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"Unique African Violets: Part II - Miniatures and Trailing Types"

If there was ever a popularity contest held for flowering houseplants, the gesneriad family of plants would win hands down. This family includes the all-time, most-popular house plant, the African violet.

African violet is an indoor plant prized for its clusters of colorful flowers held atop soft, felty leaves. It blooms nearly all year long, providing colorful flowers even during the bleak days of winter. Many also have attractive foliage that is as showy as its flowers. I grow dozens of different African violets, many quite unique, and am amazed at the wide range of colorful flowers and foliage there are. Click on a plant photo below to order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

Within African violets, hybridizers have developed hundreds of different types with a large range of flower color, shape, and size as well as leaf color. Flower color is extensive and includes just about every color of the rainbow, including green, with many variations and shades of colors.

Along with a wide variety of flower colors and markings, there are also many different types of foliage within African violets. Various shades of green are common, but it is not the only color. Variegated forms are abundant and within the variegation, there is a lot of variation.

Semi-miniature, miniature, and microminiature types are smaller plants with tiny leaves. The smallest types often have leaves less than a half inch long and grow well in pots the size of a thimble. These diminutive plants are topped with clusters of brightly-colored, miniature flowers. As with the standard types, semi-miniature, miniature, and microminiature African violets have a wide range of flower colors and shapes. There are single, semi-double, and double flowers. Many also have attractive variegated leaves with a variety of markings.

Trailing African violet types have stems that cascade over the side of the pot, making them good candidates for a hanging basket. Many are semi-miniature types with small leaves and clusters of small flowers, but what they lack in size they more than make up for in the abundance of leaves and flowers. One of my favorite trailing types bears pure-white, double flowers held above small, bright-green leaves.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"How to Water African Violets"

Q. I enjoyed your recent column about African violets. I've never grown African violets before and have always wanted to try them. From what you say, they sound pretty easy. I remember hearing something about how they should be watered from the bottom and not getting water on the leaves. Is this necessary? Thanks!

A. You can bottom water your African violets it you'd like, but it's not necessary. The most important thing to remember is to not get the leaves wet if they are in direct sunlight. This usually isn't a problem, though, because they are low light plants that aren't grown in direct sunlight, anyway, especially in the home. I water my African violets from above with a hose with lukewarm water and I've never had a problem.

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