African Violet

African Violet

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African Violets are pretty herbaceous perennials originating from, as its name suggests, Africa! More specifically, they can be found growing wild in the mountains of Kenya and Tanzania.

This plant was first discovered by the German colonial official Baron Walter von St Paul in 1894, during an expedition to Kenya as part of the German East Africa Company. This is where this plant derives its previous genus name Saintpaulia and the same common name in a number of languages around the world. Today, some recent taxonomic work has led to the African Violets being merged as its own section in the genus Streptocarpus.

Despite being referred to as "violets", African Violets are actually only distantly related to true violets, which belong to an entirely different family and genus. Additionally, these plants come in a number of different colors as well as the typical easily recognizable purple, such as white, pink, red, multicolored, etc. and with different petal shapes.

African Violet 3


African Violets are small and compact growing, making them a great choice for smaller spaces - they'll easily brighten up any windowsill or desk.

Just make sure they get enough light. As much as it can seem appealing to place them as a centerpiece on a table, for example, they may not receive enough light if they're too far from a window. On the other hand, try not to let your African Violet get too hot if it's placed on a windowsill that gets a lot of sun. Grow lights are also a suitable alternative and can even help your plant grow and flower well all year around.

Always water with lukewarm water and never water directly onto the leaves, buds or flowers, since that can cause spots to appear.

Only water your African Violet once the top layer of the soil is dry. Too much water can quickly lead to root or stem rot, which is often fatal. These plants also have fine, fibrous roots - you'll notice this when repotting, as you'll need to be delicate with them. Such roots need sufficient aeration in the soil in order to take up water efficiently, so if the soil is allowed to become too soggy then there won't be enough air in it in order to keep your plant happy and able to take up water.

African Violet 2


Unfortunately, African Violets in the wild are now at risk due to the increasing loss of their natural habitat.

The modern cultivars of African Violets are actually quite different to those that were first discovered over a century ago, as they've been hybridized many times since becoming a popular houseplant. So, although the "original", wild African Violet are sadly at risk of disappearing in their native environment, their hybrids are continuing to grow in popularity as houseplants.

African Violet