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Lets step back in time, maybe twenty years ago when African violets were the `in` plant and nearly every household had one sitting on their windowsill.
An aunt of mine considered herself a specialist in the field! I used to be invited to share a pot of her strong tea and partake of an intellectual conversation about the life of an African Violet!
In all fairness she grew beauties, she had the right colour fingers when it came down to it. Her windowsills were awash with pots of all shapes and sizes which were bursting with multi coloured blooms. Not only multi coloured but she loved to experiment, grafting leaves from different plants and growing them as one, she ended up with some marvellous Hybrids!
African violets are fairly easy to propagate, make sure that you have a clean pot ( average sized) fill it with compost and vermiculite. From the fully grown violets take a few of the healthiest looking leaves, pop the leaves into the pot and then give them a drink of water, making sure not to touch the leaves. Place the pot in the windowsill ,but keep the cuttings away from the sunlight. Keep the compost moist but make sure the leaves always stay dry. If Lady Luck is on your side then you will end up with a few new plants.
Because the African violet could be seen as old fashioned it may well have been sidelined in favour of the more modern pot plants. But I have a soft spot for the simple little plant, it flowers faithfully and always tries its best.
Lidl`s has recently been full of household plants that I wouldn`t give houseroom too! They are all green, weird and wonderful, huge spiky leaves with ferocious looking barbed edges. Give me beauty any day of the week!
The Chimeral African violets are very attractive, a mixture of two coloured flowers and then you find the frilly violets that have a bloom that resembles a rose. There are hundreds of types of the African violet and many many different colours. Maybe the most common colour that we see in the shops is the purple variety.
I have three sitting on my windowsill, African Violets do reasonably well in artificial light. They seem to enjoy sitting on windowsills and often prefer the the nightime temperature.
My pots all sit in little trays, the trays have been filled with small pebbles and water. This lets the violets drink without damaging their roots.
Maybe African violets are becoming a flower of yesteryear but they are highly attractive in bloom and are loyal and faithful plants.
When it comes to looking after them the more that you put into them the more you will get out.
A plant will often cost little more than £2 and it will last for years.
Botanical information about African Violets:
Botanical name: Saintpaulia ionantha
Common name: African violet
Origin: south Africa.
The first African violets were discovered in 1890 by Baron Walter von Saint Paul, a German explorer who found them growing in the crevices of rocks in East Africa, in what is now known as Tanzania. He sent some of the plants back home to his father, who gave them their botanical name, Saintpaulia ionantha (which in Latin means "with violet flowers") - ( information from the web)
African Violet is an ideal houseplant. It likes the same temperatures as most people are comfortable with, around 20-22 degrees C.
They need a lot of shade and no direct sunlight.In fact direct sunlight tends to discolor and shrivel the leaves ..
It is very easy to grow and maintain African violets inside ones home.It grows well on shaded window sills and any shaded part of ones garden.
I got 2 small plant in a deep pink and the namesake Deep Blusih Violet color.Initially i did all the wrong things like keeping them out where there was sunlight and wet soil.I started noticing that the plants were not doing well and that there were hardly any flowers even after a month ..
Later on advice from some friends, i moved both the plants on to a stand in my balcony and repotted what was left of the plants. This time i used a mix of Sand and mulch mainly consisting of powdered dry leaves and wood chippings and bark and very little potting soil.I would say in the proprtion of 40:40:20.I watered the plants very sparingly .Within a month of this the plants started growing extremely well and began multiplying and flowering.The flowers were large and plentiful.It was such a heartening and happy feeling ..
It is very easy to multiply the plants , one can do it with a single healthy leaf, i am constantly doing it.I have a pot filled with just sand.I take out a single healthy leaf from the plant with a good bit of stem and insert the stem into the sand press it carefully so that it remains firm and leave it for about a month..keep sprinkling some water every day, and you get a new plant after a while..
They look beautiful on ones coffee table instead of the usual flower arrangement.I feel that if one grows them in a decorative clay pot it looks very ornamental on the table or a corner stand inside the house.
Some basic requirements
Watering African violets is very easy. To prevent crown rot it is always better to water from the bottom until very moist, then let the soil dry out until the next watering. There is no need to keep them wet all the time. African violets appreciate humidity. I am told that it is not good stand water on the leaves, however i do it at times to wash the dust from the leaves and have not found any adverse effect so far..
The soil should be right for the growth and sustenance of the plant. a good mix of sand and mulch is ideal with some garden potting soil..and when the plant is in bloom a few drops of any liquid fertiliser can be added..
Care should be taken to give them a warm temparature but at any time direct exposure to sunlight should be avoided.
After the violets have grown for a while one notices a little second plant growing out of the side of the first one.One can remove the plant from the pot carefully and divide the two plants and re-pot both these plants with fresh potting soil . Water the plants and they will grow and establish well within a month or two. You can also start plants from leaf cuttings as i mentioned earlier..
It is better to grow them in small medium pots that are not too high as the roots don't penetrate down.It is better to have a pot that is wide but shallow, so that there is enough room for the plant to spread and grow within the pot for a considerable length of time..
They generally dont get any fungus or pest attacks, even if that happens it is easy to control it by washing and cleaning the leaves..
If proper care is taken they last for a long time, The original plants i bought are nearly four years old and from the original two plants i have been able to multiply a few dozen plants which i have gifted to friends and relatives and have a good number of plants with me. They have all been kept together and while in bloom they look absolutely beautiful..
African violet is a lovely indoor plant, usually placed on the window sill to add colours to the room.
African violet is also known as Usambara. African violet are most commonly found in Africa. The African violets are perennial plants, they are small and they do not have long stems. The flowers are usually white, pink, red and purple.
African violets do not need lots of water to grow; in fact the plant should be kept fairly dry. One good way of watering the African violet is by soaking the plant in a shallow pan of water overnight and leaves it dry in the day. African violets strive on warmer temperature and sunlight hence it is not suitable for outdoor plant in temperate countries.
African violet can be propagated easily. Propagation is by seed and by leaf cuttings. Cut off ripened leaves with an inch of the petiole attached and insert in the soil covering a little of the leaf blade. The soil must be kept moist but not too wet to avoid rotting.
African violets can be grown very easily and successfully. With experience and care, it is possible to keep them flowering throughout the year.
African violet add colours and is a delightful plant to have in our home.