Repotting African Violets

Martha Stewart Living Television

After several years, an African violet can grow into a shape similar to that of a palm tree: the lower leaves tend to yellow and drop as the crown of the plant continues to grow upward. When the foliage crown reaches a couple of inches above the rim of the pot, you should rejuvenate your plant.

Repotting African Violet How-To
1. Gently tap the sides of the pot against a hard surface to loosen the plant from the pot. If necessary, slide a knife around the edges.

2. Once removed, take the knife and slice off the bottom third of the root ball. Carefully tease or wash away the loose soil from the top and sides of the roots without damaging them.

3. Using a sharp knife, divide the plant into two or three smaller plants, taking care to determine where these separations happen naturally, and allocating as many roots as possible for each individual plant. Gently separate the plant, taking care not to break any leaves or stems. Cut off brown, wilted, or broken leaves with the knife.

4. Place a small piece of screen or pottery shards over the drainage hole of a clean clay pot (some growers prefer plastic, which retains more moisture) and fill it halfway with premixed potting soil sold especially for African violets -- light, moist soil that contains sphagnum moss and perlite for aeration.

5. Make an indentation in the soil for the plant, and set it in the pot. Add more soil to cover the root system, without burying it any deeper than it was in the old pot, and pat down gently. When resettling a plant deeper in a pot, gently scrape the bare stem (as if you were scraping a carrot) to remove the heavy bark that forms when leaves are shed.

Repotted African Violet Care Tips
Water your African violet, and place it in diffuse light in a room with a temperature of between 68 degrees and 75 degrees in the daytime and 5 to 10 degrees cooler at night, to give it some time to recover from its radical pruning. Until the new roots form, your plant won't need as much water as it usually does.

When, several weeks later, you see new growth emerging from the center of the crown, you'll know the plant is ready for its regular watering schedule, and you can begin feeding it a one-quarter-strength dilution of a specially prepared African violet fertilizer at each watering throughout the year.

African violets thrive on humidity. Group plants together to form a more humid microclimate, or place them in trays filled with gravel and pour water over the gravel, filling the tray to just below the bottom of the pot. Do not let the plant sit in water. As the water evaporates, the humidity around the plants will rise.

Use water that has been allowed to stand for at least twelve hours, so that the chlorine has dissipated. Never water your plants with water that has been filtered through a water softener. Also, avoid wetting the hairy leaves when watering and feeding, because this will stain them.

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