African violet yellowing leaves

African Violets

The African violet is probably the most popular flowering house plant of all time. They’re small, easy togrow, bloom frequently, come in an amazing variety of colors, are easy to propagate, and are availableany time of year.

Basic Care

Ideally, TEMPERATURES should be 65-70ºF at night, slightly warmer during the day. If temperatures are too low, the leaves will droop and curl, or the plant may collapse completely. Excessive heat can cause thin, spindly growth, dry shriveled leaves, or, again, collapse of the plant.

African violets like direct morning or late afternoon sunlight, very bright indirect LIGHT, or fluorescent or grow lights. Avoid direct midday sun that can cause brown spots on leaves. Excessively high light levels can cause overly compact growth, while lower light levels causes plants to grow very long leaf stems and to grow upright instead of flat and round. Rotate plants 1/4 turn weekly to maintain symmetrical growth (unnecessary if light source is directly overhead). Fluorescent and grow lights should be no more than 18” above the plant, lower when growing miniatures.

Apply room temperature WATER when surface soil is dry to the touch. Most violet growers prefer to
bottom-water; however, watering from the top is fine if you are careful to avoid cool water on the leaves. Always make sure leaves are dry before exposing them to any direct sunlight. Bottom watering works best if done with wicking or with a “self-watering” pot. If you choose to set the pot in a saucer of water, discard any water not draw into the root ball within 15 to 30 minutes.

Whether you top or bottom water, you should occasionally leach the soil by running water through it for several minutes—this will remove any salts that may have accumulated from tap water or fertilizers. Over-watering is the most common way that people kill their African violets. Leaf or flower loss, limp plants, and crown and stem rot are all results of too much water. Insufficient watering causes roots to shrivel and die, the plant to lose vigor and color, and then collapse.

African violets tolerate average indoor HUMIDITY; 40-60% is best. If your house is very dry, mist your violets lightly with room temperature water on a daily basis, but never late in the day or at night. Another way to combat dry air is to place your violets on a tray filled with pebbles, keeping water in the tray at a level just below the surface of the pebbles.

Apply a dilute balanced FERTILIZER each time you water. Most African violets are grown in soilless
potting mixes, and require constant feeding. Unless the fertilizer is specifically designed for use with every watering, be careful to dilute the fertilizer more than the amount recommended on the label (usually 1/4 strength will do). Without regular feeding, violets will not flower well. Too much fertilizer can burn the plant, causing brown tips and leaf edges. Most violet fertilizers have a formula high in phosphorus (P), the middle number of the three numbers on the label (e.g., 15-30-15).

GROOM your African violets by removing spent flowers and dead leaves. Wash leaves occasionally with slightly warm water, blotting dry. Violets have hairy leaves that will collect dust. A soft brush can be used to keep leaves clean between baths. Removing suckers—plantlets—will maintain your violets symmetrical shape.

Check for PESTS and DISEASE regularly. African violets are prone to powdery mildew, a fungus that
looks like fine white talcum powder on leaves and flowers. Good air circulation around plants may help prevent this problem. Mealybug and thrips are two insects that commonly attack violets. Mealybug appears as white, cottony patches on leaves (top or bottom) and stems. Thrips signal their presence by causing brown edges on flowers, distorted leaves, and pollen trails on petals. Isolate any infested plants, and treat as needed. Proper care of your violets will result in healthy plants which are less susceptible to pest and disease.

PROPAGATION is usually by leaf cuttings. Remove a healthy leaf, and cut its stem to about 1/2 inch.
Insert the stem into damp cutting mix and maintain higher humidity. New plants form at the base of the leaf. You can also root the leaf in water, and violets can also be grown from seed.

Maintenance

REPOT your violet once or twice a year to maintain its appearance and provide fresh growing medium. As African violets grow, they lose the older, lower leaves. This process causes a bare stem to form—called the “neck”—which is unsightly, and makes the plant more vulnerable to disease. Repotting will enable you to keep the attractive, rosette growing habit that a newly purchased violet has.

If your violet has not developed a very long neck, remove it from the pot, and cut off a slice of soil from the bottom of the root ball that is roughlyequal to the length of the neck. Set the plant back into its pot, and add fresh medium to the top of the root ball, covering the bare neck. New roots
will grow out into the medium from the neck.

For a plant that has been allowed to grow a long, curving neck, it is best to cut
the stem and root the leafy part of the plant. This short stem can then be pressed into fresh potting medium, where it will grow a new root system. Keep the potting medium moist, but not soggy, until new growth signals the development of healthy new roots.NOTE that trailing violets do not maintain a symmetrical rosette shape, and should be allowed to sucker and trail freely. If a trailer loses too many leaves and becomes unattractive, it can be pruned, and new plants started from the stem cuttings. Miniature violets tend to sucker freely, and are still attractive when allowed to spread in the pot.

Do not over-pot your violets. Standard African violets are happy in a 4” diameter pot, with regular
repottings to control the neck length. Miniature violets do best in a 3” pot. Violets need to be slightly potbound to bloom. Repotting while in bud or bloom may cause the flowers to drop off or fade quickly, as even careful transplanting puts stress on the root system.

There’s something about African violets that can intimidate even the most experienced gardener.

But the editors of House & Garden magazine say, “Have no fear!”

House & Garden magazine’s editor Stephen Orr has a few tips to keep the exotic flowers growing for a very long time and he shared them on The Saturday Early Show.

The African violet is a tough little plant and can often live happily and easily for decades. It is also inexpensive and makes a great gift that will last a very long time.

The Saturday Early Show asked Stephen Orr some questions about caring for the African Violets and some common misconceptions of the plant:

African violets have a reputation as being difficult to grow. Is that really the case?

No, they’re not hard to grow. In fact, they are hard to kill. The trick is making them happy enough to re-bloom regularly.

How many different types of African violets are there on the market today?
There are hundreds of varieties, with new ones being bred every year. Some of the different types are: Standard (variegated, ruffled, etc.), Miniature, Trailing, Chimeras (with unique color patterns and combinations).

Are African violets related to regular violets?
No, not at all. African violets are tropical plants from East Africa. That’s why they make good indoor plants. They would never survive outdoors in most U.S. climates as a normal violet would.

You can buy these plants almost anywhere, including grocery stores and garden centers. What is the best place to buy African violets?
You’re right, they are widely available but make sure that they look healthy and well-tended. A good mail-order source that has specialized in African violets for 50 years is called Lyndon Lyon Greenhouses.

What conditions do we need in our homes for African violets?
Simply put, they need strong filtered sunlight and they need some air humidity. Temperatures below 60 degrees F for any extended period will slow their growth. If the temperature is too high, plants will grow sappy and spindly, with too few blooms, that drop before gaining good size. Better a bit cool than too hot. The humidity is best around 40 percent to 60 percent. Humidifiers are great if you have an unusually dry house. Placing your plants on trays of moist pebbles would be a simple solution.

If you don’t have enough natural light, can you use a grow light?
If you do not have good natural light, use fluorescent lights 12 hours a day. Cool white, daylight or tubes designed specifically for growing plants may be used alone or in combination. Distance from lights depends upon intensity and the type of tube, as well as the variety of the plant. Light fixtures should be adjustable, so you can raise or lower them to attain the desired height.

How often should we water an African violet?
Water only when the top of the soil feels slightly dry to the touch and every week or so, depending on the season and how dry your home is.

What is the best way to water them?
Improper watering is one of the most common reasons for failure of African violets. Always use room temperature water. Watering may be from the top or bottom. Never allow plants to stand in water after the soil has taken up what it can hold. After 15 to 20 minutes, pour off any water that is left in the saucer. Violets do not like wet feet!

When should you repot an African violet? How do you do it?
A good rule of thumb: the plant’s diameter should be 3 times the diameter of the pot before moving up to the next size pot. Repot them the same way you would any plant, except you shouldn’t skip pot sizes. (Do not jump plants from a 2-foot pot into a 4-foot pot). They like to be a little pot-bound.

What kind of soil do they need?
They need well-drained soil. Otherwise, they get root rot.

Should we fertilize these plants?
Lack of fertilizer or infrequent fertilizing is one of the reasons for lack of blossoms, blooms small in size and foliage that is pale or light green. Use a well-balanced fertilizer such as 15-30-15 at the rate of 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of water each and every time you water. Do not think because a little fertilizer makes them bloom nicely, more will make them even better! Excess fertilizer will burn the roots and may cause hard, brittle foliage.

What is the biggest mistake people make with African violets?
Most people over-water since the plants like water and humidity. The plants often grow in rocky crevices near rivers in their East African homeland. They like this sort of humid, moist but well-draining situation.

How long will African violets live?
They can live for decades given the proper care and repotting.

Here is a re-cap of Orr’s suggestions to help African violets grow strong:

Light: Strong, filtered light or bright shade gives the most bloom, so use sheer curtains in harsh western or eastern exposures. The plants also grow well with artificial grow-lights.

Watering: Always use tepid water, never cold. Watering may be from the top or bottom. Don’t leave the pot sitting in water too long or the plant will rot. Pour off excess water that isn’t absorbed by the plant after 15 or 20 minutes.

Temperature: An African violet will suffer in anything below 60 degrees F. The best temperature for the plant is 70 degree F. Avoid drafts. Establish humidity for the plants by placing them on wet pebbles. African violets like humid rooms, so a sunny bathroom or kitchen window can work well.

Fertilizer: Well-grown African violets can bloom all year. Use a balanced fertilizer diluted to one-quarter teaspoon per gallon of water each time you irrigate.

Repot: They like to be a little rootbound. In the wild, they grow in soil pockets nestled in rocky areas. When the plant’s width is three times the diameter of the pot, it’s time to repot. Remove all dead leaves and flowers.

For more Information:

Lyndon Lyon Greenhouses, Inc.
P.O. Box 249
14 Mutchlet Street
Dolgeville, NY 13329

The African Violet Society of America, Inc.
2375 North Street
Beaumont TX, 77702
1-800-770-2872

For a lot of people, the following situation would seem familiar. You bought your very first African Violet plant, and it was blooming gloriously. That was why you purchased the plant in the first place. But after some time, the blooms wither, and the plant doesn’t produce flowers again. Then you’d ask yourself – how to get African Violets bloom.

This is a very frustrating situation which has happened to a lot of people. But surprisingly, blooming African Violets is easy. All you have to do is to give your plant everything it needs and to know exactly when do African Violets bloom. Under the right conditions, these plants will produce flowers almost constantly.

What are the right conditions for African violets to bloom?

It’s time to stop wondering how to get African Violets to bloom and it’s time to start nurturing your plant in the best way possible. There are a few conditions to set if you want your plant to start blooming and to continue blooming as much as you want it to.

Light

If you’re growing a plant in natural light and it’s the winter season, then it’s probably not going to bloom because of the shorter days. But as the days start to get longer in the month of February, then you will start seeing those blooms. If you want your African Violet to bloom all throughout the year, you can provide the light it needs using a light fixture. Just hang this fluorescent fixture about 10 or 12-inches above the plant.

African Violets need a lot of bright light but the direct sunlight in the afternoon tends to burn the plant. It’s best for the plant to get direct sunshine in the evening or in the morning, so find the best window in your home to place the plant.

Moisture

African Violets need even moisture all the time. You should never let your plant dry out nor should you place the potted plant on a dish or bowl with water for several days. Keep the soil damp enough but not too soggy. Try lifting the pot. If it’s too light, then it’s already time to water the plant. Only water when needed not when it’s convenient for you.

Temperature

Just like humans, African Violets thrive in “normal” temperatures of 60 to up to 80 degrees. Keep this in mind especially during the winter. Although your home may feel warm enough, if your plant is right next to a window, it might be too cold.

Fertilizer

When it comes to fertilizing your plants, you should look for the best bloom fertilizer to promote the flowering of your plant. Usually, these fertilizers would have a higher phosphorus content compared to the other elements. Also, follow the instructions of the fertilizer carefully, so you don’t end up under or over-fertilizing your plant.

Is your plant healthy?

Now that you know the most important considerations when growing African Violets, the next thing to learn is how to determine if your plant is healthy or not. To do this, first, give your plant a shower using lukewarm water.

With a sprayer, rinse the dust and dirt away gently. After cleaning the plant, take a good look at it. If all the leaves are green and fresh, then your plant is still healthy. If not, then you should remove any limp, old or yellow-colored leaves. Also, remove any of the old stalks which don’t have blooms anymore. Keep on removing the withered parts until you’re left with a healthier-looking, symmetrical plant.

There are two things to keep in mind during and after bathing your plant. First, be careful not to let the water go into the plant’s center crown as this might rot the plant. Second, don’t place your plant in direct sunlight right after rinsing it as this may cause spots.

What are some of the reasons why your African violet isn’t blooming?

We’ve discussed some relevant blooming tips for you to keep in mind. But sometimes, the African Violet still refuses to bloom. Here are some reasons why:

  • One factor may be low humidity. These plants thrive on humidity, and if the air around it is dryer than 40% humidity, it’s not likely to bloom.
  • Another factor may be that the potting mix has become too dry. That’s why it’s important never to allow self-watering pots to dry out. In such cases, you may have to repot your plant if you want it to start blooming.
  • Your plant may have a fungal disease known as powdery mildew. This mildew which looks like white powder may appear on various parts of the plant. If it starts growing on the bud stems, then the buds will likely fail.
  • Finally, your plant might have an infestation of cyclamen mites. These pests typically feed on the plant’s newest growth, and this includes the bud stems. Try to observe if some parts of your plant grow in distorted ways. If so, then your plant probably has these mites on it.

Repotting African violets

It’s important to repot African Violets annually, and spring is the best time to do so. Since most potting mixes contain peat, they tend to break down and become too acidic as time goes by. Also, minerals and fertilizer salts may start to accumulate in your plant’s pot which is why it needs new and fresh potting mix!

When choosing a potting mix for African Violets, choose the light variety. If you use a self-watering container, then choose a mix that’s even lighter than the standard products. One mistake to avoid is overpotting African Violets.

Keep in mind that these plants don’t have big root systems and they thrive better when they’re pot-bound. So, choose a pot with the right size to accommodate your plant. Also, if there’s too much soil around the plant’s roots and it starts to get soggy, the roots might start rotting and become vulnerable to bacteria and fungus.

When repotting an African Violet, don’t press the mix into the pot. Fill the potting mix all around the plant’s roots then tap the sides of the pot for the mix to settle properly. You should only grow African Violets with a single crown.

If you see several crowns of any sucker plants growing out of the main crown, you have to take these out. You can root these extra crowns in separate pots. Cover them with a plastic bag and wait until they start rooting which will take about a month. After that, you can start planting them in new pots and expand your collection!

Final thoughts on How to Get African Violets to Bloom

Sometimes, African Violets start to become vegetative. When this happens, they get so comfortable that they don’t grow flowers, only leaves. If you want them to start reproducing again, you should give them a bit of a scare.

The best way to do this is by repotting the plant. You can also try firmly tapping the pot on a hard surface to produce a small earthquake for the plant. This may awaken the plant’s survival instinct, and it may start growing buds again.

There are also a couple of varieties of African Violets which are “shy bloomers.” If you’ve tried everything and your plant still isn’t blooming, you may discard the plant and try blooming a new variety. One which is more suited to your environment and growing conditions.

African Violet Flowering Needs: Tips For Getting African Violets To Bloom

African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha) are native to the coastal woods of east Africa, but they have become popular indoor plants in the United States. The blooms are shade of deep purple and, in proper light, the plants can flower all year long. Most of the plants are sold when flowering. But after that, people can have trouble getting African violets to bloom.

What should you do if your African violate won’t flower? Read on for info on African violet flowering needs including tips on how to make African violets bloom.

No Flowers on African Violet

It happens all too often. You buy beautiful African violets and bring them home. As the blooms die, you wait eagerly for more buds, but none appear. You look each morning but see no flowers on African violet plants.

While there is no

immediate fix for getting African violets to bloom, the care you give your plant goes a long way to encouraging or preventing flowering. Check and make sure you are meeting all African violet flowering needs.

How to Make African Violets Bloom

Like every other plant, African violets require sun to thrive. If your African violet won’t flower, too little light is the most likely cause. Bright light is a big part of African violet flowering needs. In an ideal world, the plants would get six to eight hours a day of light. If they get too little, they simply stop blooming.

Incorrect irrigation can be another reason your African violet won’t flower. These plants like their soil to stay evenly moist, so don’t let them dry out completely between waterings. When plants get too much or too little water, their roots are impacted. Plants with damaged roots stop blooming to save energy.

When your African violet won’t flower, it could also be caused by too little humidity. These plants like air with a humidity of 40 percent or greater.

It might also be temperature. Like humans, African violets prefer temperatures between 60 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15-27 degrees C.).

Finally, fertilizer is important. Buy and use a fertilizer formulated for African violets. Alternatively, use a balanced fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

When all these care requirements are fulfilled, your African violets will be healthy and happy – and will reward you with plenty of blooms.

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