African violets are beautiful native African flowers that are popular as houseplants. These compact plants are prized for their gorgeous purple flowers and dark green succulent-like leaves. However, African violets require the correct type of soil to thrive. In this article, I’ll share my experience on the best soil mix for African violets.
The Best Soil Mix for African Violets
African violets need well-draining potting mixes that also provide good aeration. They hate sitting in waterlogged soil as this leaves them vulnerable to root rot and other fungal problems. That said, the potting mix should retain some moisture to prevent African violets from drying out.
Loose soil mixes that provide too much drainage aren’t suitable for African violets. These plants need a good amount of nutrition to produce their striking flowers. Soilless growing mediums work well for African violets.
Many companies, such as Espoma and Miracle-Gro, sell ready-made African violet potting mixes. These products work really well for African violets. However, making your own African violet soil mix allows you to adapt the mix to the conditions in your home.
The best homemade soil mix for African violets uses coco coir or sphagnum peat moss as a base. Both mediums are well-draining and provide good nutrient levels, aeration, and moisture retention. Mix the coco coir or peat moss with perlite and vermiculite in a 2:1:1 mix.
If you want the most sustainable African violet mix, use coco coir rather than sphagnum peat moss.
Why the Type of Soil Mix Matters
Like all plants, African violets need the correct soil type to grow at their best. Plants use soil to anchor themselves in place by sending out roots. Plants then use these roots to absorb water, nutrients, and minerals from the surrounding soil to fuel new growth.
Different types of soil have different qualities that suit specific plants. The most essential attributes are drainage, aeration, and nutrient levels. Different soil mixes also provide different pH levels, some of which serve some plants more than others.
Loose soil mixes provide good drainage and aeration at the cost of holding less moisture and nutrients. The best soils offer plenty of nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Good soil mixes should contain these essential nutrients while still providing good drainage and aeration.
However, dense soils provide poor drainage and get waterlogged easily. Dense soil mixes also become compacted easily, which reduces airflow around the roots. This leaves plants more vulnerable to root rot and fungal infections.
What Are the Primary Ingredients Used in Potting Mix?
Indoor potting mixes use a variety of ingredients to provide a good balance between drainage and nutrients. The primary ingredients used in most potting mixes include:
- Compost: Compost consists of decomposed organic matter that provides essential nutrients. Compost also helps increase drainage and aeration.
- Sphagnum Peat Moss: This ingredient comes from peat bogs and consists of decomposed matter and organisms. While peat moss does increase drainage, it also holds more water. Peat moss is acidic, and peat extraction is seen as unsustainable for the environment.
- Coco Coir: Coco coir is a more sustainable alternative to sphagnum peat moss. Coconut coir is made from shredded coconut husks. It provides extra drainage and aeration while also retaining some moisture and nutrients.
- Perlite: Perlite is a type of naturally-occurring volcanic glass that helps improve drainage and aeration.
- Vermiculite: Vermiculite is another type of volcanic rock. Vermiculite improves drainage and aeration while retaining moisture and nutrients.
- Pine Bark Fines: These are shredded wisps of pine bark that help improve drainage and aeration while retaining some moisture.
- Sand: Due to its large particle size, and is often added to potting mixes to improve aeration and drainage.
Common Signs That You’re Growing African Violets in the Wrong Soil
Drooping or Wilting Leaves
If your African violet has drooping or wilting leaves, it may be growing in the wrong soil. These symptoms are often caused by waterlogged soil. This can be caused either by overwatering or poor soil drainage. Add some extra drainage using perlite or sand and allow the plant to dry out a bit.
Yellowing leaves are another symptom of incorrect or waterlogged soil. If the soil is too wet, it can lead to root rot and fungal infections. Cut off any yellow leaves and allow the soil to dry out a bit. Alternatively, add some perlite or sand to improve drainage.
If your African violet has stunted or weak growth, it could be growing in the wrong soil. If the soil doesn’t provide enough nutrients, your African violet will struggle to produce strong, healthy growth. Add some compost and fertilize your African violet every two weeks during the growing season.
What Soil pH Levels Are Best for African Violets?
African violets require slightly acidic soils with pH levels between 5.8 and 6.5. Most standard potting mixes are neutral rather than somewhat acidic. However, adding some peat moss or coco coir helps lower the pH of the potting soil.
Best Soil Mix for African Violets FAQs
What Kind of Soil Do African Violets Like?
African violets like slightly acidic, well-draining soils that provide plenty of nutrients while retaining some moisture. The pH levels of the growing medium should be between 5.8 and 6.5.
What is the Best Potting Mix for African Violets?
African violets need a well-draining potting mix that’s slightly acidic and provides good nutrition. A 2:1:1 mix of coco coir or sphagnum peat moss and perlite and vermiculite works really well.
Do African Violets Need Large Pots?
African violets don’t grow well in overly large pots. These beautiful flowers actually grow better when they’re slightly pot-bound, so choose relatively small pots.
African violets need well-draining, slightly acidic soil mixes that provide good aeration and plenty of nutrients. These mediums should have a pH range between 5.8 and 6.5. Use coco coir or sphagnum peat moss as a base and mix in some perlite and vermiculite.