Plant Care Guides 🌿

African Violets Care: From Growing Requirements to Propagation

African Violets, with their small size, vivid colors, and low-maintenance appeal, have earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the most beloved houseplants around. These charming plants are a fantastic choice for novice indoor gardeners, offering year-round blooms to brighten up any space.

First spotted in 1982 by German colonial officer Walter von Saint Paul-Illaire, African Violets quickly gained popularity in Germany. Commonly referred to as “violets,” African Violets aren’t closely related to true violets. What sets them apart is their eye-catching, brilliantly colored flowers that bloom multiple times a year, even during winter months.

So why not add a touch of color to your windowsill by incorporating a variety of African Violets into your indoor garden?

1. General Information

Scientific name:Streptocarpus ionanthus (synonym Saintpaulia ionantha)
Common names:Violette d’Usambara, African Violets
Native to:Eastern African Rainforests
Toxicity:According to ASPCA, African Violets are non-toxic to cats, dogs, and horses
Mature size:8-16 inches (20-40 cm) wide

2. African Violet Care & Growing Requirements

Despite its delicate appearance, an African Violet can grow and flourish indoors with minimal care. The key to success is simply finding the ideal location for it. Now, let’s see what it takes to successfully grow this plant.

» Watering

Watering is a crucial aspect of caring for African Violets. These delicate plants prefer consistent moisture without being overly saturated.

It’s best to water them from the bottom by filling the saucer beneath the pot, allowing the plant to absorb the water it needs through the drainage holes. This method helps prevent water from touching the leaves, which can cause spots and damage.

Be sure to use room temperature water to avoid shocking the plant. Allow the soil to become slightly dry before watering again, usually every 7-10 days.

» Lighting

African Violets thrive in bright, indirect light. The ideal light source is an east or west-facing window that provides gentle sunlight for about 8-12 hours a day.

If natural light is insufficient, consider supplementing with a fluorescent or LED grow light. However, be cautious of excessive light exposure, as it can lead to bleached or burned leaves. On the other hand, inadequate light may cause leggy growth and reduced blooming.

» Soil

The right soil mix is essential for healthy African Violets. These plants require a well-draining, porous, and slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0-6.5. A suitable mix consists of equal parts peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite.

Commercial African Violet potting mixes are also available, which are specifically formulated to provide the necessary nutrients and drainage.

Remember to use a pot with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging and root rot.

» fertilizer

Feeding your African Violets with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer helps promote vigorous growth and abundant flowering. Opt for a fertilizer specially formulated for African Violets, with a balanced ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N-P-K).

Fertilize every 4-6 weeks during the growing season (spring and summer) and reduce feeding to every 8-10 weeks during the cooler months. Always follow the package instructions to avoid over-fertilizing, which can damage the plant.

» Temperature

African Violets prefer moderate temperatures, ideally between 65-75°F (18-24°C) during the day and slightly cooler at night, around 60-65°F (15-18°C).

Avoid exposing your plants to sudden temperature fluctuations or drafts, as this can cause stress and may inhibit growth and flowering. Keep them away from heat vents, air conditioners, and drafty windows to maintain a consistent temperature.

» Humidity

Maintaining proper humidity levels is essential for the health of your African Violets. They thrive in a humidity range of 40-60%.

To increase humidity, place a tray filled with water and pebbles beneath the plant pot, ensuring the pot is not in direct contact with the water. The water will evaporate, creating a humid microclimate around the plant.

Alternatively, use a humidifier to help maintain optimal humidity levels. Be cautious not to create overly damp conditions, as this can lead to fungal issues and root rot.

3. African Violet Maintenance and Propagation

To ensure your plants remain healthy and vibrant, we will delve a bit into repotting, pruning, and propagating African Violets. This way, you’ll be able to maintain their beauty and create new plants from existing ones so you can share them with your friends!

» Repotting

African Violets benefit from being repotted every 12 months to encourage healthy growth and prevent root-bound issues. Choose a pot that is about one-third the diameter of the plant’s leaf spread and ensure it has drainage holes.

To repot, gently remove the plant from its current container, being careful not to damage the roots. Trim any dead or damaged parts, then place the plant in the new pot filled with fresh African Violet soil mix.

Ensure the plant is positioned at the same soil depth as before and gently firm the soil around the roots. Water it thoroughly and place it in its usual growing location.

» Pruning

Regular pruning is necessary for maintaining the appearance and health of your African Violets. Remove spent flowers and dead or yellowing leaves by pinching or using small, sharp scissors.

This will encourage new growth and continuous blooming. If your plant becomes leggy or overgrown, you can trim the stems back to a healthy node or leaf joint.

Regularly inspect your plant for pests and diseases, and address any issues promptly to prevent further damage

» Propagating

Propagating African Violets is a simple process that allows you to create new plants from a single leaf cutting. Choose a healthy, mature leaf with a sturdy stem. Using a clean, sharp knife or scissors, cut the leaf stem at a 45-degree angle, about 1-2 inches from the base of the leaf. Allow the cut end to air-dry for a few hours to form a callus.

Fill a small pot or container with a moistened African Violet soil mix. Insert the cut end of the leaf stem about half an inch into the soil, ensuring the leaf is not touching the soil surface. Place a plastic bag or clear cover over the pot to create a humid environment, but make sure there is some air circulation. Place the cutting in a warm, brightly-lit location, avoiding direct sunlight.

Check the moisture level regularly, keeping the soil consistently damp but not soggy. In about 4-8 weeks, you should see small plantlets developing at the base of the leaf cutting. Once the plantlets have a few leaves each, carefully remove them from the parent leaf and transplant them into individual pots. Continue to provide proper care, and you’ll soon have a new generation of African Violets to enjoy.

4. Common Diseases and Pests

While generally easy to grow, African Violets can sometimes fall victim to diseases and pests that can affect their overall health and appearance. By understanding the common diseases and pests that may target them and taking preventive measures, you can ensure your plants remain vibrant, healthy, and pest-free.

» Common Diseases

  1. Powdery Mildew: This fungal disease appears as a white, powdery substance on the leaves and stems of African Violets. To treat powdery mildew, remove affected leaves and apply a fungicide specifically labeled for African Violets, following the package instructions. Prevent future outbreaks by maintaining proper humidity levels and providing adequate air circulation.
  2. Root and Crown Rot: Overwatering, poor drainage, and excessive humidity can cause fungal root and crown rot. Affected plants may display wilted, yellowing leaves and a mushy, discolored crown. Remove the plant from its pot, trim away damaged roots, and treat the remaining healthy roots with a fungicide. Repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil and avoid overwatering.
  3. Botrytis Blight: Also known as gray mold, this fungal disease causes fuzzy gray or brown spots on leaves, flowers, and stems. Remove affected plant parts, increase air circulation, and reduce humidity levels to prevent further spread. Apply a fungicide if necessary, following the package directions.

» Common Pests

  1. Aphids: These small, soft-bodied insects suck the sap from African Violets, causing leaves to yellow and curl. To control aphids, use insecticidal soap or neem oil, following the product instructions. For heavy infestations, consider using a systemic insecticide.
  2. Spider Mites: Tiny and difficult to see without magnification, spider mites can cause stippling, yellowing, and curling of the leaves. In severe cases, you may notice fine webbing. To control spider mites, isolate the affected plant, remove any heavily infested leaves, and treat the plant with a miticide or insecticidal soap.
  3. Mealybugs: These small, cottony pests feed on plant sap and can cause leaf yellowing, stunted growth, and leaf drop. To control mealybugs, dab individual pests with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or use insecticidal soap or neem oil, following the product instructions.

» Preventive Measures

To keep your African Violets healthy and pest-free, follow these preventive measures:

  1. Inspect your plants regularly for signs of pests or diseases and address issues promptly.
  2. Maintain proper watering, lighting, and humidity levels.
  3. Provide adequate air circulation around your plants.
  4. Use clean, sterilized tools when pruning or repotting.
  5. Quarantine new plants for a few weeks before introducing them to your collection.


Caring for African Violets can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, resulting in beautiful, long-lasting blooms that add a touch of color to your indoor garden.

By understanding and meeting their specific growing requirements, including proper watering, lighting, soil, and temperature conditions, you can ensure your plants thrive.

Additionally, mastering the techniques of repotting, pruning, and propagating will allow you to maintain and expand your collection.

Finally, being aware of common diseases and pests and taking preventive measures will help to keep your African Violets healthy and vibrant.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Denis, a lifelong plant lover and gardening enthusiast. I've been in love with gardening since the age of 10 when I successfully grew my first roses from cuttings. Since then, my passion has only grown stronger, and I now write articles about plants to share my knowledge and experiences with others.

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