Houseplant Care Tips

Various Houseplant Care Tips Including Watering and Lighting Requirements.

Houseplant Care Tips

Friday, May 23, 2008

African Violet Plant Care

Common Name: African Violet
Scientific Name: Saintpaulia ionantha
Lighting: Moderate to Bright
Watering: Moderate

The African Violet is an extremely common houseplant. The African Violet is characterized by low-growing, heart shaped hairy leafed foliage remaining fairly oval in overall shape. African Violets are available in many varieties with flowers ranging from pink to blue to the traditional violet. Foliage can range from dark green to variegated.

African Violets prefer moderate to bright indirect sunlight. Keep them near an east or west window for best results. Aim to provide your African Violet with at least 8 hours of sunlight a day. If your African Violets foliage begins to yellow and the plant seems to be reaching, it is probably not getting enough light. On the reverse side, if the foliage begins to have brown spots or the foliage curls, the plant may be receiving too much light.

African Violets prefer their soil semi-moist. Allow the soil to slightly dry out in-between watering for best results. One trick with watering African Violets is you want to avoid getting water on the foliage. Water either from the bottom, such as a water tray in which the water can be seeped up or directly on the dirt. Either way the goal is to avoid getting the foliage wet. If water does get on the leaves it will usually leave white spots. Be sure to try and use room temperature or warm water instead of cold.

African Violets prefer higher humidity levels and usually do well in temperatures between 62° and 75°. Try not to let the temperature drop below 60°. Also, as with most houseplants, keep them away from vents and entry ways.

This houseplant also prefers its own special soil mix. Most garden centers have African Violet soil mixtures already pre-packaged for you. This houseplant also prefers some root for its roots, so make sure it has enough space to prevent becoming root bound.

As like their soil, there are also special fertilizer and plant food mixtures for this plant. I have always just used my normal Miracle Gro houseplant food but that's just me.

To encourage new blooms, pinch off dead blossoms and their stems.

This houseplant is known to have some pest problems. Mealybugs and red spiders are the most common pests. If you begin to see a problem on your plant, I would suggest using specific insecticides labeled for African Violets. I personally haven’t had a pest problem with this plant so I cannot say if my homemade soapy dishwater mixture works or not. If you have solutions, please post comments below and share with other readers.

A collection of comments and tips have been combined over on the African Violets FAQ page.

Happy Growing!!!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

less than a year ago I bought a very pretty african violet with dark purple flowers with a white edge. When it first flowered, I noticed that just under the wilting flowers, on the same stalk a pair of leaves was developing. After asking a friend, I cut the whole stalk off and put it into a yogurt pot with some soil. Miraculously the plant has grown a bit bigger and is having its first flowers! I was wondering whether there is an easier or more efficent way to make them multiply.
Please help!

2:44 PM  
Blogger Deepa said...

Hi, new reader here. Love it!!!

I have a couple of African Violets, which I regularly water mixed with Peter's AV fertilizer. They get about 8hrs of sunlight everyday - 5hrs in an east window and 3hrs in west window. They flowered recently but now they look "tired". The leaves are dark green and dull. Am I doing anything wrong? Or is it just a phase? :-)

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am having a problem with white mold or fungus growing on top of the soil of my african violet plants. I try to let them dry out some in between waterings. Any suggestions on what is wrong?

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mom has a 17 year old african violet. She transplanted it a while ago and it almost died now its smaller than the yonger ones we have. And we want to transplant it agin. Since its its so old and not so herdy any more. I'm worried that it will completly die this time. I love these plants!!
So plese help me!!!!

6:00 PM  
Blogger drayas said...


The mold or fungus is usually because you are over watering the plant or the soil is not draining properly. Did you use soil specifically for African Violets? If not you may want to try repotting the plant in specialized soil.


10:34 PM  
Blogger drayas said...


Why do you want to try repotting the plant again? If it's not in good shape, you're right that repotting may kill it. I would wait until it gets back to a good healthy state.

Keep us posted.


10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi i have 3 african violets and they are healthy but it looks like too much leaves and no room for flowers how do you care for these ?please help

5:51 AM  
Blogger drayas said...


Do you pinch off the dead blossoms and their stems? This usually helps to encourage new blooms.


9:38 PM  
Blogger Laura A said...

After years of pest free violets, I had aphids pop up on two of them. I read online somewhere to spray them with a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water, and that you would need to do this many times. I did it once, and it worked, but it killed the crown of both plants. Which meant that it grew many new crowns, which I let grow for a couple months, and then separated and planted to make new plants, throwing the base plant out.

Thought I'd share my limited pest experience.

12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey. I had an african violet for a few years with no problems. I've now bought two more. One of the new ones is doing beautifully with new blooms. However, the other new one....all the old blooms have wilted and nothing new. They're receiving the same care. Any suggestions?

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for helping me with my homework. I love all my plants and now I realize i need a larger house with more windows. I spend alot of time moving plants back and forth to allow them all enough time in our wonderful sun.

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it took me years to gain success in growing African Violets but now I find them very easy to grow. First thing I learned is that they do not like to be moved and when you place them in a new location it takes a while for them to bloom. I water them by soaking and then letting them dry out completely. However you must be consistent with watering especially when they are blooming or their flowers won't last long. When moisture is consistent the flowers can last a long time. i have fertilized them with the fertilizer sticks you can buy. I always place them near a lamp because they seem to like the artificial light. I have had great success with this and not having any direct sunlight at all. Hope this helps. Lynn

12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi All. I have an AF that I have had for many years. It is very happy and blooms constantly, has been in the same window all this time. It is about 12-14 inches across now and I had it in a 8 inch in diameter, 3 inch deep pot. However, this pot had begun to disintegrate and there was a mildewy odor to the soil. I have repotted in another 8 inch pot slightly taller. However, I see now they like smaller pots. Did I go too big? It was not at all root bound in the old pot...

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Marcia said...

A friend gave me her 3 African Violets when she moved. They are 7 yrs. old and appear to be in need of repotting. Each plant's stem is about 3 inches long. Any suggestions on the proper care would be very appreciated! Thank you in advance.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Peter asks a similar question re: re-potting an old violet (I have several like this)with a stem 3-5 inches long growing out of the pot i.e.hanging over the edge! Do you air layer the stem to get new roots? I have grown a leaf into a new plant but that takes too long & I want to save the ones I have. The leaves remain small, they flower from time to time..they have an eastern exposure. Need Help!! Thanks

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when you spray an african violet for bug control, how do you not kill the leaves?

3:47 PM  
Blogger PatV said...

Hi All- I have several beautiful violets that have picked up a lot of dust lint etc how do I get them cleaned up. The leaves have those fine hairs and everything sticks to them (I have birds, cat and 2 long haired dogs). I plan on relocating them, but how do I get their leaves cleaned so they can breathe again. PatV

11:51 AM  
Anonymous nasrin said...

hi how can i get seed from my african violets.thanks.

1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my leafs are drooping and i'd like to know if thats normal? should i leave them be or pick them off?

11:32 PM  
Blogger seharris005 said...

I have an AF that was my grandmothers and has been in my care for over a year. I haven't seen any flowers, and leaves seem healthy. They are lighter closer to the dirt, though. Can I do anything to encourage the growth of flowers?

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have 2 African Violets and I have just noticed that there are pnats flying all around them. Does anyone know why they have started doing this and how do I get rid of them.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

I have several african violets and they are beautiful the only problem is they are not blooming and haven't for a long time, can you tell me if I am doing something wrong or ow to get my african violets to bloom.

Thank you

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought i had the answer with the comments My 3 av are in 6 inch pots. They seem to like it but are growing right out of the side of the pot. Do I repot and use the same size and how can I get them to fit in the middle again
My fourth one blooms year round and looks great Thanks

12:19 PM  
Anonymous frehugs said...

I love African Violets, has anyone ever seen a yellow one? Please let me know! aflover

3:01 PM  
Anonymous AngusMac said...

African violets can be easily cloned. First take off a leaf with its stem. Get a small glass container, such as an old jam jar or drinking tumbler, and fix a paper lid over the top using a rubber band or sticky tape.

Make a hole about the size of your thumb at one edge of the lid and fill with rainwater to about 2cm from the top. Use a ballpoint pen or suitable small stick to poke a hole into the opposite side of the watering hole, making it just slightly wider than the thickness of the stem.

Gently push the stem through the small hole until the leaf rests upon the paper lid. Leave in a brightly lit but not sun-scorched windowsill until the stem shows fingers of root fronds. Top up with water as required. One jar can be arranged to take two or more leaves, if the width of the jar neck is big enough.

Let the fronds grow until they are about 2 - 3cm long, then carefully break the paper lid and remove the stem, taking care not to damage the new rootlets. Plant the leaf into a container of fresh, moist potting soil.

Soon you'll be enjoying the blooms of another violet or you can give the new plant as a gift and welcome a new friend to the delightful world of African Violets!

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have 2 African Violets. I have moved with them from CT to NC and twice in Florida now. Somehow they always come back. Right now, they are outside in the covered screened lanai (patio). I know people say that you should not keep them outside, but mine are doing very well and are constantly blooming! They do not get direct sunlight. One little problem I can't figure out, the leaves have turned a yellow-white. Interesting enough, the plants are still producing flowers and the leaves and stems are the same sturdiness as always! Any ideas, I really would prefer them to be green again. Please help.

10:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just bought some African Violets, but some of the flowers are wilting.I was wondering if it is supposed to be like that after their season.I cut one off, and I'm not sure if I should do that. More and more seemed to be wilting.
Also, When you cut off the leaves, how do you do it?
this is my first time owning pots of flowers, so I could use a little help.

11:02 PM  
Blogger CaNa said...

Hi! I have an 'unusual' type of African Violet,which has got different sized and shaped leaves like the 'common' one. The leaves are smaller and thinner and the plant stems grow quite long and the plant hasn't got that rich foliage as it should. Can I pinch back the stems?Or what should I do then?Thanks for any help!!!!

7:31 AM  
Anonymous Margie said...

I've had great success with African Violets, over the years,although I haven't had one live, much beyond fifteen years! Mine prefer a west facing window. I "repot" them about every two years, not changing the pots, but taking them out of the pot, removing all the old soil and thoroughly cleaning their pot. I do this when they are not blooming.I use a fertilizer everytime I water.Sometimes they all go through a lull and don't bloom. If this lasts for months, I buy a NEW violet that is blooming brilliantly and introduce it into their environment. I don't know whether they are competitive or what, but t always gets them blooming again!!!

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, my name is Linda , I have one violet,not doing to good it is very droopy still putting out flowers i think i gave it to much water not sure.please help...

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a violet plant that has a very dark leaf is that a problem, will the plant die?

5:38 PM  
Blogger Tami Johnson said...

I have an Atrium that has an open air top and is connected to the house. It doesn't get full direct sun. Can I put my violets out there? I live in AZ and it can get a little warm in the summer

5:02 PM  
Blogger Tami Johnson said...

I live in Arizona have an enclosed atrium off the dining room. It is open to the elements but only gets indirect sun. Can I put my violets out there. It's warm here in the summer.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Diwani said...

I love this house plant because of the attractive colors of its flowers.I am here in the Philippines and only selected area are suited for these violets.during short day months oct.-march, av can be grown in lowland areas because of cool breeze from north east, morning temp is between 20-24C and this is marginal temp. Range for av to thrive and develop flowers.but during hot months of april, av cannot withstand 39C of urban areas!so the ideal place is in higher altitudes at least 300 m and up.ideal soil is fine sand that is free from decaying matters like roots to avoid root rot.

6:50 AM  

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