How to Grow African
violets is fairly easy if you follow the established guidelines. Evelyn Briggs,
an African violet grower of over 25 years says, “One of the best tips for
growing violets is to be consistent with light, fertilizer and watering.”
LIGHT: African violets need adequate light to ensure
year-round blooming. The plant does very well in a bright, but filtered window
such as an east window with morning sun. However, the plants may be grown using
artificial lights keeping the plants about 8 – 10 inches from the tubes.
WATER: African violets can be watered from the top, or they
may be watered using wicks which draw up the water from a reservoir. Only
room-temperature, drinkable water from the tap should be used. Never use water
that has been filtered through a water softener. Remove any excess water after
15 - 20 minutes.
FEEDING: Either too much or too little fertilizer can cause
lack of blooms. African violets should be fertilized using 1/4 teaspoon of
water soluble African violet fertilizer per gallon of water for plants grown
under lights and 1/8 teaspoon for plants grown with natural light.
violets grow well in the same household conditions as humans. Fresh air, a
temperature of 75 to 80 degrees during the day with a 5 to 10 degree drop at
night, and 40 to 50% humidity is ideal. That said, the plants will grow in less
than ideal conditions.
POTTING: True African violet aficionados use “soilless”
mixtures and small plastic pots with ample drainage holes to grow their plants.
There are as many mixtures as there are growers. One basic formula is one-third
peat moss (preferably Canadian), one-third perlite, and one-third vermiculite.
Many growers add other ingredients such as Dolomite lime, charcoal, and
GROOMING: A properly groomed African violet is a pleasure to
see. Plants should be fresh looking with no dead leaves or blooms. About once a
month, gently wash the plant in a stream of tepid water, tilting the pot so
water does not accumulate in the crown or in the pot. Allow plants to dry in a
draft free spot out of direct light.
PROPAGATION: The easiest way to increase your collection is
to grow extra plants to trade with others. Leaf cuttings may be planted in a
mixture of potting mix or vermiculite. In as little as six weeks, a cluster of little
plantlets will push up through the potting mix. As soon as three leaves have
formed, the plantlets can be separated.
PESTS AND DISEASES: The bane of all gardeners is pests
and/or diseases. African violets have their share. Most can be controlled once
identified. One inviolate rule is to never add new plants from outside to your
collection without first isolating the new plant for up to six weeks.
For more information on African violets, visit the website
of the African Violet Society of America. New members are always welcome and enjoy
a bi-monthly magazine. The websites of commercial growers also contain plenty
of information and frequently offer newsletters to subscribers. lp_2014