when to transplant african violets

roelfoAugust 21, 2006

I am NEW to the

African violet world. I have three that have done well in the past year since I purchased them for 1.50 at our supermarket. They are blooming beautifully right now. They are still in the little plastic pots that they had when I purchansed them. My question is this: When do I transplant them? Must I wait until the blooming has stopped or can they be transplanted now? What size pot should I use? One that is barely larger than the one they have or can I use one that's about 3 times as large? Also, what suggestions do people living in the cold midwest have for keeping them happy during the long, gray winter days?

Thank you,


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Hi Roelfo,

First, welcome to the world of African violets. They are really cool plants as you would expect somebody in the African violet forum to say.

There are a couple of reasons that dictate when to repot your violet. It has outgrown its pot, or it's been six months since the last repotting.

The first reason that the violet has outgrown its pot is this. Rule of thumb is that the pot should be one third the diameter of the plant from leaf tip to leaf tip. That is a 9 in. violet would have a 3 in. pot. A 6 in. violet would have a 2 in. pot and so on. African violets like to have their roots constricted. They bloom much nicer if they do.

The second reason is a tough one to convince people and if you are not going to show the plant and it is blooming nicely maybe waiting one year is fine enough. The reason for repotting at around the six-month time period is that most African violet soils contains some spagnum. After six months the spagnum starts to become acid as part of its breaking down process. When the pot gets too acid it inhibits the ability of the plant to pick up nitrogen. You say that it's been over a year since you bought the plants and they are blooming beautifully right now. That just goes to show the rules aren't necessarily hard and fast.

There is another reason to repot the plant at least by the end of a year is that the neck starts becoming long and bare. It makes the plant looked unsightly and can start to affect how nicely it will bloom.

Personally, I would wait until there is a lull in the blooming. Repotting usually gives the blooms a hard time. I always have a difficult time repotting when the plant is so pretty with flowers on it.

As far as what to do in the wintertime, try to put it in as bright of light as possible without sunburning the plant. An east or west window or even south for that matter, where the plant does not get any direct sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is optimal. Otherwise, there is not much one can do as far as the duration of light is in the winter unless he or she is willing to use artificial light.

I hope this helps. If you have any other questions don't be shy. Ask away.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 1:56PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi Larry,

What a wonderful job you did answering this post!

I grow some AVs, & prop them well, but they never bloom for me; yet their progency go on to bloom for my sister & her benign neglect. So I am always looking to try & learn better what to do (what not to do) & how to bloom.

Really generous & nice of you to put the time & thought into this query. That whole business of the sphag. breaking down was completely new to me. I learned a lot here. Thanks for your efforts on this.

Your C&S friend,

(PG) Karen

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 1:34PM
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Oh shucks, Karen, (me blushing). I have been growing african violets since 1979. I guess I have been paying attention along the way. I'm always glad to answer questions like this. Violets are a little more maintenance than other plants, but well worth the little extra effort. There is a myth that African violets are hard to grow. They really aren't. They just have a few things that they like before they perform well. Good light, good food, the right amount of water, moderate temperatures and constricted roots. If you can give them those they will do wonderfully for you.

Sometimes it seems that people can grow violets with total neglect. The neglect may be real, but if that neglect is within the minimum of what a Violet likes it will perform.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 1:15AM
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Hi larry b, I just read your post a few minutes after posting a couple of questions about rooting.Thank you for all that good information. Im 87 years young and having to slow down gardening outside so looking for things that are pretty to grow sitting down when I get to that stage in life.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 3:42PM
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Hi dangsr2,

You are very welcome! I have a mother-in-law down in Florida who is 87 years young. She lives in Sarasota. I know a little bit about slowing down myself. I became disabled a few years back. My gardening is now all done inside while I'm sitting down, too.

Good luck with your violets,


PS - We are watching Ernesto with interest. At the moment it looks like it will go out into the Gulf, but with hurricanes one never knows.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 8:43AM
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Good morning larry b, read your post and thought I would let you know that I am in Tallshassee, and not yet down so I cant do a little outside work as it takes very little walking. I still do a little gardening in buckets but want to get going with violets inside so I can enjoy growing them and enjoy their beauty. They do brighten the little space they take up. As for that storm I dont want any part of it, hope it just dies and goes away. TAKE CARE.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 10:35AM
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