African Violet Care

African violets, botanical name Saintpaulia, add colour to any space in winter, and their cheerful flowers make us smile. Since African violets can be picky about where they want to be and how they want to be watered, we created a care guide for you.

Botanical Name: Saintpaulia ionantha

Genus: Saintpaulia

Botanical Family: Gesneriaceae

En français: Violette africaine

Sun / Shade:

: Use lukewarm water

Hardiness Zones:

The Basics

How do I pick the perfect African violet?

Select a healthy African violet of your choice of colour that has dark green, spot-free leaves. Look for a plant with one growing center, known as a single crown, to get the most blooms.

What container should I use?

Keep in that the roots out, not down, so a shallow wide container works better than a narrow tall container.

What potting should I use?

Choose an organic potting soil made specifically for African violets such as Espoma Organic African Violet Mix.

How much light should my African violet get?

African violets need indirect sunlight, as direct sunlight can burn the leaves. Choose a north- or east-facing window to keep plants away from cold glass. Rotate the pot once a week so all the leaves receive light. Extend daylight by placing African violets under a growing light during the winter months.

Do my African violets need to stay warm?

African violets prefer the same temperatures as most people find comfortable: between 70-80°F (low to mid 20sC) during the day, and around 65–70°F (High teens or 20C) at night.

How do I water my plant so it is happy?

Only water your violet when the soil is dry to the touch. Fill the pot’s saucer, and allow the roots to absorb the amount of water they need. After an hour, dump any remaining water to avoid overwatering.

When Should I fertilize?

In the , summer, and fall, fertilize about every 4 weeks. Consider using a special African Violet such as with Espoma’s Violet! indoor houseplant food

A beautiful and healthy African Violet.
A beautiful and healthy African Violet. Credit: Vladimir2366fa, via Wikimedia Commons

Getting Leggy

What causes my African violet to get leggy?

Leggy is when new growth forms on a plant tip. This new growth takes most of the energy away from the bottom of the plant. The three main reasons why your plant is getting leggy are:

Age

The lower leaves of African violets will turn yellow and finally fall off the plant, leaving other stalks . Plants lose the rosette of leaves at the base as a normal aspect of ageing. This, too, can give the plant a leggy appearance.

Water

African violet leaves dislike being wet, which makes them susceptible to mildew, rot, and fungus. The blossoms will grow leggy in response to the mildew or fungus. The soil should be well-draining so that it may dry between waterings. Always water the soil instead of the plant.

Light

African violets require bright, indirect light, which can be provided by grow lights or by positioning the plant near a thin curtained window. When you deprive your plant of light, it will produce longer stems as it reaches for light to grow.

What can I do to help my leggy plant?

Make sure the plant is getting the correct amount of light and water. If everything else fails, try repotting your African violet. Giving your plant more room for roots and a healthier growth environment can help it thrive.

Repotting African Violets

How often should I repot my African violet?

Once a year should be enough to keep your plant happy. It will provide new space for growth and also prevent it from getting leggy.

Can I use the same size container?

You want to find a slightly bigger container than the one it is in now – never smaller. While African violets like to be root bound to bloom, you want to provide space for them to breathe and grow.

Can I the soil?

It’s best to start fresh with organic potting soil made specifically for African violets such as Espoma Organic African Violet Mix. Using the same soil can bring new infestations to your plants that may not be prevalent now.

How close to the top of the pot should the root ball be?

You want the root ball to be below the top of the container. Don’t forget to center your plant!

Do I need to compact the plant in the new pot?

It is best to tuck your plant into the new pot gently. Pressing too hard can harm the leaves, but not tucking them in can cause problems in growth. Settle the plant by watering it from the saucer.

Propagating African Violet

Is it difficult to propagate African violets?

Not at all! It’s one of the easiest plants to propagate.

Where do I start?

Find a healthy leaf on one of your current plants. Be sure to have a clean cut on it before planting it in your soil. For full directions, see here.

How long does it take?

At about 3-4 weeks, roots should begin forming on the leaf. In another 3-4 weeks, your new leaves will start to sprout. When the sprouts get 2-3 leaves on them, which is around the 2-6 month mark, you will need to repot.

Are African Violets Poisonous to Cats or Dogs?

The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to ) has determined that African Violet is non-toxic to cats, dogs and even horses. Nor are they poisonous to humans for that matter.

However, make sure you do not over-fertilize or add insecticides that might be poisonous.

Sources and References

African Violet Society

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