African violets (also known as Saintpaulia species) are one of the delightful blooming plants you can plant indoors. However, some growers are scared of this plant because of its fragile reputation.
You can follow simple rules to help you succeed in caring for your African violet and keep them blooming throughout the year. You might ask how to care for African violets?
African violets thrive in bright, indirect light. To properly care for them, avoid direct sunlight and keep them at least a few inches away from sunny south or west-facing windows. An east- or north-facing window provides them with the best lighting without the risk of burning their delicate foliage. You also can use artificial lighting.
Like other wild plants, African violets need water, light, and nutrients to thrive. Your care procedure involves catering to these needs to avoid damaging deficiencies.
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How To Properly Care For African Violets:
If you wonder how to care for this fragile plant, this article is for you. We tell you the dos and don’ts when watering and feeding the plant. So, keep reading and learn.
You can buy potting mix specifically for African violets or use the all-purpose potting soil. However, ensure that the soil is well-draining to reduce the chances of root and stem rots (Source: University of Georgia). You can also make a potting mix instead of buying.
The planting pots should be small because being pot-bound facilitates blooming. After every few years, you can repot the plant to fresh soil for better nutrient absorption.
Ensure the soil is loose with good drainage ability. Soils high in organic matter are the best since they are rich in nutrients and allow roots to develop well.
When repotting them, ensure they are not planted deeper than they were. Additionally, you should ensure that you do not bury your African violet crown because they are susceptible to rot.
Water is important for sustaining plant life; African violets are no exception. Ensure the soil is slightly moist; overwatering the plant will do more harm than good. If you keep the soil soggy, African violet’s roots and the stem could rot, leading to premature death.
What kind of water is suitable for watering your plant? The water should be at room temperature. Extremely cold water could chill the African violet’s roots, which could cause the leaves to curl down when the plant absorbs the water. Also, chilled water lands on the leaves, which could damage leaf cells, thus creating yellow spots.
African violets are also susceptible to fungal spots with high humidity; therefore, avoid watering them from the top to prevent water from splashing the foliage. You can water your plants from the bottom or use a specialized jerrican that will not sprinkle water on the leaves (source: North Dakota State University)
The water you are using should be chlorine-free since chlorine will also damage the leaves and change the soil pH to the detriment of the plant.
If you can only access chlorinated water from the municipal, you can use a water filter to filtrate chloramine and chlorine. This is good for your health and that of the plant.
Lighting is another factor to consider to care for your African violets properly. These plants love bright indirect light to enhance their food-making process. However, direct sunlight could scorch the tender leaves and stunt their growth.
So, where do you keep your African violet for adequate lighting? The south or west-facing window is often preferred during winter, while the north and east-facing windows are ideal in the summer. ((source: University of Florida)
Bright light is valuable because keeping your plants away in the dark for more than 8 hours could cause the leaves to turn yellow and affect their blooming. You can block the rays with a curtain if the light seems very strong.
However, some people prefer using artificial lighting systems. LEDs and fluorescent tubes can help supplement natural light, especially during winter. In that case, you should examine the bulb’s specification to determine which one is appropriate for your African violets.
But how do you know that your plants are getting inadequate light? If the leaves turn yellowish, it could signify that your plant needs more lighting. Leggy stems and thin dark green leaves could signify little light, but bleached or light green leaves could show excess lighting.
Is more fertilizer better? Well, everything requires moderation. During spring to summer (active growing season), you can fertilize your African violets after 2 weeks with fertilizers rich in phosphorous.
Although some people are enthusiastic about fertilizing their plants immediately after planting, you should wait until your African violet show signs that they need an extra boost. The signs could include thin, slow growth with pale leaves.
Over-fertilizing could result in poor blooming. It often leads to vigorous vegetative growth that hinders flowering. Therefore, go slow on fertilizing because the soil mixes are often infused with lots of nutrients.
Most violet growers prefer liquid or water-soluble fertilizers, including 20-20-20 every four to six weeks.
You can also use dry fertilizers, slow-release, or encapsulated fertilizers. If you use dry fertilizer, ensure the soil is moist before applying a dry fertilizer to your African violets (source: University of Georgia)
5- General Care
Most African violet species prefer warm conditions, approximately 65°F/18°C or warmer; therefore, you want to ensure your house has this temperature range. Moving your African violet away from the window during winter nights is good because temperatures drop.
As the plants grow, you can shift them to larger pots, but ensure they remain root-bound for better blooming.
The plants’ fuzzy leaves sometimes collect dirt and dust. Take time to brush them off with a soft paintbrush gently.
The soil mixes and the pot rim can accumulate salt that affects nutrient absorption and bleach the leaves. You can reduce salt build-up by washing the potting mixes. Run clean water through the soil to drain the salt and use a clean cloth to wipe the pot’s rim.
How Do You Care For An African Violet Plant Indoors?
Unlike the wild, indoor plants rely on you for lighting, water, and nutrients. If you want to see your African violet bloom throughout the year, you should take the initiative to care for them.
- Ensure that your house has appropriate humidity.
- Dry air with humidity below 30% makes African violets uncomfortable, leading to premature bud loss, brownish edges of the foliage, or smaller blooms.
- At least once a year, you can repot your African violets with fresh potting soil.
- Repotting is vital, especially when the plant has outgrown its current pot. However, before potting up the plant, confirm if the root and the leaves are healthy.
- Remove any yellow or rotten leaves from the crown to prevent fungal build-up.
Are Coffee Grounds Good For African Violets?
Coffee grounds contain high nitrogen and are slightly acidic, which can help African violet grow successfully. You can sprinkle used coffee ground on top of the African violets’ potting soil; however, use only a small portion.
African violets do well in acid soil with a pH range of 5.8 to 6.2. Although they can survive in the soil with a pH value that slightly varies from this range, it is advisable to keep it close. High pH values will hinder your African violets’ ability to absorb nutrients from the soil.
Coffee grounds are fine and often form a compact over the soil, preventing water from penetrating the roots. A light sprinkle of coffee grounds after every few months could be enough.
You can also use coffee grounds by mixing them with compost. You can mix your African violet soil with the compost and allow the plant to absorb the nitrogen from coffee grounds.
You may not need to apply coffee grounds if you have access to African violet fertilizers because fertilizers often have nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous needed by African violets.
How To Care For African Violets After Blooming
After the first bloom, you should continue providing your African violet with the necessary conditions so that they can continue blooming. Ensure the lighting is not too little or too much. Blooming African violet needs to photosynthesize and keep the flowers healthy, so ensure direct sunlight gets to the plants.
After blooming, the African violet still needs good watering practices. Continue to water the plants with the right equipment or below to avoid sprinkling water on the leaves and flowers. Additionally, check which flowers are unhealthy or dried and pluck them from your indoor garden.
If you notice any disease on a flower, isolate the plant for observation and treatment before it spreads to other plants. Blooming African violet also needs food to continue thriving, hence the need to regularly apply fertilizer when necessary.
Remember to keep humidity levels in your house between 40 and 50%. You could place the pots on the wet pebble tray and close to one another to enhance humidity. The house’s temperature should also be warmer at 70-80°F during the day and 65–70°F at night. Of course, temperature varies depending on the season, with winter expected to experience a temperature drop.
African violets are easy to care for, and you should not be scared to include them as part of your indoor plants. Some tips to remember include:
- Proper watering practice
- Adequate indirect lighting
- Using appropriate fertilizers
- Ensuring comfortable humidity and temperature in the house
- Addressing any pest and disease issues affecting the plants.