What is Girl Foliage?

Not so girly

The term “girl foliage” does not refer to plants that are overly frilly or pretty. Nor does it refer to the sex of the plant – African Violets can be either parent. 

Girl foliage is a historical term describing a certain type of leaf that is highly crinkled, scalloped, wavy, or serrated.

Fay's Rachel African Violet with girl foliage
Fay's Rachel
A chimera with variegated girl foliage

History of Girl Foliage

African Violet Blue Boy
African Violet - Blue Boy. Exhibited by Stacie Hecht at the 2009 African Violet Society of Dayton annual show

Among the first 10 commercial African Violet hybrids introduced in the late 1920s was a variety known as Blue Boy. The variety was a single blue pansy with medium green ovate pointed foliage.

One day, American hybridiser, C Ulery, discovered a spontaneous mutation in one of the Blue Boy plants. The stem had grown up into the leaf blade and the plant had produced crinkled foliage. He named this new variety “Blue Girl” and registered it in 1948. 

Since girl foliage is a genetically dominant leaf characteristic, the original Blue Girl was used to produce further hybrids with the same leaf shape. In naming these varieties, hybridisers continued with the same girl theme, such as Peppermint Girl, Ma’s Melody Girl, Lil’ Rich Girl, Cupie Doll, and Lady Trail.

Girl Foliage Gallery

African Violet Denver Doll with Girl Foliage
Denver Doll
African Violet Lady Trail
Lady Trail
African Violet Harmony's Very Berry
Harmony's Very Berry
African Violet Peppermint Girl
Peppermint Girl
African Violet Ma's Melody Girl
Ma's Melody Girl

Growing and Caring for Girl Foliage

  • African Violets with girl foliage require the same basic care as any other African Violet. There are, however, some unique challenges. 
  • Because leaf blades are rarely flat, achieving plant symmetry is more difficult, but not impossible. 
  • Overcrowding is possible with some varieties due to the dense foliage. This can result in twisted and unruly leaves. 
  • Accepting that plants with girl foliage are a little different is one solution. Another option is to eliminate alternate rows of leaves. This provides more space for remaining leaves and encourages them to grow outwards. 
  • If you top-water your plants, keep in mind that the concave parts of the leaves can hold excess water. To remove the water, use a paper towel or tissue.
  • Powdery mildew maybe more prevalent on the denser, frequently contorted foliage of girl leafed African violets. The best treatment is prevention, which includes not crowding your plants, maintaining good air flow, and avoiding cooler, fluctuating temperatures.
Ceramic African Violet Pot

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