TITLE: African beauties
TEASER: How to make African violets flower successfully.
1. African violets should be re-potted at least once a year and this is best done in spring.
2. The leaves of your African violet should be cleaned regularly, as dust can clog the pores.
3. Avoid placing your African violets in hot, direct sunlight as this will scorch the leaves.
African violets demand perfect conditions before they will reward you with both healthy leaves and flowers. If you get the right combination, you will have beautiful, healthy plants.
African violets are indigenous to steep, rocky mountains in the high rainfall, humid forests of East Africa where they are found in rock fissures, in a small amount of soil, grit and moulding leaves in the shade of large trees.
To approximate these perfect conditions for your African violets, follow these tips:
* Best spot: A warm, sheltered spot; away from drafts and wind, 30cm from an easterly facing window. Avoid placing the plant in hot, direct sunlight as this will scorch the leaves.
* Best light: The more light the plant receives, the more profusely it will flower. Rotate the pot's position weekly.
* How to water: Once a week. Allow the soil on top to become dry before watering. If the plant is kept too wet, it will rot. Use water at room temperature, as cold water chills the roots. Water from the top, allowing water to run out from the base of the pot. Watering from the bottom can lead to over watering and a build up of fertiliser on top of the soil. Never let the plant stand in water.
* Best humidity: African violets enjoy humidity of 50%. To increase humidity cover the base of the drip tray with gravel and keep it partly filled with water.
* Best soil: Plant your African violet in slightly acidic (pH of 6,5) soil that drains well.
* How to fertilise: On fertilise soil that is damp. Feed African violets once a week from spring to early autumn. Use a fertiliser for flowering plants if there is not a specialised one for African violets.
* Best cleaning: Gently brush off dust with a soft clean toothbrush as dust clogs the leaf pores.