The Basics of African Violet Care

by Marshall Grain Co.


The Basics of African Violet Care

African Violets are great houseplants for several reasons: one is that they're small, so they fit nicely on end tables, bookshelves, windowsills, and other tight spots. And because they're small, you can have lots of them! Another reason to love them is that they will bloom continuously, if properly cared for, so you can enjoy their cheery flowers all year round. However, they are a bit finicky and need regular attention, so if yours hasn't bloomed in a while, there's probably something you've missed in their care routine.


This article will help you get started.


Self-watering African Violet pot

The Pot

Start with the right kind of pot. Your container should have at least one hole in the bottom that allow excess water to drain. Never allow your African Violet to sit in water. The best pots are the self-watering type that allow the plant to soak up water from the bottom. The pot pictured here allows you to water from the bottom by squirting water into the hole on the size of the pot. (See more about watering below.)

Fertilome African Violet Potting Mix

Soil

All plants need healthy soil to perform at their best and this is especially true for African Violets. They should be potted in a loose soilless potting mix formulated specifically for African Violets, such as Black Gold or Espoma Organic African Violet Mix. African Violets should be repotted once or twice a year in fresh potting mix to keep it fresh and loose. They prefer to be tight in their pots, so upsizing the pot is usually unnecessary. Unless the roots of your plant are growing out of the bottom of the pot or appear to be balled up inside the pot, you can simply repot your plant in the same container.


Air

African Violets are highly sensitive to both air temperature and humidity. The optimal room temperature for growing African violets is between 60 F and 80 F and the humidity level should be kept at about 40% to 60%. One way to increase the humidity around your plant is to place the pot on a saucer of pebbles and water. Make sure the bottom of the pot is above the water level. African Violets can easily develop root rot if the soil is overly moist.


Light

Plants need 14 to 16 hours of light and 8 to 10 hours of darkness daily to flower. Try to place them where they can receive lots of bright, indirect natural light. If your plants are leaning toward the window, it's a sign that they're not getting adequate light. However, don't put them too close to the window where they can become too hot. Windows that provide north, northwest or northeast exposures are usually best. If you can't give your plants sufficient sunlight, try using fluorescent or LED grow lights to supplement or substitute for the real thing.

Watering

Proper watering is the single most critical task in caring for your African Violet. Improper watering can kill or damage your violet very quickly. And there are several ways to get it wrong. African Violets need to be kept continuously moist all times without ever being soggy. Your plant should never sit in water -- root rot from over watering is the most common reason African violets die. Maintaining that perfect moisture balance can be tricky. The only way to be sure you are watering correctly is to check your plants regularly to make sure they are moist. It's best to apply small amounts of water regularly than to soak them less often.


Watch our video on how to water your African Violet.


Equally important is how the water is applied.

The two most common ways to water African Violets are from the top or from the bottom.


From The Top

When watering from the top, it can be hard to avoid getting water on the leaves. As noted above, this can damage the leaves by leaving behind gray spots.

  • Use a baster, syringe or bottle with a narrow spout and make sure you get it directly on the soil.

  • If you do get water on the leaves, use a paper towel to gently blot the leaves dry. Allow it to completely dry before returning it to natural light.

From The Bottom

Set the pot in a bowl of room-temperature water, 1-inch deep.


When the soil surface feels moist, remove the plant from the bowl of water and allow excess water to drain from the pot.

Espoma Organic African Violet Food

Fertilization

African Violets require a mild fertilizer each time they are watered -- even in fall and winter. Insufficient fertilizer will result in smaller or fewer blooms and smaller leaves.

Use a fertilizer formulated for African Violets such as Espoma's liquid African Violet Food and water as discussed above.


Other Maintenance

Flush your plant monthly with plain water to remove any excess fertilizer build-up.

Gently pinch off any dead blooms to keep your plants looking nice and encourage new growth.


Conclusion

If you're like most African Violet lovers, you will probably find yourself collecting these exotic plants. With more than 16,000 cultivars to choose from, you may find yourself needing a lot more space!



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