Saintpaulia (Saintpaulia) Is a genus of flowering plants of the Gesneriaceae family (Gesneriaceae). One of the most popular indoor flowers. There are a huge number of varieties of Saintpaulias, or, as they are called, “Uzambara violets”. You can choose almost any variety with the desired size and color. Compact bright plants that can bloom almost all year round. Let’s take a closer look at what kind of indoor flowers are, and how to care for them.
Not to be confused with Saintpaulia (Saintpaulia) with Violet (Viola). These are two different genera belonging to completely different families. Saintpaulia, aka Uzambara violet, belongs to the Gesneriaceae family and is a tropical plant. While the Violet, known to us under the general name “Pansies”, belongs to the Violet family and is grown as a garden plant.
Saintpaulia, or Usambara Violet Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Burke County Center – NC State University
The history of the discovery and distribution of Saintpaulia
The Uzambara violet was discovered in 1892 by Baron Walter von Saint-Paul (1860-1940), the commandant of the Uzambara district, a German colony located on the territory of modern Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda. Walter Saint-Paul noticed this plant while walking. He sent the collected seeds to his father, the president of the German Dendrological Society, and he gave them to the botanist Hermann Wendland (1825-1903). Wendland raised the plant from seed and described it in 1893 as Saintpaulia ionanta (Saintpaulia violet-flowered), separating this species into a separate genus, which he named after the father and son of Saint-Paul.
For the first time, Saintpaulia was presented at the international flower exhibition in Ghent in 1893. In 1927, Saintpaulias came to the United States, where they immediately gained popularity as indoor plants. By 1949, a hundred varieties had already been bred. Today the number of varieties exceeds 32 thousand, of which more than 2 thousand are domestic.
Description of Saintpaulia
Saintpaulia in indoor floriculture is loved for its small size and long (up to 10 months a year) flowering. The flowerpot is usually a low herb with fleshy, villous, rounded leaves. Leaves of green or spotted color are located on shortened stems forming a basal rosette.
Flowers – with five petals, collected in a brush. Color and shape depend on the variety. Saintpaulia also has a calyx consisting of five sepals. The fruit is a capsule with numerous small seeds with a straight embryo.
The natural range of Saintpaulia is limited to the mountainous regions of Tanzania and Kenya, while the vast majority of species are found only in Tanzania, in the Ulugur and Uzambara mountains (on modern maps, the name “Usambara mountains” is usually used). Saintpaulias often grow near waterfalls, rivers, in conditions of mist and mist.
What to look for when buying saintpaulia?
First of all, when buying Uzambara violets, you should pay attention to the leaves. If you find any suspicious spots or a too tight growth point on them, then, for sure, this plant is affected by some kind of disease. Even for a specialist it will be difficult to grow and leave such a flower, but for a beginner it will be almost impossible. Therefore, it is better to choose a plant with bright green leaves, without signs of pest damage.
When choosing a baby, it is important that the leaves are not very elongated – this indicates that the plant has already suffered from a lack of light.
For reproduction of Saintpaulias, it is best to take a leaf cutting from the second bottom row. The lower leaves also give children, but, as a rule, they are more emaciated due to their venerable age, so the offspring will certainly be weaker.
And be sure to ask the seller to indicate the varietal affiliation of the plant, so that later you do not suffer with the identification of the Saintpaulia variety. Some collectors on the tag with the variety indicate the date of planting of the baby.
For transportation of leafy cuttings of Saintpaulia, it is convenient to use boxes, plastic containers or other containers that will not allow the cuttings to break when transported in public transport. If such a container is not at hand, then ask the seller to inflate a plastic bag and tie it tightly, in this case the stalk will not be injured during transportation. If, nevertheless, the leaves are broken, then they must be removed from the outlet.
When choosing pots for Uzambara violets, their size is important, namely, diameter. It should be 5-6 cm for children and young outlets, for adult outlets no more than 10-12 cm. Ideally, the diameter of the pot for an adult outlet should be 3 times smaller than the diameter of the outlet itself.
Both plastic and ceramic pots are suitable for Saintpaulias. Nowadays, collectors prefer to grow Uzambara violets in plastic pots, because they are cheaper and more convenient.
Growing conditions and care for Saintpaulia
Growing Uzambara violets (Saintpaulias) requires some effort. If you want Saintpaulia to bloom profusely and for a long time, you must adhere to the following rules.
Temperature conditions should be flat, not too hot in summer and not too cold in winter. Optimum temperature +18 .. + 24 ° C. Uzambara violets do not like sudden temperature fluctuations and drafts.
Usambara violet prefers bright light, but does not like direct sunlight, therefore, if the plant is on a sunny windowsill, it must be shaded, and in winter additional lighting with fluorescent lamps is desirable so that the daylight hours of the violets are 13-14 hours. In this case, saintpaulias will bloom in winter.
Watering for Saintpaulias needs uniform… The surface layer of the soil must be constantly moist, but the plant must not be poured either. Water carefully at the root. Excess water from the pan must be drained. Water for irrigation should not be cold and preferably soft, in any case, it must be defended. The Uzambara violet, the leaves in particular, do not tolerate spraying. If water drops on the leaves, they can rot. To ensure sufficient air humidity, it is good to place the pots with saintpaulias on a tray of water, but so that the pot itself does not touch the water or lay damp moss on the tray. You can put the pots in moist peat.
The soil for uzambara violets must also meet special requirements.… It should be loose, breathable and absorb water easily. You can buy a ready-made earthen mixture for Saintpaulias, or you can make it yourself from leafy and sod soil, humus, sand, charcoal, bone meal with the addition of superphosphate. The proportions are as follows: 2; 0,5; one; 1. Add 1 cups of bone meal and 0,5 tablespoon of superphosphate to a bucket of prepared earthen mixture.
Details about feeding Saintpaulias
At home, Saintpaulias grow on rather poor soils, therefore, when compiling earthen mixtures, amateurs try not to give them too many nutrients. But since the root system of the plant is in a small volume of the substrate, over time, the soil in the pots is gradually depleted. Therefore, you have to periodically feed the plants. True, you should not feed immediately after transplanting – within two months there will be enough food for the Saintpaulias.
When feeding plants, one should not forget that an excess of nutrients can cause various undesirable effects. For example, excess nitrogen leads to vigorous growth of leaves to the detriment of flowering. “Overfed” plants become unstable to diseases and pests. With a significant excess of phosphorus, Saintpaulias age faster, the buds fall off, and young leaves are deformed. If there is a lot of potassium, the plants stop growing, the leaves turn yellow.
The concentration of nutrient solution for dressing depends on many factors, in particular on the size of the pot, the composition of the earthen mixture. Finally, it is taken into account that Saintpaulias are plants that cannot tolerate a high salt content. Too concentrated solutions (more than 1,5-2 g of salts per 1 liter of water) are harmful to plants.
The smaller the pot and the amount of soil in it, the weaker the salt concentration should be (but you need to feed it more often). Plants on loose soils can be fed more often than on heavy ones – in the first case, fertilizers are washed out faster.
When watering Saintpaulia with a highly concentrated solution, the roots are damaged in plants, the leaves become soft. If urgent measures are not taken, the plant may die. In this case, it is necessary to spill well the earthy lump with warm water (0,5-1 l.) In small portions. Then the pot is placed in a shaded place.
The optimal concentration of fertilizers for Saintpaulia can be considered 1 g of complex mineral salts, diluted in 1 liter. water. Each next top dressing in this case is carried out in 15-20 days. Feeding with weaker solutions (1 g per 3 liters of water) is also effective. Such solutions can be watered more often – after 5-6 days. Also noteworthy is the constant feeding with watering – in this case, 1 g of fertilizer is dissolved in 6-8 liters. water.
Saintpaulias should be fed only during the most favorable season for their growth. So, in the middle lane, it is desirable to fertilize from March to September.
In which pot and when to transplant Saintpaulia?
It is advisable to transplant adults Saintpaulias into a fresh earthen mixture every year. After all, their root system is located in a small amount of land, which over time loses its structure and nutritional value. Usually transplanted in the spring, but if they grow under artificial light, this can be done at any time of the year.
The most common mistake in cultivating Saintpaulia is using too large pots. As a reminder, the pots are numbered, which correspond to the diameter of the pot at the top. Small pots (no. 5 or 6) are sufficient for young plants just removed from the mother leaf. Later, when the plants grow up, they can be transplanted into containers No. 7 or 8. The maximum pot size for the largest adult specimens is No. 9 or 11. Too spacious dishes can often lead to decay of the roots.
New clay pots should be soaked in hot water for 30-40 minutes before use, and then allowed to cool and dry. If this is not done, then after planting, the walls of the pots will absorb too much water to the detriment of the plant. Sometimes it is necessary to reuse containers, the edges of which are covered with a layer of salt. Therefore, they must be thoroughly washed with a hard washcloth in hot water, and the plaque must be removed with a brush or a blunt knife.
Correct drainage during transplant
When transplanting Saintpaulia, first of all, you should pay attention to drainage. The drainage layer, which is poured on top of the shard covering the bottom hole, serves to drain excess water from the lower layers of the earth. It promotes additional air access to the roots, prevents the compaction of the lower part of the earthy coma, and it is especially important when planting in plastic containers.
Typically, drainage takes up 1/5 of the pot’s volume. The state of the earthen mixture, its acidity, largely depends on its quality. It is better to use crushed shards from clay pots as a drainage layer, they do not change the acidity of the substrate. You can use well-washed coarse sand (size of fractions 1-2,5 mm). Small granules of expanded clay, a light brown building material, are also suitable; larger granules should be crushed. Drainage from expanded clay must be changed every year, as over time, compounds that are toxic to Saintpaulias accumulate in it.
Of synthetic materials, crumbs of polystyrene (artificial resin) and polystyrene are most often used. The latter is crushed by hand into crumbs (5-12 mm). More difficult to access is granular polyethylene – a chemically inert lightweight durable synthetic material (granule size 3-5 mm).
Plant materials: pine bark chips, nut shells, cork, crushed pine cones, etc., can be used for drainage, taking into account that they, as a rule, acidify the soil and do not always give a positive result. With such a drainage, it is advisable to add small pieces of charcoal to the volume. Gravel and crushed granite usually contain particles that alkalinize the substrate, so they can be used on acidic soils. Brick chips strongly alkalize the soil, so it is not recommended for drainage.
When planting Saintpaulias in small pots (5-7 cm), it is enough to close the drainage hole with a clay shard. The rest of the volume is occupied by an earthen mixture. In larger containers (8-11 cm), a drainage layer (1,5-2 cm) is poured on top of the shard (which is laid with the concave side up), several pieces of charcoal about 0,5 cm in size are placed on it (coal adsorbs harmful gases) …
Planting depth of saintpaulias
The planting depth of Saintpaulia is of great importance. At the correct depth, the petioles of the lower leaves should be slightly above the surface of the ground or touching slightly. If the planted plant is unstable, an additional layer of sphagnum moss about 1 cm thick can be placed on the surface of the ground. At the same time, it can slightly cover the petioles of the lower leaves. Plants that are planted too high are often unstable, which slows down their growth and development.
When watering overly deep-planted plants, soil particles fall into the center of the outlet, contaminating it. Young leaves at the point of growth are deformed, their development slows down. Often, in too deep saintpaulias, the growing point rots, “rust” appears on the central young leaves, leaves die off, the stem rots – the plant dies.
Reproduction of Saintpaulias
Reproduction of the uzambar violet from a leaf cutting
The most common breeding method for Saintpaulia is by leaf cuttings. This requires a healthy, formed leaf (whether the mother plant blooms does not matter). The length of the petiole should be 3-4 cm, with an oblique cut. It is better to put the stalk in water until the roots form. If the cutting is immediately planted in the ground, then, firstly, the soil should be loose, not compacted, and secondly, the cutting is placed in the soil to a depth of 1,5 – 2 cm, no more. A pot with a handle is watered with warm water and covered with a plastic bag to maintain moisture, the temperature should be at least 20-21 ° C. Root formation and development of babies lasts 1-2 months.
Everyone can choose for themselves the most convenient, affordable and reliable way of rooting a Saintpaulia cuttings. If this method is not chosen very well, then sometimes beginners are disappointed when the stalk immediately rots and dies.
For home conditions, the most affordable way is to root the cuttings in boiled water. In cities where you can buy substrate components, many lovers of Uzambar violets root cuttings in agroperlite (large fraction) or vermiculite. Good results are obtained by rooting in finely chopped sphagnum moss.
Many Saintpaulia lovers root cuttings in peat-humus tablets, in which the risk of leaf decay is minimized.
The most general rule for all these methods is not to leave a long petiole. Babies will appear faster and larger if the length of the petiole does not exceed 4 centimeters. The cut must be done with a sharp razor or scalpel.
It is important when rooting the cuttings of Saintpaulia to provide increased air humidity and a temperature of + 20..24 ° C. It is recommended to put rooting cuttings in a greenhouse or in a plastic bag.
Babies appear, on average, after 4-6 weeks. When they get stronger and grow up, they will need to be carefully separated from the leaf, trying to minimize the injury to the roots of the baby. Then you should put the baby in a separate pot. The diameter of the baby pot should not exceed 6 cm. The leaf (if it is strong) can be put for re-rooting.
When planting the baby, it is necessary to put drainage (sphagnum moss, pieces of foam or small expanded clay) at the bottom of the pot. The soil for children should be loose and nutritious; 1/5 of vermiculite and 1/5 of perlite can be added to the substrate. If there is sphagnum moss, then it should also be added to the substrate, having previously finely chopped with scissors, at the rate of 1/5 of the total volume of the mixture.
Planted Saintpaulia babies need to be placed in a mini-greenhouse so that the babies adapt there in 2-3 weeks. Put the greenhouse with the children on a light windowsill (preferably not on the southern one, where you want to shade Uzambara violets so that there are no burns on the leaves). In winter, make sure not to blow from the window, as Saintpaulias are very sensitive to hypothermia of the root system. Grown up children can be gradually accustomed to room conditions by airing the greenhouse with children for 10-15 minutes, then 30 minutes.
Reproduction of Saintpaulia by stepsons
For reproduction of the uzambar violet, you can use not only leafy cuttings, but also stepchildren. For successful rooting, the stepson must have 3-4 leaves. To separate the stepson from the outlet, you need to have an awl or a sharp scalpel. When removing the stepson, you need to try not to injure the leaf cuttings of the main outlet.
To root the stepson of Saintpaulia, you can use a peat-distilled tablet or a pot with a substrate. For better adaptation and early rooting, the planted stepson should be kept in the greenhouse for 3-4 weeks.
Diseases of the city
The causative agents of plant infectious diseases can be bacteria, fungi, viruses, contributing to their very rapid spread.
An infectious fungal disease known as gray mold is caused by the fungus Fusarium. Flowers and buds become covered with gray mold, the affected areas die off. Usually, the fungus infects the plant, falling on dried, diseased flowers and damaged leaves. The disease develops intensively at low air temperatures (below 16 ° C), abundant watering, in conditions of high humidity, excessive nitrogen fertilization, weak air circulation.
To prevent infectious decay, the regimes of watering, temperature, humidity should be strictly observed. If mold is found, the affected parts are removed, the plant is treated with a solution of disubstituted sodium phosphate (1 g per 1 L of water) or other fungicides (benlate, etc.).
Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that manifests itself as a whitish bloom on flowers, peduncles and leaves of Saintpaulias. At the same time, it seems as if they are sprinkled with flour.
The spread of powdery mildew is facilitated by dust and dirt on plants, window sills and shelves where they are placed. It is very important to be clean. Pots and trays should be washed periodically with warm water.
The onset of the disease is also facilitated by insufficient lighting (in the back of the room), short daylight hours (7-8 hours a day) or high air humidity at low temperatures (14-16 ° C).
The disease is more pronounced if the earthen mixture contains too much nitrogen, but not enough potassium and phosphorus.
The excess nitrogen in the soil mixture can be determined by the appearance of the plants, in particular, by the state of young leaves at the point of growth. With normal development of Saintpaulias, young leaves grow evenly, develop well. Due to the excess of nitrogen, these leaves are compacted and deformed, resting against the next row of leaves. In the future, deformed young leaves are freed from tightness. The plant grows, the leaves grow excessively in size, become tough and brittle. Saintpaulia blooms weaker, flowers are smaller than usual, lateral offspring (stepchildren) appear.
To get rid of powdery mildew, it is mainly necessary to apply fungicides. Sometimes care must be taken to reduce the nitrogen content. To do this, an earthen lump is spilled with warm water (30 ° C) – about 0,3 liters per pot. In the future, it is fed with phosphorus and potassium fertilizers (1 g per 1 l of water).
Of the fungicides, those are used that, after processing, do not damage the delicate pubescent leaves of Saintpaulia and do not leave stains. An aqueous solution of benlate (fundozol, 1 g per 1 l of water) is effective, with which plant leaves are treated and moistened with an earthen lump. Usually one spraying is sufficient, but if the desired results are not achieved, repeat it after 10 days.
Fundozol also relieves plants from several other fungal diseases. It does not attack the leaves of Saintpaulia, but sometimes leaves subtle spots that are subsequently removed with water.
A commercially available fungicide – disubstituted sodium phosphate (a means of combating powdery mildew of fruit, berry and ornamental crops) is convenient in that it simultaneously acts as a phosphorus fertilizer. After treatment with this preparation, the leaves are not damaged, but burn spots on the blossoming flowers are possible. Semi-open flowers and buds develop normally.
When using disubstituted sodium phosphate, the concentration of the aqueous solution must not be exceeded. For processing the leaves, take 1 g of the drug per 1,5 l of water, and for watering plants – 1 g per 1 l of water. Usually one treatment is enough, in extreme cases, you can repeat it after 10-12 days. It is not recommended to process Saintpaulias more than twice. This product also destroys mold on the surface of the earth.
After spraying violets with fungicides, flowers and pedicels most affected by powdery mildew should be removed. Aqueous processing solutions should be lukewarm. To avoid light burns of the leaves after washing, they are allowed to dry in a shaded place.
Noncommunicable diseases usually arise from agricultural practices. They may appear on one copy and not be transferred to others.
Decay of the stem and root system
Decay of the stem and root system of Saintpaulia. The first sign of stem decay is the wilting of the lower leaves. They become dull, as if dusty, as if the plant needs watering (although the earthen lump is moist enough). Decay of the roots and stem can be seen during transplantation. The reasons may be planting in dense heavy soil, a high concentration of fertilizers in the earthen mixture, large pots, watering with cold water, insufficiently high air temperature (below 20 ° C), too deep planting of plants.
In adult specimens of Saintpaulia, the stems also rot when the soil is compacted, when there is no free access of air to the roots. In this case, the part of the stem located in the ground decays, the roots grow only in the upper layer of the earthen coma (inside the earthen lump is very dense), the rosettes of the leaves lose their decorative effect and stability in the soil. They are best transplanted into a fresh earthy mixture. If this is not done, the stem will rot and the plant will die.
Withering and rotting of the lower leaves
In a healthy plant under conditions of normal maintenance, the lower row of leaves functions well, as a rule, for about a year. Then comes their natural withering away. Saintpaulia leaves change color, yellowed areas appear with signs of decay or drying of the edge. As they age, these leaves are removed by breaking them off at the base of the stem.
The petioles of the lower healthy leaves are often damaged at the points of contact with the edges of the clay container, especially if they are uneven. To avoid this, the edges of the clay pots are pre-coated with several layers of varnish or a melted mixture of natural wax (0,2 parts), rosin (1 part) and sealing wax (2 parts). The mixture should not be overheated (brought to a boil) – this causes bubbles to appear on the edges of the pots, which is undesirable. During processing, an inverted pot is immersed in the molten mixture by 0,5-1 cm and immediately dipped into cold water.
You can process the edges of the pots in this way by dipping them into molten sealing wax mixed with 1/8 of the wax, or into pure wax. Melted paraffin wax gives worse results, as it cracks, pieces of it fly off, and mold and algae can develop in this place.
Some growers do it differently. They take a thin rubber tube, cut it lengthwise and then, cutting off a piece equal to the circumference of the pot, put it on the edge, thus protecting the leaf stalks. Sometimes amateurs install special supports for leaves from thick wire so that they do not lie on the edges of the pot, but this does not look very elegant.
During planting, the petioles of the lower leaves are often injured in Saintpaulias. In the future, such leaves begin to rot at the stem. They must be removed, sprinkle the stem at the break-off point with charcoal powder.
Yellowing of saintpaulia leaves
The reasons are excessive light, when direct sunlight falls on the plant, or poor shading, as well as a constant lack of moisture or nutrients in the soil. If there is a lack of nutrients in the earthen mixture, top dressing is recommended (not too strong concentration). If, after this, positive results are not visible, then the acidity of the soil mixture should be checked. Ground that is too acidic (pH below 4) or alkaline (pH above 7) should be replaced.
Saintpaulia leaf spot
Stripes, rounded spots of irregular shape, white, yellowish or brownish color appear on the upper side of the leaves. Most often, this is the result of exposure to direct sunlight (especially if they get on wet leaves after watering), washing with cold water or spraying. Such spots can also appear in winter, when the flow of cold air is directed at the plants during ventilation. If in the future the spots do not go away, you have to wait for new green leaves to develop. To avoid stains, you need to maintain a constant, sufficiently high air temperature, shade the plants from direct sunlight, do not put plants with wet leaves on the windowsill.
Translucent spots on saintpaulia leaves
Such spots are clearly visible in the light. They appear from constant abundant watering, especially if the soil is prone to acidification (for example, contains many leaves that are not completely decomposed). In this case, you can shed an earthen ball with a weak solution of potassium permanganate (pink), adjust the irrigation regime or change the earthen mixture.
Incomplete erection and premature drying of Saintpaulia flowers
This is facilitated by great dryness and high air temperature (such conditions occur more often in winter, with central heating), short daylight hours (less than 9 hours a day), too acidic soil (pH below 4,5). Too fertilized soil containing excess nitrogen also has a negative effect.
Fall of flowers and buds of Saintpaulia
The main reason is a sharp change in external conditions. For example, Saintpaulia grew and bloomed in a room with high air humidity (in a greenhouse), but then was transferred to a room where the air humidity is much lower. Either the Saintpaulia was moved from a cool place to a place where the temperature is much higher, or when the plant was ventilated in winter, a stream of cold air fell on the plant. Watering plants with a solution of fertilizers of increased concentration also leads to the fall of flowers and buds.
Varieties and types of Saintpaulia
Saintpaulia has about twenty plant species.
The most famous species:
- Saintpaulia dark (Saintpaulia confusa) – a plant with a slender straight stem up to 10 cm high. The flowers are bluish-purple, with yellow anthers, collected in clusters of four.
- Saintpaulia violet-flowered, or Saintpaulia violet (Saintpaulia ionantha) – in nature, the plant has violet-blue flowers, in the cultivars bred, the color can be very diverse: white, pink, red, blue, purple. The leaves are green above, greenish-reddish below.
- Saintpaulia Magungen (Saintpaulia medicine) Is a plant with branched stems up to 15 cm high and leaves about 6 cm in diameter with wavy edges. The flowers are purple, collected in two or four.
- Saintpaulia teitea (Saintpaulia teitensis) Is a rare species from the mountainous regions of southeastern Kenya, subject to protection.
Currently, many varieties of Saintpaulias have been bred, most of them are hybrids. For such hybrids of violet water, they usually use the designation Saintpaulia hybrid.
Saintpaulias varieties are divided into several groups, primarily according to the color and shape of the flowers and their type. According to this principle, there are classical, star-shaped, fantasy, rimmed Saintpaulias and Saintpaulias-“chimeras”.
By the type of leaves, plants are primarily distinguished as “boys” and “girls”. In plants-“girls” on the upper side at the base of the leaf there is a light spot, in varieties of the “boys” group the leaves are completely green.
Also, varieties are distinguished by the size and diameter of the rosette: giants, miniatures and microminiatures.
Some varieties of Saintpaulia:
- «Chimera Monique» – the flowers of this variety have lilac petals with a white border.
- «Chimera Myrthe» – The flowers of this variety have pink-red petals with a white border.
- «Ramona» – a variety with deep pink double flowers, in the center of which yellow anthers look spectacular.
- “Nothing” – a variety with white flowers.
We hope that our detailed article on Saintpaulias will help you avoid many mistakes when growing them. And compact and bright bushes of Uzambar violets will delight you with their flowering all year round.