How To Grow & Care For African Violets

African Violets

African Violets, also known as Saintpaulias, are popular houseplants known for their velvety leaves and vibrant, cheerful flowers. Native to Tanzania and adjacent southeastern Kenya, African Violets have a fascinating history and are deeply embedded in the culture of indoor gardening. With over 1,000 different species, their blooming colors range from white and blue to pink, purple, and even multicolored.

These compact, low-growing plants are often found adorning windowsills, desktops, and other well-lit indoor areas. The African Violet’s popularity stems from its continuous blooming nature and the fact that it can flower all year round if cared for properly. Additionally, their relatively small size makes them a perfect fit for tight spaces.

African Violets are often considered symbols of motherhood and domesticity, representing love and faithfulness. Despite their exotic appearance, these beauties can be quite manageable to care for with the right understanding of their specific needs and preferences.

Common NamesAfrican Violet, Saintpaulia
Botanical NameSaintpaulia spp.
Plant TypePerennial Herb
Mature Size2-12 inches tall
Sun ExposureBright, indirect light
Soil TypeLight, well-draining soil
Hardiness Zones11-12 (as houseplant)
Native AreaTanzania, Southeastern Kenya

African Violet Care

African Violet care requires a delicate balance of light, water, and humidity. These plants are neither too demanding nor too finicky if their specific needs are met. Their love for humidity, coupled with their preference for bright but indirect light, makes them suitable for indoor cultivation.

Watering African Violets is a nuanced task. They prefer a moist environment but are susceptible to root rot if overwatered. Also, water droplets on the leaves can lead to unsightly spots, so watering from the bottom or at the base is generally advised.

Light Requirement for African Violets

Bright, indirect light is ideal for African Violets. Direct sunlight can cause leaf burn, while insufficient light might inhibit flowering. An east or north-facing window, or fluorescent lighting, is typically suitable for these plants.

Soil Requirements for African Violets

African Violets thrive in a well-draining, loose soil that is rich in organic matter. Many garden centers offer soil mixes specifically designed for African Violets. If not available, a mix of peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite can be used.

Water Requirements for African Violets

Watering needs to be done with care. The soil should be kept evenly moist, but not soggy. Bottom watering, using a saucer filled with water, is often recommended to avoid water spots on the leaves. Water that is at room temperature or slightly warm is preferred.

Temperature and Humidity

African Violets prefer temperatures between 65-75°F with a minimum of 60°F at night. They thrive in higher humidity levels, and placing a humidifier nearby or a tray filled with water can help maintain the desired humidity.


A balanced, water-soluble fertilizer designed for African Violets can be used. Fertilizing every 4 to 6 weeks during the growing season will support blooming.

Pruning African Violets

Pruning involves removing dead or faded flowers and leaves to encourage new growth and maintain the plant’s appearance. Care must be taken not to damage the delicate stems and leaves during this process.

Propagating African Violets

Leaf cuttings are the usual method of propagating African Violets. A healthy leaf with its stem is placed in soil or water until roots develop, and then it can be potted.

How To Grow African Violets From Seed

Growing African Violets from seed is a more complex and time-consuming method. Seeds can be sown in a well-draining soil mix and kept moist until germination. Consistent temperature and humidity are crucial for success.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

African Violets can be prone to mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites. Regular inspection and treatment with insecticidal soap can help. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while fungal diseases can be treated with fungicides.

Common Problems With African Violets

Wilting Leaves

This may be caused by underwatering or a lack of humidity. Regular watering and increasing humidity can alleviate this problem.

Leaf Spotting

Water spots on the leaves can be avoided by bottom watering or careful watering at the base of the plant.

Failure to Bloom

Insufficient light or improper fertilizing can lead to a lack of blooms. Adjusting these factors can promote flowering.

Pro Tips

  1. Provide bright but indirect light for optimal growth.
  2. Water from the bottom or at the base to avoid leaf spotting.
  3. Use a well-draining soil specifically designed for African Violets.
  4. Maintain higher humidity for vibrant plants.
  5. Fertilize during the growing season to promote continuous blooming.