Q: My African violets get filtered light and, every two to three months, fertilizer. The leaves are green and healthy, and I water weekly, but since the first bloom I’ve never seen them rebloom. What can I do? — Alice Uyekawa, Huntington Beach, Calif.
A: When African violets are happy they bloom all year, and they’re usually easy to keep happy indoors. You’re faithful in your watering, and it’s unlikely they’re getting too cold, so yours probably need more light to make flower buds. African violets like bright light but not direct sun. North-facing windows and windows shaded by adjacent trees, buildings, or very wide roof overhangs can be too dim. Unobstructed east or west aspects ordinarily are very good. A south window, though, offers too much of a good thing. Soften the intensity of full sunlight with a gauzy curtain or translucent blind. When the light’s too strong, the foliage gets yellow or reddish overtones. Leafstalks shorten and hang down over the pot. When light is too weak, the leafstalks elongate and point upward. If you can’t move your plants into a sunnier spot, fluorescent lights will do the trick. The lights should be suspended about 10 inches above the foliage and left on about 14 hours a day. Mostly, African violets like things to stay on an even keel. Don’t let the soil dry out between waterings, but don’t keep them sopping wet, either (a potting mix of equal parts peat, perlite, and vermiculite drains well). African violets like the same temperatures we do: 60 degrees to 80 degrees day and night is ideal. Temperatures below 60 degrees inhibit flowering. Finally, a little more fertilizer wouldn’t hurt: a weak dose once a week, with sufficient light, should produce flowers within a month.