African violets are said to be the most popular flowering house plants in the world. Many people are convinced that they are difficult plants, but given the correct basic care they will flourish.
The flowers may be single through to double and come in a wide range of colours including red, white, pink, blue, purple, and many shades and varieations of these colours.
Watering - Water thoroughly with tepid water when the potting mix looks or feels dry, and wait until it again feels dry before repeating. Do not water routinely "every Monday" nor leave the plant sitting in a saucer of water. Watering can be done from the top, bottom or by wick watering.
Potting Mix - African violets need a light, loose, porous mix to allow the fine roots to spread, and the passage of water and air. For wick watering a soil less potting mix is recommended (this is usually only available from specialist african violet growers)
Light - Good bright light, but not direct sunlight, for 10 - 12 hours per day is needed to stimulate flowering. Finding the right area in your home will be dependent on trees and shrubbery outside the windows, overhanging eaves and the aspect of your house. So move your plants around until you find their favourite spot. Turn plants regularly to ensure even growth. Fluorescent lights may be used for 8 - 10 hours a day if natural light is inadequate.
Fertilising - There are quite a few fertilisers on the market specially formulated for African Violets. Plants can be fertilised with each watering, but always follow the instructions on the label. Consult you african violet grower for their recommendation.
Temperature - African Violets enjoy similar temperatures to you and I. 18 - 25 degrees C is ideal. If you are growing your plants on a windowsill protect them from excessive heat during summer, also the cold nights of autumn and winter, perhaps with curtains and blinds or a sheet of cardboard between the plants and the glass.
Pot size - African Violets do best in shallow pots, the diameter of which should be roughly 1/3 the size of the plant. A 4" squat pot is idel. Repotting needs to be done at least once a year into fresh mix, usually in spring or late summer.
MORE TO COME