Tips on growing African Violets
LIGHT: Ample light, is the single most important requirement of the plant for good blooms. A bright windowsill is best for fall and winter. As days lengthen and sunshine becomes more intense, you may want to shade plants somewhat to avoid overexposure. A light meter is very helpful in verifying proper intensities. We recommend daytime light intensity in the range of 500 to 1500 foot candles. A good general rule is that MORE LIGHT helps to bring a shy bloomer into flower.
FLUORESCENT LIGHT: Very satisfactory for violets and related plants, and fluorescent gardens, illuminated with cool white and warm white tubes are best. Lights should be on for 12 to 14 hours and tubes should be 8" to 10" from the tops of plants. Try to maintain at least 500 foot candles at the plant level. Two fluorescent tubes, each four feet long are sufficient to light an area four feet long and 18" wide. A general rule is to provide 15 watts of fluorescent light for each square foot of growing area. More detailed information is available in several excellent texts on fluorescent gardening.
WATER: Water in moderate supply is important. Violets are mostly conveniently watered from below water to the saucers or trays. Water should be used up completely before more is added. About once a month you should top water your plants with air temperature water. This helps redistribute fertilizer and maintains uniform moisture through the soil; The new capillary watering mats are helpful for bottom watering of plants grown on trays. If you prefer to top water your plants, always use room temperature water.
TEMPERATURE: Temperature requirements of violet plants and violet growers are happily about the same. A 65 degree farenheight night temperature is satisfactory and day temperatures between between 70 degree farenheight and 80 degree farenheight are good. The higher temperatures can prevail on brighter days.
HUMIDITY: Humidity is difficult to control in the home. If plants are kept continually moist, humidity is not of paramount importance. Of course, when humidity is low, (generally during the winter) Plants will dry out more quickly, and more frequent waterings are needed.
FERTILIZER: Fertilizer should be used in moderation. Most commercial preparations are good but rates of application should, in general, be somewhat lower than manufacturer's recommendations. If fertilizer is applied in liquid solution, it is important that the plants be thoroughly watered. More frequent feedings with dilute fertilizer solutions are better for the plants than infrequent feedings with heavy rates.
SOIL MIXES: Soil mixes should be well drained and disease free. You will need soil if you are rooting, cutting or repotting older plants. Packaged mixes that contain at least 50% peat moss are best. If you mix your own, we suggest a blend with 50% peat moss and 25% each by volume or perlite and vermiculite. Limestone should be added to reduce the acidity. Interested growers can find details on soil mixes in many reference books and periodicals.
POTS: Pots should be carefully selected. We feel that 4" plastic pots are excellent for the long term growing of most standard varieties. Miniature varieties are best in 2.5" to 3" plastic pots.
GROOMING: Grooming of plants improves blooming. Violets are best if grown as single crown specimans (one plant per pot). Extra plantlets crowd each other and should be removed.