My sister thinks I have a purple thumb. I inherited it from Mom. It has to do with my good luck raising African Violets.
I have 3 African violets. They are over 12 years old. But I don't think it has anything to do with luck.
This is how I do it.
First... pots. Each plant is in a 4" plastic pot with drain holes. I use Miracle Grow African Violet potting soil when they need re-potting, but more about that later. The first pot is housed in a slightly larger decorative pot that does not have drain holes.
Second... location. They get filtered sunshine in an east window with very little artificial interior lighting to mess with their internal clocks. This encourages two nice bloom cycles a year. Mom kept her beautiful violets in the east window of her dining room. All natural light there too, because they ate all their meals in the kitchen.
Third, I bottom-water my violets once a week. That's how mom did it. That means setting the inner pots, the ones with the drain holes, in roomy bowls with a couple inches of room-temperature water, and letting them soak for about 20 minutes... the plants will absorbed what they need. Top watering encourages leaf spot. Cold water shocks them. Then I drain off the excess water and pop them back into the decorative pots. I use filtered water but if you don't have filtered water, then fill a watering can with tap water and let it sit overnight so the chlorine can dissipate. I fill my watering can the week before so it's all ready on watering day.
Also, violets don't like temps below 60 degrees... 70 is optimal. Our house ranges from 64 in the winter to 80 in the summer.
When I see tiny buds forming under the topmost tier of leaves, the violets are getting ready to flower. So I put a dropper of commercial violet fertilizer in the water once a week for a couple weeks as per manufacturer instructions. As the blooms fade, I snip them off. I usually get 2 bloom cycles per year.
Every so often, the violets outgrow their pots. Top growth becomes too large for the size of the root mass. They call it pot-bound. Signs that they need re-potting is a tendency to wilt between waterings... the root mass is too dense and has displaced soil... there's not enough soil to hold sufficient water to keep it hydrated between waterings. Leaves start dying... lower leaves first, then leaves near the middle/top of the plant. It looks like the plant is pushing itself out of the pot. Clearly it wants out. The shoe is too tight.
So here's how I repot my African Violets. I've read several online tutorials which overly complicate the process. My method has worked for me for years and it's simpler. First of all, resist the urge to use a bigger pot because violets like small pots. I re-pot my violets about every year to year and a half, at of near the end of a bloom cycle. The one pictured below put on a sensational show this spring.
But it's nearing the end of the cycle and it's been having some wilt issues. I've had to do a little top-watering to keep it hydrated, so I know it's time to repot. By the way, if a plant is in dire straits, having major wilt issues, looking like it's trying to climb out of the pot, or losing lots of leaves, don't wait until it's done blooming, just do it.
So here's the violet in need. And here's what I do.
I remove the plant and root ball from the pot and wash the pot with water, scrubbing out any old soil.
I break off lower tiers of leaves, even healthy ones, until I have about 2 or three levels or less of leaves left. They break off easily and naturally near the trunk of the plant. (I think it's really interesting how violet leaves grow in a spiral pattern.) I carefully break off all flowers and flower stems near the crown (center) of the plant from which they originate. (Notice that I left a couple tiny buds that haven't opened yet. I usually don't, but I couldn't resist.)
This is the stuff I removed. Lots.
I gently pull off the root mass and dispose of it. I also pull off any long stringy roots that remain on the trunk. Then I rinse the plant, upside down, under gently running lukewarm water, rubbing excess dirt off the trunk with my fingers. It will look pretty gnarly. That's okay. I don't peel/scrub it like some websites suggest. Here is how it should look.
With a sharp knife, I trim the trunk on an angle about 2" from the bottom tier of leaves. Then I set the little plant aside for a few minutes. Some websites would have you put it in a plastic bag for a couple weeks till new roots grow. Don't do that.
I dump violet potting mix into a container.
And gradually mix in lukewarm tap water until it is very wet and holds together when gently squeezed.
I pack the wet soil firmly into the pot and poke a hole the size and depth of the trunk.
I insert the trunk in the hole and carefully pack soil firmly around it, trying to not break off any leaves. The bottom tier of leaves should be a little bit above the level of the soil. You may trim the trunk a little more if it seems too long.
Done. Now handle with care because the plant has no roots to support it. It will several weeks for them to grow and take hold. Don't water for a couple weeks, and when you do, bottom-water as described above. No need to fertilize for several months if your potting mix contains its own time-release fertilizer. Be happy.