Saintpaulia (African Violet)

Where Do Saintpaulias Live in the Wild?

African Violets grow in eastern Africa and are most commonly spotted in Tanzania. There, the air is warm and wet, but the soil is fast draining, or the soil isn’t soil at all. You can often find Saintpaulias sitting atop rocks covered in moss and cracks for them to hide their roots inside.

Wild African Violets are accustomed to high humidity and bright indirect lighting sunshine.

Exactly Where in My Home Should I Keep the African Violet?

Above all else, this plant needs medium to bright indirect lighting so make that your priority.

After lighting needs are met, try to keep your African Violet in a room where the temperature stays within 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Their humidity should hover between 50 and 80%, so a bathroom, kitchen or a table near a humidifier may be a good place.

How Much Light Does a Saintpaulia Need?

African Violets need medium to bright indirect light. They don’t tolerate low lighting situations well at all and will lose their flowers and their leaves will turn yellow or brown.

How Often Should I Water an African Violet?

Give your African Violet a small drink of water once every week or two when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch. Never use ice cubes to water any of your plants, as this will shock the plant and can cause a slow death.

On a moisture meter, African Violets should stay around a 3. If you’re in doubt, let them dry out more before watering.

It’s important that you know not to wet the leaves when you water. Fill your sink with about two inches of water and set your plant down in it for no more than 30 minutes.

Are African Violets Pet Safe?

Yes, African Violets are human and pet safe.

How Much Will My African Violet Grow?

African Violets don’t grow much larger than about a foot wide, those a few rare giants will make it to about 16 inches. Instead, they use their energy to grow beautiful blooms year-round.

When to Repot?

Since African Violets don’t grow much, they won’t need larger pots due to space issues, but they still need repotting. Saintpaulias don’t handle soil compaction well, so it’s a good idea to change the soil about once a year.

Saintpaulia Fast Facts

  • In many parts of the world, it’s common practice to give African Violets to mothers on Mother’s Day.
  • The African Violet was first discovered in 1892 by Baron Walter von Saint Paul.
  • Several native African Violets are listed as threatened or endangered due to an unfortunate combination of deforestation and collectors stealing what remains.

Trouble Shooting

Wilting Leaves

This is usually caused by excessively dry or excessively wet soil. Adjust your watering habits accordingly, and if too overwatered, you may need to swap out some of the soggy soil.

Yellow Leaves

If it’s only the bottom leaves turning yellow and falling off, you likely don’t have any problems. However, if the yellow spots are found all over the plant it’s likely due to one of the following issues:

  • Not enough sunlight. Move your Violet closer to a south, east, or west-facing window for more sunshine time.
  • Water on the leaves. Violets do not like getting their leaves wet, make sure you’re not watering from the top, or at least be mindful to keep the leaves dry if you do topwater.
  • Exposure to the cold. Violets don’t like the cold, so be sure to keep them away from drafts and never water using cold water.

Black Spots or Rings on the Leaves

This is almost always due to water damage from getting the leaves wet.

Bonus Care Tips

  • African Violets need at least 8 hours of darkness in order to bloom.
  • Rotate a quarter turn once every other day to keep your plant from growing crooked.
  • Violets are a bit anti-social and need room to breathe and decent air circulation on their leaves. Don’t let your other plants (even fellow African Violets) touch your Saintpaulia.