Saintpaulia: Greenhouse Plants

W – warm, minimum of 13°C (55°F)

Family: Gesneriaceae

Tropical Africa

Saintpaulia ionantha is the species from which most of our popular African Violets are derived although these days other species have been involved to give us a wider range of plants. Collecting the different named hybrids can become almost an obsession as it is possible to keep a lot of them in a small space.

To grow good plants it must be realised that they would not naturally be growing in very deep soil. A light peaty compost suits them best and they should be watered from below, being allowed to become almost dry before being soaked again. I have found that the best method is to stand them on capillary matting which is flooded whenever they require water. They will quickly rot if they are kept continuously wet. It is important to shade these plants thoroughly especially in summer otherwise their foliage may become yellow or discoloured. Plants raised from leaf cuttings will often form clumps of plants which become ugly and the flowers are hidden by leaves. I always separate my plantlets at an early stage and try to grow them as one crown. Good feeding is important once plants have got their roots down into the compost. Try special Saintpaulia liquid feed from Chempak which is very good. Avoid splashing water on to leaves as they suffer from scorch. If spraying is necessary to control pests then mix the chemical with water at greenhouse temperature and spray when the sun is not bright and the plants are shaded. Plants should flower almost all year round provided the temperature remains above 13°C (55°F), light is good and plants are well fed. Many different hybrids are available with single and double flowers, variegated leaves and miniatures to choose from.

Seed should be surface sown on to level, well-moistened peat compost and placed in the light at a temperature of 21-24°C (70-75°F). Germination will take place between one and three months. If this proves difficult try sowing on to moist blotting paper which must be covered with a transparent lid and placed in a light place. As soon as seedlings are large enough to handle they should be pricked out.

28. July 2013 by admin
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