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Are My African Violet Leaves Turning Yellow? [Reasons + Care Tips]

Last summer, my African Violet leaves were turning yellow. Upon inspection, I saw some pests with sun-scorched leaves, foul-smelling potting soil, and a frail plant.

African Violet leaves turning yellow occur due to inappropriate watering, irregular lighting, humidity issues, nutritional imbalances, and pest or disease outbreaks.

We will explain all the possible culprits behind the miserable situation of your African Violet and give some solutions to revive the plant.

Reasons and Solutions for African Violet Leaves Turning Yellow

Usually, the lower ring of leaves in African Violets turns yellow and drops as the plant ages.

This happens as part of their normal annual routine of leaf cycle when they prepare themselves for a new flush of leaves.

Image represents a potted African Violet plant
As an African Violet plant ages, the ring of leaves at the bottom of the plant becomes yellow and drops naturally.

But it’s not common to see a healthy African Violet plant suddenly turn its leaves yellow, which happens when the plant experience irregularities in its cultural care.

Hence, you might see your African Violet leaves turning yellow for the following reasons.

1. Lighting Issues

Light is vital in African Violets to grow flowers and new leaves. Also, light is essential as its intensity may change the surrounding temperature.

For full foliage and flower growth, African Violets need 14-16 hours of bright indirect sunlight and 8 hours of a dark regime.

The plant needs a few hours of a dark period as the hormone necessary for flowering activates in the dark.

However, the plant can also tolerate low light levels for an extended period, but ultimately their leaves become thin, petioles become leggy, and leaves turn yellow and drop.

A light-saturated African Violet will experience a similar outcome, but their leaves turn greenish-yellow or pale first and then brown and crisp.

Image represents African Violet plants sitting on direct sunlight
A few hours of direct morning sunlight from an east-facing window will promote a healthy lush of leaves and punctual flowers in African Violets.

How to Offer Optimum Lighting for African Violets?

  • Move your light-deprived plant to a region of bright indirect sunlight and remove all its yellow foliage.
  • Place the plant near a south-facing window in winter and an east-facing one in spring and summer.
  • Use drapes to cover the windows and prevent the reach of intense sunlight on the plant leaves.
  • To cope with the light requirements in winter, situate African Violets about 8-12 inches away from fluorescent lights for 12-16 hours daily.
  • Rotate your plant one-quarter turn once a week towards sunlight for even light distribution throughout the foliage.
  • Ensure your plant is at least 3 inches from a suitable windowpane for proper light incidence.
  • Keep your plant away from north-facing drafty windows to subside the effect of low light and temperature drops in winter.

2. Watering Issues

Improper watering practice is one of the main culprits behind the yellow leaves in African Violets.

Additionally, African Violets are very picky about watering demands. An incorrect watering schedule and practice can harm their leaves.

African Violet water requirements follow weekly watering in spring and summer. Before further watering in fall and winter, wait for the soil to dry out completely.

Some signs of overwatering include soft and floppy leaves that turn yellow.

Moreover, root rot due to soggy soil can cut off the connection between the shoot and root of the plant turning the leaves pale.

The potting soil also smells fishy due to the root infection.

Although overwatering is always deadlier than underwatering, wilting, gradual yellowing, and browning of leaves are some alarming irreversible dehydration signs.

How to Water African Violets Properly?

  • If the soil is mushy, drain the excess water and place the plant in direct sunlight to dry the soil.
  • Dribble room temperature distillate water (around 68°F) close to the topsoil during watering bouts.
  • Allow the roots to pull water from below by keeping your potted plant in a tray filled with an inch of water for 15-20 minutes.
Image represents a yellow spot in an African Violet leaf
Any remaining water drops on the surface of the leaves can cause that region of the leaf to turn yellow, and later the region develops a watery lesion.
  • Employ self-watering pots for African Violets to saturate the soil without overwatering the plant.
  • Wipe any remaining drops of water from the leaves after watering the plant. 
  • Hurl the stagnant water from the pot’s saucer after each watering course and restrict the plant from staying in water for too long.
  • Use well-draining soil and terracotta planters with bottom drainage holes to promote seepage.

3. Over or Under Nutrition

African Violets cannot survive on the soil nutrients alone and need supplemental feeding to retain their green, fuzzy leaves.

The biggest risk while fertilizing your African Violets is burning their delicate leaves and roots due to overfertilization in fall and winter.

So, the best time to feed your African Violet is every 4-6 weeks in spring and summer with low nitrogen-based fertilizer diluted according to directions per pack.

Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium are the three major nutrients needed in fertilizers for the proper growth of the leaves, flowers, and roots.

Under-fertilization can cause yellow leaves, irregular flowering frequency, and less number of desired blooms and foliage.

Contrarily, in overfertilization, the tips of the leaves and edges become brown with yellow marginal contours. This is a sign of fertilizer burn.

How to Fertilize African Violets Properly?

  • Prune the damaged leaves to give space and energy for healthy sprouts and relieve the plant from stress.
  • In case of overfertilization, flush the mineral salts from the soil 3-4 times with distilled water.
  • Repot the plant every 2 years to offer a fresh supply of nutrient-rich soil.
  • Schedule a feeding time every time you water the plant, so the moist soil and roots absorb the nutrients efficiently.

4. Humidity Issues

During summer, less humidity leads to dry soil and flabby yellow leaves in African Violets. 

Although the leaves appear yellow due to low humidity, the primary and wary sign of the issue is already given away when the soil dries up.

To prevent the African Violet yellow leaves, sustain humidity levels between 50% and 80% at all times.

Other low humidity symptoms are brown, crispy, small-sized blooms and flower buds refraining from unfurling.

Image represents yellow leaves and dried flowers in African Violet plant
Low humidity conditions restrict African Violets from getting the needed moisture from the air, and the plant becomes moisture-deprived, slowly gaining yellow leaves.

But, high humidity leads to root rot and the formation of fungal spots on the leaves. The spots appear with a pale or yellowish halo bordering a brown, necrotic region.

So, high humidity invites the growth of pathogens in regions with plenty of water, such as leaves and the soil around the roots.

How to Offer Balanced Humidity for African Violets?

  • Space out the plants in spring and summer to have proper air circulation between them.
  • Group your African Violets together in the bathroom to surge the humidity levels around them.
  • Place the plant over a homespun humidity tray to rejuvenate its limp leaves.
  • Consider occasional early morning misting as a last resort to save your plant from humidity stress.
  • Employ a cool-mist humidifier beside the plant in summer to cope with fluctuating temperature and humidity demands.

5. Pest and Diseases

Some pests like mealybugs, thrips, aphids, foliar nematodes, and cyclamen mites can enter the leaves through stomata or pierce the leaf tissues, turning them yellow.

These pesky bugs hide under the leaves or gather around the base of the leaf stalk, on the stem, and spawn obscure eggs.

Additionally, these pests leave behind honeydew drops, which can be a new site of infection for other diseases.

Likewise, blights, mildews, and rots are common diseases in African Violets caused by high humidity, overwatering, or the aftermath of pest infestation.

Image represents pests on the leaves of African Violet plant
Pests hide under the leaves or sometimes appear on the surface, and you can use a small gust of water to blow them away as soon as they become noticeable.

These diseases pale down the greenery of the leaves, and if not addressed immediately, they can cave in the entire foliage and shift to nearby houseplants.

How to Control Pest and Diseases in African Violets?

  • Isolate your plant from the rest to cease the spread of pests and diseases.
  • If there is a notion of pest attack, use q-tips dipped in neem oil to dab the pests every week until the infection subsides.
  • You can also use a fine spray of water to toss the pests away from the underside of the leaves and around the stem.
  • Use sterilized potting soil when repotting or spray plant-safe fungicides on the inner walls of the pot to prevent root infection.
  • If root rot has taken charge, unpot the plant and snip the infected black or pulpy roots using sterilized pruners
  • Prune all the yellow or discolored leaves and secure the plant until its revival.
  • After trimming, burn the parts to slay the pathogenic spores and bug eggs.

From Editorial Team

Your African Violet can recuperate from most detrimental outturns, but pests and diseases can easily outflank their will to survive.

So, always be mindful while using gardening tools and buying new plants. You never know if they can be vectors for a new disease or pest attack.

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