african violets

African Violet Fertilizer: How and When to Apply

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Who doesn’t like pretty flowers inside their homes? Everybody loves to see a splash of color and African violet (Saintpaulia) is the perfect household plant for it. With its beautiful appearance and a variety of different cultivars, this plant is a household plant favorite without a doubt.

Of course, there is no perfect plant. There will be times that the plant will need some help from the grower, especially for fertilizer application. 

Read on to know all about the best fertilizer for African violets. 

Why do African Violets Need Fertilizer

The main reasons fertilizer application is essential when it comes to caring for African violet are growth optimization and increasing the quantity and quality of flowers. Since its blooms are its main attraction, many growers prefer to plant them in pots and grow them as a household plant. 

In general, potted plants would depend on fertilizers for their nutrient replenishment. There is a limited supply of nutrients in one pot. This means that the nutrient reservoir for indoor plants is significantly smaller than the plants directly planted in the landscape soil. 

In choosing the right fertilizer to use, the easiest way is by asking the local garden shops for the recommended African violet fertilizers. They might have African violet-specific products that are tailored to fit the plant. However, it is important to know the basics of fertilizers. 

Major Elements

Fertilizers have macroelements, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. These three nutrients are major elements that play a crucial role in the growth of any plant. Nitrogen helps for foliage development. On the other hand, Phosphorus aids in the development of roots and blooms. 

Organic or Synthetic

Plants will benefit from either type of fertilizer. However, the difference between the two is the availability of nutrients for plant use. Of course in household plants, you want a fast-acting product. Synthetic fertilizers are best for this because they give all the nutrients in a short time. Although, organic fertilizers such as food scraps and manure may be used if time is not of the essence and the smell won’t bother you.  

What Is The Best African Violet Fertilizer?

For Saintpaulia, the best fertilizer should have three characteristics: quick release, water-soluble, and urea-free product. Each feature mentioned is needed to suit the growing requirements of the plant.

First, quick-release fertilizers are favored because they will replenish the nutrients in a short period, making the nutrients readily available for the plant’s consumption. Then, water-soluble fertilizers are recommended because of the type of watering African violets usually need. Lastly, the use of fertilizers with ureas is discouraged as it can cause root damage.

How to Apply African Violet Fertilizer

After knowing the type of fertilizer needed, reading the labels for the recommended rate is the next step. Usually, the recommended rates of general fertilizers are reduced to a half or a third of their original amount for indoor plants. For example, a complete fertilizer (20-20-20 or 14-14-14) should be diluted in water. 

For African violets grown under natural lighting, mix an eighth of a teaspoon of complete fertilizer to a gallon of water. On the other hand, those grown under artificial light will need a quarter of a teaspoon of complete fertilizer dissolved in one gallon of water. Diluting the fertilizers will help prevent fertilizer burns on the plant. 

When to Apply African Violet Fertilizer

After knowing all the information mentioned above, the next step is to know when to feed Saintpaulia. Apply the fertilizer during the growing seasons. This will help the plant develop more leaves and produce more food which will result in faster growth and better blooms. Some growers fertilize during fall, summer, and the last weeks of spring. However, there are some instances wherein fertilizing during winter helped their plant grow better. 

When the blooming period comes, refrain from giving nitrogen-rich fertilizers as it will hinder the production of flowers and induce leaf production instead. Phosphorus fertilizers will aid in the blossoming of the plant. Hence, they may be applied during this period.

In general, the best way to know what the plant needs is soil testing. Measuring the number of nutrients in the soil will help the grower determine the right fertilizer to apply. This test would also help prevent over-fertilizing the soil. Potted plants, such as the African violet, is extra sensitive to over-fertilized soils as it can easily alter the soil pH and accumulate salts. If these happen, the plant’s growth and appearance will be affected negatively. 


*Image by ChamilleWhite/depositphotos

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