Like other flowering plants, African violets benefit from fertilizing. However, giving the wrong nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ratio can lead to disasters, including one that your African violets couldn’t recover from. So, what is the best fertilizer for African violets?
In this article, we’ll go through a detailed buying guide on how to select fertilizer for African violets, as well as the top fertilizer choices so you can help your African violets get the nutrients they need to stay healthy and bloom all year round.
- 1 Fertilizer Buying Guide for African Violets
- 2 6 Best Fertilizers for African Violets
- 3 Fertilize Right
Fertilizer Buying Guide for African Violets
Most beginner gardeners often opt for fertilizers with a “multipurpose” label on the packaging. But since African violets have very specific nutrient needs that you should match during their growing and blooming stages, these fertilizers are not really the best choice.
In most cases, multipurpose or all-purpose fertilizers bring more harm than good.
If you want to give your African violets the right fertilizer, here are a few things you should always keep in mind.
One of the key deciding factors when picking the best African violets fertilizer has nothing to do with fertilizer per se but with the current stage of your plants. For instance, when you recently repotted an African violet, feeding is not necessarily needed because the fresh soil has all the nutrients it needs.
The numbers that you see on a fertilizer’s label are the ratio of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K) – the three critical nutrients for African violets to thrive and stay happy. But what is the purpose of each one?
Nitrogen is responsible for green vertical growth, whereas phosphorous is predominantly for root health development. It also encourages the flowers to bloom. On the other hand, potassium helps with nutrient and water flow and overall plant health.
Some fertilizers have other macronutrients like calcium and magnesium, but given that most city water already has these nutrients, you can skip them. Only use them if you are relying on rainwater and distiller water.
Other fertilizers will also have very small amounts of micronutrients like sulfur. Again, your African violets won’t most likely need this unless your soil is acidic or has a pH level of over seven.
Master Gardener’s Tip: Do not rely heavily on the numbers. When possible, you should also check the source of the nutrients. For instance, if temperatures reach over 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the nitrogen source is urea, this will lead to ammonium toxicity and root burn in your African violets. This is because the soil bacteria known as mycorrhizae are inactive. In this case, fertilizers that use ammoniacal nitrogen or nitrate are better – albeit more expensive.
Fertilizers are often available in liquid form. Depending on the brand and the strength of the ratio, there are times that you will need to dilute the solution first. One advantage of using liquid fertilizers for African violets is that they can reach the root system.
You will also find granular and spike fertilizers. Both are slow-releasing fertilizers, which are excellent if you want a more flexible feeding process for your African violets. Unlike liquid counterparts, nutrients, as expected, will take longer to reach and be absorbed by the roots.
All three fertilizers are excellent for African violets. Deciding which is better depends on your plant’s current condition. For instance, if your African violets desperately need a nutrient boost, using a liquid fertilizer is the best way to go.
Master Gardener Tip: Don’t fertilize when the soil is dry. This will lead to root burn. And, don’t let the fertilizer (diluted or undiluted) hit the leaves of your African violets.
6 Best Fertilizers for African Violets
Now that you know the buying factors, it’s time to discover what is the best fertilizer for African violets.
Using a 3-9-7 NPK ratio, it predominantly encourages root development and the flowers to bloom, followed by potassium for overall plant health. As for the nitrogen content, it uses ammoniacal nitrogen and urea, similar to other fertilizers on our list. The only difference is that the urea content barely hits 2%.
Aside from its ratio, you will also love how easy it is to use. For every gallon of water, add ½ teaspoon and feed your African violets every two weeks.
What is the best fertilizer for African violets that you can easily apply? Look no further than Miracle-Gro’s Blooming Houseplant Food.
This African violet fertilizer uses a pump so you can conveniently dispense the liquid fertilizer to a container or directly to the plant’s soil. If your African violets are in a small pot, you only need two pumps for a nutrient boost. Consequently, give five pumps if the container is over 6″ in diameter.
You can also dilute this fertilizer by adding eight pumps per quart of water. But given that this fertilizer is 1/7 the strength of the original version, diluting is only optional. As a matter of fact, this fertilizer’s NPK ratio is 0.5-1-0.5, the lowest compared to other options on our list.
This is not bad if your African violets are already thriving and healthy and don’t need too many nutrients.
Bonide is one of the trusted brands for gardening, and they also have plant food or fertilizer specifically made for African Violets.
Their product, aptly called African Violet Plant Food, uses a 7-10-7 ratio, which, similar to other fertilizers on our list, the phosphorous content holds the highest percentage. This level is great if you want to improve the root system and encourage your African violets’ flowers to bloom.
Its nitrogen content is a blend of urea and ammoniacal nitrogen. As we mentioned earlier, urea as a source of nitrogen is not particularly great for colder growing zones. Still, given that it is only 1% higher than ammoniacal nitrogen (6%), it may not be a concern. If you don’t want to take a chance, keep your African violets indoors when the temperatures are 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside.
This African violet fertilizer arrives in granular form, but you can easily dilute it with water. And, you don’t need to use a lot to feed your African violets.
You will only need to use ½ teaspoon per gallon of water if your current feeding process is every other week. When you are combining feeding with watering, only ¼ of a teaspoon is required.
In terms of nutrients, this fertilizer from Jack’s Classic uses a ratio of 12-36-14, meaning it has a higher percentage of phosphorous than nitrogen and potassium. The nitrogen content is derived from urea, ammoniacal nitrogen, and nitrate, with urea accounting for the largest portion.
If you are growing outdoors and can’t supplement heat to keep temperatures under 70 degrees Fahrenheit, there is a high possibility that the urea content will lead to root burn.
The upside is that Jack’s Classic African Violet Fertilizer also has micronutrients for an extra nutrient boost.
Espoma’s African Violet Food is a liquid fertilizer you dilute with water.
For every quart of water, you will only need to add two tablespoons or ½ cap of the fertilizer. And, unlike Jack’s Classic, you should only fertilize your African Violets every two to four weeks.
Its ratio is 1-3-1, with its nutrients derived from natural sources, including hydrolyzed poultry manure and kelp extract. Like Jack’s Classic, the ratio of the Espoma Organic Violet is geared towards encouraging flowers to bloom and root development because of the predominantly higher phosphorus levels.
Given that this African violet fertilizer is derived from natural sources (manure!), it’s not going to smell pleasant even when diluted.
If you want to save yourself from measuring fertilizer, get the Optimara Violet Food.
This award-winning 14-12-14 fertilizer comes in a pre-measured packet (6 in total per box), two grams each. It may not seem a lot, but this African violet fertilizer is fully soluble and can make a gallon worth of fertilizer per packet!
Moreover, this African violet fertilizer from Optimara is the cheapest one on our list of the best fertilizer for African violets. You don’t even have to worry about root burn because Optimara’s fertilizer is urea-free and opts for a mix of ammoniacal nitrogen and nitrate.
Not every fertilizer you see online at your local gardening shop is suitable for African violets. These flowering plants require a specific NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) ratio to truly benefit from the extra nutrients.
If you’re still wondering what is the best fertilizer for African violets, all of the products mentioned above are suitable. Although they have varying NPK ratios, each one is optimized to deliver a nutrient boost for your plants. Just follow the fertilizing instructions to not over-fertilize your African violets.