Growing And Caring For African Violets

The houseplant that we know as African violet is not a true violet at all. It is, botanically speaking, Saintpaulia ionantha.

african violet

Photo: overduebook

The houseplant that we know as African violet is actually a violet at all. It is, botanically speaking, Saintpaulia ionantha, and it needs good warmth and plenty of light to flourish.

The houseplant that we know as African violet is actually a violet at all. It is, botanically speaking, Saintpaulia ionantha, and it needs good warmth and plenty of light to flourish. African violets are propagated from leaf or stem cuttings and provide wonderfully diverse flower forms in purple, pink, violet, white and rose shades.

This pretty plant can tolerate an inside room temperature of 65-75 F degrees but, like all houseplants, it does better of there is a slight drop in the temperature at night.

Tips For Caring For African Violets in Winter (And other similar houseplants)

  1. During the winter months from November through March, if your region has a lot of grey days, you may help your plants by using two fluorescent bulbs a foot above them for 13 hours a day.
  2. Give them drinks of lukewarm water, which will cause fewer spots on the fleshy leaves if you inadvertently splash water on them.
  3. Also, make sure they are potted in a light, easily draining soilless mix with extra perlite and vermiculite added to it. They hate soggy soil and even some soil mixes that are labeled especially for their use may be too heavy and not drain well enough.
  4. To get regular flowers and healthy leaves, add a smidge of fertilizer to the lukewarm water every time you water. The soil should be dry on top but don’t let the entire pot get bone dry between waterings.
  5. If there is insufficient humidity these plants are more susceptible to mites. At the first sign of curled or distorted young leaves quarantine the plants and dip them in insecticidal soap or other remedy for mites.
  6. Use a soft brush to remove dust from leaves.
Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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  • Rita Barsun

    Dear Moya,

    Thank you for this broadcast. I have printed it and will pass it on to my mother, who is trying to grow African violets in a hall where the fluorescent lights are on 24 hours a day. Is that a hopeless quest?

    Back in Pennsylvania she had African Violets all over the house, which had 13 wonderful windows. Now all she has are two windows, one facing north and the other west (and an opposing wall), and french doors facing north.

    Thank you,
    … rita b

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