You Can Grow African Violets

Simple beauty with little effort

I have loved African Violets ever since I saw my first sun room full of beautifully groomed pale blue violets growing in white ceramic pots when I was about 10 years old.   Those violets lined the sills of that room’s many window, looking for the world like a uniformed parade, all the same variety.  I think they may have been the original Blue Boy.

Over the past 55 plus years I have grown many varieties.  I  have experimented with every means of propagation, except stem cell reproduction.   There is a special thrill in taking  a packet of microscopic seeds  and watching them  grow to blooming plant size.

It seems almost criminal to trash a leaf, knowing  it will  easily produce babies; those suckers give a quick supply of duplicate bloomers.

There was a time when I could get catalogs, but had to send away for them; they took a while to arrive,  there were almost  no photographs.   The forced waiting time did cool the burning desire to have a certain plant somewhat.

Now with the internet’s easy access to suppliers and growers I am doomed.   Who can resist those glorious color pictures of varieties that are instantly available with the  click  of a key?

It is so easy to become overwhelmed by sheer numbers of pottings!

This  happens time and again.   My collections begin with a resolve that I am going to keep everything under control.  African  Violets  can become an addiction;  after a while burnout sets  in.

Like an  overwhelmed father, I abandon my charges, divorce my faithful  light units, and dally with the alluring charms of outside gardening interest. I know when I want to start over, that light unit will be there,  ready to fill my life with beautiful plants once more.

I know this sounds heretical, many violet lovers are appalled by this admission.   It is simply the truth.  Violets are       beautiful plants anyone can grow once a few VERY simple requirements are understood.

I can not help but smile when I hear people talk about being afraid to try growing them.   The  “I”ve heard”  remarks let me know immediately, the greatest hindrance to enjoying these beautiful members of the floral kingdom is fear.

Folks, these are simply plants, they are not little gods that have to be bowed to with unquestioning devotion and coddled with expensive equipment or special potions.

A crown of glory on the queen of plants

In these pages I want to share my experience growing African Violets and their cousins as an enjoyable hobby.

My methods sometimes do not follow the gospel of the expert but they work for me.   I have grown some beautiful plants that made me happy.   I do not spend a lot of money either.  I would rather do it myself.

You may find that you do want to start growing plants of show perfection.   There is plenty educational material out there when that time comes; for now I want you to lose your fear of  growing and just enjoy the  beauty of the queen of flowers.

3 thoughts on “You Can Grow African Violets

  1. OK back to the little pests……they are black and they are tiny and they to get under the leaves, this fits the description of what’s happening:

    More commonly known as the ‘fungus gnat’, this is really considered to be a nuisance pest; it is very frequently present in composts that have been stored outdoors and left open to the elements, for example in garden centers. Sciarid flies are the tiny black flies often seen around plants. They breed in moist compost containing a high percentage of organic matter, the females laying minute white eggs in batches of about thirty at a time; these hatch in four to six days, and the larvae are very mobile, choosing fungi or decaying organic matter for their food. At five to fourteen days old the larvae pupate in or on the compost, the adults emerging five to six days later. The adult flies feed on nectar. Sciarid flies very rarely damage African violets; only when there is a very large population of larvae in a compost with very little organic matter will they feed on plant roots.

    Symptoms Of Attack

    Tiny black flies which can be seen around plants.
    Control of Sciarid Flies – Normally very good control is achieved by placing yellow-colored sticky traps among the plants: these traps are in fact no more than small strips of yellow plastic, coated with a non-toxic glue, yellow being an attractive color to flying insects. In the event of a heavy infestation, a drench of malathion may be used. Over-watering of plants tends to encourage sciarid flies. One other means of control is an insectivorous plant such as a pinguicula; these have sticky leaves specifically designed to catch the tiny flies, which they then ingest.

    OK I don’t mind hanging the no pest strips but I still think the soil needs to be washed hence the joy detergent. I’d rather drink joy or murphy’s oil soap than malathion.

    The plants are still wet..thinking I should like them take a break every now and then to sober up from the wick watering.

    Now I just read that cinnamon sprinkled on top would stop the gnats…..yeah, but they still have larvae in the soil….

    too much information…will await your opinion, the arrival of my book and let them dry with the no pest strips..but I do have a lot of cinnamon so I just got to try that….

    Trudi’s memorial service is today, then I’m going to go to the beach and take a salt air treatment for this 2 week old cold.

    have a good weekend. thanks for being a though ahead of me…..


  2. Have’t seen any gnats in a few days…maybe I’m safe now….but one plant has powdery mildew…I looked in up in my official book…mixed up 1/8 tsp lysol and a tiny drop of dish detergent to a half gallon of water, warmed it up, sprayed mist above plant and let it sit a while, then washed with warm water and blot dried, then dried with hair dryer…only a few leaves look whiteish will treat again tomorrow. Wish me luck….. I love fixing/treating stuff!


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