If your African violet were a zodiac sign, it’d be the sensitive Cancer. Highly affected by its environment, this delicate houseplant can be quick to wither or withhold its beautiful blooms. Luckily, like it’s zodiac counterpart, an African violet thrives when its conditions are just right.
One of the most important things to get right? Watering. A traditional bath can be harmful to your African violet; it’s just not like all the other plants. Luckily, there are several easy ways to give it just the care it needs.
This helpful guide digs into some common thirst-quenching questions and highlights the four best African violet watering methods.
Your African Violet Watering Questions – Answered!
FAQ #1: How often does my African violet need watering?
While self-watering methods are popular, other approaches require you to actually water your plant. If you go this route, let your African violet dry out fully between watering.
Stick your finger in the soil—if it feels dry and gritty, it’s time to water. If you still feel a bit of moisture, wait a few days and check again.
Prefer clean fingernails? A soil moisture meter is a useful tool.
FAQ #2: What are the symptoms of African violet over-watering?
African violets are prone to root rot. This happens for one of two reasons: 1. Their potting soil retains too much water. Or, 2. Their caretaker is a little overeager with the watering can. (We’ve all been there!)
If unchecked, root rot can cause a myriad of problems and eventually kill your plant. Here’s what to look for:
Symptoms of Over-watering
- Leaves turning brown and wilty
- Lower leaves becoming soft and mushy
- Leaves pale or discolor
- The plant separates from the base
If you notice any of the symptoms above, remove your plant from the pot and gently brush away soil from the roots. Trim any parts of the plant that appear to be rotting and consider treating with a root rot spray. Repot in specialized African violet potting soil and adjust your watering schedule if needed.
#3: Why is African violet watering so different from other plants?
In nature, the forest canopy protects the African violet’s leaves from the harsh sun. That’s why they make such wonderful low-light plants. Unfortunately, this also makes their leaves especially sensitive to sunlight. If you get water on African violet leaves, they will discolor and develop white rings when exposed to the sun.
African violets are also sensitive to temperature, and this applies to bathtime. Cold water can shock their delicate root systems and cause complications in the plant. Always water with room-temperature or lukewarm water.
The 4 Best African Violet Watering Methods
There’s no need to be intimidated by African violet watering. In fact, some of these methods can be even easier than traditional watering because they allow your plant to regulate its own intake. With four distinct and straightforward methods, there’s an approach for every preference!
1. Self-Watering Pot
This is one of the most popular methods of African violet watering because it lets your picky plant do the work for itself. (It also takes the least effort!) Here’s how it works:
- 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 your plant depletes the water (usually every two to three weeks).
2. Bottom Watering
This method involves placing your plant in a saucer of water so it can take up water through the drainage holes in its pot. Bottom watering can be done periodically or continuously, depending on your setup.
- Periodic watering: Place your plant in a shallow saucer of water for 25-50 minutes. If you check on it and there is still water in the dish, your plant has taken up all the water it needs. If the water is gone, add a little more and give your plant another 10-15 minutes to drink it up.
- Continuous watering: This method is as close to an African violet’s natural method of obtaining water as you can get. Place gravel or small rocks in a shallow saucer and fill with water. This allows both moisture and air to pass through. Like self-watering containers, this method only requires you to refill the water when it has dried up.
3. Wicking Method
This African violet watering method provides constant moisture to the root ball without oversaturating the soil. Weave a special watering wick through the drainage hole before adding the soil and plant. The wick sticks out the drainage hole into a reservoir of water, pulling moisture from outside in.
4. Top Watering
If you choose to top water your plant, you will need a long, skinny-necked watering can. (Specialty African violet watering cans are available online.) This gives you more control over the stream of water: poke the nozzle beneath the leaves to wet your soil while keeping your plant dry.
Grow Tip: Bottom watering can allow fertilizer salts to build up in your plant’s soil. We recommend flushing the soil thoroughly once every 3 to 4 months with a long-necked watering can.
What’s your favorite African violet watering method? Share your victories in the comments below!
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Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned grower, African Violet Resource Center has everything you need to help your plant grow vibrant 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!