Getting your African violet to bloom indoors requires adequate light, water, lightweight potting mix, nutrients, and moderate room temperature. With the right conditions, new flowers can form within weeks.
I also have a step-by-step tutorial on African violet propagation and repotting African violets.
African Violet Blooming Tips
What African Violets Need
Sunlight | East or west windows are recommended. Avoid excessive heat and cold. You’ll know the light is insufficient if the plant doesn’t bloom after 2-3 months, the leaves grow in elongated shapes, or crowns get leggy.
Potting Mix | Use a commercial mix intended for African violets combined with perlite or make your own.
Water | Water deeply, until the saucer fills. Empty the saucer after 30 minutes. Best to water from below and avoid wetting leaves. Also consider wick watering.
Temperature | 65-75°F (18-24°C)
Humidity | 40-50 percent | Unfortunately, drip trays filled with water do not help with low humidity. A household humidifier and keeping up with watering can help.
Pot Sizes | 2-inch wide for plantlets, 3-inch wide for first-time blooming, 4-inch wide for 9-inch diameter plant
Pot Type | Plastic or clay. I love clay but I find it dries out too fast in the warm sun. These plastic ones have good drainage and saucers.
Fertilizer | One popular type used is Organic Violet! African Violet Plant Food. Ask at your local garden nursery to see what they recommend in combination with your local water.
Reblooming | If growing conditions are optimal, by snipping off old flowers (“disbudding”), new blooms may appear in 6 to 8 weeks.
As a self-professed flower fanatic, African violets (Saintpaulia spp.) are one of my favourite houseplants. No matter what time of year, there are always a few plants loaded with beautiful blooms inside.
These are my top tips for ensuring that your African violets not only produce flowers but rebloom again and again throughout the year.
Genetics help determine bloomability (volume, size, colour, frequency), but, if you have a healthy plant, it’s very likely yours can be encouraged to flower too. All plants rest between bloom cycles, but African violets typically take just a month or two to rebound.
In addition to the list of reasons why African violets may not bloom, I have answered Frequently Asked Questions here.
And, as always, this is gardening, not magic: plants are living things, which means changes take time. Provide what they need and buds will gradually form.
Quick Reblooming Tip
With the right growing conditions, a healthy African violet produces flowers—usually several at once—that last several weeks. If you disbud (pinch off) your old flowers, new flowers should bloom within 6 to 8 weeks. Some growers say their plants are in bloom up to 10 months a year, blooming nearly continuously. In my experience, this is more likely to be a total of approximately 6 or 7 months total with gaps in between when new flowers are forming.
According to the African Violet Society of America, you can remove existing flowers or buds (disbud) and, if growing conditions are optimal (see below), the plant will rebloom in 6 to 8 weeks.
10 Reasons Why African Violets Refuse to Bloom
- Some African violets are great bloomers and others are not.
Our success with houseplants involve nature and nurture and not all African violets are created equal.
You can work through everything on this list and still not see any or many flowers on your African violet. And this is because genetics matter.
Some are prolific bloomers—even with lousy growing conditions—while others are divas that may never flower.
But, if yours has flowered previously, there is hope.
2Too Little or Too Much Light
- African violets need a lot of light but not too intense.
African violets need light to grow and produce flowers.
The key is to get bright light in the morning or afternoon without excessive heat or intense sun.
Signs of inadequate light include stretched leaf stems and small adult leaves.
Too much light can cause the foliage to appear dull or bleached.
In winter, I keep mine at an east-facing window during the colder (darker) months. I set them back from the window as summer warms up and the days are longer and brighter.
You can also use fluorescent lights or LED lights for 16 hours per day, keeping the plant tops about 12-inches from the lights.
Be sure to rotate your pots a quarter turn every few days to avoid leaning.
3Over or Under Watering
- African violets need moderate and consistent moisture.
Learning to water plants effectively takes practice.
Water too much water and the roots rot.
Too little water and plants dry up and flower buds drop off.
Aim for nice, even moisture.
Pots should have drainage holes.
Rotate your pots when you water to be sure all the roots receive water.
If the leaves are compact making it hard to water the potting mix directly, water from below, placing the pot in deep saucer of water for 30 minutes, then remove excess.
You can also set up a wicking system for continuous watering.
4Lack of Humidity
- African violets like indoor relative humidity around 40 to 50%.
Relative humidity levels of 40 to 50% are good for many plants including African violets.
Watch out for dry air caused by indoor heating systems.
Humidity Drip Tray | Amazon
Despite popular advice, a drip tray with water storage won’t change the humidity in the room in any impactful way but they are handy for catching spills when watering.
This explains why plants struggle with dry, low-humidity air indoors.
5Lack of Nutrients or Too Much
- African violets may need fertilizer to replenish nutrients.
It takes energy to create buds and flowers!
A small (diluted) dose of suitable fertilizer with each watering is beneficial. I prefer this to a larger monthly dose because I tend to forget.
If your fertilizer label shows a monthly dose, reduce it down to a weekly amount and add that to your watering can.
Low amounts cause nutrient deficiencies. Too much fertilizer can burn and/or kill the plant or prevent flowering.
Orchid Plus 20-14-13 | Amazon
6Wrong Soil pH Level
- African violets do best with a soil pH level of 6.8.
The pH level is related to how well a plant can absorb available nutrients. If the soil pH level is too high or too low, the plant cannot properly take up the available nutrients. You are unlikely to deal with a major pH problem with a houseplant but keep it in mind as it is key for all plants.
For African violets the sweet spot is 6.8 pH.
Choosing the right growing medium for the plant is the best way to control this.
Buy Soil pH Test Strips | Amazon
7Heavy Soil / Growing Medium
- African violets like lightweight potting mix—not heavy or compact.
Is your African violet potted in the right stuff? We want fairly light—not compact growing medium.
Test by pushing your index finger into your current soil. If it goes in easily, it should be fine.
Commercial African violet potting mixes or a similar light houseplant mixes are best.
Common ingredients include sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite. Newer product types may have coir instead of peat.
Organic African Violet Potting Mix | Amazon
Peat (sphagnum peat moss) has been widely used in potting mixes for years. Harvesting peat requires the destruction of irreplaceable carbon-sequestering ecosystems (bogs). Coconut coir is often suggested but it too has limitations with its carbon footprint. Hence, the quest for a sustainable alternative continues.
- African violets need a moderate room temperature (not cold or hot).
Here’s the sweet spots for growing African violets:
- Daytime Room: 70-80°F (21-27°C)
- Nighttime Room: 65–70°F (18-21°C)
- Soil: 65-75°F (18-24°C)
Our old house gets colder than this at night, but the daytime warmth seems to make up for it.
9Wrong Size Pot
- Use modest-sized pots with drainage holes to avoid water build up around roots.
African violets like to be slightly snug in their pots. This helps prevent excess water from collecting around the roots.
The roots are generally 1/3 the diameter of the leaf spread.
For example, if the plant is 6 inches in diameter, the roots will be approximately 2-inches across. For this size, choose a pot 2-inches wider than the roots (4-inches wide).
Need to Repot?
How to Repot African Violets has everything you need to move your plants to the correct size pots.
10Pests or Disease
- If your African violet has pests or diseases, it’s better to start over than risk exposing other plants in your home to these problems.
You will likely know if pests or disease are present, because either you see them/it, or the plant simply looks unwell.
Here are a few possibilities:
• Soil mealy bugs
• Cyclamen mites
• Powdery mildew
• Blossom blight
Unless a problem is really simple to solve and does not require buying anything, I’m much more likely to toss the plant than treat it. It’s just not worth the risk of affecting/infecting my other plants and I like to keep my indoor and outdoor gardening as problem-free as possible.
11Excess Crowns or Suckers
- Routine repotting and trimming will ensure an attractive plant with potential to flower.
This is one big drawback to African violets: they rarely grow in good formation. Instead, they create extra crowns, suckers, or other strange leaf formations. You really have to keep on top of it or they get messy in a matter of months.
This shows how to repot African violets and deal with excess growth.
The good news is you can root your cuttings using these instructions:
Also, flower production is usually located in the first few rows/circles of leaves. This means you don’t need to let the plant get huge to get flowers.
Every time I repot and cut back some rows (keeping just 3-5 rows of leaves), I get new buds and blooms.
This connects to what other growers mention: some plants become complacent. The shock of a good trim and repotting can be just the thing to trigger new blooms.
After blooming, trim away each flower.
When the entire cluster is done, remove the entire flower stem (gently).
This helps encourage future blooming.
Frequently Asked Questions
When African violets have good genes and the right growing conditions, you can expect flowers every 2-6 months (unless you have a genetic dud).
Each set of blooms can last a few weeks.
Removing finishing blooms (“disbudding”) can help encourage new bud growth. After disbudding, new blooms can form in 6 to 8 weeks.
African violets do not flower if they have just finished a blooming cycle or conditions are not right.
Here are some factors that contribute to blooming:
– The plant is mature enough and genetically predisposed to blooming.
– The plant has adequate light, water, fertilizer.
– The plant has the right soil and pH level.
– The growing medium is lightweight and not heavy or compacted.
– The pot size is adequate (but not too big) and provides drainage.
– The soil temperature hovers around 65-75°F (18-24°C).
There are three basic ways to water African violets: from above, from below, or with a wicking system.
To water an African violet you can:
1) Water the soil/growing medium from above using a watering can with a very narrow spout, carefully reaching under the leaves. Rotate the pot to ensure all the soil is watered.
2) Sit your potted African violet in a saucer of warm water. Empty the saucer after 30 minutes.
3) Set up a wicking system to provide constant, even moisture to the soil.
To fertilize African violet houseplants one popular choice is a 20-14-13 fertilizer intended for orchids or a liquid fish emulsion fertilizer product.
Reviving an unhappy African violet takes time and actions depend on what type of neglect or excess it has endured.
Our reflex is often to water a sickly-looking plant, but first check the soil. If it’s bone dry, yes, water it. If it’s moist, leave it until it begins to dry out.
From there, read over all of the tips and determine what it needs.
You can transplant a blooming African violet but it’s best to wait until after flowering if possible. The general rule is, we try to never disturb a plant while flowering because that can hasten or halt blooming.
This said, if you can transplant your African violet carefully without disturbing the roots, it should be okay.
Use the right soil and only choose a larger pot if the roots have reached the edges of the current one. Keep in mind that the current conditions have (collectively) enabled blooming, so don’t stray from that if you want the flowers to continue.
Good luck, and I hope you get lots of blooms.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛