Garden & Greenhouse


Growing African Violets

Posted April 20th, 2017 by Robin Nichols in

Growing African Violets and other indoor flowers and herbs doesn’t require much space. Depending on the size of the plant, a 2-5 inch plastic flower pots is usually adequate. Violets vary in size from micro African Violets, with a plant width of less than 3 inches to giant and trailing violets with plant widths larger than 16 inches. The normal African Violet width is from 8 – 16 inches.

Violets grow well in normal room temperature but they should never been exposed to direct summer sunlight. Strong light can cause leaf burns and can even kill violets. The correct amount of light for African violets is around 10.000 to 12.000. For example, offices usually have around 250 – 500 lux, full daylight is around 10.000 – 25.000 lux (not directly on the sun) and direct sunlight is between 30.000 and 130.000 or even 180.000 lux during summer days.

Violets can grow successfully on windowsills if they are not exposed to direct sunlight. To grow plants away from the window, supplemental lighting must be added, commonly in the form of fluorescent or LED grow lights. Incandescent bulbs as a source of artificial light are rarely used due to low energy efficiency and increased heating. It is good practice to periodically measure light intensity using light meters.

Humidity in homes is normally ranges from 40-60% and violets will grow and bloom under these conditions. Providing some open water around the plants and allowing it to evaporate increases the humidity around the leaves and is beneficial.

When watering African Violets, be careful to keep the leaves dry. Allowing them to get wet can harm them, especially during strong sunlight. Additionally, too much moisture around the roots can cause them to rot. Don’t allow them to be in standing water, even if it is in a saucer below the actual container. Violets do like moisture around the roots, but soggy soil can cause problems.

Use a potting soil designed specifically for African Violets. This soil can be purchased at any larger garden center and while it is a little expensive, an individual plant does not require a large container so the cost is still reasonable. If you don’t have access to a specialized soil a regular potting soil can be used but you will need to add and mix in sterile sand, peat moss, vermiculite and similar components to make the soil light and well aerated with good drainage and good nutrient retention.

Fertilizing should be done with liquid fertilizers once a week with a weak solution at approximately one half of the strength recommended by the manufacturer. Without nutrients, plants can’t grow, but too much fertilizer can cause root burn and even kill the plants. Food sticks or pellets are a good option if you don’t have a lot of time to care for the Violets. They can be added every few months and it is hard to over-fertilize when using them.

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