Monday, August 15, 2011
The African violet, or saintpaulias, is a common houseplant that can provide beautiful blossoms in purple, lavender, white, and pink throughout the year. When conditions are right, continually blooming can result. The soil should be kept moist, but never soggy. Generally I allow the soil to dry completely before watering. To water, place the flower pot in a larger container, like a bowl or carton. Without allowing water to touch the leaves, drench the soil in water so that it drains into the container below. Allow it to sit in the water that pools for 10 minutes or so, then remove. The soil should be completely moist but the plant shouldn't be left sitting in water for a long period of time. If allowed to sit in water too long, the stems and leaves will get mushy and rot. I like to use fertilizer sticks that slow release into the soil so that blossoms result. A low level nitrogen fertilizer gives the best results. In the winter, sunlight from a nearby window seems to give me the best results when it comes to growth and foliage, but during the summer when it is hot, care should be taken to keep African violets out of too much direct sunlight. Too much light and heat can cause spotting of the foliage or wilting of the leaves. Books about caring for African violets all mention that they require a fairly high level of humidity to thrive. This is something I don't worry about too much, as my climate is fairly dry in both summer and winter. They seem to do alright without extra effort to humidify them as long as I keep them in the proper light and well watered and fed.
The process of restoring these little African violets plants has just begun. Before long I hope they will thrive, grow, and grace the room with abundant colorful blossoms! In the meantime, the journey of restoration is interesting and rewarding. African violets are not just your grandmother's living room plant!