Never Have Problems With African Violets Again

Posted by

African violets (Saintpaulia species) are those rare house plants that will flower continuously all year long, even through all those dark, winter months, and add color and cheer to any area you put it in. In fact, African violets are some of the easiest indoor plants to grow once you are aware of a couple of their very simple requirements. They naturally like filtered light and temperatures that most houses have on a year-round basis, and provided you know a few key other things which we are going to share with you, there is no reason you can’t have a house full of colorful, velvety, African violets for years to come.

So if you have ever struggled with African violets, follow these 6 key tips, and you’ll be amazed how well they will respond for you. Let’s get started!

6 Key Tips: 

1. Give them the temperatures they like which are:

65° to 75° F (18° to 24° C) daytime temperatures,
60° to 65° F (15° to 18° C) nighttime temperatures.
Any hotter or colder and they will not do well. Avoid temperature fluctuations, including sudden drafts.

2.Give them good indirect or filtered light.

Always avoid any hot or direct sunlight. It will scorch the plants and cause leaf blemishes and burns. Think about their natural habitat which is under forest canopies. So the better the sunlight you give your violet without it being direct, hot sun, the more often it will flower for you.

During the winter months, when the sunlight is weaker, your plants may benefit from the light of a southern exposure. But keep in mind, African violets do well with artificial light, such as in an office, so they are flexible plants.

3. Cool it with the water!

The fastest way to kill African violets is to overwater them! African violets need to stay evenly moist at all times so the best way to water them is from underneath using room temperature water. Use a container that has a saucer. When you feel the soil and it is starting to dry out, simply fill the saucer underneath a few times.

When the plant has had enough, it will stop soaking up the water in the saucer. Make sure to empty any unused water! Do not let your plant sit in a saucer full of water; it will drown. Also, do NOT mist the foliage. Water spots on the foliage may cause permanent leaf spotting.

4. If you use African Violet Pots.

African violet pots are special pots that come in two separate pieces (see picture to right). If you want to use African violet pots, then plant your violet directly into the top portion of the pot.

The trick here is even though the instructions for these pots tell you to fill the lower portion and leave the water there, DON’T do it! When your violet is dry, just pour water into the lower pot, put the top pot in for about an hour or until the plant is nicely moist, then pour out any unused water. Leave the lower pot dry until it is time to water again.


5. African violets like fertilizer!

African violets will flower more often if you feed them regularly. You can use either an African violet fertilizer or use a 20-20-20 fertilizer at half the suggested dosage.

Also, after you’ve mixed up the fertilizer, let the container stand overnight to let the chlorine in the water evaporate, and to bring the water to room temperature. This is important because African violets don’t like cold water or chlorine.

6. Repot your African violets every six months to one year.

The soil you use must have excellent drainage. This is critical. You can buy pre-packaged African violet soil mixes or mix your own using 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 perlite. Secondly, use the right sized pot because all Saintpaulia must be potbound to flower, so choose a pot that is 1/3 the diameter of the plant.

In other words, the plant should be 3 times the diameter of the pot it is in before potting up. An African violet’s root system is only about 1/3 of the diameter of your plant. A four inch (10 cm) pot is usually adequate, but measure to make sure. Choosing the proper sized container also helps prevent root rot because if you use too large and deep a pot, it will lead to excess moisture in the soil and the roots will die.

  • Note: If one of your African violets has developed a neck, which is that bare place where the leaves have been taken off, make sure to repot your plant as soon as possible, and make sure the neck is covered with soil when it has been replanted. It will grow new roots along the newly buried neck area.

One last note – African violet plants are pet friendly and they are not toxic to animals, so you can have as many as you want throughout your home!.

Flower best in moderate temperatures: 


Do best in a pot with
a saucer underneath:

Specialized African Violet Pot:

African Violet Fertilizer:


Long neck:


After reading this you will be able to tame any African violet that has ever given you trouble, because if you follow the 6 items above, you will have met every requirement they need fulfilled to thrive and do well, and they will do just that for you.

African violets are very satisfying to have around because they have such a lush appearance with their velvety leaves and glittering flowers, so if you have a record of killing houseplants, give it one more try with an African violet!




Hilary Rinaldi is a member of the National Garden Writers Association, a nationally published writer, and a certified organic grower.


  1. Linda Kosnar says:

    Thanks Susan, for all the great information, I love my plants and especially my African violets and although I knew a lot of this information it was good to read about them and learn a little more! Great website

  2. interiorofficeplants says:

    Linda, I’m glad you enjoyed the article and like the website. Check us out on Twitter@WeMakeYouGreen

Leave a Reply

Growing Expectations, Inc. PO Box 268 Princeton, NJ 08542 Telephone – (609) 924 – 9782 FAX (609) 737 – 2344