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7 Tips for Fertilizing African Violets

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African violets are beautiful plants that can stay beautiful so long as you grow them in their required conditions.

You will need to consider how often you feed and water your plants to maintain their beautiful leaves and flowers.

Read this article to learn seven tips for fertilizing African violets and other ways to care for the plants.

1. Stick to African Violet-Specific Fertilizer as a Newbie

Hands of a girl planting an african violet in a pot

Suppose you are new to growing African violets. In that case, you need to stick to feeding your plants with African violet-specific fertilizers, as these formulas give your African violet plants the exact amount of nutrients that they need, so long as you follow the instructions.

You should only use other fertilizers when you are sure of what you are doing.

The best fertilizer formula for African violets is 14 parts nitrogen, 12 parts phosphorus, and 1 part potassium (14-12-1).

Aside from the fertilizer formula, you also need to consider the form of fertilizer, as African violet plants grow better with water-soluble fertilizer than others.

You can buy a suitable fertilizer from the nearest gardening store.

2. Use Urea-Free Fertilizer

While making fertilizer for your African violets, you should not use urea or any unfinished urea-based product.

Urea in its complete form can be too strong for your violets’ roots and can burn them. You want to ensure that the urea has wholly converted to nitrates before you feed your African violets.

Urea is a major source of nitrogen for plants, but it is not the best for African violets.

Products such as fresh animal manure and concentrated urine have high levels of urea, so you want to avoid them, or consider reducing their urea content by waiting for the manure to finish rotting or diluting the urine.

3. Water-Soluble Fertilizer is Best for African Violets

African Violet in a basket pot with fertilizer

To eliminate the chances of your African violets’ roots burning because of fertilizer problems, only use water-soluble fertilizers.

Water-soluble fertilizers have a lower concentration of nutrients if you use the product as recommended in the instructions. This fertilizer is also easy for your plants to absorb.

Unlike other fertilizers, you can quickly wash off excess nutrients from the African violets’ substrate (growing medium) if you think you applied too much fertilizer. You can even use water-soluble fertilizer to feed your African violets through their leaves.

As you can see, water-soluble fertilizer has a lot of benefits for your African violets.

4. Amend the Soil

Girl showing african violet with a root on her hand and the other behind

If you’d love to grow your African violets without regularly fertilizing them, you should amend their soil with nutrient-rich soil amendment products.

For example, products such as coffee grounds, compost, bone meal, blood meal, etc., are proven to sustain and improve the growth of plants. When you apply these products correctly, you do not need to worry about your African violets’ roots burning.

Amending the soil also helps to fix the soil structure after improving the nutrient content. African violets love a well-drained substrate, so mixing a product such as bone meal into the substrate is beneficial as it improves the substrate’s drainage capability.

Later in this article, we will discuss how you can make various soil amendment products.

5. Use Foliar Fertilizer to Correct Nutrient Deficiencies

Foliar fertilizer is any type of fertilizer that you can apply to your plant’s leaves.

While this is a fun type of fertilizer to use, foliar fertilizer has an even better function.

If you spot signs of nutrient deficiency on your African violet plants, you can quickly correct it by using foliar fertilizer as plants rapidly absorb nutrients through their leaves.

Some signs of nutrient deficiency that you can spot on your African violets according to the nutrient are pale leaves (nitrogen deficiency), flowers dropping (phosphorus deficiency), and stunted growth (potassium deficiency).

Look for these signs to know what is missing and what nutrients should be applied to the plant.

Close up of woman holding foliar fertilizer for plants and a spray bottle

6. Only Fertilize Your African Violets in the Growing Season

As a general rule for every plant, you do not need to fertilize your African violets when they are at rest.

The active growing period for African violets starts in spring and ends in autumn. During this active growing period, fertilize your African violet plants every four to six weeks or according to the instructions for the fertilizer.

In winter, you do not need to fertilize your African violets as they are not growing. They do not need more nutrients that season and the excess nutrients can burn their roots.

If you see your African violets flowering in winter, you should occasionally feed them with a fertilizer rich in phosphorus.

However, if the substrate is nutrient-rich, you do not need to give them extra nutrients.

Closeup of beautiful purple African violet blooms

7. Make a Suitable Fertilizer or Soil Amendment for Your African Violets

To upgrade your gardening journey, you should consider making fertilizer for your African violets. If you can properly feed your African violet plants, you are a gardening pro, as these plants are a bit difficult to feed.

Here are some types of fertilizer or soil amendment products that you can make for your African violet plants:

A. Liquid Fertilizer from Manure

Making liquid fertilizer is easy so long as you get the right ingredients.

While you can buy and mix salts of nitrates and other nutrients to make your liquid fertilizer, the easiest way to make this product is to use organic products.

If you have an organic product such as fresh manure, mix it with water in a ratio of one-part manure to eight- or nine-parts water.

Keep the container far from you as it can be smelly, and then insert an aerator into the mixture. Continue aerating the mixture for up to ten days and only stop when it has an earthy smell.

You can feed this solution to your plants, but to be extra safe, consider diluting it even more before giving your plants.

B. Dry Fertilizer From Manure

organic fertilizer on a hand outdoor

Instead of using your organic fertilizer as liquid fertilizer, you can easily convert it to a safe organic fertilizer for your plants.

All you need to do is to expose the manure to sunlight and wind for a few days or weeks. You can use it when it no longer emits a pungent smell and looks dry and flaky.

Note that rotted manure is not suitable for potted plants, but you can use it for plants in the bare garden soil.

C. Soil Amendment

Instead of regularly fertilizing your African violets, consider amending the soil. There are so many types of soil amendment products that you can buy, but instead of buying, make yours.

Note that for potted plants, soil amendment products can affect the substrate structure. Make sure you know what you are doing before you amend the substrate of potted African violets.

Here are some soil amendment products that you can make:

       i. Compost

To make fine compost for your African violets, you need plant products such as fresh leaves, brown leaves, and fallen flowers. You can also use other products such as nontoxic paper (i.e., free from chemicals), animal manure, and bone meal.

Mist and aerate the compost pile regularly. You can aerate it by mixing and turning it weekly or twice weekly.

      ii. Coffee Grounds

Ground Coffee and Grains

You do not need to do anything with the coffee grounds. So long as they are ground or fine, you can use them in the soil.

You can apply them to the soil by spraying them directly on the surface or mixing them into the soil. Do not use too many coffee grounds so that they do not attract fungi and pests.

     iii. Bone Meal

You can use leftover bones from cooking to make bone meal. The process requires baking and grinding the bone into a fine powder. Consider using the bones of chickens, cows, and other domesticated animals only.

Like coffee grounds, spread the bone meal evenly on the soil and do not use too much.

Now you know various fertilizer and soil amendment products you can make and use for your African violets. You are now ready to fertilize your plants.

Continue reading to learn more care tips for African violet plants.

More Care Requirements for Your African Violets

Here are some growing requirements for African violet plants:

  • Light: The beautiful African violet plants do not need direct full sun. Grow them by the east- or north-facing windows of your home for the best light exposure.
  • Substrate: So long as the substrate is not soggy and drains water quickly, your African violets can grow just fine.
  • Water: Watering African violets can be a bit challenging. To eliminate the chances of your plants dying, wait until the substrate is dry on top before you water your African violets again.
  • Temperature and Humidity: The optimal temperature range to grow your plants is 65°F to 80°F. African violet plants love high humidity, so you can give them up to 80 percent humidity.
  • Pruning and Repotting: Remove dead leaves and spent flowers from the plants, and do not allow them to decompose in the pot. You should repot your plants twice yearly or when they are root-bound.

Now you are ready to grow the most beautiful African violets.

cute little gray kitten sitting near the window beside an african violet plant

Final Thoughts

African violet plants can easily experience burned roots if you overfeed them, so you want to make sure that you only feed them with the right fertilizer occasionally. Following the tips in this article will make you a successful African violet grower.


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