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House Plant Index

Sainipaulia ionantha

Flowers Intermittently
Potting or re-potting time March and April
Position in garden during summer Do not plunge in garden
Potting Mixture 3

The African violet, or blue-eyed African violet as it is sometimes called, is a stemless herb from tropical Africa with sparse dusters of showy violet or lavender flowers whose beauty is enhanced by the brilliant yellow stamens. The leaves are quite hairy.

Sainipaulia likes a moist atmosphere and plenty of water around its roots, but will not countenance moisture on the leaves. Always water from the bottom. Direct sun does not agree with this herb, although it should have ample light. Growing conditions found in a terrarium are more suitable than other house locations. The African violet is not improved by summering in the garden; leave it in the house and supply abundant ventilation without exposing the plant to gusts of wind. Remove faded flowers and leaves, which have turned brown. Such leaves often indicate that too much water has stagnated the soil.

While this namesake of the von Saint Paul family is a perennial, it cannot be depended upon to grow as one in the house. It may thrive for a year, yet four to six months is the usual span of healthy growth-somewhat longer in a terrarium. New plants are easily grown from leaf cuttings, however. Cut fully developed leaves in March, each with a stem attached. Bury the stem in a propagating box up to the point where it joins the leaf. When roots are formed the cuttings may be planted in small containers in Potting Mixture 1 until large enough to place in larger pots. Flowers from rooted cuttings may be expected in 8 to 12 months.

With the exception of a small mite who occasionally attacks the leaves and flowers, Saintpaulia is agreeably free from insect troubles.