African Violets vary on so many levels. Aside from the types and colors of flowers or size of the plant itself, African Violet leaves can be what helps to differentiate or distinguish one type of seemingly identical plant from another. This may seem obvious to the more experienced but to those just entering the world of African Violets, it is good to know to help distinguish from different breeds or to just add variety to your collection!
Here are some images and brief descriptions to try to help outline at least the more better known and seen African Violet leaf types.
The first variegated-leaf African violet occurred in 1957. The Tommie Lou African Violet variegation type is characterized by white frosting, lack of chlorophyll, on the outside of the leaf and green on the inside. The amount of lighting and nitrogen in the soil can affect variegation as can the growing temperature. The warmer the temperature or the higher the amount of nitrogen, the more green and less white variegation there will be. The problem with heavily variegated violets is that the more white it has, the less chlorophyll it has and the harder it is for the plant to produce energy from light for growth, blooming, or defense against disease. It is more susceptible to diseases if badly mistreated. As pretty as it is having white on the leaves, less is more and an even balance between the two is what you really want to shoot for.
This is what is known as a mosaic variegation. As opposed to the Tommie Lou variegation, the Lillian Jarrett variegation is reversed with green on the outside and white on the inside. African violets with more variegation showing, can be burned by too bright and hot a light. Unless you are using LEDs. If using fluorescent still, don’t put them in the center of the tube but instead more towards the ends. As with various types of variegation in African violets, When propagating, choose a leaf cutting that has as much green as possible. The developing plant need the green chlorophyll in the mother leaf to provide energy.
The first Girl Foliage leaf type african violet was hybridized in 1941. Girl shaped leaves have a scalloped or wavy edge with a slightly cupped and lighter center of the leaf. Due to this “cupping”, if the leaves are not spaced symmetrically and a little ways away from one another around the plant, crowding can make the leaves twist and contort. You also have to be more watchful for powdery mildew on these leaf types due to that cute little cup. Read more about easily treating powdery mildew in your african violets, if it happens, here.
Holly African violet leaf types have broad indentations along the wavy edges reminiscent of the holly plant, with the edges bent or curled.
With the ruffled leaf type, the edges are wavy to create an undulating outline to the leaf.
If the leaves are narrow with sometimes pointed ends, they belong to the spider or longifolia leaf type. Longifolia leaf types are longer than the ovate leaf types and can actually be described as narrow.
With the heart-shaped leaf type, the tip of the leaf is pointed with very round bases on either side of the petiole.
With the ovate or oval african violet leaf type, the leaf is as you would think, oval and more long than wide in shape. This type is often combined with leaves looking quilted in appearance. The term quilted refers to the puckered and raised areas of the leaf between its veins.
The pointed African violet leaf type is similar to the ovate leaf blade except for the fact that the tip of the leaf blade is more pointed. These leaves also tend to be somewhat glossy and smoother in appearance.
Round leaf types are the more commonly seen leaf types in grocery stores and average, run-of-the-mill nurseries. The length and width of these leaves are typically equal in length.
Scalloped leaf types have very rounded toothed edges but unlike the girl type, there is no curling of the leaf and it has a similar texture and appearance to the round leaf type.
The serrated African violet leaf type is “sharply” toothed with a pointed leaf tip.
The spooned African violet leaf type has the leaf edges rolled up around the edges so the leaf looks like the bowl of a spoon. You would want to be careful with water accumulation in this spoon as well.