The African violet houseplant originally hais from Tanzania, and can be found in homes and businesses all over the world. Here are a few reasons you need one of these vibrant, velvety plants NOW (maybe even yesterday!).
1. Eye-Catching Blooms
The African violet’s vibrant coloring makes this houseplant a fan favorite. While the first color that comes to mind is often purple (of course), its full range of shades run the gamut. Enthusiastic botanists have developed several hundred varieties; you can find African violet houseplants in red, pink, white, indigo—even blue!
The sheer variety doesn’t end with coloring. You can find African violets in numerous leaf and flower shapes and couplings. This means you can fill your whole desk with a show-stopping range of superstars, all from the same family.
2. Year-Round Beauty
With the right care, an African violet houseplant can bloom year-round! This is a great remedy for the winter blues (and grays) that can come along with life in colder regions. If you give your plant enough light, keep it warm in cool weather, and provide the right soil conditions, these southern hemisphere beauties will brighten up any season.
3. Fewer Water Worries
Although African violets have a reputation for being slightly finicky, they will thrive in the right conditions. And the right conditions are not that hard to achieve!
Over- and under-watering are common culprits of the demise of the novice caretaker’s plant. With a picky soil preference and leaves that can discolor in moisture, it’s best to let the African violet houseplant water itself! All you need is a special self-watering pot.
How to Water African Violets
- A self-watering pot comes in two pieces. The first is a deeper container in which you place your plant and soil; the second is filled with water and placed beneath the first.
- Your African violet houseplant takes up water through the bottom of the first pot, which prevents over-watering.
- Keep an eye on the bottom piece and refill as the water is depleted (usually every two to three weeks).
- Think of it like a self-serve food dispenser for your dog: your houseplant takes up what it needs, and your job is to ensure there is always more water available.
4. Nontoxic to Pets
Speaking of furry friends, African violet houseplants are pet-friendly! Many houseplants can be dangerous to cats and dogs, so pet safety is a major factor when choosing a plant species.
The ASPCA has determined African violet houseplants are non-toxic to cats, dogs, and even horses! Although you still won’t want Garfield or Mr. Ed munching on those beautiful blooms, at least they’ll be safe from a stomachache if they do.
5. Easy Propagation
Nothing is more fun than turning one houseplant into two—or twenty! African violets are very easy to propagate; here’s how to grow a gift that keeps on giving:
- Remove a healthy, mature leaf at the root stem. Look for a fully developed leaf, but not one that is aged or browning.
- Cut the petiole (the stem) at a 45-degree angle with a sharp blade. This increases the surface area and creates more space for roots to sprout.
- Repot the cutting in African violet-friendly potting soil. African violets do best in a light, porous soil that enables good aeration.
- Bury the stem up to the base of the leaf.
- Water the soil. You’ll want it to be moist, but overly wet soil can cause the leaf to rot.
- Place the plant near a bright window, but away from direct sunlight or other heat sources. Overheating can cause the delicate leaf to burn or rot.
- Cover with a clear plastic bag to promote moisture retention, and let it grow for six weeks to four months. (The longer you wait, the more durable the rooted plant will be.)
- Once the plant has established itself (Note: there may be more than one), move it to a standard African violet container.
- Et voi(let)la! You’ve just doubled your plant collection.
Pro Tip: Give your cutting an extra boost by using a houseplant propagation promoter to reduce time to new roots!
6. Will Bloom in Limited Light
While some plants thrive in the sunniest window of your home, you can save that real estate for other species. African violet houseplants like bright, indirect sunlight and make great centerpieces or countertop companions.
Your plant will still struggle, however, if it’s not getting enough sunlight. Here are a few signs it might be happier in a brighter space.
- It gets leggy: African violet plants tend to stick close to the soil. In dimmer spaces, your plant may start growing tall and thin to reach toward the light.
- Slowed or stalled growth: If your African violet houseplant stops producing new buds and leaves, it may be unable to power new growth with the amount of light available.
- Stops blooming: If you’re struggling to keep your plant in bloom year-round, try moving it to a location closer to the sun.
- Thinner leaves: Your plant is putting more energy into increasing surface area to capture light, rather than producing hearty, dense foliage.
7. Small but Mighty
These small plants are excellent fixtures in efficiency apartments and well-lit cubicles. Unlike robust ferns or crawling ivy, African violet plants are easy to contain. They also prefer a slightly constrained environment, so a small pot is this plant’s happy place!
What’s your favorite part about growing an African violet houseplant? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
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The African Violet Resource Center is here to provide you with the tools you need to keep your houseplant healthy and strong. Explore our other articles, visit our online shop, and connect with other houseplant lovers in our Facebook group to learn everything you need to know about this rewarding hobby!