How to make violets bloom?

Q: Why won’t my African violets bloom? They’re in the same conditions where they used to blossom beautifully, but I haven’t seen a flower for the last two years.

A: African violets are capable of blooming year-round in the home, but they won’t bloom reliably if one or more of their basic needs are not being met.

The most likely reason African violets stop blooming is because they’re in too little light. Although they don’t like direct sunlight, they need as bright light as possible to form buds.

Usually an east or west window is adequate, but in winter extending day light by placing the plant under a grow light for a few extra hours in the evening can be necessary to keep them blooming.

Transplanting into an overly large container is another reason these plants stop setting blossoms. African violets won’t bloom unless they’re fairly rootbound. At the same time, they won’t bloom if the top growth gets crowded, so make a habit of removing any suckers that come up in the pot.

A lack of nutrition and dry air can also cause blooming problems. Feed year round with a half-strength dilution of African violet fertilizer, and keep humidity high by grouping the plants on pebble trays, and misting often.

Finally, keep them warm. They’ll stop blooming if night temperatures dip below 60.

Q: I found a feed store where I can get hay and straw for a great price. Can I use these materials as mulch to cover the bare soil in my vegetable garden?

A: Most feed stores sell straw and hay, but they are two totally different products, and you don’t want to get them mixed up. Straw is the leftover after the seed has been threshed out of wheat, oat, rye or barley. It makes great mulch because it contains no seeds, breaks down easily, and gives good weed control. Apply it just as you would any organic mulch: about 3 inches deep, and till it into the soil in the spring.

The one drawback is that voles (field mice) love to live under straw in winter and can become a horrible pest, so don’t use it if you live where voles are present.

Hay is horse, pig and goat food. It’s brimming with seeds and, applied as mulch, your garden will resemble a hay farm in spring.

One last warning: It can be hard to tell bales of hay from straw when you see them at the feed store, so ask before you buy. You don’t want to get them mixed up and end up with a wheat field in spring.

Q: How important is it to have soil tests done, and what’s the advantage of sending out a soil sample to have it tested, versus using one of those store-bought pH-testing kits?

A: It probably is worthwhile to have a soil test done at least every few years. Store-bought test kits are inexpensive and great for measuring soil pH, but if you send soil to a test lab (listed in the yellow pages and online) you get a lot more useful information.

In addition to pH, the lab test will tell you if your soil is deficient or too high in the nutrients needed for the particular kinds of plants you’re growing and give recommendations regarding applications of lime and other additives to maintain a healthy nutrient balance.

In ornamental gardens, if the plants look healthy, soil tests aren’t needed. If you have a large lawn, however, a test can save you money and help you garden more environmentally by allowing you to fine-tune fertilizer applications to just the nutrients required for a healthy lawn.

Testing the soil in your vegetable garden can be very informative. Most vegetables need higher pH levels, and growing them uses up nutrients that need to be replenished on a yearly basis.

Having a test done at least every few years can help you maintain the healthy balance of nutrients required to keep those Brussels sprouts growing healthy and strong.

Ciscoe Morris: [email protected]; “Gardening with Ciscoe” airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING-TV

I love my house plants and a favorite of mine the past few years have been my African Violets.

My friendship with this plant started when we had a church plant swap. I realized other people brought small flowers for yards in the plastic containers you throw away and I had purchased this really pretty pot with some African Violets.

I ended up hiding my flowers under my chair and began laughing because this is one of the communication problems that happens sometimes when you are in children’s church helping haha!

When I brought my new flowers home, I spent a lot of time researching how to make your African Violets bloom every week because I found it really rewarding to see them bloom so often.

Unfortunately, I was still in a learning phase though and my poor African Violets died from root rot after almost over two years. I bought some new African Violets, and I have been documenting their growth to be able to share with you how to make your African Violets bloom every week.

This post contains affiliate links that support Autumn All Along.

▲▲▲ Day 1 of my African Violets coming home

Steps to helping your African Violets bloom every week

  1. When I bring my plants home, I generally repot them. However, for my African Violets, I decided not to because they are easily prone to root rot. I took my plastic pots of African Violets and set them down into my porcelain flower pot so they would not be sitting in water constantly. I added some dirt where it had become sparse and watered my plants with room temperature water. If you do decide to re-pot though, carefully spread the roots of the African Violets if they are bound and make sure you buy a pot that has good drainage/ has pebbles in the bottom. They also make specific African Violet pots (here, here, and here) to help with this.
  2. I place my African Violets in a window seal with a lot of light and then rotate them about twice a week so they evenly get sun.
  3. I water my two African Violet plants with a half cup of water each week; I water the plants until the soil is moist, but never saturated. Since they are a hairy-leafed plant, I make sure to avoid the leaves when I am watering. If the water is too cold, you will have leaf spots on your leaves and the leaves will feel very week. When I first get a plant, I trim up the wilted leaves and flowers off of the plant so it can focus on new growth.
  4. Once a week, I put a few drops of MiracleGro Blooming Houseplant food into my African Violet pots. While I have achieved weekly blooms without this before, it definitely wasn’t the same amount that I have now!

How to identify why your African Violets aren’t blooming every week

I always take a great sense of pride in taking care of my plants and seeing my African Violets bloom every week! However, while one of my plants has been very fruitful with blooms, I am waiting for my other plant to grow new leaves; while it is growing, I’m not focusing on blooms from it.

A big problem African Violet lovers find is suckers will often pop up in a different spot other than the center of the plant; the way my plant above is growing in is fine because it comes from the center of the plant. If your plants grows suckkers though, you should remove them.

Violet Barn’s website offered the following information that helped fill in some of the growing gaps for me:

Given the proper care and conditions, African violets can bloom nearly constantly. If your plant is producing new, healthy, leaves, but no blooms, the likely causes are either insufficient light and/or excess crowns or suckeres. Properly grown, unless this is a species or trailing variety, your violet should have only one “crown” or growing point–the place from which new leaves are formed. It should also not have any “suckers”. These are the beginning of small crowns, new growth that will appear as small pairs of leaves, along the stem in the leaf axils. This is where flower buds could be forming, but won’t if your plant is busy producing suckers at those points. You don’t need a lot of leaves to produce bloom. Like most plants, African violets produce bloom from the new growth, generally the first (youngest) three rows of leaves. This means that more than 4 or 5 rows, or 12-15 leaves, is unnecessary. Limiting foliage grown will encourage blossom production (the plant will have no choice).

While over watering can be another issue with violets that I have mentioned above in plant care, lighting can also be an issue. African Violets need as much bright light as possible, but they also need to be away from really hot sunlight.

I’m the type of person that would rather have a few house plants and really get to know them rather than a lot and feel overwhelmed. Even though our yard is full of flowers, we only have four plants total in our house because of this! I’ve learned a lot of this information through trial and error and I’d love if you shared any tips you’ve found along the way.

Check for pests and control as soon as practicable

African violets are not very problematic when it comes to pests and diseases. It’s even better if you follow all the instructions given in this article on African violet care.

However, if you’ve stumbled across this article a little too late, here’s what to check and do.

Common Diseases
Crown & Root Rot

One of the most serious fungal problems of African violet is usually first noticed when the crown and roots of the plant turn soft and mushy.

The older leaves droop, and the younger leaves in the center of the plant appear stunted, turn black and die. This happens when plants are watered excessively, have poor drainage, or are planted too deeply.

Any of these conditions can contribute to rotting of the crown and roots.

What to do

Prevent disease by always using sterilized potting soil mixes and clean containers when planting

  • Avoid over-watering and use well-draining pots.
  • Do not plant African violets too deep.
  • Discard severely affected plants.

Botrytis Blight

Botrytis blight is caused by the fungus Botrytis cinerea and often first appears as small water-soaked lesions on the underside of the leaf.

Leaves, stems or flowers appear blighted and turn dark brown to gray, often with a fuzzy coating on the surface.

What to do

  • Collect and discard all dead and dying plant material.
  • Provide better air circulation, and avoid getting the flowers and foliage wet.
  • Botrytis often follows mite injury, so controlling this pest aids in controlling this disease.

Common Insects
Cyclamen Mites

Mites are not insects but are more closely related to spiders. Cyclamen mites (Steneotarsonemus pallidus) are one of the most serious pests of African violets.

They feed on new growth (i.e. leaves in the center of the plant). Symptoms may include severe stunting of leaves in the center of the plant, sometimes with leaf curling.

Mites feed by sucking sap from the plant. During feeding, they inject a toxic chemical that disrupts normal growth patterns.

With heavy infestations, leaf and flower buds may die. If ignored, the entire plant may die as well.

What to do to save your African violets

  • Space plants so that they do not touch to prevent the spread of cyclamen mites.
  • Be careful not to touch infested plants before working with non-infested plants.
  • Isolate infested plants and discard badly infested plants.
  • Pots of discarded plants should not be reused until they have been soaked for 30 minutes in a solution of 1 part household bleach to 9 parts water.

Mealybugs

Several kinds of mealybugs are pests on African violets. They include the citrus mealybug (Planococcus citri) and the Comstock mealybug (Pseudococcus comstocki).

They have soft bodies and are covered with a white waxy material that makes them look cottony. They are found on leaves, stems and in leaf-crotches. They feed by sucking the plant sap.

Their feeding causes stunted and distorted leaves.

Heavy infestation can cause leaf and plant death. As they feed, they excrete honeydew (a sugary material) that can coat the leaves, making them sticky.

What to do

  • Avoid bringing these pests into the house by inspecting a new plant carefully, including the bottom of the pot, for mealybug eggs.
  • Light infestations of mealybugs can be controlled by removing them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol. Repeat as needed.
  • Heavy infestations are more difficult to control. The waxy material that covers mealybugs protects the adults from insecticides.

Conclusion

African violets are easily the most popular flowering houseplants in the world. Their popularity arises from the fact that they are easy to grow and can bloom for 10 to 12 months of the year.

However, not so many gardeners are able to achieve that kind of success.

These beautiful plants have a reputation of being fussy plants, but with just a little care and the right conditions, they can thrive, bloom, and enhance any home.

With this African violet care guide, you’ll achieve great results with your AVs!

Let me know what you think.

Clemson University

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Pennsylvania State University

Wisconsin Horticulture

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In my long list of “favorite plants,” the African violet sits comfortably somewhere near the top. That’s because of its profuse and reliable blooming, the ease of care, and the mystique of being a plant native to Africa. But there’s a more personal reason in there, too.

When I was in charge of maintaining greenhouse stock at an old job, I took special pride in the condition of the African violets. For close to four years I was handling hundreds of plants (in addition to the rest of our stock) and am proud to say I lost a mere handful.

They were also a favorite plant to bring home, and in the years I’ve spent caring for these tough yet delicate plants, I’ve learned the ins and outs of the African violet. They have a well-documented history and are relatively easy to care for, but propagating them from cuttings is an exercise in pleasure.

Whether you need more violets in your own home, or are planning ahead towards Christmas, Mother’s Day, or Easter, establishing African violet cuttings is a surprisingly easy exercise. By the time you’re finished reading this, you’ll be armed and ready to start your own African violet assembly line!

Let’s Take a Trip to Africa…

Botanically named Saintpaulia for their European discoverer Baron Walter von Saint Paul-Illaire, these flowers are native to the Unguru Mountains in Tanzania and also parts of Kenya.

Walter discovered the plant in 1892 (the first year a game of basketball was played and when Coca-Cola was incorporated, for the history buffs out there) and sent seeds to his father in Germany.

The plant was shown in Germany in 1893 and Britain in 1894, but it didn’t make its way to the United States until the 1920s. It earned a reputation as a finicky plant, difficult to care for and prone to sudden death.

This was because it required plenty of bright light, but couldn’t tolerate the chill, drafty windows of New England homes.

As cultivation practices developed, Saintpaulia became popular for its frequent mutations, developing unique flowers and leaf shapes that have gained footing, resulting in mass production. Nine main species and eight subspecies have been identified.

Unfortunately, the native cloud-forest habitat of Saintpaulia is under threat from encroaching agriculture.

National Geographic author Andrew Evans has written an eye-opening look at the delicate state of African violets in their native habitat, where unscrupulous gatherers are plucking rare species from the jungle to sell to collectors.

Caring For Your African Violet

So long as a few basic conditions are met, Saintpaulia is an amiable houseplant. One of the reasons it ranks so highly in my favor is that they seem to thrive on neglect.

Let There Be Light

African violets prefer bright but indirect light. They prefer a west-facing window during the summer and a south or east-facing window during the winter months.

Perhaps more than other houseplants, Saintpaulia benefits from a quarter turn or so every week to adjust what areas of the plant are receiving sunlight. The tight rosette pattern can quickly grow out of whack if it’s left in one place for too long.

Fluorescent grow lights work well for African violets. The best method to ensure near-constant blooming is to use artificial lighting.

Propping up a few grow lights about 20 inches away from the plants is beneficial. If you elect not to use artificial lighting, your violets will still be as happy as… well, whatever the plant equivalent of a clam is.

That’s Some High Quality H2O

Watering is the area where African violets are most temperamental. There are a few important tips to keep in mind:

Never Use Cold Water

Violets do not react well to cold water; it can cause their roots to shrivel and their foliage to die off. Room-temperature water is ideal for African violets.

Once upon a time, chlorine was the only gas used to clean drinking water. Nowadays, chloramine is also used. This is a combination of chlorine and ammonia, and it does not dissipate without filtering or special treatment.

The easiest solution to remove these substances from your water is to add a filter to your tap.

PUR 3-Stage Horizontal Water Filtration Faucet Mount

A high-quality carbon filter works best for removing these gases, and one with an indicator light when it’s time for changing is ideal. Do your plants (and your own drinking water!) a favor and pick one up. I use this one from PUR, available on Amazon, and it serves me very well!

Never Get the Foliage Wet

Water on the foliage can cause dieback, leaf spotting, and other problems.

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Photos by Matt Suwak. © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via PUR, Garden Safe, Miracle-Gro, and Fiskars. Uncredited photo: .

About Matt Suwak

Matt Suwak was reared by the bear and the bobcat and the coyote of rural Pennsylvania. This upbringing keeps him permanently affixed to the outdoors where most of his personal time is invested in gardening, bird watching, and hiking. He presently resides in Philadelphia and works under the sun as a landscaper and gardener, and by moonlight as a writer. An incessant questioning of “Why?” affords him countless opportunities to ponder the (in)significance of the great and the small. He considers folksy adages priceless treasures and is fueled almost entirely by beer and hot sauce.

Many people ask, “Why won’t my African violet bloom?” Most African violets bloom throughout the year. Some are always in bloom and others bloom off and on.

Olive Pratt will present a program on problems that can prevent African violets from blooming when Town and Country African Violet Society meets at 11 a.m. Monday at the Redlands Church of Christ Friendship Hall, 1000 Roosevelt Road, Redlands, near the corner of Highland Avenue and Redlands Boulevard. The program is free and open to the public.

Pratt, a past president of Town and Country African Violet Society, has been growing African violets since 1972.

She suggests that if African violets do not bloom, there could be problems with growing conditions, including the following.

• Light — African violets need bright light to bloom well. If they are not getting enough light, the leaves seem to be reaching upward.

• Fertilizer — Lack of bloom can be blamed on inadequate fertilizer. Violets need to be fertilized weekly with a diluted good-quality fertilizer designed for African violets.

• Potting soil — African violet roots are very fine and hair-like. Blooms form when roots are healthy and well-developed. Roots will not develop well and flowering will be sparse in heavy or packed soils. These plants require a mix that does not pack down even when wet, leaving lots of air passages for roots to grow into.

Watch closely, as some commercial potting mixes do not have enough perlite or vermiculite for violets to thrive. When repotting, be careful not to press down on the soil or pack it around the roots.

• Pot size — African violets like to be in small pots, generally only one-third the size of the leaf span and 4 inches deep or less for standard-size violets. When their well-developed roots find the walls of their pot, they will often begin heavy flowering.

However, most violets do not bloom well when crowded in a pot. Be sure to remove any multiple crowns and suckers so that there is only one crown per pot.

• Humidity, watering — Dry air can cause violet buds to dry off. Be sure that there is some humidity around the plant. Uneven watering can also cause buds to dry off. Keep the soil evenly moist and avoid allowing them to become so dry that their leaves wilt.

For more than 50 years, Redlands Town and Country African Violet Society has been dedicated to furthering the interest in and care of African violets. Members come from Redlands and throughout the Inland Empire area. The society is affiliated with the African Violet Council of Southern California.

For information, call 909-885-7808 or 951-285-8775.

Source: Joyce Dean, a member of Town and Country African Violet Society and a judge for the African Violet Society of America

African Violets

About African violets

African violets (or Saintpaulia) are a genus of plants within the Gesneriad family. Discovered in 1892 by Baron von St Paul (hence the botanical name), many species can still be found growing in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania and Kenya. Though their geography is tropical, most species reside in the mountains, at altitude, and under the cover of other plants. This makes African violets ideal for the indoor home garden or window–requiring only moderate (“room”) temperatures and light. Though many of the native Saintpaulia are now threatened by loss of habitat, millions of their modern descendants are grown throughout the world in homes of collectors and hobbyists. As you’ll see by viewing our site and catalog, modern African violet hybrids can be spectacular and very different from the simple species first discovered more than a century ago. Much information about their care and environment can be found throughout these pages.

Grow them large. Standard African violets are those varieties that, when mature, will exceed 8″ in diameter. In practice, most grow to about 10-12″. When grown for exhibition, they can exceed 18-24″ across. We grow only those varieties that we deem superior to others in growth and blooming habit. These aren’t your usual, run-of-the mill supermarket African violets! Only their size is ordinary.

Pictured at left: Olive with a ‘Best in Show’ exhibit, ‘Opera’s il Straniero’

Grow them tiny. We specialize in miniature and semiminiature African violets. When mature, miniatures grow to less than 6″ in diameter, semiminis to less than 8″. With proper culture, actual plant size usually is much smaller in practice. The smallest of them might be less than 2 or 3″ from leaf tip to leaf tip! Because these are small-growing plants and have small root systems, never use a pot bigger than 2 1/2″ in diameter, even less for the smallest varieties.

Grow them rare and unusual. ‘Chimera’ varieties are violets for which propagation by leaf cuttings will not produce plantlets identical to the original plant. These are typically the “pinwheel” blossomed varieties that show broad center and side stripes of different colors. These are quite unusual, genetically more rare, and can be propagated only by suckers. “Leaf” chimeras are varieties whose foliage can only be reproduced by sucker propagation. Variegation on leaf chimeras is very rare and is completely immune to changes in temperature, environment and age. Care is identical to that of other African violets. Both miniature and standard chimera African violets are available.

Let them grow. Trailing African violets are perhaps the easiest to grow and bloom, especially for the novice. They are naturally branching, spreading, plants that can left to do their ‘own thing’. No need to remove suckers to keep symmetry or encourage blooming. These violets freely produce extra crowns without sacrificing appearance or bloom–in fact, this increases the potential bloom! Can let spread in shallow pots, or let hang as baskets in windows–the choice is yours.

Grow them ‘native’. Saintpaulia species are the African violets that all modern hybrids trace the ancestry to. Many can still be found growing on the hillsides in east Africa. As most are endangered, some can only be found in the collections of hobbyists.

Just grow them! Below are some tips on how to grow them best.

Basic Care of African Violets:

  • Light. Adequate light is important for good growth and bloom. Try to provide bright, but not hot, sunlight. If growing under artificial lights, place a two-tube florescent fixture about 12-18″ above plants for 12-13 hours each day.
  • Watering. Use room-temperature water. Water when the soil feels “dry to the touch”.
  • Feeding. A ‘balanced’ formula is best (relatively equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium). Avoid “bloom boosters”. Use each watering, following the directions for that fertilizer.
  • Atmosphere. African violets like the same conditions you do–moderate temperatures and humidity. If you feel comfortable, so do they.
  • Soil. Use a peat-based, “soilless” mix consisting of at least 30-50% coarse vermiculite and/or perlite. Brand-name “violet soils” are NOT necessarily good for African violets! General rule: the wetter you keep the soil, the more perlite it should contain.
  • Grooming. Exept for trailers, do not allow extra crowns (suckers) to develop. African violets should be grown single-crowned. Most African violets look best with no more than 5 rows of leaves.
  • Potting. Repot all plants every 6-12 months. Most standard African violets, grown as a houseplant, will require a 4-5″ pot at maturity. For minis and semiminis, us a pot no larger than 2 1/2″ in diameter.

Who we are: African violet experts

We’ve been growing and exhibiting since 1975, and have been in business shipping to satisfied customers world-wide since 1985. We hybridize many of our own plants–are famous for our ‘Rob’s’ and ‘Ma’s’ series of African violets, and our ‘Bristol’s’ series of gesneriads (African violet relatives).

We grow our plants in a renovated barn, circa 1900, with an attached glasshouse and other buildings. At any given time, we have 30,000+ plants being grown. We grow plants because this is what we love to do. View the “about” page to learn more about us.

What we do


We hybridize and grow all the plants we sell–we don’t buy from other growers and resell. This means we know what each plant likes to grow best from personal experience. We also collect the best and most unusual hybrids from other growers, then propagate them for sale, as well as collect and grow many rare species not previously grown in cultivation. We rarely travel or attend a show and come home empty handed!

We also try to share our passion for growing plants with others, and to educate those new to our hobby. We encourage everyone to share their experience with others–the spread the “cheer” and their knowledge. View our “blog” pages or subscribe to our monthly newsletter to read more.

What we grow: African violets and more

We specialize in African violets and their relatives (gesneriads), and other plants suitable for the indoor home environment. Most are of a manageable size (can be grown on a windowsill or light stand), and many will bloom readily in the home.

We also grow a huge, and diverse, collection of miniature and terrarium plants–every plant you need for a terrarium, miniature landscape, or fairy garden. Our plants are true miniatures, not just cuttings of a large plant that will quickly outgrow your container. Safe for use in vivariums. Not harmful to frogs and reptiles. We only use organic, nontoxic, products when growing these plants. For an overview of what we grow, view the “what we grow pages”, or better, our online catalog!

How to grow African violets

Though we’d like to sell you plants (or perhaps we have) use this site as a reference–to learn about the plants you grow (or want to), or to learn how to grow them better. Use our “search function” to answer your question–for example, type “repot African violet”, if this is what you need to know. You’ll be directed to relevant information on this topic, or any other. Our “plant care” pages contain much useful information, including “how to” lessons, and a FAQ (frequently asked questions) library.

If you’ve purchased a plant from us, and are having difficulties growing it, or simply need more information on its care, we can always be reached by email or phone during business hours.

Where to find us

Visit us–our shop and glasshouse are open to the public year-round. Hours and directions can be found in the “about” pages. We also attend (and sell at) a number of shows during the year, throughout the United States. Dates of these upcoming events will be listed in the sidebar at right.

Keeping connected

Visit our “facebook” and “pinterest” pages (links found at page top). Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, “VioletsFun”. Join a society–we are longtime members for many plant societies and interest groups. There is no better way to learn than to share your experiences with a fellow grower. We offer incentives to join (a free plant with an AVSA membership) and encourage members to participate and exhibit (coupons for show winners).

Want to share your knowledge or experience growing African violets (or want to educate us)? Many pages of this site allow comments. We’ll post those that are relevant to the page being commented on.


African Violets
By Rob Sproule

Where Do They Come From?
African Violet Care 101
Watering & Fertilizing
Getting Them to Flower
Are African Violets Poisonous?

“I perhaps owe having becoming a painter to flowers.”
– Claude Monet

Your Grandmother probably had an african violet or 3 in a carefully tended spot in her home, perhaps next to a favourite chair. The odds are that your mother didn’t have one, as they fell out of fashion in the 90s.

But what’s old is new again, and these humble Tanzanian plants are filling bathrooms and kitchens once more. As plants go, it’s unique in its ability to be plain at first glance, then fascinating the longer we look. Here’s a primer on this diminutive, enduring champion:

Where Do They Come From?:

In 1892, Baron Walter von Saint-Paul Illaire noticed a low growing, fuzzy leafed plant with remarkable blue flowers perched on a slope of the Usambara mountains. He collected it under the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, one thing led to another, and one of the world’s favourite house-plants found its fame.

Today, there are dozens of species and countless varieties of the genus Saintpaulia. It’s become a collector’s favourite for its unique growing quirks and entire societies have sprung up to basque in their oddities.

African Violet Care 101:

You’re probably more scared of them than you need to be. They have some famous quirks, but once you manage those they’re remarkably easy to grow and keep for many, many, many years.

Watering & Fertilizing:

They’re fusspots about watering. Use tepid water, either leaving it out first or checking with your hand, as cold water could bring on root rot. Lift the leaves so you moisten the soil and not the fuzz, or you’ll get brown spots. Water until it flows out the bottom in order to flush out any accumulated salts. Empty the saucer after so they’re not sitting in it.

The 3 numbers on African Violet fertilizers tend to be almost the same. This balances your nitrogen (leaf growth), phosphorous (flowers), and micro nutrients (essential). You can buy special violet food use a basic 20-20-20 at half strength.

Learn more about African Violets, with Alberta’s Best Gardening Blog

Getting Them to Flower:

They’re flower best with 12 hours of indirect bright light (as opposed to next-to-window-scorching light) to bloom. In the winter, the best place is near a south or west window, but make sure they’re a few feet from the glass once summer sunlight comes.

You’ll want to add some humidity in the winter to keep them blooming. Ferns and other plants nearby will help, as will pebble trays of water. Well lit bathrooms (with ample windows) are perfect. Clay or terra cotta pots help. They pull moisture from the roots (avoiding root rot for your dainty darling) and it evaporates into the air.

Snip spent blossoms off at the base to encourage new flowers, and keep them away from hot air vents and cold drafts (ie. front doors in winter). They love houses that keep their homes warm during the day and turn their thermostats down at night.

Are African Violets Poisonous?:

I get asked this all the time. The short answer is a happy “no.” But here’s the thing:
– Cats will chew the leaves; it’s what they do. If they chew enough 2 things will happen: the plant will suffer and the cat will vomit. The plant isn’t toxic, but the cat can’t digest it.
– Kids stuff things in their mouths, leaves included. It’s not toxic, but the texture makes it very difficult to swallow, thus a choking hazard. And then they’ll throw it up. So if you have hungry cats and mouth-stuffing children, keep it high.

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