African Violet Care
What window exposure is best? African violets should grow well in any window with good bright light, not shaded by a porch or trees. In south-facing windows, protect violets from hot sun in summer with sheer curtains or blinds. African violets do well in a south window in the winter. For east and west windows, check to see that plants do not get too warm when the sun is in that area. North windows will provide sufficient light to bloom most of the year. Keep plants close to the window for maximum light. An African violet on a table in the middle of a room may look pretty, but may not receive sufficient light to keep blooming.
What about fluorescent light? If you do not have bright window light, then fluorescent fixtures are the answer. Special plant bulbs, called “grow lights,” also produce an attractive plant. The optimum distance from pot to light is 8 to 12 inches.
How often should I water my African violet? The best guide is to feel the top of the soil: if it is dry to the touch, then it is time to water. African violets should be allowed to dry out between each watering to encourage blooming. Overwatering can kill a plant.
Should I water from the top or bottom? Either is fine. It is important not to use cold water; lukewarm or warm is preferred. If you water from the top, be careful not to get water on the leaves when the plant is in the sun; this is to avoid leaf spots. If you water from the bottom, the excess water should be discarded after the plant has taken up all it needs. Do not allow an African violet to sit in water indefinitely.
What size pot is best? Over potting will delay bloom. The usual recommendation is that the pot diameter should be one-third the spread of the leaf span. For example if the plant’s leaves measure 9 inches from one leaf tip to the opposite leaf tip, use a 3-inch pot. Violets bloom best when they are potbound.
Which is better, a clay, glazed or plastic pot? Either is suitable. Plastic pots can be kept cleaner and will hold moisture longer. Clay pots allow the air to penetrate to the roots, which is beneficial, but they dry out faster, and salt may build up on clay pots, rotting violet leaves resting on the top rim. Glazed ceramic pots offer the best of both worlds. The glaze helps hold moisture, and prevents salt build up on the rim. Plus, they are self watering from the bottom and there are many pretty colors to go with your decor.
What brand of fertilizer should I use? Feed African Violets every 2 weeks with Jack’s Classic African Violet. If organic gardening is your thing, use Fox Farm Big Bloom. Regular feedings will enhance color, quality and quantity of blooms.
Tips: Pinch off spent blossoms and blossom stems to encourage development of new blooms. Place plants away from floor vents, fans, or entrance doors to avoid air drafts and bursts of cold air.
Now that’s ‘advice you can grow with’!