African violets are popular houseplants due to their easy care and wide range of available colors and patterns. They are fairly small plants and do very well in homes that have limited space. Learning more about the care of African violets can help you decide whether this houseplant is a good match for your home.
Place your African violet on a windowsill or plant stand that will get good light, but avoid placing them in direct sun, which can burn them. During the summer, a north- or east-facing window is ideal. If you notice thin dark leaves and long leaf stems, the plant is not getting enough light, but small, wrinkled leaves and shortened stems indicate too much light.
Pot your African violet in a container with drainage holes, and use a potting mixture that is a combination of sphagnum peat, soil and perlite. The soil should be damp when you pot your plant. Center the violet in the soil and fill the pot, leaving about ¼ inch clearance from the rim of the pot for watering. When you go to repot your African violet, allow the leaves to wilt first to reduce leaf loss.
Watering African violets is a matter of some controversy, according to Purdue University. The leaves and flowers of the plant need to stay dry when it is being water. The soil may be dampened with a watering can with a narrow spout, or water may be poured into the saucer underneath a pot with drainage holes. The plant should be watered whenever the top of the soil feels dry to the touch.
African violets only need to be fertilized occasionally. When you notice slow growth or leaves that are a more faded green than they were, it is time to fertilize. A water-soluble fertilizer that is formulated for blooming houseplants can be used for this purpose. When an African violet is being kept dormant during the winter, it does not need to be fertilized at all.
While African violets do require moist soil, overwatering will result in the death of the plant. The African violet breathes through its roots as well as taking water through them, and too much water in the soil will cause the plant to drown.