The gift of African Violets
A few years ago a dear friend gave me an African violet as a gift. The plant had dark green fussy leaves and pretty purple flowers, I felt in love with it. But I thought once the flowers fade, it will probably take a long time -if ever- for it to bloom again. I was wrong; it bloomed again soon after and thereafter. Today I have six Violets spread out all over my house; at least three are always blooming at one point, so I always have flowers in my house, even in the winter when my garden doesn’t have a lot of color. I have come to the conclusion that the African violet is the easiest and most rewarding indoor flowering plant you can grow, as long as you follow these easy steps.
Saintpaulia, which is commonly known as the African violet, is a native to Tanzania in eastern tropical Africa. The temperature requirements for this plant to thrive are very specific, but they coincide exactly with the temperatures that most people keep inside their homes. This is why violets do so well indoors. Ideal temperatures during the day are 70 to 80 degrees (they will tolerate up to 85 degrees), and at night they like cooler temperatures such as 60 to 65 degrees.
Another important element for growing the perfect violet in your home is light. Violets need to get some light in order to bloom, but they should not receive direct sunlight. Hot direct sun will scorch the leaves and cause blemishes on the leaves and the plant will not do well under these conditions. They need undirect or filtered light, and this is essential for the plant to bloom. If the plant is not receiving enough light, its leaves will reach up, and they will get very dark in color. If the leaves are yellowish with blemishes, that means it is receiving too much sun, and needs to be moved to a different location.
Watering your violets should be done on a regular basis and never letting the plant go too dry, but drainage is important. Violets do not like to be too wet and need good drainage. Never water the leaves; it is best to water your violet from the roots. I fill a small plate with water and set the plant on it for 30 minutes or so. After the water is absorbed, I add a little more and leave the plant at its location to slowly drink the rest.
I have come to realize that violets are not heavy feeders. If you keep them under the right amount of light, and the right temperature, and give them the right amount of water, they will bloom continuously. But fertilizing is always a good idea. There are special fertilizers in the market for violets. Liquid fertilizers are highly recommended for violets, especially if watering is done from the bottom up. A fertilizer high in Phosphorous is what you need for constant and plentiful blooms.
A useful resource to learn more about growing African violets is the African Violet Society of America. Their website is http://www.avsa.org. Here you can find all information you need on this beautiful plant, especially where to buy them in your particular state, as it has a complete national list of vendors.
The African violet comes in a whole array of colors, pink, white, blue, purple, burgundy, etc. These are beautiful flowering plants that bring color and happiness to any home. It is a gift that keeps on giving, under the right conditions; it will reward you with endless displays of delightful flowers.