African Violet Care: Growing Easy to Grow Color

Many plants are grown for their foliage. Not so the African violet. Although without a single bud or blossom it is a beautiful pot plant, flowers are the reward everyone seeks and the owner of a non-blooming specimen suffers frustration. The essential aim of culture therefore is flowers.

If a mature plant does not bloom, it is because some element of its condition is unsatisfactory. When there is a proper concatenation of circumstances, African violets bloom madly and to some degree throughout the year. The proud possessor of such plants may have just happened upon the pleasing formula or they may have proceeded purposely, carefully checking each aspect of culture as it is known to please this sometimes apparently stubborn house plant.

Place in Winter

First there is the selection of a site, an ideal location, for the growth of flowering plants. Since the native habitat of the African violet is “in wooded places” and “in the primeval forest… in shady situations” it is obvious that this is no plant to grow in a flood of sunshine.

Indeed too much sunlight affects foliage adversely, turning it yellow, burning the margin of leaves, or causing malformation of leaf and flower. If only south windows are available, however, plants can be placed there with the brightness tempered by a curtain or a blind, the slats tilted upward during sunniest hours.

Assorted Blooming African Violets

In fact, I have seen plants produce a fairly continuous procession of bloom in a small area where they were growing contentedly at every exposure. At light northern windows with no sunshine I have observed young plants of a rather slow-growing variety, produce beautifully over a period of many months and in April, I have counted on each one ten and eleven open blossoms and innumerable buds.

Generally speaking, saintpaulias (African Violets) flower well in any light situation or in any sunny place where the brightness is somewhat diffused. The stronger the light, the deeper the color tones and the greater the floriferousness, within the limits of safety, of course.

Light must also be tempered according to the season. A sunny eastern window without a curtain in January may suit your violets to a “T” but in April and September when daylight lasts longer and sunshine is stronger, a little shading is essential.

Place in Summer

Throughout the summer, indirect light suffices. Plants growing indoors from May to October flower freely in north windows which are kept open for long periods during each day. Or they may be set on a lightly shaded porch where pleasantly humid outdoor conditions increase their well-being and stimulate them to colorful performance. African violets are not house plants to be casually trusted to the open garden.

Although in their native habitat saintpaulia species endure driving rain, the varieties of today, which have known the comforts of civilization, are not so tolerant. They require shelter. In protected locations, however, and with plenty of watering during summer dry spells, they bloom magnificently if sunk rim-deep in a garden bed, like other house plants.

Other enthusiasts sometimes forced by holiday plans to try summer plunging are so pleased by the results, they continue the practice year after year even without the necessity. One collector writes:

“My outdoor success, however, may be largely due to the ideal spot we prepared around our pool. The first summer of my African violet “hobbying” we were faced with the vacation problem and there was little choice but to dig holes for the pots and trust that the elements and Mother Nature would be kind.

The location, now selected each summer, has a northwestern exposure. It is heavily shaded by huge old oak trees and an under brush of lacy ferns and other woodsy plant life. With the help of thorough soakings, which my good neighbor attends to during prolonged dry spells, my African violets invariably greet our return each August with a vivid carpet of blue.”

Where it is necessary to leave African violets for a time to their own devices, a shaded spot out of the wind is best hut some artificial watering is almost bound to be necessary for plunged plants. Of course it would be dangerous to depot them and plant them directly in a garden bed. By autumn, such plants would develop root systems which would be difficult to fit again into containers and repotting would necessitate much retarding root pruning, along with stress and shock.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

admin November 11, 2008 at 1:23 pm

Usually blooming comes down to lighting, season and plant health.

carmy November 15, 2008 at 12:51 pm

My african violet is in the kitchen at an east window but does not bloom. Also the leaves grow upwards. How can I correct this.

Patricia Di Sabatino November 25, 2008 at 4:10 pm

I have three African Violets sitting in an east window. Only one plant blooms. The other two look healthy but they never have any flowers. Why?

admin November 27, 2008 at 11:00 pm

Usually non blooming could be a few things. Growing well but not enough light, Not actively growing. If the plants are growing well I’d lean towards light. They may be all in a east window but do they get good lighting evenly like the one flowering.

Linda Brunell June 20, 2010 at 12:03 pm

My African violets are getting lrggy. and flopping over. How do I fix?

rosemary June 21, 2010 at 1:04 pm

A question

when the flowers of the african violet die – do you cut off only the flower or all of the stem on which the flower grows?

JanieD June 26, 2010 at 9:13 am

I have a “rescue” African Violet planet that came from the Long Term Care Facility where my mom is a resident. Around Easter time someone gave each female resident one of these plants and they were never watered and just shoved in a dark corner. All of the original blooms have died and I haven’t been able to get new ones, even with feeding. The plant seems to love the light situation it’s in, but no blooms. Is it just patience I need? It’s right by a window with a western exposure with filtered sun light.

Leanna Chase June 29, 2010 at 3:17 pm

My African Violet is growing out of the pot. Looks like a long root.
Do I cut it off and then repot it?

Briggette July 5, 2010 at 11:56 am

I have been growing Violets for many years and here are some tricks of mine that work…

Watering… I have always watered my violets from the top with lukewarm water and they have never spotted. I have always been able to wash the leaves with lukewarm water. Don’t let water sit on the leaves though.

Blooming…I started pinching the middle sucker leaves out. By doing this it promotes blooming. It takes a few weeks though. My violets bloom all year round. Be sure to pinch dying blooms off as soon as they start to die. I have around 20 plants and they are all in full bloom.

M Heiser July 8, 2010 at 12:24 pm

I am new to growing african violet’s and have a question: Do you remove old or spent blooms?

lisa hillvick July 10, 2010 at 4:19 pm

i have to african violets and my cats love them and get their cat fur all over them and from past experinces when they get cat fur on them they seem to grow even more

Anne Kimble July 13, 2010 at 9:45 am

I am trying to root a leaf for a friend. I have the stem in water in a West window. Is this the proper way to propagate a mini violet?

liz Morris July 14, 2010 at 5:12 pm

I have several African violets. Two violets bloom very well but others are in bloom when purchased but never bloom again. Their folage looks very healthy so I can’t understand why they will not bloom. Hope you can give me some suggestions. liz

Amy Jo July 22, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Why do the leaves on the bottom portion of my African Violet near the pot turn yellow and the ones on top are green?

grandmarita June 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I was given an african violet about 8 years ago when I retired. I have successfully rooted many plants from the original and it’s ancestors. They grow well and bloom frequently in a southwest garden window protected from sun by a porch cover. Some of the older plants now have “curving” spines (central root). The bottom leaves have long beautiful stems but at the top the leaves are very crowded and tiny. What to do? If I repot should I try to set that heavy stem upright in the pot? Would it be easier to just start over? I just hate not keeping a plant alive.

fred June 25, 2012 at 8:02 am

I’ve had my African Violets in a north window and in the afternoons it has been so hot you can’t touch the glass. I’m trying to decide if my plants have burnt the leaves or if I have Mealy Bugs. When I noticed something was wrong they were die-ing and they had a light white velvet fur like on them…3/4 – to all covered. I had also wondered if I had over watered or over fertilized. I use mircle grow everytime I water. Have had them out of the window now for 10 day to 2 wks and they are now almost dead. Is there anything I can do?