Caring for African violets starts with three basic rules
BY BRAVETTA HASSELL World Scene Writer
Saturday, October 13, 2012
10/13/12 at 5:08 AM
Although some instructions on care for your African violets may vary, a few things don't.
It's what plant keeper Sherrie Wallace calls the three biggest mistakes in caring for African violets.
Don't over-water. Don't under-feed. Don't over-pot.
"And like anything else, neglect will kill them."
Home: Instead of using a big pot to start the plant from a leaf with hopes of an abundant result, Wallace graduates the size of the pots she uses with the growth of her African violets. Many sources recommend potting the plant in a container a third the size of the foliage diameter. If your foliage measures six inches, for instance, the size of your pot should be two inches.
Light: African violets are grown indoors, so placing your African violets in strong indirect light should be sufficient. Fluorescent light, so long as the plant isn't too far away, works wonders as well, she says.
Make sure to rotate the violets occasionally so the plant doesn't begin leaning in one direction or another.
Water: Soil should be damp, not soggy. Let the topsoil begin to dry some (not too dry) before watering. Many advise growers to water African violets from the bottom, but they can be watered from the top, as well. Just try to avoid getting water on the leaves and especially the flowers.
A few mistaken drops on outer leaves won't kill the plant, but water on any leaves toward the center and on the flowers themselves won't guarantee the most beautiful or symmetrical plant in the long run.
Use room-temperature water. Purified water, or even tap water you've let sit out overnight, is preferable.
Food: African violets can be fed when they are watered. Infrequent fertilizing can mean fewer blossoms. Add an eighth of a teaspoon of water-soluble fertilizer to one gallon of water for feeding.
Additional tips: Regularly remove damaged or dying leaves and flowers.
Gently remove any debris - soil, dust, dirt - that may have collected on leaves.
If using a fluorescent light, make sure your plant gets at least eight hours of darkness.
African violets shouldn't sit in drafts. They do best in the same conditions people find comfortable, nothing under 60 degrees or greater than 80 degrees.
For more information, visit tulsaworld.com/avsa
Original Print Headline: Caring for African violets starts with 3 basic rules
Bravetta Hassell 918-581-8316
People shop for violets during the annual African violet show and sale at the Tulsa Garden Center. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World file