They can enchant all year round with their blooms, impress with thick, richly colored leaves and are available in countless cultivated forms – these advantages alone make African violets extremely popular houseplants. In addition, the Saintpaulia, as the African violet is also called, does not require any special care and can also be propagated very easily by laypeople. However, the violets from the Usambara Mountains have a few special requests, at least if they are to have a long-lasting and continuous bloom.

The right location for the African violet

The African violet, as the Saintpaulia is also known, primarily needs a constant temperature. And this should be between 18°C ​​and 25°C. For full flowering, the range of 20°C to 24°C is ideal.

The African violet thrives best when it is very bright without being exposed to direct sunlight. If it is also offered a relatively high level of humidity, nothing stands in the way of healthy growth.

Site requirements at a glance:

  • A year-round constant temperature between 18°C ​​and 25°C
  • Location should be as bright as possible but not exposed to direct sunlight
  • High humidity has a positive effect on flowering and growth
Tip: Bright north-facing windows in the bathroom or kitchen are ideal locations for African violets. If there are no north-facing windows or they are too dark, the Saintpaulia should be placed at some distance from the window.

Usambaraveilchen gießen

African violets need an evenly moist substrate. How often it needs to be watered depends on the soil, humidity and temperature. In a strong flowering phase during the summer, you have to use the watering can of course more often than in winter.

For watering you should use lime-poor water that has a temperature of about 20°C. Water that is too cold or too warm can leave permanent damage to the plant and also encourage infestation by diseases and pests.

With African violets, you also have to make sure that the water does not come into direct contact with the leaves. Because watering from above, i.e. onto the plant, immediately causes rot. For this reason, of course, waterlogging must be avoided as a matter of urgency.

Pour Saintpaulia correctly:

  • Use water heated to around 20°C
  • Use low-lime water
  • Always water the plant from below, put water in the saucer or planter or soak the soil ball together with the pot, avoiding contact with the leaves at all costs
  • Avoid waterlogging but keep evenly moist
Tip: If you only get hard, i.e. lime-rich, water from the tap, you can use rainwater to water the Usambara. It is also possible to remove the lime from tap water with a water filter or to leave it for more than a week, so that the lime settles to the bottom. The third option is a mixture of tap water and distilled water.

What care do African violets need?

African violets are straightforward when it comes to general care. Regular watering, fertilizing and removing the dying parts of the plant are enough to keep the plant healthy. Of course, only if the right location and a suitable substrate are chosen.
Repotting is only necessary when necessary.

Fertilize the Saintpaulia properly

African violets show a rich bloom almost continuously. To do this, they need a high level of energy and nutrients, especially in spring and summer. As a pot plant, you can only get them from the soil substrate for a short time, so regular fertilization is necessary.

A simple compound fertilizer in liquid form or a fertilizer for flowering ornamental plants is ideal. A low concentration of this can be added to the saucer or planter together with the irrigation water. Fertilizing every 14 days is normally sufficient. For large plants with numerous flowers, weekly fertilization may also be necessary.

Tip: For particularly healthy plants with plenty of flowers, the nitrogen content should be higher in autumn and winter, and the phosphorus content in the warm seasons.

Usambaraveilchen umtopfen

When it comes to repotting, African violets are unproblematic, regular soil changes are not necessary. And a larger pot is only necessary when the current soil ball is completely rooted.

The diameter of the new pot can be measured carefully, because African violets thrive in small spaces. If, on the other hand, they have a lot of space inside the pot, no flowers will appear at first. Instead, all the energy is put into root growth and the formation of new leaves. Only when the roots reach their limits will the plant continue to bloom. Too much root-free soil can actually harm the Saintpaulia. Because if the relationship between the size of the root ball and the amount of substrate is not right, the balance of moisture and oxygen will also be upset.

The plant should also be used in such a way that the leaves lie tightly on the upper edge of the pot.

Repotting the Saintpaulia at a glance:

  • Repot only as needed when roots take up the entire pot
  • Choose the smallest possible flower pots, these are healthier and produce more beautiful plants
  • Make sure the leaves are lying on the upper edge of the pot
Note: Anyone who already uses fertilized potting soil when repotting saves fertilizing for the next few months. Liquid fertilizer only has to be added again when only weak flowers form.

What substrate do Saintpaulia need?

Similar to repotting, the choice of substrate is also very easy. Normal potting soil, with compost or peat, is sufficient for African violets. A mixture of these two types of soil in equal parts is optimal. A mixture of clay granules and potting soil is also suitable, but the potting soil must clearly predominate here in terms of quantity. A mix of four parts soil and one part granules is ideal. And cactus soil can also be used for African violets.

Cut or Tear?

Withered, dried up or decomposing flowers and leaves of African violets should be removed as soon as possible. Otherwise there is a risk of rot, mold and disease. However, these should not be neatly cut off. Remaining residues can continue to rot at the base of the plant or covered by other parts and cause damage to the African violet for a long time without being noticed.

It is better to remove affected parts with a short, strong jerk. This should not be done hesitantly. The more abrupt and targeted the jerk, the gentler it is on the health of the plant.

If you cannot reach parts of the plant with your thumb and forefinger, tweezers will help. However, only with solid or dried flowers and leaves. Parts that have already decomposed are more likely to disintegrate in such attempts. Here you have to start as low as possible on the stem to remove everything.

Usambaraveilchen vermehren

Saintpaulia can be propagated from seeds, side shoots and leaf cuttings. The easiest and fastest way is to propagate by cuttings. For this purpose, a leaf that is as large and well-developed as possible, including a four to five centimeter long stem, must be cut off. The entire stem and lower edge of the leaf are either covered with commercial potting soil or with a mixture of two parts soil and one part sand. A very small flower pot is ideal for this.

The soil needs to be moist, just like the adult plant, but not wet. The location must be bright but free from direct sunlight and should have the highest possible humidity. If this cannot be provided, a transparent plastic bag over the leaf cutting will help to improve the planting climate. The ideal germination temperature is between 20°C and 25°C. If these requirements are met, the first leaves will appear after two months at the latest. In most cases, however, these come out of the ground after about four weeks.

Some patience is required when propagating through stinging shoots. Because in order for this variant to work, corresponding shoots must first have formed. Starting from the main stem of the Saintpaulia, young plants develop, which can be clearly distinguished from the mother plant by the smaller leaves in the center of the plant. If these are carefully removed from the trunk with a sharp knife, they can be tightened just like the leaf cuttings.

Propagation via seeds is much more difficult for laypeople. Seeds already obtained are easy in germination. The problem is the seed collection. This requires extensive knowledge, patience and a lot of dexterity.

Propagation of African violets at a glance:

  • Propagation by seeds, leaf cuttings and side shoots possible
  • Saintpaulia can be propagated very easily and quickly by leaf cuttings, even by amateurs
  • Propagation by stinging shoots possible but usually tedious
  • Seed collection unsuitable for laypersons

Overwinter African violets safely

With Saintpaulia, which only stand on the windowsill, wintering is absolutely problem-free. Only the temperature should be kept more or less the same. Watering and fertilizing can be reduced somewhat in the cold season. But only if you don’t want the plant to flower all the time.

In the case of African violets, which were partly on the balcony or terrace during the spring and summer, one should also ensure that the temperature remains constant and that there is no frost. Avoid abrupt changes.
Plants that should not bloom at all in winter can stand a little cooler. However, the thermometer should never fall below 12°C to 15°C. In addition, as usual, a bright location without direct sun is required for the Saintpaulia to thrive.

Are African Violets Poisonous?

Although African violets are not poisonous to humans per se, they are not entirely harmless. Because for dogs, cats, birds and small children, consumption can lead to serious symptoms of poisoning. Therefore, the plants should be kept out of the reach of animals and small children.

If symptoms of poisoning appear, you should immediately consult a doctor or veterinarian and inform them about the respective plants. Even if no bite marks are visible on the African violets. Since leaves can fall off unnoticed and land on the ground, it may no longer be possible to find evidence.

Typical diseases and pests of Saintpaulia

Aphids, spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, mealybugs – African violets are often attacked by all these parasites. If the plant suffers from these pests, discolored areas, spots and plaque appear. Of course, the parasites themselves can also be visible.

To prevent such an infestation, you should keep the Saintpaulia healthy overall. A suitable location, the right substrate, regular watering and fertilizing ensure this. If the African violet is nevertheless afflicted, only appropriate pesticides can help. In addition, you should remove the already affected parts.

Tip: If you place several African violets next to each other and notice an infestation with parasites, you should pack each plant airtight in a transparent plastic bag to protect against transmission. On the one hand, this means that fewer pesticides have to be used. On the other hand, the infestation of other indoor plants is also prevented.

Can the African violet stand outside?

The African violet or African violet is not actually a relative of the native violet or cyclamen. The Saintpaulia received this name because of the violet petals and thus appearance reminiscent of violets, which showed the original forms uniformly. Since the plant was first found in the African Usambara Mountains, it was named after it and the appearance of its flowers.

Knowing the origin is important when it comes to choosing the right location. The Saintpaulia can be left outside for a while, but only if the temperature does not drop below 18°C ​​at night. Direct sun must also be avoided. A covered balcony, partially shaded window sill, or screened patio is suitable. On the other hand, African violets can be damaged outdoors in the garden if they get too much sun. The Saintpaulia does not get planted in the bed or in a large bucket either. Because here, although plenty of roots and leaves are formed, the energy for flower growth is lacking.

The African violet has a few small special requests, but it is still easy to care for. And it also has a breathtaking variety to offer. Monochrome or multicolored flowers, with smooth or fringed edges, filled or single – in the huge selection of cultivated forms you will find the right bloomer for every furnishing style and for every preference. Together with the inexpensive purchase and easy propagation, the African violet has a special appeal. And this is so big that the Saintpaulia has long been one of the most popular indoor plants.

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