How to Prune African Violet Leaves?

African Violets
African Violets (Source: ClassAcrobatic1800/ Reddit)

Did you know excess foliage (leaves) in African Violets does more harm than good to these tender plants?

The excess leaves and stale flowers suck up the plant dry, which prevents new blooms. Pruning ensures that the plant does not run out of essential nutrients for the young foliages.

Here is how you can do it.

Carefully remove three or more old leaves, particularly from the bottom of the plant, by pinching them off with a finger or using shears. Repeat the process every month.

Listen to this article here:

A Beautiful African Violet
A Beautiful African Violet (Source: Pixabay)

African Violets do not mind sacrificing few leaves, for it gives way to younger and healthier foliage. So, repeat this process every month to ensure a balanced plant.

However, be careful with pruning their leaves because removing or damaging the growing point even accidentally can set the plant back.

You can avoid such costly mistakes by learning how to prune and maintain African Violet carefully.

Should I Prune African Violet Leaves?

Frequently pruning African violet is a beauty regimen and a solution to provide nutrients, light, and air to the new foliage.

An African violet usually grows best with no more than fifteen leaves. You heard it right, Fifteen Leaves! So overcrowding a plant will only make it less productive!

Here are few reasons to prune their leaves.

  • This plant needs to feel crowded to bloom and require full foliage at all times, but it may feel choked when it is shrouded with enough leaves.
  • Too many leaves will suck up the juice from the plant quickly, leaving it dry for the next blooming season.
  • The dead blooms and old leaves will attract insects and pests.
  • It produces new leaves from the center, pushing older leaves below, which may look unattractive.
  • Old leaves may prevent fresh blooms from getting enough light and air.
  • The plant leaves lose their natural green color and start looking older when over-shrouded with leaves.
  • The leaves coming out from the axils between the two leaves, also known as “Suckers,” may impair the symmetry and overall appearance of the plant.
Sick plant leaf
Sick plant leaf (Source: Pixabay.com)

When to Trim the Leaves of African Violets?

You can trim African violet leaves at any time of the year, unlike many other houseplants that require seasonal trimmings.

Because the African violet leaves grow quickly, you should trim 4-5 leaves, especially bottom leaves, every month without waiting for any particular season.

However, African violets bloom for up to nine months per year (spring-autumn), so you can avoid trimming the plant leaves during winter, as it needs to rest.

Also, trim away foliages when they are affected by deadly pests and diseases, including:

1. Cyclamen

These tiny mites infest on most plant leaves, usually found along with the unfolded leaves and newly emerged flower buds. Check for tell-tale signs; leaves are smaller than usual and have irregular folding.

Trim the affected leaves and dispose of away immediately to prevent Cyclamen infestation.

2. Blights

Blights are visible brownish patches on leaves that occur from a bacterial and fungal infection carried by insects, water, and wind from infected plants.

Blighted leaf
Blighted leaf (Source: Pixabay.com)

Trimming the infected leaves and burning them will prevent future occurrences of blights.

Quick Tip: If your bottom leaves are still vigorous, but it’s time for a trim, consider propagating your African violet. It’s easy!

How to Prune African Violet Leaves?

Pruning leaves is an essential part of caring for African violet plants.

The plant’s longevity and frequency of bearing healthy leaves rely on how often you trim them.

There are two methods to prune African violet leaves.

A. Pinch Pruning

Pruning plant leaves using your finger is done in two easy steps.

Step 1: Inspect for a Troubled Leaf

It is relatively easy. Old, wilted, or yellowing African violet leaves will go first, then outer leaves at the bottom, those closest to the soil, and Suckers.

Step 2: Pinch the Leaf Using your Finger

Grab the leaf between your thumb and forefinger and pinch it to tug outward. Ensure to cut the stalk as close to the stalk as possible without digging into your plant.

However, refrain from ripping or tearing the leaf, as disease or fungus may enter the plant.

Once collected, you can throw away old and wilted leaves. Consider propagating the healthier leaves.

Pruning leaves using fingers
Pruning leaves using fingers (Source: Pixabay, Unsplash)

B. Pruning with Shears or Scissors

If you aren’t comfortable pruning the leaves with your finger, you can rely on shears or scissors.

Step 1: Sanitize the Equipment

Before proceeding, make sure the shear or scissor is sterilized with alcohol. Otherwise, using the first scissor may encourage bacterial growth in the plant.

Step 2: Inspect the Leaf

Inspect for dead, dying, and unhealthy leaves. They are the first ones to go.

Step 3: Cut the Leaf

Next, grasp the leaf in one hand and snip it off with shear as close to stalk and stem.

Again, make sure you don’t rip or tear the leaves off.

Step 4: Dispose of the Leaves

Dispose of old and wilted leaves, and use healthier leaves for propagation.

Additionally, check for spent flowers and follow any of the two methods to trim away old blossoms to make way for new flowers.

Pro Tip: Prune old and excess leaves, including Suckers, to keep your plant blooming round the year and prevent setbacks on new leaf growth.

Common Problems with African Violet’s Leaves

African violets are popular houseplants that are low-maintenance, but that doesn’t make them problem-free.

A slight change in temperature, inconsistent watering, unavailability of indirect light, and highly humid conditions may wilt the plant leaves and prevent green foliage.

Here are few examples of common problems seen with African violet leaves.

1. Long and Narrow Leaves

Long and narrow leaves occur when the plant fails to get enough indirect sunlight or when the temperature falls below 75oF during the day and 65oF during the night.

The plant doesn’t do well in colder and humid conditions.

Solutions

  • Provide the temperature of 75-80oF during the day and 65-75oF at night.
  • Relocate plants to a brighter location but without direct sunlight during the day.
  • Avoid placing them in damp locations that encourage humid conditions.

2. Bleached or Paler Leaves

Too much indirect light can cause bleached or paler leaves, such as when you place your plant close to extremely sunlit areas such as patios, windows, and terraces.

Bleached leaf
Bleached leaf (Source: Unsplash.com)

They grow from the crown out, so the leaves closest to the soil are the oldest. When you notice these older leaves (pale in color or wilted), it’s time to prune them to encourage new leaves consistently.

Solution

  • Relocate the plant to a place with less intense light for few days.

3. Leaf spots

Leaf spots are visible brown, yellow, or faded patches seen on the leaves caused by top-watering.

The water left on the leaf can cause leaf spots.

Solution

  • Water your plant from the bottom; water close to the root and soil to avoid getting water on the leaves.

4. Lack of Foliage and Rusty-Colored Leaves

Lack of foliage is caused by nutrient deficiency or irregular fertilizing, and rusty-colored leaves are caused by over-fertilization.

Rusty colored leaf
Rusty colored leaf (Source: Unsplash.com)

Solutions

  • Fertilize your plant with a high phosphorus feed every time while watering. Use a small dosage of mild-liquid plant food to prevent over-fertilization
  • Fertilize every two weeks during the active growing season (spring and summer).

Other than solving these common problems, here are few ways to maintain and care for your African violet’s leaves.

How to Care for African Violet’s Leaves?

African Violets aren’t your ordinary plants. They require perfect conditions to grow healthier foliage around the year.

A warm condition with the right watering frequency and regular fertilizing with occasional pruning of leaves are essential for healthy leaf growth.

Follow these tips for maintaining and caring for African violet leaves.

1. Provide Ample Lighting

A bright, cool location with indirect sunlight encourages lush, green foliage in African violets.

The plant needs 14-16 hours of indirect light to ensure good bloom and blossoms. Hence, ensure to provide enough natural lighting each day.

Alternatively, you can use fluorescent or LED grow lights to supplement natural light.

2. Remove Old and Stale Leaves

African violet leaves grow pretty quickly, so trimming the old and stale leaves will make healthier leaves and prevent young foliage from choking.

Trim three to four or more leaves every month to keep the foliage maintained.

3. Place Them in Well-lit Locations

African violet leaves can wither when they don’t get enough light, but it doesn’t mean you should place them directly under the sunlight.

Choose a north or east-facing window or spot to provide the right amount and intensity of indirect sunlight.

African Violet Plant
Young African Violet Plant (Source: Pixabay.com)

Additionally, rotate the plant once a week so the entire foliage receives optimum light.

Place them under artificial grow lights (fluorescent or LED) to provide ample lighting in the absence of sunlight.

4. Let the Soil Dry Before Watering

Avoid using softened or chlorinated water on these plants. A room-temperature distilled water or rainwater suits them best for regular watering.

Place the pot in a container with an inch (2.5 cm) of water. Remove it after about 20 minutes and drain the excess water.

Let the soil dry out, depending on the temperature, before watering again.

Top-water the plant once a month to flush out any extra fertilizer from the foliage, but don’t forget to dry the leaves afterward.

5. Dust Soil and Debris off Leaves

The soil and debris sitting on the plant’s leaves can block the light from reaching the leaves.

Use a dry artist’s paintbrush or a brush with soft bristles to brush off the dust every 2-3 days gently.

6. Fertilize With a Right Plant Food

African violets need frequent fertilization to ensure the plant leaves receive enough phosphorus.

Use a water-soluble fertilizer such as concentrated liquid mixed with soluble powder to keep the plant hydrated and packed with nutrients.

Additionally, you can use a mild liquid-fertilizer like Schultz African Violet Plus with an 8-14-9 ratio of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium for your African violet plants.

African Violet Plant
African Violet Plant (source: unsplash.com)

To Sum It Up

African violets produce many leaves, so pruning few leaves every month will only help keep the foliage bushier and healthier.

Maintain the cluster of leaves by removing excess foliage, including old leaves and suckers.

Check the plant leaves every few days for visible problems, including dust and debris, wilting, or a slight color change.

Compare these signs to the problems mentioned above and start the remedy ASAP!

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