Violets need similar conditions to us. You automatically have your home to suit you and that is just fine for violets. The extremes of temperature close to a window can be rather uncomfortable for our violets and the use of artificial light means that you can put your violets in any position in your home that you wish, even to light up a dark corner, or provide an eye-catching display in your lounge.
Almost all of the beautiful violets that you may see displayed at African violet shows have been grown under lights and no matter what aspects or conditions you may have it is a pretty safe bet that you will be able to grow violets better under light.
African violets grow nice and flat and are of uniform height, they are the most suitable plants of all to grow under lights.
The answer to this is, of course, fluorescent lighting, and fortunately stands equipped with this lighting are available if you wish to buy them, or you may be able to make some up yourself, provided that you realise that electricity can kill you and you need to know what you are doing with it.
Violets need two fluorescent tubes placed 10 to 15 cm apart and approximately 20 cm to 25 cm above the top of your foliage. Most African violet light stands use 40 watt tubes, larger tubes are much dearer and 20 watt tubes are not so economical considering the cost of making a stand and the diminishing light at the ends of the tubes. There are special growth tubes available (called Grolux), but these are costly and most people with light stands use one warm white and one cool white tube in each fixture, or alternatively one warm white and one daylight tube.
Violets need a minimum of 10 hours of good light each day to flower. 12 hours is better and lights may be left on for 14 hours or up to 16 hours a day when you need lots of blooms for a special occasion.
Lights can be turned on during the day because violets must have at least 8 hours of darkness each day. Timer switches are available that switch the lights on and off to suit you and this eliminates the trouble of remembering to switch lights on and off at a regular time each day.
Like everything else, fluorescent light tubes don't last forever and it has been found that for adequate light for your violets they need to be changed after about 12 months of use, at 12 hours a day.
The tray to hold the plants under the lights can be up to 600 mm in width and the length of your tubes. Even under lights it is necessary to turn your violets at intervals so that each side of your plant gets its fair share of light, otherwise they will lean towards the light.
The cultural requirements for violets grown under lights are the same as for anywhere else except that you may expect faster and more uniform growth and of course more flowers, because you can control light, temperature, and anything else that's needed.