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African violets are compact, pretty house plants that produce clusters of jewel-like flowers on and off throughout the year. They have soft, velvety green leaves that are often burgundy on the undersides. While the flowers look like violets, they're not related to them. They're often sold by their botanical name Saintpaulia, but have recently been incorporated into the Streptocarpus genus.

African violets were popular house plants in the 1960s and 1970s and therefore might be considered a little old fashioned. But they've come a long way since then, and a new generation of house plant fans are falling for them once more.

Recent breeding (especially in Russia and Ukraine) has introduced lots of new flower colours, including coral, dusky red, green, ivory and yellow. There are also lots of new flower forms, including ruffled, bell-shaped, star-shaped, double or fringed blooms that may be bi-coloured, multi-coloured or splashed. Even the foliage has become more interesting, and you can now find pointed, scalloped, serrated, ruffled or variegated leaves. Some varieties are teacup-sized while others are larger, and some varieties have a trailing habit.

Saintpaulia mixed various colours

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