How to Care For African Violets in Pots (A Complete Guide)


To care for African violets, plant them in small pots with loose, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Repot every few years. Being pot-bound can encourage blooming. Use pots with proper drainage and avoid overwatering. Specialty pots, such as self-watering ceramic pots, can be helpful.

African violets are popular houseplants known for their beautiful, delicate flowers and lush green leaves. They belong to the genus Saintpaulia and are native to Tanzania in East Africa.

African violet plants come in a wide variety of colors, from shades of purple and blue to pink, red, and white.

One of the benefits of growing African violets is that they can be grown in pots and are relatively easy to care for. They also have air-purifying properties, which can help to improve indoor air quality.

However, providing proper care for African violets in pots is important to keep them healthy and thriving.

This includes choosing the right pot, potting mix, watering and fertilizing them properly, providing adequate lighting, temperature, and humidity, and addressing any common problems that may arise.

Overall, African violets are a beautiful and rewarding addition to any indoor garden, and with a little bit of care and attention, they can provide many years of enjoyment.

Choosing the Right Pot for African Violets

Choosing the right pot for African violets is important to their care. Here are some factors to consider:

Size and Type of Pot

African violets prefer shallow pots that are wider than they are deep. This allows for better root development and allows the plant to spread out.

A pot that is too deep can cause the soil to stay too moist, which can lead to root rot.

Look for a pot that is about one-third the diameter of the plant’s leaves.

Pot Drainage

Choosing a pot with drainage holes is essential to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom of the pot. This can also help to prevent root rot.

Make sure to use a saucer or tray to catch excess water.

Material of the Pot

African violets can be grown in a variety of materials, including plastic, clay, or ceramic.

Plastic pots are lightweight and easy to move, but they don’t allow for air circulation around the roots.

Clay pots are porous and allow for air exchange, but they can be heavy and may dry out faster.

Ceramic pots are decorative and come in a variety of colors and designs, but they are also heavy and may not be suitable for larger plants.

Terracotta pots are a popular choice as they provide good drainage and air circulation and are lightweight.

Self Watering Pots

Self watering pots are a great option for African violets as they make watering easier and help to prevent overwatering.

These pots contain reservoirs of water that slowly release moisture into the soil over time, reducing the need for frequent watering.

They also help to regulate humidity levels around the plant.

By considering these factors, you can choose the right pot for your African violets and ensure they have the best chance of thriving.

Potting Mix for African Violets

Choosing the right potting mix for African violets is important for their growth and health. Here are some characteristics of a good potting mix:

  • Well-draining: African violets prefer a potting soil that drains well to prevent root rot. A mix with a high percentage of perlite, vermiculite, or sand can help to improve drainage.
  • Nutrient-rich: African violets require a balanced mix of nutrients to thrive. A potting mix with added fertilizer or compost can help to provide these nutrients.
  • pH-balanced: African violets prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. A pH-balanced potting mix can help ensure the plant gets the nutrients it needs.

Commercial potting mixes are available specifically for African violets, or you can make your own.

To make your own potting soil mix, combine equal parts of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite. Mix well with a small amount of lime and slow-release fertilizer.

By choosing a well-draining, nutrient-rich, and pH-balanced potting mix, you can help your African violets thrive.

Watering Potted African Violets

African violets require consistent, gentle watering to stay healthy and thrive.

Overwatering or underwatering can cause damage to the African violet plant, so it’s essential to understand the proper watering technique for these delicate plants.

Watering Frequency

The frequency of watering African violets depends on several factors, including the size of the pot, the type of potting mix, the temperature, and humidity levels.

In general, African violets should be watered when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

However, it’s crucial not to let the plant dry out completely or remain too wet for extended periods.

Watering Method

The best way to water African violets is from the bottom up.

Fill a tray with water and set the pot on the tray, allowing the plant to soak up the water from the bottom.

This method ensures that the roots are adequately hydrated without causing damage to the leaves and stems.

Importance of Proper Drainage

Proper drainage is crucial for African violets to prevent root rot and other water-related issues.

Make sure the pot has drainage holes and that excess water can drain out freely.

If the pot doesn’t have drainage holes, adding a layer of gravel or perlite at the bottom of the pot is crucial to help with drainage.

Using room temperature or tepid water for watering African violets is also essential.

Cold water can shock the roots and cause damage to the plant. Avoid getting water on the leaves and flowers, as it can cause spotting and damage.

Fertilizing African Violets in Pots

African violets are known for their beautiful blooms and lush foliage but require proper nutrients to keep them healthy and vibrant.

Fertilizing is an essential aspect of caring for African violets, and it’s important to understand their nutrient requirements and how to apply fertilizers correctly.

Nutrient Requirements of African Violets

African violets require a balanced fertilizer containing all the essential nutrients for their growth and development.

These include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as calcium, magnesium, and sulfur.

Nitrogen is essential for leaf growth and development, phosphorus is necessary for root growth and bloom production, and potassium helps the plant resist disease and stress.

Calcium, magnesium, and sulfur are also important for plant growth and health.

Types of Fertilizers

There are two main types of fertilizers: liquid and granular.

Liquid fertilizers are easy to apply and quickly absorbed by the plant, while granular fertilizers release their nutrients slowly over time, providing a steady source of nutrients to the plant.

When choosing a fertilizer for your African violets, it’s important to choose one specifically formulated for their needs.

Look for a balanced fertilizer with equal parts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and trace amounts of other essential nutrients.

Fertilizing Frequency and Dosage

African violets should be fertilized every 2-4 weeks during the growing season, which typically runs from spring to fall.

During the winter months, when the plant is dormant, fertilization can be reduced or stopped altogether.

The dosage of fertilizer depends on the type of fertilizer and the size of the pot.

Follow the instructions on the label carefully, as overfertilizing can burn the roots and damage the plant.

As a general rule, use less fertilizer than recommended, especially if you’re using a liquid fertilizer, which can be more concentrated than granular fertilizers.

It’s also important to water the plant thoroughly before applying fertilizer to prevent fertilizer burn.

Providing Proper Lighting for African Violets

African violets are popular indoor plants that require adequate light to grow and bloom.

Proper lighting is essential to keep your African violets healthy and thriving.

Natural vs. Artificial Light

African violets can be grown under both natural and artificial light sources.

However, natural light is often limited, especially in areas where the winter months are darker.

Artificial light sources can be used to supplement natural light or provide the primary source of light.

Natural Light

African violets grow best in bright indirect light. East or west-facing window are ideal because they provide bright light without direct sunlight.

Northt-facing windows can also be used, but you may need to provide some shade during the brightest parts of the day to prevent leaf burn.

Artificial Light

Artificial light sources such as fluorescent or LED lights can be used to supplement natural light or provide the primary light source.

When choosing a grow light, look for lights that provide full-spectrum lighting.

Full-spectrum lighting mimics natural sunlight and provides a balanced spectrum of light for your African violets.

African violets require a minimum of 8 to 12 hours of light per day.

The light levels should be between 1,000 to 2,000 foot candles, which is the amount of light that a candle produces at a distance of one foot.

If you are using artificial light sources, the lights should be placed about 6 to 12 inches above the plants and should be left on for at least 8 to 12 hours per day.

Common Lighting Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Not providing enough light: African violets require a minimum of 8 to 12 hours of light per day. If they do not receive enough light, they will not bloom or may become leggy.
  2. Placing the plants too close to the window: If African violets are placed too close to a window, they may receive too much direct sunlight, which can burn the leaves. Always provide shade during the brightest parts of the day.
  3. Using the wrong type of light: African violets require full-spectrum lighting that mimics natural sunlight. Avoid using incandescent bulbs, as they produce too much heat and not enough light.
  4. Leaving the lights on for too long: While African violets require a minimum of 8 to 12 hours of light per day, they also require a period of darkness to rest. Leaving the lights on 24/7 can lead to plant stress and reduced growth.

Temperature and Humidity Requirements for African Violets

African violets thrive in warm and humid conditions.

Understanding their temperature and humidity requirements is essential for keeping them healthy and promoting growth.

Ideal Temperature Range

African violets prefer a temperature range of 65-75°F (18-24°C).

Temperatures below 60°F (15°C) can slow down their growth and cause their leaves to become brittle and prone to breakage.

On the other hand, temperatures above 80°F (27°C) can cause the leaves to curl and wilt.

Importance of Humidity

African violets require a high level of humidity to thrive. Ideally, the humidity level around your plant should be between 40-60%.

Low humidity can cause the leaves to become dry, brown, and brittle, while high humidity can encourage the growth of mold and mildew.

How To Maintain Proper Humidity Levels

There are several ways to maintain proper humidity levels around your African violets.

One option is to use a humidifier to add moisture to the air. Another option is to place a tray of water near your plant or use a pebble tray.

A pebble tray is simply a tray filled with pebbles and water. The plant sits on top of the pebbles, and as the water evaporates, it creates humidity around the plant.

Misting your African violets is not recommended because it can cause water to accumulate on the leaves, encouraging mold and mildew growth.

If you do need to mist your plant, make sure to mist only the soil, not the leaves.

Pruning African Violets

African violets are beautiful houseplants that require very little maintenance.

However, they do require occasional pruning to keep them healthy and looking their best.

Pruning your African violet is not only beneficial for the plant’s health but also helps to encourage new growth and blooms.

Why Prune African Violets?

Pruning African violets is essential to maintain their shape and promote new growth. The main reasons for pruning African violets are:

  1. Promote new growth: Pruning encourages new growth in your plant, which helps to keep it healthy and looking good.
  2. Control plant size: Pruning can help control the size of your plant and prevent it from outgrowing its pot.
  3. Remove dead or damaged leaves: Pruning removes any dead or damaged leaves, which can help prevent the spread of diseases.
  4. Promote blooming: Pruning can also encourage your plant to produce more blooms.

When to Prune African Violets?

The best time to prune African violets is in the spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing.

Avoid pruning during winter months or when your plant is not actively growing.

Pruning during the wrong time of year can cause your plant to go into shock, which can harm its overall health.

How to Prune African Violets?

There are a few different methods for pruning African violets. Here are the basic steps to follow:

1. Removing Spent Blooms

To encourage more blooms, you can remove spent flowers by cutting them off with a clean, sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears.

Cut the stem just above the first set of leaves beneath the spent bloom. This will encourage the plant to produce more blooms.

2. Removing Dead or Damaged Leaves

To remove dead or damaged leaves, wait until the leaf is completely dead before removing it.

Then, use a clean pair of scissors or pruning shears to cut the leaf stem as close to the base of the plant as possible.

Be careful not to damage any healthy leaves or stems when pruning.

3. Removing Suckers

Suckers are small, leafy shoots that grow from the base of the plant. While these can look attractive, they can also take energy away from the main plant.

To remove suckers, wait until they are a few inches long and cut them off at the base using scissors or pruning shears.

Tips for Successful Pruning of African Violets

  1. Use clean tools: Always use clean scissors or pruning shears when pruning African violets. Dirty tools can spread diseases, which can harm your plant.
  2. Prune regularly: Regular pruning can help keep your plant healthy and looking its best.
  3. Don’t remove too many leaves at once: While removing all the dead or damaged leaves at once may be tempting, this can put too much stress on your plant. Instead, remove a few leaves at a time over several days or weeks.
  4. Be patient: African violets are slow-growing plants, so it may take some time for your plant to recover after pruning. Be patient and give it time to adjust.

Repotting African Violets

African violets are relatively low-maintenance plants, but they require repotting occasionally to keep them healthy and thriving.

Repotting is the process of moving a plant from one pot to another and is usually done to provide the plant with more space to grow and fresh soil to nourish it.

Signs That It’s Time to Repot

Several signs indicate it’s time to repot your African violet. If you notice any of the following signs, it’s time to give your plant a new home:

  • The plant has outgrown its current pot, and the roots are starting to grow out of the drainage holes.
  • The potting soil is compacted and hard, making it difficult for water to penetrate and drain properly.
  • The plant is not growing as well as it used to, or the leaves are turning yellow or brown.
  • The plant has become top-heavy and is tipping over.

How To Prepare for Repotting

Before you start repotting your African violet, there are a few things you need to prepare:

  • A new pot that is slightly larger than the current one. A good rule of thumb is to choose a pot that is one size larger than the current one.
  • A high-quality potting mix that is specifically formulated for African violets.
  • A watering can or spray bottle.
  • Pruning shears or scissors.

Steps for Repotting African Violets

Once you have everything you need, follow these steps to repot your African violet:

  1. Water the plant: Water your African violet plant a day or two before you plan to repot it. This will help loosen the soil and make removing the plant from its current pot easier.
  2. Prepare the new pot: Fill the new pot with fresh potting mix, leaving enough space at the top for the plant.
  3. Remove the plant from its current pot: Gently remove the plant from its current pot, being careful not to damage the roots.
  4. Inspect the roots: Check the roots for any signs of rot or damage. Trim off any damaged or dead roots using pruning shears or scissors.
  5. Place the plant in the new pot: Position it in the center of the new pot and fill the space around it with fresh potting mix. Press the soil down gently to eliminate any air pockets.
  6. Don’t water the plant immediately: Wait a few days before watering the plant to give it time to adjust.

Aftercare Following Repotting

After you have repotted your African violet, properly caring for it is important to help it adjust to its new environment.

Here are some tips to follow:

  • Keep the plant out of direct sunlight for a few days to allow it to recover from the stress of repotting.
  • Water the plant sparingly for the first few weeks to avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot.
  • If the plant has become too large and you want to propagate it, now is a good time to do so. Simply divide the plant into smaller sections and pot them individually.
  • Avoid fertilizing the plant for a few weeks after repotting to avoid overfeeding and causing stress to the plant.

By following these steps and tips, you can successfully repot your African violet and give it a new lease on life.

Remember, repotting is an important part of caring for your African violet, so be sure to do it regularly to keep your plant healthy and thriving.

Common Problems with Potted African Violets and How to Solve Them

African violets are relatively easy to care for but can still fall prey to pests and diseases.

Common Pests and How To Identify Them

  1. Spider mites: These tiny pests can suck the sap from the leaves and cause them to turn yellow and fall off. You may notice fine webbing on the plant, and the leaves may have a stippled appearance.
  2. Mealybugs: These white, cottony pests can cluster at the base of leaves or in the soil. They suck sap from the plant, which can cause stunted growth and yellowing leaves.
  3. Thrips: These tiny, black, or brown insects can damage the leaves and flowers of African violets. The leaves may have silvery streaks, and the flowers may be deformed.
  4. Fungus gnats: These small black flies can be a nuisance, but they don’t usually harm the plant. They lay their eggs in the soil, and the larvae feed on decaying organic matter.

Preventative Measures to Avoid Pests

Prevention is key when it comes to pests. Here are some steps you can take to prevent pests from attacking your African violets:

  1. Keep your plants healthy: A healthy plant is less likely to attract pests. Make sure you’re providing proper care, including the right amount of water, light, and fertilizer.
  2. Keep your plants clean: Regularly wipe down the leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust and debris. This will also help prevent pests from taking hold.
  3. Quarantine new plants: If you bring a new plant into your home, keep it isolated from your other plants for a few weeks to make sure it’s not carrying any pests.
  4. Use insecticidal soap: If you spot pests, try using insecticidal soap to eliminate them. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and only use it as directed.

Common Diseases and How To Identify Them

  1. Powdery mildew: This white powdery substance can form on the leaves and stems of your African violets. It’s caused by a fungus that thrives in damp, humid conditions.
  2. Fungal leaf spots: These black or brown spots on the African violet leaves can be caused by various types of fungi. They are most likely to appear during periods of high humidity.
  3. Root rot: Root rot is caused by overwatering, which can lead to the roots not getting enough oxygen. The plant may appear wilted, and the roots may be brown or black.

Preventative Measures To Avoid Diseases

Just like with pests, prevention is key when it comes to avoiding disease in African violets. Here are some steps you can take to keep your plants healthy:

  1. Water properly: Watering is one of the most important aspects of African violet care. Make sure you’re not overwatering, which can lead to root rot and other diseases.
  2. Provide proper light: African violets need bright, indirect light for optimal health. Make sure you’re providing enough light for your plants and rotating them occasionally to prevent leggy growth.
  3. Provide proper humidity: African violets need higher levels of humidity than other houseplants, so try misting them regularly or using a humidifier.
  4. Quarantine new plants: If you bring a new plant into your home, keep it isolated from your other plants for a few weeks to make sure it’s not carrying any diseases.

Treatment Options for Pests and Diseases

Treatment options are available if you encounter pests or diseases on your African violets.

Here are a few things to try:

  1. Neem oil: This organic pesticide can be effective against a variety of pests, including spider mites and mealybugs.
  2. Insecticidal soap: This soap can be used to treat pests like thrips and whiteflies.
  3. Fungicide: If your African violet has a fungal disease, like powdery mildew, a fungicide may be necessary to treat it.
  4. Hydrogen peroxide: If you notice mold or fungus in the soil, you can try using a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide to kill it.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to pests and diseases.

By providing proper care and taking steps to prevent pests from taking hold, you can help keep your African violets healthy and beautiful.

Final Thoughts

African violets should be planted in small pots and repotted every few years to mix in fresh soil. The soil should be loose and well-drained, with high organic matter content.

African violets don’t do well in pots that hold water because they keep the growing medium damp and encourage root rot. It’s important to keep the soil moist but not too wet, and to water from the bottom to avoid getting the leaves wet, which can cause spotting or rotting.

African violets prefer bright indirect light and should be fertilized regularly with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer.

Being a bit pot-bound encourages African violets to bloom more, so don’t be too quick to give them more space.

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