How to Care for African Violets?
Available in a variety of colors (pink, purple, blue, red and white), African violets are usually small-growing plants that require a bit more attention, but they make up for it by being beautiful houseplants.
If well-taken care of, African violets have rounded, fuzzy leaves that can range from a dark green to a lighter shade of green.
In what follows, I’m going to discuss the most important aspects of caring for African Violets, so you can enjoy the best that these plants have to offer.
African Violets Plant Care Tips
By following the plant care advice below, you’ll know what to do to prolong the lifespan of your plant and avoid doing things that may inadvertently damage them.
African violets are typically no larger than 5 inches. This refers to their height. As for how wide they grow, they can reach more than 16 inches across.
African Violets prefer medium to bright indirect light. They grow best indoors. As with any other plant, light conditions are important for their overall health and growth.
Because this is a flowering plant, light conditions are crucial for the blooming period of these plants.
A sign that your plant is not getting enough light is the fact that it stops flowering and the leaves become yellow. Elongated leaves and stems are also a sign of insufficient light.
Brown spots on leaves and flowers, leaves that curl down, and variegated leaves that turn green are indicative of too much sunlight, and usually happens when the plant is exposed to strong direct sunlight.
You can keep your African violets on an interior windowsill if your window is facing west or south. If they’re still getting too much light, consider moving them to a different location.
Short-time exposure to direct sunlight (i.e. in the early morning or evening) is usually fine, but you can also perform a little test to see if the flower is getting too much light.
Simply hold your hand over the plant; if it’s getting too much light, you’ll be able to see a shadow of your hand over the plant. If you can barely see a shadow, the light conditions are optimal.
In the winter, you should ensure that the plant gets enough sunlight by regularly rotating it so that all sides get sunlight equally. To achieve this, rotate the plant by one-quarter of a turn with each watering or once a week.
The soil of African Violets should be kept moist, but the soil should not be drenched in water. Too much water will cause the roots to rot and can promote the growth of deadly pathogens.
Make sure the water you use is room temperature and watering is done from below. Let the plant absorb water for around 30 minutes.
Getting water on the leaves is not ideal as it can cause spotting. You can spray mist when quick feeding or if there’s a need to increase the humidity around the plant, but other times, water should not touch the leaves.
Using a self-water device is another way to make sure that your African Violet gets the necessary amount of water every time.
You should avoid watering your African violet with highly chlorinated water. If you’re using tap water, let the water aerate for a day, so that chlorine evaporates.
Although some chlorine is beneficial for photosynthesis, more than 70-100 ppm is detrimental. Diminished flowering and leaf burn are some of the consequences of using chlorinated water on your African violets.
Temperature & Humidity
The ideal temperature for African Violets is around 70 F. This is a comfortable room temperature. Problems start appearing if the air temperature goes above 80 F or below 60 F.
This plant enjoys a humid environment. The ideal air humidity for them is around 70-80%. In most homes, this level of humidity is not readily attainable.
To make sure your African violet plants don’t get dry and shrivelled leaves, try to keep the humidity at least around 50%. You can achieve this by huddling together multiple African Violets or by simply using a humidifier.
There are soil mixes specially designed for African violets, but not all are ideal. Some are simply an all-purpose potting soil, which may work, but won’t give you the long-term benefits of soil made primarily of block-harvested, sphagnum peat moss, which is ideal for these plants on account of its lightness and porosity.
Potting soil for African violets should have a pH between 5.8 and 6.2. All-purpose potting soils don’t have the correct pH for African violets, plus they’re too “heavy”, which means they hold too much water.
Soil that is soggy can cause crown rot, root rot and phytium. Therefore, make sure you get a potting soil that doesn’t contain “dirt” and that’s specifically designed for African violets.
Because potting soil can harbor pathogens and other bacteria that can damage your plant, it’s best to get the soil from a reputable manufacturer.
If you’re not sure about the trustworthiness of the manufacturer, you can pasteurize the soil by placing it in an aluminium foil in the oven for 30 minutes at 180 F.
Fertilizing is only needed during active growth in spring and summer. You can use a fertilizer dedicated for African violets and use it every other week.
If the plant is doing fine and doesn’t seem to need a boost, there is no need to use a fertilizer, since you run the risk of over-fertilizing.
Make sure the fertilizer has equal amounts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), and that the fertilizer is 100% water soluble, otherwise the plant may not be able to absorb all elements.
Potting & Repotting
Repotting is recommended two or more times a year. As the plant grows, it should be moved to a larger pot. You should choose a pot that is the next largest. This means that if you have a 2 inch African violet, you should get a 3 inch pot for repotting.
African Violet Plant Propagation
You can propagate this plant from a healthy leaf cutting. Place the stem into a growing medium and water it well. At around 12 weeks, the plantlets that have emerged can be separated from the leaf cutting and moved to a small pot.
Different Types of African Violet Plant
There are around 100 different African violet plant varieties with different sizes (small, medium, large), colors, and leaf variegations. Some African violet plants are trailing varieties.
While it may be difficult to list them all, especially with newer varieties emerging, here are some of my favorite ones:
Gold of Scythians
I like this variety because the white blossom remind my of popped popcorn kernels. The blossoms have a yellow inside with a pinkish hue on the outside.
World to Your Home
This African violet is another unique-looking variety with multiple petals in its blossom. The petals are white and droop forward. They remind me of jasmine blossoms.
On this variety too, you’ll notice multiple petals on a blossom. The petals are a soft pink that looks splashed with a darker shade of purple.
The petals of this African violet variety look all ruffled together and are rounded. The edges are darker than the center of the petal.
Aroma of Summer
The blooms on this variety have only about 5 petals, which are a bright pink with a white center, creating a beautiful and delicate contrast.
As you may have noticed, I mostly enjoy lighter colored African violet varieties, but there are many varieties with stronger and darker colors such as the VaT Pavlin (Peacock) variety or the RM Visavi and the LE Vega.
African Violet FAQs
For more on the African violet plant, read the FAQs below:
Is African Violet Plant Toxic?
The African violet plant is not considered a toxic or poisonous houseplant. That said, individual sensitivity to plants and leaves vary, so it’s always best to keep pets and kids away from plants.
Can You Keep African Violet Plant in Your Bedroom?
Yes, you can keep the plant in your bedroom, but unless your bedroom is humid, the plant probably won’t like it there. The kitchen or a bathroom is better for these types of plants.
What is the Lifespan of African Violet Plant?
With lifespans that can stretch beyond 50 years, this plant is certainly a great investment. If you take good care of it, it can live well beyond 50 years.
Can You Keep African Violets Outside?
No, African violets cannot be kept outdoors, unless you live in a tropical climate. These tropical plants are originally from East Africa and wouldn’t survive in other climates if kept outdoors.
As you can see, African violets are a blooming houseplant variety with a lifespan that can stretch over decades. They’re a bit fussy about their keeping requirements, but once you manage to get down their requirements, you’ll do a great job in taking care of them.
With hundreds of color schemes and bloom types available, there’s literally an African Violet plant for every taste.