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.
- African violets: easy houseplants
The African violet may just be the perfect houseplant. It blooms readily and has no specific flowering season, so it can be in bloom year-round. And it's easy to multiply and share with others. As a result, it's found worldwide, from the Far North to