Is your African violet drooping leaves?
There is a good chance you are not alone. This drooping normally occurs just after you’ve re-potted your violet or if you’ve recently bought your plant.
However, this does not mean your African violets (Saintpaulia ionatha) won’t droop their leaves other times of the year since there are various causes for this behaviour.
Most which are caused by you!
Not intentionally of course...
Want to find out which of your well-intended actions are causing your African violet to wilt and droop its leaves, and what you should be doing instead?
Great, let’s begin:
Bad Watering Habits
Watering is at the root of all African violet drooping leaves' problem.
For instance, when the potting soil is too dry, the leaves will droop because they aren’t getting enough moisture.
On the other hand, the plant will also droop when the soil is too wet. This is because the roots need air as well as water, and soggy soil drowns the roots.
Furthermore, in wet situations, root rot fungi destroy the African violet roots causing the plant to droop. To prevent incidences of root rot, you need to allow the soil surface to dry to the touch before watering.
Best watering practice
Golden Rule on Watering: You should always keep the African violet potting mix moist at all times. But be careful not to overdo it because too much of a good thing is poisonous.
When watering an African Violet, you can water from either the top or the bottom but use water that is room temperature or lukewarm. Saintpaulias don’t like cold water as cold water causes their cells to collapse.
When watering from the top, be careful not to get the leaves wet.
Getting the leaves wet can cause spots or rings to appear on the plant's leaves. Also when watering from the top take care, not to over water, get the soil saturated and dump out the excess water that drains through the pot.
When bottom watering, just put the potted plant into a container and adding about one inch of water, when the soil is saturated remove the plant pot from the container.
Another way of watering is to just put a little water into the bottom saucer under the plant, adding just a little every few days. This allows the dirt to soak the water up so that the plant can drink up.
You can also use a self-watering planter pot but still you need to keep a close eye on the water reservoir.
To learn more about growing beautiful African violets, here’s a great book that can help you - The African violet Bible: How to Grow Saintpaulias that Bloom 365 Days a Year
Root rot disease
Root and crown rot is caused by Pythium ultimum - a fungus which comes from overwatering your plants. The crown and roots turn dark and the leaves wilt.
If this is not avoided all infected plants must be destroyed eventually.
The first sign of this problem is usually a limp, unthrifty plant. The older leaves droop, and the younger leaves in the center of the plant appear stunted, turn black and die.
Prevent the rotting disease by always using sterilized potting soil mixes and clean containers when planting.
- Avoid over-watering since water-logged roots are easily attacked by P. ultimum.
- Do not plant African violets too deep.
- Discard severely affected plants.
Check out - African violet supplies and resources
Over-fertilizing could also cause your African violet to droop its leaves. But more specifically fertilizer burning or scorching.
Accumulated fertilizers could also cause petiole rot which occurs when petioles touch the edge of the pot and develop brown, sunken areas at points of contact.
This injury is specifically caused by fertilizer salts that accumulate on the rims of clay pots. Petiole rot can be avoided by waxing the pot rim or covering it with aluminum foil.
For these two reasons, it is always difficult to arrive at a correct diagnosis.
However, an indication of high soluble salts is the presence of white, crystalline deposits on the rim or outer surface of the pot or the surface of the potting mix.
What you should do - To prevent this problem, ensure you leach your mix a bit often, in case of excessive salt accumulation, repot the plant into fresh, sterile potting mix and a clean pot.
In addition here's another article on caring for African violets.
Best Practice on Fertilizer Application
Golden Rule: Only apply fertilizers to your plants on a need basis.
The secret to fertilizing plants indoors is to apply small amounts of fertilizer as the plant grows. Without new growth, the plant has a limited need for more fertilizer.
In the early stages of African violets growth, it’s not very necessary to apply a lot of fertilizers especially just after propagation.
In fact, I always advise not use any at this stage since it doesn’t necessarily help. Similarly, during the winter when light levels are low, Saintpaulia’s need for fertilizer reduces.
During the summer when light levels increase and the plant is actively growing, its need for fertilizer increases.
As a starting point, use about 1/4 the label rate for monthly applications. If the overall plant color becomes lighter green, fertilize every two weeks.
If the new growth is dark green but the leaves are small and internodes seem longer than on the older growth, decrease the fertilizer rate.
In summary, why is your African violet drooping leaves?
- Bad watering habits
- Excess fertilizer application
- Disease infection most especially root rot
There you have it.
I’m hoping that this article will help you find to diagnose when your AVs are having problems and give them an appropriate solution.
In case you’d like to learn more about growing beautiful African violets and more, get yourself a copy of the African violet Bible: How to Grow Saintpaulias that Bloom 365 Days a Year.