African violets are popular flowering plants known for their eye-catching foliage. It is a stressful situation for the growers when the vibrant dark green of their plant begins to droop and dull.
But why is your african violet drooping? How to fix the same? Let’s find out.
In general, Improper watering is the root cause of droopy leaves on African violets. For instance, If the potting soil is dry, the leaves will droop due to lack of moisture. On the other hand, the leaves will also droop if the soil is soggy as the roots will get drowned.
Other reasons for droopy leaves can be improper lighting, poor soil, over-fertilization, and diseases.
A proper understanding of the problem is vital to fix the issue and for saving your plants. This article will discuss why your African violets are drooping and how we can recover them.
Why are my African violet leaves droopy?
Here are some common reasons for drooping African violets:
- Direct sunlight
- Low temperatures
- Humidity problem
- Root rot diseases
- Pests and insects
Let’s discuss each point in detail.
The most common cause for droopy leaves on African violets is overwatering. The leaves of African violets will droop if the soil is too wet. Wet soil indicates that there is more moisture in the soil than the plant needs.
African violets have a delicate root system that can’t handle waterlogging. Soggy soil will prevent air circulation in the roots and not allow the proper flow of air and nutrients.
The plant’s growth will slow down, and the leaves will become droopy if overwatered. A prolonged waterlogging situation will create root rot for the African violets. Root rot will destroy the roots of the plant.
- At first, you should remove the dead and droopy foliage of your plant. The leaves won’t recover, so it is better to cut them.
- Then check the potting soil. If the soil seems moist, avoid watering your plant until the soil becomes dry and provide them with all means of proper drainage.
- To avoid overwatering, you can start bottom watering your indoor African violets. This technique will allow the plant to take up water as per their requirements.
- To bottom-water, put the plant in another container and add about one inch of water to the container. When the soil is saturated, remove the pot from the container.
- You should repot if your plant doesn’t recover on time. Repotting is done in case of root rot. In repotting, you have to remove the plant from its pot and clean the soil from its roots. Transplant the ones growing in the gardens.
- Remove the affected mushy roots and apply root rot treatment if the condition is severe. Repot them using African violet potting mix to a new container where the plant will remain slightly root-bound.
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Underwatering can also be a reason your plants have droopy leaves. The soil will look bone dry and indicate that the plant has absorbed all the available moisture and is now craving water.
Underwatering will lower the plant’s moisture level, and the plant will not maintain its healthy foliage.
Underwatering will cause the feathery green leaves of African violets to look crisp and dull. They will become thirsty, and the leaves will turn droopy.
- Check the moisture level of the soil. The soil should neither be soggy nor too wet. It should be a little damp for African violets. Add water immediately whenever the topsoil feels dry to the touch.
- Water the African violets as per the conditions and seasons.
Also read: How Often Should African Violets Be Watered? (African Violet Water Requirements)
African violets like to remain in indirect light. They are tropical plants that have evolved around the jungle canopy under the diffused sun. They can’t tolerate direct sunlight as it can be too harsh for them.
The leaves will droop and will curl inward around the edges if exposed to direct light. Exposure of African violets to direct sunlight will cause their foliage to burn, and they will get burn brown spots, which is a stressful situation for them.
- African violets prefer indirect light, so the best solution for a droopy African violet plant is a good shade. Place them in a shady area to protect them from direct sunlight.
- You can keep them in a southeast or west-facing window as this location will suit them the most.
- You can opt for fluorescent light to fulfill their light requirements.
- For African violets growing in gardens, plant them under large trees so that the leaves can protect them from direct sunlight.
Also read: What Kind Of Light Does An African Violet Need? (African Violet Light Requirements)
African violets are plants that prefer relatively warm temperatures. The temperature of your home can affect African violets as they live inside it.
If the temperature inside your house is low, this can cause stress, leading to droopy foliage. In winters, the cold drafts can harm your plant and cause them to droop.
The room temperature for African violets should be around 60°F-80°F. Lower temperatures can harm your plant. The impact of cold on African violets is not visible, and by the time you notice, you might be too late to save the plants.
- Avoid cold winter windows or places where the temperature swings are frequent.
- Always use room temperature water for your African violets and never provide cold water as this can shock the delicate root systems of African violets.
- During the winter months, move your droopy African violets into a warm area. You can keep them close to a furnace.
- Prune away the dry and damaged leaves from the plant to redirect their energy to new growth.
- Cover the African violets growing in the garden with a plastic sheet to protect them from low temperatures and frost.
African violets require a humidity range between 50 to 60%. Droopy leaves of your African violets indicate that they are craving humidity.
In low humidity, African violets will lose much more water through their leaves by transpiration, and the plant will experience dehydration. The roots will not supply enough moisture to the plant, resulting in droopy leaves.
Underwatering will lower the humidity level for them, and the plant will be desiccated and dried out.
- You can place your African violets on a tray full of pebbles half-filled with water to improve humidity.
- Mist your plants regularly using a spray bottle.
- Group humidity-loving plants but do let them touch one another’s leaves as this can spread diseases.
- You can install a humidifier to increase the humidity around the African violets.
- Place bowls of water around your outdoor African violets.
- Cover the outdoor African violets with a plastic sheet to trap in the moisture.
Also read: Do African Violets Like Misting? (+Humidity Guide)
Overfertilization is one of the main reasons that can cause droopy leaves. Your African violets may struggle from over-fertilization and start experiencing fertilizer burns and scorch.
Excessive fertilization could cause the petiole or stalk to rot, which is a severe disease. Petiole rot happens when the petiole or the plant’s stalk touches the edges of the container and develops brown, sunken areas at the point of contact.
The fertilizer salts then start getting accumulated at the edges of the container, and you will find white crystalline deposits at the outer surface of the pot. This excess fertilizer built up in the soil will cause African violets to droop.
- If you have over-fertilized your African violets, you should wash the soil thoroughly to remove the excess salts and repot your African violets into a fresh potting mix and clean pot.
- Once your plant starts recovering and begins to grow again, resume fertilizing at half strength.
- When the plant begins to recover, use fertilizer about ¼ the label for monthly application and when the new leaves become light green, fertilize them every two weeks.
- If the leaves of your African violets turn dark green but smaller than the older ones, decrease the fertilization rate.
- To avoid fertilizer built up, flush your plant with clean water and drain out the remaining water that accumulates in the saucer.
- To avoid petiole rot, clean the outer surface of the pot regularly, or you can wax the rim of the pot to prevent any accumulation of fertilizers.
- During winters, when light intensity is low, reduce the fertilization rate and in summer increase the fertilization rate when the light intensity increases and the plants are actively growing.
Also read: What Kind Of Fertilizer Is Good For African Violets? (+Best Picks)
If the root of African violet is drooping downwards, or if the leaf stem on the bottom leaves is turning brown and mushy, this indicates that your plant is undergoing root rot. Both root rot and crown rot can be caused by a fungus called pythium ultimum.
Root rot is a result of overwatering your plant. Too much water is not suitable for African violets. Waterlogging will block the root system, preventing the flow of oxygen in the plants.
Root rot in African violets can also occur due to poor fertilization and insufficient light.
This disease causes the crown and the plant’s roots to turn black and the lower leaves to go yellow and droop. The plants eventually die if they are not treated on time.
The first sign of this problem is usually an unhealthy plant. The younger leaves appear to be stunted and black, and the older leaves turn droopy.
Root rot can be difficult to identify at times as the roots are mostly underground. It can go unnoticed until the damage occurs at the plant’s upper stem, flowers, and leaves.
Due to root rot, African violets’ strong and white roots can turn into soft, brown, and black stubs. It is difficult to save a severely affected plant by root rot, but you can propagate and grow new plants out of them.
- Prevention is the best defense for root rot. Always allow the soil to dry before you water your African violets, and select a well-drained potting mix for potting or repotting your plant.
- The best treatment for root rot is to get rid of the affected plants. This ensures that the rot does not get spread to other plants.
- If the rot is localized to a specific area, there are chances to save the plant by repotting them.
You should first cut back the infected areas with a sterilized cutting tool and remove the plant from the pot to save them by repotting. Carefully remove the old dry soil and repot your plant by adding fresh potting soil and providing proper care.
Pest and insects
Different pests can cause damage to your plants. Here are the most common pest and insects that are responsible for the droopy leaves on African violets.
Cyclamen mites: They are sap-sucking insects, and they operate by biting the leaves of African violets and draining out the cells’ content.
They are tiny arachnids that live on parts of African violets like on their leaves, stems, and blooms. They are highly destructive to African violets if the infestation remains unchecked.
Thrips: Another African violet pest that punctures the plant’s leaves and sucks their sap. Thrips often carry diseases like tospovirus. Their population grows larger and can cause havoc to your plant.
Mealybugs: Mealybugs are tiny insects that thrive in warm, humid climates. It drains out the nutrients of the plant, making it weak.
In the case of mealybug infestations, the leaves of African violets begin to turn yellow and curl.
- Trim or prune the affected areas of the plant. Use scissors to cut off the damaged parts of the plant. Once you have cut the plant’s affected portion, submerge the plant in a hot water bath for about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Use a cotton swab dabbed in an alcohol solution to remove the pests.
- You can use pesticides like pyrethrins and dimethoate sprays to get the infection under control.
- You can fill the spray bottle with insecticidal soap and can spray the plant for three days.
- You can get natural predators like ladybugs, lacewings that are highly attracted to mealybugs.
- You can apply neem oil at least once a week until all the pests are gone. Neem oil is a natural remedy used in organic farming to cure pests.
Also read: How To Get Rid Of Bugs On African Violets? (Signs+Treatment)
How to prevent African violets from drooping?
African violets are healthy, low-maintenance, and easy to grow indoor plants. You just have to take care of their needs and growing conditions.
You can easily prevent drooping and help the African violets grow by following the steps below:
- Provide your African violets with enough water that can keep the soil moist and not soggy. Avoid both underwatering and overwatering, as both can result in droopy leaves.
- Never overfertilize your African violets and provide them fertilizers that are rich in Nitrogen and Phosphorus. Use fertilizers with NPK ratio 15:30:15. Apply fertilizers every two weeks to encourage roots and plant growth.
- Plant the African violets in a location that supports bright indirect light. Keep them away from direct sunlight.
- Plant the African violets in a rich, well-draining soil mix and check the soil’s moisture level before watering. Add water whenever topsoil feels dry. Avoid both soggy and dry soil as both can result in droopy leaves.
- Repot your plant every year or every 6 months to maintain their health.
- Timely pruning and deadheading of the African violets are vital for creating space for new growth.
Source: Wikipedia, African violet: Classical breeding, African Violet Society of America, In vitro propagation of African violet, University of Florida, North Dakota State University, The University of Georgia.