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How To Succeed Growing African Violets Under Lights

African violets growing under lights on a windowsill

One of the essential factors is providing them with the right amount of light when keeping African violets healthy and blooming. But knowing how much light your African violets require can be tricky, especially if you don’t have a lot of natural light in your home. This post will explain what type of lights are best for African violets and how to select the right one for your needs. But this article will include information not just about proper lighting for your African violets, but we will also cover essential tips and recommendations on water, soil types, and propagation. Keep reading to learn more!

When growing African violets, there are fundamental differences between setting them up to thrive on a sunny windowsill versus using grow lamps. On the one hand, bright sunshine provides plants with all the light they need to photosynthesize and produce essential nutrients. However, this type of exposure can also increase the risk of scorching and burning, especially if the plant is small or delicate. In contrast, grow lamps provide light more consistently, minimizing the potential for scorching. Furthermore, it is generally easier to control lighting conditions within your preferred parameters when using grow lamps. Ultimately, whether you choose to grow your African violets on a sunny windowsill or under grow lights depends mainly on your personal preferences and the needs of your plants. Some may see one method as superior; however, both approaches are perfectly valid ways of cultivating healthy African violets.

Because growing African violets is such a popular hobby, many growers choose to grow their plants under specialized lights that provide the correct spectrum for optimal plant growth. Several options are available, so it can be challenging to decide which lights to use when setting up your African violet growing area. Before we discuss tips on selecting the right grow lights for your African violets, we want to discuss several important topics that will maximize the success of growing your African violets under lights.

African Violet Planting Material

There are a few schools of thought on the best type of soil to use for African violets. Some growers prefer to use a light, well-draining soil mix, while others opt for a heavier mixture that contains more organic matter. Some believe that using a soil-less combination, such as peat moss or vermiculite, is best. Ultimately, the best soil for your African violets will depend on several factors, including the type of plants you’re growing and the climate in your area. If you’re not sure what kind of soil is best for your violets, it’s always a good idea to consult with a local grower or Nursery before purchasing.

African violet pot with soil
African violet soil is not really soil but a lightweight material made of shredded sphagnum moss and other organic material.

Good Air Circulation 

Good air circulation is a crucial factor in the health and success of African violets. These flowering plants require plenty of fresh, clean air to grow and thrive. Without adequate ventilation, these delicate plants are susceptible to fungal diseases and pest infestations, which are devastating for the plant’s health. Additionally, poor air circulation can prevent water from evaporating off the surface of leaves, which may cause them to become limp or floppy.

With this in mind, it is clear that good air circulation is essential for growing healthy African violets. You can ensure its abundance and beauty by practicing good air circulation techniques and providing plenty of care and attention to your African violet. If you are planning on cultivating these beautiful flowers, it is necessary to provide ample ventilation by opening windows or using fans. Additionally, try to position your plant in a well-lit area with little direct sunlight so as not to be exposed to hot temperatures.

How and When to Water Your African Violets

There is no clear-cut answer when it comes to watering your African violets. Some gardeners prefer to water their plants frequently and let the soil gradually dry out between waterings. Others like to keep their African violets quite wet, giving them a drink every other day or even daily in some cases. Ultimately, the key to successfully caring for your African violets lies in understanding the unique needs of your plants and experimenting until you find a routine that works for you. Some general guidelines include letting the soil’s surface get dry before watering again and avoiding direct sunlight during periods of extended wetness to prevent rot. With patience, practice, and attention to detail, you can become an expert at watering your African violets and helping them thrive!

African violet being watered
If you end up with water on the leaves, gently pat them dry before putting your African violets back under the grow lights or a sunny windowsill.

How Many Hours Per Day Of Light Do African Violets Need?

Generally speaking, African violets require between 8 and 10 hours of light per day to bloom successfully. When using natural sunlight, the light should be bright but not direct. Additionally, these African violets prefer a photoperiod of 12 hours light followed by 12 hours dark to trigger optimal flowering behavior. It is important to note that creating proper light conditions for African violets is highly dependent on factors such as species, the direction of your window, season, and cultivar. As such, effective care requires careful monitoring under varying conditions. 

However, if you are using artificial light in the form of grow lamps, the light duration must be significantly increased because artificial light is not as beneficial as natural sunlight. Typically, a minimum light duration of 10-12 hours per day is recommended for African violets. However, depending on your plant’s size and light requirements, you may need to adjust this duration accordingly. For best results, it is generally recommended to employ grow lamps for at least 15-18 hours per day. Ultimately, the key is to find a light duration that works well for your African violets that helps to keep them healthy and thriving.

Basic Light Setup for African violets

The cheapest and most cost-effective method of employing artificial light for a few African violets is to suspend a pair of 40-watt fluorescent tubes and a reflector 18 inches above a table or other growing area. This will illuminate a 2 X 4-foot growing area, which is plenty of room for about a dozen or so 4-inch potted African violets or over two dozen miniature violets. 

There are three essential factors to selecting the best type of grow light for your African violets. First, consider the kind of light you need. There are two main types of grow lights: fluorescent and LED. Fluorescent lights are less expensive, but they don’t last as long as LED lights. LED lights are more expensive, but they’re more energy-efficient and last longer. If you’re on a budget, fluorescent lights are probably the best choice.

Next, consider how bright the lights need to be. All plants need light to grow and thrive, but different plants require different amounts of light. African violets typically do well with lower lighting levels than other houseplants; however, you’ll probably need brighter lights if you grow African violets for the show.

Finally, think about the color of light that you want. Most grow lamps emit a full spectrum of light, beneficial for plant growth. However, if you’re growing African violets for their flowers, you might want to choose a grow light that gives off slightly warmer (redder) light. This will help to bring out their flowers’ beautiful colors.

With a little bit of planning, you can easily find the perfect grow lights for your African violets. You can find various options online or at your local home improvement store when shopping for grow lights. Do some research and compare prices before purchasing your lights to get the best deal for your money.

Advanced Light Setup For An Expanding African Violet Collection

The method discussed above may be suitable for most African violet collections. But what happens, as is often the case, that you wind up with more African violets than the area you are growing them has space for? This is a situation that many violet enthusiasts have found themselves in at some point or another. And while it may seem daunting, there are ways to take care of an extensive African violet collection without too much hassle.

African violets need bright light to thrive, so if you are dealing with an extensive collection, you will likely need to provide them with several different light sources. First and foremost, you will need additional grow lights. Of course, you can purchase an extra 20 Watt or 40 Watt fluorescent fixtures, but where will you hang them? Most people have only so much living space devoted to their violet collection in their general common living areas.

Many dedicated African violet hobbyists invest in a large grow cart where many African violets can be accommodated with ease. One highly popular grow cart that has been in circulation for many decades is the Flora Cart. There are many advantages of using a Flora Cart for your African violet collection. For example, with a Flora Cart, you can consolidate your collection of African violets in one dedicated space, making them easier to take care of and enjoy.

Model BA3P4

Another advantage is that you can more easily control each African violet’s amount of light by raising or lowering the shelves. With a Flora Cart, you can quickly raise or lower both the lights and position the shelves to be either taller or shorter between shelves.

Another advantage of the Flora Cart is that it is pretty sturdy. The Flora Cart’s frame is made of durable aluminum, so it will not quickly become damaged even if you move it around frequently. And if you are concerned that a fully loaded Flora Cart will be too difficult to move around, you need not worry because Flora Carts include wheels to help you maneuver them easily. Just be sure to unplug the cart from the electric outlet before you get rolling! So technically, if your Flora Cart is in your small apartment’s living room, you can roll away the entire cart to another room before your dinner guests arrive.

If you are looking for an easy, effective way to care for your sizeable African violet collection, consider investing in a Flora Cart to grow your beautiful plants. With its sturdy construction, versatility, compact size, and ease of use, the Flora Cart will provide the perfect solution for your needs.

Of course, you can use any shelving unit on hand to create a grow cart for your African violets. Just be sure that it is made of materials that will not rust and that the shelves are adjustable so you can fine-tune the amount of light each violet receives.

Do I Really NEED A Grow Light To Successfully Grow African Violets?

Of course, you can use any shelving unit on hand to create a grow cart for your African violets. Just be sure that it is made of materials that will not rust and that the shelves are adjustable so you can fine-tune the amount of light each violet receives. And if you are fortunate enough to have east or west-facing windows, you can forgo using a grow light for the beneficial effects of natural sunlight. The African violets pictured below were grown in an apartment with east-facing windows without the assistance of artificial grow lights of any kind. As you can see from the abundant blooms on these African violets, you can be very successful without ever using a grow light.

African violets growing on a sunny windowsill
A collection of different varieties of African violets on a windowsill in an apartment with east-facing windows.

Final Thoughts

Do you need to use grow lights to grow African violets successfully? The answer is that it depends on your situation. More light may be needed to promote healthy growth and flowering in African violets for some people. However, for others, adequate natural light, fluorescent, or LED grow lights may be sufficient to meet their plant’s needs. Ultimately, the best solution will depend on your unique growing conditions and preferences. So if you are thinking about growing African violets, do your research and experiment with different lighting solutions to find the one that works best for you.

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