African violets are one of America's favorite flowering houseplants. And because they are easy to grow, they are accessible to all who want to add a little bit of blooming joy to their home.
Even if you don't have a green thumb, they will reward your efforts with beautiful flowers throughout the year.
Often considered queen of the indoor plants, the African violet was first discovered in Tanzania in 1892.
Originally the flowers were limited to shades of blue, white and lavender, but thanks to years of hybridizing efforts many color variations are now available.
African violets also vary in size and form. There are miniature varieties that grow to less than 6" in diameter, standard varieties which average 8-12" in diameter (but can exceed 18-24" when grown for exhibition), and trailing varieties, which can be grown as ground covers or as hanging plants.
Ideally, African violets prefer the natural light of a south facing window but they can grow well with artificial lighting, too.
The key is to provide them with 8-12 hours of light per day. For more even growth, it is helpful to rotate the plants a quarter turn each day.
They grow best in temperatures between 65°F and 75°F, which will help promote quick flowering cycles and better absorption of plant foods.
It is important to allow the soil for African violets to dry out completely between waterings.
When watering, try to avoid watering the leaves, as this can leave behind unsightly stains.
We recommend feeding them every two weeks, year-round, with a soluble plant food.
This will keep the foliage a nice shade of dark green and help the flowers produce a more intense color.
African violets are one of the most popular houseplants and very easy to grow. With good bright light and regular feedings, they will bloom joyfully all year long!
We invite you to stop by soon and take a few home.
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By Tamara Galbraith
Soon after the festivities end, your once-fresh Christmas tree begins moving from Christmassy to crispy. No matter. When you're ready to take down the decorations, explore all your options of how to reuse or recycle.
Many communities across the country offer a recycling program, whereby trees are collected and ground up into mulch for municipal use. Areas with lots of man-made lakes sometimes collect and sink old trees into waterways to slow erosion. Check with your local city government or county Extension Office to see if such a tree collection program is in place.
Also, if you have the space and don't mind "the natural look" in your landscape, lay your old tree in a remote corner of your yard; it will make a great hiding and nesting place for birds, rabbits and other small creatures. If you have a compost pile, you can cut the branches into small pieces, and add them to the compost pile. It will take time, but they will break down to beautiful soil.
Whatever you choose, be sure all the non-natural decorations, like tinsel and ornament hooks, have been removed. While sparkly mulch might have an interesting look, it's not very good for the environment.
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