I’ve heard people say that only grandmas grow African violets, but I can guarantee that you don’t have to be an octogenarian to enjoy these hardy little flowers. We sell them everyday to hip singles as well as grandmas and everyone in between.
The care of a violet is quite simple and straight forward. Give them bright light, keep them a bit on the dry side, and be careful to not get water on the leaves. Feeding regularly and a steady temperature above 65 degrees will encourage blooms to form.
Violets are sort of a two for one deal. Not only are the flowers vibrant, and beautiful, but the foliage is usually compact and showy as well. The fuzzy, oval leaves range from deep green, to lime green, and often sport streaks of white, or have light pink undersides.
An interesting botanical note: The white areas on some violet leaves are caused by a virus that destroys the green chlorophyll. Don’t worry though, this virus won’t hurt you or the plant, but it may cause the plant to require more light.
When potting, use a rich, well drained potting mix. Remove any lower leaves that are dead and brown and bury any stem that is showing. Gently scrape the part of the stem that will be buried to remove the hard outer crust, and allow roots to freely develop.
You can follow a couple of different options for containers. You may use a container with drainage holes in the bottom. Another option is to use a “self watering pot”, also known as an “African violet pot”, for planting. These containers consist of two pots nested together. The outer pot is not only decorative, but functions as a water reservoir. The inner pot, in which the violet is planted, looks solid and lacks any drainage holes. The rough clay at the base of the inner pot will allow water to slowly pass from the outer pot to the soil and roots. Test your African violet pot before planting into it.
Add water to the reservoir and insert the inner pot. Wait a day, and check to see how much water has seeped through. There should be a thin film of water across the bottom of the inner pot. Too much water in the bottom and your violet will rot. If there is no water or moisture at all, then it will wilt and dry out. Do this test right after buying an African violet pot, and return it if it doesn’t pass.
Lastly, I would like to mention the ease with which you can propagate an African violet. Take a healthy, fleshy leaf from the plant. Cut the stem off about a quarter of the way up to the leaf, and plant, cut-end down, in well drained soil. In about 3 to 6 weeks you’ll have tiny new leaves growing from the base of the mother leaf.
If treated well, your violet will reward you with regular flowering and healthy leaf growth. There are not many houseplants that bloom as often as violets do. African violets are a great plant for just about anyone and it is one of my favorites!