Making your own custom African violet potting mix that will provide plenty of nutrients to keep your plant happy and healthy is a must.
African violets are beautiful plants, with wide leaves and bright flowers. They’re extremely popular among gardeners and indoor plant enthusiasts, but can be difficult to keep healthy when you don’t have the right potting mix in your pot or container.
If you’re thinking about starting an African violet plant, or if you already have one and need to repot it, you’ll need to make your own potting mix from scratch. This process can seem overwhelming at first, but follow these simple steps and you’ll be well on your way to creating high-quality African violet potting mix in no time!
There are many different kinds of potting mixes on the market, but many of them aren’t good for African violets and may contain ingredients that harm your plants. To prevent this from happening, you can make your own African violet potting mix to ensure your plant gets everything it needs to grow and thrive.
Here’s how to make your own African violet potting mix with ingredients you can find at any home improvement store.
What are African violets?
African violets are one of the most popular houseplants around, with their leaf-like foliage and vibrant colors making them an eye-catching addition to any home or office.
But African violets require more than just a pretty face to thrive, their potting mix plays a crucial role in their health and vitality. Unfortunately, store-bought potting mixes often contain ingredients that are harmful to your violets, so it’s best to create your own custom blend at home.
They are beautiful flowering plants that are fairly easy to care for if you have the right potting mix and watering schedule down pat. In fact, it’s not difficult to create your own African violet potting mix from scratch at home, saving you money and providing a fresh, healthy environment for your plants that can’t be beaten!
They make excellent houseplants, but they require a special potting mix to stay healthy and produce flowers. This African violet potting mix recipe will help you create your own special blend at home so that you can have beautiful flowers without paying the high cost of commercially available mixes.
Preparing the ingredients
The first step in preparing a potting mix for African violets is to gather your ingredients. You’ll need an equal mixture of 1 part black or fine-grained peat moss, 2 parts perlite, and 1 part vermiculite. Add water until you have a moist but not soggy consistency.
Avoid using garden soil as it will compact too much when wet and cause root rot in your plants. Garden soil also has bacteria that can be harmful to African violets. If you choose to use garden soil, sterilize it by baking it at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes before adding it to your potting mix recipe. Baking should kill any harmful bacteria without affecting its texture.
Once mixed, keep your potting mix covered with plastic wrap until ready to use so it doesn’t dry out. You can store unused portions in plastic bags or other airtight containers until needed again.
Preparing your storage container
First, you’ll need a container with a drainage hole at least 2 inches in diameter. The size of your container will depend on how many plants you plan to grow, pick something that is at least 3 gallons. If it doesn’t have holes already, drill some into the bottom. (This step isn’t necessary if you use plastic pots)
Next, fill it about halfway with potting soil and then add perlite or vermiculite for drainage. Fill up another third of your container with potting soil and top off with more perlite or vermiculite until there are no holes visible above ground level.
Add water slowly until it runs out through a drainage hole. It should be moist but not soggy. When you water, make sure you saturate all layers thoroughly; otherwise, they won’t drain properly.
Let it sit overnight so everything can settle before planting.
Adding soil amendments, fertilizers, supplements, and water
You can add soil amendments, fertilizers, supplements, and water in a few ways. If you have pots or trays already filled with potting mix, they will need to be watered thoroughly before you add more materials.
Fill your pots or trays with water until it overflows out of drainage holes in the bottom and let them drain completely so that you are starting with as clean a slate as possible. This is also an opportunity to do some last-minute pruning and removing of dead leaves.
Next, fill your pots or trays with potting mix again. After adding amendments, fertilizers, and supplements to each individual container, make sure everything has been mixed well by stirring gently. Water lightly again if needed so that everything is moist but not soggy.
Watering after adding materials ensures that they’ll be well incorporated into your potting mix and gives plants their best chance at success by ensuring good root development at transplant time. Watering should happen slowly and steadily, allowing excess water to drain away from plant roots.
Use a watering can with a fine rose for thorough coverage without disturbing your potting mix too much. Never pour or spray water directly onto leaves; always allow excess moisture to drip away from plant roots first.
Disseminating your potting mix in your pots
After you’ve prepared your potting mix, it’s time to get down and dirty: Use a fertilizer spreader (or even just a plastic bag) to pour your mix into your pots. Then, use your hand or garden trowel to press down any clumps and pack them tightly around your plant.
You may have excess soil, don’t throw it away! Just save it for next time; there’s no need to prepare a new potting mix every time you repot an African violet. Instead, when it comes time to repot again, just add more of your existing potting mix on top of what you already have in place.
That way, you can continue using that same potting mix for years on end! It will probably last at least five years before needing replacement. But hey! if your plants start looking sickly or weak after a few years, try changing up their diet with some fresh-mixed potting soil instead. No one said being an African violet parent was easy!
What is the best potting mix for African violets?
When choosing an African violet potting mix, it is important to select a product that has been formulated specifically for these plants. A good potting mix will also contain additional organic matter in order to provide your plant with necessary nutrients and improve drainage.
The following recipe for making your own potting mix will enable you to tailor it for use on your own plants. Be sure to choose ingredients that are free of any pesticides or herbicides as these can be harmful to your violets.
The first step is to measure out equal parts peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite into your bucket. If you are using a bag of each, simply cut open the top of each bag and pour its contents into your bucket. Next, mix together all three ingredients until they are thoroughly combined.
You can use a trowel or small shovel for this task; just be sure that it’s clean before you begin. Once everything has been mixed well, transfer your potting mix to one or more other containers so that you have enough room to work with it.
Be sure not to fill these containers more than halfway full as there will be some settling once you add water. Now comes the fun part! Grab a handful of potting mix and squeeze it firmly in your hand. It should feel like damp sand with no clumps of material sticking together.
If it feels too wet, add more perlite; if it feels too dry, add more peat moss. Continue adjusting your mixture until you achieve a texture that feels right to you. Once your potting mix is ready, you can start adding water.
What can I use instead of vermiculite?
Vermiculite is a mineral that helps absorb water and nutrients for plants. You can buy it at your local gardening store, but if you’re making a custom potting mix for African violets or other plants, you might not have access to it.
Fortunately, you can use one of these substitutes instead 1/4 cup perlite + 1/2 cup horticultural sand + 1/2 cup peat moss + 1/4 cup composted cow manure (or any kind of compost) + 1 tablespoon dolomitic lime. Add more peat moss or cow manure for richer soil.
Do not add more lime than recommended, it will make your soil too alkaline, which is bad for plants!
What is the difference between vermiculite and perlite?
Both vermiculite and perlite can be used as an additive in potting soil. Vermiculite is made of a naturally occurring mineral called mica; it’s odorless, clean, sterile, and lightweight. Perlite is a non-toxic volcanic glass that expands when heated.
Because vermiculite holds water better than perlite does, it often works better for potted plants, especially ones that aren’t allowed to dry out between watering.
The main difference between vermiculite and perlite lies in their textures: Perlite is fine, like sand or salt crystals, while vermiculite has a grainier texture.
Can I use orchid potting soil for African violets?
Orchid potting soil is designed for epiphytes, plants that grow on other plants. It’s a good idea to avoid using the orchid potting mix for your African violets since it doesn’t contain any of the nutrients required by African violets.
If you want to use orchid potting mix, you can add perlite and/or vermiculite to help with drainage and aeration. If you don’t have these materials on hand, though, there are plenty of homemade recipes for African violet potting mix that will work just as well as store-bought varieties.