African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha) can flower throughout the year in Florida's tropical climate, producing colors as varied as pink and lavender. Although these perennials can theoretically thrive year-round in outdoor locations, Florida's heat and rainy seasons are too extreme for African violets. Most specimens remain as indoor, potted plants for vigorous growth and continued health.
African violets are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 11 and 12. Because Florida's climate ranges between USDA zones 8 and 11, temperature fluctuations cause widespread growth stunting. For example, African violets quickly rot and die back when temperatures rise above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and Florida often endures 90 degree Fahrenheit temperatures during the summer. In contrast, temperatures dipping below 60 degrees Fahrenheit cause plant dormancy and possible leaf loss. Maintaining African violets as indoor plants preserves their growth almost year-round.
Florida's sandy soil allows water to flow quickly through the ground but does not typically hold moisture long enough for ample African violet root uptake. Ideally, a 1:1 ratio of perlite and peat moss, with some dolomitic limestone mixed into the medium, supports healthy plant growth in a container. When you initially pot your African violets, allow the soil to remain loose around the roots rather than tapping it down into a solid form. Several containers work well as African violet pots, from full-size terrariums to decorative dishes.
Choose a container that has drainage holes to prevent root rot from soggy conditions -- African violets prefer damp soil almost year-round. Do not be tempted to place the pot outside, however. Along with extreme temperature swings, sporadic Florida rainstorms quickly fill African violet pots with too much water. Alternatively, use a drip irrigation system to seep water into the potting soil or place the container on a capillary mat. Water is naturally pulled into the soil when it is dry. These watering strategies keep plants hydrated without waterlogging problems and prevent leaf spots.
Avoid direct sunlight on your African violets; they rapidly wilt from heat stress. Choose a room with an easterly or northerly exposure, preferably with opaque windows, such as a bathroom. Sunlight diffuses through the space as African violet leaves photosynthesize and direct energy into flower production. If you place your African violets outside, Florida's bright sunlight causes widespread foliage and flowering decline. Place your potted plants under a shady tree if you must move them outside temporarily, such as for repotting.
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