28 September 2011


I'm often amazed to read that African Violets are considered easy houseplants.  I started with one plant over 10 years ago and it took a lot of trial and error before I found success.  I now have 9 and I manage to keep them all flowering most of the year.  Each one will be flowerless 1 or 2 times a year for a month or so but fortunately it is rare for all to be flowerless at the same time.  Even with only 9 plants I spend at least a half hour each Sunday nurturing them.  Different varieties have their own little quirks but I have found a routine that works for all of them under most conditions.  Mine thrive in a window facing East & they like being on this lovely shelf that my husband created - keeps them far enough away from the window to avoid touching the glass when it is too hot or too cold.  I also have grow lights for the winter months because they like light 10 or 11 hours each day.

You want to keep water off of the leaves or they will develop brown spots.  I never had much success watering from the top so I put the plastic pot into a small bowl - the pot should be even or a bit above the bowl.  I put some stones in the bottom of the bowl which keeps them from sitting in water but still provides a little humidity, especially in the summer heat.  As an added bonus the bowls are a pretty display on their own.  I check each plant each week - if the bowl still has water or the soil is still damp, I do some pruning but add no more water.  When they do need water I put it directly in the bowl & put the plant pot back in - the amount I add is based on how dry the plant is - if the plant doesn't need water but the stones are dry, I add water just to cover the stones.  Regardless of how much water, never use cold water.  Tepid water is best.

Other than providing light and water, I also check the flowers and the leaves.  I remove all brown flowers and all leaves that are spotted or soft.  Even if all the leaves are perfect I gently cut some out when the pot seems crowded.  I have no facts to back it up but it seems that pruning the leaves helps the plant to produce more flowers.

These steps may not spell success for everyone.  And not everyone wants to put the time into a simple houseplant.  But they have become a hobby for me and I enjoy taking care of them.  I have them in the kitchen where I spend a lot of time and the violets make me happy.

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