How I Grow African Violets

When I first started growing African violets a few years ago, I realized that I could have hundreds of blooms in many colors all through the year

Before I knew it, my collection began to increase as I added new varieties to what has become a fascinating and absorbing hobby.

African VioletPin

In the beginning, I had my troubles, and who doesn’t? My chief difficulty was that buds would form but drop off, no matter what I did or care I gave them.

We discovered we leaked the gas stove, which caused the trouble, for African violets cannot tolerate the slightest whiff of gas.

Propagating African Violets

Some varieties of African violets flower more profusely than others. A few take a short rest, but most bloom all year.

With me, the fewest flowers appear in January and February, which I attribute to the short daylight hours during these months.

Propagating African violets from leaves is always fun! It is very easy to do. All that is needed is patience. I like to exchange leaves with my friends, just as stamp collectors exchange postage stamps.

Different mediums may be used to root the leaves, including water, vermiculite, peat moss, or sand. Generally speaking, leaf-cutting takes approximately 9 months to develop into a flowering plant.

Planting After Cutting

To start, take a small jar or another container (I use a peanut butter jar) and fill it with one-third builder’s sand.

Moisten it and, with a pencil, make a hole, inserting a leaf about 1/2″ inch deep.

Press gently around the stem with the eraser end of the pencil. Before inserting the leaf stem, allow it to heal one-half hour after cutting.

Also, dip the end in a rooting powder to hasten root growth.

Next, place a plastic cover over the jar and set the unit on a windowsill out of direct, strong sunlight.

Four or five leaves in a jar every month provide me with a steady supply of new plants.

After 2 to 4 months, little plantlets will appear. When 1 1/2″ to 2″ inches high, lift the leaf with two forks and plant in a 2-inch pot of sterilized soil.

Do not remove sand that adheres to roots.

Use Proper Soil To Pot

Which can be purchased in garden shops, though I prefer to prepare my own, consisting of equal parts soil, peat moss, leaf mold, and sand.

I place this mixture in a dishpan and add one cup of dehydrated cow-manure and one cup of wood ashes.

Then I bake it in the oven for one hour at 200° degrees Fahrenheit and add one cup of bone meal after it cools.

After this l keep the mixture moist and stir it occasionally for a week or two before using.

When a plant has outgrown its 2-inch pot, transfer it, soil and all, to a 3-inch pot, where it will stay until rootbound.

This is a good time to separate it if it is multiple specimens with many crowns.

I like plants with one crown, so remove them with a pair of tweezers.

Light Requirements

African violets need light, but not necessarily direct sunlight.

I have live windows facing northeast, with absolutely no direct sun from September to April.

No houses or trees obstruct the view, and shades are kept up, or removed entirely, so plants receive all the possible light. 

There are two glass shelves held up with wooden brackets on each windowsill. This allows 15 to 20 plants for each window, while my largest plants are kept on a table at the windows.

African violets grow best in a warm, humid atmosphere. I keep the temperature at 70° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime and 60° to 65° degrees Fahrenheit at night.

Since I have double windows, I do not remove the plants from their positions in the winter, no matter how cold it gets.

Absolute Care For Watering

Keeping over 100 plants watered provides sufficient humidity.

For the water, I always use warm water and put a little on top and about one-quarter of an inch in the saucer.

Moist plants are not watered. Every few weeks, I take the plants to the sink, syringe the leaves with warm water, and keep them away from strong light until the foliage is dry.

There is no absolute rule about watering African violets

Still, the following must be considered:

  • The pot’s size
  • The porosity of the soil
  • Time of year
  • Humidity, sunny or cloudy weather
  • The temperature indoors
  • Kind of pots (clay or plastic)

Furthermore, some plants like more water than others.

If there is any doubt, I feel the surface of the soil with my finger.

Diseases are easier to prevent than to cure. It is a good plan to spray about once a month with an African violet insect bomb.

I spray the soil carefully without touching the pot’s leaves and bottoms.

A healthy plant is active, always making new leaves and buds.

One with limp leaves and small flowers is sick and has probably been overwatered and overfed.

If the white feeding roots have rotted away and only a little stump of roots remains, there is little hope for it.

Proper Care On Roots

If, however, the root rot has not reached the plant’s crown, it can be saved.

With proper care, it can be revived, though it will take two to three months.

A plant in a jardiniere or a pot covered with tinfoil is apt to remain too moist.

Since air cannot pass through wet soil to the roots, crown rot follows, and the plant wilts.

Pick off old flowers, stems, and yellow leaves to keep specimens fresh.

To keep them symmetrical with one crown, remove suckers as they appear with a pair of tweezers.

Also, turn each plant every few days so that all sides get equal light.

44659 by Elsbeth C. Ohlson