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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