Garden Advice African Violets
The African Violet is an extremely common houseplant. The African Violet is characterized by low-growing, heart shaped hairy leafed foliage remaining fairly oval in overall shape. African Violets are available in many varieties with flowers ranging from pink to blue to the traditional violet. Foliage can range from dark green to variegated. Some plant enthusiasts shy away from growing African Violets because they are intimidated by their care. Once you learn about them and the proper care you will no longer be intimidated by their quirks.
African Violets prefer moderate to bright indirect sunlight. For best results, keep them near an east or west window. African Violets will do best with at least 8 hours of sunlight a day. If the foliage starts to yellow and the plant gets leggy looking and seems to be reaching, it’s probably not getting enough light. But, if the foliage begins to have brown spots or if the leaves begin to curl, it may be receiving too much sun.
SOIL and WATERING
Proper soil is important to the health of any houseplant. It provides the necessary nutrients and moisture as well as supplying support. This houseplant does best in a potting mix especially for African Violets. Use a slightly acidic potting mix such as Espoma African Violet Mix.
African Voilets prefer their soil semi-moist. You should allow the soil to dry out slightly in between watering. They will not thrive in wet, saturated soil. Avoid getting water on the foliage as it will leave white spots on the leaves. Using room temperature or warm water, water your African violets either directly on the soil (the preferred method) or by the bottom, (the wick method) using a water tray in which the water can be seeped up directly into the soil. If the wick method is used, be sure to flush clear water through the soil every 5-6 weeks. This will reduce the possibility of any harmful salts to build up in the soil. This houseplant likes to have some room for its roots, so make sure it has enough space to prevent becoming root bound. African Violets prefer high humidity levels and usually do well in temperatuers between 62 and 75 degrees. Try not to let the temp drop below 60 degrees. Also, try to keep them from drafts.
As with their soil, African Voilets have special plant food which is recommended. While you can use normal Miracle Gro, it is best to use Miracle Gro Blooming which contains the proper amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium which are three necessary elements. Nitrogen promotes growth, phosphorous is necessary for root development and bloom, and potassium is the catalyst that regulates the whole process. Pinch off dead blossoms and their stems to encourage new blooms.
African Violets are known to have some pest problems. Mealybugs and red spiders are the most common. Sometimes it will be best to discard the plant to avoid infecting other plants. If you want to try to save it, and begin to see a problem with Mealybug, use Bonide Eight. If red spiders are present use Bonide Mite-X. Follow the directions on the package carefully with either.