Care Tips for African Violets

My Garden Life
February 3, 2017
Table of Contents
 
African violet care isn’t difficult but it does have a few quirks. Learning how to properly look after your African violets can mean pretty blooms all year long.
 

African Violet Care

A well-cared-for African violet can produce flowers throughout the year if you know its basic requirements. Here are six African violet care tips to keep your plant looking its best:

1. How to Water African Violets & How Often

Properly watering your African violet is possibly the most important step to keeping your plant healthy. Here are tips for getting it right:

  • Water at the base of the plant and don’t splash water onto the leaves because water on the leaves can cause damage spots.
  • The plant should not stand in water and the soil shouldn’t be allowed to dry completely. Instead, water the plant when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. Always use room temperature water for watering.
  • Setting the container in a basin of water and allowing the water to absorb (no more than 30 minutes) is a common and effective method for not wetting the leaves. Note: There are special pots available that wick water and keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Take care to drain the lower portion of the pot after one hour of soaking, until it’s time to water again.
  • Soft water increases the salt (saline) content, which ultimately alters the soil and the plant’s ability to absorb water and nutrients. If you have soft water, find another water source (bottled/filtered water or rainwater) for watering your African violet.

African violet care - a woman in a pink blouse watering a potted purple African violet with a small watering can

2. How Much Light do African Violets Need?

African violets require medium to bright, indirect light for 12-14 hours and at least eight hours of darkness. If your African violet stops flowering, then it is probably not receiving enough filtered light. Place African violets three feet (one meter) from a south-facing window in winter and near a north or east-facing window during summertime. Rotate the plant pot a quarter turn every week to keep the stem straight and the African violet symmetrical.

three pink and purple potted African violets in an urban apartment windowsill

3. African Violet Soil Mix

African violets should be planted in African violet potting mix, which is a special, soilless blend. Alternatively, you can mix equal amounts of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite to create a perfect combination for growing African violets.

hand holding a small African violet plant preparing to place it in a pot with potting mix

4. African Violet Fertilizer

It’s best to purchase African violet food or an all-purpose liquid plant food (20-20-20 formulation) to regularly feed your plant. Dilute the fertilizer to one-quarter strength of the package instructions and apply it every two weeks.

hand with a green bottle pouring liquid fertilizer on a potted African violet in a window sill

5. Temperature Needs

African violets generally do well in typical household temperatures (60-75°F/ 16-24°C is ideal). Locate your potted plant away from heat/air conditioner vents or fans that create drafts, as well as doors to the outside that expose the African violet to cold air.

beautiful pink African violet in full bloom in a marble pot placed on a lace doily on a table

6. General Maintenance

  • Remove the flowers and their stem once they finish blooming to encourage new flowers to develop.
  • African violets should be repotted every year.

Fun Facts about African Violets

  • African violets are great houseplants for pet owners because they are non-toxic to dogs and cats.
  • They’re native to the rainforests of Tanzania and southeastern Kenya in tropical Africa.
  • African violets belong to the Gesneriaceae family, which includes lipstick plant and streptocarpus.
  • Discovered by Baron Walter von Saint Paul-Illaire in 1892 and the botanical naming of African violets honors him with the name, Saintpaulia.
  • African violets are not related to the fragrant violets that grow wild in North America.
  • African violets have been a favorite houseplant for generations and have more recently become a favorite for gifting on Mother’s Day, Easter, and Valentine’s Day.

If you want to enjoy more African violet plants for yourself or to share with friends and family, read our step by step guide on African violet propagation from leaf cuttings.

Pink, Magenta and Bicolor African Violets in Green Containers

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