Hints for Growing African Violets Successfully
Where to place your African violet
The rule of thumb is that African violets prefer the same living
conditions humans like. Avoid draughty situations such as hallways and
cold rooms, especially in winter. The ideal temperature range for
African violets is 16°–26° C. Outside these temperatures flowering may
be sparse or non-existent.
African violets like to grow in moist mix but they are not bog plants –
they do not like continuously wet feet. There are many ways to water an
African violet but the main thing is do not over-water your plant.
Watering may be done by hand; either by standing in a saucer of water
until the potting mix becomes damp or from the top using a long-spouted
watering can that reaches under the leaves. Never leave the plant
standing in water for any longer than
necessary or it will develop root-rot. Tepid water, or water that has
been allowed to come to room temperature should be used for either of
these methods. Cold water straight from the tap can cause marks to
develop on the
leaves. The time to water is when the top of your potting mix feels
dry. Care should be taken that no water is left on the leaves or in the
centre of the plant. If the plant is in the strong light, water left on
the leaves will burn the leaves while water left in the centre of the
leaves will cause crown rot.
Another method for watering is the wick method. A wick of wet synthetic
material such as venetian blind cord or nylon stocking is inserted in
the pot and allow to draw water from a reservoir below the pot. Natural
fibres should not be used for wicks because they rot with the constant
It is best to use a fertilizer formulated for African violets. A
fertilizer with very high nitrogen content will produce lovely lush
green leaves but not many flowers. There two forms of African violet
fertilizer available. One is a powder, the other is a liquid. Both need
to be added to water to make the required strength of fertilizer.
Whichever form you choose, use according to the manufacturer's
directions. Too much fertilizer will cause fertilizer burn in the
centre of the plant.
If you are using the wick-watering system, fertilizer may be added to
the water in the reservoir. In general, the liquid fertilizers are very
suitable for this as they are usually formulated for constant feed.
However, if using one of the powdered forms, which are usually designed
for application once a week, dilute the mixed fertilizer to one-eighth
strength for use in a reservoir.
African violets require bright light to flower well. Direct sunlight
should be avoided as the rays of the sun will burn the leaves. If the
plant is grown on a window-sill a sheer curtain will provide sufficient
screening from the direct sun. Insufficient light can be corrected with
light from a fluorescent reading lamp placed alongside the plant.
African violets should not be over-potted. Squat pots of an appropriate
size, up to a maximum of 115–125 mm (4.5–5") should be used. When
repotting the diameter of the pot should be not more than about
one-third the diameter of the leaf span of the plant. Always use an
African violet potting mix which should have a pH of 6.5-6.8.
Violets breathe through their leaves so brush the leaves regularly with
a very soft paintbrush to remove dust and dirt, being careful to always
brush in the direction in which the tiny hairs grow. For an even
symmetrical growth turn the pot one-quarter turn regularly (daily if
possible). This will prevent a 'lean' towards the light.
African Violet & Gesneriad group members enjoy home meetings often in members’ own homes Come along and learn more about growing or showing these beautiful plants. To join the group (for insurance purposes), you will need to be a member of the Horticultural Society of Canberra Inc.
Phone enquiries: 6290 1350 Email enquiries: Ann_howarth@bigpond.com