African Violet Growing Tips

The reason African violets are one of America’s favorite houseplants is because they are one of the least demanding plants in terms of care to grow and flower. Here are some tips for growing better violets.

Water Correctly

African violets prefer soils that are evenly moist. Most growers use a mixture of peat moss, perlite and vermiculite in equal amounts.  I prefer to use less vermiculite and more perlite in my mixture. 

Improper watering, especially over watering, is a primary cause of problems. Allow the soil to dry out only slightly before watering, then water from below.  If you wick water then pay close attention to the amount of water that your potting mixture holds. 

Flush out fertilizer salts with a thorough watering from the top at least once every couple of months.  Avoid getting the foliage wet but if you do then keep the plant  out of the sun as the heat can leave marks.

Violets are sensitive to extremes in water temperature. Water that’s too hot or too cold will cause white rings on the leaves. Allow water to stand overnight to bring it to room temperature and dissipate any chlorine present.  The amount of chlorine in most “city water” systems will not harm African violets, but allowing the water to age  for a couple of days will allow the chlorine to dissipate and eliminate the possibility of harm.

Fertilize Properly

To produce constant bloom, apply a balanced fertilizer (20-20-20) on a regular basis. But don’t over do it.  Applying at a rate less than recommended by the manufacturer is normally the best approach.   Slow- release fertilizers are a practical way to supply safe levels of nutrients at each watering. 

Use Strong, Indirect Light

Violets need strong, bright light but not direct sun. Lack of light stops blooming and causes leaves to grow upright with long petioles. Too much light results in leaves that are brittle, scorched, and yellow. Under natural light, an east window is often the best in winter. Northern exposures are better during hot, summer months.

African violets thrive under fluorescent lights turned on for 12 to 16 hours a day. Use a single fixture with two 20-watt or two 40-watt lamps placed 10 to 12 inches above the plants.

Control Air Temperature

The optimum temperature for this houseplant is between 65 and 75 degrees F. Temperatures below 60 degrees F or above 80 degrees F will result in reduced bloom. Keep violets away from frosty window panes during cold winter months. Or insulate with a thick layer of newspaper between plants and glass. If your house is dry, place the plants on trays filled with wet pebbles to increase the humidity.

Good luck with your violets and may they bring joy to your heart!

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