Saintpaulia, also called African violet, is a plant particularly appreciated for its vigorous growth and for its abundant and almost continuous flowering. Its popular name unites it to violets, probably due to the color of the corollas or the natural environment in which they both grow, the undergrowth. It should be noted, however, that these two herbaceous plants have absolutely nothing in common, neither from a botanical point of view nor as regards cultivation needs. Saintpaulia, in fact, constantly requires high temperatures and humidity, as found naturally in tropical and equatorial forests. It grows very well in the inhabited areas of our houses, both in summer and in winter. It can be found on the market very easily and, thanks to the work of the hybridizers, it is available in different colors and sizes, truly suitable for all tastes and locations.
Pleasant even when grown alone, in wider than deep pots, they give the best of them in groups: we can combine them in different colors or make compositions with other plants (bulbous or leaf)
The African violets they are small evergreen perennials, native to the tropical mountainous areas of Tanzania and Kenya; the botanical name is Saintpaulia, and the most widespread species (its hybrids) is saintpaulia ionantha. The plants of African violet they are small in size, form compact rosettes, consisting of fleshy leaves, carried by long petioles; the petioles and the lower part of the leaves are pinkish, while the leaves are dark green, covered with a very thin light hair. Throughout the year, among the leaves in the center of the rosette, thin fleshy stems stand, bearing some five-petaled flowers of purple color, with the typical yellow anthers in the center.
These plants have been cultivated in Europe since the end of the 19th century, since then numerous hybrids have obviously been produced, with pink, white, blue, variegated and striped flowers. There are about twenty species of Saintpaulia, which some authors consider subspecies of Saintpaulia ionantha; on the market they are difficult to find and in the nursery we usually only find hybrids with flowers with particular colors.