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Starting the African Violet

A three-inch flowerpot is big enough for any young African violet. African violets are one of the easiest houseplants to grow and have a tendency to bloom wherever you plant them with little regard for the flowerpot! The most important considerations in growing African violets are light, temperature, circulation, soil, and water. Violets

  1. Light

    In the wild, although the African violet needs a good amount of sunlight, it prefers the diffused light of a shady area in contrast to direct sunlight. Grown as a houseplant, insufficient light is the most frequent cause of failure to flower.

    African violets are at their best when placed in either an east or west window. Be careful to place your African violet near the sunshine and not directly in it. Although African violets like light and warmth, exposure to direct sunlight can cause them to dry out too quickly and burn.

    African violets need 10 to 14 hours of bright, indirect light, which indoor gardeners often supplement with fluorescent lighting. If you have a light meter, the African violet's requirement for optimum bloom is about 1,000 foot-candles.

  2. If You Are Comfortable, So Is Your African Violet

    African Violets acclimate easily to normal home temperatures. The most desirable temperatures for African Violets are a range from 60F at night to 85F during the daytime. Although they prefer daytime temps from 75F to 80F, when placed near a sunny window, they'll get enough extra heat to keep them happy. Your African violet will easily adapt to a slight normal dip in temperature during nighttime hours.

  3. Give Your African Violet Breathing Room

    Although your African violet breathes through its roots, you still need to take care not to crowd it. Make sure to keep some space between each of your plants. Another consideration about air circulation is to keep your Saintpaulis out of a draft. Although African violets adapt well to indoor climate control, they don't tolerate sudden fluctuations in temperatures.

    A porous soil also helps in providing your plants with good air circulation, another critical factor in keeping them healthy.

  4. Potting Mixture

    In the wild, the African violet sends its shallow roots into the decaying organic matter caught in rock crevices and fissures. This is probably where our container gardens of African violets inherit a preference for being pot bound and their need for well-drained, light porous soil.

    African violet soil should be very porous. Water should pass through it quickly, since soil that holds water can drown your Saintpaulis. (see Watering Your African Violets)

    Regular potting soil has too many nutrients and is too dense to provide your Saintpaulis with either the circulation or drainage it needs to thrive. African violet potting mixture is available from most plant supply stores and garden centers. However, you can make an inexpensive African violet potting soil using one of several different "recipes". Before you begin planting, pasteurize your mixture by baking it for 30 minutes at 180 to 200 Fahrenheit to destroy any pathogens or pests.

    If you plant your African violet in a well-drained pot with the proper African violet potting mix, you eliminate the need to put gravel in the bottom of the pot for drainage.

  5. Traditional African Violet Potting Mix

    • Two parts loam
    • One part leaf mold or peat
    • One part sand or perlite

    Organic African Violet Potting Mix

    • well-composted garden soil
    • vermiculite or peat moss

    Soil-less African Violet Potting Mix

    • Three parts sphagnum moss
    • Two parts vermiculite
    • One part perlite
  6. Proper Watering - Avoid the Shrinking Violet

  7. Keep newly planted African violets moist until they become established. After that, keep in mind that the African violet is one of the easiest plants to 'kill with kindness" and over-watering is the biggest killer of African violets.

    To keep soil evenly moist, you may want to use a wick system. Place one end of the wick in the bottom of the pot before planting and the other end of the wick into a water reservoir either under your plant or along side it. A wick system provides your plant with a continuous water supply yet keeps the soil from becoming saturated. If you choose to hand water, use only tepid water and do it only when the soil is dry to your touch.

African Violet CarePropagating and Repotting African VioletsComparing African Violet PotsCommon Problems: Why Do African Violets Turn ColorCommon Problems: Exterminating Mealy Bugs on African Violets