How to Grow African Violets

African violets not only produce beautiful blooms, but are easy to grow and can live for decades. Here's how to grow them in your home or office.

African violets are common houseplants because they flower reliably and are easy to grow. Plants have fuzzy leaves with pink, purple, or white flowers in various shades. They grow well in the low humidity and moderate temperature of most home and office environments. With good care, plants can live and bloom for decades.

Where to Grow African Violets

African violets are strictly indoor plants in North America, largely because their leaves need to stay dry. Grow plants in bright, indirect light for the best color and blooms. A plant stand three feet away from a west- or south-facing window is an ideal location. Plants will still grow when situated right beside north- or east-facing windows, but leaves will be thin and spindly, and plants less likely to bloom. If you don't have a good spot near a window, you can grow African violets under 40-watt fluorescent lights (or grow lights) hanging 12 to 15 inches above the plant.

planting african violets

How to Plant African Violets

African violets grow best in well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Miracle-Gro® Indoor Potting Mix is specially formulated to provide indoor plants like African violets with just the right growing environment. For best results, plant African violets in African violet pots, which are small (4- to 5-inch) ceramic or plastic self-watering containers. Growing plants in these pots will provide the proper amount of continuous moisture to the plants.

watering african violets

How to Water African Violets

The easiest way to make sure you give African violets the right amount of water is to grow them in the self-watering African violet pots mentioned above. These pots have a top part in which the plant grows, and a bottom part (or reservoir) that holds water. Ceramic pots are usually glazed on the outside, but the bottom of the planting section is unglazed so that water can easily soak through from the reservoir. Plastic African violet pots usually have a fibrous wick connecting the planting pot to the reservoir. Be sure to change the water weekly.

If you are not growing plants in African violet pots, water just enough to keep the soil about as damp as a wrung-out sponge. Take care to use room-temperature water and don't get water on the leaves, as that can cause spots to form on the leaves.

plant food

How to Feed African Violets

A month after planting, begin feeding your African violets with Miracle-Gro® Blooming Houseplant Food for more and brighter blooms (vs. unfed plants). Add two pumps of plant food to the water reservoir of a self-watering pot each week when you change the water. If using a regular pot, add plant food directly to the soil or mix in with the water in your watering can. Be sure to follow label directions.

How to Grow More African Violets

With time, African violets may become overgrown and begin to crowd their pots. Use leaf cuttings from these plants to propagate, or start, new African violet plants. Simply snip off a leaf where it meets the plant stem and stick the cut end in a small container filled with Miracle-Gro® Seed Starting Potting Mix. Keep the soil evenly moist. New leaves will sprout in a few weeks. Once plants have 4-5 leaves, they can be repotted into African violet pots. 

When to Repot African Violets

As the lower leaves on an African violet plant begin die back, the lower portion of the stem may become bare (this is sometimes called a "neck"). Remove the plant from the pot, cut off the bottom of the root ball, and repot the plant in the same container with Miracle-Gro® Indoor Potting Mix, burying the stem so that the lower ring of leaves is even with the edge of the pot. Place the plant in a spot with high humidity (or temporarily cover it with a plastic bag) for a week after planting to help lessen the shock from having part of the root ball removed.

Ready to start growing African violets? Click on any of the product links above for more information, to purchase the product online, or to find a retailer near you.

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