Basic Care of African Violets
Light is most important for beautiful blooms - the more light, the more blooms.
Any window that provides strong, bright light is satisfactory, with mild sunshine beneficial.
Shield plants from direct sun and avoid windows covered by porches or heavily shaded by trees.
If good natural light is not available, use fluorescent lamps for eight to twelve (8-12) hours per day. Ideally, use Gro-Lux fluorescent tube with a Cool White fluorescent tube.
Small, young plants should be placed about 20 to 30 cms below the light, while larger, mature plants can be 30 to 40 cms from the light source.
Lights should have a means of being raised or lowered to gain optimum height. If plants grow upright with long leaf stems, raise them closer to the light source. Conversely, if the plant grows very compact and leaf stems tend to be hard and brittle, lower the plant from the light source. At the correct height the plant will grow as flat uniform rosettes, with many blooms.
Gro-Lux tubes can be slightly further from the plant than Cool White or a combination of Natural and Daylight tubes.
Always provide for a minimum of at least eight (8) hours darkness per day.
Plants grown at windows, or at the edge of light benches, should be turned one quarter on every other day to ensure even growth. The African violet does not like to be close to the windows with direct sunlight so move them a further away in peak summer periods. They can also be susceptible to cold so again move them away when temperatures drop into single figures at night.
Some homes are naturally humid. A humidity of 40% - 50% is ideal, if it can be maintained.
If it is difficult to maintain humidity around your plants, try growing many close together.
Humidity can be increased by using flat trays of water, ensuring that the pots are not in contact with the water.
A framework covered with polythene film (a mini hothouse) to enclose a collection of plants will also maintain high humidity.
Individual plants may also be enclosed in plastic bags for the will also increase humidity.
The ideal temperature range is 18 to 21 degrees at night, with a rise of 3 to 6 degrees during the day.
Temperatures below 15 degrees for any extended period will slow growth.
If the temperature is too high, plants will grow sappy and spindly with few blooms, which usually drop before gaining any size. It is better for conditions to be a little too cool that too hot, especially
FRESH, CIRCULATING AIR.
Fresh air is as invigorating to violets as it is to humans.
Avoid cold draughts directly onto plants, but be sure that an adequate supply of fresh air is always available.
Plants suffer drastically in a dead, dank atmosphere. Dead air is an invitation to mildew.
The principal foods of all plants are carbon dioxide from the air, and hydrogen from water.
The most important single factor in good African violet growing.
Use any water that is suitable for drinking, but allow chlorinated water to stand overnight, or for an hour in the sun. Never use water that has been through a water softener.
Water with a heavy metal content can, over time, accumulate excess salts in the soil.
Rain water is ideal.
Water if the top of the soil is dry to the touch.
Water wells vary for use. When producing many African violets as our main growers do for Show purposes, adaptions can be made from used Yoghurt pots for the 100 mil standard size. It is a matter of the grower's sense and experience.
However, the Society has a beautifully presented Water Well with a white base that is designed for fully grown African violet standards.
The smaller Semi miniatures and miniature African violets require smaller sized pots. Trailers and Gesneriads use different sized pots as appropriate.