African violets

Written by Paige Vandiver

With their vibrant blooms, velvety leaves and canary yellow center, African violets are the absolute perfect plant to cure your wintertime blues and fill your home with bursts of color until those tulips and daffodils you just planted pop up next spring!

African violets might be a little fussy, but they are worth the extra effort and will reward you with elegant blooms all year long.

Five Ways to Ensure Your African Violet Has a Long, Healthy Life

Let the water sit for a bit.

Your African violet is finicky about its water. Make sure the water is either tepid or at room temperature before giving it to your plant.

It’s best to let it sit for 24-48 hours, but if you can’t, then let it stand for at least an hour. Water that’s too hot or too cold can shock the plant, so make sure it’s just the right temperature!

Don’t let the water touch their leaves.

Even a small droplet of water can cause damage to an African violet’s exquisite leaves. There are several ways to ensure you steer clear of those fuzzy, green beauties. 

  • Water from the bottom  – Fill your pot tray with water and let the plant soak up the necessary moisture. Dump the rest of the water once your plant’s thirst is sufficiently quenched.
  • Use a watering can with a long spout – Use care with this method to make sure you don’t accidentally pour water on the leaves!
  • Buy a self-watering planter – These pots have a reservoir for the water with a cotton rope that allows water to be pulled up to the root ball as needed.

Check the soil before watering to ensure it is not extremely dry, but also not soggy. 

Use porous soil in a small pot.

African violets need very porous soil to thrive. This ensures that the plant gets the appropriate amount of moisture and aeration, and ensures that your African Violet remains happy in a well-drained pot. (Remember: African Violets don’t like wet feet!)

Here at Stockslagers, we offer pre-packaged soils made specifically for these lovelies or you can use a mixture of perlite, vermiculite and peat moss to ensure air can circulate around the roots.

These babies are best kept in small pots. A good rule of thumb is to look at the leaf spread of your mature plant and get a pot that is around one-third of the diameter of the spread. No matter what you do, make sure that your pot has a hole in the bottom to ensure proper drainage!

Invest in the Right Kind of Fertilizer.

According to MissouriBotanicalGarden.org, “Most African violet growers recommend feeding plants with a dilute fertilizer solution at each watering. A standard chemically balanced formula (such as 20-20-20) is adequate for most growing conditions. African violets grown under artificial lighting should be feed 1/4 teaspoon fertilizer/gallon of water. When growing under natural light conditions, use 1/8 teaspoon per gallon of water. During periods of heavy bloom, African violets benefit from a high phosphate-potash fertilizer.

Remember plants are more efficient users of fertilizer during active growth periods (late spring, summer, to early fall) and will require less water and fertilizer during other periods, frequently referred to as the resting period.”

It matters where you place your pot.

Indirect sunlight is important for your African violet since direct sunlight can easily burn their pretty leaves. Place them indoors in moderate light and consider a grow light in the winter months. 

Your plant is comfortable at about the same temperature that you are comfortable. Keep it around 65-75 degrees and your African violet will be a happy camper. Keep them away from the cold glass window in the winter and since they love humidity, it’s best if they are not placed around air conditioning vents.

Doting on your African violets will have your home bursting with vibrant violet, pink, blue, white or lavender flowers this winter and all year around!

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