Garden Group Names 2024 ‘Year of African Violet’

    31 January 2024

    The African violet, a plant from Tanzania that came to the U.S. in the late 1800s, received a special honor from the National Garden Bureau (NGB).

    The organization named 2024 "The Year of the African Violet." Other plants, flowers and vegetables for 2024 include: squash, Angelonia, lily, buddleia and hosta. Past years honored amaryllis, orchids and broccoli.

    Jessica Damiano is the garden writer for the Associated Press news service. She recently wrote about the African violet.

    This undated image provided by the National Garden Bureau shows a bi-color African violet plant. The NGB has named 2024 as the Year of the African Violet. (National Garden Bureau via AP)
    This undated image provided by the National Garden Bureau shows a bi-color African violet plant. The NGB has named 2024 as the Year of the African Violet. (National Garden Bureau via AP)

    Damiano said the violet has been one of the most popular house plants in the U.S. since it arrived. She said the plant, however, is not a violet. It only has the name because of its colorful, purple and white leaves.

    In fact, she noted, they are related to the Saintpaulia genus. They are named for German Walter von Saint Paul.

    The popularity of the plant is one reason why the NGB chose the violet as the "houseplant" of the year, said Diane M. Blazek, the organization's director. She said the plant's name has appeared over 300,000 times on social media.

    Beyond popularity, Blazek noted, the violets are easy to grow and people who breed flowers are working on creating new varieties. Blazek said, "they are coming through the pipeline."

    Blazek said people once thought of the violets as "Grandma's plants," or that they were no longer popular. But, she said, the violet "has not gone out of favor at all."

    The NGB started in 1920. The group aimed to give reliable gardening information to Americans, many of whom had only recently started growing plants at home. The founder was James Burdett. He helped develop the idea of "victory gardens." The gardens started during World War I as way for Americans to grow some of their own food.

    Today, the NGB continues the work started by Burdett. It recommends plants, flowers and vegetables each year.

    Many people like the African violet because it is easy to grow. It does not need direct sunlight; it does not need too much water and does not need a lot of fertilizer. However, it must receive special care to do extremely well.

    Blazek said the plants like moisture in the air. So, if you live in a very dry place, they might not do well. If you bring them inside during winter, Damiano suggests, you should run a device that adds moisture to the air – a humidifier – before you take them back outside. They need warmth but do not do well in high heat. Be sure to consider your climate before planting them.

    In spring and summer, Damiano said, if the plants are indoors, place them near a window that faces north or east. That way they do not get too much sun. In the winter, the plants may be placed closer to windows because the sun is not too strong at that time for people who live in mid-northern climates.

    Feed the plants only every two to three months. Be sure to use a fertilizer for African violets. And do not worry about their roots getting crowded by other plants – they like cozy pots.

    With good care, the violets may show their colors all year.

    I'm Dan Friedell.

    Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on a report by the Associated Press.


    Words in This Story

    genus n. a group of plants or animals that is bigger than a species but smaller than a family

    breed v. to raise animals and plants so they reproduce and have offspring with similar or better qualities

    variety n. a different form of a similar group of things

    reliable adj. able to be trusted or depended upon

    moisture n. the amount of liquid in the air or in soil or in a piece of cloth

    fertilizer n. food and nutrients made to help plants grow

    crowded adj. a number of things together in a small space

    cozy adj. comfortable, soft and close together