ST. PAULIA IONANTHA African Violet
St. Paulias (African Violets) seem to go from strength to strength when it comes to variety with many more bi-coloured and double flowered versions been added to the list of choices. Just before Christmas we had a rather unusual variety in called “In the Green” which had green and white frilled flowers, a far cry from the original violet species. The miniature varieties available are quite delightful and make nice additions to mixed plantings.
St. Paulias stay fairly small and compact in their habit which makes them ideal candidates for bright windowsills. Just bear in mind that they will need to be placed away from south-facing windows during the summer to prevent leaf scorch.
When it comes to watering, aim to keep the compost evenly moist, St. Paulias don’t like to be soggy or bone dry.
The air humidity around St. paulias needs to be kept high for the plants to perform well. To achieve this, stand the pot in a saucer with a layer of pebbles which need to be kept moist. Don’t allow a reservoir of water to build up as this will prevent the compost from draining properly and will ultimately rot the plants roots.
The leaves of african violets are hairy and the best way to keep them dust-free is to lightly brush them, an artists soft brush is ideal for this.
If you want to increase your stock the easiest way is to take leaf cuttings. Take a leaf with a stalk and make sure the end is cut cleanly. Insert into a well drained compost, water the cuttings and cover with a polythene bag. Alternatively sow seeds in spring. Established plants can be potted on in spring but bear in mind that african violets need to be kept fairly pot bound. Feed regularly throughout spring and summer.