African Violet – Saintpaulia ionantha and S. spp.

Common Name: African Violet

Botanical Name: Saintpaulia ionantha and S. spp., saint-PAUL-li-uh eye-o-NAN-tha

Decorative Life: Months to years, depending on use.

Flower Color: , , ,


Harvest Instructions:

Growing plants using 150 ppm nitrogen produced longer lasting plants after harvest than those grown using 200-300 ppm. There are literally thousands of cultivars, many of which respond very differently to interior environments. Therefore, cultivar selection is very important in determining postharvest performance. Plants grown under high relative humidity (90-95%) produced more dry weight than when grown under lower humidity (55-60%).

Family Roots:
  • One of the more famous members of the Gesneriaceae (gesneria family).
  • Native to coastal Tanzania.
  • Three relatives are cape-primrose, Episcia and gloxinia.
  • Flowers are rounded to 1 inch across, in clusters of 3 or more held above foliage.
  • Leaves mostly heart-shaped, fleshy, fuzzy, forming a rosette.
Storage Specifics:

Chill sensitive, store above 55F.

  • The specific epithet name ionantha means purpled-flowered.
  • Saintpaulia: named after the discoverer of the plant, Baron Walter von Saint Paul-Illaire, 1860-1910.
  • This is likely the most popular of all flowering house plants because it generally flowers year-round.
  • Seems to thrive on neglect under interior conditions. Often grown under artificial lights. Easy to reproduce by cuttings. Will generally do well in light levels bright enough to read a newspaper in comfort.
  • Sunny window in winter and filtered light in summer. Too much sun can burn the foliage while too little light will cause the leaf stems (petioles) to elongate and flowering will decrease.
Recent Research Findings:

It has been well established that African violet leaves are very sensitive to cold water, resulting in leaf spots. Yun, Hayashi and Yazawa (1997) report that leaves are much more sensitive in the dark than in light. Specifically, upon exposure to four hours of light, chilled water-induced leaf spot can be reduced by about 90%. Thus, watering in light periods should reduce the chances of leaf spot development.

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