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Why won't my African Violet flower?

June 27, 2022 3 min read

african violet

African Violets have some of the prettiest blooms in the indoor plant world, so it can be frustrating when yours shows no signs of budding. Here's how to coax your African Violets into a vibrant floral display.

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Temperature

If your African Violet is not flowering, it's almost certain that its environmental conditions are not right.

The most basic precondition for African Violet flowers is an optimal temperature. African Violets need to be in a temperature range of between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, the air should consistently hover around the low 70s. An air humidity of 50 percent will encourage flowers to grow and remain on the plant for longer.  

Soil pH

African Violets will only flower if their root system is in top health. This means getting the soil conditions rrght.

African Violets are particularly fussy when it comes to soil pH, needing a slightly alkaline medium of around 6.8 pH. Above or below this and the plant roots struggle to absorb and use nutrients from the soil. You can stick in a soil pH meter to take a precise measurement.

If you do find that your soil pH isn't right, you can easily adjust it by adding the right materials. If the soil is less than 6.8 pH, remove your plant from the pot, mix the soil with a tiny bit of alkaline substance, and repot. Good natural alkaline materials are crushed shell or bone meal. If the soil pH is above 6.8, mix in a little bit of acidifying agent like sphagnum moss. Alternatively, you can buy potting mixes that are made specifically for African Violets.

Soil texture

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The soil texture also needs to be right for the African Violet to be happy and healthy enough for flowering. These plants have very fine roots that can only work their way through a very light and airy mix. Never pack down the soil in your African Violet's pot because this will squash out the air bubbles. To achieve a light-as-air soil texture, add in lots of perlite or vermiculite.

Fertilizer

If you get the pH and texture of the soil right, your plant will be able to absorb and use the nutrients inside it much more efficiently.

During the spring and summer, you must top up the nutrients in the soil with a regular dose of liquid fertilizer. Use a phosphorus fertilizer, which give flowering plants a boost. Ordinary balanced or nitrogen-rich fertilizers are more likely to encourage leaves rather than flowers to grow.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how much to mix in with the water. If you are unsure of how much feed your plant should be getting, err on the side of caution. It’s better to give a more dilute dose than to risk over-fertilizing, which can easily kill your plant.

Pack the roots tightly

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African Violets are most likely to flower when their roots are squeezed into a slightly packed space. For this reason, many African Violet growers will refuse to repot their plants into bigger containers for many years. Instead, they just add fresh soil into the same pot at the start of each spring. This ensures that the roots remain tightly packed while still getting a fresh supply of nutrients.

Many other plants tend to flower when they are pressed on vital resources like nutrients or space. When these life-giving elements are at a premium in the wild, it's a cue for the plant to turn their energies towards species survival - in other words, they begin the reproduction process by forming flowers.

This being said, it’s important to move your African violet to a slightly bigger container once the plant has grown to more than three times the diameter of its current pot.

Pests

Thrips, soil mealy bugs, mildew, and cyclamen mites can all stunt foliage and either prevent your plant from flowering or lead to shrunken, withered blooms. Luckily, all of these can be treated by spraying the plant with neem oil. This is an all-purpose plant pest eradicator made from a naturally occurring pesticide and it is a vital part of the indoor gardener’s toolkit.

Tap the roots

If your African Violet has the perfect environmental conditions and still refuses to flower, you can try giving it a little wake-up all by tapping the pot gently on a hard surface. This will disturb the roots without damaging them and might just tip a shy plant into into bloom.

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