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Potting Soil for African Violets

Selecting the right potting soil is critical to the success of your African Violet. Heavy mixes can easily crush the roots of African Violets. In addition, because heavy potting mixes hold so much water, they tend to leave African Violets vulnerable to such deadly pathogens as Crown Rot, Root Rot and Pythium. To give your African Violet a good start follow these simple guidelines:

  • A good potting soil for African Violets actually contains no soil (or dirt) at all and will be will be very light and porous. This enhances aeration, while keeping the soil moist, but not soggy.
  • For African Violets, the pH should be between 5.8 and 6.2. This is still slightly acidic, but very close to neutral. The pH of a potting soil is important, because if it is too high or too low, African Violets cannot properly absorb nutrients.

While it is unlikely that potting soil from a reputable manufacturer will harbor unfriendly microorganisms, it may nevertheless be prudent to treat the soil before exposing it to your African Violets. The process for treating potting soil is called pasteurization.

To pasteurize your potting soil, it must be heated to 180 degrees F for 30 minutes. This can be done by simply sealing the potting soil into heavy aluminum foil (minus the bag, of course) and placing it into your oven. By inserting a meat thermometer through the aluminum foil, you can monitor the temperature of the soil. Once the temperature reaches 180 degrees F, continue to heat it for 30 minutes. When the process is complete, remove the potting soil from the oven and let it cool. Once it has sufficiently cooled, you should seal it in a plastic bag or some other air-tight container in order to prevent contamination.

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