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African Violet Care Guide

Catering to houseplants can be a hectic task if you don’t know what to do. Different types of plants require different care depending on the sunlight, water, soil and humidity. One popular plant that requires a lot of care is the African violet. 

African Violet are a popular houseplant native to the tropical regions of Africa and they require specific conditions to thrive in your home. Following is what you need to know about African Violet to ensure that your plant thrives. 

Of course, you need to know a lot about African Violet before you can enjoy your houseplant to the fullest and see them thrive. This is exactly what the rest of this article will deal with through discussing the strategies on how to take care of them to the conditions where they will thrive. 

African Violet Basics

Before we dive into explaining each factor, let’s discuss the basic overview of the African Violet plants. 

Another point you need to consider is the temperature and maintaining the right humidity for the plants. Finally, make sure to keep in mind about the proper arrangement of water and the soil type for the plants.

ColorBlue-Violet, Lavender, Pink, Red-Violet, Blue- Violet, Lavender-Pink, White
Bloom TimeYear Round
Watering RequirementOnly water when the top soil is dry 
FertilizerNitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium mixture in the ratio of 14-12-14
Soil TypeSoil with a mix of Perlite, Vermiculite and Peat Moss
Temperature65 to 80 degrees F
Propagation MethodLeaf Cutting
Sunlight RequirementIndirect Sunlight
Soil pH5.8 to 6.5
Hardiness Zones11 and 12

From the table you may get a slight idea of what to expect from African Violet plants. But all the work for this plant is worth it because you are rewarded with year round blossom with bright and fresh looking colors. 

Getting Started

Before everything you need to understand the basic garden maintenance tips. Think about the condition you will put the African violet in. It needs to be in an environment with good sunlight because it needs good lighting and if you can;t manage natural sunlight then you need to look for artificial lighting. 

Another point you need to consider is the temperature and maintaining the right humidity for the plants. Finally, make sure to keep in mind about the proper arrangement of water and the soil type for the plants.

African Violet Plant Care Requirements

Following are some of the requirements you need for catering to African Violet. Let’s go through each of the factors in detail. 

Lighting 

No, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need direct sunlight for African Violet plants. In fact, you are at a risk of burning the leaves by putting it over direct sunlight. In terms of overall lighting arrangement, indirect sunlight i.e a bright windowsill is the best and that’s where the African violet thrive the most. 

But let’s assume you don’t have any arrangement for sunlight, in that case you can still maintain the African violets without any problem through artificial lighting. 

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Because in terms of artificial lighting you have a lot of options like T12 and T8 fluorescent light bulbs, T5HO fluorescent bulbs and LED lights

Water

Let’s get this straight. Do not overwater the plants because that can lead to soggy wet soil mass and in those conditions, the plants can’t breathe in air and will eventually die. To figure out whether you need to water the plants or not, you need to touch the top of the soil. If it is slightly moist then don’t pour any water and check again in a few days.

However, if you find it dry then it is time to water the soil. The best way to water the plants is by placing the pot in a container that doesn’t have more than an inch or 2.5 cm of water layer. Keep it there for around 20 minutes and then take it off. 

Of course, you can just pour the water from the top. But make sure not to tough the leaves with it. 

Soil and Potting

Just like Goldfish plants, African violets need a specialized type of potting soil. Firstly, you need to remember that a good potting soil does not have any soil or dirt in it. Also, it is much lighter and porous. 

But here is the thin, the soil is a lot more acidic with a pH of around 5.8 to 6.5. Beyond that, it is important to keep in mind about the ingredients of the soil mixture needed for African Violet. Because a slight change in the soil concentration of this plant kills it. 

Following are some of the important ingredients for the African violet.   

Perlite 

Perlite is a lightweight material made from volcanic origins and that does the task of preventing the mud from being too much soggy. This keeps the plants properly hydrated and helps to mimic the conditions of its African mountain origins. 

However, Perlite does not add any nutritional value and has a pH between 7 to 7.5. 

Vermiculite

But if you are looking for nutritional value in the plants then don’t forget to add vermiculite. It is a mineral mica rock that comes in pellet form. It helps to retain the moisture and the necessary minerals required for the plant growth such as Magnesium, Potassium and Calcium. Vermiculite also has a pH value between 7 to 7.5. 

Peat Moss

Harvested from decaying plants from mossy peat bogs, peat moss helps to maintain the acidity of the soil and does water retention. It can contain moisture several times its own weight and then release it back to the plant when required. Peat Moss has a pH value between 3.5 to 4.5. 

Coco Peat or Coir

Coco Peat as the name suggests is basically coconut husks that does the work of carrying the water and maintaining the aeration for the plants. But if you keep using it constantly the aeration properties will decrease. Beyond that, the Coco Peat is slightly less acidic than Peat Moss and has a pH value of 5.

Now, if you want to use commercially available potting mix then go for the following products. 

  • Dr. Earth Organic African Violet Potting Mix
  • Miracle-Go Potting Mix for African Violets

After you are done potting the African Violet, make sure to look for the following if you want to check the best quality of the plants. 

  • Keep the mix porous and well–drained
  • Make sure to retain the water 
  • Allow ease of oxygen for proper plant growth
  • Make sure to maintain the balance pH level for the plant growth
  • Keep the soil nutritious enough with the right minerals
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Temperature

Make sure to keep the indoor temperature ambient enough. Don’t make it too hot or cold. The ideal temperature range for the African violet plants should be from 65 degrees F to 80 degrees F. 

Watch out for signs of rot in the plants because exposure to cold temperature will mean that the plants will start rotting. In that case, you need to take the plants away to an ideal location as soon as possible. 

Humidity

Keep the humidity level between 70 to 80% for African Violet plants. These plants are just not the best at less humid and colder conditions that’s why you need to be careful when turning on the air conditioner. 

If you want to keep the ideal humid environment then use a humidifier or a place in a pot where the tray is filled with gravel and water. 

Pests 

You need to watch out for 06 of these pests for your African Violet.

  • Cyclamen Mists
  • Mealybugs
  • Thrips
  • Aphids
  • Scale Insects
  • American Cockroach

Now, if you are looking for a way to get rid of these pests then do the following. 

Cyclamen Mists

Spray the plants with the Neem oil mixture. Take a liter of water and add ½ teaspoon of liquid dish soap. Shake it up and then add 1 teaspoon of Neem Oil. Then spray it over the affected African Violet plant. 

Mealybugs

There are three ways to deal with Mealybugs.

First, there is the neem oil mixture we discussed earlier. But in this case, you need around 1.5 to 2 teaspoons of Neem oil in a liter of water. Of course, add more liquid dish soap as well. 

Second, you should dip a cotton swab or a paintbrush in alcohol and rub it over the African violet plants. You may need to do it again and again until all the mealybugs are gone.

Finally, you can use a stronger pesticide such as the Imidacloprid and scatter the granules around the potting mix and wait for the pests to go. However, in all of the cases you need to uproot the plants and shift it to a fresh potting soil. 

Thrips

Watch out for the symptoms of a damaged plant. If you find any African violet with a spot then you need to prune it off with alcohol dipper scissors. Further you need to shift the plant on a fresh potting soil. 

If you want to use a pesticide then the imidacloprid and Neem oil mixture will again be the best choice for this. 

Aphids

Start with rinsing the African violet plants with lukewarm water first. This will kill off most of the aphids in the plant. After that use the pesticides that have been discussed till now such as the neem oil mixture and imidacloprid. 

Scale Insects

Start with isolating the affected African violet plant. Then grab a toothbrush or a painting brush and dip in alcohol. Scrub off the scales properly. After all of the steps, make sure to wash your hands properly so that you don’t accidentally transfer the diseases. 

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American Cockroach

With cockroaches, you should start applying pesticide or traps throughout your house. Because if it is affecting the African Violet plants, then chances are it is spread around the house. 

Start by using bug spray or setting out traps that will exterminate the cockroaches. If you are specifically concerned about the plants then set for more traps around the pot that will likely eliminate the pests. However, if things go out of control then you may want to call the pest control. 

Diseases

African Violet plants are prone to a lot of diseases that you need to watch out for. Following are some of the common diseases affecting the plants along with their treatment. 

DiseaseTreatment
Bacterial BlightCut the affected leaves or roots with sterilized scissors. Make sure to clean the scissor as you are done cutting each part of the plant
Botrytis BlightIsolate the affected plants as soon as possibleUse fungicide on the plants
Powdery MildewIsolated the affected plants as soon as possiblePrepare a mixture by adding a tablespoon of baking soda on a gallon of water and coat it over the affected plantsIf that doesn’t work, use fungicide to treat the plants
Phytophthora Crown RotRemove the affected plants and discard it completely along with the soil and the containerTake the unaffected plants and put it over fresh soil and treat it with fungicide
Pythium Root RotRemove and discard the affected plants Take the unaffected plants and put it over fresh soil
Rhizoctonia Crown RotRemove and discard the affected plants Take the unaffected plants and put it over fresh soi

Based on the table above, you can see the different diseases and take necessary steps for the dire ones. 

Pruning

You should prune or trim the African Violet plants once a month. A normal procedure is to remove three or more bottom leaves every month. To prune off the leaves use your forefinger and thumb to just pull or use sterilized scissors. But make sure not to prune off the main stem but rather the plant material at the bottom of the base.  

Fertilizing

For African Violet plants, the fertilizer should contain a mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in it. The correct ratio is 14-12-14. However, while you use a fertilizer make sure that you use something that is free of urea and 100% water soluble. 

Frankly, be extra sure to keep the fertilizer free from urea because it is extremely harmful as it reduces the nitrogen content in the plant and can even burn the African Violet plant. 

In terms of the frequency of adding the fertilizer, use it either on a regular interval of around four to six weeks or add fertilizer every time you have to water the plants. 

Propagating

If you are looking to propagate through the African Violet Plant then go for the following steps. 

Step 1: Start by choosing a leaf that is healthy and fresh. Don’t go for an old one and make sure to keep the petiole attached to the leaf.

Step 2: Trim the stem or petiole by about ½ to 1 inch and cut it at 45 degrees of angle.

  • Find the required size container, pour the Potting Soil mix, make a hole and add the plant cutting in it.
  • Place the container in the perfect condition for plant growth. The temperature should not be extremely high and the humidity should be within the range. Make sure not to keep the container within direct sunlight. 
  • Wait for the plant to grow. At first two to three weeks, the first roots should begin forming and within the next two to three weeks, the new leaves will start to form. Now, you need to repot once there are around two to three leaves. 

Final Thoughts

The African Violet plant with its vibrant bloom and lush foliage can not fail to amaze anyone who is into gardening. It truly enhances the beauty of the indoor spaces through its elegance and touch of beauty. 

If you want the optimal growth and health, make sure to put these plants in the right conditions. Maintain the lighting and watering in the right manner, keep the temperature as ambient as possible and look for any instances of diseases or pests. If you do find anything abnormal, take action or get rid of it as soon as possible. 

As a gardener or a hobbyist, whether you want to keep the flowers over the balcony or indoors over the dining table, African violet will keep elevating the beauty of the surrounding as long as you take the right care of it.