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African Violets (Saintpaulia) Growing and Care Guide

Do you like keeping plants but want it to be low maintenance? Well, an African violet plant can fulfil your dream. They require less care and can thrive well in artificial light. Good for office settings and small apartments with no balcony.


African Violets (Saintpaulia) Growing and Care Guide

What is an African Violet Plant?

What is an African Violet Plant

They were originally called Saintpaulia (Latin name). However, they have become popular with the name “African Violets”, all thanks to their resemblance with true violets.

They are tiny east African flowering houseplants with pink, white or violet flowers and delicate heart shaped velvety leaves. In 1982, they were documented to be discovered by Baron St. Paul-Illaire. They are usually found in tropical eastern Africa.

They are one of the best flowering houseplants as they can bloom throughout the year and grow well even in low light conditions. 

Their height can range between 6 to 12 inches while their width can go from 3 to 16 inches.

African Violet Varieties

They have thousands of varieties, which are available in single and double flowers, in various colors, and with varied leaves. According to a source, The African Violet Society of America has 16000+ cultivars of the Saintpaulias family in their database.

It is the largest group for a single plant type. While it is impossible to discuss the vast variety of these plants in detail, let’s look at the easiest to grow and the rarest of their species.

Trailing African violets are the easiest to care for as they are their own helpers. They branch and spread naturally, and you don’t even have to remove suckers to keep their symmetry or provoke blooming.

The rarest African violet is Saintpaulia pusilla. It is one of the extinct species and was last seen in the Udzungwa Mountains of Africa.

Growing and Caring for African Violet

Growing and Caring for African Violet


To grow healthy plants , some protocols must be ensured. Climate conditions are one of these protocols. They bloom into attractive violets when they are grown at a night temperature of 65° to 70°F and a daytime temperature of 70° to 90°F.

If the provided temperature is below 60°F, be prepared to have discolored, deformed plants with curled down leaves.


Light plays a crucial role in proper growth and health of these plants. In summers, north or east windows offer the perfect light while south or east exposure is needed in winters.

Bright and indirect light are the real deal for African violets care. Insufficient or too much light, both can be perilous for them. Insufficient light is probably why the majority of them fail to flower. 

Too little light can result in enlarged and weak leaf stems, dark green leaves and little to no flower at all. Intensive light on the other hand can result in pale yellow green leaves, bleached-out, and may even contain burned or dead areas.

You might ask how to know whether you’re providing the right amount of light to your Saintpaulias. Well, a small test and study can be carried out to ensure you’re providing sufficient light and duration.

Their specialty is that they can grow in artificial sunlight. Fluorescent light makes a convenient and attractive life source for them. This is why we see manufacturers providing fluorescent lights ideal for plant growth.

Caring for African Violet


To effectively care for African violets, use humidity to your advantage. A higher humidity ensures successful plants. It can also be increased using a humidity device which benefits both humans and the plants.

If you don't have a humidifier then be sure to check our buying guide and product reviews on the best humidifiers available online.  

Humidity can also be increased by keeping them in watertight metal or plastic trays with shallow water along with pebbles.

Be wary of letting them sit in water. This can surely damage these plants. If you water from the bottom, allow the plant to take up water according to its needs and then discard excess water.

If you water from the top, make sure to avoid dripping water onto the leaves when the plant is in direct sunlight. This will help avoid leaf spots.

Soil Moisture

Plants can drop dead if provided with too little or too much water. To tackle that, you need to know how much and how often to water depending upon the soil, size, and environmental conditions.

Keeping an eye on these details is also one of the ways to show that you care for your African Violets.

How to Grow African Violets From Seed?

Usually they are initiated from cuttings or dividing plants. However, they can also start from seeds. While the growing time is similar, you’ll get more plants from seed than from propagating african violet cuttings.

An added bonus is you’ll get a greater variety of them by starting from seed. While seeds are formed through cross-pollinating two plants, you can’t know if they will produce the same plant types as the parent plants. 

On the other hand, when you start them from a cutting, the baby plant turns out to be the same as the parent plant. 

Therefore, growing from seeds seems to be more rewarding and an experience to look forward to as you can get a vastly distinct variety of them even when those seeds came from the same seed pod.

African Violet Uses

African Violet Uses

They are not only attractive but they also offer lifesaving benefits. You can use them to heal your dry skin, abrasions, insect bites, eczema, varicose veins and hemorrhoids. They have a cooling and soothing nature and are anti-inflammatory.

Common Saintpaulia Diseases

They are popular indoor houseplants that commonly face disease and pest problems. However, these diseases and pests can be avoided by following the recommended care methods.

Crown and Root Rot 

It’s a fungal problem that is caused by excessive watering, planting african violet too deep or due to poor drainage. This disease can be identified when crown and root turns soft, older leaves bend, and the younger leaves look stunted, turn black and die.

To prevent this disease

  • Always use sterilized potting soil mixes and clean containers
  • Avoid planting african violet too deep
  • Discard gravely affected Saintpaulias
  • Don’t reuse pots of discarded plants without scrub clean and bleach soaking it
  • Water it only in the required quantity

Botrytis Blight

It’s also a fungus disease which first appears as a soaked lesion on the underside of a leaf. Moreover, flowers, stems, and leaves appear infected as they turn dark brown or gray with a misty coating on their surface.

To prevent this disease

  • Discard all dead plant materials
  • Provide better air ventilation
  • Keep flowers and foliage away from being wet

African Violet FAQs

Growing African Violets Indoors

Can You Plant African Violet Outdoors?

Unlike other violets, African violets can’t survive outdoors in most US climates. They thrive in indoor conditions as they’re tropical plants.

Best Time of the Year to Plant African Violets?

They are such gifted plants that can bloom throughout the year provided their basic needs are being met such as the right amount of light, water and temperature.

How Fast Do African Violets Grow?

They are easy to grow and are considered one of the most popular indoor plants. For someone with limited space, they’re the best option and can grow pretty well on window sills.

Give them 8 to 10 weeks, and they’ll bloom. They will be even ready for transplanting within 12 weeks. 

Wrapping Up Our African Violet Growing Guide

SaintPaulia which are also called African violets, are one of the most popular houseplants. They are low maintenance and also one of the easiest to grow.

The best thing about them is that they bloom and thrive in artificial light so no need to find the perfect sunlight spot at your home.

They have more than 16000 varieties, can bloom throughout the year and have a soothing, cool and anti-inflammatory nature.

While they are easy to grow, we still need to care for African violets in order to see them bloom. This includes the right amount of water, indirect sunlight, temperature, humidity and planting them indoors. 

Lastly, just like other flowers and plants, they too fall prey to diseases and pests, so we need to take preventive measures and take good care of African Violets.

About the Author Mabel Vasquez

Mabel has enjoyed a long career as a horticulturist, working in nurseries and greenhouses for many years. Although she loves all plants, Mabel has developed a particular passion over the years for herb gardens and indoor plants. Mabel has since retired from her horticulture career and loves sharing her many years of experience with our audience here at Sumo Gardener.

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