African Violets

African violets (saintpaulia ionantha), which are native to Africa, are some of the most loved flowering houseplants in America.   They are extremely well-suited to indoor culture.

They are low, compact plants with clumps of thick hairy dark green leaves and lovely flowers that bloom off and on all year long.   Many beautiful varieties are available in white, shades of pink, rose, violet, blue, purple, lime green, and pale yellow.

There are also miniature cultivars available that can be grown under glass with fluorescent lights.  There are also the trailing ones that look best in hanging baskets.     

African violet

How To Care for Your African Violet

Light: Medium light for growth; high light for flowering (near bright east or south window) for at least 12 hours each day.

Always use a light curtain to filter the light during summer when placing plants in a southern or western window. This is necessary to prevent sunburn which causes brittle, bleached leaves. Grows well when placed 12 to 15 inches below fluorescent plant lights for 16 hours a day.

Water: Keep the soil mixture slightly moist at all times by watering from the bottom with room-temperature water. Avoid getting water on the leaves to prevent white spots from forming.

Humidity: Moderate to high for good growth. The miniature plants will thrive in a slightly open terrarium.

Temperature: 70-75 degrees during days and a minimum of 65 degrees during nights. These plants do not like hot, dry air or chilly drafts.

Fertilizer: Apply monthly with balanced fertilizer like 20-20-20 or use a flowering-houseplant fertilizer.

Propagation: Remove mature leaves with 1/2 inch of stem and firmly plant them into moist sand or propagating mix. Cover the pot with a plastic bag to retain moisture. New plants should form in a few days. Rooting hormone speeds up the development of new plants.

Pests: These plants can be attacked by spider mites and mealybugs, showing signs of damaged leaves that are curled and grayish. Check undersides of leaves for cotton-like egg masses or tiny webs. Exterminate pests by touching them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and water.

Repotting: Repot only when the leaf spread overbalances the pot. Use a good soilless potting mix with the special self-watering pot to keep the plant's delicate roots perfectly moist.

Various diseases of these plants caused by viruses and fungal infections can be prevented by using sterilized soil, and prompt removal of faded flowers and unhealthy leaves.

With proper lighting, temperature, moisture, fertilizer, grooming, and an ongoing inspection for pests and diseases, your African violets will thrive and reward you with beautiful foliage and flowers.

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