Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Frozen in Time African Violets

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog, African Violets, Saintpaulias, Frozen in Time

Hello fellow readers, “You can’t water their faces,” recalls brother Rick, one of Mom’s instructions on caring for African violets, as water on their leaves can cause spotting damage. Mom had quite a collection of violets when we were kids. As I write, we are visiting her in a nursing home in Virginia. A few months back, my sister asked that I adopt Mom’s African violets collected during the years she lived with her. Dorothy cherished taking Mom to the annual African Violet Festival nearby.

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog, African Violets, Saintpaulias, Frozen in Time

Adopting Mom’s Plants

Caring for African Violets

As you would guess, African Violets, Saintpaulias, are native to Africa. They need plenty of indirect sunlight; hence windows facing west or south are best. Use sheer curtains or adjust the blinds to filter the light. Rotate plants a quarter turn weekly so they don’t bend towards the light. Keep their soil moist, never soggy, and water only when the soil’s top feels dry. The water should be at room temperature as cool water will cause their leaves to curl down. Mom always used a charming brass watering can that she filled and left next to her babies for the next time she watered.

The option of Grow Lights 

If you opt for grow lights, remember that African Violets need at least eight hours of darkness daily to bloom. And beware of leaf bleaching – leaves that are lighter or pinkish due to artificial light. The only remedy is natural sunlight.

African Violets like warmth, preferably about 70, but 60 to 80 degrees is acceptable. Less than 50 degrees is fatal to these tropical beauties. The ideal fifty percent humidity is hard to maintain in heated homes. By grouping plants, the humidity around them can increase by 15 percent. It’s essential to keep their leaves from touching, though, for they need room to grow and air circulation to prevent disease. Containers of water around the plants can help. Or use a humidifier during the winter. Another way is to elevate the plants on pebbles kept moist. Be sure the water level stays clear of the bottoms of the pots.

a white flowering African violet called Frozen in Time

Moms Frozen in Time African Violet is back in bloom.

All this may sound fussy, but African Violets are adaptable and hence are popular houseplants. One of Mom’s treasures is back in bloom. Her dark green leaves have creamy white edges complimented by cream-colored flowers edged with pale green. She’s ‘Frozen in Time,’ which is fitting. While all flowers fade, our memories are forever frozen in time.

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More about violets and a tribute to my dear Mom, who always Preferred Roots

column updated on July 2, 2023


A link to the African Violet Society of America’s website:




Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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