Streptocarpus is a genus of flowering plants in the family Gesneriaceae, comprising about ten species. Previously, these plants were classified in the Saintpaulia genus, but later discoveries resulted in these plants being recategorized as Streptocarpus Sect. Saintpaulia. African Violets originate from the tropical regions of Africa, mainly Tanzania and Kenya.
They are incredibly popular ornamental houseplants, grown mainly for their brightly colored flowers which vary from white to yellow to pink to purple and blue with many intermediate shades. Although, as the name might suggest, the most iconic species of these flowering plants produce violet flowers.
- African Violet Main Characteristics
- African Violet Care
- How to propagate Streptocarpus sect. Saintpaulia?
- Potting and Soil
- When to repot African Violet
- Common Pests
- How To Grow African Violets – Care Instructions (Video)
- Common Problems
African Violet Main Characteristics
|Common Name||African Violet|
|Botanical Name||Streptocarpus sect. Saintpaulia|
|Native Range||Tanzania, Kenya|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||11 to 12|
|Mature Size||up to 10 inches|
|Bloom Time||Fall, Spring, Summer, Winter|
|Propagation methods||by leaf cuttings|
African Violet Care
These plants are considered somewhat difficult to care for. But if you provide your plant with the proper conditions, it will reward you with incredible, long-lasting blooms. It’s a good stepping stone if you feel ready to graduate from being an amateur gardener.
Light and Location
African Violets require a medium amount of bright, indirect light. Figuring out how much light is needed involves trial and error if you’ve never cared for one of these before—both under- and over-watering results in poor flowering. So if you’re experiencing subpar blooms, adjust light conditions. You can also supplement natural lighting with artificial light as needed.
African Violets require moist, well-drained soil to grow correctly. It is vital to water the plant in the growing season with lukewarm water. Always water from the bottom as the leaves are can get brown spots from splashed water. Overwatering can be detrimental, so it is essential to ensure the soil is dry before watering again. Depending on your potting soil and pot structure, drying may take longer for you than it is for others. So, there isn’t a strict schedule you need to follow, just water when the top layer of soil dries out. Water sparingly in winter.
While some African Violets can tolerate temperatures down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, most varieties perform best in 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Just don’t let it go above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Streptocarpus thrives in high humidity levels (above 70%). If the air is dry, try increasing humidity using a humidifier. If needed, you can also use a water-filled pebble tray, but don’t submerge the pot.
A 20-20-20 balanced fertilizer is ideal. Fertilize your plants every two weeks when they are actively growing. African Violets are quite popular, and most gardening stores carry specialized fertilizer for these plants. Check if your local store has any before going with any other option.
How to propagate Streptocarpus sect. Saintpaulia?
Propagation of African Violets is typically done by taking cuttings from the mother plant. For best results, wait for the plant to form a healthy, vigorous leaf. The best time to take cuttings is in summer before new growth begins.
- Prepare a pot filled with African Violet mix or one part vermiculite and one part sand soiling medium.
- Pick a healthy leaf from the mother plant and snip just below the end of the leaf on the stem.
- Trim the cut end of the stem and insert it in the pre-prepared soiling medium.
- Wait for the roots to form and for growth to begin.
Potting and Soil
One of the key points to keep in mind when caring for Streptocarpus is that the pot needs excellent drainage. Both the soiling medium and the pot itself should facilitate water drainage. This plant is watered often, and if the excess water isn’t drained, it won’t live long. Make sure holes are drilled in the bottom or sides of the pot. Use a soilless potting medium or African Violet mix (sold at most stores).
When to repot African Violet
Don’t repot unless you need to—these plants like being rootbound and won’t flower otherwise. But if the plant appears congested and the roots are spilling out from the top layer of soil, it’s time for a new pot. When repotting, be sure to use a pot that is only slightly larger than the current pot. Plant it as you would any other plant; just be careful not to damage the roots.
African Violets are non-toxic to cats and dogs. So if you’re a pet owner thinking about getting one of these, it’s perfectly safe.
African Violets are susceptible to several pests, the most common of which are cyclamen mites and mealybugs. Mealybugs are easily controlled using rubbing alcohol. Just clean off the leaves with a cotton swab. But cyclamen mites are much harder to deal with. As a result, most gardeners prefer to cut off affected plant parts instead of trying pesticide solutions.
How To Grow African Violets – Care Instructions (Video)
Why are my African Violet leaves turning yellow?
Streptocarpus sect. Saintpaulia leaves can turn yellow due to:
- Dry air – Mist the leaves daily
- Too much sunlight – Move the plant to a shadier spot
- Wrong Watering Routine – Recheck the watering section and figure out where you went wrong
- Wrong Fertilizer Dosage – Use a balanced fertilizer
Why is the plant Not Flowering?
Although these plants can technically bloom throughout the year, the sunlight hours are usually too short in the winter, so they remain unflowered. But if the plant isn’t blooming in spring or autumn, check the feeding routine and move the plant to a warmer spot. But, again, these are demanding plants that require exacting care.
Why are there brown spots on the Leaves?
If you have been watering your plant from the top, chances are you’ve splashed water on the leaves. This can result in brown spots on the leaves. Water from the bottom in the future, and you should be fine. Another possible reason is that you’ve been using cold water; always use tepid water as these plants can’t tolerate any other type.
Why is my African Violet wilting?
Both under- and over-watering can result in this problem. Recheck your watering routine and make adjustments as necessary. Caring for this plant is making judgment calls; figuring out the problem is the hard part.