African violets are popular flowering plants with many seasons of beauty. These plants are fussy about their care and needs. Shortage or excess of any factor will cause African violets to have yellow leaves.
It’s common for the older leaves to turn yellow before they die and drop off, but if the other leaves are also turning yellow, there is some problem with your plant.
If the younger leaves turn yellow, it could mean that their necessities are not met.
So, in this article, we shall discuss why are your African violet leaves turning yellow and how you can fix the same.
Improper watering is the primary cause of yellow leaves in African violets. When you overwater an African violet, the roots start decaying, and the plant can no longer absorb enough nutrients resulting in yellow leaves. Other causes include Inadequate lighting, pests, and diseases.
If you find African violets with yellow leaves, search for the primary cause by assessing their soil and environment and the whole plant to determine which factor is causing the problem.
This article will help you find all the possible reasons for yellow leaves in your plant and the solution to fix it.
Why are my African violets turning yellow?
Various reasons cause yellow leaves on your African violets. Now, let’s discuss the causes of your African violets’ leaves turning yellow and the solutions that will fix the problems listed below.
- Watering issues
- Inappropriate lighting
- Humidity problems
- Poor nutrition
- Old soil
- Root rot
- Pest infestation
Let’s discuss the above points in detail.
When an African violet has yellow leaves, in most cases, incorrect watering is the main problem. If you water them directly on the leaves, then the foliage will respond by growing yellow leaves.
The leaves turn yellow if you add cold or warm water to them. The cells inside the leaves will collapse, and the leaf becomes discolored.
Yellow leaves can be a reaction to both under-watering and overwatering.
African violets like to be in moist soil and would never prefer dry soil. If you are underwatering your plants, the roots will become dehydrated.
The leaves will begin to droop and shrivel if the plants go long without water.
Most cases of yellow leaves on African violets are due to overwatering. If you overwater them, the plants will start developing soft yellow leaves, a sign of root rot.
If you use poor draining soil or allow water to stand in the soil for too long, you are also bound to get root rot.
The roots will become mushy and can fall apart, and in this case, you have to take immediate actions to save your plant before the situation worsens.
- You can use special watering cans to water your African violets.
- Plant your African violets in a pot that provides a sound drainage system to grow them indoors. For gardens, choose a well-draining soil for the soil bed.
- Use a watering can with room temperature water to minimize the damage to your plants.
- You should avoid using tap or chlorinated water as this water is loaded with chemicals and is harmful to your plants.
- In case of underwatering, start watering the soil thoroughly but avoid adding water to the leaves. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
- In case of overwatering, check the moisture level of the soil. Avoid watering the African violets for a few days if the soil feels moist, and water them only when the topsoil feels dry.
- You can get a moisture meter for your plants as this instrument will help determine soil moisture level and watering requirements.
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African violets will not perform well in direct sunlight. The leaves will lose their color and turn yellow if exposed to direct scorching rays of the sun.
They need bright indirect light to grow and thrive, and low light conditions are not preferred. If grown under unnatural light or inside the house, the leaves will turn yellow on the edges. This is a signal that the plant is not getting enough light.
- African violets need bright indirect light to thrive. So, it is best to grow them in a well-aerated, brightly lit area.
- You can move indoor African violets to a southeastern or west-facing window and those growing outside to a southern or western spot in the garden as these positions will be most suitable.
- These plants require at least 6-8 hours of light daily. You can even use an indoor grow light to supplement their light requirements.
- Remove the yellow leaves to ensure that the remaining leaves grow well and are not held back by the old damaged leaves.
African violets require a humidity range of 50 to 80% for growth. The plants may lack humidity if it not watered for too long. Low humidity will cause the plants to droop, curl, and yellow leaves.
On the other hand, exposure of African violets to higher humidity without any care will increase their susceptibility to fungal infections and pest infestations.
- You can increase the humidity by placing the pot of your African violets in a tray filled with pebbles and water. This technique will help the plants get moisture when the water evaporates from the tray.
- You can mist the plants by spraying water on them with a spray bottle and use tissues to wipe them.
- You can use clay pots to grow your plants, as they retain moisture and release it as humidity around plants.
- You can also group many plants to increase the humidity level around them.
- You can also install a humidifier to increase the humidity around the indoor African violets.
- For African violets growing in the garden, you can place some bowls of water around them and let the water evaporate, and add humidity.
Fertilizing your African violets is crucial to keep them blooming and thriving. Lack of food is another reason African violet leaves turn yellow, and the leaves no longer remain fuzzy or have a velvety texture.
This condition signals that they need supplemental feeding to produce fuzzy green leaves.
African violets will also turn yellow if you over-fertilize them. If you are over-fertilizing your plants, the soil will start getting accumulated with fertilizer salts and will cause the roots to burn.
You may notice white salt buildups on the container’s surface due to over-fertilization. African violets are sensitive to chlorinated water. Providing them with chlorinated water is another source of buildups or toxicity of potting soil.
- Use balanced liquid fertilizers specially prepared for African violets and dilute them according to the direction in the label.
- Fertilize them at least once a month in the growing season.
- To avoid over-fertilization, saturate the soil four times a year to remove the excess built up from the soil.
- Always use good quality fertilizers for your plant as cheap quality fertilizers are full of salts and chemical substances.
- Remove the white salt buildups from the surface of the pot, as this can damage your plants.
- Your plant’s soil should be washed twice a year to remove the excess salt and mineral buildups from the soil.
Your plant’s leaves may turn yellow if you haven’t changed the soil for an extended period. The old soil will not allow them to take up water and nutrients efficiently, thus making the plant weak and the leaves yellow.
- If the plants are sitting in old soil for too long, you should transplant them in fresh soil.
- African violets don’t like traditional garden soil, so you can use pest moss vermiculite and perlite.
- African violets like to be root bound. Unnecessary repotting or transplantation will not let them stay root-bound and will reduce the flowering.
Root rot is another cause that makes the lower leaves of African violets turn yellow and droopy. The leaves may turn brown and mushy later due to root rot. The plants may even die if the growing conditions are poor and no immediate action has been taken.
Root rot mainly happens because of overwatering. In wet soil conditions, the fungi gradually destroy the plant’s root and can be the reason for your plant’s death.
- Start by removing the rotten roots, rinse the healthy roots, and transplant the plants to a new spot in the garden with fresh well-draining soil mix.
- Prevention is the best measure against root rot. Always allow the soil surface to dry before watering.
- Choose a well-draining soil mix when repotting indoor African violets or making the flower bed in the garden.
Pest attack can be a reason for the yellow leaves on your African violets. Insect pests like aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and thrips feed on African violets by sucking the plant’s nutrients.
Fuzzy, cottony areas or dark spots can be seen on the leaves in case of pest infestation. Pest infestation will weaken the plant system by feeding on the plant nutrients.
The leaves will turn yellow as they make the leaves dry and cause them to droop. Pest problems need to be addressed as quickly as possible before more damage occur.
- You can start spraying neem oil to African violets at least once a week until all the pests are gone. Make sure that the neem oil reaches the underside of the leaves and stems.
You should only use neem oil at night and let it dry out thoroughly before placing the plants back in the sun. Neem oil is an excellent organic treatment that works wonderfully on all kinds of pests.
- Use a cotton ball dipped in an alcohol solution to remove the insects.
- You can go for soap water treatment, where you need to add one tablespoon insecticidal soap per quart of water to remove them. You can choose commercial insecticidal soaps for your plants as these soaps precisely control the plants without harming them.
- You can use pesticides like pyrethrins or dimethoate spays, which prevent pests like Aphids, foliar mealy bugs, Red spider mites, and scale insects.
- Keep the plants away from the other plants while treating pests until all the pests are killed.
- You can also look for a couple of predatory mites in the market that target these pests.
Sometimes, the leaves of your African violets don’t need any problem turning yellow. Due to old age, the leaves may turn yellow, which is a natural phenomenon in plants and not something to worry about.
Providing proper care may delay the process, but the leaves will turn yellow and droop at a certain point. If the old leaves are not cut back, it may disturb the growth of healthy leaves.
So, you should prune the older leaves as this will create paths for the new foliage and direct more of the plant’s nutrients to new leaves.
Always prune the yellow leaves on your African violets as they will not recover, and pruning those leaves will encourage new growth.
Use sterilized tools while removing the yellow leaves of African violets.
Providing African violets with good lighting, proper watering, and occasional food and taking care of the other factors will help prevent yellow leaves on your plants.
Always check the bugs and get rid of them from your plants as soon as possible.
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.