Growing African Violets Indoors
African Violets are one of the most beautiful, and fickle, indoor plants. They are favorable because they produce beautiful flowers and are low growing, perfect for decorative indoor planting. Violets that are kept in good condition will bloom continuously.
When potting an African violet the soil composition is important. The mixture should be composed of two parts of a fertile loam, one part leaf mould or peat, and one part sand or perlite. Porous soil is important because it allows the water to pass through. Violets are also often readily grown in a soilless mix; this would consist of three parts sphagnum moss, two parts vermiculite, and one part perlite. It would also be wise to add some line to balance the acidity of the moss. Soil drainage is imperative when it comes to growing violets. If the soil remains overly saturated it will encourage root rot as well as unpleasant top growth. The soil, therefore, is extremely important, the mixture much be 50 percent matter, 25 percent air, and 25 percent water. Simply adding a layer of gravel to the bottom of the pot will not work.
When creating a homemade potting mix it must be pasteurized and the container should be disinfected before planting begins. To pasteurize the soil, take a flat pan and place a four inch layer over it, and slightly wet it. Cover the pan with aluminum foil making sure to seal the edges. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, place the try in the oven, and bake it for roughly 30 minutes. Take it out of the over and allow it to cool and the soil will be ready to use. Planters will need about 30 minutes to soak in a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water, and then should be thoroughly rinsed until the chlorine is completely gone.
Violets need to be repotted once a year. To do this, remove all lateral crowns, leaving only the center crown, then trim off one or two rows of leaves, leaving a wheel of leaves around the crown. Then use a paring knife to scrap off the brown plant material until the neck is firm and green. Have a clean pot ready for this newly pruned violet. Firm in the soil, gently, around the plant and water well. Four inch pots usually work best.
For violet propagation, the best method is by leaf cutting. This is done best in the spring. Mature leaves need to be cut off with one inch of their stalk. Then firmly press the stalk into sand with the leaf blade exposed. Water the sand thoroughly. In two to six months the stalk will be ready to plant, they should have two to three leaves.
When it comes to successfully growing the violets, the soil should be kept moist but the foliage needs to be dry. Water on the leaves causes discoloration. Consider keeping pots in water tight saucers or bowls so that water can be added to the bottom every few days. Violets need light, but direct sunlight is not necessarily needed. The violets will adjust well to the dry and warm temperatures of homes. For the winter, place the violet in a sunny and warm window.
Overwatering is one of the major problems when it comes to caring for African Violets. The excessive water causes the roots and crown of the plant to rot. Make sure the plants are properly watered, and do so from the bottom to avoid harming the beauty of the leaves. If a powdery mildew appears on your plants, this can also cause the plant to die. Well ventilated air movement can help keep this problem away.
Violets are susceptible to mealy worms, mites, and aphids as well. Often pests can be eliminated by a jet of warm water or by using a Q-Tip dabbed in alcohol. Keeping these pests off the plants will allow them to grow and prosper.