Do you have a moment?
Let's talk about African Violets.
Let's talk about African Violets.
Does hearing the words "African Violets" make your skin clammy? Your heart palpitate? Are you Nervous about whether you can grow these plants? Don't be.
Well, I'm not sure I can control or remedy all that, but I do have a few tips you might consider... especially if you've admired the flowers for their color variety or the shape and size of their delicate petals.
The Plant You Purchase: You'll find a great variety of plants in discount and grocery stores for a better price than you'd pay in a nursery. (I've purchased nearly all my plants this way.) The only thing I would recommend in this instance is to take a very good look at the leaves of the plant. Watch for little white webs and/or little bugs... If everything looks good, bring the plant home!
The Soil: The first thing you'll want to do is re-pot the plant when you get home. Be prepared with a special Violet mix. If this is not possible, purchase a soil-less mix and add perlite to a level of one- or two- parts to one part of the mix.
(Mom's plant)Potting Your Plant: My experience is that my plants don't need to change pots very often. When you do, add a few stones to the bottom of the pot before adding your soil mix. You will want a nice deep water tray for your pot to sit in. You can put decorative stones in the tray for the pot to sit on.
Another alternative is the use of the two-part pots. A small, straight-sided pot nestles inside a larger, rounded pot. The outer pot holds the water. The bottom of the interior pot is unglazed, which allows moisture to past through the pot to the soil.
(Mom's plant)Watering Your Plant: What I read is that most regular African Violets won't need a pot larger than one 4 inches in diameter. If my plants are in a regular pot with a tray, I add the water to the tray. Adding water to the two-part pot is obvious... ;-) In either instance, allow the soil to be dry for three or four days or so before again adding water. Violets don't like their roots to be soggy, so don't allow the plant roots to sit in soggy soil. (I guess I'm talking about a "light hand" with regard to watering this plant.)
I add a very weak solution of plant fertilizer with the water most of the time; especially if the plant is blooming.
Temperature, Light and Humidity: I've always heard that East and/or North Windows and temperatures between 60-65 degrees (at night) and 80 degrees (in the daytime) Fahrenheit are the most highly suited for African Violets. To convert temperatures from Fahrenheit to Celsius, Click Here.
However, I have my violets in a large West window. The light is filtered by a corrugated fabric shade.
I've just read (and experienced) that a plant that gets too much light grows the top leaves tightly together. If a plant doesn't get enough light, supposedly the leaves will lift up towards the light. You should experiment with location.
If your home is dry, add pebbles to the watering tray to provide for humidity through evaporation.
Other Care Issues: African violets don't like a pot with mineral buildup on the top rim (and the bottom should be cleaned periodically, too). I've had the stems of outer leaves rot if they touch dirty pot rims. A quick, thorough wash of the rim might alleviate problems.
If you decide to use a used pot for your violet, wash and clean it well with hot water and maybe a bit of bleach.
An experiment I've been trying is adding decorative wooden fibers or spaghnum moss on the top of the soil, to keep the leaves away from the pot's rim.
P.S. I'm not an expert, but these tips have served me well. My plants bloom fairly often. My mom's plants are always healthier and bloom better than mine. The main difference I've noticed is that her plants are in a sunroom porch with light from South, North and West windows. However, every window is covered by the corrugated fabric window shades.
Are you ready to go shopping? ;-)