Beginner's Tips for African Violet Care
Tips for Growing African Violets
Most beginners can successfully grow African violets and care for African violets using these simple tips. African violets are beautiful, long-lived flowering house plants that thrive in a variety of conditions. They're relatively inexpensive, and easy to propagate from cuttings. One African violet plant can yield many daughter plants over the years with proper care. These beginner's tips for growing African violets may help newcomers to the world of growing Saintpaulia ionatha (the Latin name for the African violet) successfully.
10 Tips for Growing African Violets
African violet care begins with selecting the right location to grow your African violets indoors. Next, you need to learn about the proper way to water African violets. Many beginners kill their African violet plants with kindness when it comes to watering, over-watering their plants or using improper watering techniques that can ruin the beauty of the plant. Selecting the right soil, pot size and fertilizer will keep African violet plants looking beautiful for years to come. Lastly, after you've fallen in love with growing African violets, you'll want to learn how to create new plants. This is called plant propagation and African violets are fairly easy to propagate.
10 Tips for Growing African Violets
- Plant selection: Start with a healthy plant. Choose a plant from the greenhouse or nursery that has dark green leaves and healthy buds.
- Plant requirements: African violets are house plants. They need to be kept indoors. Some people take them outside during the warm summer months, but this can lead to insect problems. It's best to keep them inside year-round.
- Light requirements: African violets like bright, indirect sunlight. Place your African violet plants on a windowsill facing east or west. A north-facing windowsill can work if other windows in the room provide additional sunlight.
- Water: African violets can be tricky to water, and gardeners recommend different watering techniques. The soil should be kept evenly moist without being soaking wet. Some people prefer to place their African violet pots inside a dish of water and allow the plant to soak up the water from below. This offers an added benefit of increasing the humidity near the plants. Try not to get water onto the leaves; this causes spots.
- Humidity: Most homes have low humidity, but house plants such as African violets require high humidity. You can achieve this by using a dish of water placed underneath the plant as noted above, or keeping your pots of African violets on a tray of pebbles. Keep the pebbles moist. This can increase the humidity near the African violet plants.
- Temperature: African violets thrive inside the home because they like temperatures around the same range that people like. Common indoor temperatures from around 65 degrees to 75 degrees are fine for violets.
- Potting soil: Commercial growers use a mixture of sterile potting soil and perlite to create a well-drained mixture that African violets like. If you need to replant your African violet, choose a sterile, bagged potting soil. Drainage is important.
- Containers and pots: African violet containers and pots should include drainage holes, both to allow excess water to run out and to allow watering from below to seep up to the plant's roots. You can slip an ugly plastic pot into a decorative ceramic container or another pretty pot to add to the décor of your room. That's a better idea than planting the African violet directly inside a ceramic pot which lacks drainage holes.
- Fertilizer: African violets don't need a lot of fertilizer. If you notice the plant hasn't bloomed for several months or it isn't growing, a commercial fertilizer especially created for African violets can be used. Always use fertilizers according to the label directions, and do not over fertilize.
- Propagation: African violets like to be snug in their pots, but if they grow too big, they will create daughter plants. When you look down at the pot, you may notice one or more crowns - the central portion of the plant from which the leaves emerge and grow outward in a circular form. The plant can be removed from the pot and the two crowns very gently separated. Each new plant should be planted in new potting soil in a separate container of the appropriate size. New African violet plants can also be started from leaf cuttings. You can cut a leaf near the base and place it into a glass of water, being careful that the water doesn't cover the leaf. Roots will form near the base. Another method is to cut a leaf off the parent plant, leaving plenty of stem, and dipping the end into rooting hormone. Place the stem dipped in rooting hormone into a small pot of sterile potting soil. Keep moist, and eventually a new plant may grow.
Starting an African Violet Collection
Beginners often start their African violet collection with a single plant, perhaps a gift from a friend or a plant that caught their eye at the garden center. But African violets are funny things. Once you acquire one, you'll suddenly want more! You'll find yourself propagating violets, trading cuttings, and scoping out the garden center for new varieties.
There are many beautiful African violets to choose from if you're starting an African violet collection. The traditional purple-hued African violets offers a great starting point. Double flowering violets, violets with variegated foliage, miniature violets and trailing violets are also available.
These beginner's tips for growing African violets are only the start. Explore the world of African violet care, propagation and collecting using the links in the resource box. Most of all, enjoy your beautiful African violet plants.
© 2012 Jeanne Grunert
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