African Violets are one of the easiest flowering plants to enjoy inside during the cold weather of the Midwest. With a good initial set-up and some minor care, African Violets will bloom ten months out of the year.
Procuring an African Violet is convenient and low cost. I always goes to the indoor plant section of Home Depot where the price for one is around $2.50. Home Depot also carries the supplies necessary for a happy plant.
African Violets require a special acidic soil that must be kept moist. Because of this, a normal, growing pot is not recommended. There are two types of pots: one type has a pot-within-a-pot soaking in water and the other uses capillary action via a wick within the soil. I created a system with a glass bowel, decorative rocks, and a terra cotta pot. (see photo)
During the summer months African Violets can be moved outdoors in a partly-sunny location. When the temperatures get below 50F it’s time to bring them inside. Place them in a South or West window for the most available sunlight. Most flowering plants also require a dark period to bloom. Make sure there are no nightlights in the vicinity.
African Violets do not like drafts either, so keep them away from doors, vents, space heaters, and fans.
When it comes to watering, there’s nothing easier than an African Violet. Both type pots have a reservoir that only needs refilling with quality, non-softened water. No guesswork involved.
To help maintain the flowering of the plant, be sure to give is a dose of liquid fertilizer according to the labels directions.
African Violets can bloom 10 months out of the year. Care is the key to keeping it in bloom.
Maintaining a good watering schedule is important. They can go a few days being empty, and it is ok to do that periodically, just not to “droop” status. If the whole plant is drooping, water from above and fully soak pot to revive, careful not to wet leaves.
Always use good water. African Violets like it a bit acidic, and our Midwestern water is alkaline. Bottled or filtered water works well, but room temperature, melted snow is slightly acidic and a better choice if available.
The rocks and outside of the pot need to be rinsed off monthly. Sometimes fungus (green) will begin to grow in the water, or the pot will develop a white film on it. The white film is mineral salts, and needs to be removed. An old toothbrush works without using any soap. It’s OK to let a bit of water to run through the pot, as it rinses the mineral salts thru the soil and out the sides of pot, just keep the leaves as dry as possible.
Prune off the dead flowers with a scissors, don’t pull. Just trim the individual dead flower, as the rest of the main stem might still be blooming. This steps-up additional flower production for the plant.
Remember, it is seriously stressful for the plant to flower (think pregnancy!) So, after a good run of blooming, the plant may chill, and just be green for awhile. Be happy with that, and anticipate blooms after a short rest. Generally, stores sell these in bloom so people would buy them. Don’t be surprised if that rest period comes sooner than expected.
Prune off any bad looking leaves at anytime with scissors.
Talk to your African Violet, it likes to listen to your problems (it also wants your CO2)…
Check the bottom leaves that rest on the edge of the pot, they may get damaged/bent with age. Promptly remove them.
© Ilex Farrell