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Growing African Violets

African Violets are a beautiful species of flower. With their smaller sunburst patters of pinks and purples, they can subtly brighten a room. However, African Violets take a great deal of care to grow properly. These are not for the hobby gardener who sometimes forgets to care for his plants for a week or two (or three). African Violets need to be cared for and nurtured like a fragile china doll.

As with any plant, a gardener should start with the proper soil. African Violets do not like the cheap potting soil that almost every other household plant likes. African Violets are the soil snobs of the plant kingdom. They even have a specialized potting soil – this is what you should use when growing your own African Violet. It allows for extra soil drainage – crucial to the African Violet.

They also require extra attention to the stem. This is where African Violet growers have to be mean. Small baby plants tend to grow on the stems, causing the stem to warp and deform. These small plants are called, “suckers” and need to be removed immediately to let the main plant grow strong and healthy.

African Violets are picky about their sunlight too. They don’t like direct sunlight, nor do they like being kept in the dark for extended periods of time. They like indirect sunlight and will grow just fine on a shelf that receives a little morning sunlight. If you want to know if the light is too much or too little, just watch the plant. It will adjust its leaves to tell you if it’s getting too much sun. Watch it’s growth as well, it will not be symmetrical if its not receiving the proper amount of sunlight.

The last thing to worry about is the water. Most African Violets grow best in the cheap four inch pots. Using these and a small pan or tray, you can get a good feel for how much water is right. Place the pot in the tray, water the plant liberally, and allow it to dry. After a short while, empty the tray and enjoy your healthy plant. One warning about watering – make sure that you do not water the leaves. It leaves them strongly susceptible to rot and mildew – and will quickly kill the plants.

It seems like a great deal of hassle for a flower, doesn’t it? What kind of reward do you get for all of this nurturing? Well, for nine months, your African Violet will spread its flowers and brighten up the room with those brilliant pink and purple colors.

Growing an African Violet is not for the faint-of-heart. If you aren’t serious about gardening, you should seek other heartier plants. But if you are the loving, nurturing, Mother Nature with a green thumb type, then try your thumb on the African Violet and enjoy cultivating the beauty it brings.

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