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Growing African Violets: 25 Care Tips

Growing African Violets: 25 Care Tips

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If you want to expand your plant collection, the African Violet might be just the one for you! This Streptocarpus is considered easy to moderate to care for and has many remarkable attributes.

In this detailed care guide, we’ll talk about the essential tips and tricks to help give your African Violet the proper care it needs.

Continue reading if you want to know more about this Streptocarpus and its fascinating attributes. We also have various options available for you to explore if you are interested in buying one of these.

What Is African Violet?

The African Violet is known to some as Saintpaulia Ionantha. It is a stunning plant made famous for its beautiful flowers.

This perennial belongs to the Gesneriaceae family. Its rich green, oval and fuzzy leaves love humidity when grown indoors.

If you are in hardiness zones 11-12, you have the option to raise your African Violet outdoors.

Origin And Family

Initially, these plants were under a Saintpaulia genus but were recently re-categorized into different genera, the Streptocarpus genus in the Gesneriaceae family. The African Violet is a native of East Africa from the tropical rainforests of Kenya and Tanzania.

In 1892, German colonial officer Walter von Saint Paul-Illaire identified these plants and sent some seeds back to Germany. 

Where To Buy

We buy many new plants such as the African Violet from Etsy. We got a great bargain, plus the plants are carefully wrapped and brought right to our door!

The prices for African Violet plants are very affordable, ranging between $3 for leaf cuttings and $15-30 for bundled varieties.

African Violet Plant Size

At its maturity, the African Violet grows about 3-6 inches tall and 3-16 inches wide indoors. Considering this plant’s growth ability, light needs, and high humidity requirements, you can place it an east- or north-facing window.

African Violet Care Needs

With appropriate care, most plants, including African Violet, are simple to cultivate at home.

It favors humidity and relatively moist soil and is well-known for its beautiful flowers.

You should only water (with warm water) this flowering plant when the surface of the soil feels less moist to touch.

Like other plants, you’ll require suitable drainage holes in a plastic, terracotta, or clay pot.

Care Difficulty

While all plants need some degree of attention, the African Violet is considered by most indoor gardeners to be easy to moderate to care for. With the proper combination of factors such as well-draining soil and amount of light, you can keep this plant in its best health.

Growth Rate

The Saintpaulia Ionantha plant measures 3-6 inches in height when grown indoors. The warmth of spring and summer jump-starts this plant’s growth spurt.

Streptocarpus species grow at a slow speed, including the African Violet.

Potting

This beautiful plant has adapted well to indoor living and may survive in nearly any potting mixture. Most gardeners find that plastic, terracotta, or clay pots work best for African Violet.

Most plants benefit from a tiny container in terms of size. Your plant should be protected from root rot as long as your pot includes drainage holes at the bottom.

Repotting

Repot your African Violet if you see some leaves falling or some roots pushing out of the drainage hole. Based on experience, this plant grows relatively slowly, so expect to repot every 1-2 years. They like being root-bound; they bloom even more, so don’t be too quick to repot in a larger pot. Additionally, don’t plant them any deeper than they were previously planted, and ensure not to bury the crown or lower leaves of this beautiful plant.

While transferring to the new pot, give your Streptocarpus refreshed nutrients by adding standard commercial potting mix – instead of reusing the old medium.

Soil

When it comes to growing medium for African Violet, a standard commercial potting soil is your best bet. Peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite are ideal for the soil. Aeration and drainage are vital for this plant which is easy to moderate to care for.

Here are some exceptional growing medium options to choose from:

Photo Title Price Buy
Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting...image Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix 6 qt., Grows beautiful Houseplants, 2-Pack $12.99
Burpee, 9 Quarts...image Burpee, 9 Quarts | Premium Organic Potting Natural Soil Mix Food Ideal for Container Garden-Vegetable, Flower & Herb Use for Indoor Outdoor Plant $12.99
SUNGRO HORTICULTURE Black...image SUNGRO HORTICULTURE Black Gold 1310102 8-Quart All Purpose Potting Soil With Control, Brown/A $14.81
Miracle-Gro Potting Mix Miracle-Gro Potting Mix $16.99
FoxFarm Ocean Forest...image FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Mix Indoor Outdoor for Garden and Plants | Plant Fertilizer | 12 Quart + THCity Stake $19.99

pH

You should aim for an acidic pH of 6.5 to 6.8. Regular commercial potting soil already has a pH level near this range, so you shouldn’t be too concerned.

Should you notice any issues with your plant, you might do a pH test on the soil to determine if this is the cause.

Water

African Violet is a humidity-loving plant that needs moist soil throughout the year. They are also picky about water, so take extra care. The stems and leaves of this plant are susceptible to spots and damage, so ensure never to splash its foliage with water. Use tepid, lukewarm, or room temperature water that was allowed to stand for 24-48 hours. I also recommend bottom watering this plant to keep its healthy leaves away from water splashes.

During spring and summer, water your plant when the soil feels less moist to touch. Drench the soil until excess water drains out the hole at the bottom of the pot. If you’re using a collection tray, throw the water out to fend off root rot and other diseases.

In the winter, it’s not necessary to water as much. You should continue to deeply water your plants but do so less often.

Light

African Violet prefers bright indirect light for approximately 6-8 hours daily. Note that you’re attempting to replicate how it grows in the rainforests of East Africa. Occasionally, placing this plant in an east- or north-facing window works fine.

When its leaves are scorched, you’ll know your African Violet is getting too much indirect sunlight. Conversely, if its leaves turn dark green and thin out and its stems get leggy, the plant is not getting enough light. 

You can use LED, fluorescent lamps, and other artificial lights, but placing them 12-15 inches above the leaves of these gorgeous plants is a good idea.

Avoid putting your African Violet in direct sunlight, as this could severely damage or even kill it.

Fertilizer

Feed your African Violet if you want to give it some extra nutrient boost. Use an African violet fertilizer every other week during its growing season in the spring and summer.

Below are other plant food options you can use:

Photo Title Price Buy
Fiddle Leaf Fig...image Fiddle Leaf Fig Slow-Release Fertilizer by Perfect Plants - Resealable 5oz. Bag - Consistent Nutrient Enrichment - for Indoor and Outdoor Use on All Ficus Varieties $9.95 ($1.99 / Ounce)
Osmocote Smart-Release Plant...image Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food Plus Outdoor & Indoor, 8 lb. $28.44 ($0.22 / Ounce)
EcoScraps Slow-Release Fertilizer,...image EcoScraps Slow-Release Fertilizer, Made with Recycled Nutrients and Organic Matter, Covers up to 2,500 sq. ft., 45 lbs. $21.94 ($0.03 / Ounce)
Osmocote 14-14-14 Classic...image Osmocote 14-14-14 Classic Slow Release Fertilizer - 50 Lbs. $137.77 ($0.17 / Ounce)
Osmocote Fertilizer 15-9-12,...image Osmocote Fertilizer 15-9-12, Slow Release 3 - 4 Months, 50lbs. Bag $156.68 ($0.20 / Ounce)

When growth slows down naturally in the winter, you don’t need to fertilize.

Propagating African Violet

It is possible to propagate an African Violet with the correct methods. Here are different methods for propagating this stunning houseplant.

Stem Cuttings In Soil

One of the most convenient ways to propagate an African Violet is by cutting and planting it in soil. Typically, early spring is the best time to propagate an African Violet. Follow these steps to propagate this Streptocarpus successfully.

1. Collect a cutting. Look for a healthy part of the African Violet’s stem with newer growth and one or two nodes. Cut just below the African Violet’s nodes with scissors or gardening shears.

2. Plant the cutting. Directly plant the cutting into standard commercial potting soil.

3. Maintain the cutting. Keep the soil around your baby African Violet moist and maintain a temperature of approximately 60-70°F.

4. Rotate the cutting. For even growth in all areas of your African Violet, rotate the pot now and then. 

Division

African Violets can be cultivated through a process called division. While this approach is commonly used for crops with bulbs, tubers, stolons, rhizomes, and suckers, it may also apply to houseplants with clumping stems.

1. Dig up. Bring the plant out of its container. Always use gardening gloves when dealing with plants and soil.

2. Separate. You should be able to determine where the roots and stems naturally divide. Remove the roots where the sections meet by gently pulling them apart with your fingertips.

3. Repot. Fill new pots with the same soil as before with each piece.

Humidity And Aeration

This Streptocarpus is an elegant plant that prefers high humidity between 50%-80%.

You may consider getting a humidifier if your African Violet has curling or crispy leaves with brown edges. This device is intended to constantly release steam and significantly raise the humidity in a room.

Temperature

The ideal temperature for your Saintpaulia Ionantha is 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. This beautiful houseplant will appreciate being kept in warm locations.

More importantly, ensure you avoid any sudden rise or fall in temperatures. Do not use cold or hot water to water your Saintpaulia Ionantha so its roots won’t go into shock.

Flowers

These compact, low-growing plants flower almost year-round. Its flowers come in different sizes and colors, and the shades are available in clusters of Violet, blue, pink, red, and white flowers.

Non-Toxic

The African Violet is not hazardous to children or pets. According to the ASPCA, it will not hurt dogs or cats if consumed, and there are no toxic elements in the plant.

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Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems

In most situations, the African Violet is a disease-resistant and pest-resistant plant. However, there are certain typical concerns that might impair it, and below we’re discussing some common problems and solutions to protect your African Violet.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are an unwanted but common occurrence on these beautiful houseplants, particularly in Saintpaulia Ionantha. Spider mite damage would seem like little brown or yellow specks on your plant’s leaves at first. You may find fragile, sticky webs swarming with red bugs if there is a serious infestation.

Begin by thoroughly cleaning every part of your Saintpaulia Ionantha to expel the spider mites. This must be done in a sink, a tub, or outside. If it doesn’t work, you can smother the spider mites using insecticidal soap, neem oil, or horticultural oil.

If you have other plants in your home, you might need to quarantine your sick plants while controlling the spider mite population.

Fungus Gnats

If you see sudden wilting, yellowing, or poor growth in your African Violet, these could be symptoms of a fungus gnat infestation.

You’ll spot these gnats buzzing about your plants. Adult gnats are grayish-black in color with see-through wings, thin bodies, and long antennae. They are attracted to moist soil with a high organic matter content.

Overwatering is a common reason for the emergence of fungus gnats. Instead of watering when the soil feels less moist to the touch, delay your watering for an extra 3 days to let the soil dry out. This should kill some of the larvae at the top of the soil.

When we noticed these gnats in our hydroponics systems, we placed yellow sticky cards nearby. These traps work well for catching adults. Pour 1 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide and 4 cups of water onto the soil to destroy the larvae.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew occurs as a white cobweb-like material on the surface of your Saintpaulia Ionantha leaves, interfering with photosynthesis. The leaves will ultimately turn yellow and drop.

This illness is caused by a fungus that flourishes in warm, humid environments. Young foliage is the most vulnerable to damage. It is avoidable with proper, continuous air circulation.

Fungicides, including Bonide and Spectracide, work well against powdery mildew. Mouthwash can also be an excellent way to kill fungal spores. Mix it with water and spray it on the affected areas.

Scale Insects

Scales are insects that live off plant sap. You can tell them apart from other bugs as the mature scale will cling onto one area of the plant and remain there. These insects are called armoured scales and are brownish lumps that can grow on a plant’s stems or petioles.

To dissuade scales from latching onto your African Violet, sprinkle a mixture of one teaspoon of neem oil in 500 mL of water over the plant’s leaves.

You may also free ladybugs or lacewings near your concerned plant to take care of the problem for you!

Mealybugs

Mealybugs may infest your Saintpaulia Ionantha. These tiny parasites wear your plant out by sucking on the sap. They can also spread fungal illnesses through the honeydew they produce.

Mealybugs are visibly oval bugs that appear as cottony masses on all parts of plants. They will either remain still or creep slowly.

To fight against a mealybug invasion, take a cotton swab, soak it in rubbing alcohol, and rub it over the oval-shaped leaves or any affected areas of the pant. I also recommend neem oil mixed with water as a preventive spray.

Brown Leaf Tips

One main reason for browning edges on your African Violet’s leaves is a soil build-up of salts and minerals. This commonly happens if you apply too much fertilizer or use chemically-treated tap water.

Another reason for browning leaf tips or brown spots is the lack of moisture. Water your plant appropriately, and improve your indoor humidity.

Drooping Leaves

The leaves of your African Violet might start to droop if it’s not getting the proper amount of moisture and light that it needs. Check out our Water and Light sections above to see the recommended care practices for your plant.

Drooping leaves can also be an issue with low humidity, so check the humidity levels in your area and ensure that it matches your plant’s needs.

Yellow Leaves

A myriad of factors can cause yellowing leaves on African Violet. For one thing, a lack of light can deprive your plant of nutrients and cause its leaves to turn yellow. Another possibility is that there is an issue with underwatering, overwatering, or an uneven watering schedule.

Pull out yellowing leaves so the plant can focus its energy on growing new green leaves instead.

Root Rot

Root rot in Saintpaulia Ionantha is often caused by overwatering. Too much moisture will drown your plant or invite fungal diseases that destroy the roots.

Keeping your Streptocarpus healthy requires determining the proper quantity of fluids. Instead of restricting the quantity of water, you pour on your plant for fear of drowning the roots, you may supply a substrate that will drain and dry quickly. Mix in some chunky yet light components like perlite, pumice, river sand, bark, coco cubes, coal, and a lot more to your standard potting soil.

Of course, you must also confirm that your planter has drainage holes. Using penetrable pots made of terracotta or unglazed earthenware might help the soil dry up faster.

Similar Plants

Love African Violet? Here are other similar plant options you should try:

{{Gloxinia}}: – Known for its bright and striking flowers, this relative of African Violet is a perennial plant with a twist; they “die back” after blooming. Most Gloxinia today are hybrids cultivated to produce large numbers of bloom and are almost considered annuals.

{{Streptocarpus}}: – Hardy cousins to African Violets, these beautiful plants are appreciated for their stunning blossoms, but their leaves are elegant enough to stand alone. These plants are also known as Cape Primrose and Streps.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a frilly plant with a bit of flair, the African Violet is a beautiful choice, and its beautiful flowers are a true treat.

You can’t get enough of Streptocarpus plant guides, can you? Check out Two Peas In A Condo’s other posts and see what else we have to offer!

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