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How to Grow African Violets Indoors

African Violets, also known as Saintpaulia, are great plants for indoor growing because of their beauty and easy care. Originating from Tanzania and Kenya, these flowering perennials will thrive outdoors in some climates, but do best as houseplants in most areas because they do not tolerate cold temperatures. African Violets come in several varieties with blooms in many colors, including blue, pink, red, white, purple and multicolor. Some types also have flowers with fringed edges and double petals. These dainty yet hardy flowering plants look great in hanging baskets, in a large planter with a variety of colors or in a single pot. Learning the basics of how to grow African Violets indoors will help you achieve beautiful houseplants that will last for many years.


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    Select African Violets at your local nursery, greenhouse or retail store. Because many houseplant enthusiasts grow African Violets as part of their collection, they are usually easy to find.
    • Decide which color you prefer, or try growing different varieties of African Violets.
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    Choose an area in your home with bright sunlight to grow African Violets.
    • Make sure the light is slightly filtered or not direct during the spring through autumn months so it does not damage or dry out the plants. In the winter months, place your African Violets in direct sunlight to be sure they get enough natural light each day.
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    Water your indoor African Violets carefully. The best watering method is to place the pots in a saucer of water to allow for steady watering and maintain a vital humidity level around the plants.
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    Place your African Violets in the saucer for no more than 30 min. and then pour off the excess water. It will have absorbed what it needs by then and you can be sure you will not have over-watered.
    • If you decide to water your plants from the top, be careful not to get moisture on the leaves as this will damage them.
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    Feed your African Violets every week. 1/4 to 1/8th tsp of fertilizer per gallon of water. 20-20-20 general fertilizer or a fertilizer with a higher middle number. Don't use the "super bloom" fertilizers as they can burn the plants.
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    Remove new growth, also called suckers, that grow on the main stem of your African Violets. These small, new stems can grow large and make the plants misshapen and uneven in appearance.
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    Keep your African Violets cooler and dryer in the winter. The plants experience a dormant phase so cutting back on water and heat will help them thrive when winter is over.
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    Repot your African Violets as needed. Twice a year for standards (large ones) and once every 3 to 4 months for small ones. Leach the soil between time every 4th watering. (Pour water through the top of the soil without touching the leaves until the water runs through clear or almost clear.)
    • The rule of thumb for potting is make the pot 1/3 the size of the diameter of the plant. Small violets will never go in a bigger than 2 1/2" pot. Break the leaves back to only 3 or 4 main rows of leaves on the small ones so they will fit and bury the "neck" or cut the roots off and bury the neck depending on how long the neck is.
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    A "soilless" mix or 1/3 African violet soil, 1/3 perlite and 1/3 vermiculite in dry climates does very well. You might consider using more perlite if you use a self watering pot or are in a damper climate.


  • Try starting new African Violet plants by breaking off a few leaves and placing them in potting soil or compost mixed with sand. African Violets are easy to propagate using this simple technique.
  • Make sure you keep your African Violets in areas where they will get plenty of sunlight each day. They will not thrive in dark rooms or areas where they are not exposed to light.
  • Never allow the temperature in the area where you keep your indoor African Violets to go below 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).


  • Do not get water on the leaves of your African Violets. This will cause brown spots to develop and will eventually cause the leaves to die.
  • When learning how to grow African Violets indoors, it is important not to over water them. Test the soil with your finger by pushing it into the pot. If the soil is moist, it is not yet time to water your plants.

Things You'll Need

  • African Violets
  • Saucers
  • Houseplant food formulated for African Violets, or African Violet food
  • Potting soil

Article Info

Categories: Growing Flowers