African violet (Saintpaulia ionantha) has a reputation as a fussy plant that can be difficult to grow, but this blooming plant with dark green, fuzzy leaves is actually a cinch to grow as long as a few basic requirements are met. African violets, available in a variety of shades ranging from blue-violet and pink to white and fuchsia, are easy to propagate as well. You can have a new plant by planting a single leaf.
things you’ll need:
- Pot with saucer and drainage hole
- Commercial potting mixture
- Sharp knife
- Clear plastic bag
- Rubber band
- Grow light or fluorescent light (optional)
- Houseplant fertilizer for blooming plants
Propagating African Violets
- Fill a pot with a mixture of half commercial potting mix and half vermiculite. Use a pot with a drainage hole in the bottom.
- Cut a leaf from a healthy African violet plant. Leave a 1- to 2-inch stem connected to the leaf. Make the cut at an angle, using a sharp, sterile knife.
- Plant the African violet stem in the pot with the leaf above the soil. Water the potting soil lightly to settle the soil around the stem.
- Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag, then seal the bag with a rubber band. Place the pot in a spot that is bright but away from direct sunlight. If the bag is securely sealed, the atmosphere in the bag will remain damp and the leaf shouldn’t need to be watered. The soil should be checked, however, two to three times per week. Water the soil lightly if it becomes dry.
- Remove the plastic bag when small plantlets appear at the base of the African violet leaf, usually about two to three months. Plant each plantlet in its own pot.
African Violet Care
- Place your African violet in bright light, but avoid direct light from a sunny window, especially during the summer. While bright light is important to successful blooming, too much direct light can scorch the leaves. A north- or east-facing window works well. African violet can also be grown under fluorescent lights or grow lights.
- Keep your African violet in a warm room with temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t expose the plant to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, as cool temperatures can cause the plant to rot. Avoid temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause slow growth and eventually damage the plant.
- Water African violets from the bottom of the pot. Place the pot in a saucer, then pour lukewarm water into the saucer. Allow the pot to absorb water through the drainage hole until the top of the soil feels damp, then pour off any water remaining in the saucer. Don’t water again until the top inch of the soil feels dry. Don’t overwater, as soggy soil will rot the African violet.
- Feed your African violet every month from spring until autumn, using an indoor houseplant fertilizer formulated for blooming plants. Withhold fertilizer during the winter unless your African violet is under bright lights and is still actively growing.