African violets are subject to several pests and diseases.
However, growing Saintpaulias in sterilized soil and regular cleaning will help you avoid trouble. New plants should always be isolated from older plants for three or four weeks.
Crown rot, a systemic disorder, strikes most often during the summer when days are hot and excessively humid.
The first symptoms show you a plant that looks like it needs watering. It is waterlogged and can’t absorb any more water. Dump it out of the container, and you’ll find the soil moist or even wet.
What To Do With The African Violets?
- Treat such plants by cutting off all large outer leaves in the home.
- Take a sharp knife and cut off the end of the rootstalk.
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 light soil, and it will recover.
If an old favorite has developed a ‘” turkey neck” or shows a lot of bare trunks, 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 more bottomless pot and replant it to a depth where the bare trunk is covered.
Often the outer row of leaves rots off at the pot rim. This is because of chemical salts from fertilizers.
African Violet Pests
Spider Mites Enemy
Mites are natural 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.
- You can save it if it’s your favorite by cutting out the center or mite-infested leaves.
- Please 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 Undersirable Soil-Borne Insects
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.
Mealybugs: Looks Like Tiny Bits of Cotton
Mealybugs (often brought in on coleus) look like tiny bits of cotton and can be eradicated by touching them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
Nematodes: Worst of All African-Violet Enemies
Nematodes are perhaps the worst of all African violet enemies. Infested plants take on a dull look, an infestation spreads, and “blisters” may appear on the roots – it’s best to destroy a nematode-infested plant.
If it’s rare, 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 existed.
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