Over the past year, we have seen interest increase in old fashioned plants. Many of these are considered pass along plants; plants that are long lived, easy to propagate and often shared with friends or future generations. Gregg and Jeff talk about a few in this video, including African violets.
African violets are wonderful, easy care houseplants and can live 50 years or longer. Taking leaf cuttings and growing new plants begins a new plant with a fresh lifespan. The flower characteristics are the same on the new baby plant. You can see why these make wonderful pass along plants!
Place your African violet in bright, indirect sun, in an indoor location away from drafts. The plant can be left in the plastic grower pot for a while or repotted into an African violet pot. African violets pots are often self watering and watering from the bottom (placing water in a saucer to be absorbed as needed by the plant) is one of the most popular watering techniques. If choosing a planter that isn’t specifically for African violets, choose a more shallow planter. Deeper planters can hold too much moisture close to roots, which can cause root rot.
They can also be watered from the top, just avoid getting water on leaves. Water enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Leach the soil three to four times a year to wash away excess salts. Leaching is the process of drenching the soil thoroughly with water until the soil is totally saturated, and letting excess water drain away. Salts can also build up on the rim and sides of clay pots so wipe them down every few months as well. Leaves that rest on salt covered rims can wilt and die.
Growing African violets in temperatures close to 70 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal, but they can do alright in temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees. Fertilize with liquid African violet food; it contains the right ratio of nutrients needed for the plant. Follow application instructions on fertilizer label.
Propagating African Violets
It’s simple to propagate African violets; Gregg shows how in the video above. Take leaves off the plant, cut leaf stem at a 45 degree angle, put in soil-less mix and within a few weeks, it should be growing roots. If the leaf is large, you can trim off the top by 30% or so. This will encourage faster rooting. Use a soil that contains no actual soil, just a mix of sphagnum peat moss, perlite, and/ or vermiculite. Cover the potted leaf with a clear plastic bag and place in a bright area without any direct sun to keep it from drying out or burning. This increased humidity can speed up the rooting process. Water as needed to keep moist but not soggy wet. Over time, one or more little plantlets will form around the cut leaf and after 4-5 months, the can be separated and re-potted.
Other plants that are easy to propagate and are long lasting include pothos, philodendron, devil’s backbone, airplane or spider plant and Christmas cactus.