Growing African Violets – a lesson in nurturing

When I was 8 years old I went on a trip to Cape Town for surgery on my cleft lip, we stayed at my great aunts home.  In one room she had many African Violet plants, with no flowers.  During my stay I talked to those plants every day.  When I left my aunt phoned my mother to tell her that the flowers were blooming like never before.  We often hear how children should have pets to learn responsibility and empathy, nurturing a plant fosters the same outcomes.

This is what heartbreak looks like

When we bought African Violets for the children 2 weeks ago, they were enchanted by my story of talking to the flowers and when they got home I heard them chatting to, praying over and playing piano and violin for the new family members.  These plants were being showered with love.  Sadly Fjord gave his so much love that he over watered it and within days it was dead.  He sobbed on and off for over an hour when he realized that the plant would not recover.   I sent text messages to Cliff sharing Fjord’s grief and on his way home from work, he bought Fjord a new African Violet.  The one which died was pink, the new one is a deep rich purple.  While Fjord was very grateful for the new plant I loved the fact that he still mourned the previous one, that shows to me a quality of spirit which is beautiful.  He is still hoping that the clone of the dead plant (a leaf taken to grow from cutting), will thrive.

Acacia’s African Violet

I have now looked up information to know how best to care for these plants and have learned the following

  • They should be watered from the base, standing the plant in water for 30 min.  Over watering is very bad for them
  • Vermiculite added to the potting soil is good
  • They should be re-potted every 6 – 12 months
  • They like to be a little root-bound in a small pot. This encourages the plant to produce more flowers. (I would have made the mistake of using a too big pot and was about to re-pot into pots 5 x bigger than what they are in, I always feel a bit sad when I see a root bound plant and want to give them more “freedom”)
  • They like bright indirect light, placing them on a window sill is ideal.  African Violets are indoor plants and will not tolerate harsh direct sunlight
  • They do not like to be in a draught.

If we learn anything new I will add to the above.

Fjord’s happy new deep purple African violet

Of course now that these little plants have caught my attention I want to rush off and buy new ones in every available shade but I’ll hold back for now.

If you have any tips to share, please comment below.


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