African violets are valued for their gorgeous beauty and relatively easy maintenance. Most people are familiar with the traditional type, but did you know that there are trailing African violets? Trailing African violets are mesmerizing, especially when they mature fully and produce flowers. Let’s explore more about the trailing African violets and how we can help them stay gorgeously healthy.
Trailing African Violets: A Quick Look
Many plant owners mix up the trailing African violet with its more traditional cousin. The difference between the two is that the traditional African violet has individual crowns with corresponding root systems.
On the other hand, trailing African violets have multiple crowns coming from one root system. These crowns tend to be more spaced out between the leaves, keeping them from being overly packed.
There are several types of trailing African violets. These types are based on the sizes of the leaves. However, it should be noted that the size of the leaf of each type does not determine the ultimate size of the plant. This means that even the type with the smallest leaf classification can grow into a large specimen.
Here are the four types of trailing African violets:
- Micro-miniature varieties have leaf sizes that are less than half an inch in length.
- Miniature trailing types of African violets have leaves that usually grow up to an inch in length.
- Semi-miniature types tend to have leaves that reach up to around two inches long.
- Standard trailing varieties usually have leaves that can get up to three inches in length.
Additionally, African violets are often classified by their internodes. Internodes refer to the distance between succeeding leaves found along one stem. This growth habit makes the plant produce upright and clumping growing patterns. African violets can either have short or long internodes. Most of the time, trailing African violets belong to the longer internode group leading to impressive sprawling growth.
Trailing African violets are often entered in garden shows to display their beauty. Usually, they are required to show at least three crowns. While there are multiple factors involved, judges often base their votes on the overall form.
All About Growing Trailing African Violets
Most people are under the impression that trailing African violets are difficult to grow, but with the right information, you can grow these plants easily. Let’s go through what we need to know about growing these unique plants.
Trailing African violets can be grown from seed or cutting. It can take three months or more to grow these plants from seed, but if you’re the type to patiently experiment, then this could be for you.
You can purchase seeds online, although you should only buy from reputable sellers. Otherwise, you can end up with other types of seeds. Many people confuse traditional violets with the trailing variety, so be careful where you purchase your seeds from.
Growing trailing African violets from seed can also be unpredictable. Because the seeds are the result of pollination, the growth and flowering habits of the seedlings can highly differ from those of the parent plants.
If you are interested in a faster method, you can grow trailing African violets from leaf cuttings. Leaf-cutting propagation produces fewer plants, but the waiting time is significantly shorter.
Given that these are leaf cuttings from the mother plant, you will know what to expect. Unlike those grown from seeds, cuttings will turn out just like the mother plant.
Cutting propagation can be done in two ways: in water and in soil. Both work equally well, except that water propagation has an extra step. If you’re looking for ease and convenience, it’s better to stick to propagating leaf cuttings in soil.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Prepare the soil ideal for African violets by making it slightly moist.
- Poke small holes in the soil where you plan to place your leaf cuttings.
- Cut several healthy leaves using a sterilized knife or scissors at a 45-degree angle from the main stem.
- Place the stem of each leaf into the designated holes.
- Place supports if the leaf cuttings have trouble staying upright.
- Place the leaf cuttings in a well-lit area with moderate temperatures. Avoid direct sunlight or warm spaces as these can burn or damage the cuttings.
- Keep the soil moist but not overly wet.
- Usually, the cuttings will produce new leaves after around 10 to 12 weeks.
At this point, you can allow them to grow bigger and transfer them to larger containers. You can also add a rooting hormone to potentially speed up the process.
Choosing The Right Soil for Trailing African Violets
African violets are quite selective when it comes to soil, so it’s important to choose the optimal soil for them to live in. Similar to their traditional cousins, trailing African violets require slightly acidic well-draining soils.
Most garden centers have potting mixes specifically made for African violets. On the other hand, you might be tempted to make your own. If you plan to do so, ensure that the soil does not hold too much moisture as it can cause root rot.
Providing the Right Amount of Sunlight
If you have experience growing traditional African violets, then you know how much they love light. The more light they receive, the less they are prone to becoming leggy.
Ideally, trailing African violets should be placed in an area where they can receive eight hours of sunlight at the very least. More is better though, these plants can even take up to 14 hours of daylight if possible. While they love sunlight, they still need at least eight hours of darkness in order to produce flowers.
If you are growing your trailing African violets indoors, place them near a southern or eastern-facing window that gets lots of light. However, should the light be inadequate, you can supplement it with grow lights. Indoor grow lights are especially useful in the winter when the nights are longer and the sunlight is weaker.
Watering and Fertilizing Trailing African Violets
Trailing African violets are extremely similar to their traditional counterparts when it comes to watering. Trailing African violets should only be watered when the topmost inch of the soil becomes dry. Check with your finger, and only water when it is dry to the touch. Doing so too much can lead to issues like root rot. . When watering the plant avoid getting water on its leaves. This can cause unsightly spots and lead to growth issues. Instead, opt to water only the soil. The same process should be followed during the winter, although the frequency should be reduced.
To fertilize the plant, use a balanced, organic fertilizer. You can feed this solution to the trailing African violet every 14 days during its active growing season in the spring and summer.
Refrain from applying fertilizer during the winter season. Instead, stick to only water and pick up fertilizing again in the spring.
Temperature and Humidity
Trailing African violets thrive in environments where the temperature is around 70 F. However, they can still adjust when the temperature ranges from 60 F to 80 F. These plants don’t do well in cold temperatures. Once exposed, they can easily freeze and die.
These warmth-loving plants also do well in locations where the humidity level is high. Ideally, the air moisture level should be around 40 percent to 60 percent.
If you have air moisture issues, you can group trailing African violets together or with other plants that appreciate high humidity. You can also place shallow trays filled with pebbles and water near these plants. Another way to raise the humidity is to purchase a humidifier.
Pruning Your Trailing African Violet
It’s important to keep your plant as beautiful and healthy as possible. As with their traditional cousins, you should keep your trailing African violets pruned and groomed regularly.
Start by removing damaged or browning leaves. Take off spotted leaves as well, as your plant may expend useless energy trying to feed a dying leaf.
To keep your trailing African violet plant looking uniform, you can pinch off the crowns or leaves that make the plant look unbalanced. By removing a few leaves, you also encourage bushier growth and spread.
You can also deadhead trailing African violets by snipping off the spent flowers with a sterilized pair of scissors. Make sure that they are sharp and clean to reduce the risks of introducing diseases to the cells of the plant.
Trailing African violets are often grown and displayed in many ways. The most common ways they are displayed fall into two categories: the Japanese method and the cascading method.
The Japanese method involves using a shallow tray or pot as a container for the plant. As the trailing African violet expands, it is trained to grow in pleasing mounds of foliage and flowers. Grown this way, plants tend to end up quite large. The cascading method uses the natural growth habit of the plant to its full potential. By pinching out the crowns, plant owners encourage the trailing African violets to produce secondary growths.
These growths are then allowed to trail over the container, creating a cascading effect. Most plant owners prefer this method as the form looks more organic and natural. The trick is to use the right kind of container.
Hanging baskets are some of the best containers for trailing African violets. You can use all types of hanging baskets, from the ones found in garden centers to ones that you can make yourself. That said, traditional containers will work just as well and can open up other avenues of creativity to explore.
Why do the leaves of my trailing African violet crack and become brittle?
Cracked and brittle leaves are often a sign of over-fertilization. When applying fertilizers, use half of the recommended strength to be safe, and only feed during the active growing season.
When this happens, allow your plant to recover by keeping it out of the direct sun until it has fully healed. Water quality is also an important factor, so make sure your plant is getting enough.
How can I make my trailing African violet bloom more?
These plants produce more flowers when kept in small containers and fed correctly. You can also encourage more blooms by placing them in areas where they receive more sunlight.
How often should I Repot my trailing African violet?
Trailing African violets prefer to stay a bit root-bound. Under this condition, they bloom more frequently and more profusely.
However, when the roots are coming out of the plant’s current container, you can move it to a pot that is slightly bigger. This will usually be every 1-2 years depending on your plant’s growth rate.