Fertilizers for African Violets
Fertilizers for African violets are important source of nutrients - nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium (NPK) and various microelements (iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), molybdenum (Mo) etc).
When you plant your African violet in special potting soil, it is great chance that you don't have to fertilize your plants for awhile. On the other hand, reduced growth and flowering with gradual loss of leaf color indicates that African violet plant needs more nutrients. Since African violets like rich soil, don't wait for your African violets to look miserably before you start to apply fertilizers. If in doubt (with good reason - too much fertilizers can 'burn' roots), fertilize one or two plants and wait two weeks to see plant's reactions. If plants start to grow again, leaves become darker and flowers become visibly stronger and healthier, fertilize the rest of the plants.
During vegetative period, African violets should be fertilized using balanced formulas like 7-7-7, 12-12-12 or 20-20-20. In blooming period, African violets need more phosphorus and fertilizers like 8-15-8, 15-30-15 and similar are more appropriate. When treated well, African violets can bloom almost year long.
Forms of African Violet Fertilizers
Fertilizers can be found in the form of:
- water-soluble pebbles,
- pebbles and plant food sticks/spikes with gradual release of nutrients,
- fertilizers in liquid form.
Water soluble fertilizers are usually applied once a month, according to manufacturer's recommended dosage. To avoid spikes in nutrient content, it is also good practice to mix one forth or one fifth of regular fertilizer dosage with water and use this mix when watering plants. Discard excess water and fertilizer mix that drains from the drainage holes - don't feel 'sorry' for this waste :o)
Most of these fertilizers can be applied (mixed) directly to the soil, too, but this way, we are risking development of burns on roots due to local high concentrations of fertilizers. If you are unsure, apply fertilizers as directed by manufacturers.
Fertilizers in the form of pebbles and sticks with gradual nutrient release are great for any plant, African violets included. They are added to the soil usually every 3-6 months (again, read instructions) and in this period you don't have to worry about fertilizing your plants. It is very hard to over-fertilize plants using these two kinds of fertilizers.
However, they are also more expensive when compared with 'ordinary' water-soluble fertilizers.
Fertilizers in liquid form are very handy - you simply mix them with water and water the plants - like fertilizers in pebbles soluble in water, just don't have to worry about mixing, dissolving and similar. Very often, this fertilizers are used whenever plants are watered - there are no spikes in nutrients in the soil, root system is kept healthy and plants take from the soil what they need. They can be more expensive when compared with other fertilizers in regard of nutrient content per gram, but if you don't have (literatelly) dozens of African violets or any similar flowering plants, you don't have to consider the price - and even then, simplicity of fertilizing plants this way justifies usage of this kind of fertilizers.
What ever fertilizer you use, be careful regarding amounts - as said before, too much of anything is not good, fertilizers included. Over-fertilized African violets can die due to problems with root system. They also develop tight centers with plenty of small leaves having rusty appearance. Be careful and read instructions that can be found on every fertilizer's package.
Recommended African Violet Fertilizers
You can find suitable African violet fertilizer in almost any larger garden center - just be aware of your African violet needs (both NPK and microelements).
But if you are really into the growing African violets (having few pots or few hundred pots), using fertilizers specially formulated for African violets is highly recommendable. They are maybe little bit more expensive (just maybe), but usually worth every (euro)cent. Here are several recommended AV fertilizers that one can use at home not only for African violets, but also for other blooming flowers - of course, there are many others on the market that do their job well!
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to follow Amazon links (links open in the new windows).
Jack's African Violet Fertilizer 12-36-14, 8 oz.
This is water soluble plant food suitable for all African violet varieties and practically all flowering houseplants. This fertilizer can also be used for outdoor plants as a blossom booster for all flowering plants growing in the soil, flower pots, hanging baskets etc.
African violets appreciate high phosphorus content that helps healthy root and numerous buds development.
This fertilizer comes as 8 oz (227g) resealable plastic tub...
Schultz African Violet Plus Plant Food 8-14-9, 4 fl oz.
This is liquid African violet fertilizer with balanced content of nitrogen (N, 8%), potassium (K, 9%) and higher content of phosphorus (P, 14%). It comes in 4 ounces bottles with easy to measure dropper, which is great help in preparing watering mix.
This is one of the best 'all round' African violet fertilizers. It lacks phosphorus 'punch' that Jack's Classic African Violet has, but it will keep your African violets and other gesneriads happy and flowering :o)
You can use this fertilizer for other indoor plants, too.
Of course, there are many other similar products on the market, so choose according to your own needs and preferences - after all, many African Violets growers have other indoor flowers as well.
Again, what ever you do, don't over-fertilize your plants - it can kill them just as too much water, strong sunshine or cold etc can kill them. If you are in doubt regarding fertilizer - well, consider Schultz African Violet Plus Plant Food 8-14-9, 4 fl oz. - it is cheap, comes with measuring dropper and can be applied year long regardless of the plants' vegetation period.