How to Care for African Violets

A Popular Choice

African violets have an honoured place in my memory, I can’t remember my parents home without at least one brightening up a windowsill or plant stand. The same goes for my aunts’ homes and in later years mine and my sister’s.

African violets are members of the Gesneriad family.

The African violet is relatively easy to care for and will reward your attentions with many years’ of beauty. The African violet (Saintpaulia species) may well be one of the most popular houseplant and one that grows and flowers under light conditions found in the average home or under artificial light. Many different varieties, types, and flower colors exist.

When placing your African violent avoid direct sunlight. The appearance of a plant will indicate whether light levels are too high, too low or just right. If light is too low, leaves are usually thin and deep green, and appear to reach up for light. The plants may grow, but will flower poorly or not at all. In such instances, supplemental artificial light will help promote flowering.

Some suggest that the African violet should be repotted every two years, and only when the plant looks really overcrowded. It is also best to use shallow pots, and try to maintain the overall rosette of leaves by removing leaves pointing towards the centre of the plant whenever necessary. The accompanying video will take you through the replanting process.

It is important that the potting soil is well drained. You can use a soil mix that contains

- one part soil,

- two parts peat moss and

- one part perlite or vermiculite or coarse sand.

The African violet’s roots are tender and juicy and have difficulty pushing through heavy soil

You will find happily that generally speaking insects are not a problem. If you find mealy bugs you can dab them with alcohol. For thrips or cyclamen mites you may want to take a deep breath and chuck the plant.

A firm spray with tepid tap water will help with white flies but eb sure to dry the leaves after. If you discover botrytis or powdery mildew you will pick off and destroy the diseased parts.

You can propagate your African violet either by suckers that are removed from the mother plant or, my favourite, by leaf cuttings.

You insert both suckers and leaves into moistened vermiculite. Be sure to check, now and then, to see if roots have developed from rootless suckers or watch for new leaves emerging from leaf cuttings.

Use two inch pots and time your activities for spring or summer when the hours of sunlight are longer.

courtesy flickr/clearly ambiguous
courtesy flickr/clearly ambiguous

African Violet

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Comments 36 comments

highwaystar 8 years ago

Thanks Bob, excellent hub, have always had a soft spot for african violets.


trakker14 profile image

trakker14 8 years ago from franklin

I absolutely love african violets, a friend of mine told me  to use the left over coffee in the pot to water them once a month, what would be the reason for that.

great hub!!!


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

thanks trakker14, some use coffee in outdoor gardens for the nitrogen, i have done this. I would hesitate to use it on an indoor plants, maybe in very small amounts it would be ok.


cgull8m profile image

cgull8m 8 years ago from North Carolina

Coffee really works great for Rose plants and Jasmine. Instead of throwing the coffee grounds in trash we can put them for plants. African Violets looks nice, another great tip for us. Thanks Bob, you should write a book, if you are not doing so already.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

thanks cgull, i have a book idea


dafla 8 years ago

I used to grow and sell AV's. Once my a/c went out, and we opened the windows. A fungal spore blew in and killed every one of them. I never did start back with the business end of it, but I still have a few on my kitchen windowsill. I had about all the species plants when this happened. I was offered more leaves by friends on AV forums, but my heart just wasn't in it.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

dafla that is a sad story, I once grew 300 basil plants but had to leave them behind as we were moving that was not easy to do.


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

Bob! once again a great HUB . I've never had any luck with propagating them.

regards Zsuzsy


malabikajay profile image

malabikajay 8 years ago from Pune

thx BOb Excellent Hub... Do visit mine also!!!


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks Zsuzsy and malabikajay.


Angela Harris profile image

Angela Harris 8 years ago from Around the USA

Thanks so much for this! I have tried repeatedly to grow African violets with little luck. Your hub gives me hope to give it another try- will be taking your tips seriously.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

You are welcome


Hi Bob 8 years ago

I get a lot of tips from you about caring for african violets. Any specific tips for India's temperature and soil


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Any specific tips for India's temperature and soil; where in India?


C.S.Alexis profile image

C.S.Alexis 8 years ago from NW Indiana

Looking at your gardening hubs, thankful to see this one on AV. I have never had the time to do indoor plants but I have always wanted to give them a try. You make it sound easy. They remind me of so many women who have marked my life in a positive way....childhood memories!


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

it is easy if you follow a few basic steps.


MM Del Rosario profile image

MM Del Rosario 8 years ago from NSW, Australia

I would like to add some African Violets in my garden. maybe next spring !!!


patty 8 years ago

my friend has a violet that the leaves are turning white all around the edges. it looks healthy and is blooming just turning white. can you give me some idea whats going on?


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

There are three basic types of variegation in African violets to be seen on the upper surface of their leaves: 'Tommie Lou' with a white-edged leaf; crown, where the young centre leaves are white turning green as they reach maturity; and mosaic, having leaves speckled with white. It could be one of these violets


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California

Bob,

Oh the memories, my grandmother had dozens of African Violets in her house and in her green-house. She definately had the green thumb of the family. She tried to help me grow them in my own house, but I simply did not have the right window exposure for them to thrive...:(


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks for the comment, I have been giving some thought to a small scale av breeding project but where I am now, do not have the room or light.


einron 8 years ago

Great tips. The first video is great.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

I enjoyed this Hub, Bob. It brought back wonderful memories of when I had the perfect growing conditions for African violets and encouraged one of them to grow to a diameter of almost 24 inches. One day, poof!, crown rot, and it was gone. I have no idea what happened, since the plant was nearly 12 years old when it expired, and no others went with it. I haven't researched the life span of an African violet, so maybe it just hit the end of its road.

The Oregonian video is wonderful. At first, I wondered why you didn't mention the importance of how to water African violets in your Hub, but then I saw the video did it for you.

This past Mother's Day, my daughter brought me a delicate violet planted in a miniature Delft pot. I'm about to repot it, since it is doing well (May to August, so I'm hopeful), so please keep your fingers crossed for me, since I don't have ideal conditions here, and this will be the first violet I'm keeping in more than 20 years.

A beautiful Hub. Thank you very much.

Sally


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

You are welcome Sally, all the best with the new av, I have just bought the first of my new collection since we moved. I'll buy one more soon, and then I'll propogate the otehrs.


dafla 8 years ago

I used to collect minis, and belonged to several AV sites online. Our a/c went out one summer, and we had to open the window that the AV's sat in. A fungus came into the window (I think) and killed them all. I didn't have the heart to start again, so I just have a few now, no minis at all. I do have my namesake AV, and I've propagated about 30 of those to give to people.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

It would be very difficult to start after such a loss, thanks for stopping by.


Princessa profile image

Princessa 8 years ago from France

I love Violets. I bougth one about a year ago and it is still alive (that in itself is a miracle for me!) but after the first flowers fell off it has not flowered again. Is that normal? My plant still looks healthy and seems to be growing well, but it does not have any flowers. Any ideas?


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Hi Princessa, it could be light.This site might help.http://www.avsa.org/VioletBloom.htm


Princessa profile image

Princessa 8 years ago from France

I'll have a look. Thanks.


betherickson profile image

betherickson 7 years ago from Minnesota

I love African Violet. Actually I have one 2 months ago. Unfortunately it didnt survive. Thanks for this great info. Now I can have a second chance to care for this plant.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

My husband loves violets but can never get them to flourish. I'll have him check out this site.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks for stopping by, if he has any questions please ask and I'll do my best to reply.


MamaDragonfly2677 profile image

MamaDragonfly2677 7 years ago from New York

Great hub Bob! I have never had any luck with African Violets... Now I see why!


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks and thanks for stoping by.


Luna 4 years ago

Why did my african Violet's 2nd flowering have white blooms? It was vivid purple when I got it!


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 4 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Luna, I do not know but will see what i can find out.

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