Learn the six most common signs your African violet is dying and what you can do to nurse your plant back to health.
Having an African violet is a joy. Its blooms are always vibrant and its foliage is always lush. You choose the perfect decorative pot for your African violet, and it quickly becomes your favorite tabletop centerpiece. All your visitors remark how beautiful it is, and you enjoy watching its buds spring open every morning.
It can be pretty upsetting, then, when your favorite plant starts to look a bit sick. You try to change your care routine, but you’re not sure if you’re doing it right. In a few days, when your plant doesn’t perk up, you find yourself wondering: Is my African violet dying?
We’re here with good news. African violets are good communicators. If your plant is dying, it’ll let you know with a few tell-tale signs, and once you know what to look for, you’ll be able to adjust your care routine and give your plant what it needs.
Let’s take a look at the six most common signs your African violet is sick, and learn how to nurse your favorite big-bloomed, fuzzy-leafed plant back to health in no time.
Sign #1: Flower Loss or Limp Blooms
Generally, healthy blooms indicate that your plant is thriving. The opposite is also true: damaged, limp, or wilted flowers often mean that your plant is distressed. If your African violet’s blooms are spent, it’s a sign your plant needs some extra care.
Flower loss is most often attributed to lack of water, too much light, or nutrient-deficient growing mix. Give your African violet a good drink, make sure it’s not sitting in direct sunlight, and start a fertilizer routine to nourish your plant.
Professional Tip: Encourage big, strong blooms by using African Violet Plant Food, a gentle fertilizer formulated to stimulate growth and keep your plant hearty year-round.
Sign #2: Crown and Stem Rot
Crown and stem rot is easy to notice. If your plant looks sickly in its middle or along its stems, it’s likely suffering because of decay and fungus which causes your plant to rot. If you notice crown rot, your plant is already significantly damaged, since rot usually starts beneath the growing mix and affects roots first.
Crown and stem rot is most often caused by over-watering—the most common way new growers accidentally kill their African violets. To combat your over-watering tendencies, use a coarse, well-draining potting mix. This will help prevent your plant from sitting in damp growing medium, the leading culprit when it comes to plant rot.
Professional Tip: Investing in a self-watering pot will take the guesswork out of watering. Self-watering pots are designed to draw the right amount of water into the potting mix, so your plant is never over- or under-watered.
Sign #3: Burnt or Dry Leaf Tips
Burnt, dry, or crumbly leaf tips are a sure sign your African violet lacks moisture. When you notice your African violet’s leaves browning, be sure to act right away—African violet leaves can easily suffer necrosis, an irreversible form of cell damage.
Typically, lack of moisture is caused by general under-watering, dry air, or too much sunlight. In the wild, African violets grow in mossy forests covered by thick canopies. They thrive in bright, humid conditions (though be sure not to put your plant in direct sunlight).
Professional Tip: If you keep your home cool and dry, consider putting your African violet on a humidity tray. Your plant will enjoy the extra moisture boost as the water evaporates from the tray.
Sign #4: Drooping Leaves
Drooping leaves typically indicate that your plant is thirsty or suffering from low temperatures.
If it’s been a while since you watered your African violet, give it a good drink; its leaves should spring back to life within 24 hours.
If, on the other hand, your African violet is well-watered and still droopy, check to see if your plant is by an air vent. While some air circulation is good for the plant, African violets don’t do well when positioned directly in front of heating or air-conditioning vents.
Professional Tip: Ideally, African violets grow in temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure nighttime temperatures don’t dip below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, since exposure to low temperatures can eventually lead to plant collapse.
Sign #5: White Leaves and Flowers
Your plant’s leaves will have a natural sheen since African violet leaves are unique. But if you notice your plant developing white, powdery leaves, something is wrong.
Usually, African violets with powdery leaves are overrun with mildew, a form of fungal growth. Your best bet is to pull back on watering, repot your plant, and use a safe fungicide.
Professional Tip: If you’re on a budget, you can make a plant-safe mildew solution with baking soda, water, and a spray bottle. For best results, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to a quart of water and spray your plant lightly.
Sign #6: Brown Spots on Leaves
Brown spots on African violets are often referred to as leaf scorch, a form of sunburn. To encourage healing and new growth, move your African violet to a room that receives ample indirect sunlight or hang a sheer curtain between your light source and your plant to help diffuse the direct rays.
Professional Tip: An easy way to tell if your African violet is in too much sun is to hold your hand over your plant. If you can see your hand’s prominent shadow, your plant is likely receiving too much light.
A Recap: How to Tell if Your African Violet Is Dying and What to Do Next
There you have it. You’ve learned the six most common signs that your African violet is suffering or dying. Here’s a quick recap so you can nurse your dying plant back to vibrant health in no time:
- If your African violet has flower loss or limp blooms, it might be under-nourished. Use African Violet Plant Food to fertilize your plant and give it access to essential nutrients year-round.
- If your African violet has crown or stem rot, it’s receiving too much water. Prevent rot by investing in a self-watering pot so your plant doesn’t sit in damp growing mix.
- If your African violet has burnt or dry leaf tips, it’s likely dehydrated. Try placing your plant on a humidity tray to boost the moisture in the air.
- If your African violet has drooping leaves, it may be suffering from low temperatures. Keep your indoor environment around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night.
- If your African violet shows white leaves and flowers, it’s overrun with mildew. Repot your plant, use fresh potting mix, and try a fungicide or homemade solution to ward off the existing mold.
- If your African violet has brown spots on its leaves, it’s getting too much direct light. Move your plant to a location with indirect sunlight or use a sheer curtain to diffuse harsh rays.
For continued success, explore our other articles, visit our online shop, and connect with other African violet plant lovers in our Facebook group. There you’ll find everything you need to know to grow your African violet big and strong so you can enjoy it for a long, long time.
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