Question: Why are miniature violets small? Will it grow bigger if I pot it in a larger pot?
Answer: The answer to this question seemed so obvious that we hesitated to include it here. Then we remembered all of the visitors to our shop, some of whom already grew African violets, that didn’t realize the distinction between “miniature” and “standard” sized varieties and how they should be grown.
To begin with, “miniature” violets grow small because of their genetic makeup, not because of how they’ve been cared for. To be more precise, a miniature variety is one that typically will not exceed 6″ in diameter at maturity. “Semiminiatures” are slightly bigger, but still small, being allowed to grow up to 8″ in diameter when mature. In fact, to be judged at an AVSA sanctioned show, they are not allowed to exceed their specified size.
These varieties have been specially bred by hybridizers to grow small. In practice, many of these varieties will grow even smaller than their allowed dimensions. The Best Miniature at the 2000 AVSA Convention Show, ‘Rob’s Twinkle Blue’, is an example. Though this plant was a bit larger, ours never exceeds 2″ or 3″–a real micro-miniature.
Because these varieties are genetically limited in size, potting them into larger pots won’t make them into larger plants. Being such small plants by nature, they have small root systems. Most don’t have root systems much larger than 2″ or so. Using pots much larger than this means that there is excess soil that the small root systems can’t utilize. Since roots don’t reach this excess soil, it can tend to stay excessively damp and can damage the small root system. A 2″ or 2 1/4″ pot is sufficient for most miniature varieties, while semiminiatures need no more than a 2 1/2″ pot. We tell visitors to the shop that miniature violets are like miniature ponies–putting a larger saddle on them won’t make them into a horse!