African Violet Fertilizer: What and How Often to Feed Your Plant

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African violets will need a specific degree of supplementation to match the nutrition from their environment. The formulation, ingredients, dosage, and frequency of feeding must be planned and maintained. The health of the roots is the health of the shoots.

Understanding plant food and fertilizer is very important when it comes to growing African violets.

Fertilizer Formulation and Dosage

To start, a widely available liquid food or water-soluble powdered formulation from the store is diluted and applied regularly or according to package instructions, and the same works for bottom-watering pots for easier absorption. In winter, they can be fed less, except if using artificial light. Tablet fertilizer is a big no-no for houseplants because of its high-dose release. 

NPK Formulation

There are mixes specially formulated for African violets, with 14-12-14 amounts of NPK, namely, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). 15-30-15 is a high phosphorus option to aid in blossoming. Generally, a good one has a balanced 20-20-20 amounts of NPK. The regular application is every four to six weeks.

Dosage in Artificial Light

Under artificial lighting, the rule is double or just below double the usual dose. Hence, if the normal is 1/8 teaspoon per gallon of water-soluble powders for instance, then 1/4 teaspoon per gallon should be sufficient for artificially grown plants. 

Urea and Other Impurities

Some brands come with impurities, such as urea. The risk is to end up with root rot, pale foliage, and reduced flowering. It is usually government standard to show urea in the packaging. Also, research on the effect of the fertilizer on soil acidity if it isn’t described in the label.

Other Ingredients to Consider

A healthy ingredient you can catch on the labels is salicylic acid, which has good effects on flowering. A formula with ammonium nitrate as a nitrogen source is better and gentler on roots than urea-derived nitrogen, though it costs a little more since urea can cause burning of the roots. 

For houseplants, synthetic fertilizers are best to control dosage and to avoid unwanted odors. Still, a proven natural fertilizer for blooming and improved growth rate is compost of hardwood sawdust and peat, left for 44 days or more, whichever is available in the area. This can be sprinkled on the topsoil and replenished when dried out, and it doesn’t bring about foul smells.

Too Much or Too Little?

A healthy plant has a good shade of dark green leaves, depending on the variety. Despite reading package instructions, the roots can sometimes get blocked from absorbing nutrients properly, if not become overwhelmed by salt accumulation. There are symptoms to reveal signs of stress from either over-fertilization or the lack of it.

Under-fertilization

Lack of fertilizer shows signs like fading of leaf colors, reduced growth, and poor flowering, and this overlaps with some symptoms of too much fertilization, which tends to be more difficult to resolve. To test, apply fertilizer on one or two plants while leaving a control pot, and observe for a week to ten days. If growth immediately recovers and the foliage turns to a darker green, proceed with regular treatment. 

Overfertilization

On the other hand, if there are cracked or brittle leaves, stem or leaf lesions, burnt leaf tips, wilting leaves, and fewer blossoms, then it might simply mean too much of a good thing. Either this or salts build up and block nutrient absorption. if the tips or edges start to go brown or rusty and the central axis tightens, avoid applying liquid food until plants visibly recover for an additional two weeks.

Important Things to Think About

The potting choice is important and should promote easy leaching in addition to good drainage. Since saintpaulias must have well-draining pots, a good set-up is to place them above an egg crate, with a catchment basin or trash container beneath. Water can pass through the pot while preventing fertilizer from reaching the ground. Drained waste must also be disposed of responsibly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should African violets be fertilized?

From the start of potting or transplanting to seasons of active growth, regular feeding is essential. The principle is that regular low-dose, slow-release ones yield better blooms. So, stay on schedule, which is ideally four to six weeks per application, although other concoctions are more diluted that they can be used daily alongside watering. Check the label to be sure.

When the African violet plant reaches peak blooming and foliage, instead of stopping fertilization, longer fertilizing intervals would be less disruptive in the resting phase and in colder seasons, which means maximizing the sixth week for the typical dose, or a three-day interval at most for the supposedly daily application of fertilizer. 

How do I get my African Violet to bloom?

Earlier, it was mentioned that a good formula for blooming Sainpaulias is the high phosphorus option, 15-30-15, especially if flowers are unexpectedly late or poorly developing. Aside from this, recent additives in mixes like salicylic acid can induce flowering. From transplanting, blooms can show up from the third month but can also take a year before the first blossom.

Blooming is also triggered when the pot becomes rootbound, but overcrowding will cause the plant to stop flowering. Pots with maximum space relative to the plant size will help produce blossoms and keep them longer before the plant eventually outgrows the pot. The standard pot diameter is one-third the foliage spread of the plant, leaf tip to leaf tip.

Is Epsom Salt good for African Violets?

Yes, African violets will also benefit from a monthly sprinkling of Epsom salts solution, which is prepared at two tablespoons per gallon of water. This triggers the production of flowers, and the best result is to promote blooming for ten to twelve months per year. Each blossom may last for three weeks.

What is the Best Fertilizer to use on African Violets?

Commercial formulas have a typical ratio of 14-12-14, and this supports the rapid growth phase. Most of these brands contain urea, which makes it not ideal in a lot of conditions. The qualities to look for should be one being urea-free, water-soluble, and still within the choices of 14-12-14, specific for African Violets, or the 15-130-15 if not the 20-20-20.

*References

Reference List:

Klingaman, G. 2003 Nov 7. Plant of the Week: African Violet. University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension website. https://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/african-violet.aspx 

Martín-Mex, R., Villanueva-Couoh, E., Herrera-Campos, T., & Larqué-Saavedra, A. 2005. Positive effect of salicylates on the flowering of African violet. Scientia Horticulturae, 103(4), 499–502. doi:10.1016/j.scienta.2004.06.020

Nannenga, J. M. 2000. African Violets. North Dakota State University: Jill’s African Violets Page. https://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/chiwonlee/plsc211/student%20papers/articles00/jnannenga/jnannenga.htm 

Park-Brown, S. G. 2016. African Violets. University of Florida IFAS Extension Publications ENH17. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/MG/MG02800.pdf 

Perry, L. 2016 Nov 30. African Violets: Seven Steps to Success. University of Vermont Department of Plant Soil Science website. https://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/articles/afrviolets.html 

Perry, L. 1998 Dec 17. Your African Violet. University of Vermont Department of Plant Soil Science website. https://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/articles/africanv.html 

Ross, J. M. 2001. Basic Care for African Violets. The Florida Connection (African Violets). 24(1). http://avsa.org/sites/default/files/files/Basic%20Care%20for%20African%20violets.pdf 

Worrall, R. J. 1981. Comparison of composted hardwood and peat-based media for the production of seedlings, foliage and flowering plants. Scientia Horticulturae, 15(4), 311–319. doi:10.1016/0304-4238(81)90085-6

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