Tiny delicate flowers in pastel hues nestled against deeply-veined dark blue-green leaves make African Violets (Saintpaulia) a beloved indoor houseplant. Although they have a reputation for being hard to grow, African Violets are actually fairly easy to care for and are well within the capabilities of novice indoor gardeners. Enjoyed for their stunning foliage, these low-growing potted beauties bloom periodically with lovely small pastel-colored blossoms. Available in shades of pink, blue, lavender and white, many African Violets bloom in a becoming mixture of shades with some flowers bearing deeply hued petals and others, petals that are pastel pale.
To ensure long life and a beautiful display, African Violets need about 3 to 6 hours of filtered sunlight each day. Avoid direct sunlight as this may cause the leaves to brown and curl. Plants should be kept away from air drafts caused by vents, fans or entry doors.
Over-watering is the biggest mistake made by novice African Violet growers. Soil should be kept moist but never soggy. The soil around the roots of the plant should be allowed to dry out between waterings to encourage blooming. For best results, water from the bottom by placing the African Violet pot in a shallow pan of room temperature water. Allow the plant to absorb water for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pot from water pan and allow to drain for a few minutes before replacing pot saucer. If using a watering can, choose a thin-spout can and carefully water from underneath leaves. Avoid wetting foliage as this can cause unsightly spotting damage.
For beautiful floral and foliage displays, feed your African Violet with a mild liquid fertilizer every two weeks. Specially formulated African Violet plant food is recommended. Again, apply fertilizer under leaves to avoid wetting foliage. Spent blooms should be pinched off to encourage blooming.