Can You Force African Violets to Bloom?
Curious to find out if you can force an African Violet plant to bloom when grown indoors? In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen looks at how African Violets bloom and if you can force one of these flowering plants into putting their flowers on display when grown indoors.
African violets are one of the most common beginner-friendly houseplants, known for their prolific and long-lasting blooms. But what if your plant hasn’t bloomed in a while? What factors allow this gorgeous houseplant to bloom so prolifically, and can you force your African violet to bloom?
Under ideal conditions, an African violet can bloom nearly continually. If it isn’t blooming, it’s either taking a break or telling you something isn’t quite right. Temperature, humidity, moisture levels, nutrient levels, and sunlight variations will affect flower production. Pests and diseases, as well as pot size, can also significantly impact blooming patterns.
These plants are known to have very long lives. A single plant can live for decades. As long as the plant is alive, healthy, and growing well, it can produce flowers. So the goal is to keep this plant alive, healthy, and thriving so you can enjoy more blooms.
Read on to learn what causes African violets to stop blooming and how you can encourage them to bloom again.
The Quick Answer
You can’t exactly “force” your African violet to bloom like you can force a bulb. But you can offer ideal conditions that encourage it to flower. Provide abundant bright light, warm room temperatures, moderate humidity, and a snug pot. Once you reach optimal conditions, you shouldn’t need to wait long until this houseplant is in full bloom again!
The Detailed Answer
When grown in favorable conditions, healthy violets have been known to bloom for up to 10 to 12 months of the year. That means your violets could be in almost constant bloom, giving you much time to enjoy their beautiful flowers.
When an African violet stops blooming, you may wonder if you can force it to start again. The answer is slightly more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.” Violets do take natural pauses in their blooming patterns because, after all, it takes a lot of energy to produce flowers. But if their basic needs are met, they will naturally cycle back into a blooming phase.
Why Isn’t My African Violet Flowering?
There are many reasons an African violet may stop blooming. If your plant is unhealthy or needs a boost of energy, it will probably stop flowering. New flowers won’t appear until the plant is once again healthy and has all its needs met. A lack of flowers could be linked to the following:
- Too much or too little sunlight
- Low humidity
- Root rot
- Cold temperatures below 55°F
Don’t think of it as “forcing” your plant to bloom, but rather providing the right conditions to encourage flowering.
So what are the ideal conditions for the African violet to stay in near-constant bloom? African violets have specific growing requirements to keep them in top form. If you can keep your plant in top condition, it will enjoy peak health, and you will be rewarded with an abundance of showy flowers to enjoy.
The best way to get this tropical plant to bloom is to give it what it needs:
- Abundant bright light
- Water (but only when needed)
- Relatively high humidity
- Warm temperatures between 65°F and 80°F
- Regular fertilizer
- Light, well-drained soil
- A snug pot
- Keep it free from pests and diseases
Let’s explore each factor influencing the plant’s ability to bloom.
The most likely reason your plant isn’t flowering is incorrect lighting. These houseplants need anywhere from 8 to 12 hours of bright but diffused or indirect light per day. You can grow them in a bright window or under a grow light – they can do well either way. Too much or too little light can cause them to stop blooming.
Too much direct sunlight can burn leaves and cause plants to appear bunched up. Too little light will cause leggy growth and a lack of energy for blooming. If you suspect your violet isn’t getting the right light, you can try moving it to a better location to improve the lighting situation.
Do not overwater this tropical plant! Allow the soil to dry briefly between waterings, and never let your violets sit in wet or soggy soil. Use lukewarm water and try to water from the bottom whenever possible.
Overwatering can quickly lead to root rot. Once a plant develops root rot, it will stop flowering. An overwatered plant that develops rot will start wilting, then leaves and stems will turn soft and mushy.
Underwatering is not much better than overwatering and can also cause the plant to stop flowering. An underwatered plant will appear limp and wilted, but the soil will feel completely dry.
African violets like humid environments with good airflow. Ideally, they like a humidity level of around 80%, but they will tolerate fluctuations between summer and winter humidity levels. Humidity by itself is unlikely to have a strong effect on the violet’s ability to bloom.
Temperatures between 65°F and 80°F, with a target temperature of around 70°F, are ideal for this houseplant. When temperatures are consistently too cold or hot, it can severely damage plants and prevent them from flowering.
If your plant has stopped flowering, ensure it’s growing within the correct temperature range, and adjust the temperature if necessary.
This species needs lots of energy to grow and flower. A plant that needs fertilizer will develop pale or yellowed leaves, slow growth, and it will stop flowering.
If you notice any of these signs but the plant looks otherwise healthy, there’s a chance it’s time to add some fertilizer. Use a product specifically formulated for violets and follow the directions for use. It may take your plant a little while to recover, but it will soon be back to blooming.
It is also possible for an African violet to receive too much fertilizer. Signs of over-fertilization include a buildup of fertilizer crystals on leaves, stems, and along the rim of the pot or soil surface. Leaves and stems touching the edges of the pot may become brown and die. An ailing plant will typically stop blooming.
If you have any reason to suspect you are using too much fertilizer, flush the soil with fresh water and wait a while before fertilizing again. Note that flushing the soil only helps rinse out chemical fertilizers or liquid organic fertilizers and that it will not eliminate granular organic fertilizers – but happily, it’s hard to overfertilize with granular organics!
African violets need loose, light, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Any heavy, poorly drained, or nutrient-poor soil will cause problems, including a lack of flowers.
Use good quality, specially formulated soil whenever you repot your violet. Many soil blends are designed for African violets, most of which have large particulate sizes and lots of chunky decomposing wood, and your violets will love those!
Pot size can make a big difference. Violets typically don’t start blooming until they become slightly root-bound in the pot. When you repot your plant, you do not need to use a larger pot unless it is much too large for its current pot.
This is true primarily for young violets that haven’t yet moved into their full-size pot. Otherwise, repotting only requires trimming off any dead vegetation, thoroughly cleaning the old pot, and setting the plant back in fresh soil.
A plant suffering from a disease or an insect infestation will probably show multiple symptoms, including a lack of flowering. Don’t expect your plant to flower again until the pests and diseases have been eliminated.
Once you have identified and corrected the problem, your plant will need some time to recover in ideal conditions before it regains full health and resumes flowering.
If your African violet has stopped blooming, you must correct the growing conditions to promote new flowers. Sometimes the plant needs a natural break from producing flowers, but it may have another issue to resolve. The best way to encourage your violet to flower again is to determine why it stopped flowering in the first place and correct any potential problems.
Check to be sure you are meeting all of its basic needs and check for any signs of illness. Once your plant has everything it needs, you may need to be patient while it gathers enough energy to continue blooming. Then you can enjoy another long stretch of beautiful and colorful flowers!