How to Grow African Violets
African Violets: A Stunning Flower Everyone Should have In Their Yard
To propagate new African violets, the most common method is to use the leaves from existing plants and grow them in water. To do this, you will need a sterilized cutting tool, a thin-necked bottle like a beer bottle that has been sterilized, and plastic wrap or a bag.
First, select a large and healthy leaf from a thriving African violet plant. Cut the leaf at a 45-degree angle, including 2 inches (5 cm) of stem, with the cut side facing upward.
Next, fill the sterilized bottle with lukewarm water and place the stem of the leaf into the bottle’s neck, ensuring that the stem is submerged in water while the leaf rests above the rim. Cover the top of the bottle and the leaf loosely with plastic to keep in the humidity.
Put the bottle in a warm area that receives a lot of filtered light and ensure that the stem is always submerged by adding water as needed. In a few weeks, the leaf cutting will begin to sprout new African violets.
A/Propagating African Violets
1/Grow a new plant in water from a leaf
An alternative way to propagate new African violets is by planting the leaf directly into soil, rather than rooting it in water. To do this, you will require a healthy leaf and 2 inches (5 cm) of stem cut from a thriving violet, a small clear plastic pot, potting soil, and a plastic cover or wrap.
Begin by filling the clear plastic pot with loose potting soil. Then, insert the cut stem of the leaf into the soil to a depth of half an inch (1.3 cm). Next, cover the top of the pot with clear plastic wrap or a cover to retain moisture.
Put the potted cutting in a warm location where it can receive plenty of filtered sunlight. You won’t need to water the cutting as long as the plastic wrap or cover keeps the moisture in.
2/Plant a leaf right in the soil
Growing African violets from seeds is another method, but it’s not as common as propagating them from cuttings. To start growing African violets from seeds, you will require seed starters, a plastic cover or wrap, a spray bottle, growing lights, and a suitable medium like milled coconut and perlite or pasteurized peat moss.
Firstly, water the medium and let it dry out until it’s moist. Then, fill the seed starters with the medium and spray the top of the medium with water. Next, sprinkle a few seeds into the top of each starter cell and cover them with plastic.
Place the seed starters about 10 inches (25 cm) below the grow lights and provide the seeds with 12 to 14 hours of light per day. If the environment remains humid due to the plastic wrap, you won’t need to water them.
3/Grow them from seeds
Knowing the right time for transplanting is crucial. Seedlings and cuttings require different timelines before transplanting.
For seedlings, wait until their leaves reach a width of 2 inches (5 cm) before transplanting.
On the other hand, if you are propagating from cuttings, the baby plants will be ready for transplanting in about eight to 10 weeks, once new leaves have grown to roughly the size of a dime.
B/ Transplanting Young African Violets
1/Determine the right time to transplant.
To transplant successfully, timing is crucial. Seedlings should reach a specific size before transplanting, whereas plants grown from cuttings are ready to be transplanted after a certain duration. For seedlings, it is best to wait until their leaves reach a width of at least 2 inches (5 cm). For cuttings, it typically takes about eight to 10 weeks for the new leaves to grow to the size of a dime, at which point they are ready for transplantation.
2/Choose the right soil
Selecting the appropriate soil is critical for African violets. These plants thrive in a slightly acidic medium, with a pH ranging from 6.4 to 6.9. Since the soil should be loose, well-draining, and permit free root development, African violets are not commonly grown in regular soil. Fortunately, many garden and home stores carry a specialized medium for African violets. Alternatively, you can create your own African violet mix by combining equal parts of perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss.
3/Select the right pot
Choosing the appropriate pot is crucial when it comes to growing African violets indoors. It is akin to providing the right home for your plants. Pots that are the right size for the root systems of these plants are best. Avoid using oversized pots as they may hinder blooming. A good guideline is to choose a pot that is one-third the size of the plant, matching the size of the root system. For seedlings or babies, a 2-inch (5-cm) pot should be adequate. When it comes to material, both plastic and terracotta pots can be used for African violets. Plastic pots need less watering, while terracotta pots allow for better air flow.
To transplant the African violets, fill the small pots with the appropriate African violet medium. Ensure that the medium is loose and not packed down. Use the tip of your pinky finger or a pencil to create a half-inch (1.3 cm) indentation in the center of each pot’s soil. Gently place each seedling or baby plant into the hole in the soil, making sure that all the leaves and stems are above the soil. Finally, cover the roots loosely with extra medium.
After planting, water the African violets by adding enough water to each pot to moisten the medium. Place the pots in a warm location that receives indirect sunlight and is humid. If there is no naturally humid location available, a humidifier can be set up in the area where the plants are growing.
C/ Caring for African Violets
1/ Water the plants when the soil feels dry
To maintain optimal soil moisture for African violets, water the plants when the soil feels dry to the touch. Over or underwatering can cause the plant to stop blooming. Use room temperature water to avoid chilling the roots, which can lead to curling of the leaves or flowers. Avoid getting water on the leaves or flowers, as this can cause rings or spots to form on the plant. If water does get on the leaves or flowers, gently dry the area with an absorbent towel.
African violets require abundant but indirect light to thrive. If they don’t receive enough sunlight, they won’t bloom. However, direct sunlight can easily scorch them, so their placement in the house is crucial. During the winter, it’s best to position the plants near a window that faces south or west in the Northern Hemisphere, or north or east in the Southern Hemisphere. During the summer, it’s preferable to place them near a window that faces north or east in the Northern Hemisphere, or south or west in the Southern Hemisphere. To provide bright and indirect light, you can use lightweight curtains to provide shade.
It’s essential to repot African violets every year as they grow best in small pots. This practice helps to accommodate their growth. While repotting, use fresh soil and select a pot that is one size larger than their current pot.