Some people reckon that African Violets are difficult to keep, but provided you learn what they need then they are not too demanding. The most important requirements are light and temperature. I found this article by Jim Jurica over at Chicago Gardening Examiner who explains how with the right care the plants can bloom all year. Jim’s article includes tips on watering, soil and fertilizing the plants.
African violets have gained a reputation for being difficult houseplants. But if you think of them as guests visiting from a far off land, and meet their needs at least half way, you’ll then find they’re really not all that demanding. There’s just a little culture shock at first. And if you’re willing to invest a minute or two every other day, checking in on the well being of your African violets, you’ll find yourself rewarded with colorful blooms all year long. Here’s how:
A QUICK LESSON IN GEOGRAPHY
African violets originate from… wait for it… Africa. No big surprise there, right? More specifically, they call places like the cloud forests of Tanzania their homeland. And the term cloud forest sounds an awful lot like rain forest, doesn’t it? Well, both are lush, humid, jungle-like environments. But rain forests occur in lowland areas that see plenty of rain and flooding, while cloud forests sit well above all that, up among the clouds. Being up in those elevations means this environment is continually saturated, but with greater drainage that keeps things from getting too wet. Since Tanzania is located near the equator, it also see long hours of daylight year round, with little change in average temperature or rainfall from one season to the next. In short: African violets are adapted an environment that is the polar opposite of our northwestern climate (and furnace-heated homes).
GIVE THEM THE RIGHT LIGHT
Light is probably the most important ingredient in keeping African violets healthy. They like plenty of bright light, as long as it’s not hot, direct sun beating down on them. For those of us in the Chicago area, this means we sometimes move our houseplants to south-facing windows in wintertime to maximize every hour of daylight . But these plants aren’t that picky; as long as you don’t banish your violet to a deep, dark and forgotten corner it should survive for many years. Even an office environment with fluorescent lights overhead will keep them alive… but not necessarily blooming. They do need to see at least 8 hours of light every day in order to produce flowers. And 10-14 hours of light is even better; the more light they get, the more they’ll bloom.