| Apr 23, 2009

Back to HomeMaster Gardeners - April 23, 2009 Problems with African Violets (Saintpaula)

by Margaret Inwood, Lanark County Master Gardeners

If leaves are small and very crowded, the plant needs repotting. Re-pot in the spring into the next size pot, but keep it pot-bound. If the leaves look limp, the plant is too cold. Move it to a warm place and do not allow temperature to drop below 13 degrees C. If the leaves curl or look dry, the plant may need watering and/or more humidity. If a healthy plant suddenly turns yellow, gas fumes or a cold draft is the cause and it needs to be moved to a protected fume-free room. If there are brown marks on the leaves, it has water damage, especially if it has been in a sunny location. Never spray with water. Keep humidity high by standing the pot in a saucer of damp pebbles. Water from below. If the leaves and the flowers rot, it has been watered too frequently and from the top. Water twice a week all year round by standing the pot in a saucer of water for half an hour and then discarding the rest of the water.

If the flowers have translucent marks, it is caused by water damage. Do not allow water to get on flowers.

Plants need a humid atmosphere but do not spray. If the leaves turn black, the cause is leaf shine damage. Never spray with leaf shine or water. If dusty, remove by carefully brushing the leaves with a camel-hair brush. If the leaves turn pale, then there is too much light or it needs feeding. If in the sun, move to a position of diffuse light. If new leaves are small, it needs feeding. Use liquid houseplant food at recommended strength every two weeks in the growing season and when in flower. If a healthy plant is not flowering the pot is too large. African violets flower better when slightly pot bound. Do not repot for two years. If there are no flowers but the plant is in the correct sized pot and correct conditions, add a pinch of Epsom salts once only to trigger the flowering season. When flowers are small and sparse, this usually occurs if a second flush of flowers appears in the same season. Remove faded flowers and feed every two weeks throughout summers with houseplant food at recommended strength.

For more gardening information call Margret Inwood at 613-259-3141.

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