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A GUIDE TO NORTHEASTERN GARDENING: Feature Indoor Plant Profile: African Violet


This Month in the Garden: Feature Indoor Plant

Welcome to This Month in the Garden! Today we talk about African Violet (Saintpaulia ionantha), one of the most common houseplants in the world known for their distinct rosette of fuzzy leaves, range of flower colors and ease of care. First discovered in 1892 in the tropical rainforests of the Usambara mountains near the border of Tanzania Africa, the first commercial varieties all with blue flowers were introduced into the market in 1927. In 1942, the first pink variety was introduced, followed by a white blooming variety, followed by the first single blooming crown cultivated in Germany. African Violet are also valued as being one of the best houseplants for purifying the air. These small, perennial plants have captured the hearts of plant enthusiasts worldwide. 

Types of African Violets: African Violets come in various flower forms, including single, semi-double, and double blossoms. They display an array of colors such as purple, pink, blue, and white, offering choices to suit different preferences. Leaf shapes vary in a number of forms from regular (plain) to round to ovate, scalloped, heart-shaped, and serrated to name a few and color of the foliage can range from light to dark green to silver, watermelon and deep pink depending on the variety. Sizes of African Violet range in diameter between 2 and 6 inches in width depending on the particular cultivar.

Soil Type & Potting: Proper soil is key to African Violet care. A well-draining, lightweight potting mix specifically formulated for these plants is recommended. African Violet prefer to be confined in their container, so use of a four- or six-inch pot is preferable. 

Temperature, Lighting & Watering: African Violet grow best at room temperature, between 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and thrive in bright, indirect light, such as under a skylight or in a northern or eastern window, making them ideal for homes or offices with filtered sunlight. While they prefer a consistently moist environment, overwatering can lead to root rot. It’s crucial to water them from the bottom or use a self-watering pot to prevent water from touching the leaves. Use of filtered or distilled water is best.

Propagation: Propagation is best achieved through leaf cuttings, and rooting usually takes between four and six weeks. Select a healthy, mature leaf, trim it, place the stem into rooting hormone and plant in a light potting mix. With proper care and patience, new plants will emerge, providing an opportunity to expand your collection or share with fellow plant enthusiasts.

Maintenance: While African Violets are generally low maintenance, they do benefit from occasional grooming. Regular deadheading promotes continuous blooming and keeps the plant looking tidy. Remove any yellow or damaged leaves, and periodically rotate the pot to ensure even growth. Keeping the plant’s environment clean helps prevent common issues like pests and diseases. To promote healthy growth and blooms, fertilize regularly with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer designed for African Violets.

Folklore: African violets are often associated with sentiments of faith, love, loyalty, devotion and commitment. They symbolize delicate beauty and are considered tokens of affection. The flowers come in various colors, each carrying its own meaning. Purple symbolizes spirituality, blue for peace and royalty and pink for innocence, while white signifies purity. Additionally, African violets are thought to bring good fortune and positive energy, making them popular as gifts to express care and appreciation. In many cultures, African Violet have been used as an amulet to promote protection and spirituality in the home.

African Violets are delightful, versatile plants that bring beauty to indoor spaces. With a bit of attention to light, water, and soil, these charming houseplants will reward you with a profusion of blooms. Whether you’re a seasoned plant enthusiast or a beginner, African Violets are an excellent choice for adding color and elegance to your indoor space. 

I hope you enjoyed This Month in the Garden. Be sure to stop by on the 1st. and 15th. of each month as I continue to share gardening tips, information and horticultural adventures! 

“As Always…Happy Gardening!” 

Author: Lee @A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2010-2024. All rights reserved. 

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