Saintpaulia is a genus of six species in the Gesneriaceae family and is related to gloxinia. Regardless to commonly used name African violet, it has nothing in common with European violet.
Saintpaulia is named after Baron Walter von Saint Paul-Illaire (1860-1910) , who was the district commissioner of Tanga province who discovered the plant in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in Africa. He discovered the plant on the Nguru mountains in todays Tanzania.
Like many other house plants Saintpaulia is firstly, and successfully grown in United States. Today it is very popular flowering plant and could be cultivated and purchased througout all year.
African Violets have single or double flowers which come in a great variety of colors and have different leaves shapes. The genuine colour is dark blue (Saintpaulia ionantha), and many cultivars are later derived in different colours (violet, purple, light blue, white). The most popular is the breed called Rhapsodie. The plant with the white flowers is rare, and through the time it changes its colour on the edges of petals.
If the plant is left to rest for six weeks on the temperature lower than usual (12-15°C), and then maintain in dry soil (with watering once a week), it will grow more buds and consequently more flowers. This treatment may be applied any time in the year.
Height and spread: About 10 cm height , and 12-15cm wide
Growth: It grows pretty quick. The cuttings taken in early summer, flowering in autumn.
Flowering period: All year, more often in summer
Light: Keep it on the light place, like windowsill. Avoid direct sunlight.
Temperature: In winter no less than 12°C, an optimal tempreature is 15°C.
Watering: Never watering from above. Instead, put the plant pot in a deep saucer and than add water in the saucer. After watering wait for a while and then remove excess water. Throughout the year water the plant twice a week, but the soil shouldn’t be soaked. Avoid to splash water over the leaves, so they would not rotten.
Fertilizing: In summer add liqid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks.
Humidity: It needs moist air, but never spray it. Instead, put the pot on the wet pebbles or in bigger pot lined with peat or moss.
Air: Grows well in the kitchen or batroom where could be steamy air. Don’t like draft or gas fumes.
Soil: The best is the use of peat compost.
Re-planting: Re-plant when the leaves become too small or they are too many. Usually every other year. You should use just a slightly bigger pot, because the plant flowering.
Propagation: The whole leaf with the petiole put in the soil or in the water. The best period is late spring and keep it on the temperature of 21°C. They will mature in six months time. Sow seeds in spring, but the quality varied. It needs temperature between 18-21°C for germinates.
Lifetime: The plant could last basically forever, but it is better to grow the new plants every 12-18 months. In that way, you will have new, healthy plants.
Companion plants: All small plants, such as the fern and vine. But it is the best to plant more African violets together.
Easy/difficult: Self-sustainable and popular home plant. With the proper care you will have a beautiful plant.
Author: D. M. (Cool Garden)