Saintpaulia ionantha (African violet)

African violets are small plants from the rainforests of Tanzania, which can also be found in Kenya.
Their African origin and the appearance of their flowers led these plants to be popularly known as African violets, although they do not belong to the Viola genus of true violets.

Common name: African violet
Scientific name: Saintpaulia ionantha, Streptocarpus
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Plants of small size, grow up to about 15 cm in height, and can spread from a few centimeters to more than 40 cm.
The leaves may vary slightly in shape, but they always have a long petiole, are thick, succulent and covered with a layer that give it a velvety appearance.
The flowers can be simple or folded, with smooth or curly edges, in shades of blue, pink, violet, purple, red and white.

Widely grown in pots on the windowsill and in well-lit interiors of homes, African violets can also be grown in shaded gardens.

Saintpaulia ionantha (African violet) - leaves detail - www.dearplants.com

Scientific name

African violets are plants of the genus Saintpaulia now included in Streptocarpus. The most cultivated species is the Saintpaulia ionantha.

Origin

Africa (Tanzania and Kenya).

Climate

They grow well at temperatures above 18°C. The ideal are hot days (temperature above 21°C and below 32°C) and milder nights, but with temperature above 18°C.
African violets don’t tolerate low temperatures and frosts.

Sunlight

African violets prefer indirect light. Direct sunlight can burn their leaves, possibly killing the plant.
On the other hand, very dark leaves, very thin and with very long petioles, are signs of poor and inadequate lighting.
Plants do not usually bloom if there is not enough light.

Water

With adequate lighting and watering african violets are very easy to maintain .
They are sensitive to both excess and lack of water.
Water to keep the soil moist, but not soaked. Some people recommend watering the pots just underneath, placing them in a low container with water, for a few minutes, until the soil surface is moist.
However, there is no problem in watering them normally, as long as the leaves are not soaked in cold water.
There is usually no problem in wetting the leaves with water at room temperature, as long as the water is above 20°C.
Although these plants tolerate drier air, they grow best in environments with high relative humidity.

Saintpaulia ionantha (African violet) - flowers - www.dearplants.com

Soil

The soil must be well drained, light, fertile and very rich in organic matter. The ideal soil pH ranges from 6 to 6.5.

Flowering season

There are a wide variety of colors and patterns in African violet flowers.
Under suitable conditions, it can flower at any time of the year. Plants propagated from leaves begin to bloom 6 to 9 months after planting.

Cultivation cycle

African violets are perennial plants.

Propagation

Propagation can be done through seeds or by dividing old plants, but the simplest method is to use well-developed leaves.
Cut the leaves keeping the petiole (the stems of the leaves). They should then be buried in sand, vermiculite or another substrate, but leaving the leaf limb out.
Always keep the substrate moist. The roots form in about 2 to 4 weeks and leaves start to appear in 4 to 8 weeks. The transplant can be done when the seedlings have 4 to 6 leaves.

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