There's no doubt that African violet plants are beautiful. In looking at and caring for them, it's tempting to touch the fuzzy leaves and colorful flowers. While most plants can take this attention with no adverse results, African violets seem to be sensitive to the touch.
Researchers at Oklahoma State University tested the sensitivity of African violets to "brushing". While it's known in some cases, such as with tomatoes, that brushing plants can be used to control plant size and prevent legginess, researchers found that African violets didn't like it at all. Two cultivars of African violets were brushed five times a day. They were brushed for 30 or 90 seconds each time. Control groups were compared to groups brushed with a naked hand treated with hand lotion and with a gloved hand. They found plants brushed with the lotion-treated hand had higher damage ratings and smaller and lower quality leaves when compared to the gloved hand. Both treatments created more damage than the control group. So next time you're tempted to pat your African violets, resist!
For more information on this study, go to: Science Blog