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Skaggfacemutt's avatar

How to help a dying African violet?

Asked by Skaggfacemutt (9785points) January 19th, 2012

My daughter gave me her African violet plant in 2007. It was puny and dried-up looking and had never bloomed for her. I repotted it and placed it in my kitchen behind the corner sink where it gets indirect light. Since then it grew into a large, healthy plant that bloomed almost continually. Just since December, though, it wilted and looks matted down, stopped blooming and looks like it is dying. I gave it some African violet fertilizer and put some new potting soil around the top where it was getting skimpy. It still looks terrible. Do African voilets die of old age? What can I do?

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15 Answers

Hain_roo's avatar

What kind of pot is it in and how’s the drainage? Do you keep the soil moist at all times but don’t overwater? Sounds like it could be root rot.. You don’t see any tiny flies around it do you?

If there are any healthy leaves left you can cut them off with about an inch of stem and root in a vermiculite or sterile soil.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

It is in the same pot that it’s been in for years – just a nice, decorative clay pot with a built-in tray on the bottom. I have been using one of those glass watering balls. Just before it started acting all sick, I sprayed water on the leaves to get some dust off. Could that have killed it?

Coloma's avatar

Yes, drainage, warmth and humidity are key.
If it is too wet and subject to cold periods where the temp. is fluctuating drastically, like turning the heat way down or off at night, it is experiencing shock and possibly root rot.
Also, the fertilizer may have been overkill as this is the off season for growth and blooming.
Maybe too low humidity also.

Too much water and not enough warmth/light will cause root rot.
AV’s are sensitive little flowers. lol

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Oh dear! What should I do now? It seems to still be alive, and might have a couple new leaves coming up in the middle. Should I cut off the wilted leaves and let it dry out?

It probably is getting a draft from the two kitchen windows on either side of it. We have had some colder weather here for the last few weeks.

Coloma's avatar


Yes, trim back the dead growth, keep it on the dry side and place it in the best place for consistent warmth and light. They do best at a constant 70–80ish temp. as they are tropical plants. I have had this problem with a palm tree too during the winter.

SpatzieLover's avatar

^I second that. all of it

I’ve brought many back from near death by removing all but the newest tiniest shoots.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Thanks, everyone. I’ll move the poor little thing to the kitchen table to get it out of the draft, trim it back and I will NEVER spray the leaves with water again!

DaphneT's avatar

One way to protect it from those drafts and increase it’s humidity is to put it in a clear plastic bag with the opening to the bottom. Think tropical terrarium. If you have a large enough jar or bell cloche, use that.

Coloma's avatar


The misting is fine as long as it is not too cold. A hot, steamy bathroom is great. I used to shower with my palm tree, it was huge, about 5 feet tall. Many a nice shower talk with “Fronda.” lol

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I am having a hard time trying to think of a warm, sunny place, not by a window, where my cats won’t eat it. It seemed to like it when it was dry – the humidity makes sense since it’s a tropical plant, but I live in the west where it is bone-dry and it was doing fine until I gave it a little spray on its leaves. Since it looks rather water-logged, I think I need to dry it out.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt My grandmother’s AVs were like her babies. Here’s the wisdom she passed down:

*They don’t like to be moved.
*Wet them from below, not above.
*Make certain they have a good source of indirect sunlight
*Keep them near other plant (plants tend to retain humidity when placed together).
*Feed them regularly.

If yours seems water logged, then head out and get it some new AV potting soil. It will get root rot if it doen’t dry out quickly. Here in Wis, my grandma’s were kept in a north facing window that had lots of indirect sunlight from both the east in the AM and the west in the PM.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@SpatzieLover No wonder it was happy when I was watering it with the glass water-globe. As soon as it started looking waterlogged, I did put new potting soil in to absorb any excess water. I have it in a corner of my kitchen counter that has windows on each side, but the windows are high so it shouldn’t be getting a draft. It just hasn’t been very sunny lately. I do give it African violet food about every 3 months.

Glad to hear that I am doing some things right. I hope it isn’t too far gone to save. I will check it when I get home today – trim the wilted leaves off and follow everyone’s excellent advice.

tranquilsea's avatar

I have 7 or 8 African Violets and if ever one dies it is invariably because I loved it a bit too much and over watered it. They hate having their roots sitting in water.

I have also taken a few of them down to 3 or 4 leaves but I’ve been able to bring them back.

I have started watering them from the bottom and whatever isn’t soaked up after 24 hours gets poured down the drain.

Good luck with yours :)

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Just an update – my violet died (boo-hoo). I bought a Hawaiian lava plant to replace it. When I went to take the violet out of the pot, I discovered that it had no roots at all. What was left of the plant was just sitting there on top of the dirt.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Thanks for the update!

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