Watering African Violets – Key To Success In Buds and Blooms

African violet soaking up water from below

Many “experts” in caring for African violets, will tell you that no greater sin can be committed against your violets than to water them from the top.

You must water them with from the bottom or with a special self watering pot for African violets.

Others, equally proficient, say “Always water from the top” and they have excellent results as well.

I do it both ways, from the bottom and the top, just as the spirit moves me.

Watering from the top washes in fertilizer, when I use it, making sure it reaches the roots.

Not How… When

Much more important than how I water… is when. I get excellent results by letting my violets become dry, then soaking them thoroughly with tepid water.

Liquid plant food may be added to the water at intervals of two weeks. A mild kind made especially for African violets gives best results. This helps develop strong root systems and hastens flowering.

You may have been told never to wet violet leaves, especially the crowns. It is true that water on violets, if it is a little cooler than room temperature, will leave white rings on the leaves, and that continually wetting the crown may cause it to rot.

It is also true, however, that leaves collect dust. It is essential that they be kept clean. I know of no better way of doing this than gently syringing them with tepid water every two weeks or so.

I hold them on their side over the sink and spray thoroughly, with special attention to the underside of the leaves where the stomata, or breathing apparatus, is.

I then let them dry where they are, out of drafts and sun, before returning them to their places.

What is the best temperature for African violets?

The extremes at which they will grow and do well would surprise you. Most growers say they get best results with a daytime temperature of about 70, and not below 60 at night.

Mine bloom best when my daytime temperature is about 78. Then the little plants literally burst into flower.

My Simple Solution For Light Problems

I have a simple solution for this problem of light. There’s been a volumes written as well.

Just leave it up to your violets; watch them, they’ll tell you how much light they need.

If their leaves hug the edge of the pot and bleach out, the light is too strong. If they grow long and flowers don’t appear, the light isn’t strong enough.

You can also determine whether the light is right by holding your hand about four inches from the plant. If a faint shadow is cast on it, there is enough light. Don’t be afraid of a little sunshine. Like other flowers, African violets need it.

Many growers say that when the plants start to age, become “turkey-necked,” acquire an ungainly leafless stretch of stem, you may as well discard them, and start all by propagating African violets from leaf cuttings.

I don’t agree. My plants become friends to me after they have lived in my home for a year or so, and I’m reluctant to consign them to the trash heap.

I score those turkey-necks with long deep slashes, you know, the way your cat sharpens his claws on your best mahogany chair legs, and rub on a rooting hormone powder into the slashes.

Then I dig up the plant, wash the soil off the roots, reducing their length by one-half with my scissors.

I replant in fresh potting soil so that all the turkey neck is planted, and the soil line is at the lower leaves. In no time at all roots will have grown right up that ugly stem, and you’ll have a beautifully proportioned plant.

Those are my tips but I believe my success has come by mastering the art of watering my African violets.

by D Schroeder

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