Course CodeVHT105
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Become an African Violet and Gesneriad Expert

  • Learn to identify and grow lots of different gesneriads, as indoor plants, tropicals or greenhouse specimins
  • Professional Development for Nurserymen and horticulturists
  • Upskill as an amateur plant collector

Develop a broadened knowledge of African violet cultivars and cultivation; and in doing so, provide a foundation upon which you can better pursue your interest in these fascinating plants.

  • Identify a series of possible locations for growing a collection of African Violet Cultivars.
  • Compare and select the best location from the available options.
  • Identify factors that will affect the successful culture of African Violets in the selected location.
  • Determine criteria for selecting cultivars of African Violets to be included in the collection.
  • Select cultivars of to be included in the collection.
  • Choose plant establishment techniques appropriate to the project.
  • Determine a routine 12 month maintenance program for a selected collection of cultivars to be grown in a specified situation.

Tips for Growing and Knowing African Violet Relatives

There are around 125 genera in the Gesneraciaceae family. While African Violet and Gloxinia are perhaps the two most widely cultivated of those, there are many others that are in cultivation and worth considering for growing alongside African Violets.

Most Gesneriads like similar environmental conditions; so growing them together in the same shade house or verandah (in a warm climate) or greenhouse (in a colder climate) can be a good idea.

Some of these Gesneriads are listed below:


  • Popular in cultivation for hundreds of years
  • Propagate by root division, stem, tip or leaf cuttings
  • Produce underground rhizomotous growths
  • Can be kept relatively dry when dormant; water again when the weather warms and they start to shoot.
  • Never let soil dry during the growing season though
  • Excellent as basket or indoor pot plants
  • Some upright growing types can get to 30cm tall but most are smaller.
  • Respond well to artificial fluorescent lights

Aeschynanthus (syn. Trichosporum)

  • Some of the approximately 170 species are known by the common name "Lipstick Plant"
  • Most of these are trailing or epiphytic plants. They can be ideal in hanging baskets
  • Tubular flowers are commonly red or orange



  • Indigenous to Central and South America and the West Indies
  • Fibrous rooted plants with long spreading stems that cover the ground or look best in a hanging basket
  • Stunning lipped tubular flowers -commonly shades of red, yellow or orange
  • Leaves can be tiny, button like or large -up to 12cm long on some species (mostly up to 2cm on popular cultivated species)
  • Do not like cold conditions.


Episcia (Flame Violet)

  • Herbaceous perennials
  • Stoloniferous growth habit
  • Grow mostly in shaded places
  • Around 35 species mostly from Central America, Brazil and the Antilles
  • Have distinct leaves with coloured metallic tones.
  • Leaves may or may not have prominent decorative veins
  • Leaves are hairy and an elliptic to ovate shape
  • Normally do better with a little more light than an African Violet



  • Around 150 species
  • Very few tolerate any frost; though most are more cold tolerant than African Violets
  • Some occur naturally in shaded forests, others occur in more open, but usually moist places like the edge of a stream.
  • Generally Streptocarpus look best during the warmer months if and when they are kept moist, and humid.

Other Genera include: Alloplectus, Asternanthera, Bellonia, Beslaria, Boea, Briggsia, Capanea, Chirita, Chrysothemis, Codonanthe, GesneriaKohleria, Loxostigma, Lysionotus, Monophyllaea, Nautilocalyx, Nematanthus, Niphaea, Opithandra, Paradrymonia, Petrocosmea, Phinaea, Platystemma, Ramonda, Rhynchoglossum,Sarmientia, Smithiantha and Titanotrichum.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • What is an African Violet
    • Plant name pronunciation
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • Introduction to Gesneriads
    • Classification of Gesneriaceae
    • Introduction to most commonly grown African Violet Species
    • Information contacts (ie: nurseries, seed, clubs etc.)
    • Plant Reviews
  2. Culture
    • Understanding how plants grow
    • Soils ad nutrition
    • African Violet potting mixes
    • Other cultural practices -Planting, watering, feeding, etc.
    • Review of Gesneriad Genera -Columnea, Streptocarpus, Episcia, Aeschynanthus etc
    • Plant Reviews
  3. Propagation
    • Sexual and asexual explained
    • Propagation aids -greenhouses, hotbeds, cold frames, misting etc.
    • Cuttings
    • Seed
    • Division
    • Plant Reviews
  4. Pests & Disease
    • Plant maintenance and health
    • Identifying problems
    • Controlling problems
    • Reviewing pest, disease and environmental issues that can confront African Violets
    • Plant Reviews
  5. Light and its Affects
    • Understanding light affects on african violet flowering
    • Artificial lighting
    • Plant Reviews
  6. Greenhouse Culture
    • The greenhouse system
    • Components of a greenhouse (floor, structure, ventilation, heating, etc)
    • Types off Greenhouses
    • Shadehouses
    • Coldframes
    • Heated propagators
    • Environmental controls
    • Heaters, Ventilators, etc
    • Plant Reviews
  7. Ways to Use African Violets
    • Containers, in the ground, in greenhouses, growing for profit (to sell etc.)
    • Review of popular cultivars
    • Plant Reviews
  8. Special Assignment
    • PBL Project: Planning the establishment of a collection of Gesneriads, for a specific (real or hypothetical) location.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Describe how African Violets and related plants are classified and the plant naming system
  • Describe the cultural requirements of African violets
  • Select appropriate propagating materials and using them, propagate African violets.
  • Identify and control pest and diseases of African violets
  • Discuss the role that light plays in the growth of African violets
  • Describe greenhouses and other environmental control equipment used for growing African violets.
  • Describe the various ways in which African violets can be grown
  • Demonstrate the knowledge acquired for a specific group or individual plant in the Gesneriaceae family through research.

..............All Gesneriads and related to  African Violets
 Saintpaulia ioantha ssp grotei
Sinningia tubiflora
Chrysothemis pulchella
Streptocarpus Bethan
Seemannia sylvatica
Find Out More about African Violets -Talk with one of our Horticulturists.
Explore the potential of these plants; and how you can learn about gesneriads through this course.

Meet some of our academics

Bob James Bob has over 50 years of experience in horticulture across both production sectors (Crops and nursery) and amenity sectors of the industry. He holds a Diploma in Agriculture and Degree in Horticulture from the University of Queensland; as well as a Masters Degree in Environmental Science. He has worked a Grounds Manager at a major university; and a manager in a municipal parks department. Over recent years he has been helping younger horticulturists as a writer, teacher and consultant; and in that capacity, brings a diverse and unique set of experiences to benefit our students.
Gavin Cole Gavin started his career studying building and construction in the early 80's. Those experiences have provided a very solid foundation for his later work in landscaping. In 1988 he completed a B.Sc. and a few years later a Certificate in Garden Design. In the mid 90's he worked as a manager and garden designer with the well respected UK company -The Chelsea Gardener. A few years later he formed his own garden design business, at first in the UK, and later operating in Queensland Australia. He has since moved to, and works from Adelaide. Apart from his work in landscaping, Gavin has been a prolific garden writer and a tutor with ACS Distance Education since 2001. He is currently part of the team of garden experts that produce Home Grown magazine.
John Mason Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Rosemary Davies Rosemary trained in Horticulture at Melbourne Universities Burnley campus; studying all aspects of horticulture -vegetable and fruit production, landscaping, amenity, turf, aboriculture and the horticultural sciences. Initially she worked with the Department of Agriculture in Victoria providing advice to the public. Over the years she has taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer. She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe. In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has completed her 6th book this year and is working on concepts for several others. Rosemary has a B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing

Check out our eBooks

Growing Palms and Palm Like PlantsPalms and palm-like plants are mostly grown as structural plants. They add stunning shapes into a garden that are different to other plants and for that reason alone, stand out and capture our attention, making a garden more interesting. Palms can be more than just architectural forms though; providing shade, colour and texture to a garden. If you choose an appropriate species, they are great indoor plants.
OrchidsA colourful guide for students, home gardeners and orchid enthusiasts. The first part deals with growing orchids, and the second covers dozens of orchid genera, and hundreds of cultivars. Explore orchids as cut flowers, container plants, indoor plants and outdoor garden plants, in both tropical and temperate climates, across the world.
Plant Pests & DiseasesAre you one of those people that kill every plant you touch? Perhaps it's not you. Perhaps it's a pest or disease. A little bit of reading might just turn your garden into an oasis. Learn how to identify pests and diseases and bring the spring back into your plant...visit the bookshop to find out more...
Tropical PlantsThis luscious, illustrated ebook covers hundreds of different plant genera, and many more cultivars. You will learn how to grow plants commonly cultivated in the tropics and subtropics. It contains everything you need to know about growing tropical plants, managing them and working with them (they can be a little temperamental). Many of the plants can also grow in milder climates as indoor plants or in protected places. Previously published in print form by Kangaroo Press (Simon and Schuster).



It's Easy to Enrol

Select a Learning Method

I am studying from...

Enable Javascript to automatically update prices.

All prices in Australian Dollars.

Payment plans available.

Courses can be started at any time from anywhere in the world!