African Violet Care: Grow African Violets

July 20, 2017
African Violet


Rate this Post: 

Average: 3.6 (32 votes)

African violets are a beautiful indoor plant, so find out how to grow and care for African violets.

What Are African Violets?

If you are in need of some flowering companions to get you through the cold days of winter, look for a plant that hails from the southern hemisphere, the African violet.

African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha) are native to Tanzania and get their Latin name from a 19th century colonial official and amateur botanist, Baron Walter von Saint Paul, who was stationed in the east African country known then as Tanganyika.

He sent specimens of these wild violets home to his father in Germany and in a very short time African violet seeds and plants were available all over Europe.


Though these dainty flowers may look fragile they are pretty tough plants and easy to grow on a warm sunny windowsill. The blossoms come in a wide range of colors including all shades of purple, blue, pink, red, bi-colors, and white with single and double-flowering forms. Their fuzzy foliage is attractive as well with some leaves having ruffled edges or variegated with white and green.

Caring for African Violets

These plants have few demands but will reward you with almost constant bloom if they are happy.

  • They appreciate a warm house: 65ºF to 75ºF during the day with a 5ºF to 10ºF drop at night.
  • Bright indirect light is ideal, though during the short days of winter they can tolerate full sun.
  • They bloom best when slightly pot-bound, so don’t be in a rush to move them into larger containers.
  • Repotting African violets: Wait until your plant has outgrown its pot, ceased to flower, or develops multiple crowns before repotting. They are shallow rooted plants so they grow best in a pot that isn’t too deep.
  • African violet soil: Use a fast draining African violet soil or make your own by combining equal parts potting soil, peat moss, and perlite or vermiculite.
  • Plants with multiple crowns can be divided, giving you more plants to enjoy or share with friends. African violets are easy to propagate by rooting a leaf cutting in water or vermiculite.


  • Watering African violets: Careful watering is the key to good African violet health. They like room temperature water. You can water them from the bottom by filling a saucer under the pot with water and letting it wick up through the soil. After 30 minutes drain off the excess; they don’t like to have cold wet feet. It is perfectly acceptable  to water from the top as long as you take care not to get the leaves or center of the plant wet. Overwatering will kill them, so allow the soil to dry out a bit before watering. Fertilize regularly with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer or one made especially for African violets.

The weather outside might be frightful but these plants are delightful, and before you know it they will be blooming up a storm for you!

See our complete African Violet plant care page for more information. Learn even more about growing African violets.

About This Blog

Get inspired by Robin Sweetser’s backyard gardening tips and tricks. Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. She and her partner Tom have a small greenhouse business and also sell plants, cut flowers, and vegetables at their local Farmer’s Market.

2019 Garden Guide

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

African violet growing (leaning) to one side

What do I do (I already turn it regularly)?

I’m glad you asked that

I’m glad you asked that because I have some leaners too. If you haven’t repotted your violet in the last 6 months it probably needs to be repotted. As the lower leaves die off, the trunk of the plant, called the neck, needs to be buried up to the bottom leaves. Since it is recommended that we keep the violets in the same size pot this means having to slice off some of the bottom of the root ball so you can replant it at the proper depth without putting it in a larger pot. The pot should only be 1 inch larger than the root ball. If your plant has a really long neck, doing this will remove most of the existing rootball so it is recommended that you just cut off the top of the plant with about an inch or two of the neck and repot that in fresh soil. Put the whole thing into a plastic bag to keep it from wilting while it forms new roots and voila in a few weeks you will have a new, centered plant. Keep turning it to keep it growing evenly on all sides and repot again in 6 months. It won’t need total rejuvenation then, just slice off the bottom inch or so and repot in fresh soil, covering the neck up to the bottom leaves.

Grow violets

Grow violets


+ a 4-season guide to raising chickens!

You will also be subscribed to our Almanac Companion Newsletter

The Almanac Webcam

Chosen for You from The Old Farmer's Store