The african violet, also known as Saintpaulia, is one of the most popular flowering plants and is easy to figure out why. They are easy to grow and care for, so it is a perfect plant if you are just starting your gardening hobby, but also, there are so many different species that it is a great option for more experienced gardeners.
Commonly, violets are grown indoors because they find the conditions inside our homes to be ideal for them, but they can also be grown outdoors, always that we provide them with what they need.
One of the reasons the african violet makes such a good indoors plant, regardless of space, is because it is a very compact plant, with miniature varieties of 6 inches in diameter or the lager ones with over 16 inches. Its dark green, hairy leaves contrast well with the flowers that can be blue, purple, lavender, pink red or white. There also exist varieties with bi-colored or multi colored flowers.
Good soils for african violets are loose and well-drained, also need to be slightly acidic, with a Ph of 6.0 to 6.5. The soil should contain organic matter, a good soil mix could be 1 part of sphagnum peat moss and one part of perlite or vermaculite. It is important to ensure a good drainage since this plants, specially in the warmer months of the year, are prone to root rot.
If you give your african violet all the cares necessary, it will bloom almost continually during the year. Even though this plant don't need direct sunlight, they do need a good quantity of light to grow. The light from a northern or eastern window is ideal, specially during the summer. Violets should be turned once in a while to produce even growth.
Violets can adapt to the dry air inside our houses, but high humidity is very beneficial. Homes with humidifiers provide an excelent enviroment for violets. If a humidifier is not available one solution is to put the pot in a container with gravel or sand and a layer of water for evaporation. Take care not to put the pot directly over the water since this could cause root rot.
African violets like temperatures between 65F and 75F. Violets will suffer with cooler temperatures and if chilled, they will turn dark and wither. When temperatures are higher growth and flowering can be slowed or stopped completely, in this conditions good light and high humidity good to keep the plant in good shape.
African violets' soil must be kept moist, general rule of thumb is to wait until the top inch of soil is dry before watering again. It is recommended to avoid pouring water directly over the leaves since this could cause light colored spots to appear.
Since the african violet is a plant that, given the right conditions, is constantly blooming, it requires of regular fertilization. It is recommended to use a fertilizer of quick release to prevent overfertilization and to be able to perform any changes necessary to the fertilization schedule based on the plant's reaction. A good fertilizar for violets should have a 20-20-20 proportion of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, using only half of what is stated in the fertilizer directions. If the growth rate is reduced and pale green leaves start to appear, is probable that more fertilizer is needed.