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Can You Grow African Violets in a Terrarium? (4 Steps for Success)

Can You Grow African Violets in a Terrarium? (4 Steps for Success)

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There’s a time during winter when we all long for the lush greenery.

You can easily start a low-maintenance, terrarium garden with almost any glass vessel. It’ll make a refreshing piece of decor during that time of the year.

When we first thought of African Violets, we were in need of some color inside our terrarium. However, we weren’t sure they could live there for a whole season.

So, can you grow African Violets in a terrarium? In this article, we’ll detail why African Violets make great terrarium plants. Read on to learn how to cultivate this plant’s beauty during the cold season.

Can You Grow African Violets in a Terrarium?

Yes, you can grow African Violets in a terrarium. Native to the high altitudes of Eastern Africa, these plants prefer enclosed humid conditions.

They typically maintain their small size, so they’re less likely to outgrow their containers. Plus, African Violets can bloom all year round.

Added to that, their flowers are more likely to blossom when you limit the spread of suckers. So, overall, terrariums provide optimum conditions for blooming African Violets.

How to Grow African Violets in a Terrarium

African Violets aren’t very demanding, but you still need to know the right way to transfer them carefully to a terrarium. Here’s how to carry out this move like an expert.

1 – Set Up the Terrarium

Think of your terrarium as an art piece. Try to block out a few hours during the weekend to mindfully lay out the African Violets along with other plants, rocks, wood, and other natural items.

Here’s what you need to set up this miniature paradise.

Prepare Potting Mix

Before adding the plants, you’ll need to set up the foundation of this terrarium. It’s better to spread a layer of gravel first and a fine mesh on top to drain excess water.

After that, you can add the soil layer and carve out some slopes to add interest. You’ll need a well-draining potting mix to avoid root rot.

Here’s our favorite mix:

  • 10% vermicompost
  • 40% perlite
  • 50% natural garden soil

Choose Terrarium Plants

African Violets are certainly the star of this terrarium, but we recommend going for smaller varieties instead of larger ones. Just keep in mind that they’re more challenging to handle.

The larger varieties can quickly outgrow the glass vessel or at least become crowded inside. So, you’ll need to repot the plants sooner.

As for other plants that go well with African Violets, we suggest going for moss. It complements the flowers of African Violets and you can easily find it growing on driveways.

2 – Separate African Violet Leaves

If you want to repot an African Violet plant as it is, you can gently transfer it to the terrarium without cutting the roots.

Take it out of its original pot, then use your fingers or a fork to release the bottom part of the hardened soil. You can add the excess potting mix to the soil layer at the base of the glass container.

We’d like to note that there’s a great chance to grow more African Violets when you transfer them to a terrarium.

One propagation option is to cut the leaves and dip them in water until they grow their roots. After a few weeks, the roots should be developed.

You can, then, plant the leaves in the terrarium. However, we prefer to propagate our plants through division.

All you need to do here is to clear more of the soil around the roots. Then, go with the flow of the roots while gently separating each group of leaves.

When you eventually place them in a terrarium, each clump of leaves should grow into a mature plant. The best part is that you can repeat the cycle soon, and grow more gorgeous African Violets!

3 – Water the Plants

African Violets love humid environments, but they don’t prefer to have water on their leaves. That’s why it’s better to avoid watering them directly.

Instead, we suggest using a squeeze bottle or a vessel with a similar nozzle. This will allow you to water the surroundings of African Violets without wetting their leaves.

You don’t need to water terrarium plants that much anyway. Terrariums are low-maintenance for a reason; the water gets trapped in a cycle, so you don’t need to consistently add more.

When the water evaporates, it condenses on the cold glass of the vessel. Then, the droplets will run on the sides back to the soil.

What you need to take note of is the level of humidity inside the terrarium. If you notice too much fog or droplets on the glass, keep the container open for a while until it releases some moisture.

4 – Provide Optimum Light Conditions

African Violets require indirect sunlight. So, we recommend you place them near a north or east-facing window.

Alternatively, you can place the terrarium under ultraviolet lights if your home is too dark. Use clear glass containers to let in as much light as possible.

In all cases, avoid direct sunlight, as it can burn the leaves of African Violets.

Adjusting the light amount for your terrarium plants can be tricky. This is because more light comes with more heat, which might affect their growth.

Truth is that the growth rate of your African Violets can be an indicator of their light needs. Sometimes, African Violets can have healthy blooms and leaves without showing noticeable growth.

In that case, your plant might need more light to grow. So, try moving it to a brighter spot, or use ultraviolet lights during night time.

Precautions for Growing African Violets in a Terrarium

Despite the fact that terrariums make a great option for controlled environments, they can encourage the growth of mold and decay of withered parts.

Here are a few tips to avoid such potential issues.

Position Your African Violets in the Center

As we mentioned earlier, African Violets don’t prefer water on their leaves.

So, it’s better to place them in the middle, away from the moist glass sides.

Keep an Opening

Some growers prefer to close their terrariums and let nature take its course. While this environment is theoretically self-sustaining, we recommend you don’t seal your terrarium.

This makes it easier to aerate the terrarium and release excess moisture. It also allows you to remove some of the plants if they outgrow their container.

Prune Your Plants Regularly

Another reason why you shouldn’t seal the terrarium is that it’s more convenient for pruning the plants.

In the case of African Violets, you’ll need to remove the leaves and year-round blooms once they whither to encourage healthy growth.

Final Thoughts

Can you grow African Violets in a terrarium?

Given their small size and readiness to bloom in a limited area, African Violets seem to favor terrariums over indoor pots.

All you need to do is to use a well-draining potting mix to form the miniature landscape of your terrarium. Then, divide the African Violet leaves before transferring them to the terrarium.

Keep the African Violets in the center away from wet container sides. You can, then, safely close your terrarium and place it in a bright spot.

Enjoy the cheerful blooms with minimal effort!

Before you go: Now is the perfect time to start tracking your gardening progress, and I created a garden journal to do exactly that. Click the image below to see it in action and to get your own copy.

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