How to Care for Purple African Violets: A Comprehensive Guide

African violets (Saintpaulia species) have captivated indoor gardeners for decades with their beautiful flowers and attractive foliage. As members of the Gesneriaceae plant family, they are native to the tropical forests of Tanzania and nearby areas in East Africa. The original wild species, Saintpaulia ionantha, was discovered by a German botanist in the late 1800s near Mount Kilimanjaro.

Since their discovery, African violet hybridizers have created over 20,000 exciting new varieties showcasing different flower colors, patterns, and forms. One of the most popular types grown is African violets with stunning purple blossoms, which add a regal touch to any home. While originally epiphytic perennials growing along the forest floor, African violets quickly gained popularity as low-maintenance houseplants that could flower year-round indoors.

Caring for African violets is relatively straightforward, but there are some important growing conditions and care tips to ensure your plants thrive. This comprehensive guide will delve into every aspect of growing beautiful, vibrant purple African violets at home. Key topics covered include:

  • Selecting high-quality plants
  • Providing optimal lighting, temperature, humidity, and airflow
  • Using the right soil components and mixes
  • Watering properly and fertilizing effectively
  • Propagating new African violets
  • Repotting mature plants correctly
  • Preventing and resolving pest and disease issues
  • Displaying and rotating plants for growth
  • Ongoing maintenance and overwintering care

Whether you’re new to the world of African violets or looking to deepen your knowledge, this in-depth primer has everything you need to master the care and cultivation of these delightful indoor bloomers. Let’s get started!

Selecting High Quality Purple African Violets

When purchasing African violets, select plants exhibiting symmetrical leaf growth, abundant buds and blooms, and vibrant, pest-free foliage. Avoid root-bound plants showing stunted growth, discoloration, or damage.

Some specific characteristics to look for include:

  • Leaf Symmetry – Leaves should be evenly spaced around the plant’s crown and uniform in size/shape. This signals healthy growth.
  • Abundant Buds & Blooms – Look for established plants with multiple unopened buds and open blooms. This shows the plant is actively flowering.
  • Vibrant Foliage – Leaves should be smooth, unwrinkled, and rich green without spots or blemishes. Yellowing leaves indicate a stressed plant.
  • Non-Root-Bound – Gently remove plants from pots to check roots. Avoid plants where roots are densely circled the root ball.
  • Pest/Disease Free – Inspect for signs of pests like aphids, thrips, and fungal issues. Damage can spread quickly.
  • Propagation Method – Plants grown from seed or leaf cuttings are generally more robust than micro-propagated plants.

Choosing young but established plants ready to bloom gives your African violets the best start in your growing conditions. Patiently selecting healthy, high-quality plants is well worth the effort!

Ideal Growing Conditions

African violets thrive with the proper lighting, ambient temperature, humidity level, and airflow. Optimizing these key factors in their environment encourages strong, vibrant growth and prolific flowering.


African violets require bright, indirect light to grow their best. Some ideal lighting situations include:

  • A bright windowsill filtered by sheer curtains
  • An east or west-facing window
  • Under artificial grow lights

Avoid direct southern sun exposure, as this can burn leaves. Rotate plants periodically for even light exposure. Supplement with fluorescent or LED grow lights if natural light is inadequate. Light levels help regulate blooming.


The ideal temperature range for African violets is 65-75°F during the day and 60-65°F at night. Avoid drafty spots. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature near your plants. Small heaters or air conditioners can help regulate the temperature.


Moderate humidity levels between 50-60% suit African violets. Use a humidifier to increase humidity during dry winter months. Grouping plants together also increases local humidity. Mist plants occasionally to provide a humidity boost when needed.

Air Circulation

Some gentle air movement is beneficial for preventing fungal diseases. Use small fans to circulate the air around African violets. Just avoid direct drafts blowing right on the plants.

Optimizing these four environmental factors will help your African violets thrive and produce the most blooms. Monitor conditions regularly and make adjustments when needed.

Here is the next section:

Soil Components and Mixes

The potting mix used for African violets is essential, as it anchors the plant and provides moisture and nutrients to the roots. The ideal soil has good drainage and aeration yet retains some moisture. It should also provide physical support.

Some key components to look for in African violet potting mixes include:

  • Peat Moss – Adds moisture retention and structure. Look for sterile, finely milled sphagnum peat.
  • Perlite or Vermiculite – Lightens the soil texture for drainage and aeration. Perlite holds less moisture than vermiculite.
  • Soilless Mixes – Commercially blended mixes designed for African violets are fine too. Avoid regular potting soil.

A good starting mix contains equal parts peat moss, vermiculite or perlite, and a soilless starter mix. Or simply use an African violet-specific commercial blend. Soil components can be adjusted to tune moisture levels.

When repotting, fill pots nearly to the top with soil mix to stabilize plants. Covering the crown with soil can cause rotting. Firm the mix gently around new roots to eliminate air pockets.

A supportive, well-draining soil foundation enables healthy root growth and flowering in African violets. Focus on soil components that offer the right balance of moisture retention and drainage.

Watering Techniques and Frequency

Proper watering is crucial for growing healthy African violets. The soil should be allowed to dry out between waterings partially, yet not become entirely parched. Watering too frequently leads to root rot, while not watering enough stresses plants.

Some key tips for watering African violets properly include:

  • Allow the top 1-2 inches of soil to dry before re-watering. Depending on conditions, the schedule can range from 5-10 days between waterings.
  • Water from below the pots by placing in a tray or sink of water. This prevents wetting the foliage, which can promote diseases.
  • Remove pots from water once the soil surface glistens. Don’t oversaturate the soil.
  • In winter, when plants are dormant, reduce watering frequency.
  • Check soil moisture by pressing a finger into the top of the soil. If dry and crumbly, it’s time to water.
  • Use room temperature water without high mineral content. Avoid cold water shock.
  • If leaves begin to wilt, water immediately as plants are stressed.

Tuning your watering schedule carefully and always thoroughly from the bottom will lead to thriving African violets with robust roots and prolific flowers.

Fertilizer Types and Application

While African violets have relatively low nutrient demands, applying diluted fertilizer regularly during the growing season encourages vigorous growth and flowering.

When choosing fertilizers for African violets:

  • Liquid African Violet Formulas – Use fertilizers made specifically for African violets, either organic or chemical based.
  • Balanced N-P-K Ratios – Look for equal nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium percentages around 10-10-10.
  • Foliar or Liquid – Opt for soluble foliar sprays or liquid dilutions. Avoid extended-release granular fertilizers.

For fertilizer application:

  • Frequent and Dilute – Apply monthly at 1/4 to 1/2 strength during spring through fall. Avoid overfertilizing.
  • None in Winter – Do not fertilize dormant plants in winter. Resume applications in early spring.
  • Mix Well – Mix fertilizers thoroughly in watering cans before applying to avoid concentrated pockets.
  • No Direct Contact – Avoid getting fertilizer solutions directly on the foliage or crown. Water into the soil.

With the right fertilizer for African violets administered properly regularly, your plants will be fed optimally for lush growth and prolific blooms.

Propagating African Violets

One of the joys of growing African violets is propagating new plants from existing ones. African violets can be propagated through several methods to expand your collection with more varieties.

Leaf Cuttings

The most common propagation method is taking leaf cuttings:

  • Select healthy leaves with the petiole attached. Sterilize scissors or knives.
  • Cut the leaf at an angle to expose more surface area. Dust ends with the rooting hormone.
  • Stick cut end into soilless propagation mix, keeping leaf upright.
  • Cover the container with plastic wrap to maintain humidity as roots develop.


Mature violet clumps can be divided:

  • Gently tease apart smaller rosettes from the parent plant. Ensure some roots.
  • Replant divisions in small pots using fresh African violet soil mix.
  • Water sparingly until new growth is seen, then resume normal care.

Adventitious Plantlets

Some violets also generate tiny plantlets on flower stems that can be removed and potted. Check for any baby plants between leaves and stem.

Tissue Culture

Lab-propagated plants from sterile tissue cultures offer disease-free stock but often lack vigor. Best used for rare varieties.

Propagating provides endless opportunities to expand your African violet collection! Try your hand at the various techniques.

Repotting Mature Plants

African violets should be repotted every 12-18 months as the plants mature and become root bound. Repotting provides fresh soil and proper spacing for continued growth.

Follow these tips when repotting African violets:

  • Select a pot one size larger than the current pot, usually 2-4 inches wide. Plastic pots work well and help retain moisture.
  • Gently remove the plant and loosen the old root ball with your fingers or a chopstick. Prune any diseased roots.
  • Place the root ball centrally in the new pot. Fill around it with fresh soil mixed up to the top.
  • Avoid burying the crown (where leaves emerge). Leave it right at the soil level.
  • Water thoroughly after repotting to settle the soil. Allow recovery for a week before fertilizing.
  • Discard old potting mix to prevent disease carryover. Sterilize pots before reuse.

Repotting before plants become severely root-bound allows steady growth to continue. It also provides an opportunity to divide crowded plants.

Identifying and Resolving Pest/Disease Issues

Like all plants, African violets sometimes suffer from pests, disease, and cultural issues. Identifying and correcting problems promptly helps maintain strong plant health and continual flowering.

Common Problems

  • Aphids – Small sucking insects that cluster on leaves and stems. Spray with insecticidal soap.
  • Mealybugs – Cottony white bugs that feed on plant sap. Use a Q-tip dipped in alcohol to remove manually.
  • Thrips – Tiny black or yellow insects that rasp leaves. Apply systemic insecticide.
  • Botrytis – A grey fungal rot on leaves in cool, humid conditions. Improve airflow.
  • Root Rot – Brown, mushy roots from overwatering. Repot in fresh, dry soil.
  • Wilt – Drooping leaves and flowers. Increase watering frequency.

Prevention and Treatment

  • Inspect plants regularly under leaves and along stems for early pest detection.
  • Isolate any infested plants to prevent spread. Discard if severely affected.
  • Apply appropriate organic pesticide sprays or systemic treatments for insect pests. Remove affected leaves/flowers.
  • For diseases, improve growing conditions, and prune affected tissues.

Catching problems early makes treatments more effective and less disruptive to your African violets. Be vigilant!

Displaying and Rotating African Violets

One of the joys of growing African violets is having their beautiful blooms on display. Consider these tips for showcasing your plants:


  • Place pots on windowsills where the colorful blooms can be enjoyed indoors.
  • Or shelve plants under grow lights to illuminate the flowers.
  • Use decorative cachepots or plant stands to accentuate display.


  • Rotate pots periodically so all sides receive equal light exposure. This prevents stretching.
  • Or have multiple small plants that can be swapped out on display.


  • Bring African violets into prominence by placing in high-visibility areas where their beauty fills the space.
  • Group colours and flower forms together for maximum visual impact.
  • Share plants with friends and family to spread the joy!

With a little creativity, African violets can be displayed effectively around the home as gorgeous works of art. Their dazzling colours and prolific blooms brighten any room when showcased properly.

Ongoing Care and Maintenance

Caring for African violets is not difficult but does require regular attention to ensure strong growth and flowering. Incorporate these maintenance practices into your routine:

  • Remove spent blooms by pinching off old flowers. This neatens appearance and encourages reblooming.
  • Clean leaves every 2-4 weeks by wiping them with a damp cloth to remove dust. Check for pests while cleaning.
  • Monitor soil moisture and water appropriately from below. Soil should dry out partially between waterings.
  • Apply monthly fertilizer during the growing season at 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 strength to avoid buildup.
  • Watch for pests and diseases by frequently inspecting plants. Isolate and treat any issues immediately.
  • Adjust grow lights as needed to maintain 12-14 hours of daily light exposure.
  • Rotate pots periodically for even growth on all sides towards the light source.
  • Repot annually in fresh soil to provide room for root growth. Divide congested plants.

With regular care and attention, African violets will reward you with continuous blooms and attractive foliage for years of enjoyment!

Overwintering Dormant African Violets

As flowering houseplants, African violets need some specialized care during their dormant period over the winter months. Adjustments to their conditions can help them rest before resuming growth in spring.

Cooler Conditions

  • Move plants to a cooler room around 50-60°F to facilitate dormancy. Basement or bedrooms work well.
  • Provide adequate ventilation and ambient lighting, but avoid drafty areas.

Reduced Watering

  • Cut back on watering frequency as plants enter dormancy and growth slows.
  • Take care not to underwater to the point of wilt. Check soil moisture regularly.
  • Allow soil to dry out more between waterings. Leaves will be smaller and lighter green.

No Fertilizer

  • Do not apply fertilizer to dormant African violets. This can burn roots and leaves.
  • Resume diluted fertilizer in spring as new growth appears.

Pest Vigilance

  • Monitor closely for pests like aphids and mealybugs which can infest slower growing plants. Isolate and treat any issues over winter.

With attention to their specialized needs, African violets can rest successfully through their dormant period to revive again in the spring.


Caring for beautiful purple African violets requires paying attention to their key growing needs:

  • Select high quality, vigorous plants to start with. Look for healthy foliage, abundant blooms and symmetrical form.
  • Optimize lighting, temperature, humidity, and airflow in their environment for strong growth and flowering.
  • Use a well-draining potting mix with peat moss, vermiculite/perlite, and African violet blend components.
  • Water thoroughly from below when the top soil begins to dry out. Avoid oversaturating the soil.
  • Fertilize regularly during the growing season with a balanced liquid fertilizer. Reduce or eliminate in winter.
  • Propagate new plants from leaf cuttings, divisions, or adventitious plantlets for expanding your collection.
  • Repot annually into fresh soil to provide room for roots and divide congested plants.
  • Monitor closely for pests and diseases. Isolate, treat, and improve conditions.
  • Display plants attractively and rotate for even growth towards the light source.
  • Adjust conditions and care for dormant plants over the winter months.

With the proper growing conditions and attentive care, African violets will reward you with years of enjoyment from their colorful blooms and attractive foliage. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to successfully grow these popular indoor flowering plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

Caring for African violets often raises common questions for both beginners and experienced growers. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

How do you take care of purple violets?

  • Provide bright, indirect light, average room temperatures, and moderate humidity. Use an African violet soil mix and water from the bottom when the top inch of soil is dry. Fertilize monthly and watch for pests.

How often should I water African violets?

  • Allow the soil to dry out partially between waterings, then soak thoroughly from the bottom. This usually equates to watering about once per week. Adjust the frequency based on your conditions.

Do African violets like to be misted with water?

  • Avoid misting African violet leaves, as the water droplets can magnify light and burn leaves. Misting does boost ambient humidity temporarily but risks fungal diseases.

How do you keep African violets blooming all year?

  • Give plants bright light for 12-14 hours daily, monthly fertilizer, and consistent moisture and temperatures to maintain continual flowering. Supplement with grow lights in winter.
As an author and indoor plants enthusiast, I have always been fascinated by the natural world and the beauty of plant life. Growing up, I spent much of my time outdoors, exploring the forests and gardens in my hometown and learning about the various plant species that inhabit them.

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