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Care and tips for growing African Violets
African violets prefer moderate to bright indoor light protected from direct sunlight. They will tolerate direct sunlight that comes from very early morning or from very late in the day, but be sure to shield them from direct sunlight at other times.
For best results, place your violets in a window where they will receive light most of the day. A window with a western or southern exposure is a good choice. If you need, adjust your blinds or use a sheer curtain to filter out some of the light if it is too intense.
African Violets need just enough water to keep the soil moist, but never soggy. Allow the soil around roots to dry out before watering to encourage blooming. Be careful that water does not get on the leaves to prevent spotting damage. To prevent overwatering, you can water from the bottom with room temperature water by placing the pot in water, and allowing the plant to absorb the water for not more than 30 minutes. Overwatering can lead to disease such as root rot and crown rot.
A well-drained potting mix is essential. Poor drainage can cause root rot, in which the plant becomes waterlogged and its leaves begin to fall, so make sure that the plant is never allowed to be exposed to standing water for an extended period of time.
Temperature and Humidity
Try to keep the air temperature around your African Violets, as close as possible to 70 degrees F. Avoid temperatures to drop below 60 degrees or rise above 80 degrees.
Feed regularly with a standard balanced fertilizer or a specialized African violet fertilizer.
- Pinch off spent blossoms and blossom stems to encourage development of new blooms.
- Place plants away from floor vents, fans, or entrance doors to avoid air drafts and bursts of cold air.
Propagating African Violets
Increase your collection of African violets by propagating from leaf cuttings or from offsets. Adult plants occasionally produce small plantlets or shoots from the side. Just remove these little plantlets and pot up in their own pots. Removing these plantlets also encourages better blooms on the parent plant.
Potting and Repotting African Violets
African violets do better when they are slightly underpotted. Once or twice a year, repot your violets by refreshing the potting mix.
A good way to know when it is in need of repotting is when it has lost its lower leaves and is starting to look lanky. Just remove the plant from its pot, and with a clean, sharp knife or shears, cut away some of the roots. Put the plant back in the pot so that the bottom of the leaves are level with the rim of the pot. Then add fresh potting mix to cover the roots up to the pot rim.
Water the plant less than usual while it’s developing new roots and adjusting to the repotting.
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My favorite houseplants are Orchids and many plants of the Gesneriad Family which includes African Violets.
Although not necessary, you can grow miniature African violets in a terrarium culture. Kept in a bright location, they bloom frequently.
There are many plants that come under the gesneriad family. Some that I have grown and are are easy to grow as houseplants include:
- Sinningia (some of the tiniest flowering houseplants)
I have been growing houseplants for a very long time as seen by these faded Polaroid photo’s from 1977. Using ‘Grow Lights’ was popular back in those ancient days along with macramé plant hangers. Those 70’s were like, far out!
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