African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha) are common houseplants with dark green, fuzzy leaves and small flowers in shades of white, pink, purple and violet. Violet lovers can find standard, miniature or trailing varieties. Their care is easy; keep them happy with bright light, moist soil and a comfortable room temperature.
Prepare a 4- to 6-inch diameter pot with drainage holes in the bottom. Wash it with a mild soap and warm water and allow it to air dry. Sanitize it if it has been previously used for other plants. Mix a bleach solution of nine parts water to one part bleach. Soak the pot for 30 to 60 minutes before rinsing it thoroughly; allow it to air dry.
Make a potting soil mixture of half compost and half perlite or vermiculite. This creates a lightweight soil that won't hold water against the plant's roots. Alternatively, purchase a commercial potting soil formulated for violets. Fill the pot half-way with soil.
Place the violet in the center of the pot, holding the violet straight. Pour the potting soil mixture around the plant, leaving a 1/2-inch gap below the top of the pot. Allow the crown of the violet plant -- the base directly above the roots -- to protrude slightly from the soil.
Water the violet with room temperature, filtered water that contains no chlorine. Pour water into a dish at the bottom of the pot to be absorbed into the soil. Alternatively, water it from the top, applying water only to the base of the plant. Avoid moisture on the leaves as this can cause the leaves to spot or even rot.
Position the violet in a warm room, near a window with bright light that is filtered through curtains or blinds, or provide fluorescent light for 10 to 12 hours per day if a window is not available.
Mix 1/4-teaspoon of a water soluble fertilizer appropriate for violets -- such as a 20-20-20 mixture -- with one gallon of water. Use this mixture each time you water the violet to provide consistent feeding.