Certainly you, or someone you love, has grown an African Violet. These colorful, highly hybridized South African native violets have enjoyed popularity in the United States since the 1930s. If you have the right, bright spot away from direct sun, you have probably enjoyed success with them.
Having grown many different African violets over the years, I’ve been curious about the Asian violets displayed on the same table at The Great Big Greenhouse, in Richmond. Both Gesneriads, along with Gloxinias and Streptocarpus, these highly ornamental flowering plants with thick, hairy leaves, make excellent houseplants.
I was considering the various Asian violets on display when a Chesterfield County Master Gardener struck up a conversation. It turns out that he grows quite a few Gesneriads, including the little Asian violet in my hand, and he encouraged me to give it a try. Known as Primulina ‘Loki,‘ I was intrigued by its beautiful leaves. I like the silver markings, so much like Begonia leaves.
According to the friendly Gardener, these little violets make nearly perfect houseplants. They enjoy low light, aren’t particularly thirsty, and will bloom when they feel like it with beautiful little blue flowers. He answered all of my questions, and even showed me a few photos of his collection. How could I not give it a try?
Gary’s Specialty Plants, who raises and markets these little gems, explains on the plant tag that Asian violets are like African violets, but better! If you click the link, you’ll find one of his photos of the violet in bloom at the top of the page.
This little plant will spread over time, but isn’t expected to grow but a few inches tall. It can thrive in low light. The only admonition on the tag warns not to get cold water on the leaves. This is also true of African violets, as it can spot and damage the leaves.
I’ve planted the new little violet into a Bonsai tray and just set it into a bright spot to watch and see what it does. If I like this one, The Great Big Greenhouse has two other cultivars in stock. I’m thinking this might make a good gift for a gardening friend, or a nice little plant to decorate place settings at a dinner.
If you’ve grown Asian violets then please share your experience in the comments. If you’re interested in locating one to buy, then Gary, who is based in PA, has a list of retailers on his site.
It is always fun to find a new plant to grow! This one looks very promising. Houseplants keep us sane during winter, and this one might brighten up a dim corner of your home. I wonder how well these grow in a terrarium?
Woodland Gnome 2019
I love mine! The leaves started to get leggy, so I moved it to a better lit spot and it flowers constantly now! The new leaves are more compact and broad with more intricate variation in the higher light area so now I keep it under an indoor full spectrum light and purple light because I don’t have many good light areas for over-wintering. In the year and a half I’ve had it, I want to say it’s bloomed consistently putting out about 5-6 blooms each time, roughly 15 times. By the time I’m trimming off old blooms, new ones come in! They’re low light beautiful but have some bright light pizazz, and of over 100 plants in my legion, I think it’s my favorite. I think it also gets additional filtered light from being next to my small lidded 5gal shrimp tank setup. I know this is an older article, but I found it so others might too, and I wanted to help 💚
I purchased an Asian violet 2 years ago. I loved the leaves and was happy enough to just look at them with no flowers. This past Summer that all changed. What a joy it has been to see the light purple trumpet shaped flowers emerge from the leaves. I will now start propagating new violets to share!
That is great news, David. I’m still waiting for flowers on mine…. You’ve given me hope!
What?! Better than African violet?! I still prefer the bloom of African violet. (I had to look Asian violet up real quick.) I have never been compelled to try something new and different. I prefer to stick with the traditional and familiar. However, this is rather compelling. I will not be going out to try to find one any time soon, but might grab one if I happen to run into one.
It’s the leaf, Tony. I have a sweet spot for beautifully marked leaves. I agree with you about the flowers…at least until I see the Asian violet in bloom. What sealed the deal for me was its low requirements for light. This far, no new buds or leaves….but it is attractive 🐝
Well, I get that way with coleus. Some are like that with caladiums.
What a great greenhouse and plant source! Might be too tempting for me 🙂
It is way too tempting…. and I take my mother there most every week, where she enjoys the orchids and home decor boutique. An expensive hobby….