African violets have been a popular houseplant for generations. While it is not among the easiest plants to grow, the wide variety of blossoms available make them worth the effort.

Flowers can be purple, pink, red, white and everything in between, plus blooms can be single, double or semi-double. The leaves are slightly fuzzy and attractive in their own right, and if cats wander through your plants, their fur will sometimes stick to them (I mention this because our household cats liked lying on the table of African violets on sunny days). Miniature African violets are as small as 3 inches in diameter, and large ones can be 16 inches.

You can buy African violets, of course, but if a friend has one you like, ask for a leaf. Leave a stem of about an inch long, and put the leaf into a moist potting medium at a 45-degree angle. In a couple of months you should be able to repot some baby plants.

African violets prefer medium light, so an east or west window would be best. They prefer moist but not soggy soil, so keep them watered regularly.

— TOM ATWELL


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