Can Anyone Give Me A Few Basics on How to Care for These Beauties

nicolesnyderSeptember 11, 2007

I am just looking for a short list of dos and dont's (if there is such a thing). Nothing too complicated. I was given an African Violet and repotted it out of the store pot into a better one. It is doing well now, and has a bunch of flowers. I have been watering it by allowing it to suck up water from the tray under the pot. Is that right?

I've had this plant before, but never done well with it, and since this one seems to be doing good so far, I want to try to keep it that way! Any tips you can give me would be really appreicated!! I really know almost nothing about this plant!


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Hi, Nicole,

Welcome to the forum! Everyone will refer you to the website called Rachels Reflections. She has information on just about any aspect of violets you want to know.

It's ok to bottom water, just make sure that after about 15 minutes you dump any remaining water. That keeps the soil from being waterlogged and possibly rotting the roots.

Most growers will recommend a potting soil of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 perlite. This is a good light mix that helps not to overwater. If you use a commercially prepared African violet potting mix, it has too much peat in it and should be cut to the 1-1-1 mix.

Good luck!


Here is a link that might be useful: rachel's reflections

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 10:10PM
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pacnwgrdngirl(z8 WA)

I might start hanging out here too. Thanks for the excellent link. My mom and mother-in-law have always grown gorgeous violets for years. My mom gets all of these outrageous ones at the Portland African Violet Show every year too. She has an amazing collection. I have never been able to grow these! I now actually have three that I bought early in the summer and have managed to keep them looking good. We trade rose cuttings, bulbs, tubers, and lots of other stuff. I want my mom to propagate some of her really cool violets for me. Have to make sure I can grow them well first though. They are a challenge to me. I have a green thumb at everything else, just not these!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 11:23AM
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Hi, Nicole!
I don't have much advice to give considering I'm nursing my African Violet back to health after almost drowning it LOL, but I just wanted to say-- don't do what I did and your plants should be fine :) Let the soil get *almost* dry between watering and use a good fertilizer... my mother, who kills just about every other plant in the world, grows amazing AVs and I think the reason she kills all the others is because she tends to forget to water them :) So there, my tip for you-- don't be like me :)

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 6:15PM
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violetta1976(8 Portland OR)

pacnwgrdngirl -

Portland African Violet Show? I need to hear more about this!!!! Do you have a link or any more information you can provide?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 7:54PM
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Here's a page that I hand out when I speak to clubs. Hope it helps.

Some basic African violet care

1. African violets are very much like human beings. They prefer growing in similar conditions. The plants prefer temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit with a relative humidity of approximately 50%. They enjoy bright indirect light as opposed to direct sunlight.
2. African violets grow well in light airy soil less mixes. The mix should be one that allows the roots to penetrate to the edge of the pot. It should not be so heavy that it retains so much water to make the mix soggy. More African violets are killed by over watering than any other method. A simple recipe that many growers use is equal parts of peat moss (or potting soil without any fertilizer), coarse vermiculite and coarse perlite. A handful of horticultural charcoal may be added to sweeten the mix if desired.
3. Light plays an important part in violet culture. Plants need between 10 and 12 hours of indirect light a day. This may be obtained either naturally or by artificial means. East or west exposures are good. Northern windows frequently are not strong enough but can be adequate if some artificial light is added to extend the light period. Southern exposures are much too hot in the summer and tend to burn leaves unless the are shaded by a sheer curtain or dappled light from an outside source. Fluorescent lights are ideal. Plants should be approximately 12 inches from the top of their crown to the light bulbs. Cool white, Gro Lux, Gro Lux WS, Vari Lux and combinations of cool and warm bulbs make plants grow beautifully
4. African violets need a constant source of food since they are potted in a soil less mixture that has little or no nutrient value. Most growers keep their plants on a constant feed system. They fertilize every time they water with a dilute mixture of fertilizer usually about half the manufacturer recommendation. The fertilizers use a three number system. The first number is for nitrogen, which promotes leaf and plant growth. Second is phosphorous which helps promote bloom and the final number is potassium which is included for general health.
5. Standard size violets should be repotted every 9 months to a year while semis and minis every 4 to 6 months. The rule of thumb for pot size is to go up a size when the crown of the plant is more than three times the size of the rim of the pot. So if the crown is 9 inches across it can go into a 3-inch pot. A large 18-inch plant can be put into a 6-inch pot. Most minis and semis do best in 2 to 2 inch pots. Since violets have shallow root systems, squat pot or azalea pots are ideal.
6. There are some diseases that can give a grower problems so it is always advisable when bringing a new plant into your home to ISOLATE the plant for at least a month before putting it with any of your other plants. Some of the problems that can occur are thrips, soil and foliar mealy bugs, cyclamen mites and powdery mildew. Each problem has its own cure from spraying to a systemic.
Fred in NJ

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 10:25PM
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pacnwgrdngirl(z8 WA)

Hi there violetta! My mom and aunt go to the African Violet Society Shows in Portland. I googled it and couldn't come up with anything. She has gotten some amazing plants there. I will ask her about it and let you know.

A quick ? ~
Right now my violets in in a West facing window doing well. I have very low light in the winter. (Almost NO light!) I can hardly grow any houseplants. What about grouping my 4 violets underneath compact flor lights on a timer? Will that be OK? How long should I set it for? Excellent tips Fred, thank you.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 1:33PM
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violetta1976(8 Portland OR)

"What about grouping my 4 violets underneath compact flor lights on a timer?"

That's pretty much what I'm planning on doing. I have a compact flor bulb in a table lamp that's on a timer and my AVs have been responding to it really well, so I'm going to get a few more bulbs and put them in my 5-arm floor lamp since I'm not using that lamp for anything else.

My AVs are on a big set of wire shelves right in front of a south-facing sliding glass door, but once the winter greys settle in here I doubt they'll get enough natural light to keep them going.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 2:04PM
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