African violets have a great range of color and form. Easy to grow, they will flower continuously over a long period and new plants can be grown from leaves.
African violet known as Saintpaulia, was first discovered in the hills of Tanzania in East Africa.
The leaves are hairy and fleshy, with long, brittle stalks. They grow to form a rosette-like mound. The flowers grow in loose clusters from the rosette.
Size and Growth
The African Violet can be 10-15cm (4-6in) high and up to 38cm (15in) or more across. Miniature varieties are about 15cm (6in) in diameter. Although it can bloom at any time of the year, there are generally fewer flowers between November and March.
Color and Varieties of African Violet
Today there are many African violets hybrids. Flower color ranges from white, through all pink, red blue, mauve and purple shades. The flowers may be single (5 petals), semi-double or fully double.
Much in demand are plants with two colored petals. Frilly-edged flowers, plants with strongly variegated or crinkle edged foliage are also very popular. Also available are miniature, semi-miniature and trailing stemmed forms.
The African Violet enjoys the company of other plants, so it is an ideal subject for setting in containers with other house plants.
Making new plants
The easiest way to start new plants is to take leaf cuttings.
Propagate African Violets by taking leaf cuttings. This way you know the kind of plant and the flower color that you will have in the end, it will be identical to the parent plant. It will take about 8-10 months from taking cuttings to a fully blooming adult plant.
Take the leaf from the parent plant together with its stalk.
Plant it so that half the stem is covered with a rooting mixture. Keeping the cutting at a temperature of 18-21°C (65-70°F) for about one month, and roots will form.
After a further 8-14 days at this temperature new plant-lets will appear. Once they have reached a diameter of about 5cm (2in) they can be split up and transferred to small pots of their own.
Water with a liquid plant food every fortnight once the plants are well established. Maintain high humidity by growing plants on pebble trays.
African Violet – Diseases
Brown spots / Scorched leaves
This can be appear if strong sun has been shining directly on the leaves, or if cold water has been spilled on them.
Prevention : Do not expose the plant to strong sunlight between March and October in the United States. Water carefully.
Crown rot fungus
This is a major problem with African violets.
Treatment : Discard the plant and clean the area where it was growing thoroughly.
This can appear particularly in winter if the surrounding air is too moist and stagnant.
Treatment : Allow humidity trays to dry out.
Sunken brown spots on undersides of leaves
This is due to Thrips or cyclamen mites.
Treatment : Discard plants under severe attack.
African violet are not demanding plants but will respond to regular and thoughtful attention, rewarding you with flowers all year around. Pick off faded flowers and leaves right to base to maintain only 3-4 layers of leaves on plants.
Potting : This plant grows well in an open but rich potting compost. Commercial peat-based potting mixtures are best. Re-pot every spring or summer when the roots have filled the pot. Split plants with multiple crowns when re-potting.
The African Violet cannot tolerate cold water on its leaves or crown. It should be watered with tepid water from below in the saucer after half an hour after watering should be poured off. Keep humidity high by placing it on a tray of damp pebbles. Feeding : Give it a liquid fertilizer feed every fortnight during the growth period.
Light : Although they love the light, African violet cannot take very hot sunlight, especially from March to October in United States. The brightest possible light without hot direct sun is ideal. During winter you cannot give them too much light. Temperature : You will get the best growth and the best flowers if your plant has a summer temperature of 15-22°C (60-72°F). Minimum winter temperature should be 13°C (55°F).
When to buy
These plants are available any time of the year.
What to look for
Make sure that the leaves are healthy and plump and that there are plenty of flower buds showing.
With the right care the African Violet will grow for many years, flowering most of the time.