Streptocarpus subg. Streptocarpella sect. Saintpaulia
Like many grandmas on the market, my great-grandma grew African violets.
She was head of the African Violet Society chapter within the metropolis the place I grew up and she or he assured younger me, as she lovingly watered and cared for her elegant and clearly comfortable vegetation, that elevating African violets was a chunk of cake.
We hyperlink to distributors that can assist you discover related merchandise. For those who purchase from one in every of our hyperlinks, we could earn a fee.
And for a few years, I believed Nice-Grandma Edith was stuffed with it.
I may barely hold the leaves from turning soggy and falling off, not to mention coaxing the vegetation to bloom!
However by my teenagers, I had discovered methods to make them not solely thrive however methods to propagate them as nicely, even creating new vegetation with distinctive traits. You could possibly say I caught the Saintpaulia bug.
Edith can be proud.
I’m delighted to see that these vegetation, which fell out of favor and had been changed in recognition by issues like succulents and fiddle-leaf figs, are discovering their method again into the limelight.
As soon as you understand how to develop them, they are surely fairly easy to take care of. They usually’re one of many few houseplants that may persistently offer you a floral show all year long.
We’re going that can assist you make your African violets the speak of the city, and right here’s what we’ll go over to that finish:
We’re going to wish to outline a couple of phrases earlier than we dive in. As with all extensively cultivated plant, there are lots of descriptions and phrases which are used to elucidate what we’re coping with.
What Are African Violets?
Referred to as gesneriads, or vegetation from the botanical household Gesneriaceae, African violets had been lately reclassified by taxonomists.
Beforehand thought-about members of the Saintpaulia genus – and infrequently nonetheless described this fashion – they’re now categorized as a part of the Streptocarpus genus (typically abbreviated as Str.) throughout the Saintpaulia part of the Streptocarpella subgenus.
There are 10 species on this part, together with Str. afroviola, Str. brevipilosus, Str. goetzeanus, Str. inconspicuus, Str. ionanthus, Str. nitidus, Str. shumensis, Str. teitensis, Str. ulugurensis, and Str. watkinsii.
You’ll see two development behavior sorts amongst African violets.
The primary is trailing, which options cascading development and a number of stems. Blossoms emerge from every stem, and vegetation are bushy with a weeping kind, with flowers protecting the foliage.
The opposite sort is the rosette kind. It has one most important stem, and the blossoms emerge from that central level.
Years in the past, the one possibility you’d sometimes discover had single, purple, five-petaled flowers and your fundamental inexperienced leaves.
Lately, there’s a a lot wider vary when it comes to selection. Not simply violet, you can even discover pink, white, yellow, mauve, blue, and lavender blooms as we speak, in addition to combos of those colours, and leaves in a spread of hues.
You’ll find the unique singles in addition to semi-double flowers with greater than 5 however lower than 10 petals, or double flowers with greater than 10 petals. Some varieties are even described as “double-plus,” with over 20 petals!
On the subject of form, there are bell-shaped flowers which have fused petals curved inward in a slim cuplike kind.
Star-shaped flowers have 5 fused petals, and cups kind a extra shallow cup then bells. You may also discover frilled flowers, which as you would possibly guess, have ruffled, frilly-edged petals.
Along with single, strong colours, additionally, you will see bicolor and multicolored blossoms. After which there are the patterns, which seem as the results of explicit genetic mutations in hybrid cultivars.
Chimera sorts are hybrids which have pinwheel stripes. Genevas have white borders and a coloured heart. These with darkish eyes are primarily white with a dab of colour on the heart, whereas white-eyed blooms show the other coloration.
Varieties additionally exist with coloured or speckled edges. Thumbprint-patterned blooms appear to be somebody pressed their thumb into the middle of the petals to create marks in a contrasting colour.
Fantasy sorts have multicolored petals with contrasting streaks or rays. You may also discover “puffs,” which have splotches of colour, in addition to streaked and dotted blooms, which seem simply as they sound.
Watermarked African violets have coloured petals with a darkish band surrounding them and separating it from a second colour on the heart. And there are feathered ones with darker-colored veins all through lighter petals.
The enjoyable doesn’t cease there! There are fluted flowers too, which have 5 petals with twisted ideas. And wasp flowers have 5 petals, however two of them are extra slim than the others.
These vegetation are available a number of completely different sizes as nicely. They are often requirements, or any dimension above eight inches, semi-miniatures, that means they’re below eight inches in diameter, and miniatures, with a diffusion lower than six inches.
We haven’t even coated leaves but! Moreover the usual, these could also be pointed, spherical, oval, heart-shaped…
There are “woman” leaves, which have scalloped edges with a single white dot on the base. There are additionally “boy” leaves, that are the usual, traditional leaves of yore.
As well as, the leaves may be “quilted,” which is when the leaves are considerably puffy with depressed veins.
Spooned leaves are barely cupped, and a few are ruffled, with frilly edges. Bustled or bustle-backed leaves are single leaves with a smaller pair on the base.
You may additionally see wavy foliage, which has mild waves on the margins.
There are at all times new traits popping up, and new hybrids may be named and registered with the African Violet Society of America, so there are at all times thrilling new choices coming to the market.
Cultivation and Historical past
The previous Saintpaulia genus was named after, unsurprisingly, a person named Baron von Saint Paul. He was a German governor of Tanzania who first described the plant, particularly the ionanthus subspecies, in 1892 and introduced it to Europe.
Initially, it was discovered all through japanese Africa. You possibly can nonetheless discover this plant rising wild within the mountains of Tanzania and Kenya, although it’s threatened by habitat loss.
At the moment, the African violet has develop into an exceptionally in style houseplant throughout the globe, with curiosity amongst gardeners waxing and waning considerably from one technology to the subsequent.
Success with African violets begins with the roots. These vegetation have superb roots, and so they can rot extraordinarily simply.
For all the following propagation strategies, hold one factor in thoughts: solely use well-draining soil. It doesn’t matter what methodology you select: the important thing to success is a substrate that drains readily.
To assist keep away from rot, I like to recommend making your individual potting combine so you may be certain that this can be very well-draining. Decide up a bundle of normal potting soil and blend it with equal elements perlite, pumice, or rice hulls.
Specialty merchandise for African violets are additionally accessible from nurseries, like this free and porous African Violet Potting Soil, made with composted pine bark, perlite, and peat moss, plus lime to steadiness soil pH.
Their most popular pH vary is barely acidic, with a pH of about 6.5 to six.8.
This product is accessible from Good Crops Nursery in two-quart and eight-quart packages.
Most African violet cultivars received’t develop true from seed since they’re hybrids. Chimeras, as an example, can solely be propagated by way of suckers – solely clones will keep the identical genetic traits that give the flowers their distinctive sample.
For many who want to propagate new vegetation by sowing seed, the method takes some time but it surely’s pretty simple. This will also be a enjoyable method to develop new cultivars by cross-pollination.
Fill a seed tray with a seed-starting combine or the DIY combine described above. Don’t use potting soil – it’s too heavy.
Dampen the combo utilizing a twig bottle so that you don’t make any depressions within the medium. Sprinkle the seeds over the combination however don’t cowl them.
Don’t fear about spacing. For the reason that seeds are tiny and exhausting to deal with, we’ll simply skinny the seedlings later.
Place the tray in brilliant, oblique daylight.
Hold the soil moist with that spray bottle. You need to be diligent about this. If the soil dries out the seeds will dry out too. And if that occurs, they received’t germinate.
When you begin to see little seedlings emerge, skinny them out by snipping the weaker ones so that they’re spaced at the very least three inches aside.
Now you may change to softly watering with a watering can, ideally one and not using a shower-type head in order to not disturb the seedlings – water that comes down on vegetation like a delicate rain may be good for delicate seedlings, however you typically need to water immediately on the soil line reasonably than sprinkling foliage.
Hold the soil moist however not moist. As soon as the vegetation have developed three or 4 leaves every, you may transplant them into particular person containers.
From Leaf Cuttings
Leaf cuttings may be taken at any time of yr, however spring tends to be finest, when they’re actively rising.
To propagate leaf cuttings, the soil must be even extra well-draining than what you’d usually use.
Whereas potting combine mixed with equal elements perlite or one other substrate will work, I like to recommend one thing nearer to at least one half potting soil and two elements perlite, or ideally, the DIY combine instructed above.
Fill a two- or three-inch pot along with your combine and use a pencil to make a small gap within the heart.
Reduce a wholesome leaf from a mature plant, taking care to take away as a lot of the petiole or stem as attainable.
Dip the top in rooting hormone and place it within the potting medium in that gap you made beforehand, with the stem pushed into the soil not more than an inch deep.
You would possibly must prop the leaf up with a chopstick or toothpick. Water the medium nicely so it feels moist however not soggy.
Place a glass cloche or tent a plastic bag over the container to create a bit greenhouse. Place the pot in brilliant, oblique gentle.
While you see new foliage, your rooted slicing is able to transplant. Learn our information for a extra complete have a look at propagating African violets this fashion.
Also called pups, suckers are miniature vegetation that sprout from the bottom of the mum or dad, typically in response to environmental stressors. You possibly can lower these off and begin new vegetation.
To do that, water the mum or dad plant nicely after which wait a couple of hours. Within the meantime, fill a two- or three-inch pot with the identical potting combination described to start with of this part. Poke a small indentation within the heart with a pencil or chopstick.
Discover the bottom of the pup and lower it away from the mum or dad plant utilizing a clear pair of scissors. Dip the lower finish in rooting hormone and place it within the shallow divot you made.
Water the medium nicely so it feels moist however not moist and place a cloche or clear plastic bag over the pot to simulate the situations you would possibly discover in a teeny-tiny greenhouse. Set the pot in a location the place it’ll obtain six hours of brilliant, oblique gentle per day.
Hold the soil moist and take away the bag as soon as a day for a couple of hours. Finally, although it could possibly take as much as a month, you’ll begin to see new development. Meaning success! You possibly can pot up your new plant now.
For the main points on that course of, hold studying.
While you propagate, buy, or get hold of a brand new African violet another method, your first transfer must be to place it in a container.
But when the soil is ample and the container it got here in is already sized appropriately, rapid transplanting will not be vital.
African violets have to be grown in small pots to be comfortable. You’ll in all probability suppose you’re utilizing one thing too small at first if you happen to aren’t acquainted with rising these vegetation, however likelihood is it’s good.
Select a container that’s a few third as huge because the plant, as described in a bit extra element within the part under.
To transplant, take away the violet from its container and gently loosen the roots. Place it within the new pot so the roots are coated to the identical depth as within the earlier container, and fill in with a well-draining combine as described at the start of this part.
Learn how to Develop
Place your African violet houseplants about 12 to 24 inches away from a west-, south-, or east-facing window so they are going to obtain brilliant, oblique gentle.
If that isn’t accessible, place them 10 to 30 inches away from supplemental develop lights and go away the lights on for six to 12 hours per day.
They don’t wish to be chilly, so select a location the place you may keep a reasonable temperature of 60 to 70°F, away from any drafts.
These vegetation wish to really feel cozy. They don’t do nicely in the event that they’re positioned in a big pot. A great rule of thumb is to make use of a pot that’s one-third the diameter of the width of the leaves. In case your plant measures a foot throughout, plant it in a four-inch pot.
Small pots make watering a bit tougher, but it surely’s important to get this proper. The soil wants to remain consistently moist and it shouldn’t be allowed to dry out. However the roots shouldn’t be sitting in standing water both.
You should utilize backside watering or prime watering strategies, however make sure you empty the saucer positioned beneath your violet’s container if any water collects. Wick-watering or self-watering pots are a good higher possibility.
Humidity must be round 40 to 60 p.c. Something much less and the flower buds would possibly dry up and fall off earlier than the plant can bloom. Something larger and fungal ailments develop into extra probably.
Until you completely should, keep away from touching the leaves.
Leaves which are dealt with typically are usually smaller and fewer wholesome, as a examine by Julia C. Brotton and Janet C. Cole, researchers from the Division of Horticulture and Panorama Structure at Oklahoma State College and revealed within the journal HortTechnology in 2009 concluded.
- Present brilliant, oblique gentle for at the very least six hours a day.
- Use a pot 1/3 the diameter of the leaves.
- Hold humidity at 40 to 60 p.c.
- Don’t contact the leaves.
Pruning and Upkeep
Because the blossoms fade, seize a spent flower and rock it backwards and forwards. It’ll pop off away from the stem.
Deadheading on this method helps to make sure continued blooming. Don’t take away a whole flower cluster without delay. Simply take away every flower separately, as they fade individually.
Take away any useless or broken leaves as you see them as nicely.
African violets have to be fed commonly, with no exceptions. Feeding as soon as per week with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer diluted to one-eighth energy is about proper.
You could possibly additionally fertilize each different week with the identical sort of product diluted to one-quarter energy.
Now, let’s deal with probably the most thrilling and difficult elements of rising African violets: getting them to bloom.
These vegetation may be fussy in relation to placing out flowers. For those who’ve been rising yours for some time and you continue to aren’t seeing blossoms, first contemplate the sunshine state of affairs.
The proper location can be as described above, close to a brilliant window or below supplemental electrical lights.
For those who aren’t positive that your vegetation are receiving ample gentle, use a light-weight meter or have a look at the leaves. If the leaves are rising up reasonably than horizontally and if the petioles (the leaf stems) are lengthy, your violet wants extra gentle.
Subsequent, take into consideration the final time you fertilized, and contemplate whether or not the pot is simply too massive. Specialty fertilizers aren’t vital, however you will see that many merchandise accessible which are really helpful particularly to be used on African violets to encourage blooming.
You would possibly like this liquid Blooming Houseplant Meals from Miracle-Gro, accessible from Amazon in a two-pack of eight-ounce bottles.
If these situations take a look at, ensure the ambient humidity and temperature are excessive sufficient. If all else fails, your plant might need fallen asleep, for lack of a greater time period.
Some violets resolve that they’re doing completely nicely as they’re, thanks very a lot, and so they’re content material.
These have to be woken up by repotting. You don’t must go up a dimension, simply take away the plant, unfold out these roots a bit, and repot in recent soil.
If in case you have a chimera hybrid, it’s solely attainable that it would revert to producing solid-colored flowers. Chimeras have two separate units of DNA and as they age, they could begin to ship out development influenced by the genetics from the solid-colored mum or dad.
For those who see any strong flowers pop up, lower them off. If the plant begins producing nothing however strong flowers, it’s too late and the chimera trait is gone from the plant.
Crops must be repotted at the very least annually, however ideally twice a yr. The purpose isn’t to improve to a bigger pot essentially however to bury the stem(s) barely deeper than they had been earlier than.
African violets naturally drop their decrease leaves over time. As this occurs, they kind what is named a “neck.” It is a stem on the base of the plant with none leaves.
Every time you repot, take away the plant from its current pot and brush away the soil from the bottom of the plant.
Put the violet again within the container sitting so the underside leaves are simply above the soil line and refill the container. Each time you repot, you’ll place the plant only a contact deeper than it was earlier than, burying the stem barely.
You don’t must go up a dimension until the leaves have grown so huge that you might want to improve to a much bigger container to retain that 1:3 ratio.
The pot you utilize must be the identical dimension throughout as the basis ball. Any bigger and also you’ll encourage root rot and different issues.
Cultivars to Choose
By the way in which, it is best to develop into acquainted with the time period NOID, which suggests “no identification.”
That’s how African violet fanatics consult with vegetation that haven’t any identify, both as a result of they had been by no means named formally or they had been separated from their id in some unspecified time in the future alongside the way in which.
It occurs on a regular basis and most of the vegetation you discover in shops are NOIDs.
For instance, Hirt’s Gardens sells NOID vegetation in a wide range of bloom colours and kinds as shock grab-bag alternatives accessible in four-inch pots from Walmart.
And Amazon carries four-packs of varied Optimara NOID African violets from Optiflora, additionally in four-inch pots.
You received’t be capable of enter these into any reveals, however that doesn’t imply they received’t make pretty houseplants.
On the subject of named hybrid cultivars, there are such a lot of to select from! Simply to call a couple of, the next three are extraordinarily in style:
‘Aromat Leta,’ aka ‘Aroma of Summer season,’ has wavy coral thumbprint petals with a white eye and yellow facilities. This cultivar was produced by hybridizer Natalia Skornyakova in 2015/2016.
‘Cherry Princess,’ a chimera sort launched by Paul Sorano of Lyndon Lyon Greenhouses in 2012, has semi-double to double white, pansy-shaped blooms with fuchsia stripes.
‘Rose Quartz’ belongs to the Little Jewel collection from the Optimara model at Holtkamp Greenhouses, and was first launched in 1988. It has semi-double pink flowers with pink facilities.
For some extra distinctive cultivars, take a look at this roundup of our favourite African violet cultivars (coming quickly!).
Managing Pests and Illness
Wholesome African violets are pretty immune to pests and ailments, regardless of their finicky fame. However give them the improper quantity of sunshine, not sufficient meals, or too little or an excessive amount of water, and also you’re inviting issues.
Since African violets are primarily grown indoors, you’ll most frequently see the frequent houseplant pests.
Many of those are introduced in on newly bought vegetation, so give your new infants a great look and even per week or two of quarantine away from different indoor flora earlier than you introduce them to the pack.
Cyclamen mites (Phytonemus pallidus) are tiny little pests that assault African violets, strawberries, and cyclamens.
They thrive in heat, humid environments, so these protecting their violets in cloches or glass cupboards would possibly run into this pest. Any vegetation grown in situations above 80 p.c humidity and at temperatures over 60°F is in danger.
Whereas they’re just like spider mites, they don’t spin webs and so they can’t be seen by the bare eye. As an alternative of searching for the bugs, search for dusty white patches on the leaves, and new leaf and flower development that appears distorted, curled, or fused.
For those who uncover indicators of an infection and also you aren’t in love with this explicit specimen, toss it out.
It’s a lot simpler than attempting to manage an infestation and these pests unfold extremely rapidly. On the very least, don’t use an infested plant to make cuttings and make sure you hold it remoted.
To deal with the issue, apply neem oil, taking care to saturate the tops and bottoms of the leaves. Do that each 4 days for 3 weeks. Wait a couple of months to see if new development seems to be more healthy. If not, repeat therapy.
Mealybugs are a standard pest of all types of houseplants. They’re small critters, a few quarter-inch in size, and have a waxy, cottony coating that covers their our bodies.
These pests use their sucking mouthparts to feed on plant sap and also you often discover them on leaves and stems reasonably than flowers.
Citrus (Planococcus citri) and comstock mealybugs (Pseudococcus comstocki) feed on African violets. After they’re current, the leaves will likely be distorted and development is stunted.
You may additionally see yellowing and browning of the leaves. Along with the pests themselves, search for the sticky honeydew that they go away behind.
For those who catch an infestation early, you may eliminate it by dipping a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and wiping it on every of the mealybugs. This removes their protecting coating. Do that every day till you don’t see any extra mealybugs.
For a bigger infestation, seize an insecticide that accommodates pyrethrins. Many of those usually are not rated for indoor use, so that you’ll must take your plant outdoors once you spray it and go away it out for a bit.
If it’s winter, rapidly spray after which place the pot in a storage or different protected house for a couple of hours.
In any other case, discover a therapy product that’s rated for indoor use.
I’m not a fan of any forms of pests, however thrips actually drive me nuts after they assault African violets. That’s as a result of the obvious signs contain the blossoms.
Right here you’re, having fun with your self and caring in your vegetation, simply counting the times till these buds open to disclose large, stunning blossoms.
However then they flip mushy and delicate, or they could open after which quickly dry out, with a papery texture. Or maybe the buds don’t open in any respect!
If this occurs, your plant might need a bit household of western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) making themselves at dwelling. They don’t often affect the foliage, however they actually do a quantity on the flowers.
You in all probability received’t discover the bugs themselves as a result of they’re shy, pale, and just one millimeter lengthy. The answer – and right here is one more reason that I hate these tiny jerks – is to take away all the flowers and buds for a interval of six months.
It sucks, however you successfully starve the thrips to demise since you’ve eliminated their supply of meals. Within the grand scheme of issues, what’s six months? A mere blink of an eye fixed. Actually value eradicating this irritating pest.
Oh, and if you’re on the fence about pruning off a giant, stunning flower, do not forget that this pest transmits an incurable virus. Don’t ignore the issue!
The commonest ailments of this stunning plant are simple to keep away from with care. However one is tough to keep away from and incurable, although unusual.
Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus
This incurable illness is carried by these western flower thrips that we talked about above. As these pests feed, they’ll unfold the virus from plant to plant.
The signs are fairly exhausting to sum up as a result of they appear to be so many different points. We’re speaking about wilting, leaf yellowing, an absence of flowering, ring spots or sunken spots, and stunted development.
The one method to know for positive in case your vegetation have contracted this virus is to ship a pattern to your native extension workplace. For those who get a constructive affirmation, toss your vegetation.
Powdery mildew is tremendous frequent and it reveals up as white powdery spots on the leaves.
The easiest way to keep away from this illness is to maintain humidity below 60 p.c, be certain that vegetation have loads of air circulation, and if your own home temperatures fluctuate by greater than 15 levels, attempt putting your vegetation someplace with extra fixed temperatures.
As soon as the illness is current, take a look at our information for coping with powdery mildew. And don’t really feel unhealthy, it occurs to everybody in some unspecified time in the future.
Root rot begins with limp leaves on the outside of the plant. It seems to be a bit just like the plant is wilting, however this isn’t the time so as to add extra water.
Contact the soil first. Does it really feel moist? If that’s the case, it’s most definitely root rot.
Take away the plant from its container and brush or knock away as a lot soil as you may. Place the plant on a towel and let the roots dry out for half an hour or so. Now, spray the roots with copper fungicide and repot.
Watch out to not overwater going ahead. You might need to deal with once more in a month, however if you happen to keep diligent, your plant will get well.
Finest Makes use of
There’s hardly a plant that I can consider that’s higher suited to make use of indoors as a potted specimen. It’s good.
Whilst you can put a few of the trailing sorts in a dangling basket if you would like, you’ll miss out on many of the show that method. Hold these vegetation in pots and revel in.
Fast Reference Rising Information
|Plant Sort:||Tender flowering herb||Flower / Foliage Shade:||Blue, orange, pink, purple, purple, yellow/inexperienced|
|Native to:||Jap Africa||Upkeep||Excessive|
|Hardiness (USDA Zone):||11-12||Tolerance:||Shade, some drought|
|Bloom Time:||12 months-round||Soil Sort:||Loamy, wealthy|
|Publicity:||Vibrant, oblique gentle||Soil pH:||6.5-6.8|
|Time to Maturity:||1 yr||Soil Drainage:||Nicely-draining|
|Spacing:||3 inches (seedlings)||Makes use of:||Container, houseplant, terrarium, vivarium|
|Planting Depth:||Soil floor (seeds), > 1 inch (cuttings and suckers), root depth (transplants)||Household:||Gesneriaceae|
|Peak:||As much as 9 inches||Genus:||Streptocarpus|
|Unfold:||As much as 3 toes||Subgenus:||Streptocarpella|
|Widespread Pests and Ailments:||Cyclamen mites, mealybugs, thrips; impatiens necrotic virus, powdery mildew, root rot||Species:||Afroviola, brevipilosus, goetzeanus, inconspicuus, ionanthus, nitidus, shumensis, teitensis, ulugurensis, watkinsii|
A Retro Plant That Deserves a Return to the Highlight
African violets had been thought-about out of fashion within the ‘90s and aughts. However as we speak, persons are recognizing them for the year-round blossoms that they supply.
It’s fairly tough to discover a plant that blossoms so long as this one does, particularly with the massive vary of flower colours and types.
Are you new to African violets? Making an attempt them as soon as once more after years of trying towards different vegetation?
Regardless, which cultivars or hybrids do you’re keen on? There are such a lot of wonderful ones and discovering new favorites is at all times a welcome discovery. Share with us within the remark part under!
Are you a houseplant aficionado? Are you searching for different species to fill your own home with? If the reply is sure, you would possibly discover these guides useful: