The Persian violet – Exacum [EKS-uh-kum] is known for large mounds of foliage, small delicate flowers, and pleasant fragrances.
The Exacum plant is native to Yemen and belongs to the Gentianaceae family.
The most popular of the Exacum plants is the Exacum affine. Other varieties include various shades of white, blue, lavender, and deep purple flowers.
Exacum is mostly grown as a potted annual, as permanent outdoor growth requires a tropical climate. In fact, the plant rarely survives after the bloom ends.
While it is a short-lived plant, the Persian violet can help lighten any room or landscape.
Persian Violet Plant Care
Many varieties of Exacum plants all share the same characteristics. They often have wide spreads that fill the pot or container they are growing in.
These plants tend to grow to about 6” to 12” inches tall and feature thick foliage with tiny green leaves that cover most of the stems.
Persian violets are grown as annuals in USDA hardiness zones 10 – 12. The plants are bushy, a foot high or more, with neat, waxy, oval leaves.
In colder climates, they are typically grown in containers. The bushy growth and non-stop bloom are an attractive addition to any windowsill or porch.
The Flowers And Fragrance Of Exacum Affine
The flowers are the main reason for purchasing an Exacum. Bloom often occurs in the spring
The plant produces a dense cluster of delightfully fragrant Exacum affine with cheerful little purplish blue, yellow-throated, flat-petaled flowers in branching clusters at the top of leafy stems.
When well grown it is almost covered with bloom and reaches a height of about 2’ feet. It can be easily raised from seed.
The bloom also tends to last a long time. In fact, you may still have flowers into the late fall.
However, once they start to fall off, the plant starts to die off.
Lighting: Exacum plants require plenty of indirect light.
However, avoid placing the pot or container in a location that receives full midday sunlight. The strong UV rays may harm the delicate plant.
It grows best in rooms with a good dose of late-afternoon sunlight.
Temperatures: As the plant prefers tropical climates, you should ensure that the plant does not get too cold.
Keeping your home at room temperature and ensuring that there are no drafts should provide a suitable environment for the plant.
Watering and Feeding: Most varieties of Exacum plants require regular watering. You should check the soil each day and water as needed.
Underwatering is one of the most common problems with caring for an Exacum plant.
The Persian violet requires continuous moisture. Do not allow the soil to get dried out.
TIP: Mist the foliage each day to maintain humidity.
Fertilizing: You may also want to add fertilizer each week to help supply the important micronutrients and increase the health of the plant leading up to the bloom.
What is the Best Soil For Persian Violet?
The Exacum is typically potted, as it does not grow well outdoors outside of its native region.
When planting in a pot or container, choose well-drained African violet potting soil.
When you first bring the Exacum home, it may need to be repotted if it is root bound.
Repotting: Check the roots by carefully popping the plant out of the container. If the roots are wrapping around the outer edges of the soil, you should move it to a larger pot.
Gently loosen the roots and repot in a larger container. You may also want to apply liquid fertilizer each week until the plant blooms.
Propagation: It is also possible to grow from seed. However, these plants may take up to six months to grow from seed. Germination is also tricky.
If you want to try growing from seed, start in January.
Use quality potting soil in a propagating tray and sprinkle the fine seeds over the surface.
Cover the tray with plastic wrap to seal in the moisture and keep the tray in a warm room with plenty of sunlight.
If you’re lucky, you should have seedlings in about one month. Carefully place them in a larger container, placing each seedling at least five inches from other seedlings.
Grooming is not needed for the Exacum. Remember this plant does not live long after blooming. After the flowers bloom, the foliage will likely start to wilt and die.
How to Propagate Exacum
Propagating the Exacum is not exactly easy. In fact, most growers will tell you that reproducing the plant is not worth the effort.
Germinating seeds is difficult and time-consuming. Considering the short life of these plants, seed propagation is not recommended.
You may attempt to reproduce the plant by taking stem cuttings. Unfortunately, the chance of successful propagation is limited.
Pests, Diseases, or Problems the Plant Encounters
Like many houseplants, the Exacum is susceptible to infestations from aphids and spider mites. Keep an eye out for these pests and spray the plant if necessary.
Besides pests, the only issue to worry about is watering. Remember to check the soil regularly and avoid letting it dry out. It should remain moist.
Are There Other Varieties Of Persian Violets?
The most popular Persion violet variety is Exacum affine. However, there are other varieties.
- Exacum macranthum a biennial
- Exacum zeylanicum an annual
… are two others well worth trying.
Both varieties have flowers that resemble Exacum affine, but, both grow considerably larger, 1-1/2″ to 2″ inches across.
Another popular variety is the princess White Exacum, which produces white flowers with yellow pollen buds in the center.
Using Exacum Indoors or Outdoors
Indoors, Exacum affine will flower during winter and early spring.
New plants can be propagated by cuttings placed in sand with moderate bottom heat.
When frost danger passes the Persian violet can be planted in the garden and brought inside again in the early fall.