Hi Ernie –
Unfortunately, African Violets can not be propagated by their roots. However, if there are any salvageable leaves remaining on your plant you can give it a fresh start by taking a few “cuttings”. African Violets are very good at this method of propagation but it will require about a month of patience before you see any new plants beginning to grow.
Begin by gently removing some leaves from the plant (probably as many as you can in this situation). Next, make a 45 degree angled cut at the base of each leaf stem with a sterile blade. Place each cutting in a clean beer bottle filled with bottled water. Your reservoir does not have to be a beer bottle specifically, just something that will support the leaf above while the cut stem remains under water. Keep the the bottled cuttings out of direct sunlight as they begin forming roots and check the water often for clarity and cleanliness. When necessary, change the water out. Once you notice root development at the base of the leaf stems, move your newly rooted cuttings into small pots filled with a potting soil with good drainage. Water in your new plants well and place in a sunny window. Additionally, it is a good idea to loosely place a plastic bag with a few holes over the pots to help increase humidity as they really begin to grow. After about a month you can remove the bags and you should have happy healthy new plants!
Good luck, I hope this helps!
African Violet Leaves Curling & Dying – Knowledgebase Question
African Violets (Saintpaulia)
Posted by Paul2032
There are several possible reasons for the symptoms you describe: dry air, too much sun, and incorrect watering. If nothing around your plants has changed, I’m puzzled. What about drafts, hot or cold? Anything new there? African Violets don’t like drafts. Have you changed the location of the plant? Even if the light is the same, they sometimes respond negatively if moved at all. Have you changed fertilizers or changed fertilizing routine? That could be the problem. Have you repotted recently? There could be a problem there as well. They enjoy being somewhat rootbound. Is there any possibility of pests on your violet? Inspect the leaves again, looking for any residue, webbing, mold, insects, etc. It sounds like you have been a perfect caregiver but let’s go over it one more time: Try to provide even temperatures, bright light, (but not strong sunlight), keep the soil moist but not soggy, and use tepid water at the soil line rather than pouring water directly over the leaves. They need high humidity, so place the plant on a tray filled with pebbles and put water in the tray once a week. Or, mist with a fine spray regularly. You can feed them about every two months with a complete houseplant fertilizer (read and follow the label directions), or with a special African Violet fertilizer. Hope this helps.
Running Out of Room for Houseplants? Try Miniature African Violets
Miniature African violets come in the same remarkable variety of colors, blossom forms, foliage types, and so forth that you’ll find in their bigger siblings. But they take up only a fraction of the space on your plant shelf or windowsill. For me, that does not mean less space devoted to plants. It does mean I can fit a lot more pretty little bloomers into the same amount of space! Although they look dainty, they are as tough as standard sized plants. A few care tips will make it easy for you to add a “mini” or two to your own indoor plant collection!
Miniature African violets (AVs) are genetically distinct from their larger counterparts. AVs come in three recognized sizes: standard, semi-miniature, and miniature. When mature, semi-miniatures grow to less than 8 inches in diameter and miniatures to less than 6 inches, with many being much smaller. Although you can force a standard AV to maintain a small leaf size and small diameter by dwarfing it in a little container, it may never bloom, and it may eventually become unhappy and die. Standard African violets are hybrid varieties descended from the species Saintpaulia ionantha. Mini and semi-mini AV hybrids resulted when the smaller species Saintpaulia pusilla or Saintpaulia shumensis were added to the genetic mix.
Grooming, repotting, and propagating techniques are pretty much the same for African violets of all sizes. The smaller scale of the mini AVs can make them a little challenging to work with. You may find that it’s easier to use the tip of a pencil rather than your finger to dislodge suckers. Little embroidery scissors are useful for trimming away flower stalks and leaf stubs. Although I usually bottom water or wick water, for occasional top watering it’s useful to have a plastic squeeze bottle or watering can with a small spout.
Overpotting is one of the most common mistakes people make with African violets, and it’s especially easy to do with mini AVs. Putting a miniature AV into a 4 inch pot won’t make it grow larger, but it may lead to “wet feet” and root rot issues. When you repot a mature mini, it’s generally best to put it back into the same size pot, trimming the bottom of the root ball a bit if you need to plant it more deeply to cover a bare “neck.” Most miniature plants will never need anything larger than a 1 ½ or 2 inch diameter pot (3 inches for semi-miniatures). As with standard African violets, the diameter of the plant can be up to three times the diameter of the pot. African violets don’t need or want extra room around their roots. Repotting a mature plant isn’t done to give it a bigger pot but simply to refresh the soil and to give the plant a boost.
Miniature AVs like the same light potting mix that standards seem to prefer. I use a little more than one part perlite to one part good quality soil-less potting mix. I also add just a pinch of polymer moisture crystals, without which I’d probably have to water these little every 4 to 5 days rather than once a week. Follow directions with the moisture crystals; adding too many will make the little plant heave right out of the pot as the crystals expand with water. Miniatures will appreciate repotting more often than the annual repotting that seems sufficient for most standards.
Don’t be intimidated by the delicate stems and little leaves of miniature African violets. They’re just as easy to propagate as the standard size ones. Plastic “clamshell” takeout containers with holes in the top (for ventilation) and bottom (for drainage) make great propagation trays for the tiny leaves or suckers of miniature AVs. Plantlets can potted up initially in 1 inch plastic condiment cups with a hole in the bottom for drainage. When the roots fill the cup, pot up into a slightly larger container.
Some hybridizers specialize in miniature AVs. Dr. Ralph Robinson (of Rob’s Violet Barn) introduces several new miniature or semi-mini varieties each year. His varieties are noted for their strong blooming and are frequent ribbon-winners at shows. H. Pittman is another favorite hybridizer of miniature AVs. The symmetrical, pointed foliage of a Pittman’s AV looks so neat and elegant, even when it’s not in bloom. The “Storytella” series of minis have the added attraction of fun fairytale names. I’ve also found miniature “teacup” violets at my local nursery, but named varieties of minis often seem to bloom better for me.
Whether you already have dozens of standard size African violets or have never grown an AV before, I hope you’ll try a couple of these diminutive charmers!
Photographs by Jill Nicolaus.
Article by Dr. Leonard Perry, extension professor at the Univesity of Vermont
Related Articles by Jill:
African Violets 101: Caring for Your New Plant
Watering African Violets 101
Watch for upcoming articles on Propagating AVs and on using polymer moisture crystals
Also, check out the great information in the culture pages at Rob’s Violet Barn
The colorful blooms of African violets are extra special. They’ll instantly add color to any room.
They’re known to bloom continuously, even throughout the darker months of winter. Place them throughout the house to enjoy their colors and velvety texture throughout the year.
Once you get in a regular routine of taking care of African violets, you’ll find they grow very easily. All of their basic needs need to be met though, or they won’t bloom. Give them the right temperature, light and a good feeding, and you’ll be blooming in no time!
Choosing and Caring for African Violets:
1. Start off healthy. Choose a plant with bright emerald leaves and the flower color that you want. Make sure the pot has drainage holes.
2. The right light. The most common reason African violets don’t bloom is because they aren’t getting enough light. African violets need indirect sunlight, direct can burn the leaves. Choose a north- or east- facing window for best results. Keep plants away from cold glass and rotate the pot once a week so all leaves receive light. Extend daylight by placing African violets under a grow light during winter months.
3. Keep warm. African violets prefer the same temperatures most people find comfortable: between 70-80°F during the day, and around 65–70°F at night.
4. Water from below. Fill the saucer using room temperature water. Let sit for about an hour and then pour excess water out. Allow the plant to dry out between waterings.
5. Fertilize with Espoma’s new liquid Violet! Indoor houseplant food every 2-4 weeks in spring, summer and fall.
6. Think before replanting. African violets only bloom when they’re root bound. When it is time to repot, be sure to use an organic potting soil made specifically for African violets, such as Espoma’s African Violet Mix. They flower best in small pots — choose one that’s about a third of the diameter of their leaf spread.
Now that you’re African violet is off to a great start, it’s time to care for your other houseplants!