African Violets: Fusspots

By George and Becky Lohmiller
July 17, 2008
African Violet

African Violets are stunning tropical plants whose flowers resemble violets in color and shape. Their cheerful flowers perched just above a neat rosette of dark-green, fuzzy leaves may bloom constantly throughout the year.

There are thousands of cultivars, which provide a palette of flower colors that include lavenders, blues, pinks, reds, and white. Some blooms combine two or more colors and may be single or double. The leaves are either smooth or wavy and sometimes are variegated. In addition to standard varieties, there are miniature African violets and trailing forms that can be grown in hanging pots.

Beginning growers sometimes have trouble getting African violets to flower. This is because the plants are really fussy about growing conditions.

  • For maximum blooms, they demand ten to 14 hours of bright but indirect light per day and an eight-hour rest period in darkness.
  • West- or south-facing windows offer the best light in winter, and windows that look north or east are preferred in summer.
  • African violets thrive best with daytime temperatures between 70° and 80° F and nighttime temperatures near 65° F.
  • Avoid overwatering; water just enough so that the soil is uniformly moist but not saturated. Use tepid or room temperature water; cold water can damage the root system and will cause spotting if spilled on leaves.
  • Too little or too much fertilizer can result in a lack of blossoms. Use an African violet food to ensure the right proportions of nutrients. Experienced growers use a diluted solution of fertilizer with each watering.

African violets need to be repotted about once a year, but they can be persnickety about this, too. They prefer to be a bit potbound, so use a new pot that is only slightly larger than the old one. Remove about one-third of the old soil and replace it with a commercial African violet potting mix. Make sure that the crown of the plant is just above the soil line. Water thoroughly and the job is complete.

African violets really are easy to grow as long as you care for them on their own terms. When rewarded with a windowsill full of beautiful, blooming plants, you’ll know that they were certainly worth all of the fuss.


Reader Comments

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tiny leaves

The center of my violets tend to get very small and upright? Am. I doing something wrong or am I just a worrywart?

growing violets

My wife loves african violets. Our kitchen faces south and there is not enough room to put any plants . She has been growing them for at least the last10 years and they are butifull. There must be at least 20 plants. In the summer we put them on the back porch where there is no direct sun lite and they are doing very well.

African Violets

Thanks for the nice information As I want to keep them in my bedroom which sounds like it will be a good position
Love to potter in the garden.

african violets

I have 5 the foliage is beautiful, they get so big I have to trim some leaves blooms fertilize every two weeks from bottom up. in sunroom, they look happy but no blooms, what do I do. they look so healthy. hope you can help. thank you.

I have 5 violets. beautiful leaves. water every two weeks from bottom up. they do not bloom. they are in our sunroom in calif. what should different?

I have all of mine in a

I have all of mine in a pebble pan. The one thing that I have learned over the years is that they like plenty of humidity. By grouping them together in a vintage baking pans on a bed of pretty stones I have been able to keep them in almost constant bloom.
Hope this helps

If African violets dislike

If African violets dislike wet leaves, why are they included in plants for a terrarium? Btw, Do you recommend the double pots for violets?

African violets' increased

The Editors's picture

African violets' increased humidity helps maintain water in the soil of the terrarium.
Do not water directly onto the leaves. Water directly into the substrate.
It's not the easiest terrarium plant if you're a beginner. Read more here:

To maintain the humidity that

The Editors's picture

To maintain the humidity that African violets need, we set the pots in watertight metal or plastic trays filled with water and gravel or pebbles. Just maintain a shallow level of water in the tray adding a little water at a time. Do not allow the pots to sit in water; set them on pebbles or on inverted shallow pot saucers. Easier control of humidity is to plant violets in large glass goblets, aquarium, or terrariums as mentioned on this page.