Fussy violet can be worth effort to keep happy

OUT OF AFRICA: Saintpaulia can provide year-round interest.
OUT OF AFRICA: Saintpaulia can provide year-round interest.
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It’s not surprising that African violets (Saintpaulia) are so popular; their lovely blooms and attractive foliage can provide year-round interest.

They are compact enough to perch on a windowsill, but they can also be one of the most difficult of houseplants to keep happy and flowering. Ultimately, lighting and watering are the secrets of success.

It is essential to provide humidity around the plant by standing the pot on a saucer filled with gravel and water. Keep the water level just below the surface of the gravel and there should always be moisture floating up to massage the foliage of your little Saintpaulia. As to watering...

The art is in keeping the compost moist but then waiting until the surface of the compost is dry before watering. And always use water at room temperature. Over-watering kills African violets.

In winter, it’s usually fine to position your potted plant in a south-facing window where it can get the maximum of light, but come spring, the plant needs moving away from direct sun. But it still needs 12 hours’ light every day..

It also needs a minimum temperature of 18-24C by day and 16C by night and hates draughts and sudden temperature changes. This is a temperamental and demanding plant.