Subtropical and tropical by nature, African violet leaves are typically cup-shaped with soft, raised areas between the veins, giving the surface a "quilted" appearance. You can find indoor plants with leaves similar to the popular African violet by studying the gesneriads. While African violets are the most popular of this plant family, gesneriads include more than 2,500 species.
Try growing gloxinias, an African violet cousin in the gesneriad family, when you want loads of colorful blooms all year. The tube-shaped flowers of the gloxinia come in a variety of red, white and blue shades, and the leaves have serrated edges. The plant has a brief dormant period after blooming; speed up the process by cutting every leaf from the gloxinia except the two leaves closest to the soil.
The leaves of the Cupid’s bower variety of gesneriads have a cupped shape and fuzzy texture like those of the African violet; however, they come in darker green and red colors. The flowers on Cupid’s bower are rich shades of pink or lavender. Keep these plants moist and you will enjoy blooms from spring through fall. Don’t let the Cupid’s bower dry out, or the plant enters dormancy.
Known for having long and colorful leaves, the flame violet works well in hanging baskets. These plants have bright flowers that contrast with the colorful variety of leaves, which come in silver, copper, red, white, pink and green. The foliage, aside from the color variations and larger size, look very similar to common African violet leaves. Flame violets bloom all year without going dormant. Keep them in temperatures higher than 55 degrees Fahrenheit, however, or the plants may die.