African violets are one of my favorite houseplants. Their care takes little effort, they do not take up a lot of space and they bless me during the winter with beautiful blooms.
A pleasing temperature for these houseplants is 65 to 80 degrees. Anything above or below this will reduce blooming. They like strong, bright light, but keep them away from direct sunlight as this can cause scorching of the leaves. I keep mine in an east and south facing window.
African violets are a bit picky when it comes to how they like their water. Not too cold or too hot, room temperature is best. They are not fond of chlorine either. If your tap water is chlorinated, let it stand overnight to allow the chlorine gases to evaporate. This will also allow the water to come to room temperature. Let the soil dry out slightly before watering, then water them from the bottom by setting the pot into a tray or bowl of water. I can tell by lifting my African violet when it needs to be watered. It is much lighter when the soil is dry than when it is wet.
Slow release fertilizers are the best way to give your plant safe levels of the nutrients it needs. Water from the top once a month to flush out salts in the soil.
A light, airy soil texture is important to a vigorous root system in African violets. In their native habitat they grow with much air reaching their roots. Equal parts of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite is ideal. Violets do not like to be placed in a too large pot. In most cases roots only grow one third the diameter of the leaves and they do not grow very deep. For example, a 9-inch plant should be placed in a pot no more than three inches wide and 4 inches deep.
Thrips and mealybugs are their main pests to keep a watch for. They are both very small, about the size of a printed dash. If you spot any pests, a rinse with lukewarm, soapy water may help or dab them with a cotton swab soaked with alcohol.
There are so many different kinds of African violets to choose from with many different leaf shapes and flower colors and combinations. I recently acquired 3 “minis”. They will only grow up to 6 inches. For more information about the classes and cultivars visit the African Violet Society of America’s website.
As always, Happy Gardening!
More information about gardening and related subjects is available online. The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service
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