African Violet Problems - Pests, Diseases and Other Problems
When you know what your African violets need, it is easy to grow them. But, no matter how careful we are, from time to time some problems can occur.
Caring for African violets - How to Care for African Violets
Caring for African violets means providing them with what they need - proper potting soil, moisture, light, temperature etc. One of the most important things to have in mind is getting good, strong and healthy African violet plants. If you are going to buy an African violet plant, go to nurseries or garden centers - they sometimes charge more than supermarkets, but generally, they have plants in much better shape. When choosing proper potting soil, it is important to buy sterilized potting soil - I will rather buy sterilized general potting soil, then non-sterilized potting soil specially formulated for African violets.
We must provide our African violets environment that they originally had when growing in - Africa. Even then, problems can happen. It is important to recognize signs and act accordingly.
When your African violet plants get into problems, it is easiest to throw them away and buy new ones, right? Wrong!
Learn and find out what caused problems and help your African violet!
African violet yellow leaves
There are several reasons for African violet yellow leaves:
- dry air. Be sure to have pot with water near your African violets. Preferably, use larger saucer for African violet pot, put several flat pebbles in the saucer, put African violet pot on the pebbles and add water in saucer, but be sure that water level don't reach African violet pot - too much water around roots can force them to rot.
- too much sun light. African violets come from Africa, but they are growing mostly in shades - therefore be sure to keep your African violet plants away from southern windows, especially in summer.
- erroneous watering. Keep your African violets properly watered - if in doubt, don't water it, but keep air humid. Never use water directly from tap - fill your watering can day before and leave it over night. This way you will have water at room temperature and most of chlorine and fluoride will evaporate. Again, don't water African violets too often!
- too much fertilizer can make African violet leaves turn yellow. Read instructions regarding your fertilizer and do accordingly.
- some sucking African violet pests can cause leaves turn yellow. This wilting leaves should be removed and entire plant or even all plants treated with proper insecticide(s).
African violets not blooming
Again, there are several reasons why African violets will not bloom:
- insufficient light, especially during winter,
- dry and cold air, again, especially during winter,
- repotting too often - repotting your African violets is stress to them, so do it only once or twice per year. Best time is late winter or early spring or after blooming is over. If you didn't repot your African violet for awhile and they are not blooming, repot them using proper potting soil and you will be surprised soon by strong and numerous flower buds.
- lack of nutrients in soil - use proper fertilizer and/or repot your African violets.
- remove 'sucker' plants growing from the base of main plant - throw them away or use them to grow more African violets (trowing them away is better option, but some growers really like to 'play' with sucker plants)
- repositioning African violet plants can cause them to stop blooming for short periods of time
Hanging leaves and central part of stem rotten
When African violets leaves hang down and central part of stem is rotten, I am sorry to say, but that plant should be thrown away. This is caused by:
- too much water,
- too low temperatures,
- great temperature variations
When throwing away plants, be sure to throw away potting soil too and to thoroughly clean African violet pot - if you have ceramic pots, consider 'baking' the pot for 20-30 minutes in the oven (around 120-150°C is high enough) - but be careful not to damage your pots.
African violet leaves have brown spots
There are two main reasons for African violets having brown spots:
- watering with too cold water. Always use room temperature water, preferably at least one day old
- water droplets on leaves - use a watering can with a small spout and water soil directly avoiding leaves
African violet pests
According to the damage they cause, African violet pests can be divided into three groups:
- chewing pest,
- sucking pests
- nuisance pests
Chewing pests damage occurs rapidly and is evident immediately. These pests should be eliminated as soon as they are detected. Symptoms of chewing pests include:
- Wilting of plant (root, crown, leaves)
- Severed and bitten leaves and flower buds
- Holes in leaves or flower petals
- Discolored areas on the surface or margins of leaves or flower petals.
Sucking pests insert their mouth-parts into plant tissue and suck out the juices. Some inject toxic compounds into the plant and some are capable of transmitting certain plant diseases. The symptoms of sucking pests often go unnoticed for a period of time. This allows the pests to rapidly increase in numbers, resulting in considerable plant damage. The symptoms of sucking pests are:
- Wilted appearance of leaves and flowers
- Curling or stunting of leaves
- Presence of honeydew on plants
- Discoloration (yellowing, browning) of leaves
- Necrotic (dead tissue) spots in leaves, flowers, flower buds, plant stem
Nuisance pests cause no damage. They are considered pests simply because their presence is not desirable. Some nuisance pests multiply rapidly and are often found in great numbers. Nusiance pests are easily eliminated with careful management and properly selected insecticides.