African violets or Saintpaulia are flowers native to Tanzania. These flowers require very basic care and maintenance, and can bloom indoors. If you want to brighten your living space by adding some colorful flowers, African violets can be a great choice.
Water the African violets with room temperature water – cold or hot water can damage the plant. You can also use distilled water. Do not use water that contains softeners. Water the plant when the top of the soil looks dry. It is sufficient to water the plant once every four or five days. Avoid getting the leaves wet when you water. Water must be added to the saucer, and any excess water must be drained out after about half an hour. Never over-water, as this can lead to mold problems and subsequent rotting of the flowers. Plastic pots are better than clay, because the water is retained for longer amounts of time.
To bloom, African violets need an even amount of bright light. However, the harsh rays of the sun may be harmful. It is best to place the plant near a shaded windowsill in the mornings and evenings, and to shield it from the sun when it is too hot. Also, give the pot a small turn every time you water. This will help the plant grow evenly in all directions. You can also use fluorescent lights, under which these flowers bloom beautifully, with a daily exposure of around 16 – 18 hours.
Temperature and Humidity
African violets grow best between 17º C and 24º C. A slightly lower temperature at night is preferred. Humidity should be average. Never place the plant close to ovens, cooking ranges, or in front of vents or air-conditioners.
You must regularly provide added nutrients to your African violets. Different fertilizers are available, which cater to the needs of African violets at different stages of growth. Every watering can consist of fertilizers added at the ratio of a quarter teaspoon per gallon of water.
African violets must be planted in a pot of the proper size. The recommended pot diameter is one-third the entire diameter of the plant. When the plant outgrows a pot, it must be replanted in a larger pot. However, you must avoid pots that are too large, as this will lead to lack of water absorption. Every six months or so, flush out the soil of excessive salts and minerals by pouring water and letting it drain out.
Pruning and Trimming
Regularly remove extra leaves and old, yellow leaves from the plant. Regularly tending by softly brushing the leaves, and removing dead foliage promptly will lead to healthier plants.
You can prevent most of the diseases and infections that affect African violets, by following simple measures. You must only use clean pots for planting. After tending to plants, make sure you thoroughly wash the equipment. Formation of mildew on the leaves and soil is a common problem. Proper air circulation can help prevent mildew.
Pests like mites, thrips, and mealybugs thrive on African violets. You can avoid infestation by keeping any new plants in a separate room, away from the African violets. After a few weeks, you can determine if the new plant is infested. Never use pesticides that do not guarantee safe use on African violets.