It is easy to understand why the African violet enjoys the reputation as the most popular house plant in the country. The answer is obvious—it simply possesses so many desirable characteristics.
For one thing, give African violet what it needs; it will grow and (lower almost the entire year).
Small enough to fit on the apartment windowsill, it is available in wide range of varieties so that the most zealous collector will not become bored.
Fascinating Challenge in Growing African Violets
To everyone who enjoys growing plants, African violet offers a fascinating challenge.
Among the needs of this favorite house plant, probably the most important single factor in stimulating profuse bloom is light.
During summer, protect the plants from the hot rays of the direct sun. Otherwise, the leaves will burn and bleach.
In winter, however, some sunshine is needed to promote bloom when the days are short and the light less intense.
Greatest Problem of African Violets
Generally, a north or east window is most satisfactory if you place your plants close to the window glass and not 10’ or 12’ feet away.
African violets will not do well in the middle of the room. However, with many enthusiasts, the greatest problem seems to be watering African Violets.
How much water to apply to produce the best results depends on the size and kind of pot, soil mixture, room temperature, humidity, and method of watering.
Plants that are grown in clay pots with good drainage, in a light porous soil mixture, under high room temperature, or under low humidity will require more frequent watering.
They will need watering less often if they use glazed containers with little or poor drainage, heavy soil, low room temperature, or high humidity.
Overwatering, underwatering, or irregular watering results in less bloom. Although daily watering is not always needed, inspecting the soil each day is advisable.
Keep it only slightly moist to the touch and never soggy. Plants must have some air around their roots.
On the other hand, do not allow African violets to become excessively dry, and then water them copiously.
A desert-to-swamp policy deprives plants of vigor, making them susceptible to root rot. Continual overwatering will cause crown rot as well.
African violets may be watered from the top of the pot or the bottom, but always with warm water. Cold water will cause leaf spots and rings which mar the beauty of the foliage.
Those who prefer watering from the bottom occasionally apply water from the tap to flush out the accumulated mineral salts deposited by fertilizer.
If excess water remains in the saucer, pour it out after the top of the soil has become wet.
Humidity and Ventilation
If using chlorinated water, place it overnight in an open container before using it. Rainwater is recommended because it does not contain chemicals.
Regarding temperature, humidity, and ventilation, African violets prefer an even temperature of 60° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of 40% to 70% percent.
They do not thrive where it is too hot, dry, or drafty. A warm room, with adequate humidity and ample fresh air, is essential for good growth and abundant bloom. Supply fresh air by indirect ventilation.
If the temperature is too high and the air is dry, plants will drop their buds, or the blossoms will fall off shortly after opening.
Then, too, if the temperature is too low, growth slows down, flowering may stop, and the leaves droop instead of remaining flat and firm.
Poor ventilation, cold drafts, low humidity, and fluctuating temperatures result in poor hud and flower development, even if other conditions are adequate.
Increase the Humidity
If humidity is low, increase it, and you will increase the amount of bloom.
One way to do it with a single plant is to place the pot in a jardiniere, pour rather hot water into the bottom (not on the plant), and then allow the vapor to rise up and around the foliage.
Then your violet will start flowering. If you have several plants, set the pots on trays of damp sand, pebbles, or vermiculite.
It is moistened with hot water, or place open containers of water, like jars of philodendrons, among your violets or keep them close together to provide humidity for one another.
Also, try a humidifier on the warm air furnace or use water trays on the radiators. Spraying plants with a line mist of warm water in the late afternoon when the light is subdued is likewise helpful.
However, not to wet or dampen the foliage when the light is too intense or when the temperature is falling. Rather spray when the temperature is rising or when it remains even.
Roiling water in the tea kettle on the stove or steam from cooking provides ideal humidity in the kitchen if you have space and good enough light to grow African violets there.
Any well-balanced, completely soluble fertilizer, used according to the manufacturer’s directions, is recommended for forcing luxuriant bloom.
There are so many dependable plant foods available that it becomes difficult to choose. Still, it is a good policy to alternate among two or three brands rather than use one particular kind regularly.
Too much emphasis is placed on the feeding programs for African violets rather than on proper culture.
The best plant food will not produce the desired results unless accompanied by regular attention and a suitable environment.
There is no magic substitute for good general care. However, remember that overfeeding may be fatal.
Plants lose their gloss and crispness, and their blossoms become small. It is better to underfeed than to overfeed.
African violets tolerate a wide range of soil mixtures and various pots.
Much contradictory advice is given on proper soil, but because plants have a fine root system, light, well-drained, porous soil with high organic content is ideal.
Soil from the woods and well-rotted leaf mold provides an excellent potting medium, but do not remove the small sticks and stones. Most packaged African violet soil mixtures are also satisfactory.
Almost any type and size of the container will do, provided the plant’s root system corresponds to the size of the pot.
Overpotted plants do not flower freely. For best results, keep the plant in a pot small enough to fill the soil with fine-feeding roots. A slightly pot-hound specimen will flower quicker.
Points To Make Your Plants Flower Freely
To sum up, if you want your plants to flower freely, here are the points to follow:
1. Check the amount of light your plants are getting. Remember that they need strong light.
2. Check the room temperature. One ranging between 60° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit is best.
3. Check humidity, which should range from 40% to 70% percent.
4. Do not overpot. Slightly pot-hound plants perform best.
5. Regain a regular feeding program using adequate plant food.
6. Use warm water to keep the soil always moist to the touch.
44659 by Alma Wright