Food for african violets

Fertilizing African Violets – Learn How To Feed African Violet Plants

African violets are one of the most charming blooming houseplants available. They have a sweet, old-fashioned innocence that appeals to everyone. There are just a few straightforward rules for growing African violets. Water and light needs are two of these, but just as important is how to feed African violet plants. The type of food is crucial when feeding African violets because some sources say nutrients can actually harm the plant.

Do African Violets Need Fertilizer?

African violets are fairly low maintenance. They do need proper exposure, heat and keep water off those leaves, but they usually keep producing those sweet flowers much of the year. To keep your violet in good health, it needs to be fed. When, how and with what are questions we will be answering.

Almost all plants need proper macro- and micro-nutrients as well as soluble vitamins, and African violets are no exception. African violet fertilizer needs to be water soluble and in a ratio especially developed for the plant’s

needs.

The best time for fertilizing African violets is in spring when the plant is actively growing. Avoid feeding African violets in winter. Some growers say not to fertilize the plants during bloom while others tout the process. However, considering that blooming deprives the plant of energy, it would seem logical that the nutrients used need to be put back into soil for plant uptake.

About African Violet Fertilizer

Not all plant foods are alike. African violets need a certain percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium plus trace minerals. The recommended ratio for African violets is 14-12-14. There are commercial formulas available specifically for fertilizing African violets, but many of these use urea as the nitrogen source. In certain conditions, urea can burn the plant’s roots.

A formula that uses ammonium nitrate may be a little bit more costly but is gentler on the roots. In instances where the plant is not blooming well, use a formula with a higher amount of phosphorus.

How to Feed African Violet Plants

These little plants need feeding every 4 to 6 weeks during their growing period. Prior to feeding, moisten the soil well. Use a liquid or soluble powder formula that will provide instant delivery. If you are using a concentrated liquid, follow manufacturer’s instructions for dilution.

Municipal water supplies can contain chlorine and should be allowed to sit for 24 hours before preparing African violet fertilizer. Excess chlorine is toxic to the plants. For a more organic route, you can also use worm castings, diluted compost tea or fish emulsion. These are primarily nitrogen, however, so add a little bat guano, which is available to purchase.

To avoid the build-up of toxic salts deposited in soil, flush the container at least four times per year and wipe the crusted salts from around the top edge.

Fertilizers for African Violets

When you plant your African violet in special potting soil, it is great chance that you don’t have to fertilize your plants for awhile. On the other hand, reduced growth and flowering with gradual loss of leaf color indicates that African violet plant needs more nutrients. Since African violets like rich soil, don’t wait for your African violets to look miserably before you start to apply fertilizers. If in doubt (with good reason – too much fertilizers can ‘burn’ roots), fertilize one or two plants and wait two weeks to see plant’s reactions. If plants start to grow again, leaves become darker and flowers become visibly stronger and healthier, fertilize the rest of the plants.

During vegetative period, African violets should be fertilized using balanced formulas like 7-7-7, 12-12-12 or 20-20-20. In blooming period, African violets need more phosphorus and fertilizers like 8-15-8, 15-30-15 and similar are more appropriate. When treated well, African violets can bloom almost year long.

Forms of African Violet Fertilizers

Fertilizers can be found in the form of:

– water-soluble pebbles,

– pebbles and plant food sticks/spikes with gradual release of nutrients,

– fertilizers in liquid form.

Water soluble fertilizers are usually applied once a month, according to manufacturer’s recommended dosage. To avoid spikes in nutrient content, it is also good practice to mix one forth or one fifth of regular fertilizer dosage with water and use this mix when watering plants. Discard excess water and fertilizer mix that drains from the drainage holes – don’t feel ‘sorry’ for this waste :o)

Most of these fertilizers can be applied (mixed) directly to the soil, too, but this way, we are risking development of burns on roots due to local high concentrations of fertilizers. If you are unsure, apply fertilizers as directed by manufacturers.

Fertilizers in the form of pebbles and sticks with gradual nutrient release are great for any plant, African violets included. They are added to the soil usually every 3-6 months (again, read instructions) and in this period you don’t have to worry about fertilizing your plants. It is very hard to over-fertilize plants using these two kinds of fertilizers.

However, they are also more expensive when compared with ‘ordinary’ water-soluble fertilizers.

Fertilizers in liquid form are very handy – you simply mix them with water and water the plants – like fertilizers in pebbles soluble in water, just don’t have to worry about mixing, dissolving and similar. Very often, this fertilizers are used whenever plants are watered – there are no spikes in nutrients in the soil, root system is kept healthy and plants take from the soil what they need. They can be more expensive when compared with other fertilizers in regard of nutrient content per gram, but if you don’t have (literatelly) dozens of African violets or any similar flowering plants, you don’t have to consider the price – and even then, simplicity of fertilizing plants this way justifies usage of this kind of fertilizers.

What ever fertilizer you use, be careful regarding amounts – as said before, too much of anything is not good, fertilizers included. Over-fertilized African violets can die due to problems with root system. They also develop tight centers with plenty of small leaves having rusty appearance. Be careful and read instructions that can be found on every fertilizer’s package.

Recommended African Violet Fertilizers

You can find suitable African violet fertilizer in almost any larger garden center – just be aware of your African violet needs (both NPK and microelements).

But if you are really into the growing African violets (having few pots or few hundred pots), using fertilizers specially formulated for African violets is highly recommendable. They are maybe little bit more expensive (just maybe), but usually worth every (euro)cent. Here are several recommended AV fertilizers that one can use at home not only for African violets, but also for other blooming flowers – of course, there are many others on the market that do their job well!

For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to follow Amazon links (links open in the new windows).

Jack’s African Violet Fertilizer 12-36-14, 8 oz.

This is water soluble plant food suitable for all African violet varieties and practically all flowering houseplants. This fertilizer can also be used for outdoor plants as a blossom booster for all flowering plants growing in the soil, flower pots, hanging baskets etc.

African violets appreciate high phosphorus content that helps healthy root and numerous buds development.

This fertilizer comes as 8 oz (227g) resealable plastic tub…

Schultz African Violet Plus Plant Food 8-14-9, 4 fl oz.

This is liquid African violet fertilizer with balanced content of nitrogen (N, 8%), potassium (K, 9%) and higher content of phosphorus (P, 14%). It comes in 4 ounces bottles with easy to measure dropper, which is great help in preparing watering mix.

This is one of the best ‘all round’ African violet fertilizers. It lacks phosphorus ‘punch’ that Jack’s Classic African Violet has, but it will keep your African violets and other gesneriads happy and flowering :o)

You can use this fertilizer for other indoor plants, too.

Of course, there are many other similar products on the market, so choose according to your own needs and preferences – after all, many African Violets growers have other indoor flowers as well.

Again, what ever you do, don’t over-fertilize your plants – it can kill them just as too much water, strong sunshine or cold etc can kill them. If you are in doubt regarding fertilizer – well, consider Schultz African Violet Plus Plant Food 8-14-9, 4 fl oz. – it is cheap, comes with measuring dropper and can be applied year long regardless of the plants’ vegetation period.

Back in the year 1894, Baron Walter von Saint Paul carried a flowering plant to Germany from East Africa, and he called it the “Usambara Violet.” Little did the Baron know that so many people would eventually fall in love with that flower that we now know as the African Violet.

Nowadays, these plants are very popular, and many consider them as prized plants. But what does it take to grow these plants? Well, aside from the basics such as air, water, and sunlight, you also need the best fertilizer for African Violets.

When it comes to fertilizers, these products keep on changing to suit the needs of various plants. In this article, we’ll help guide you so that you can find the best product to help your plants thrive. Read on and learn more about best fertilizer for African Violets.

Why your African Violets Need the Best Fertilizer?

Macronutrient content

The best fertilizers on the market must contain the basic macronutrients which African Violets need to thrive namely nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Some products even contain other macronutrients such as magnesium and calcium. If you want your plants to get all the macronutrients they need, then supplementing their growth with fertilizer will go a long way.

Also, if you use water from reverse osmosis, rain or tap water, search for a fertilizer which caters to such situations. The presence of the macronutrients in the fertilizers will help keep the plants healthy and also help them produce better and more colorful flowers.

Micronutrient content

Aside from the macronutrients, some fertilizers will also provide your plants with a number of micronutrients. These are also essential in the healthy growth of plants but in smaller amounts. One essential micronutrient to look out for if you have soil with a high pH level is sulfur. This can help lower the pH level of the soil, especially in the plant’s root zone.

Fertilizers which have micronutrients are especially important for those who use reverse osmosis or rainwater on their plants. With such water, your African Violets will benefit a lot from a product which contains all the micronutrients they need to thrive.

Better growth

The best way to promote the growth of African Violets is to give them the right fertilizer or plant food each time you water them. This will help you remember better when to fertilize your plants since you’ll do it at the same time you water them. You can use almost all kinds of fertilizers this way, but it’s still best to follow the instructions of the product you’re using.

The best fertilizer for African Violets will promote better growth, a higher survival rate, and more blooms. While some fertilizers are suitable for all flowering and indoor plants, others are specifically meant for African Violets. Either way, using a fertilizer will help move things along and make your plants healthier and more productive.

What To Look For In a Fertilizer for African Violets

The essential nutrients

A good fertilizer should contain fairly equal amounts of the most important nutrients namely nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. You should find these components on the product’s label with their ratios in numerical values. The values for standard sizes and varieties of African Violets would differ from the values for miniature African Violets or other special varieties.

The three essential nutrients are part of the 16 vital elements required by African Violets and by other types of plants so they can grow and reproduce normally. The other vital elements are calcium, carbon, boron, copper, chlorine, iron, manganese, magnesium, oxygen, sulfur, zinc, hydrogen, and molybdenum.

Among all these elements, you may also commonly see sulfur, magnesium, and calcium listed as part of the fertilizer’s components. On the other hand, oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon, known as the free elements, are normally acquired from the water and the air.

Nutrient source

It’s also important to choose your fertilizer according to its nutrient source. The cheapest ones have urea nitrogen as their source, but these fertilizers aren’t very desirable especially for those who grow plants in cold areas. This is because using such fertilizer would most likely result in your plants acquiring ammonium toxicity. This happens when the bacteria in the soil become inactive when the temperature gets cold, and they aren’t able to adequately process the urea content.

Therefore, it’s better to go for products which use ammoniacal nitrate or nitrogen as a nutrient source. These are a bit costlier, but they have better quality and won’t pose any problems.

If it’s your first time to purchase fertilizer for African Violets, then you can ask your neighbors and other people in your area which product works well for them. You may even have to use different products at different times of the year depending on certain factors.

Water solubility

Another factor to look for in the best fertilizer for African Violets is the water solubility. Make sure that the product you choose is completely water soluble as this is very important. This feature will allow the plant to absorb all the important elements that the fertilizer contains.

Also, the water-soluble feature is especially important if you plan to use a self-watering device for your plants. In such case, the elements will only go into the soil if they’re completely dissolved.

Form

Fertilizers come in different forms. Among all these forms, the concentrated liquids and the soluble powders are most recommended. Between the two, people often prefer soluble powders because they’re more cost-effective in the sense that they don’t have the added cost associated with the water’s weight that’s added to the concentrated liquids.

Of course, both forms have their own benefits. Soluble powders are easy to mix and some even come in pouches which are already pre-measured. For concentrated liquids, they’re more convenient especially since you can use them with self-watering devices.

No matter which one you select, don’t forget to consider the fertilizer’s water solubility. Whether in powder or liquid form, this is an important feature since it will allow your plant to get all the nutrients and components which will help it become healthier and produce more blooms.

The Best 5 Fertilizers for African Violets – Reviews

Dyna-Gro Gro-100 Grow 7-9-5 Plant Food

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The Dyna-Gro Gro-100 Grow 7-9-5 Plant Food is one of the best products on the market now. It contains all the essential elements that African Violets need to grow and thrive. This fertilizer will promote the vibrant growth of your plants.

It has a low level of soluble salts too making it suitable for hydroponics and plants grown in containers. This complete fertilizer is easy to use, and it’s ideal for different kinds of plants too. Here are some of the standout features:

  • Complete: This product is more than just a fertilizer. Rather, it’s a complete nutrient solution for African Violets and for other plants as well. Dyna-Gro contains all the 16 essential minerals to promote the growth and health of plants.
  • Easy to use: Dyna-Gro comes in the form of a liquid concentrate that’s very easy to use. With this product, you don’t have to follow complicated directions to use it correctly. After some time, you’ll notice the results as your plants grow, develop, and thrive better than ever.
  • All-purpose: This fertilizer contains the micro and macro nutrients different plants need and they come in appropriate ratios. Dyna-Gro has an all-purpose formulation which promotes blooms and foliage. You can use it for hydroponics, potted plants, and for rocky, poor soil.

One downside of this fertilizer is that it’s quite expensive. Some customers even claim that using this product would result in nutrient deficiencies for some plants. Still, there are more positive feedbacks than negative making this one of the best fertilizers for African Violets on the market now.

Xcdiscount Jack’s African Violet Fertilizer

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The Xcdiscount Jack’s African Violet Fertilizer has a high-quality formulation, and it contains the nutrients plants need to grow well. With this fertilizer, you can grow strong roots, stocky stems, robust foliage, and vibrant blooms. It promotes brighter-colored and larger blooms. It’s a superior product that’s suitable for the bottom and top feeding containers. Take a look at the fertilizer’s features:

  • Designed for African violets: This fertilizer is one of the more popular products among commercial growers of African Violets precisely because it’s designed for these plants. Jack’s African Violet Fertilizer helps maximize the flower count, enhance the size of the blooms, and give them brighter colors too.
  • Superb formulation: Jack’s African Violet Fertilizer has a special formulation which makes it ideal for both the bottom and top feeding containers. It’s a water-soluble fertilizer that’s suitable for all the varieties of African Violets as well as other types of flowering houseplants.
  • Blossom booster: You can use this fertilizer to boost the blossoms of outdoor plants, potted plants, plants growing in hanging baskets, and more. Jack’s African Violet Fertilizer has a high content of phosphorus which can help with the development of roots and buds.

With this fertilizer, you have to make sure that you use the right amount. The reason for this is that it’s quite strong and using too much might do more harm than good. Some people have reported rerooting and crown decapitation from too much. Still, it’s one of the more popular fertilizers among African violets.

rePotme Orchid Fertilizer

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The rePotme Orchid Fertilizer is urea-free, making it perfect for orchids and other types of prized plants such as African Violets. It’s best used with the process of reverse osmosis or with rain or tap water that has low alkalinity. It’s very easy to use, and it even comes with instructions to guide you as you fertilize your plants. These are the features of this product:

  • Urea-free: The rePotme Orchid Fertilizer doesn’t contain urea which is an important feature of fertilizers for African Violets, orchids, and other types of prized plants. It has a lot of phosphate content as well as soluble potash.
  • Various choices: This fertilizer comes in granular and liquid versions. The granular version only comes in one size, but the liquid version comes in gallon, quart or pint sizes. The rePotme Orchid Fertilizer even comes with a child protective cap as an added safety feature.
  • Versatile: This product is ideal for orchids, African Violets, and other types of houseplants. Using the rePotme Orchid Fertilizer would promote bigger and more beautiful blooms as long as you use it properly.

One downside of this product is that it doesn’t clearly indicate the mixing instructions. Therefore, some customers have had difficulties determining how much to use on their plants. But once you’re able to discover how much you need for your plants, you’ll see all the benefits as they grow.

Sun Bulb Company 8303 Better GRO Orchid Plus

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The Sun Bulb Company 8303 Better GRO Orchid Plus is urea-free and has a professional formulation. It contains nitrate nitrogen which is a vital component that acts fast and enhances the vigorous growth of plants. This fertilizer also has the important minor elements to help fight deficiencies that commonly occur when using potting mixes without soil. Other features of this product include:

  • Specially-formulated: This product has a special formulation with quick-acting nitrate nitrogen to promote the vibrant growth of plants. It doesn’t contain any urea nitrogen. The Better GRO Orchid Plus includes the essential minor elements to help fight plant deficiencies.
  • Easy to use: This fertilizer is perfect for orchids, but you can use it for your African Violets as well. Master growers developed the formulation of Better GRO Orchid Plus, and it’s quite popular among enthusiasts and professionals alike. Just mix the fertilizer with water according to how frequent you water your plants.
  • Encourages healthy growth: This fertilizer can thoroughly soak into the root system and foliage of the plant. The Better GRO Orchid Plus encourages the healthy growth of plants as well as the abundance of blooms.

One possible downside of this fertilizer is that it may attract plant flies. Some customers have reported seeing these flies after they’ve used the product on their plants. However, you can remedy this situation easily while still enjoying all the advantages of this particular product on your African Violets.

Schultz African Violet Plus Plant Food

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The Schultz African Violet Plus Plant Food can stimulate the growth of gorgeous blooms for your African violets and other types of blooming plants. It’s a liquid fertilizer which has the perfect balance of nitrogen and potassium along with a higher phosphorus content. It even comes with a dropper which makes measuring easier. Here are the features of this fertilizer:

  • Special formulation: The Schultz African Violet Plus is specially-formulated for African violets and other types of plants that bloom. It contains all of the basic micronutrients that flowers require to grow, thrive and blossom.
  • Easy to use: The fertilizer comes with a special dropper to make preparing the mix a lot easier. Regularly using the Schultz African Violet Plus promotes gorgeous blooms with vibrant colors. It helps stimulate the production of flowers as it delivers all the nutrients straight to the roots.
  • Versatile: The Schultz African Violet Plus is a liquid fertilizer which is perfect for African violets. But you can also use it for your other indoor and flowering plants. With all the nutrients it contains, it will keep your plants healthy, happy, and blooming.

Some customers claim that this particular fertilizer is too harsh for African violets. On the other hand, other customers claim that it makes the plants healthy, but it doesn’t encourage blooms. But looking at the customer reviews, there are more people who appreciate the product which is why it’s on our list.

Which Fertilizer is the Best for You to Buy?

There’s no standard answer for this question as the best fertilizer for you would depend on different factors. We’ve reviewed the best fertilizers for African Violets in this article, but in the end, the choice would depend on your own needs and preferences. Therefore, it’s important for you to consider all the factors to determine which one will be perfect for your own plants.

If you have African violets as well as other plants, it’s best to choose a versatile product. This way, you can use the same fertilizer for all your plants and still have the same positive results. The Dyna-Gro Gro-100 Grow 7-9-5 Plant Food is an all-purpose fertilizer which you can use for different plants and different planting conditions. It contains all the essential nutrients plants need to grow well, thrive, and produce large and vibrantly-colored blooms.

If you want a fertilizer that’s made specifically for African violets, then you can go for Xcdiscount Jack’s African Violet Fertilizer. This has a high-quality formulation, and it’s designed for African violets. So, if you only focus on this type of plant, then this fertilizer would be the best one for you. It’s a superior product which contains all the nutrients needed for African violets to grow and thrive in different conditions.

SHIPPING

Orders placed before 2pm CST (Central Standard Time) Monday to Friday will be shipped out within 3 business days after we receive your payment. Orders placed on weekends or holidays will be processed out the next business day.

Conditions beyond our control may cause delays in delivery time (weather, strikes, etc.). Shipping time is thus not guaranteed. Should a significant delay occur, please contact us at [email protected] or by calling 1-888-895-0032. Any errors or incomplete addresses can cause additional delays.

Should the delivery take longer than expected, we will notify you. Once the order has been shipped, the delivery time and the choice of carrier are based on the destination.

Is it possible to have my order delivered to another address than my own?
Yes, you can choose a different shipping address than the one from the billing address. You may only ship to one address per order. If your order contains gifts or items that require shipping to multiple locations, you will need to place separate orders for each address.

ORDER TRACKING

Once an order has shipped, we’ll send you an e-mail with the tracking number. Just click on the link to take you to the carrier’s website to track the progress of your shipment. It may take 72 hours for your tracking number to be activated on our carrier’s site.

We do our best to ensure your items arrive in perfect condition. However, in the unlikely event that your box arrives in a damaged condition, please accept the delivery and contact us at [email protected] or by calling 1-888-895-0032 so that we can assist you.

Please note that if you refuse your order, or any part of it without our authorization, you will be responsible for all return shipping charges.

RETURNS

For purchases made online, we must receive your returned item(s) within 30 days from the date of shipment to be eligible for a refund. To be eligible for a return, your item must be unused and in the same condition that you received it. It must also be in the original packaging.

You can return your item(s) in one of two ways:

1) Within 30 days, return your item(s) to our store location at 7800 Roblin Blvd, Headingley, Manitoba. Simply go to the cash desk, provide them with the item and your packing slip and/or receipt, and they will process the return to your original method of payment.

2) If you’re unable to visit our store you can also send your items directly to us by mail. You will be responsible for paying for your own shipping costs for returning your item. If you are shipping an item over $75, you should consider using a trackable shipping service or purchasing shipping insurance. The value of goods will be refunded to your original method of payment within 3 business days of our receipt of returned goods. The original shipping charges are non-refundable.

Mail your item(s) to:
Shelmerdine Garden Centre Ltd
Attention: Returns
7800 Roblin Blvd
Headingley, MB R4H 1B6

TROPICAL PLANT SATISFACTION POLICY

Tropical house plants that fail are replaced as follows:

Up to 1 month – 100% replacement
Up to 3 months – 50% replacement
3-6 months – 25% replacement
Beyond 6 months – no replacement

Whether purchased online or in-store, plant and proof of purchase must be brought to our store at 7800 Roblin Boulevard by the purchaser. The plant will then be assessed by our greenhouse team to determine cause and replacement value. Shelmerdine will not authorize replacements or accept plants sent to us via courier for assessment.

Replacements are made with either a new plant of the same value or a Shelmerdine Gift Card. Shelmerdine gift cards have no expiry date and can be used for virtually any product or service.

*Patio tropicals and bonsai plants are not covered under Shelmerdine’s Tropical Plant Satisfaction Policy

RETURNING GIFTS

If the item was marked as a gift when it was purchased and shipped directly to you, you can return the gift using either method listed above. Returns of gifts must be accompanied by the Packing Slip included in your gift. Whether returned in store or via mail, you’ll receive a Shelmerdine Gift Card for the value of the returned item, less the original shipping charges.

If the item was not marked as a gift when purchased, or if the gift giver had the order shipped to themselves to give to you later, the gift giver will receive a refund for the returned goods less the original shipping charges.

FINAL SALE ITEMS

We do not accept returns on the following items which are considered Final Sale:
Earrings and Jewelry sets which include earrings; Food and Edible Items, Items which require custom ordering and drop-shipping, sale items, perishables, and gift cards.

African Violet Society of America

Question: What is the best fertilizer to use on African violets?

Answer: The answer is ever-changing, because fertilizers seem to come and go frequently. The best fertilizer for you will depend on the source of the water you are using and what is or isn’t in the water as well as the pH of your water. The temperature of your growing area may also affect your choice.

Almost all fertilizers offer the basic three “macro-nutrients” of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium which are needed in ample supply for healthy plant growth. A few also include the “macros” of calcium and magnesium. Since these two latter “macros” are found in many city water supplies, most growers will get enough calcium and magnesium from their water. If you use rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water, be aware that you need a fertilizer that contains both, or you will need a supplement (commonly called Cal/Mag) to supply them. In the past, many growers chose fertilizers with a high “middle number” (phosphorus) because it promoted blooming. There may be some value in boosting phosphorus briefly if you are a show grower, but be careful because too much can damage foliage and hurt the plant.

Many fertilizer brands also have and list “micro-nutrients” which are needed for healthy growth, but in very small amounts. Not all brands list the “micros” but they can be very important. Sulphur, for example, tends to lower pH in the root zone. If you have problems with high pH (over 7), a fertilizer with sulphur will help you control your problems and bring your pH into a more desirable range of 6-7. But if your pH tends to become too acid (below 6) then sulphur will make the problem worse. If you use well water, or live in mining regions where your water supply may carry high amounts of specific minerals, it is possible for your violets to show symptoms of toxic levels of a micro-nutrient. This may cause irreversible stunting of center growth which looks very much like the violet has mutated to a miniaturized version of the original. It helps to know what your local water supply contains and to choose your fertilizer accordingly. If you use rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water, you will want a fertilizer which promises all the micronutrients needed.

Choosing a fertilizer according to the source of the nutrients is also wise. Fertilizers listing their source as urea nitrogen are often the cheapest and also the least desirable. If your growing area is frequently colder than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, a fertilizer made from urea is more likely to result in ammonium toxicity. This is because the mycorrhizae (soil bacteria which process nitrogen) are too inactive at cold temperatures to process the urea adequately. Fertilizers using ammonical nitrogen or nitrate are a little more expensive but are generally better quality less likely to pose problems.

It is often wise to ask others in your area which fertilizer works best for them. Some growers like to rotate and use different fertilizers during the year, using balanced formulas during times when more growth is desired and high phosphorus formulas when preparing for show.

Fertilizers currently (2018) being mentioned by many growers in social media (especially to use with rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water) include either DynaGro Grow 7-9-5 or Feed Me MSU fertilizer for African violets (from repotme.com). Also recommended is Better Gro Orchid Plus 20-14-13 without urea, which is also preferred by many growers of other Gesneriads. Jack’s Classic formulations generally lack sulphur and may be useful for growers with acid growing conditions. As always, read and follow package directions (do not exceed recommendations) for best results.

Question: Is it okay to use a fertilizer with urea? I use fluorescent light and average 24 degrees (centigrade).

Answer: Urea-based fertilizer should not cause problems for you if 24 C is your usual temperature for growing. The exception to that would be if your soil pH were quite acid. Even then, the symptoms of ammonium toxicity (the result of using urea-based fertilizers in cold or acid conditions) are generally seen on the leaves or in the root system. Happy Growing! Joyce Stork
Question: The only peat moss I have found in bags also has fertilizer in it. Can I still use fertilizer in the water every time I water or will this be too much? 2)The fertilizer I have is 12-14-12 and says to use 1/2 tsp per gallon of water. Should I dilute it even more then? 3)I haven’t found any peat moss without fertilizer unless you can use the kind you buy in bales that you would use in the garden. If you use this kind I thought I read somewhere about having to sterilize it. Is this true and how would I go about it?

Answer: 1)If you have no choice except for the fertilizer-charged potting mix, then you do not want to fertilize for about three months. This is why we dislike charged mixes… you really don’t know at what point you should begin fertilizing. 2)If the fertilizer recommends this rate for once a month fertilizing, and you are going to use it weekly, you should dilute it to no more than an 1/8 tsp per gallon. If this is their recommendation for weekly watering, I would still dilute to 1/4 tsp and then watch. If you see fading vigor then a bit more might be good. However if you see yellow spots or edges around the perimeter of the older leaves, you are over-fertilizing and need to cut back the rate of feeding. 3)If you choose a bale that has no tears or cuts, the peat should be safe to use. Rather than sterilize the potting mix, the goal is only to pasteurize it which is done by heating the damp mix to 180 degrees and holding that temperature for thirty minutes. Sterilizing it (at a higher temp) would destroy the beneficial bacteria that enable the roots to absorb nutrients.
Question: I was told to water my African violets with warm tea. What does this do and is it okay? What brand name fertilizers are okay to use on these plants, as mine have great foliage but are not blooming although I have them in a window with north light.

Answer: There isn’t anything obvious in tea that would be beneficial for African violets, although some teas might help amend the pH or provide some nutrient that the African violets need in tiny quantities. I would be very careful about using “warm” tea, since it is not good for a plant to have a sudden change in the temperature around the roots… a change of more than ten degrees (either colder or hotter) can result in spotting on the leaves because of root damage. There are a number of good African violet fertilizers. Use this according to package directions, erring on the side of using less rather than more than recommended. In a north window, you may not be getting enough light to the plants to get them into good bloom. The ideal window seems to be an east-facing one in which the plant receives bright morning sun. On the north side, the window must be fairly large and the African violet must be sitting so that it almost touches the glass. Having a building nearby that reflects light into the window can also really enhance the quality of the light. If you suspect inadequate light, you may need to supplement it with a little artificial fluorescent light for up to twelve hours a day. For more blooming tips find the article “Blooming Secrets” on the AVSA web site. Happy Growing! Joyce Stork

Question: The first time I repotted my African violets, I lost some plants due to shock, I believe. How can I prevent root shock? Will extra Superthrive help?

Answer: Many growers do use Superthrive with good results, but I would not recommend using more than the package suggests. I find that I rarely have shock if using a light porous potting mix (equal parts of sphagnum peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite) and if the plants are enclosed in a clear container or bag (set away from direct sunlight) for about one month after transplanting. Happy Growing! Joyce Stork

African Violets, like other houseplants, need a little tender loving care by giving them an occasional dose of fertilizer. You can buy African Violet liquid plant food, or you can also make your own easy DIY homemade African Violet fertilizer from common household items. This fertilizer is now one of my favorite homemade plant foods.

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Is Coffee Grounds Good for African Violets?

Yes, coffee grounds are a great homemade fertilizer for African Violets. Make a mixture of dried coffee grounds and dried egg shells, then work the coffee ground mixture into the top of the soil. Replenish every couple of months.

Luster Leaf 1612 Rapitest pH Soil TesterEspoma AV4, Organic African Violet Potting Mix, 4-Quart

Is Vinegar Good for African Violets?

Vinegar is useful for increasing the acidity level of your soil. To determine the acidity of any soil, you will need an inexpensive soil testing kit. African Violets require soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 6.5.

If the pH level of your soil is above 6.5, the acidity level of the soil is too low. You can add vinegar to the soil to lower the pH level of the soil and increase the acidity. The best way to add vinegar to the soil is to add 2 tsp. of white vinegar to 1 gallon of water. Water as usual.

Keep in mind that African Violets don’t like to be watered like other houseplants. They like to be watered from the bottom, not the top. Find out more tips about African Violet care.

You will need to re-test your soil every week until the pH level is between 6.0 and 6.5. When the soil reaches the correct pH level, discontinue adding vinegar to the soil.

Is Hydrogen Peroxide Good for African Violets?

Some people swear that hydrogen peroxide encourages African Violets to bloom more often. Add a capful of hydrogen peroxide to 4 cups of room temperature water and then water as usual. If the plant has any kind of fungus, the peroxide will also kill it.

Homemade African Violet Soil

African Violets do require special soil. You can purchase potting soil that is just for African Violets. If you would like to try making your own potting soil for African Violets, then mix together 1/3 regular potting soil, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 perlite or vermiculite.

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