African Violets come from Africa and are part of the Gesneriaceae family. Its botanical name Saintpaulia is in honor of Baron Walter von Saint Paul who discovered the plant in 1893 and brought it back to Europe. It is one of most popular houseplants since it adapts perfectly indoors and blooms continuously all year long.
There are many varieties of Saintpaulia, in fact there are hundreds of it. The plant blooms into an array of colors from pink, mauve, blue and violet. The flowers can go to an inch and a half but most of the times smaller than an inch. There are also miniature varieties that exist.
How To Grow African Violets
Temperature & Humidity
The African Violets, naturally live in the humid and damp African jungle so its ideal environment is fairly humid. Because of this African Violets thrive in humidity but can adapt very well to the lower humidity found homes. The plant blooms in an environment that has a temperature of 70 degrees to 75 during daytime and during nighttime not lower than 60 degrees. The most ideal temperature range for the plant is between 62 degrees to 78 degrees.
Soil Conditions for African Violets
African Violets prefers loose, porous and rich soil that tends to be acidic; it may be 6.0 or 6.5. Field soil or the soil found in your gardens is not advisable since it is poorly drained and becomes dense. For the best blooms, the commercially prepared soils will give the exact soil requirements for your African Violets. A number of brands exist that make soil specially formulated for African Violets.
African Violets do not need direct sunlight but they need good lighting conditions to grow well and turn out to have the best blooms. This gets to be complicated since African Violets need plenty of indirect sunlight and if there is not sufficient light, the plant will wither and will not grow at all. At the same time there shouldn’t be contact with direct sunlight since this could burn the foliage and give its lush flora blemishes. The secret to getting the best light is to have your plants placed in an east-facing window with somewhat filtered light.
The best way to prevent spots on the leaves is not to get cold water on the leaves. If it does, be prepared to have dead spots on your African Violets. When watering your plants, always water it from below or if you are using a watering can with a long spout, water it from above. Why the long spout you may ask? Well, it lets you water the soil without splattering the lush green leaves of the African Violets. Make it a point to use water in room temperature or better if it’s a little warmer.
When potting the African Violets, always check on the potting medium since drainage is very important. The African Violet Society recommends a mix of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 perlite. Also make sure that you choose a pot that is 3 times the diameter of the plant. In order to have healthy African Violets, repot them every six months.
The most familiar method of propagation is by leaf cutting in the spring. Just choose a healthy and solid leaf. Get rid of the leaf’s petiole or also known as the leaf stem by cutting it off at the plant stem and trimming the petiole to 1 to 1½ inches in length. Make a hole in the soil and insert the petiole into the hole and water it. If done as indicated, roots will appear in 3 to 4 weeks and leaves will appear in 3 to 4 weeks after roots are seen. From two to six months, your young African Violets will form and you will be able to repot it once they have two to three leaves.
African Violets should be fertilized regularly. The African Violet Society of America recommends a 20-20-20 fertilizer at half the suggested dosage. It also recommends that you let the bottle of fertilizer stand overnight for the chlorine in the water to evaporate and bring the water to room temperature.
Never overcrowd your African Violets. There should be space between the plants for good breathing. If there is no good air circulation between the plants and it is very humid, powdery mildew will be formed. Brush the leaves from the center outwards using a small soft brush when cleaning. One of the reasons that African Violets do not bloom well is because of the dying flowers that stay on the plant. Always pick off the dying flowers to prevent this. Aside from the fact that it will not turn out to be a pretty sight, your African Violets will not form as you would like them to.
Caring for your African Violets are quite difficult but with hardworking and patience and by just following the right requirements and composition, you’ll have the best African Violets in no time.