|Common Name||African Violet|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous perennial flowering houseplant|
|Origin||Native to Tanzania and southeast Kenya|
African Violet Varieties
Here is a list of popular African Violet cultivars:
African Violets have more than 16,000 known cultivars, according to the African Violet Society, the largest group dedicated to a single plant type in the world. Some of the most popular are:
The Summer Twilight variety has dark purple petals with white edges and yellow pistils. It has more than your standard five petals, making this variety a stunning flower.
First Kiss Blush
If you are looking for a soft pink variety, the first kiss blush variety comes with soft pink petals and a yellow pistil. Occasionally, you’ll find small purple spots on the petals.
Gold of Scythians
While the inside of the Gold of Scythians variety is yellowish in color, the outside is white with its tips turning pink. The flowers are fuller than other varieties.
The Lonestar Twilight is similar to the Summer Twilight, though their color variations are switched. While both have yellow pistils, the Lonestar boasts white petals with dark purple edges.
Aroma of Summer
With dark pink petals that start out as white at their base, the petals of the Aroma of Summer variety almost seem as though they come to a point, making a five-pointed star.
World to Your Home
For a crisp, clean look in your house, check out the World to Your Home variety. With several pure white petals, this plant is perfect for minimalists who want to care for a plant.
The flowers on the Julia variety almost resemble those of a carnation. The ruffled petals are pinkish-purple that appear to have been dipped in violet along the edges.
How to Care for an Indoor African Violet
African Violets are strictly indoor plants in North America, largely because their leaves need to stay dry. They need bright, indirect sunlight for the best blooms. On a plant stand three feet away from a south or west facing window is an ideal location. African Violets grow best in well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
Self-watering pots that are only slightly larger than the diameter of the plant function best. If you are not able to use a self-watering pot, a good rule of thumb is that African Violets need damp soil, similar to the dampness of a wrung-out sponge. Using room temperature water, always water a plant from the bottom in order to protect the leaves from spotting and the roots from rotting.
Common Problems with African Violet
How Does African Violet Spread?
Two possibilities exist that allow African Violets to spread. First, there is a trailing variety that can produce additional plants from the trailing arms. There might also be suckers that develop from a plant that develops more than one crown or growing point. When they occur, if suckers are not nipped, they will produce an additional plant.
When Should You Prune an African Violet?
While you shouldn’t “prune” your African Violet per se, removing dying leaves will help keep the plant healthy overall. In fact, many indoor gardeners make it a good practice to remove 2-4 of the plant’s bottom leaves every 1-2 months just to help the rest of the plant to thrive overall.
What Type of Container for an African Violet?
Whether you are propagating an African Violet or just want to transfer your plant into another container, you don’t have to choose a large one. Pick a plastic or a ceramic pot that is about 4 to 5 inches in diameter or use a self-watering container that will help the plant keep the soil moist without it being too wet.
African Violet Companion Plants
The following plants are good companions to the African violet:
Amethyst Flower Overview
The amethyst flower (Browallia speciosa) is a tropical, tender perennial that is usually grown as an annual. This herbaceous plant will produce bluish-purple flowers that are about 2 inches wide and that have white centers. Each tubular flower has 5 lobes and will either grow as singles or in a cluster depending on the variety. The plant grows to be about 2 feet high as well as 2 feet wide. The leaves of the plant are oval with pointed tips and will grow up to 3 inches long. To encourage a bushy plant, you will want to nip out the tips of growing stems.
Cape Primrose Overview
The cape primrose can grow to a height of 12 inches tall and can spread to about 18 inches. The plant has strong, hairy stems that support flowers that come in a range of different purples. The flowers will begin to bloom in the early spring, generally in April, and will keep their blooms for several months through the summer. The leaves of the plant are oval but come to a point at the tip. They also have toothed edges and are arranged in a rosette shape at the bottom of the plant.
Creeping Fig Overview
Creeping figs are often used as a climbing plant or as a ground cover outdoors. It does well in both full and part shade as long as it is planted in well-draining soil. The plant has aerial rootlets that will grasp onto any surface, allowing it to creep along. The leaves are ovate and heart-shaped and will vary in size depending on the variety. The plant is an easy vine to grow indoors and the leaves will typically remain smaller in those instances. It will die back down to the ground if it is exposed to frost.
All three of the above are good companion plants for African Violets due to their common humidity needs.
Plants That Are Similar to African Violets
The plants that are most often considered similar to the African Violet are ones that share the characteristic of fuzzy leaves. This group includes the following:
Begonias are a perennial (though most people treat them as an annual) that thrive in a shaded environment, although they don’t mind having a little bit of sun. They have waxy leaves that will vary from dark green to bronze in color. Once they begin to flower, they will typically flower for the rest of the season. The flowers come in several colors including pink, white, yellow, and red. Whether you have a shady place in your garden or want to display them in your home, begonias can brighten up your area.
Violets are known for their heart-shaped leaves. All violets are symmetrical, with five petals on each. Despite the name, violets come in more than just a shade of purple. In fact, you can find violets that come in yellow, pink, white, orange, cream-colored, red, and blue as well. The specific shape of the flower may define which species to which it belongs. The plant is a slow-growing perennial, so if you like it, you should plant a few different colors for interest so that you can reap the full benefits in a few years.
Gloxinia (Sinningia speciosa) is a flowering plant that can grow up to a foot tall. The perennial plant produces bell-shaped, tubular flowers that come in a variety of colors including red, pink, purple, and blue. You will also often find two-toned varieties that give off white centers or white rims. The edges of the petals are wavy and smooth. The foliage of the plant is soft and has a velvety texture and the leaves are oblong. The plant is often found in Central America, South America, and the West Indies.
Swedish Ivy Overview
Despite its name, Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus australis) actually hails from South Africa. This evergreen perennial was so named because it gained popularity as a houseplant in Sweden after the discoverer of the plant sent it to the country. The plant will typically grow to between 2 and 3 feet tall and will spread out as they age. The glossy green leaves have crenate margins (scalloped edged) that will have white markings in variegated species. When flowering, the plant will produce light purple or white blooms.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Large Will an African Violet Grow?
These plants are classified by size. The largest type grows to a diameter of 16 inches.
Is an African Violet Toxic or Bad for Pets?
The African Violet is not toxic to either dogs or cats.
What Kind of Container Do You Need for Your African Violet?
Due to the very specific watering needs of this plant, a self-watering pot is ideal. The African Violet is most at home in a pot not much larger in diameter than the plant itself.