Saintpaulia

African Violet Care

The African violet is one of the most popular flowering house plants from the saintpaulia genus. The genus has about 20 species and thousands of varieties.



These have become easier for the average home grower to produce perfect blooms, although they need to be provided with some special care and attention.


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Description

Varieties and types: The Saintpaulia is a genus comprising of approximately 20 species and subspecies, and many varietes. The A. violet has a fair few types including standard, trailers, miniatures, and chimeras (a basic way to put them into a category). The various species includes different sizes, flower colors and foliage types.

A grower needs to understand which type they have if they plan to propagate them, because the procedure is different (for the Chimera). There are actually thousands of hybrids with various flower colors/forms and leaf types available.

Basic explanation of types and sizes.

  • Standard: The standard type usually grows to around 8in - 16in diameter or possibly more, and displays most of the colors/types that African violets can bloom.


  • Miniature: The miniature is said to grow from approx 3in - 6in diameter "and they get smaller" with the micro-mini which is less than 3in. There is also the semi-miniature AV that grows from approx 6in - 8in (diameter).


  • Large: Larger sized plants could be judged as above 16in (diameter).


  • Trailing: Trailing AV plants are grown as trailers - whichever size it is. These are multi-crowned hybrids that grow well in hanging baskets, or fairly shallow pots.


  • Chimera A.violets: Chimera is a strain of A.violets that produce distinct striped petals and have to be propagated from suckers, rather than leaf cuttings. Propagating from cuttings is not likely to produce the same plant that cuttings are taken from. This is because the plant cells are genetically different, which explains why they're propagated with suckers.

Petals and leaves: There is a huge amount of various color combination's for petals, from pinks (Rococo pink) to the multi-colored double flowered Candy dandy (yep..some peculiar names indeed). The petals also have different shapes, edges, amounts - and can be double flowered.

There are also various leaf varieties which includes names such as the boy, girl, variegated (green and white), spoon, holly, serrated and lance shaped.

Blooming: Experts can keep these blooming for around 10 months or more a year - with the use of artificial lighting, correct temperatures and conditions. Basically, they can flower all year round, depending on how well they are cared for. You can expect the flowers to bloom for a few days - and up to a few weeks, although the length of time they flower depends very much on - the environment/conditions.


Light purple flowers

Facts

Origin: Eastern Africa.
Names: African violet (common). Saintpaulia (botanical/scientific) .
Max Growth (approx): Diameter (micro - 3in) -- (large - 16in).
Poisionous for pets: Non toxic dogs, cats and horses.

Blue flowers
Pink and blue flowers
White flowers with pink edges
Potted with purple stripes


African Violet Plant Care

Temperature: Room temperatures of around 65°f / 16°c --- 75°f / 24°c are ideal. Try not to allow temperatures to decrease lower than 60°f / 15.5°c and its advised to avoid cold drafts or abrupt temperature changes.
Light: The African violet thrives in bright light, although too much direct sunlight will cause leaf problems (edges turn yellow, patches, or develop holes). I have grown mine, at best - close to east facing windows, but many other people grow their's well close to the south facing side. Growers will use artificial lighting to encourage A.violets to bloom at winter time, using fluorescent lighting tubes. However, many of us (including me), do not want to use lighting 12 - 14 hours a day, when were happy enough to see the spring and summer blooms.
Watering: A big mistake is to over water these or even water them with cold water. Water too cold prevents growth, causes leaf spots and may cause a change in color. It's best to water them once they become slightly dry from the top or bottom. Any excess water at the bottom of a pot should be removed.
Soil: A fast draining soil mix is best to use. I actually use the African V soil mix because it's cheap enough and easy to find in many stores.
Fertilizer: Fertilize every couple of weeks with a balanced fertilizer that's urea-free. Or even better, a solution specifically for A.violets.
Re-Potting: Re-pot when needed (room temperature not below 70°F./21°C). I would always do this at least once every two years, or even once each year. There is no need to increase the pot size, unless it becomes pot bound.
Air Humidity: These need high humidity and plenty of gentle misting (with luke warm water, not in direct sunlight and only the leaves) for healthy growth and to flower well. You can use a humidity tray to support the correct levels that needs to have small pebbles or a layer of gravel at the bottom with water added below the surface.
Propagation: A.voilets are propagated by leaf cuttings (Chimera AVs only by suckers), placed into a potting mix.
Grooming and pruning: It's wise to remove dying leaves, flowers and the stems as soon as possible to encourage new growth. Remove new side shoots (suckers) as soon as they begin to grow as well. Removing crowns is to be done very carefully, by separation and re-potting.
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