Also known as Saintpaulia, African violets are amongst the best indoor plants to grow, especially if you are looking for a hint of color within the household. Its bright-colored flowers will perk up any boring space. For many people, however, they instantly shy away from this plant, believing that growing it will require a lot of effort. Nonetheless, if you have the right knowledge, it does not take too much to succeed in growing African violets.
From its name, it is pretty much obvious that this flowering plant originated from Africa, specifically from Kenya and Tanzania. Although they can grow outdoors, they are better indoors since they are unable to tolerate too much cold. In general, African violets have an average height of 2 to 4 inches while it has a spread that ranges from 3 to 8 inches.
Before planting African violet, it is important to know that there are different varieties that are available. Each variety will be different in terms of shape, size, and color. Some of the most popular varieties include Persian Prince, Little Maya, Lonestar Snowstorm, and Rose Quartz, among others.
Planting and Growing Conditions
One of the most common ways of planting African violet is through seeds. Plant the seeds in a small pot with soil. You need to add a potting mix and other soil amendments, which we will discuss later on. An artificial light may also be necessary to speed up the growth of your African violet.
Another method of propagating African violet is through growing leaf in a water. Simply immerse the tip of a leaf from a healthy plant in water, preferably from a bottle with a thin neck. Use a clean tool to cut the leaf, making sure that it will not transfer infection. Cut at least two inches of the stem. Use a plastic to cover the top part of the bottle, which will help in controlling humidity.
You can also plant leaf on the soil in a pot. To do this, cut a leaf with about two inches of stem. Bury it in the soil and press firmly. Cover the pot with clear plastic. There is no need for watering as the plastic will help to retain its moisture.
Now that you know the different methods to plant, the next thing that you have to learn would be the ideal growing conditions. In this case, one of the most important is the soil, which will serve as the foundation of your plant. The soil needs to be porous and light, which will be critical for aeration. To keep the soil in its best state, consider having several amendments, such as perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss.
The right light will also be a critical factor in growing African violets. It will be best to place it by the window where it will receive bright, but not direct sunlight. In the case of a greenhouse, be sure to filter light intensity. Take note of the flower of the variety that you are planting. Those with darker flowers will need more light exposure. To add, if you are growing them under fluorescent lights, make sure to position the leaves up to 15 inches away from the leaves.
More so, you also need to pay attention to the right temperature. Ideally, it should not be lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is too high, there is a possibility that it will not flower at all.
Lastly, water is another critical growing condition. Warm and tepid water is the best to keep the soil moist, especially during the dry season. Water straight on the soil and not on the leaves. Touch the top of the soil. If it feels too dry, this is a sign that you need to water it. Also, you need to build proper drainage. If the water stays too long in the soil, it will turn soggy and will make it more prone to the presence of pathogens.
Pests and Diseases
Exposure to direct sunlight and lack of light are some of the most common reasons for diseases in African violets. In the same way, nutrition deficiency can lead to loss of vigor, and eventually, the death of the plant. When it comes to pests, on the other hand, some of the most common in African violets include mealybugs and thrips.
Care and Maintenance
To ensure the healthy growth of African violets indoors, below are some of the most important things that you have to keep in mind:
- One of the most important is the use of the right fertilizers, which will supply the nutrients that the plant needs. It is best that you fertilize once every two weeks. Use a fertilizer with high phosphorus content. If the leaf color is pale and if the flower quantity is minimal, these are some of the obvious signs that you need to use more fertilizer.
- As part of fertilizing, you also need to add compost. Organic matter is essential because of the fibrous roots of the plant.
- Repotting is also essential. Through time, the plant will outgrow the pot. If the pot is too small, there is no space for the roots to grow and for the plant to breathe. With this, consider repotting once every three months or once you notice that the plant is too big for its pot.
- Make sure to position the plant away from gases and chemicals, such as gas stoves and other appliances that use gas. The chemicals can result in pale leaves and will inhibit the growth of the plant.
A lot of people might tell you that growing African violet is not the easiest thing to do, especially for beginners. Yes, this is true, but this should not be a reason for you to ditch the idea. Equip yourself with the right knowledge, and for sure, growing this indoor plant will be a lot easier than what you have thought.