Nine tips to keep your African violet looking its best

African violet in Buffalo NY
Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Ruth Syron

Good grooming will help keep your African violets looking beautiful for nine months out of the year. (African violets rest for three months. The rest period is usually January through March, but it can be December through February.)

Here are nine tips to keep your African violet looking its best:

  • Any leaf with a dried edge or a spot should be removed.
  • Keep the leaves free of dirt and dust by brushing with a soft makeup brush as dirt becomes visible. A dirty leaf cannot make food for the plant as the sunlight is blocked.
  • Remove any blooms that are past their prime. Discard them unless you are saving the seeds.
  • If you’re saving seeds, leave the bloom on the plant until it is dried, then harvest the seed and old bloom at the same time.

    saucer method of watering in Buffalo NY
    Saucer method of watering. Photo by Ruth Syron.
  • Water once a week with a fertilizer that is made for violets. Do not over fertilize. Unlike people, violets do not get bigger when they have more food. Too much food over time may burn, damage and even kill African violets.
  • Water only once a week. Over-watering is a prime cause of violet failure, causing the roots to rot and eventually killing the plant.
  • Water from the bottom up by using the saucer method to keep water from making unsightly spots on your leaves. Saucer method of watering: Place the pot onto a saucer. Pour water (with the fertilizer mixed in) onto the saucer. Allow the water mixture to be drawn up into the roots through the hole in the bottom of the pot.African violet in Cheektowaga NY
  • Keep  your African violets warm and out of drafts. If your violets got cold in the window this winter, they will take a long time to recover despite being warm again.
  • All violets should be repotted at least once a year to provide fresh soil and to relieve the toxicity of built-up fertilizer salts that may have accumulated over the months. Repotting your violets now may help them recover.

In a future issue, we’ll explain how to repot a violet.


Garden Trivia:

Gardening is the fastest growing hobby in the U.S.

Tomatoes are the number-one vegetable grown by home gardeners.

Canning what you grow is increasing.


Ruth Syron is a gardening enthusiast and regular contributor to the Medina Journal Register and Albion Advertiser.

13 Comments on “Nine tips to keep your African violet looking its best

  1. Really useful but I’m not quite sure how to ‘rest’ my plants. I’d appreciate any tips on what resting actually means in terms of light, temp, care etc

  2. I have trouble letting go of the huge thick stalk. I know I don’t need it with all these babies and now seeds thank you!
    You get no new growth after a stem gets so big, it’s time to dig it up, and toss it. Replace with the new batch of babies. Marked with type and Pic if I can get it. Thank you! 💕

  3. My violets have beautiful green leaves but no blooms. I keep them in at night and put them out in the morning.


  5. Hi Cynthia!
    Congrats on starting from a leaf and having babies!
    Your babies should have enough leaf surface to make energy for themselves. My call would be snip the Mother. For soil, I mix my own from ingredients purchased from the hardware: Violet Purposed Soil, mixed with equal amounts of peat moss, perlite and vermiculite. This makes a huge amount for just a couple of transplants, but it can be stored in a plastic tub for when needed in the future. Good luck and may you have many more babies!

  6. Great tips, Fredi! This is my first attempt at starting an African Violet from a leaf…or any other form for that matter. I’m going shopping tomorrow and want a heads up on the type of potting soil I should use to transplant my babies. Also, the mother leaf is starting to turn brown, but the babies are very small yet, so will they get enough nutrients and sunlight if I snip off the mother leaf?

  7. Cathie,
    Those were great tips about the African violets. I learned a lot, too!
    I’ll see what I can find out for you about Christmas cactus.
    Thanks so much for your comment!

  8. Thanks for the article about Tips for African Violets. Confirms I am not missing any steps!
    They continue to bloom! Did not know about the seeds.
    I really could use some Tips about Christmas cactus.
    They have survived, new growth, but have not bloomed again.
    Thanks for the newsletter about WNY.

  9. Judi,
    I’d say you’re a natural gardener!

    I had a Christmas cactus that bloomed at random times of the year, too. (Then it died– maybe I over-watered it.) If it’s blooming, you’re doing something right!

    I’m looking for a way to set up a forum where readers can answer each others’ questions. In the meantime, if someone reads this comment and has better advice for you, I encourage them to leave a comment.

    Thanks for writing!

  10. Just the information I needed. I wasn’t doing 3 out of the 9 steps. Not bad for someone who knows nothing about keeping plants alive in the house. Although I’ve only lost 1 out of the 7 Violets that I have.

    Next I need some info on my Christmas Cactus that likes to bloom any time but Christmas. Thanksgiving and is now in full bloom.

    Thanks a bunch!!!!

  11. These were all great tips. I had great trouble growing African violets, and now I know what I was doing wrong. I wasn’t doing tips 1 through 9.

  12. I knew you could propagate African violets by rooting a leaf but I never thought about the plant producing seeds! Now that I’ve read it it seems so self-evident. Think I’ll try it!

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