African violets are low-growing plants that have a multitude of leaf forms and flowers that come in purple, pink, blue or white. These herbaceous flowering plants are native to Tanzania and southeastern Kenya, in Africa. They are easy to grow and bloom several times each year. You can propagate and keep a whole collection of these pretty plants, but take note of the appropriate pot sizes to use to ensure that your plants grow well.
What pot size to use for African violets
The pot size you choose for your African violets will depend on a number of factors, discussed below:
The variety of your plant
The pot size you use will depend on what type of African violet you have. Miniature African violets should ideally have a pot size of one to two inches, with a maximum diameter of six inches. For semi-miniature African violets, the ideal size is around two to two-and-a-half inches, with a maximum diameter of eight inches. Standard or large plants should have a pot size of three to four inches, with a maximum diameter of 12 inches.
The diameter of your plant
Another factor to consider is the diameter of your African violets. The ideal pot size for the plants is one-third of their diameter; in other words, the plant’s diameter should ideally be three times the diameter of the pot. Thus, if the diameter of your plant is three inches, it should be in a one-inch pot; if the plant’s diameter is six inches, it should be in a two-inch pot.
If the diameter of the plant is eight inches, it should be in a two-to-three-inch pot; if the diameter is nine inches, it should be in a three-inch pot; and if the diameter is 12 inches, it should be in a four-inch pot. The plant’s diameter is measured from the outer edge of the leaf, across the crown to the outer edge of the opposite leaf.
The size of the plant’s roots.
The pot size to use for your plants will also depend on the length and width of the roots, or the size of the root ball. The pot size should be big enough for the roots to fit snugly inside and there should be just enough space around the roots for soil to be added. Once the pot is filled with soil, the roots should not stick out from the top of the pot or come out from the bottom.
If the roots stick out, you need to pot the plant in a pot that is one inch larger. These plants prefer the size of their new pots to increase by increments of one inch, so if your plant is in a three-inch pot, place it in a four-inch pot. If the plants are placed in pots too large for their root systems, the excess soil could result in too much water retention, and this could lead to root and crown rot.
What happens if the pot is too small for your plants?
If the pot size is too small, the roots may start growing out from the top of the soil and down through the drainage holes at the bottom. The roots will also become rootbound and compacted due to lack of soil.
If the roots take up all the space in the pot and there is no space left, they may start to overcrowd and form a very tight root ball. If this happens, the plants become deprived of nutrients, moisture and air. The growth slows down and the leaves will grow more slowly from the crown, while the older leaves will turn yellow or fall off. The necks of the plants may also become elongated, including the leaf stems, and there will be fewer buds and flowers.
What happens if your pot is too large for your plants?
The roots may get lost in all the extra soil if your pot is too large for your plants. The roots will try to expand to fill the pot, leaving less energy for the growth of other plant parts, such as the flowers and leaves. This slows down the plant’s growth and there will be fewer blooms.
If the pot is too large, the soil is more likely to remain wet for longer periods, despite having enough drainage. Since there are fewer roots to absorb all the extra moisture, the roots will sit in the wet soil and this could lead to root rot.
African violets are perennial flowering plants that are popular in homes because of their dainty blooms. They are easy to cultivate, but require good care and attention, especially when it comes to the size of the pots that you use. The pot size you select for your African violets will depend on the variety of your plants, be they miniature, semi-miniature, or standard. You should also consider their diameter and the size of their roots.
Image: istockphoto.com / Liudmila Chernetska