African violets are one of the most popular flowering plants in the world today, but are they indoor plants?
Here’s a crazy fact for you: there are many more African violets grown in homes than left in their native habitat.
In this article, we’ll answer if African violets are even considered indoor plants and tell you everything you need to know about growing them successfully.
Here’s if African Violets are Indoor or Outdoor Plants:
African violets are considered indoor plants because the majority of them are grown indoors, and in most parts of the world they can’t survive outdoors. Their leaves need to stay dry and they thrive in regular household conditions, making them excellent houseplants.
There are some tips you must not forget when growing African violets indoors. Luckily, we’ve compiled all the answers you need to know:
Brief Introduction To African Violets
African violets are a type of flowering plant originally from Africa. They are native to East Africa and are still common in countries like Kenya and Tanzania today.
Originally, they were identified in 1892 by a German colonial officer. He sent seeds back to Germany, out of which originated all the modern African violets we see around us.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are many more indoor African violets today than there are wild ones.
Are African Violets Toxic?
African violets are non-toxic to pets and humans and are completely safe to be kept in any part of the house.
They do have fuzzy leaves so it’s generally not a good idea to let children or pets munch on them.
Are African Violets Annuals or Perennials?
African violets are perennial plants that live for multiple years. They are also evergreen, which means you can enjoy their green foliage throughout the year.
African violets can also bloom multiple times a year.
Are Violets and African Violets the Same?
Violets and African violets are not the same, they just have similar names and appearances.
African violets are not actually a type of violet, they belong to the genus Streptocarpus (former Saintpaulia) while real violets belong to the genus Viola.
African Violet Variety
There are 6 species of flowering plants in the African violet family. However, there are more than 16,000 different African violet varieties, making it the plant with the most varieties in the world today.
Some have different colors and shapes while others look almost identical.
No matter what your preferences are, chances are you will find one African violet you can enjoy.
Are African Violets Good Indoor Plants?
Yes, African Violets make excellent houseplants. They thrive in regular household conditions making them very easy to care for. Besides that, they are very pretty all year round and are one of the easiest plants to flower.
That’s not all, African violets are non-toxic, so they are safe for everyone to enjoy. They also live for many years and can be propagated very easily.
Repotting happens rarely and they don’t generally require constant attention.
As you can see, there are many reasons why African violets make some of the best indoor plants one can keep, hence why they are so popular.
As far as care goes, African violets just need bright indirect light, and soil that is allowed to dry out a bit in between waterings. Also, always water from the bottom without splashing the leaves.
Usually, the only extra care they need is around those fuzzy leaves. Sometimes, their leaves can collect dust and dirt, so they might require some gentle brushing.
How Long Do African Violets Live Indoors?
African violets have a very long lifespan, usually living for 30-50 years indoors if kept in suitable conditions. The key for them to reach a long life is to keep them away from the cold or direct sunlight and avoid overwatering.
They are also easy to propagate, so in theory, you can keep growing the same plant even after it’s reached the end of its lifespan.
Even when they do die at 50 years old or more, it’s usually because of a secondary cause such as overwatering or cold, and not old age.
In the wild, African violets typically live for 5-10 years due to more unpredictable conditions, but that’s not even close to the end of their natural lifespan.
So, if your African violet has lived 5 years or less, check if you’ve made a mistake in terms of its care and fix it for future plants.
How Fast Do African Violets Grow Indoors?
African violets are considered moderate growers in terms of speed. From cuttings to young plants it will take 8 to 10 weeks, after which it can grow to full size in 10 to 12 months under the right conditions.
So, from cuttings to a mature flowering African violet plant that can be propagated again, it will take approximately one year.
The plant will grow a bit more past this point, but not a huge amount. Instead, it will take a fuller shape.
During the first year, the plant will have to be repotted twice.
As a sapling, after the 10 week period, you plant it in a pot no larger than 2 1/2″ in diameter. It will outgrow it in a few months depending on the conditions.
Typically, it needs repotting again after the 6-month mark into the full-size 4-5″ pot needed for a mature African violet.
How Big Do Indoor African Violets Get?
How big an indoor African violet grows will depend on its variety. There are 4 different sizes for African violets:
- Miniature: typically smaller than 6 inches in diameter.
- Semi-miniature: 6-8 inches in diameter.
- Standard: 8-16 inches in diameter.
- Large: 16-25 inches in diameter.
The biggest African violet recorded was 37 inches in diameter.
Although you might not be able to grow the biggest African violet ever, they are a great size for a houseplant.
They are big enough to be noticeable while not having to dedicate a huge amount of space for them.
Do African Violets Flower Indoors?
African violets will happily flower indoors. In fact, they are probably the easiest plant to flower indoors. With enough light, they will produce flowers ranging in color from white, blue, purple or even variegated all year round.
Many plants don’t flower indoors unless given perfect conditions, but this is not the case for African violets.
It’s not that they don’t need the right conditions in order to flower, it’s that their conditions are much easier to satisfy than other plants.
Typically, with African violets, if they can survive they can flower.
To give your African violet the best chance to flower, the most important thing is to give it the right amount of light. They need bright, but indirect light.
It’s very easy to tell if your plant isn’t getting enough sunlight by its very dark green leaves and thin-looking stems.
Take good care of them and African violets will produce an almost endless bloom.
Do African Violets Like To Be Misted?
Although African violets like high ambient humidity, they don’t like to be misted. African violets don’t like water on their leaves, so misting is not recommended.
In fact, it is recommended to water African violets from to bottom to avoid getting their leaves wet.
Water on the foliage can cause fungal spots or rot, especially on the ones with fuzzy leaves.
If your house does not have enough humidity for African violets (they need around 60-80%), use an electric humidifier or if you want a cheaper option, make a humidifying tray.
But avoid misting using a plant sprayer or getting the leaves wet.
Here is a great article I have on misting and plants that enjoy it on a daily basis, should you be curious.
Where Should You Put African Violets In Your House?
You should place your African violet in a warm, bright room and keep them away from radiators or air conditioners. They will survive in darker rooms as long as they are warm and kept away from extreme temperatures.
African violets do well in bathrooms, provided they have enough sunlight and there is no risk of their foliage getting wet.
Kitchens are usually ideal because they get just the right amount of humidity, that’s where I keep mine.
Just make sure they aren’t under direct sunlight in the summer, or they will burn quickly.
If you can move them to a north-facing window in the summer and a south-facing one in the winter, they will be very happy.
African violets generally tolerate household conditions very well, but you will want your plant to get the right amount of light so it can flower all year round.
How Much Light Do African Violets Need?
African violets need bright but indirect sunlight. They can survive in medium light or even lower, but for a healthy plant that blooms often, bright indirect light for 6 to 8 hours a day works best.
Natural light is the best, but If you can’t provide bright indirect light, consider getting a growing light.
They are very affordable nowadays and will keep your African violet blooming.
Check out my article where I split plants based on how much light they need and offer some very affordable growing light options.
Can You Propagate African Violets Indoors?
Yes, you can easily propagate African violets indoors, in fact, they are some of the easiest plants to propagate. Just cut a mature leaf with some stem left and plant it in moist but unfertilized soil. It will take about 8 to 10 weeks to take roots.
There are many ways you can propagate African violets, but the easiest one is through leaf cuttings.
African violet cuttings will take root even in water, thus you can put propagate them just in a jar filled 1/3 with water.
Another option is to propagate by division.
For that, you will need to remove a mature African violet from its pot and you will see its root crowns. Separate one root crown by cutting it with a very sharp knife and repot it in fresh soil.
Propagation by division will take roots faster and provide you with a fully flowering plant quicker, but it’s not as easy.
Do Indoor African Violets Require Fertilizer?
African violets do not require fertilizer. Although it’s not an absolute requirement, they will respond well to it. If you wish to feed your African violet, it is recommended to use fertilizer diluted to half strength every 4 to 6 weeks, only in the growing season.
I personally recommend using liquid fertilizer or a water-soluble one, because it’s much easier to dose.
With African violets, it’s much more common to get problems with over-fertilizing than under fertilizing.
They grow so well and flower so easily that fertilizing isn’t usually required unless you are looking for quick growth.
Whatever you do, don’t fertilize African violets younger than 3 months, they can’t take it.
My advice is to provide what they need and if they aren’t growing to their full potential or not flowering, only then fertilize.
Can You Repot Indoor African Violets?
You can safely repot your African violets. When they are growing, you will need to repot them twice in the first year. When mature, repot only when then plant becomes rot bound or when the old soil is depleted, which happens every 2-3 years.
African violets like snug pots, so a fully grown plant doesn’t need a pot bigger than 5″.
As a rule of thumb, keep your African violet in a pot with a diameter 3 times less than the plant’s crown diameter.
For example, if your mature plant is 15-16″ in diameter it will need a 5″ pot.
When repotting, choose peat-based well-drained soil rich in organic matter.
Can African Violets Be Potted Together With Other Indoor Plants?
Yes, African violets can be planted together with other plants, although it’s not a common practice. Any plants that like the same conditions can be companion plants for African violets, but the best ones are other African violets.
That’s because they are rather unique when it comes to what they like.
African violets need high ambient humidity but don’t like misting or having their leaves wet, which makes watering other plants nearby difficult.
They also like snug pots and don’t require repotting often.
Another great companion plant for African violets is Anthurium.
Can African Violets Be Pruned?
African violets can be safely pruned and it is recommended to do so, especially with dead or yellow leaves. They also produce new leaves all the time, so as a rule of thumb you can remove 3-6 of the big bottom leaves a month to prevent overcrowding.
They usually like being a bit crowded, both in the roots and in the crown, but it’s a delicate balance.
Removing any dead or dying foliage will also make your plant focus on new growth and help it bloom.
Indoor African Violet Problems (And Solutions)
Leaves curling up or down
Leaves curling on an African violet is a symptom of a cold growing environment. Make sure your plant is kept at more than 60°F.
If it is, make sure there are no drafts, open windows or air conditioning nearby because that can greatly affect them.
Increase the ambient temperature or move your plant to a warmer room and the leaves should straighten in a few days.
African violet blooms dying
If your African violet flowers are dying without maturing is usually because it needs more water. Remove any dead or dying flowers and increase the water dosage and your plant should be fine.
If however the flowers appear burnt and the leaves are also turning yellow and cracking, it’s because it’s getting too much light.
In that case, move your plant away from direct sunlight immediately and trim away any dead or dying foliage.
The most common reason for faded blooms is drafts or sharp temperature changes. Move your plant to a warm spot away from any drafts or opening windows and its blooms will regain color in a week or two.
Blooms fading or changing color is also a common symptom of age. If your plant is older, it’s normal.
However, that’s rare because African violets live a very long time.
Crown rot on African violets happens when the soil is kept too wet for a long time and they develop a fungus called Pythium ultimum.
To fix it, trim away all the affected foliage and repot your plant in new rich soil. Make sure the new pot has drainage holes.
If too late, cut away a healthy leaf and propagate your plant by planting the leaf in new soil or keeping it in a jar with water until it forms roots (approx 8 weeks).
Leaves turning yellow
The most common reason African leaves are turning yellow is that their foliage is getting wet when you water them. Make sure their foliage isn’t wet, trim away any yellow leaves and water from the bottom from now on.
Also, leave your plant’s soil to dry a bit more until the next time you water it.
African violet with too many leaves
It’s common for African violets to produce new leaves all the time, which can cause overcrowding. To fix the problem, simply make a routine to cut away 3-6 leaves from the bottom of the plant once a month.
However, excess foliage could also be caused by fertilizer, in which case stop feeding the plant and in turn, it will stop making so many leaves.
African violets are considered indoor plants and that’s because they make some of the best houseplants you can grow.
They are generally hardy plants, which easily flower all year round.
On top of that, they live for decades, are non-toxic and have thousands of varieties to choose from.
No wonder they are some of the most popular houseplants in the world.