‘Tis the Season for Saintpaulia

We all know the beauty that African violets, or Saintpaulia ionantha, bring to a window garden, but have you considered their value for Christmas centerpieces and mantel displays? The picture above (click to enlarge) shows a “tower” of African violets that I crafted from various silver objects: a round tray, an inverted vase, a wine holder and a pierced basket. Holly, ivy, and fresh fruit give the assembly a festive appearance. But the piece de resistance is the collection of luscious, deep-purple African violets which surround the arrangement’s base and adorn its crown. This arrangement graced my dining table one year. It also received a glossy spread in African Violet Magazine. Read on, and I’ll show you other holiday-displays that you can easily make with the world’s favorite houseplant:

Here, purple, blue, and white African violets make a pleasant centerpiece in association with quince, blue spruce, pine, and yew.

In a setting of wild, red rosehips and sprays of yew and pine, a pale-blue African violet makes a shimmering presence on the left end of the dining room mantel (above), while ‘Happy Trails,’ a pink, trailing variety (below), creates balance on the right.

Saintpaulia ‘Special Treat,’ with huge, purple blossoms edged in white, makes a festive presence for my parlor. The plant’s small pot is hidden among pine branches inserted into a silver vase.

Why limit your Christmas flowers to such temporary delights as red poinsettias? African violets shimmer not only during the holidays, but year ’round, too!

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Related Posts:
African Violets: My Easy, Always-In-Bloom Program
Flowers to Brighten the Indoor Winter Garden
Fluorescent Setups & Culture


  1. Violetqueen says:

    Kevin, I grow lots of African violets under grow-lights in my basement. Maybe I should bring them upstairs, and put them to work!

    Your photographs are really inspiring!

  2. Gardenlady says:

    Yes, that's a great way to make AVs earn “their keep.”

  3. I love all of your arrangements, but especially the top one. So lucious, with the grapes and fruit!

  4. Kevin, I've been using the high phosphorous fertilizer you recommended, and boy is it working. My 8 standards are covered with flowers! Maybe I'll set them near the Christmas tree – where they will surely be noticed!

  5. Yolanda – I'm delighted that the plant food worked for you!

  6. I have never seen AVs displayed so beautifully. Thank you for sharing these!

  7. Wow, that top photo is incredible.

  8. Dear Kevin,
    Will you tell me how to plant things?

  9. Hi, Anna! Nice to hear from you! You can grow African violets very easily. Just click on the September archives. There, you will find an article called “African Violets: My Easy, Always-In-Bloom Program.” It will tell you almost everything you need to know.

    And, be sure to post often!

  10. That's great idea using african violet like that. I never thought before. It's gorgeours arrangement. I learned from thoses pictures. Thanks

  11. Montreal florist – thanks for stopping by. Glad you picked up a tip or two. Hope to see you here again!

  12. Lee Carlson says:

    I am going to get some high phosphorous fertilizer and start some new plants according to your directions. Love this blog.. You give all the info that is useful in everyday life. Thanks so much.

  13. My pitiful African Violet , after following your instructions, is very healthy, happy and blooming profusely, with 3 sets of bud clusters to go!! Thank -you so much;-) I started 6 cuttings in January and will be patient.
    My next project- if I have the courage , is separation and re-potting.
    I have the desire to rescue from neglectful nurseries less fortunate African violets.
    Do I have the sickness?

  14. I have the trailing AV. I have been able to propagate many leaves and share it with friends.
    It grows runners and drapes of the pot. If the runners touches the soil it roots. Very easy to take care of. I had my original one get so big, I cut it into 3 pieces and it all of them did fine.
    Even a runner with no leaves, sent up new leaves.

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