with a balanced fertilizer rich in micronutrients. In the case of African violets, this means using a 14:12:14 ratio of fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

Once or twice a year, transplant the African violet as it grows, but only choose a pot that is about an inch wider than the current one. African violets bloom best in smaller pots, so strive to have about one-third of their leaf span. Leave the growing African violet in the same pot for too long and its roots will bind, which will happen when the growing roots of the plant run out of space and start to intertwine.

Temperature

According to Pangborn, African violets are extremely sensitive to low humidity and temperature fluctuations. Keep away from drained windows and doors, air conditioning or heating openings, fireplaces or other heat sources.

“They’ll be happiest if their temperatures are very even,” Pangborn says. “Aim somewhere between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Light

For an African violet to bloom indoors, Panborn says to place it in front of a north- or east-facing window where the ideal amount of sunlight is reached.

Common problems

Pink african violet

Common problems such as lack of flowers, spots on the leaves or uneven growth can be alleviated with simple steps.

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No flowers: There are several reasons why a plant may not bloom. On the one hand, it may not have enough light. Place the plant in a place where it can receive strong but indirect light.

It can be too cold, so keep the plant away from drafts. If side shoots have formed, carefully remove them.

The soil may not be moist enough either, so Panborn says try this: Place the pan on a tray full of pebbles and then fill it with water. The pebbles prevent the plant from soaking in the water, but as it evaporates, it creates a moist environment for African violet soil. Fill with water as needed.

Stains on leaves: This indicates damage, although there may be several possible causes. The plant may be getting too much sunlight or it is too cold, so you can save it by moving it.

If there are old flowers on the plant, remove them – decaying petals can cause stains.

Stains can also be signs of insect infestation. If you suspect insects on the African violet, isolate it from the other plants in the house. If you see insects, remove them by spraying them with warm water or wipe the leaves with an alcohol swab.

Uneven growth: According to Pangborn, African violets can grow to a slanted color fairly quickly. The simple solution is to turn the pot regularly so that both sides of the plant are in the sun.

Propagation

You can use cuttings to propagate African violets, but they grow slowly. According to Pangborn, patience is key if you decide to grow new plants.

To propagate the African violet, cut a leaf from a healthy plant. Dip the cut end into rooting hormone and plant the stem in a pot about 1 inch full of moist soil. Wait until the cuttings have grown to about four to five leaves before transplanting.

Incision

Pruning the leaf of an African violet plant

You don’t have to prune the African violet plant as much as other plants.

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African violets do not need to be pruned as thoroughly as other plants. It is good practice to remove worn-out flowers and leaves one at a time. Gently rock the flower or leaf back and forth until it separates.

Insider removal

African violets may need a little care, but they reciprocate the favor with their beauty. Keep their soil moist but not too wet to avoid rot and make sure they are basking in indirect sunlight, away from drafts. Treat them well and you can have beautiful houseplants for decades.

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