The African violet (Streptocarpus ionanthus ) is a beautiful flowering houseplant that comes in a variety of colors, with many different types of blooms. Plant parents love the African violet because of its beautiful blooms, soft green leaves, and easy care regimen.
The African violet is mostly grown as an indoor houseplant, but can be grown outdoors in USDA zones 11 and 12.
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African Violet Basics
As you can probably guess by the name, the African violet is native to Africa, specifically Tanzania. African violets were harvested from Tanzania in the early 19th century, which is when they first became popular as houseplants. Today the African violet is considered one of the most popular houseplants in the world.
Caring for Your African Violet
The African violet is popular for its beauty, but it’s also a popular houseplant because it’s relatively easy to care for. Here’s what you need to know to keep your African violet gorgeous and blooming:
|Sunlight||Bright, indirect sunlight|
|Water||Keep soil moist|
|Soil||Rich soil with good drainage|
|Toxicity||Not toxic to pets|
Light and Temperature
Like many houseplants, African violets thrive when placed in bright, indirect sunlight. If your African violet plant is not flowering, there’s a good chance that it needs more sunlight. Consider moving your plant to location where I can get more sun for more hours.
African violets do their best when the temperature is right around 70o F/21o C. Your African violet will begin to suffer once the temperature drops below 60o F/15o C.
Soil and Moisture
African violets thrive in a well-draining potting mix. I like to use premixed African violet potting mix for my flowers, however you can also create your own. A mix of equal parts potting soil, peat moss, and perlite works well for African violets.
When and how you water your African violet is incredibly important. You will want to keep your violet’s soil most, but not soaking wet. Getting the soil too wet can lead to root rot. Watering with lukewarm or tepid water will yield the best results.
You will also want to make sure to water your African violet from the bottom, or by putting your watering can’s spout directly into the soil. African violet leaves cannot tolerate water — getting water on a violet’s leaves will cause discoloration. That’s why it’s so important to water your plant carefully.
African violets also enjoy humidity. Because of the sensitive leaves of the African violet, misting isn’t a viable choice to create moisture. Instead, consider placing your African violet on a pebble filled tray, and then pouring water over the pebbles.
African violets need regular fertilizing to maximize their blooms. Some people recommend fertilizing every two weeks, but I think this schedule is a bit aggressive. Fertilizing every month should provide plenty of nourishment to your African violet.
You will want to make sure you’re using a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus for your African violet plant. You can find many fertilizers made especially for African violets; this is the one I use.
Repotting Your African Violet
African violets do best when they are underpotted, meaning they are planted in a slightly smaller pot than they seemingly need. However, if your African violet is dropping leaves, appears overcrowded, or has exposed roots, it’s time to repot.
To repot your African violet, gently lift it from its current pot and place it in a slightly larger pot. You can fill in any gaps with African violet potting soil.
African Violet Propagation
There are a couple of different ways to propagate new African violet plants from an existing plant:
Propagating African Violet Offshoots
One way is to separate offshoots or plantlets from the main plant. To do this, carefully divide the “baby” plant from the main plant, but make sure your baby plant has pieces of the main root system. Then you can plant your baby plant in African violet soil and care for it as you would any other African violet.
Propagating African Violet Stem Cuttings
You can also propagate an African violet from a stem cutting. To do this, take a cutting of a healthy leaf and cut the stem down to about one inch. Dip the tip of your stem into some rooting hormone, and then plant it about one inch deep into a pot of African violet potting mix. Pat your soil down firmly and then water completely.
After watering your stem cutting, place a plastic sandwich bag over your plant and hold it on with a rubber band. This will help create moisture and humidity. Remove the bag periodically to allow fresh air to your plant. Roots will form in about 4 weeks, with new leaves showing up at about 6 weeks.
African Violet Toxicity
Great news, pet lovers — African violets are not toxic to dogs and cats. However, for the health of your plant, you will still want to keep it away from your furry friends.
African Violet Common Pests
There are a few pests that tend to show up on an African violet plant. You will want to look out for cyclamen mites, mealybugs, and thrips. Miticide is your best choice for treating cyclamen mites, while neem oil works well from mealybugs and thrips.
Varieties of African Violet
There are hundreds of varieties of African violet, with blooms in different color variations, double blooms, blooms with ruffled edges, and even more unique qualities. Here’s a great list of some of the most popular African violet varieties.
African violets can be picky about some things, but their beauty is definitely worth the work. Follow the advice in this guide and you will be enjoying your African violet plants for years and years!