African Violets Quick Tips and Tricks
In order to successfully grow African violets, some history lessons are needed.
Saintpaulia flowering plants, that are commonly known as African violet, is a genus of six species of herbaceous perennial flowering plants in the family Gesneriaceae. They are native to Tanzania and adjacent southeastern Kenya in eastern tropical Africa, with the highest concentration of species in the Nguru mountains of Tanzania.
They grow in humid areas, mostly in the shades of other plants. They prefer moist, airy, humid but not a soggy soil. They are also susceptible to certain pests and diseases.
Secrets of success:
- don't allow water to get on the leaves
- don't grow African violets outside
- don't place them in direct sunlight
- don't keep them in the dark areas
- don't let sucker plants to grow
- don't use pure peat moss
- don't keep their soil wet
- don't let the plants to stay dried out
- don't subject them to sudden temperature changes
- don't keep them in the drafty areas
- don't leave dead leaves and flowers on your plants
- temperature - moderately warm, at least 16°C (60°F) during winter, 10°C (50°F) for short periods if planted in dry soil. Avoid cold drafty places and large temperature fluctuations.
- lights - African violet needs light to grow and bloom. Best place during winter is east or south window and west or north window during summer. Saintpaulia needs protection from strong direct sunlight. If you grow your African violets using only artificial lights, than 14 hours per day of light using two 40 W fluorescent lights some 30cm (one foot) from plants is more than enough.
- watering - soil must be always moist, but not soggy. Between each watering, it is good for soil to get almost dry. This will keep root system healthy and will not make any damage to the plant. Leaves must not get wet, so watering must be done using watering can with narrow spout or by immersing entire African violet pot in water. Water must be at room temperature. Effects of cold water on African Violet's leaves is clearly visible on the picture.
- air humidity - high air humidity for African violets is very important. Always keep wet peat near the African violets or put pebbles in the African violet pot saucer and add water - water must not reach African violet pot or roots will start to rot.
- repotting - as needed, every 6 to 12 months. If your African violet is blooming, plant is happy - no need for repotting.
- propagation - using leaf cuttings or from seeds. Both methods are easy to do, they just take some practice.
- pests, diseases and other problems are often easily recognizable, just observe your African Violets carefully.
Although some pests multiply and spread rather quickly, checking plants during watering is usually more than enough to notice problems (not only with pests and diseases) and react on time and save your plant(s) and prevent more damage.