My cat agrees with me that it’s a stunning spring morning. Notice that the african violets, all on their own, intrinsically announce the budding of spring! Eventhough they remain inside all year, nestled in a morning sunlight berth, they still know when the calendar rolls around to springtime.How do I care for these delicate yet hardy beauties?

1. I place their pots in a bowl that serves as a receptacle for the harvested rainwater which I only use. I fill these bowls halfway once a week.

2. Do NOT water from the top because the delicate leaves bruise when touched by water.

3. Fertilize with a special liquid african violet ammendment that you can purchase from your local nursery. I like using SCHULTZ 8-14-9 African Violet Liquid Plant Food Plus.

4. Maintain the symetrical pattern of the circular crown of leaves by removing the tiny suckers that appear under and to the side of the larger crown with small sharp scissors.

5. Propogate by rooting a single leaf in water. When roots appear, plant in a tiny pot of indoor plant gardening dirt and water as normal. Propogate also by placing the small suckers that you have pruned off directly into the special potting mix.

6. As in all flowering plants, dead head spent blooms to promote more buds.

7. Position pots in a bright ONLY morning sun window.

I can’t choose only one african violet, can you?

I owned up late to an inheritance of African Violets,

flirty-skirt blooms on fleshy stems. Fifty years to finger plastic-potted posies I wrote off. Too Norman Rockwell,

lazy-girl gifts for the frail elderly, not for mothers of newborns.

I pick-and-grab metallic foil and a humble bow.


My grandmother’s and my mother’s violets showed off indoors

after their roses browned out.

In sunny windows on a mahogany table,

each rested in a cereal bowl to catch leaks. They chose colors

of apricots and watermelsons, maybe an edging of white.

My grandmother’s sat prissy below an oil lamp turned electric

that dripped crystal prisms, flitting dancing rainbows in the sun. Blooms and light shows.

My mother picked a leather-topped table for winter,

then moved them

to the black wrought-iron table with a glass top on the summer porch

beside her folded crossword puzzle, pen with blue ink,

and a bowl of jelly beans.

Modesty, the Victorians said of violets. I’d say


Not too much water, just enough morning sun.

Water-soluble fertilizer.

Plush earlobe leaves listening to quiet violens.

Last fall I tired of sweeping up after an asparagus fern

in my laundry room.

The sun angle was right for violets. I knew that from living

with those women.

My picks had furred teddy bear leaves

and blooms of lavender and mother of pearl. I pinch off spent blooms, thumbnail and forefinger, a woman-


I’ve seen a million times.

My polite fauna-kittens don’t mind bows,

do nicely without them, thrive

in slow-hand clock turns toward light to rebalance and bloom

and rebloom as if growing old is easy.



Sandra Knauf, Legacy of African violets

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