An African Violet plant, Saintpaulia ionantha, did originate in Tanzania and eastern Africa and its flowers do resemble violets, but they are are member of the Gesneriaceae family and are not in the same family as a regular violet plant. This extremely popular houseplant flowers many times during the year and is often given as a gift for birthdays or Mother’s Day.
An African Violet plant is a small, compact, short plant with soft, furry, thick, round or oval shaped leaves. The leaves grow close together, in a tight group, on long stems, at the base of the plant. An African Violet plant produces beautiful, delicate flowers with five, velvety petals. The flowers can be white, yellow, blue, violet, pink, or fuchsia. Some of the newer varieties have large double, and bi-colored flowers.
African Violet Plant Varieties
There are many different African Violet plant varieties, and they come in all sizes and colors. Miniature African Violets can be as small as 3 inches. A semi-miniature African Violet is about 6-8 inches. The standard and large varieties start at about 8 inches and sometimes grow to be over 16 inches. Although African Violet plant leaves are usually dark green, many new hybrids have green and white patterned leaves. An African Violet plant produces beautiful, delicate flowers with five, velvety petals. The flowers can be white, yellow, blue, violet, pink, or fuchsia. Some of the newer varieties have large double, and bi-colored flowers. The trailing African Violet looks beautiful in a hanging basket. People always want to know how often do African Violets bloom? If you provide the proper amount of light, know how often to water, and use the right fertilizer, these plants often flower throughout the year.
African Violet Plant Care Problems
The plant doesn’t flower: Plant needs more light or humidity, exposure to cold air from doors and windows, pot is too large
Brown spots on leaves: Water, especially cold water, has gotten on the leaves
Yellow or pale brown spots on leaves: Sunburn due to being in the direct sun
Leaves Curling: Cold air and sometimes direct sun
Leaf edges turn brown and crispy: To much fertilizer
Brown Spots on Leaves Yellow leaves Curling leaves
These plants are safe to have around children and are not poisonous to dogs and cats. With proper care, an African Violet plant can often live up to 50 years. Follow the plant care tips below on light, water, fertilizer, humidity, pests, diseases, pruning, and propagation and you’ll have a wonderful, long lasting, flowering plant. If you want to give an African Violet plant as a gift, be sure to include instructions so your present can be well taken care of.
How much light for an African Violet plant: Provide an abundant amount of bright indirect light if you want to encourage flowers and leaf growth. A good location is close to an east-facing window. When the light is too low, the leaves on an African Violet plant turn dark green, lose their plump appearance, and the plant produces very few flowers. Leaves turn a pale yellow-green and flowers fade quickly when there is too much light.
How often should you water an African Violet plant: How you water is another important factor in helping an African Violet flower. Allow the top 1″- 2″ of soil dry out before watering. Avoid using water that has passed through a softener or water containing chlorine or fluorine. I like to water from the bottom since this helps prevent water getting on the leaves. Set your African Violet in a deep saucer of water for 10 minutes. Refill the water as it is absorbed through the drip holes in the bottom of the pot. Remove any water that is still in the saucer after 10 minutes.
African Violet plant food: Special plant food is available wherever plants are sold. In a pinch, you can use any balanced, soluble, houseplant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Feed an African Violet plant monthly when the plant is actively growing. Over-fertilizing can cause leaf tip burn, poor flower production, leaf cracks, and may even kill the plant.
Best temperature for an African Violet plant: Temperatures between 75°-80°F (23.9°-26.7C) during the day and about 10° cooler at night are ideal. Keep the plant away from cold drafts and heating vents.
How much humidity does an African Violet plant need: These plants prefers high humidity, but easily adapts to your normal household humidity.
How to get an African Violet plant to flower: The proper amount of light, water, and fertilizer are extremely important for an African Violet to flower. The right soil and pot size also help. A few flowering tips: quickly remove dead flowers and stems; keep the soil on the dry side; and keep the plant a bit root- bound.
African Violet plant pests: Pests that harm an African Violet are mainly spider mites and mealy bugs. Use a Qtip dipped in alcohol or Neem Oil to treat these insects as soon as they appear. The velvety leaves of these plants are easily damaged, so only use commercial insecticides that are recommended for African Violets.
African Violet plant diseases: The most common African Violet plant diseases are botrytis, powdery mildew, and erwinia blight. Preventing houseplants from getting diseases is much easier than treating diseases. Provide good air circulation and never get water on the leaves of your African violet plant.
Best soil for an African Violet plant: The soil should be a rich, airy, potting mixture. Special soil for African Violet plants is available at most garden centers. These plants benefit from some fresh, new soil every 6-12 months. Changing the soil prevents unwanted salts from fertilizers building up in the soil and burning the roots and leaves.
African Violet plant pot: An African Violet is usually sold in a small 4″ pot. If you keep the plant a little root-bound, you’ll notice that it will flower more often. When it’s time to move your African violet to a larger container, use the next size pot and nothing larger. There must be drip holes in the bottom of the pot. If the new container is too large, the soil stays wet too long, and the roots of the plant start to rot. Over- watering is one of the main reasons an African Violet plant dies.
How to prune an African Violet plant: Remove 2 – 4 leaves from the bottom of an African Violet plant each month to encourage new leaf development at the top of the plant. Quickly and carefully remove any dead flowers and their stalks as soon as they appear.
How to propagate an African Violet plant: It’s very easy to propagate an African Violet plant using leaf cuttings. The best time to propagate is during the spring; but you’ll need a little patience. It may take up to three months for the leaves you plant to develop roots and for new growth to develop. You can read more about how to propagate a plant using leaf cuttings in the Glossary of the website.
An African violet plant is a perfect gift for Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and birthdays.
Poisonous Plant Info
Is an African Violet plant poisonous: This is a non-poisonous plant and an African Violet plant is not toxic to cats, dogs, and is safe to have around small children.
The leaves of an African Violet plant crack and become brittle when the plant is getting too much plant food. When fertilizing an African Violet plant always dilute the plant food to 1/2 the recommended strength and only feed the plant is actively growing. Keep the leaves of African Violet plant dry and out of direct sun; and use plain non-chlorinated water for better leaf growth.
An African Violet plant will bloom more often and produce more flowers when kept in a small pot and fed with the proper type of plant food. Other ways to help an African Violet plant produce more flowers is to move the plant to a brighter location and use distilled water that is free of chemicals such as chlorine.
The best way to propagate an African Violet plant is to take leaf cuttings from the plant during the spring. Remove a leaf, with its stem attached, dip the cut end of the stem in Rooting Hormone, and gently plant the African Violet plant cutting in a peat-based, quick-draining soil.
Keep an African Violet plant a little root-bound in a small pot; this encourages the plant to produce more flowers. When the roots have filled the existing container, move the plant to the next size pot and nothing larger. Be sure there are drip holes in the bottom of the pot so excess water can escape.