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2024: Year of the African Violet

This fact sheet is provided as an educational service of the National Garden Bureau.


Year of the African Violet

African Violets are one of the most popular houseplants in the world. With a little care African Violets can live over 20 years! Today’s continuing innovations help make the African Violet more resistant to pest and fungal issues and longer lasting. This also allows it to be grown more environmentally sustainable. All these innovations have made today’s African Violets very easy to grow and care for and a truly rewarding experience for both casual home gardeners and passionate collectors.

The African Violet Saintpaulia ionantha was originally discovered in 1892 by Walter von Saint-Paul-Illaire in the wooded Usambara mountains near the border of Kenya and Tanzania in Africa. In the fall of 1892, the plant was sent to the Herrenhausen Greenhouse in Hanover, Germany. Master Gardener and Botanist Hermann Wedland recorded the plant for the first time as a member of the Gesneriad family. The African Violet was exhibited for the first time in 1893 and caught the attention of the public. The first commercial hybrids debuted in 1927. Nearly 100 years have passed with many innovations that have made the African Violet one of the most popular house plants in the world.

The Most Popular Types of African Violets are:

  • Leaf types are Plain, Ovate, Round, Pointed, Heart Shaped, Lobed, Serrated, scalloped, Wavy and Ruffled. These leaves range in color from light green to deep red and can be variegated, striped, blothched, speckled or solid!

  • African Violets also come in many different flower types, for example: Pansy single, Semi-double, Double, Double+, Star Single, Double Star, Bell and Wasp.

  • The actual flower coloration or pattern can be jsut as varied: Tow-tone, Bi-color, Dark center, White center, Thumbprint, Chimera, Colored edge, Speckled edge, Geneva edge and Raised edge.

African Violet Care Tips:

  • Remove any spent flowers and leaves. Many pests feed on decaying plant matter

  • We strongly advise using a wick-watering system.

  • Always maintain good air circulation around your plants. Botrytis and Crown Rot flourish in poor air circulation.

  • Light: African Violets thrive in filtered sunlight. Never place in full sun! LED and fluorescent lights are ok.

  • Watering: Keep soil moist but not soggy. Place in a 1” deep tray, water from below, wait 30 minutes and drain any excess. Cold water left on the leaves can cause spotting. Let soil get 80% dry once in a while. Overwatering can cause root-rot and wilting. Use room temperature water.

  • Temperature and humidity: African Violets grow best at room temperature. 75° to 85°F (23°-30°C) but can tolerate short periods of lows of 55° (13°C) without damage. African violets need at least 50% humidity to bloom. Avoid drafty areas and sudden temperature changes, which will inhibit blooming and can cause powdery mildew. To increase humidity, place pebbles in a shallow tray of water near or under the violet.

  • Soil & repotting: African violets bloom best when they are rootbound. Keep them in a 4-inch (10cm) to 6 inch (15cm) pot. The best potting soil for African Violets contains little or no dirt at all, specialty blends are very light and porous. This enhances aeration while keeping the soil moist, but not soggy.

  • Keep It Blooming: Groom as needed by removing wilted or dead outer leaves. Remove wilted flower-stalks to encourage more flowering. You will get more blooms if you remove sucker plants that split from the main crown. These can be planted or discarded.

National Garden Bureau


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