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- 1 African Violet Care and Information
- 2 AFRICAN VIOLET CARE AND GROWTH
African Violet Care and Information
African violets are always catchy to eyes. Violets are available in a range of colors that will thrive in your home. These lovely blooms are the world’s most cherished house plants. These clusters of white, blue, or purple flowers symbolize loyalty, faithfulness, and devotion. Their fuzzy leaves and splendid colorations will bright up your home environment and have a kind of magic to put a smile on your face. Even gazing at the plant (simulate adrenaline release and oxygen flow to the brain) can make you feel calmer and relax. African violets are natural air purifiers, they filter the air from benzene and other toxic chemicals and helps you breathe easily.
Read on, to know more about African violets and the care of these stunning plants.
ORIGIN AND SPECIES
African violets originated from Tanzania, in East Africa. The native habitat of African violets, the coastal forest of Kenya, Tanzania, and the forest of eastern arc mountains, are disappearing. African Violets are threatened with extinction in their native lands by the rate of cutting down the trees for agriculture. These little plants can’t bear strong unobstructed light, as they thrive in filtered or low light. When the trees are removed, plants are exposed to unfiltered sunlight. This direct sunlight burns up these ground-hugging violets.
These are actually not violets, called so because of their resemblance to violates. These all are “Saintpaulias” having about 16000 cultivars, 9 species, 8 subspecies and 2 varieties. Saintpaulia Ionantha is most prevalent among all. Near all the species and subspecies of African violet except Saintpaulia Ionantha are either vulnerable, threatened or critically endangered. All the species have fuzzy leaves and violet-like flowers while wild species have splashes of color on flowers. All these spectacular emerges are the result of crossbreeding between the cultivars.
No matter which species of African Violet you want to grow, the care for them remains same.
WIT & WISDOM
- African violets are edible flowers.
- It is easy to grow. A perfect choice for beginners!
- Little dainty flower blooms nearly around the year, giving your home a spectacular look.
- It has a magical power, gazing at this plant can reduce stress.
- It is an energetic plant with a heart-shaped structure as a sign of love.
- African violet is a traditional gift on Mother’s Day.
- As violets are February birth bloom, it can make a cheerful gift for a friend’s February birthday.
- Your pets can nibble it with no harm. The plant is a nontoxic, safe choice for your pets and children.
- It can grow under artificial lights
- There is a myth that; “Water hurts the plant!”, water is not a problem, but the temperature of the water is.
- Have hair on leaves that give a velvety appearance and these hairs can absorb water from the surrounding air.
- It can be propagated through leaf cuttings or some species produce sucker branches.
- Removal of the spent blossoms will boost up the growth of new blooms.
- It will produce more flowers in small pots, using its energy in flowering rather than growth.
- You can create a fancy combination of colors of your choice by hybridization.
AFRICAN VIOLET CARE AND GROWTH
African violets thrive in soil conditions from moist to dry but don’t like soggy soil. Apply water when the soil seems dry. Watering form bottom and room temperature water proves safest, as the direct contact of leaves with water can cause spots on leaves. Allow the plant to absorb water from the bottom by placing the pot in water. Don’t over-water your plant as more moist conditions endorse pathogen growth or can leave your plant in shortage of nitrogen subsequently leads to denitrification.
To water your African violet, consider the following parameters:
The temperature of the water must be equal to the temperature of the air around the plant (not very cold or hot). Roots of plants are sensitive to cold water. As the plant absorbs too cold water, it chills the root system and ultimately leaves curl down, thus tepid water is best suited.
To avoid wetting the leaves, watering from the bottom is preferred. It is important to note that water should not come in contact with the leaves directly as it results in leaf spotting and these brown spots are not easy to remove. You may use a tray containing water and place your pot in it for an hour.
Misting the area with a spray bottle increases humidity and it doesn’t leave behind large molecules of water on the leaf to cause brown spots.
Many types of self-watering devices are available and each provides the water in the amount, reducing the risk of fungal attack or rotting of the plant. These devices follow bottom watering methods thus reduces the possibility to cause leaf spots by top watering.
Water hardness alters both the pH or EC (electrical conductivity) in the soil. As the salinity increases African violets diminish the ability to uptake nutrients and water. If you have soft/saline water, try to find another source.
Most urban areas have chlorine added to their water supply. Although chlorine is needed for photosynthesis but in a little amount. If the choline is discernible by the smell in water, then it is too much for your little plants. Such an amount of chlorine can reduce flowering. If you have no alternative to this, fill water in a container and let the gas(chlorine) escape overnight.
Light is essential for African Violet care. It’s necessary for photosynthesis (the process of producing plant carbohydrates to feed the plant). Plants can’t survive in complete darkness as it will lead to starvation. The African violets thrive in low or indirect light. Direct light can burn up your plant.
- Violets require bright, indirect light for about 10 hours and 6-8 hours of darkness, daily. If the light is less than the required amount, the plant will stop flowering, become rangy and start turning the leaves beige.
- For a sufficient amount of light, a window with western/southern exposure is recommended. To filter light, sheer curtains or light filtering blinds prove useful.
- For African Violets, use a luminosity of 10,000 – 12,000 lux.
- Turn your indoor violet’s pots frequently so that each side will get light. African violet is phototrophic, if not rotated the side facing the window will elongate in the direction of light.
- Direct sunlight on African violets can turn the variegated leaves to totally green or cause leaves curling downward. The plant also shows symptoms like brown patches leaving a sunburn effect.
- During winters, make sure your violet receives more sunlight than it usually gets.
- Grow lights help African violets when sunlight is insufficient.
- It’s much easier for many people to grow this plant indoors with grow lights. This allows you to control the light which your plant receives to maximize blossoming and healthy growth.
Using full-spectrum lights allows you to maximize blooming and growth. You can control the light optimally as red and blue light, are essential for flowering and photosynthesis, respectively.
- Full-spectrum LEDs will provide a range of shades of light and by choosing a certain range you can stimulate the growth.
- Using full-spectrum lights you can focus on any character you want to stimulate, either blossoming or growth, with simple adjustments.
- It’s important to note that placing grow lights too close to an African violet plant can cause leaf burn similar to when exposed to direct sunlight.
- Make sure, your plant receives at least 8 hours of dark period or light period, no more than 16 hours.
- Grow lights can cause leaf blanching which can only be treated by placing your violet in sunlight.
African violets thrive in a pleasant environment. They like the temperature of about 70 °F. If you feel comfortable so does your violets will. African violets can’t bear extreme fluctuations, keep the temperature not less than 60°F or more than 80°F.
A temperature below 60°F will slow down the growth and reduce blooming. These deadly conditions cause wilting of the plant. With high moisture, it indorses pathogenic growth i.e. crown rot. African violets are usually placed indoors because the temperature there is often kept in the optimal range.
Temperatures above 80°F will result in dry and shriveled leaves, disrupt flowering, flower drop-off and growth become rangy. It will affect the evaporation and transpiration rate. Try to provide a cooler environment to your plant with proper watering, fertilizer and air circulation in these hot conditions.
In its native environment, the humidity is nearly 70-80%. This proves difficult to keep in most homes, so aim to maintain 50-60% humidity around your violets. In less humidity, your violets will transpire more and as a result cause dryness of leaves, unopened buds, and slow plant growth. To create a microclimate, place your violets together which will increase the humidity up to 15% around the plants. You may use a self-watering device that helps maintain the level of humidity or simply place a container filled with water near your plants. Alternatively, use a warm and cool-mist humidifier in winter and summer, respectively.
While maintaining humidity, African Violets also require proper air circulation to prevent the growth of fungi.
POTTING AND REPOTTING
For best growth use well-drained soil having a pH in a range of 6-6.5. The right potting mix contains 3 ingredients perlite, peat, and vermiculite. It helps in boosting up growth and development. You can purchase a pre-made potting mix or make your own at home. A mature plant requires a pot of 5-6 inches in diameter.
An African violet plant needs to be repotted when it outgrows its pot. Shift your plant in a larger pot but avoid disturbing the roots to ensure it continues blooming. Most successful growers repot African violates every 6 months. If the leaves begin wilting, it’s time to move to another pot.
Providing your African violets with care, love and a dose of fertilizer as needed ensures success. Before fertilizing make sure, your plant is not showing over-watering or under-watering symptoms. You may use a balanced fertilizer in 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 range. If you desire to have a rapid flowering a high-phosphorous dose will encourage blooming. Check out the package directions. You may dilute the monthly application to a quarter solution that allows for weekly use.
You can use liquid plant food for African violets. Or can make a homemade fertilizer. You may find some ideas here. Add a spoon of hydrogen peroxide in 4 cups of water to kill fungus and encourages blooming.
Note: Apply fertilizer to the soil but never apply directly to the foliage.
Overfertilization causes lesions, leaf-tip burn or orange crystals on the plant’s hairs. If the wilting leaves have a jellylike consistency or cracked leaves, it is a sign to stop fertilization.
PEST: Cyclamen mites and cockroaches are common pests. Cockroaches eat the flowers entirely, making it seem like your plants have stopped blooming. They strike at night, you won’t be able to catch them easily. Thrips like to eat pollens of African violets. Aphids and whitefly suck the moisture-filled leaves. When attacked, leaves wilt and turn beige.
DISEASE: Sudden changes in temperature will lead to Powdery Mildew. Poor air circulation promotes fungal growth leading to botrytis blight. When accompanied by damp conditions, it often leads to crown rot.
If you violets being suspected by any disease or pest, isolate it. Maintain good air circulation. Use fungicide/pesticides or a fine mist spray of neem oil can be helpful, as neem oil can kill pests.