Tip of the Week – Focus on African Violets

African Violet Emrose

African Violet Emrose

African Violets are just about everyones cup of tea. Fit them anywhere, cute and free flowering. And so easy to handle. The African Violet is native to Tanzania and Kenya. They are one of the worlds most popular house plants.

The botanical name is Saintpaulia ionantha and there are many many hybrids. The Saintpaulia genus has 9 species of which ionantha is one. They belong to the Family Gesneriaceae.

The velvety flowers have lots of colour variations and can be single, semi or full doubles. The flowers can be frilled on the edges and can also have a white trim.



African Violets are associated with Motherhood, Mothers Day, Valentines Day and Easter.


Violets will grow from a leaf & stem cutting. One way is to hang/suspend the leafed stem into a water container with the stem about 2cm into the water. Wait about 2-3 weeks and roots will appear. You can then plant it into a 50mm pot. African Violets can also be reproduced by leaf cuttings and by division.


You need good light with enough brightness to cast a shadow. Within 400mm of a window sill is usually fine. Use a blossom booster type fertiliser. …these have high potassium (K) and low Nitrogen (N).

African Violet Care

Keep them out of full sun but in good light…enough to throw a shadow. Do not top water in the evening as they do not like having wet foliage at night allowing powdery mildew to flourish. They like a warm protected position. If an area is suitable for ferns it is also suitable for African Violets.

Watering with a Wick

This best way to water is by getting a 10cm piece of common acrylic wool. As you repot the violet put the wick through a hole in the bottom of the pot and place 3-4cm of the wick into the bottom 3cm of the pot with a little potting mix in it and then twirl it around once horizontally on the mix. Pot the plant onto the wick and top up the mix. Run the string into your water reservoir eg like a small glass.


Powdery Mildew, Spider Mite, Soil Mealy Bug. No problem if you use the wick system.

Potting Mix

Use a well drained potting mix that will still hold moisture without saturation. Coco peat with 10% perlite is OK.


Add one quarter strength liquid fertiliser to the water reservoir. Use a high Potassium bloom booster. This will give great growth and flowering.

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