Last Updated on June 15, 2023 by Grow with Bovees
The African violet is a beautiful little indoor plant, perfect to be grown indoors on an office table or nearby shelf.
Like other houseplants, the African violet plant also needs appropriate care in order to thrive and grow in a healthy manner. The right potting mix is especially important for the survival of this plant.
The best soil for African violets is, in fact, special soil filled with essential nutrients. Regular potting mix is not good enough for these types of plants.
African violets are known, by houseplant lovers, for their vibrant purple clusters of blooms and dark green ovate leaves, creating a lovely cheerful space wherever it is displayed.
African violet plants are otherwise known as saintpaulia, and they belong to the Gesneriaceae family. In the wild, they are found growing from rocky cracks in East Africa.
But what is a suitable potting mix to use when cultivating African violets?
Characteristics Of African Violet Potting Mix
The potting mix used for African violet plants needs to have the perfect ratio of being light, loose and airy, all while being able to hold onto enough water to maintain a moist soil mix.
Gritty soil as well as loose and well-drained soil will promote healthy root growth for your houseplant.
The potting mix in which you want to grow your African violet, should be an organic soil mixture which is loose and well-draining.
This organic potting soil should have good levels of aeration, for healthy growth. In order for the plant to receive adequate amounts of water, the soil should have a proper level of moisture retention.
For the growth of beautiful blooms and foliage, the potting mix for the African violet should be nutrient rich and slightly acidic.
When choosing which potting soil to use for this shrub, look out for the essential components that need to be present in the mix. It is important that you, as a plant grower, are aware of these components whether you plant by mixing your own soil or buying it commercially.
The main components of African violet soil mix include, perlite, peat, sand, compost, vermiculite and coco peat or coir. Let us have a closer look at these very essential potting mix components.
Perlite is a natural mineral that derives from volcanic origins. It is highly absorbent and is able to hold onto a good amount of water. This mineral — which appears to look like white specks in the potting mix — is added in order to help with the proper drainage of water from the soil.
This substance also creates tiny holes in the soil, aiding in proper aeration and helping to avoid the soil ending up becoming water-logged.
Perlite has a pH value ranging between 7.0 and 7.5, and has no nutritional value.
Another essential ingredient that should be present in African violet soil mix, is sphagnum peat moss. This component is most commonly found in swamps and wetlands.
Peat moss has a pH level that ranges between 3.5 and 4.5. It maintains the soil and is excellent for water retention.
You will find that peat moss is often replaced with coco coir. This is simply because it is more eco-friendly.
Sand is rarely found in store-bought mixes, as it is quite heavy and becomes water-logged quickly. But adding a bit of lightweight soil to a homemade mixture has been shown to be beneficial as it can improve water drainage and airflow.
Sand has a pH level of 7.
As most of you will know, compost is a substance that is made up of decomposed organic matter. It is great for soil aeration and for retaining water.
Free-draining compost is rich in nutrients and organic material which are beneficial to the healthy growth of strong stems and lush foliage, making it a great addition to the African violet potting mix.
The pH level of the compost generally ranges between 6 and 8.
This element resembles perlite. It is also a mineral mica rock that comes from volcanic origin. Just like perlite, coarse vermiculite particles are like spongy fragments great at absorbing moisture and nutrients.
It is able to hold onto minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium, which will help your plant to grow well.
The pH level of vermiculite is neutral, ranging between 7.0 and 7.5.
Coco Peat or Coir
This compound is a lot like peat moss, but has a higher level of water retention. Coco peat are coconut husks which are able to carry large amounts of water.
They are bought in compressed brick like shapes and then soaked in lukewarm water before they are added to a potting mix.
The acidity of coco peat or coir is slightly less, having a pH of about 5.
Commercial Potting Mixes
As mentioned above, you can either choose to buy a commercial potting mix for your African violet shrub, or mix your own. One specific soil mix that is recommended for African violets, is Miracle-Gro Potting Mix African Violets, which is a good quality potting mix ideal for use by amateur and professional gardeners.
Miracle-Gro Potting Soil Mixture
This potting soil blend is a quality soil mix made specifically for delicate African violets. What makes this essential soil mix so great, is that it is quite versatile and may be used by several types of plants. These include flowering plants, herbs, vegetables and other shrubs.
The Miracle-Gro Mix is an extraordinary potting soil also suited for growing African violets both indoors and outdoors. It can be mixed into flower bed soil or into container gardening soil, keeping your plants thriving.
Another amazing property of this soil mix, is that it really slowly releases fertilizer, providing your African violet with nutrients for a roughly six-month period, and it is great at draining excess water.
It also has excellent aeration properties.
Miracle-Gro Potting Mix for African Violets is a good mixture of perlite and peat moss — which helps to retain moisture — and, as mentioned above, some fertilizer. Its pH level ranges between 6.0 and 6.8, making it slightly acidic, which is great for the African violet.
This is only one recommended type of potting soil that is great to use for your delicate African violets. There are plenty of other types available. Just know your main components, and you will find the one that suits you best.
Other Commercial Potting Mixes
Other, commonly used, potting soil options include:
- Espoma AV4 LAWNGARD African violet Organic Potting Mix
- Espoma AV4 African violet Organic
- All Natural African Violet Mixture
- Sun Gro African Horticulture Mix
- Josh’s Frog Sprig & Stone
- rePotme Imperial African Violet Potting Mix
- xGarden African Violet Soil Mix
- Hoffman 10301 African Violet Organic soil Mix
- Miracle-Gro African Violet potting mix
Another great option is Earth Organic African Violet Potting Soil. This all-natural and premium soil is 100% organic and filled with additional soil microbes.
One might think orchid potting mix or cactus soil is good to use to plant African violets because it has similar properties, but it is not the preferred soil to use.
If you can’t find a specific potting soil mix at your local nursery, try to find them on Amazon here. (amazon link)
If you do not wish to purchase potting mix for your velvety beauty, you can also opt to make your own. Here’s how!
DIY African Violet Potting Mix
If you like to get your hands dirty and do things yourself, you may opt for making your own soil mix. Choose between making a soil-based mix or a soil-less mix.
Get your components together and sterilize them before mixing them. This is to prevent pests and diseases from taking over your soil.
Heat Treating Process
Heat treating your soil before potting, as mentioned above, is very important to prevent disease infestations and to get rid of weed seeds.
Start by placing the soil mix of your choice into a pan or heat-resistant container. Cover the soil with some aluminum foil.
In order to keep an eye on the temperature of the soil, stick a meat thermometer in the soil, then place the soil filled pan into the oven and bake at 180 degrees Fahrenheit for about one hour.
Keep the temperature constant to avoid killing the good bacteria present in the soil.
When the baking process is done, remove the container from the oven, uncover the soil and set it to air for four days. Stirring occasionally throughout the day will increase the aeration of the soil.
Your healthy soil is now ready to be used for planting. Now, let us have a look at different potting mixes.
African Violet Soil Potting Mix
If you opt to go for a soil mixture, simply mix together equal parts of one cup of garden soil or regular potting soil, one cup of peat moss, leaf mold or humus, and one cup of vermiculite, perlite or sand.
A soil potting mix like this is filled with enough organic matter, and it is airy and porous, making it perfect for African violets.
African Violets Soilless Mix
Making a mix that is soil-less is a bit more specific than making a soil-based mix. It also requires a few more ingredients and, we should warn you, this is not cheap soil.
Purchase and mix together the following ingredients for the ideal soil-less potting mixture to cultivate your African violet in:
- 1 1/4 parts of perlite
- 2 1/4 parts of peat moss (coco coir or coco peat can also be used here)
- 1 1/4 parts of vermiculite
- 1 1/4 teaspoons of phosphate
- 2 1/2 tablespoons of limestone
Adding earthworm castings to this non-soil formula will help boost plant strength and size.
African Violet Potting Mix Final Words
With all of the above being said, it is very important to provide your African violets with the proper soil to grow in. Only then will they thrive and grow to become lush and beautiful.
Make your own potting soil mix or buy a commercial potting mix. Whichever one you choose will be a suitable soil as long as it contains the main components which make for the perfect African violet potting mix.
Even though planting African violets in the correct potting mix is of high importance, do not forget to consider the surrounding environmental factors, which also have an impact on whether your African violets thrive or not.
Repot your African violets into a fresh potting mix every 6 months or so.
There you have it, all you need to know about the best soil for African violets.
Happy potting and good luck!