Growing African Violets

African Violets are one of the most popular indoor plants available. They flower for long periods, are relatively easy to propagate, and adapt very well to growing in pots, indoors.

Also known as "Saintpaulia", they are natives to east Africa. There are around 21 species in the wild, but thousands of varieties that have been bred and selected from these species, in particular Saintpaulia ioantha, the "common African violet".
Growing conditions
  • Minimum temperature of 15°C, a relatively even temperature with no cold draughts or other sudden temperature changes.
  • Bright light (day length of 16 hours or more is needed for flowering).
  • Often grown indoors under artificial lights to produce flowers all year. 
Nutrient requirements
  • Best fed regularly but not too heavily. Seaweed fertilisers or slow release feeds work well. Strong fertilizers can burn roots. Liquid fertilizers should be kept off leaves.
  • Maintain a lower EC than many other plants.
  • pH 6.0 to 7.0.
Suitable systems
  • Self watering pots with aggregate are very successful.
  • 50/50 sand and perlite, expanded clay and scoria have been successful for hydroponic grown plants
  • Propagates readily from leaf cuttings in 40% perlite and 60% coarse granitic sand.
  • Has potential to sell as a flowering container plant growing in a hydroponic pot.
Special cultural techniques
  • Remove dead flowers and older marked leaves.
  • Do not allow water to get on the foliage.
  • Markings on leaves are commonly caused by adverse environmental conditions; especially if strong sunlight hits a leaf with water on its surface.
  • Fungal diseases include crown rot (occurs with overwatering), botrytis and powdery mildew (which occur when leaves are sprayed with mist).
  • Do not water much at all in cooler weather or plants will rot. 
  • Pest problems include whitefly, mealy bug and mites.