African Violets Saintpaulia ionantha

Rough draft 12/3/2020


Saintpaulia ionantha, commonly called African violet, is one of the most satisfactory flowering houseplants. It is a low, compact plant with attractive dark green, thick, velvet like leaves. The deep and bright violet colored flowers with a speck of yellow in the middle of each bloom are seen atop the foliage. As a beginner gardener with house plants this was one of my first purchases. It came in a small clay pot and fit perfectly with other companion plants in my kitchen garden window.


African violets need bright indirect sunlight to bloom. An African violet can last indefinitely, according to the Bay State African Violet Society. It’s not unusual for them to live 50 years or more with proper care. The key is to avoid over watering, chilling and direct sunlight —  these three things that can drastically reduce an African violet’s lifespan. Also to note an African violet plant does it’s best as an indoor plant. This plant thrives at temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and needs to stay from having the temperature drop to 60 degrees f. or below. 


“How often to water African violets?” is perhaps the most pondered African violet dilemma. The best guide is to feel the top of the soil.  If the soil is dry to the touch, then it is time to water. African violets should be allowed to dry out between each watering for best results. Over watering and watering daily can kill a plant.  Also when watering use room temperature water the plant loves this! I have a sister in law that is definitely a sister for life that shared a great tip with me years ago. Tip: Use a spray bottle to water this violet because it mimics the east African mountainous rain forests where these plants originated from. When spraying this plant it’s okay to water more frequently as long as the plant isn’t being drenched with the water from the spray bottle. Try to keep any water from getting on the leaves by watering at the base of the plant. Note: It’s been known that you can bring an African violet leaves back to life within 24 hours if given a dousing or “good drink of water.”


Yes! There is an actual African violet potting mix available at most home improvement stores. All purpose potting mix or potting soil will do just fine for your plant as long as it is well draining soil. Keep the soil loose and avoid packing down. African violets need to be re-potted in larger pots as they grow. Keep in mind that the African violet tends to bloom more being slightly root bound. When transplanting into a larger pot or container it’s not necessary to loosen  or break the roots. Just tip upside down let it come out gently or lift it lightly out of the pot, place it into the new pot and fill loosely with potting soil. Water if needed for the soil to feel moist. It’s that easy!

The African violet symbolizes loyalty, devotion, faithfulness, and modesty. Because of this plant’s symbolism it can be a thoughtful wedding gift by mentioning the meaning behind this flowering plant in a card or nestled in the plant itself or even staked on a plant card next to the foliage. The little plastic stakes and business size cards can be found in the floral department of most stores and are usually free of charge. This adds a nice personalized touch when presenting this as a gift. In any case if it’s a gift for others or yourself this plant is highly recognizable but if it isn’t to some, you’ll always get a oooh or ahhh and the question asked “What is that plant?”  It is a true eye catcher!

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