Sainpaulias, commonly known as African Violets, are a genus of herbaceous perennial flowering plants native to Tanzania and southeastern Kenya. Typically, African Violets are grown as a houseplant. In their native habitat, many species of African Violet are endangered due to their cloud forest homes being cleared for agriculture.
African Violets can range in size from less than three inches for the “micro” varieties to over 12 inches for the “giant” varieties. The leaves are rounded to oval, finely hairy, and have a fleshy texture. The flowers are an inch or less in size, with a five-lobed corolla (“petals”), and grow in clusters of 3-10 on slender stalks called peduncles. Blooms range in color from white to pink to purple depending on the variety.
“Wet feet, dry ears.” Keep this in mind when growing African Violets. African Violets are very susceptible to temperature change, so the shock of cool water on their leaves can cause tissue damage which not only harms the plant, but also results in unsightly leaf spots. Always water them from the bottom via a tray under the pot or a self-watering planter.
African Violets are natives of cloud forests of the Usambara Mountains. This means that they thrive in humid environments. This can be problematic during the winter because of low humidity created by cold outdoor temperatures and electric heating systems. A spray bottle is a great choice for many houseplants, but avoid spraying African Violets. Instead make sure to set the pot on a tray of water. In some cases a humidifier might also be needed.
As mentioned above, African Violets don't react well to rapid temperature fluctuations. A good saying to keep in mind is “If you're happy, then they're happy.” They thrive in temperatures around room temperature (about 70 degrees Fahrenheit). However, they can tolerate temperatures from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Living on the floor of a cloud forest in their native habitat, African Violets prefer bright, but indirect sunlight. This makes them a great choice for offices. A northwest-facing window is the optimal choice for this indoor plant. Also, be sure to rotate them regularly to keep growth even.
- Pinch old blooms to promote continued blooming.
- Plant multiple specimens in larger pots since they are slow growers.
- During the winter some direct sunlight in the morning or evening can be beneficial.
- Fertilize regularly with a fertilizer formulated for African Violets, we recommend Jack's Classic African Violet Plant Food.