Botanical Name: Saintpaulia hybrids
Dependable bloomers, African violet plants top any list of favorite flowering house plants.
Dainty African violets form a low-growing rosette of dark-green, rounded leaves. Flowers rise above the leaves on fleshy stems and are available in a range of colors from white, pink or red, to all shades of violet-blue and purple, as well as bicolors.
African violets glow like jewels when displayed together in a terrarium. Terrariums are making a comeback in a big way. Nestled in the ideal micro-climate, your flowering plants will thrive with the extra humidity, making them easier than ever to grow.
Find a spot for them that provides bright, indirect light and you'll enjoy living bouquets for months on end.
Given enough light, you can expect African violet plants to bloom almost year-round.
Thousands of cultivars have been introduced, providing us with some spectacular new choices. Flowers may be single, double, edged with white, or have large, frilly petals. There are also trailing, miniature and micro varieties.
They can be damaged by overwatering, cold drafts, or harsh summer sun, but otherwise caring for African violets is easy.
Keeping the soil moist, giving it plenty of bright, indirect light, and regular feedings will help it to stay healthy and blooming.
Older leaves will shrivel and turn brown. This is normal. Cut them off because they can attract fungus.
African violet plants prefer to be slightly pot-bound, so repotting is usually needed only to refresh the soil. As a rule of thumb, African violet pots should be about half as wide as the plant.
Avoid getting the velvety leaves of African violets wet.
Cold water, especially, will leave spots on the leaves and they won't come off.
If the leaves need to be cleaned, brush them gently with a soft, dry brush, such as a small paintbrush.
Remember to always use room-temperature water when watering your plants.
Origin: Eastern Africa
Height: Up to 6 in (15 cm)
Light: Needs bright light to bloom. Some direct sun in winter is fine, but strong summer sun will scorch African violet leaves. It grows well under fluorescent light. Leggy stems and no blooms indicate that it's not getting enough light. African violets may also fail to bloom if they don't get 8 hours of darkness each night. (These beauties need their rest, too.)
Water: Keep soil evenly moist, but not soggy. It's best to water plant from the bottom to avoid stem rot.
Humidity: High humidity. Set plant on a tray of wet pebbles to raise the humidity around it.
Temperature: Average room temperatures 65-75°F/18-24°C
Soil: African violet potting mix or peat-moss based potting mix.
Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks with African violet fertilizer.
Propagation: Take 1-2 in (2.5-5 cm) leaf stem cuttings in spring or summer. Dip the cut end in water, then dip it in rooting hormone powder. Poke the stem into moist potting mix. Use your fingers to firm the mix around the stem so that it stands up. Enclose the whole pot in plastic to hold in moisture. Keep the cutting out of direct sunlight. Leaves should develop roots in about a month, and you should see plantlets form from the base of the cutting in about another month after that.
Give your African violet at least 10 hours of bright, indirect light each day for more blooming power.
These popular flowering house plants are easy to find in nurseries and florist shops. You'll find many more varieties available if you order African violets online.
There are new cultivars introduced every year. Choose the one you like.
Looking for minis? 'Little Delight' is a miniature hybrid with white blooms edged in purple. Petite 'Love Bug' has crimson semi-double flowers.