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Dividing African Violets

By Adina Dosan (adinamitiJanuary 10, 2014

African violets were the first plants I got to know as a child. My mom had lots of them on the kitchen window sill. I saw her digging the soil around the plants with a small matchstick, dividing and watering them with so much care. My mom's African violets never died or rotted and seemed the perfect plants for someone like her, who worked outside our home, and didn't have much time to take care of plants.

Gardening picture

African violets on my kitchen window sill I think I've inherited my mom's love for African violets. Ever since I got married, I've had African violets in my home. Mom gave me advice for taking good care of them, but still I killed lots of them, especially by overwatering. African violets are easy to grow, but only if I don't try to care for them too much. I can forget about them for a whole week, especially during winter, because they much rather prefer drought than moisture. I keep them on any of the windowsills in my home and they do very well, except during summer when the sun burns their leaves on the southern or western window sill, especially at noon. That's why I move the African violets on any of the eastern or northern window sill, starting in the spring.

Semidouble white African violet blooming Semidouble magenta African violet blooming

African violets blooming on my window sill

My magenta African violet has developed a sucker African violets grow fast and make lots of suckers, which will crowd inside the pot. I just can't eliminate and throw them away, like most people say I should, in order to assure the mother plant has room to grow. I prefer to save them all for starting new plants. All I need to do is dig out the plant with its 'babies' or maybe its 'twin sister', rip them off gently from the mother plant and carefully divide their tangled roots, then plant each of them in small new pots.

Dividing twin African violet suckers with tangled roots Repotting African violet from its small pot to a bigger one

Semidouble purple Saint-Paulia blooming

African violet 'babies' grown from leaves in their small pots on the window sillThat is how I divide most of my African violets. I also divide them through leaves when I trim them back, so you can imagine how many African violets I have. Since I've killed so many of them during the years, I'm always worried of losing one of the "colors" (read "varieties") so I rather prefer having more plants of each color, just in case. If I don't take care of that and neglect dividing my African violets in time, it may happen to lose some of the colors and this I don't like at all. Last spring I was close to losing the only semi-double purple African violet I had, but I managed to save it on the last minute, although it wasn't without excitement.

My semidouble purple African violet blooming Repotted twin semidouble purple and one pink African violets  one

Purple African violets with various suckers blooming near the sick one, in the back

My sick African violet has more  and bigger leaves nowOne day I saw it starting to fade. I realized I had been overwatering it, so I stopped watering it for a while, until the soil was fully dry. I was so afraid I was going to lose it! I had already lost its "twin" before, so I was determined to watch the only one of this variety I still had. I started checking on it every morning, right after feeding the dogs, the birds and the fish. Helplessly, I watched it lose all its older leaves, one by one. Luckily, the plant started to recover which meant that the plants roots weren't completely damaged. Only two very small leaves remained healthy at its top, but they weren't growing, nor fading and they remained that small for the whole summer. I would check the soil moisture with my finger to prevent overwatering it again. Fall came and there was no change, but just before Christmas, when I was about to give up on this poor plant and throw it away, I saw a small growth on its leaves and decided to keep it. Now I'll have to wait until its leaves will grow big enough to cut some of them back and keep them in a glass of water to root. Or, maybe I will be lucky enough and my "survivor" will develop one or more suckers which will be better. Either way, now I have high hopes that I will still have the semi-double purple African violet on my windowsill. And I've also learned a good lesson: never over-water an African violet, unless I have divided its suckers and have extra replacement plants on hand.

  About Adina Dosan  
Adina DosanAdina is a Romanian plants and pets addicted, always happy to share her experience. Follow her on Google.

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