Disease and Pest Control on African Violets

assorted african violets in bloom

African violets are subject to a number of pests and diseases.

However, growing them in sterilized soil and giving them regular washings will help you avoid trouble. New plants should always be isolated from older plants for three or four weeks.

Crown Rot

Crown rot, a systemic disorder, strikes most often during the summer when days are hot and excessively humid.

First symptoms show you a plant that looks as though it needed watering. Actually it is water logged and couldn’t absorb any more water. Dump it out of the container and you’ll find the soil moist or even wet.

In the home, treat such plants by cutting off all large outer leaves. Take a sharp knife and cut off the end of the root stalk. If it shows signs of decay (brownish spots or rings), keep cutting until you reach firm, clean, green plant tissues.

Slip this pared violet into a glass of water, set it in a cool, light place to recover and it will soon send out roots.

Replant when the roots are about an inch long. If your setup is under a grow light system, or in a home greenhouse, place the treated plant in sand or a light soil and it will recover.

If an old favorite has developed a ‘”turkey neck,” or shows a lot of bare trunk, cut it off at the soil line, and reroot it in water, sand or vermiculite. Or you might remove it from its pot, select a deeper pot and replant it to a depth where the bare trunk is covered.

Video on How To Restart Old Plants

Often times the outer row of leaves rots off at the pot rim. This is because of chemical salts from the fertilizers.

African Violet Pests – Spider Mites Enemy

Mites are real African violet enemies. You’ll know a plant has mites when center leaves become gnarled and excessively hairy, and distorted flowers bloom on shortened “stalks.”

Mites are so small you cannot see them with the naked eye, but they can destroy plants. Isolate such a plant immediately.

If it’s a favorite, you can save it by cutting out the center, or mite infested leaves. Remove it from the soil, wash the roots and slip the plant into a glass of water.

Spray it with one of the recommended house plant pest sprays (I prefer natural chemicals like Neem), give it good light and before long new center leaves will form. The crop will be heavy, so cut out all but the center leaves.


When the plant has a clean bill of health, replant it. When handling mite infested plants, wash your hands thoroughly before touching other plants.

Springtails, harmless but undesirable soil borne insects, hop around like a batch of fleas. Kill them with a whiff of a recommended house plant pest spray – again I like Neem.

Mealy bugs (often brought in on coleus) look like small bits of cotton and can be eradicated by touching them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Nematodes are perhaps the worst of all African violet enemies. Infested plants take on a dull look, and as infestation spreads, “blisters” may appear on the roots – it’s best to destroy a nematode infested plant.

If it’s a rare one, then rooting African violet leaves will be required. If planting soil is sterilized (use vermiculite), and you are careful about setting incoming plants away from older ones, you may never know nematodes ever existed.

Tips To Improve Your Plant Care
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