Basic Care Instructions

The following is just a few basic guide lines to get you started in your new venture of African violets. In some of the topics there are links to other various pages of mine that will provide you with additional information.

Isolation:

Regardless of the source, ALWAYS isolate newly acquired plants for at least 12 weeks to ensure they are disease and pest free. If possible in a separate room or at least a separate are or shelf in your plant room, it is also an excellent idea to keep separate tools and watering containers for all of your newly acquired plants and for that matter even leaves that you are going to root.

Light:

African Violets do best under artificial lighting. Their growth and blooming will be more consistent than if grown in natural light. They should receive 12 hours of artificial lighting per day with miniatures/semiminiatures/trailers being placed about 6-8 inches from the light and standards being placed 8-12 inches from the light. Don't be afraid to adjust the distance to accommodate individual varieties. A general rule is to provide 15 watts of fluorescent light for each square foot of growing area. Another good rule is that MORE LIGHT helps to bring a shy bloomer into flower. One of the best ways to grow your violets under artificial light is with a plant stand you can either make your own plant stand or purchase a commercially manufactured plant stand.

Watering:

African Violets will not tolerate being kept too wet. Better a bit on the dry side than too wet. You can water them from the top bottom or they may be wicked or mat watered. If you choose to water from the bottom do not allow the plants to stand in water for more than 30 minutes.

Temperature:

Not a lot to say here except to warn you that they do not like warm temperatures at all. This I have learned the hard way. Our plants are really quite delicate and they need to be kept cooler than we think, they prefer temperatures in the 70 degrees to 80 degrees range during the day and ten degrees cooler at night is what they prefer. Different varieties do better at different temperatures so if you are growing on a light stand you may want to try different varieties on different shelves to see where they like it best. The variegated varieties definitely like the cooler temperatures and have more variegation in cooler temperatures.

Humidity:

Humidity is difficult to control in the home. If plants are kept continually moist, humidity is not of paramount importance. Of course, when humidity is low, (generally during the winter) plants will dry out more quickly, and more frequent waterings are needed.

Fertilizer:

African Violets, especially trailers, are heavy feeders. I recommend that you provide a constant feed program using 1/4 teaspoon of a well balanced fertilizer (e.g. 20-20-20; 15-30-15; 12-36-14) per gallon of water. One other thing about fertilizers is to try and find one that has no urea or at least one that has a very low urea percentage. Urea it has been said, burns the tender roots of African violets. Urea free fertilizers are hard to find but they are out there, and everyone seems to be in search of the prefect fertilizer. About once a month you should top water your plants with air temperature water. This helps redistribute fertilizer and maintains uniform moisture through the soil.

Repotting:

African Violets should be repotted into a fresh soilless mix at least twice a year (miniatures/semiminiatures about 3 times). African Violets do NOT like to be overpotted. Miniatures/Semiminiatures do best in 2 inch or 2-1/4 inch pots. Mature standard size African Violets do well in 5 inch pots The rule of thumb with pot size is that it should not exceed 1/3 the diameter of the plant (not applicable with miniatures/semiminiatures/trailers). Trailers are shown in the pot that they are grown in, so what ever pot that you think a trailer looks well balanced in is fine. The pot that I like best for trailers is one of the decorative drip saucers for larger pots that I have burned or drilled a drainage hole in the bottom of. For example, if you have a standard size plant with a diameter of 12 inches, it will do well in a 4 inch pot. Also do not jump pot sizes when repotting (e.g., don't move a starter plant from a 2-1/2 inch pot into a 5 inch pot. Rather, move it up to a 3-4 inch pot. Once mature, move it up to a 5 inch pot.

Grooming:

Keep plants and plant-places clean. Wash plants from time to time in a warm water spray. Keep the fertilizer salts from building up on the top edges of the pots and potting mix. African Violets (except trailers and species) should be kept to a single crown (growing point). If suckers (off-chutes) grow out between the leaves, remove them before they become too large. Keeping yellow leaves and spent (dead) flowers removed helps to maintain a healthy plant.

Clean plants and growing areas not only look well but cleanliness helps frustrate pests and diseases.

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