– Ruth Coulson
(Ruth is with the Australian African Violet Association and lives on the Central North Coast of NSW)
(Originally published on the African Violets Down Under Facebook page.(www.facebook.com/groups/241227626277942/?fref=nf)
Ideal is just that, an ideal.
Something we strive for. In practical terms the plants will vary in what exact conditions suit them best, and growers will try to provide what is needed but have to deal with what is available. Fortunately for us, African violets can actually endure, and often thrive, in conditions way outside the ideal. They are really very forgiving little plants.
Ideally with a range of 16 to 25 degrees C, with a fall of 5 to 10 degrees at night. This is often impossible to achieve, so instead realise that they will do OK unless temperatures are constantly above 32 or below 14. If that happens they will perform poorly but even worse temperatures would be needed before the plants would die. If plants are affected by temperatures normal in the average home they will soon return to better performance during more satisfactory levels.
Once again, ideally, African violets do best at 50 to 60% humidity. But they can handle both higher and lower levels if they have to. Consistent very low humidity (below 20-30%) will definitely damage flowers, and very high humidity if long term and without adequate ventilation may lead to "soft" floppy growth. These plants will do badly if moved in a lower humidity area.
If growing by natural light the best spot is very likely the brightest place in your home just short of direct midday or afternoon sun, especially in summer. Make sure you have the plants close enough to the window, say within 500 mm, but this naturally depends upon the window itself and the individual plants. The convenience factor is important too, for the grower. If using artificial light it should be provided 10-12 hours per day, 250 to 300 mm from the plants. That is variable too, though. Behaviour of the plants is the best guide to whether they are getting enough light. Sometimes you just have to wait for the longer days of summer to provide more.
Ideal for the roots will depend on properly constituted potting mix and pots not much larger than around one third of the width of the leaves of the plant. Sufficient air in the root area of the mix will ensure healthy growth and reasonable water-holding capacity will help keep them from wilting.