African Violet Care

How To Grow African Violets (Saintpaulia)

What is an African Violet?

African Violet (Saintpaulia) plants are a popular species of houseplant, native to East Africa. Known for their striking resemblance to violets, African Violets have become a household favorite due to their resilience and easiness to grow. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned grower, African Violets are a joy to work with and look at. 

Generally, African Violets will grow anywhere from 2” to 6” tall and 2” to 12” wide. However, there are some giant African Violets out there, with diameters well over a foot. African Violet leaves have tiny hairs and a lush green appearance. They also typically have 5 or more petals, each with an elegant look. We recommend these amazing plants to both beginner growers and experienced growers alike. Not only are they beautiful, they are usually inexpensive as well.

How long do African Violets typically live?

Theoretically, African Violets can live indefinitely. In practice, if well cared for, African Violets can easily live for decades. It all depends on how well they are taken care of. The reason African Violets decline is usually due to grower error, not because of the plant itself.

To ensure that your African Violet lives a long and healthy life, it is important to learn the necessary care information for these wonderful plants.

Do you need to repot African Violets?

Yes! You absolutely should repot your African Violet to ensure it lives a long, happy life. It's not healthy to keep your plant in the same mix it has been in for years. Mold, decay, and bugs can start to destroy the once healthy living environment your African Violet thrived in. For best results, repot your African Violet every six months to a year in fresh mix. It will make a world of difference. Check out our step by step guide on how you repot an African Violet.

Can I really grow a new plant from an existing leaf?

African Violet Fertilizer Care

Yes you can! This method is called propagation by leaf, and we have a guide on it here. Creating new violets from leaves is a great way to expand your collection without the need to buy more plants. Plus, it’s just a fun hobby!

What temperature should I keep my African Violets in?

African Violets enjoy growing in temperatures ranging from 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. When in doubt, it is safer to be warm then cool when it comes to these plants. For more information on climate control for your African Violets, click here.

Should I fertilize my African Violets?

Much like with Orchids, we recommend that you fertilize your African Violet regularly. Fertilizer helps deliver important nutrients that are essential for strong root growth, healthy leaves, and beautiful blooms. We carry a popular, balanced, 20-20-20 fertilizer, as well as a phosphorus rich (encourages more flowers) 12-36-14 fertilizer for African Violets. 

For more information on fertilizing your African violets, please visit our page on Feeding your African Violet.

What are these colors on my African Violet leaves?

Well, it depends on the color. If your leaves are showing a brown color, they likely are getting too much sunlight. If you’re seeing yellow leaves at the top of your African Violet, chances are it’s just because the leaf is about to die off to create space for new foliage to grow.

If the leaves lower on your African Violet are turning yellow, often the plant either isn’t being watered correctly or hasn’t been getting enough fertilizer. Other colors you may see include white, gray, orange, and black. To see what those different colors mean, check out our colored leaves page here.

Can I grow my African Violets outdoors?

We wouldn't recommend growing African Violets outdoors for a few reasons. First, most climates don’t support outdoor growing for African Violets year round. Either the environment is too cold or not humid enough for their liking.

Also, lighting can be an issue. We want a lot of indirect sunlight for our African Violets to thrive. Often when placed outdoors, it’s incredibly hard to moderate how much light your African Violet receives. We want to avoid direct sunlight as much as possible, and this can become a daunting task outdoors. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, insects are a major obstacle when planting outdoors.

Simply put, bugs can make your life (and your African Violets life) miserable. They can kill your plant and/or bring pests into your home when you decide to move your African Violet indoors. This isn’t to say it’s impossible to grow your African Violet outdoors in certain climates with great conditions, but as a rule of thumb, think of African Violets as indoor plants.

How much light/darkness does my African Violet need?

Typically, we want our African Violets to get a full day (11-14 hours) of indirect sunlight. Recall, indirect sunlight is not the same thing is direct sunlight. Indirect sunlight refers to placing your African Violet in a bright windowsill or somewhere else where the sun won’t be beaming down on it directly.

At night, let your African Violet relax in the dark. Darkness acts as a bloom cue for these plants, so it’s important that they get an ample amount of time without bright lights. We recommend no less than 8 hours of darkness each day.

Read more about African Violet lighting here.

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