With their origin in the rainforests of Kenya and Tanzania, bright African Violets are the perfect plant for growing by both advanced and beginner gardeners. However, African Violets have a reputation for being particular about their light and watering requirements.
Failure to follow a proper care routine can lead to the African violets getting leggy.
Leggy plants are marked by new uneven growth on plant tips, flopping stems, and untidiness. This is because the additional growth sucks away all the energy from the bottom of the plant.
But why are your African violets leggy? How can you fix the same? Let’s find out.
Poor lighting conditions and overfertilization are two major reasons why your African violets have turned leggy. To fix leggy growth in an African violet, adjust the fertilizer dosage, move your African violet to a brightly lit spot and prune the leggy stems to encourage new growth.
Leggy growth is a prevalent problem. Today, we will delve into all the possible causes of leggy growth in African Violets. And worry not, we have also described the solutions in-depth to help make the entire process easy for you.
Why are my African Violets getting leggy?
When you discover that your plants are developing long bare necks between the leaves and the soil line, it could signal only one phenomenon – them getting leggy.
Now, let’s look at the factors triggering leggy growth.
African violets should receive plenty of bright to moderate intensity light. Try to ensure that they aren’t near too many long shaded trees in the garden.
The plants are often compelled to grow longer stems, as they are reaching up and doing everything they can to get their leaves more light.
As the African Violet will be unable to support itself with limited food reserves, it will make every effort to produce enough energy for survival.
Rotating the plant at least once a week will play an important role in maintaining its symmetrical form and stop it from getting leggy.
You must avoid direct sunlight since extremely bright conditions can cause burn, foliage spots, and pale bleached-out leaves in the plant.
Excessive heat will cause the leaves of the African Violet to droop, and they would fail to grow any flowers.
The recommended duration is 8 hours of light per day and 8 hours of darkness per night for the African Violet to stay healthy.
If you allow excess water to collect around the crowns or on the foliage, your African violets will become leggy when it attempts to get away from the mold.
It would be best to water the African Violets with the bottom-watering method.
Using cold water can lead to discoloration, of the kind seen in frostbites, and this is expected to persist throughout the plant’s lifetime and isn’t treatable in any way.
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Temperature and humidity
African violets come from the tropical regions of Africa, where they are exposed to a warm environment and prefer high humidity levels.
Temperature or humidity fluctuations can stress the plant, due to which it may grow leggy.
Low temperatures and humidity levels can make your African violets leggy. These conditions make the plants weak, and they don’t have the energy for healthy growth.
The rate at which the African Violet produces new leaves is astonishing. It pushes old leaves down into the lower layers and grows fresh leaves from the center.
Pruning those leaves on the verge of dying should be a priority.
If you keep them without pruning, the plant cannot put energy into new flower bloom or leaf growth. Gradually, it will become leggy.
Age changes not only human bodies but a plant’s structure as well.
You must remember to consider the age of your African Violets before assuming that low-light conditions have caused legginess.
As a part of natural plant aging, the rosette of leaves at the bottom turns yellow and falls off.
This automatically would leave the surrounding stems bare and make the African Violet appear leggy.
On receiving the input of high nitrogen fertilizers, there will be a sudden jump in growth. This can result in a spike in green cell development, making the plant bulky.
This makes the plants tall and leggy. Only turf grass needs high nitrogen fertilizers.
Most other plants require a set of balanced macro-nutrients of NPK in the 10:10:10 ratio.
How to fix leggy African Violets?
Now that you are well informed of the reasons causing leggy growth, you must focus on saving the African Violets before too much damage occurs and the situation is entirely out of your control.
Only identifying the issue wouldn’t be enough.
You must take the correct measures to treat the plant and prevent more harm. An essential aspect of keeping the plants strong and compact is organized cultural care.
You can easily revive your African Violet by providing adequate levels of nutrition, lighting, moisture, and drainage.
Use these ways to fix the leggy growth:
- Fix the light issues
- Removing spent flowers
- Choosing the best time to prune
- Rejuvenating your plant
- Sanitize before and after pruning
- Using fertilizers containing low nitrogen
Fix the light issues
African Violets can get leggy in low light as well as excessive light. Too much heat from the sun causes the wilting and withering of the plant leaves.
To protect your African Violets from the direct rays of the Sun in peak summer, plant them beside a considerably sized tree to protect them from the excess heat.
It can get tricky, as you have to look out for the plants not getting too covered by the trees, leading to leggy growth from low light conditions.
Therefore, you should make sure to grow your African Violet in a balanced position at all times.
Another way to fix a leggy African Violet is by efficiently transplanting the plant.
Use a slightly bigger pot when repotting if you are growing African violets in pots and carefully cut away the dead lower leaves.
This time, plant the African violet deeper than earlier to submerge the long neck in the soil in the development stage.
In that scenario, all the clean, dry, and good foliage will be settled just above the soil line.
If the stem is leggy more than an inch, re-rooting the plant by cutting it off at the soil level will be the most suitable way. Take a butter knife with a dullish blade to gently scrape the top stem layer to expose the inner layer.
Finally, place the African violet cutting in the new pot filled with well-draining soil mix after dusting the stem ends with rooting hormone.
Choose the best time to prune the plant
You can start pruning at the end of the growing season after the plant has grown considerably, as this aids in promoting good blooming and healthy growth.
Trim with care to not destroy the delicate leaves of the African Violet but also stop leggy formation.
Sanitize before and after the pruning
A step forgotten by most people is the sanitation of the tools used in carrying out the pruning work.
Disinfection of the pruners and clippers will prevent the transfer of any active bacteria to the plant. It will keep the African Violets free from any diseases.
Post the pruning process, gather all your tools for a second round and clean them thoroughly with rubbing alcohol or a bleach mixture.
Sanitizing will help maintain the overall health of your African violets.
Remove spent flowers from the plant
Keep a close watch on your African Violets amidst the flowering season. Get rid of all the dying flowers, the old leaves, and top stem parts.
Your fingers will also come in handy, along with pruners to pull out the leaves and flowers.
Even if a few leaves remain, the plant can thrive as long as those leaves are healthy from top to bottom and roughly of the same size.
Use fertilizers containing a low amount of nitrogen
Overuse of fertilizers can never work to the advantage of the African Lily plants. Yes, nitrogen is a highly crucial nutrient for considerable plant growth. But a surplus of nitrogen can prove to be detrimental.
The consistent feeding of a large amount of nitrogen makes the plant tall and leggy. That is inevitable as nitrogen raises the plant metabolism causing quicker growth.
If you face confusion regarding fertilizers, always go with lower amounts instead of more to avoid damage. Impulsive decision-making concerning the indiscriminate use of fertilizer can damage your plant in the long run.
A slow-release, water-soluble fertilizer will be your best option since that would make the African Violet absorb nutrients as and when the need arises. You can also dilute the fertilizer to half of the suggested strength to stop toxic buildup.
Overall, we find that leggy growth can turn the African Violets is caused due to stress or lack of energy. It stops producing flowers entirely as well.
The key to restoring your plant growth is patience, concentration, and meticulousness when observing the daily changes in plant behavior.
Investigate the reasons behind your African Violets becoming leggy and take consolidated action before time runs out.
Try your best to attend to all their needs. Stray away from nitrogen-rich fertilizers and trim the plants at regular intervals to keep the plant energy stimulated. This will also result in the renewed blooming of flowers other than preventing leggy 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.