African Violet Chimera



General Information and Growing Tips

ANYONE can grow beautiful African violets ANYWHERE if the proper cultural methods are practiced. These methods are the basis for the successful growing of any houseplant, but African violets should thrive, if the following conditions are met.  African violets provide a multitude of colors that everyone can find pleasing. 

NATURAL LIGHT: African violets are the world's most popular houseplant because they are capable of blooming year round. Adequate light is the most important factor in promoting flowering. Place the plants near any window that has bright, but filtered, light. An east window is good as African violets do very well in the light of the morning sun. 

FLUORESCENT LIGHT: If adequate natural light is not available, plants can be grown exclusively under fluorescent lights. This can also provide a more controlled light with the use of timers.  Use double tube fixtures, have the lights on 12 to 14 hours a day, and place the plants so the foliage is about eight inches below the tubes.   To read more...

WATERING: African violets can be watered from the top, the bottom (adding water to a saucer or tray) or by wicking. Many people believe that once a month the plants should be watered from the top to flush out accumulated salts.  We don't practice this, but many find it useful when the mix they are using is extremely light. Always use room temperature water and only water only when the top of the soil feels slightly dry to the touch. One of the most common reasons for failure of African violets is over watering.  We use mat watering (also known as subirrigation). To read more...

Water pH - The pH of the water makes a big difference!  If pH is out of whack, your plants are unable to take up the nutrients in the water.  They are starving.  Maintain your water as close to 7.0 as possible.  You can obtain pH Up or pH Down at your local growers.

FEEDING: Either lack of fertilizer or too infrequent fertilizing is one of the reasons for lack of blossoms. Most growers use a potting mix with little nutrient content. This type of mix requires using a dilute fertilizer solution each time the plant is watered. Use a balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20, and low in salts, high nitrate, and low ammonia and urea.

HUMIDITY: Air circulation and humidity are important factors. African violets thrive in the same atmosphere in which people are comfortable. Not too hot; not too cold; fresh air but no drafts; and enough humidity (40 to 50%) to maintain tissue moisture.  Professsional growers maintain 50% to 70% relative humidity. This fluctuates based on temperature and the season. Summer months require a higher humidity.  However, winter humidity must be lower to avoid disease problems.

SOILLESS MIX: Today, almost all of the commercial potting mixes are the "soilless" type. A mix suitable for African violets should be light and airy to allow easy root penetration. It should also be sterilized to eliminate harmful bacteria. If you don't prepare your own mix, buy a top quality mix that is especially formulated for African violets and add Perilite.  There are many recipes for a good violet mix.  While there is no 'perfect' recipe, the mix that works best for you is based on your environment as much as it is based on your watering method.  You will know if your mix is too heavy if your plant stops growing and wilts.  If your mix is too light, you will constantly need to water to keep it from drying up. 

: A properly groomed, fresh, clean African violet is a pleasure to behold. Keep dead leaves and faded blossoms removed. With a soft brush, flick away soil particles, lint, animal hairs, etc., or damp-wipe the foliage with a soft wet sponge. About once a month the foliage can be washed under a gentle stream of tepid water or tissue. Allow the plants to dry in a warm draft free place away from direct sunlight. Tilt the pot so water doesn't run into the pot and avoid getting water in the center crown of the plant. Pat excess water with a soft sponge.   Also,  small outer leaves should be removed routinely.  This allows for  more minerals for the 'heart' of the plant.  The leaves grow larger, healthier and the plant produces more blooms.  Great rule of thumb - if you can't see the leaf or less than 75% of the leaf, remove it.

PROPAGATION: Acquiring extra plants of those you already have is an easy procedure. The most common way is by leaf cuttings.  Although you can not reproduce a chimera with this method, any violet can be propagated from a leaf cutting.  Remove a fresh leaf from plant, cut the stem to about 1-1/2 inches in length, and plant the leaf in a small potl of prepared media.  In about 5-6 weeks, many little plantlets will come up through the mix from the base of the leaf. These plantlets can be separated and started in small pots.  To read about chimera propagation...

PESTS AND DISEASES: We can ALL help prevent disease by using sterilized potting soil mixes, clean containers, and NEVER passing infected plants to others. Immediately discard diseased plants so as not to affect your healthy plants.  ALWAYS isolate new plants coming into your collection for at least 30 days.  Many chimeras have been lost forever because this simple rule was not followed, not realizing that they had the only one in existence.  Do not routinely spray your plants with harmful chemicals as they will build a tolerance to these sprays.  Spray only as needed and only to get rid of the problem - then cease treatments!  The chemical to be used is based on the problem you are having. 

Information on African violet pests and diseases can be found in issues of the AFRICAN Violet Magazine. A book on insect and mite pests of African violets by Dr. Charles Cole, Texas A&M entomologist is also available from the AVSA Office, 2375 North, Beaumont, Texas 77702-1722.
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