These little plants aren’t difficult to grow, but knowing how to care for them properly will keep them looking great and blooming frequently for years to come.
African violets are small houseplants that produce clusters of white, blue, or purple flowers over fuzzy leaves. Here’s how to care for African violets in your home!
African violets will bloom with lower light, but medium to bright indirect light is best. They can be a bit fussy, so check out more tips on how to make sure your African violets bloom.
African Violet Care
African violets will thrive in bright, warm and humid conditions. Keep water from touching their leaves or it will leave brown spots. Remove dead flowers and leaves as soon as you see them to encourage a healthier plant. Regularly check the soil and plant to make sure there is no accumulation of dead leaves. This will encourage rot. Growing these houseplants is really a matter of balance; you have to make sure that the different factors that go into their cultivation all are weighted against each other. They should be kept in moist enough conditions that they don’t dry out, yet still exposed to a fresh breeze to avoid letting them get too stuffy, and exposed to sunlight without damaging their leaf tips. Don’t be discouraged if your African violets suffer some damage—it’s all part of the process.
Soil – Pot the plant into the right soil for the easiest African violet care. Special mixes are available or make your own from peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite in equal parts.
Water – African violet plants are picky about water, so take extra care of African violets when watering. Water with lukewarm or tepid water that was allowed to stand for 48 hours. Water at the base and never splash the foliage with water; just a drop can cause foliar spots and damage.
Proper watering is an important aspect of learning how to grow African violets. Water when the soil feels less moist to the touch. Never let growing African violets stand in water or completely dry out. Wick watering, from the bottom, is sometimes appropriate but may not be the best practice for those new to growing African violet plants.
Light – Provide appropriate lighting for the African violet plant. Light intensity should be filtered, with bright to medium intensity reaching the growing African violet. Light affects flowering. African violet plants with dark green foliage usually need somewhat higher light levels than those with pale or medium green foliage.
Turn pots regularly to keep flowers from reaching for the light. Place growing African violets 3 feet (1 m.) from a south- or west-facing window for the right lighting. If this light cannot be maintained for eight hours, consider supplementing with fluorescent lights.
Fertilizer – Fertilize African violet plants with special African violet food or a food with a higher phosphorus number — the middle number in the NPK fertilizer ratio, such as 15-30-15. Fertilizer can be mixed at one-quarter strength and used at every watering. Reduced flowering and paler leaf color indicate that growing African violets are not getting enough fertilizer.
Propagating African Violets
African violets can be propagated from leaf cuttings or from offsets. Adult plants occasionally produce small plantlets or shoots from the side. Remove these and pot up independently. Removing them also encourages better blooms on the parent plant.
Potting and Repotting African Violets
African violets do better when they are slightly underpotted. Repot only when necessary into a pot that is one size up. To repot these plants, simply grab the plant as a whole, lift it, and replace it with a larger container, making sure not to damage their root systems in the process. Common signs that a plant is stressed out and needs to be repotted include falling leaves and overcrowding, as well as roots that protrude from the surface of the soil.1 Keep an eye out and repot if you think it’ll help.
- Cyclamen mites can occur. They are nearly impossible to remove completely, so disposal of the infected plant and isolation of nearby plants is recommended.
- Powdery Mildew
- Various forms of rot and blight
African Violet Varieties
There are hundreds of varieties and hybrids, from miniature violets to trailing varieties! They differ mainly in the colors of their flowers, which range from white to purple, though some varieties have variegation in their foliage and flowers as well.
African violets are typically classified by size, based on how wide they grow:
- Miniature: less than 8 inches across
- Standard: 8–16 inches across
- Large: more than 16 inches across