Learn to propagate and grow African Violets and related plants in the Gesneriaceae family including Streptocarpus and Gloxinia. Great course for enthusiasts and collectors.

Course Code: VHT105
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Become an African Violet and Gesneriad Expert

  • Learn to identify and grow lots of different gesneriads, as indoor plants, tropicals or greenhouse specimins
  • Professional Development for Nurserymen and horticulturists
  • Upskill as an amateur plant collector

Develop a broadened knowledge of African violet cultivars and cultivation; and in doing so, provide a foundation upon which you can better pursue your interest in these fascinating plants.

  • Identify a series of possible locations for growing a collection of African Violet Cultivars.
  • Compare and select the best location from the available options.
  • Identify factors that will affect the successful culture of African Violets in the selected location.
  • Determine criteria for selecting cultivars of African Violets to be included in the collection.
  • Select cultivars of to be included in the collection.
  • Choose plant establishment techniques appropriate to the project.
  • Determine a routine 12 month maintenance program for a selected collection of cultivars to be grown in a specified situation.

Tips for Growing and Knowing African Violet Relatives

There are around 125 genera in the Gesneraciaceae family. While African Violet and Gloxinia are perhaps the two most widely cultivated of those, there are many others that are in cultivation and worth considering for growing alongside African Violets.

Most Gesneriads like similar environmental conditions; so growing them together in the same shade house or verandah (in a warm climate) or greenhouse (in a colder climate) can be a good idea.

Some of these Gesneriads are listed below:


  • Popular in cultivation for hundreds of years
  • Propagate by root division, stem, tip or leaf cuttings
  • Produce underground rhizomotous growths
  • Can be kept relatively dry when dormant; water again when the weather warms and they start to shoot.
  • Never let soil dry during the growing season though
  • Excellent as basket or indoor pot plants
  • Some upright growing types can get to 30cm tall but most are smaller.
  • Respond well to artificial fluorescent lights

Aeschynanthus (syn. Trichosporum)

  • Some of the approximately 170 species are known by the common name "Lipstick Plant"
  • Most of these are trailing or epiphytic plants. They can be ideal in hanging baskets
  • Tubular flowers are commonly red or orange



  • Indigenous to Central and South America and the West Indies
  • Fibrous rooted plants with long spreading stems that cover the ground or look best in a hanging basket
  • Stunning lipped tubular flowers -commonly shades of red, yellow or orange
  • Leaves can be tiny, button like or large -up to 12cm long on some species (mostly up to 2cm on popular cultivated species)
  • Do not like cold conditions.


Episcia (Flame Violet)

  • Herbaceous perennials
  • Stoloniferous growth habit
  • Grow mostly in shaded places
  • Around 35 species mostly from Central America, Brazil and the Antilles
  • Have distinct leaves with coloured metallic tones.
  • Leaves may or may not have prominent decorative veins
  • Leaves are hairy and an elliptic to ovate shape
  • Normally do better with a little more light than an African Violet



  • Around 150 species
  • Very few tolerate any frost; though most are more cold tolerant than African Violets
  • Some occur naturally in shaded forests, others occur in more open, but usually moist places like the edge of a stream.
  • Generally Streptocarpus look best during the warmer months if and when they are kept moist, and humid.

Other Genera include: Alloplectus, Asternanthera, Bellonia, Beslaria, Boea, Briggsia, Capanea, Chirita, Chrysothemis, Codonanthe, GesneriaKohleria, Loxostigma, Lysionotus, Monophyllaea, Nautilocalyx, Nematanthus, Niphaea, Opithandra, Paradrymonia, Petrocosmea, Phinaea, Platystemma, Ramonda, Rhynchoglossum,Sarmientia, Smithiantha and Titanotrichum.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • What is an African Violet
    • Plant name pronunciation
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • Introduction to Gesneriads
    • Classification of Gesneriaceae
    • Introduction to most commonly grown African Violet Species
    • Information contacts (ie: nurseries, seed, clubs etc.)
    • Plant Reviews
  2. Culture
    • Understanding how plants grow
    • Soils ad nutrition
    • African Violet potting mixes
    • Other cultural practices -Planting, watering, feeding, etc.
    • Review of Gesneriad Genera -Columnea, Streptocarpus, Episcia, Aeschynanthus etc
    • Plant Reviews
  3. Propagation
    • Sexual and asexual explained
    • Propagation aids -greenhouses, hotbeds, cold frames, misting etc.
    • Cuttings
    • Seed
    • Division
    • Plant Reviews
  4. Pests & Disease
    • Plant maintenance and health
    • Identifying problems
    • Controlling problems
    • Reviewing pest, disease and environmental issues that can confront African Violets
    • Plant Reviews
  5. Light and its Affects
    • Understanding light affects on african violet flowering
    • Artificial lighting
    • Plant Reviews
  6. Greenhouse Culture
    • The greenhouse system
    • Components of a greenhouse (floor, structure, ventilation, heating, etc)
    • Types off Greenhouses
    • Shadehouses
    • Coldframes
    • Heated propagators
    • Environmental controls
    • Heaters, Ventilators, etc
    • Plant Reviews
  7. Ways to Use African Violets
    • Containers, in the ground, in greenhouses, growing for profit (to sell etc.)
    • Review of popular cultivars
    • Plant Reviews
  8. Special Assignment
    • PBL Project: Planning the establishment of a collection of Gesneriads, for a specific (real or hypothetical) location.


  • Describe how African Violets and related plants are classified and the plant naming system
  • Describe the cultural requirements of African violets
  • Select appropriate propagating materials and using them, propagate African violets.
  • Identify and control pest and diseases of African violets
  • Discuss the role that light plays in the growth of African violets
  • Describe greenhouses and other environmental control equipment used for growing African violets.
  • Describe the various ways in which African violets can be grown
  • Demonstrate the knowledge acquired for a specific group or individual plant in the Gesneriaceae family through research.

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and edito

Bob James (Horticulturist)

Bob has over 50 years of experience in horticulture across both production sectors (Crops and nursery) and amenity sectors of the industry.
He holds a Diploma in Agriculture and Degree in Horticulture from the University of Queensland; as well as a Maste

Gavin Cole (Horticulturist)

Gavin started his career studying building and construction in the early 80's. Those experiences have provided a very solid foundation for his later work in landscaping. In 1988 he completed a B.Sc. and a few years later a Certificate in Garden Design. I


Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Lynette Morgan

Dr Morgan has a broad expertise in horticulture and crop production, and a keen appreciation of the global scene. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

Yvonne Sharpe

Over 30 years of experience in horticulture, education and management, Yvonne has travelled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

Parita Shah

Parita has a Masters Degree in Horticulture specializing in Plantation, Spices, Medicinal and Aromatic crops and Organic farming. She has worked as a freelance consultant, and in an Avocado nursery in NSW as grafting and preparing avocado clones.

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