If you are looking for small ornamentals that are easy to care for, African Violets are on top of the list of that category. With its small flowers of white, purple and pink combined with its deep green leaves, your home will have a classic interior like it was the 70s.
Before we go with the details of how to take care of it, let us first have some quick facts about the plant:
- It has a unique scientific name. Its scientific name is unlike others. It is called in botany as the Saintpaulia after Walter von Saint Paul-Illaire who had a botanist father he kept sending plant seeds to in Germany.
- It loves the darkness. This is quite an interesting fact about the African violet. It needs eight hours of darkness every day when all other houseplants need six to eight hours of full sunlight per day.
- It is not a generic species. There are at least 6-20 different species of the African violet plant. All of these species are endemic in Africa and in many parts of Asia.
#1. When to Plant
Although the African violet loves the darkness, the best time to plant it is during spring and summer when it has the perfect humidity and required room temperature for it to grow.
#2. Where to Plant
It is not an outdoor plant because it does not love the sun. At the same time, it is not winter hardy so you have to plant it in small pots with good drainage holes in spaces in the home where it will get just enough light to get through every day.
#3. How to Plant
First, choose the right potting mix and fill small containers with at least two drainage holes. Mix the soil with perlite for better results.
Choose the right space where air circulation is good and where it would get more dark than light. Fertilize the plant once every two weeks with diluted, phosphorus rich fertilizer. Water with lukewarm water four times a week.
Another unique thing about this houseplant is that, there is a specific potting mix for it. You can actually buy an African Violet potting mix in the market. The main component of this potting mix is loamy soil. Repotting once a year is advised for this houseplant.
#2. Light and Temperature
This houseplant will flourish under low to medium brightness or through indirect bright light. When it has dark green leaves, the plant must need more light.
When it has light or bleached-looking green, it is getting more light than it should have. The best temperature range for it to grow is with 18 to 24 degrees Celsius. 32 degrees Celsius and below 10 degrees is no longer good for this houseplant.
#3. Whater and Humidity
It will appreciate lukewarm water once in a while. It loves low humidity spaces and when you water it, it has to water from the bottom up to the leaves to avoid getting excess water.
African violets love high phosphorus fertilizer (15-30-15) every two weeks during the active growth phase. When the leaves start to appear, the fertilizing should lessen because over fertilizing is more of a problem for this plant than under-fertilizing.
Although it has specific needs, the African violet is very easy to propagate. All it needs would be leaf cuttings.
The best time to propagate is during spring but since it has the potential to bloom year-round, you can also propagate year-round granting that you follow all the requirements for growing and taking care of the African violet.
Using garden scissors or small sized shears, prune the African violet when it has already lanky stems, and limp or bleached leaves. You don’t need to worry much on this because there are ready procedures for you to undertake if you don’t feel like pruning yet.
#1. Growing Problems and Diseases
The most common growing problems of the African violet would be rots, lanky stems and limp leaves. All of these could be due to two reasons only: overwatering and over-fertilizing. These could also happen when the leaves are particularly watered too much.
It is a favorite of cyclamen mites and powdery mildew. As soon as you see a dusty white component, you are sure that the mildew is there to stay. You need to dust them off with insecticide.
How do I make my African violet to bloom more?
You can do this by pinching off the flowers that has stopped growing or those that failed to bloom. By doing this, you are encouraging better flowers to bloom in their place.
Can I use artificial light for its minimal light need?
Yes. As a matter of fact, you can buy fluorescent grow lights with 12-18 inches radius to supply your African violet with its light requirement every day without breaking a sweat.