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Saintpaulia, clearly a must-have

Saintpaulia flowers with their thick fleshy, ruffled leaves

Saintpaulia is a cute indoor plant native to Africa.


Name – Saintpaulia ionantha
Family Gesneriaceae
Type indoor plant

8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) indoors
Exposure veiled

Flowering all year round

Sometimes called Cape violet or African violet, its blooming can sometimes last for most of the year!

Planting and re-potting saintpaulia

Saintpaulia likes a tight fit in its pot and thus doesn’t need to be repotted immediately.

After that, every 2 or 3 years and preferably in spring, repot your saintpaulia in a pot of a very slightly larger size.

During the re-potting

  • planting saintpaulia african-violetSurrounding temperatures must be lower than 60°F (16°C) to ensure proper settling in.
  • Saintpaulia roots hate having too much water.
    Double-check that the new pot has a hole in the bottom.
    Increase drainage with a layer of gravel or clay pebbles along the bottom of the pot, to make water flow through more easily.
  • Good soil mix is needed.
    The plant, when it lives indoors, needs soil mix because that is the only source for the nutrients it needs.
  • Low but constant moisture levels must be maintained, without wetting the leaves.
    You must rest the pot on a bed of gravel, rocks or clay marbles doused in water.

Propagation is possible in spring with cuttings.

Where to place the saintpaulia

Saintpaulia requires temperatures that oscillate between 65 and 74°F (18 to 24°C) and which never drops below 57°F (-13°C).

The temperature of a house or apartment are thus ideal for growing saintpaulia.

The best location for your saintpaulia is in a spot where there isn’t any direct sun on the plant, ever.

  • Saintpaulia can’t stand the sun’s rays when they touch its leaves directly.
    So the plant rejoices in adequate light but not direct sun.
  • Absolutely avoid setting it near heat sources such as radiators, because moisture is what this tropical plant needs most.

You can put gloxinia in the immediate vicinity of this plant because they both share the same growing conditions.

Watering and fertilizing

Regular but moderate watering is called for. Saintpaulia requires little water.

In spring and summer

saint pauliaKeep the soil mix a bit moist and check that water drains properly.

Provide liquid flower plant fertilizer more or less once a month to extend the blooming as long as can be.

  • Water from above, ideally with water that is already at room temperature.
  • Never wet the leaves and flowers of your saintpaulia.

To retain a certain moisture level, it is best to put the pot on a bed of clay pebbles with water at the bottom.

In fall and winter

Reduce watering and wait for the soil to be thoroughly dry in the surface before watering again.
Stop adding fertilizer.

Common diseases that infect saintpaulia

Most diseases targeted are the typical indoor plant diseases, red spider mite, scale insects, aphids and also powdery mildew.

  • If the color of the leaves turns pale, it is probably due to a lack of fertilizer.
  • Leaves that grow smaller and smaller in size show that you need to consider repotting your saintpaulia.

Learn more about saintpaulia

A fabulous indoor plant, saintpaulia is vulnerable to aphids. To avoid this, often spray a pyrethrum-based insect killer.

Read also:

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Thick ruffled leaves for this flower by Светлана Гурьева under Pixabay license