The African violet must be might be considered one of the sweetest, softest-looking varieties of flowering houseplants ever. With fluffy and fleshy leaves, dainty flowers in many bright colors (and shapes!), and only about a foot in size, they are perfect for all indoor spaces, even a little desk or shelf!
While they come from a small tropical region, there are many types, varieties, and loads of cultivars that you can choose from, even trailing ones for hanging baskets!
In fact, the African Violet Society of America has listed 16,000 varieties of our houseplant, saintpaulia. And new cultivars are introduced every year. They differ in habit, with trailing and rosette plants, but also in a flower shapes and colors.
For a perfect pick-and-mix perspective of what African violets can offer you and your home or office, we have collected some of the most beautiful varieties with from all the different types that exist, and we are really looking forward to showing them to you!
You will soon see how beautiful they are, but we can start with a brief overview of African violets, types and categories and a few easy to use tips…
What are African Violets?
We call them “violets” because they look like them, but they are not, and we call them “African” because they are. In fact, Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia comes from Tanzania and Southeastern Kenya.
In contrast to its name, the appearance of these lovely herbaceous flowering perennials is simple and sweet, and they can blossom where light is low this is why we love them.
The leaves are very fleshy, soft, and tender and have soft, thin hair in various shades of green and sometimes white.
African violets are mainly grown as houseplants; even outdoors, it is best to keep them in a container, even if you live in a warm enough region, because they require a specific soilless potting mix.
African Violet Leaves
The leaf shape of African violets can vary slightly, from cordate (heart-shaped) to ovate, but always broad and balanced. The margins, too, can be smooth, serrate, or crenate (with rounded teeth).
Some are concave, and some are scalloped. They are usually around 2 inches long (5.0 cm), but some single varieties can reach 3 inches (7.5 cm).
They are usually green, from bright to dark, but there are varieties with purple, copper and even variegated with white.
African Violet Flowers
But the flowers are what we love best in these little perennials, and there are many shapes, from single to double to frilled. This helps us distinguish different varieties and adds to the decorative potential of African violets.
The flower heads are not large, up to 2 inches across (5.0 cm), and usually smaller. Still, they have a very vibrant color range, with white, yellow, orange-red, purple, blue, violet, and even green – basically all colors apart from black.
This huge chromatic range is another characteristic saintpaulia share with real violets of the Viola genus.
Delicate African Violets
African violets are not just delicate in their appearance; they are quite sensitive to some conditions, especially overwatering, which is the leading cause of why they sometimes die indoors. Keep the soil humid, never wet, and water only when the top soil is dry.
Type of African Violets
We will meet many varieties of African violets, and to help you tell them apart and choose the one you like best; we are now about to learn what types of saintpaulia there are; they are divided into groups depending on flower shape, bloom arrangement, and habit.
Rosette African Violets
Rosette African violets are described by the plant shape and habit. The leaves grow close to the ground, pointing outside, and there can be up to 5 spirals forming a dense clump. The blooms come at the center, and the overall look is that of a rosette.
Trailing African Violets
These African violets have a spreading and trailing habit; the leaves have longer petioles, and the outer ones will arch down, draping containers. Similarly, the blooms come on long stems and all over the little plant, not just in the middle, and they trail, as the name suggests.
But now it’s time to see what flower shapes they can have.
Single Flower African Violets
The most simple, but also the most common, known shape of African violet flowers is simple, round, and with 5 petals, but they are not all the same. The two top ones are a bit smaller than the other three! That’s maybe why they look like pansy blooms.
Semi-Double African Violets
Semi-double African violets are the next step up from single blooms; they have up to 10 petals in two rows, so they look fuller and rounder. However, some of the added petals often don’t fully open.
Double African Violets
Fully double African violets have more than 10 petals, but never as many as we find in some roses… They are too small to do that. They form a globular bloom where you can hardly see the center.
Star-Shaped African Violets
Rarer than other varieties, star-shaped African violets are a type of saintpaulia with narrower and spaced petals, all of the same size. The end result is similar to a little start with rays.
Frilled African Violets
As the name suggests, the petals of this type of African violet are frilled. They can be single, semi-double, or even fully double.
Wasp-Shaped African Violets
Wasp-shaped African violet blooms have five petals, like single ones, but the two top ones are much smaller than the other three and which also bend.
Bell-shaped African violet flowers have 5 petals that never stretch out; on the contrary, they keep very close, curve slightly inward, and they form, you guessed, a little bell.
Cup-Shaped African Violets
Also, the flowers of this type of African violet have petals that don’t stretch out completely, but they don’t even stay as close as in bell-shaped ones, and they form little cups, as the name suggests.
You can now identify all the types and shapes of African violets so that we can look closely at some details.
African Violet Fact Sheet
Here is an easy-to-use guide to African violets, all clearly laid out for you.
20 Colorful African Violet Varieties Perfect For Your Home
Whether you’re looking for a new addition to your collection or simply admire these beautiful plants, African violets are a popular choice for both indoor and outdoor gardens, and their vibrant colors add a touch of elegance to any setting.
Here are 20 stunning African violet varieties to add a splash of color to your home gardens.
1: ‘Radiant’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Radiant’)
Picked for their colors, different shapes, and habits, here are the best African violets for your home or office.
‘Rolling Dark Waters’ is a classic-looking African violet variety. It has it all! Generous blooms of round, tightly packed flowers come in the center of the dark green, serrated leaves.
The flowers are single and simple but very beautiful, and the color is the most iconic of this type of houseplant: violet blue. It has a very vibrant shade that brings serenity and energy at the same time.
2: ‘My Sensation’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘My Sensation’)
‘My Sensation’ is a phenomenal new cultivar of African violet! Introduced as late as 2014 and only commercialized in 2016, it has some record-breaking traits. The flowers are frilled, white with green edges, and lovely against the dark green foliage.
But there is more… The blooms are really generous, and you can get up to a whopping 120 flower heads at a time! Unusual in color and in display, this is a very sought-after variety.
3: ‘Blue Wasp’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Blue Wasp’)
This variety of African violet has wasp-shaped flowers, on fairly long purple stems of a bright and vivid blue or violet color. The foliage is not particularly dense, but very interesting, maybe just because it leaves some gaps…
The leaves are ovate in shape and serrated, sometimes pointed and sometimes not, but the unusual color adds to the effect: green to copper with purplish blushes. Delicate and original at the same time.
4: ‘Little Trio’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Little Trio’)
For delicate colored blooms and an exquisite effect, ‘Little Trio’ is really the ideal African violet. This new cultivar has single flowers with a white backdrop, but they also present shy blushes of lilac violet and pale green!
The leaves are dense, emerald green, with serrated edges and ovate, with blunt tips. The contrast is both showy and balanced at the same time.
5: ‘Chantasping’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Chataspring’)
Very unusual in coloring, ‘Chantasping’ really stands out from other varieties of African violet. In fact, the bell-shaped blooms have a yellow to a peach shade that is really rare to achieve and find.
One of the more expensive cultivars also forms dense clumps of green copper, soft-looking ovate leaves. The chromatic theme is so well-balanced that it is a real beauty!
6: ‘Champagne Pink’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Chamlagne Pink’)
This African violet variety’s delicate, romantic name really matches its personality. In fact, ‘Champagne Pink’ has pale, pastel rose semi-double flowers, almost ethereal in appearance.
But it has an extra trait that will make you love it.
The ovate, smoothie-edged leaves are variegated in cream and bright green! The delicacy of the shades of this cultivar is really hard to match.
7: ‘Rambling Moonbeam’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Rambling Moonbeam’)
‘Rambling Moonbeam’ has a lot of interesting qualities that make it a favorite African violet variety.
To start with, it is a trailing saintpaulia with mid-green, heart-shaped leaves that drape over containers. The flowers are large, up to 2 inches across (5.0 cm), fully double, and perfectly snow white!
This cultivar is perfect for a fresh and vibrant display in a hanging basket!
8: ‘Little Adagio’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Little Adagio’)
Classical looking ‘Little Adagio’ is a new cultivar of African violet with fully double, showy deep blue to violet blooms.
They come on copper stems above the dense foliage in small groups and set the whole display alight.
The leaves are cordate and green but with a delicate copper blush on them. If you want the iconic saintpaulia look with double blooms, you may want to look closely at ‘Little Adagio.’
9: ‘Sequoia’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Sequoia’)
Only introduced in 2017, the ‘Sequoia’ cultivar of African violet is like a romantic bouquet. The cordate, mid-emerald green leaves spread out in a decorative rosette with their long petioles.
The effect is dense in the middle, thanks to the super generous blooms of fully double pompon roses like deep pong flowers. They have more petals packed together than most other varieties. It really looks like a living posy!
10: ‘Lonestar’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Lonestar’)
With large blooms that reach 2 inches (5.0 cm), ‘Lonestar’ is a very showy variety! Add the frilled blue edges to the white petals; you can see why it is impossible to miss.
Also, the blossoms appear well above the dark green, dense heart-shaped leaves with soft-looking white fluff. The foliage margins are also pretty original; they are serrated but with very irregular cuts.
11: ‘Cirelda’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Cirelda’)
In a picture, you could even confuse ‘Cirelda’ for a rose, but it is a variety of African violet. Reaching 2 inches across (5.0) cm, the blooms look like those of Rosa, in fact, and they are fully double, white with a pink blush in the center.
The leaves are emerald to mid-green, dense and ovate with a tip in shape. Romantic and elegant, it is a very sweet-looking cultivar for an emotional display.
12: ‘Precious Red’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Precious Red’)
If you want a warm, flaming effect, have a look at ‘Precious Red’ for a great African violet! This saintpaulia variety has ruby red, fully double large flowers, about 2 inches across (5.0 cm) in the middle of a dense clump of foliage that picks up their color theme.
In fact, the slightly elongated ovate leaves have a copper blush, which can become quite strong, even predominant, with the right light!
13: ‘Golden Eye’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Golden Eye’)
Very original, ‘Golden Eye’ is an African violet variety with a bright center and intense backdrop. In fact, the flowers are frilled, double, cream outside and golden at the center.
This trailing variety adds dark, heart-shaped, and gently convex leaves of a very dark color, deep purple with green undertones! The perfect contrast for a showy effect! It is a reasonably expensive cultivar.
14: ‘Silver Romance’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Silver Romance’)
I think ‘Silver Romance’ is the “frilliest” variety of African violets ever! In fact, the large blooms (2 inches across, or 5.0 cm) are pale pink with frilled edges, and you will notice this even more because they are bright green!
But even the foliage has frilled and wavy edges! The leaves are of a very bright mid-green shade, which perfectly matches the vitality and vivacity of the floral display.
15: ‘Imp’s Beta Blocker’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Imp’s Beta Blocker’)
Here is another African violet that offers you a showy contrast, this time with a wasp variety and an odd name: ‘Imp’s Beta Blocker.’ The thin petals of the blooms are magenta, bright, and with some gentle violet dots on them.
The golden center offers you the first eye-catching effect. But then there is also the dense dark green, heart-shaped foliage with purple undersides to add to the picture, and now you can see why it is a little show-stopper.
16: ‘Luminous’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Luminous’)
The blooms of the ‘Luminous’ African flowers come in huge numbers; in fact one of the best bloomers; you can get up to 100 at any time!
They are cupped, cream greenish as they start to open, but then they turn to a lovely pure white color! The dense blooms are at the center of equally dense foliage, this time, though…
The change! The heart-shaped leaves are of a very dark green color, offsetting the floral display wonderfully!
17: ‘Rhapsody Lucia’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Rhapsody Lucia’)
A musical and harmonic variety of African violet is ‘Rhapsody Lucia’v let me show you… The single flowers have a classical look, but they also display a deeper blue towards the end of the petals, which then fade to very pale, almost white, in the center, where the golden reproductive organs draw your eyes.
The purple stems look like clouds and sky above the mid-green clump of heart-shaped leaves. A really heavenly cultivar, indeed!
18: ‘Loyalty’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Loyalty’)
The foliage of ‘Loyalty’ African violet is almost prostrate, and it stays low, forming like a saucer around the flowers.
The leaves are heart-shaped and lovingly variegated, with darker and lighter green and even touches of cream in some specimens.
The many double blooms concentrate in the middle, like in a frame, and they display their bright pink petals like a pearl inside an oyster.
19: ‘Broadway Star Trail’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘Broadway Star Trail’)
What a fresh and rejuvenating presence of the ‘Broadway Star Trail African violet is! The semi-double, pure white, and star-shaped little flowers appear all scattered over the dense and trailing foliage that drapes containers and hanging baskets!
And they are plenty, like snowflakes on a fresh, bright green carpet of heart-shaped leaves! This cultivar is simple but full of positive energy, like a small mountain prairie in a pot!
20: ‘RM Visavi’ African Violet (Streptocarpus Streptocarpella saintpaulia ‘RM Visavi’)
Sumptuous and luxurious, ‘RM Visavi’ is the African violet variety you would expect in a 5-star hotel. It looks like pure velvet thanks to its texture, but also because the frilled, large blooms that reach 2 inches across (5.0 cm) are purple, almost plum, and highlighted by the white edges that paint the decorative lines of the petals.
A similar shade of purple hides under the leaves, while the top page is almost black! Add the lush wavy margins of the foliage, and you get a super exclusive-looking houseplant!
African Violets But Worldwide Houseplant Wonders!
In all colors, with many bloom shapes and leaf shapes, but always soft and sweet looking, with trailing and rosette varieties, and new cultivars coming every year, there is sure an African violet that will make your room, your desk, or even your shelf look wonderful!
Amber Noyes was born and raised in a suburban California town, San Mateo. She holds a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of California as well as a BS in Biology from the University of San Francisco. With experience working on an organic farm, water conservation research, farmers’ markets, and plant nursery, she understands what makes plants thrive and how we can better understand the connection between microclimate and plant health. When she’s not on the land, Amber loves informing people of new ideas/things related to gardening, especially organic gardening, houseplants, and growing plants in a small space.