Blooming off and on during the winter months, African violets unfurl pretty flowers in shades of white, pink, red, purple, and blue. Some varieties also feature double blooms and ruffled petals. The individual flowers last for a week or more. Count on the plants to be in bloom for about a month before taking a short break and erupting in a profusion of flowers again.
African Violet Care Must-Knows
One of the few houseplants that will bloom in low light, African violets grow well in bright east- or north-facing windows. Avoid locations where they will receive direct sunlight in the afternoon; too much sun can burn leaves and prevent the plants from blooming. Turn plants weekly to encourage even growth on all sides.
Overhead watering methods damage African violet foliage. When water droplets fall on the fuzzy leaves, they often leave behind ugly brown spots. Instead of watering from above, place pots in a shallow dish filled with about an inch of water. The plants will absorb water from the bottom. A baking pan or flat-bottom soup bowl is perfect for watering African violets. Leave the plants in the water tray for about 30 minutes.
This watering method is only effective if the pot has drainage holes in the bottom. If the container does not have drainage holes, transplant it to another container, such as a simple plastic nursery pot, that has ample drainage holes. Dress up the plastic pot by setting it inside of a decorative container, sometimes called a cachepot.
African violets grow well in soil that is moderately moist at all times. Plan to water your plants at least once a week in summer and more frequently in winter when soil tends to dry quickly. Room temperature water is best for African violets.
African violets hail from moist, humid environments. In winter, the air in most homes doesn't have enough moisture for great growth and flowering. You can bump up the humidity around your plants by creating small water reservoirs. Fill a shallow tray, such as a pot saucer, with an inch or two of gravel. Add water to the tray so it is just below the surface of the gravel. Place your African violets right next to the gravel trays. The water will evaporate and humidify the atmosphere around your plants.
Potting African Violets
It's time to repot your plant when you notice excessive loss of lower leaves and lengthening of the central growing point. Generally, African violets grow and bloom best if you repot them about once a year. Choose a low, shallow planting pot that is slightly wider than the previous container. Use a high-quality potting mix for indoor plants and repot the violet so that the crown of the plant is just above the soil line. Water plants thoroughly after repotting to promote good contact between the roots and soil.
More Varieties of African Violet
Saintpaulia ionanatha 'Benediction' bears large ruffled lilac blossoms over scalloped green foliage.
This Saintpaulia ionantha selection blooms in rich, deep purple. Its medium green leaves have reddish petioles and undersides.