How to: grow African violets
African violets are treasured, long-lived indoor plants.
Make them shine with these tips.
Words: Linda Ross
Photo - IAMTHAILAND/shutterstock.com
African violets need a bright position to flower. Choose a spot within half a metre of a window but without direct sun. Turn plants regularly for even growth. A temperature range of 15-26°C produces the best flowering. Fresh air is important but avoid excessively cold or hot airstreams and sudden changes in the temperature. Misting is a good idea in heated rooms in winter to maintain humidity.
African violets flower best when slightly root bound, so a squat pot about one third of the leaf span is best. Choose a potting mix specifically for African Violets such as that by Thrive or Osmocote.
Photo - Africa Studio/shutterstock.com
The key is getting the water levels right - not too wet, not too dry. Don’t let the pot stand in water and water when the top of the soil feels dry, using enough lukewarm water to run freely out through the drain holes.
Alternatively use the wick method, which we prefer so our plants aren’t neglected. To do itpass acord (synthetic is best as natural fibres rot over time) from inside the pot, in good contact with the potting mix,through the drain hole and into a reservoir of water, or a weak fertiliser solution. If the potting mix and the wick are already moist, water will pass up the wick to keep the plant perfectly watered. Either fill a saucer of pebbles to stand the pot on, so the pot can be out of the water, but the wick submerged, or place a plastic potted plant inside an ornamental pot, with pebbles and water in the bottom.
Feed regularly with a liquid fertiliser specifically designed for African violets, and use it at a fairly weak concentration. Keep the hairy leaves clean by dusting with a soft brush or with a lukewarm wash under a slowly running tap. Remove dead flower stalks and yellow leaves.