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Prune African Violet Leaves! [Credible Tips]

Excess leaves and stale flowers suck the African Violets dry, halting new blooms. But an easy step for saving the plant is to prune these futile parts!

To prune African Violet leaves, remove 3-5 old leaves from the bottom of the plant by pinching them off with fingers or using sterilized scissors. Repeat the process every month and cut out spent blooms to save energy for the plant.

Listen to this article here.

You must carefully prune the leaves and flowers of African Violets, as damaging the growing point can set the plant back. Avoid such mistakes by learning to prune and maintain African Violets.

Should I Prune African Violet Leaves?

Recurrently pruning African Violet is a solution to provide nutrients, light, and air to the developing leaves and flowers.

An African Violet usually grows best with 12-15 leaves. Overcrowding the plant will make it less productive in producing blossoms!
Image represents bushy growth of African Violet
Leaves of African Violets grow from the bottom of the stem, resulting in a bushy growth habit.

Here are a few reasons to prune their leaves.

  • African Violets feel shrouded when the overwhelming leaves cover the entire plant.
  • Too many leaves will suck up energy from the plant quickly, leaving it dry for the next blooming season.
  • The dead blooms and old leaves will attract pests and diseases.
  • It produces new leaves from the center, pushing older and dry leaves below, which may look unattractive.
  • Old leaves may prevent the blooms from getting enough light and air.
  • The leaves coming out from the axils between the two leaves, also known as “suckers,” may impair the overall symmetry of the plant.

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 bottom leaves monthly.

However, African Violets bloom for up to 9 months per year (spring-autumn), so you can avoid trimming the plant leaves during winter, as it needs to rest.

Also, trim the leaves when deadly pests (Cyclamen) and diseases (Blights) crop up on the plant. 

Quick Tip: If the bottom leaves are still vigorous, but it’s time for a trim, consider propagating the African Violets using suckers!

How to Prune African Violet Leaves?

Pruning leaves is an essential part of caring for African Violets.

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

Let’s learn two main methods to prune African Violet leaves.

A. Pinch Pruning

Prune African Violet leaves using your finger with these easy steps.

  • Inspect for old, wilted, or yellowing leaves.
  • 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.
  • Outer leaves at the bottom, those closest to the soil, and suckers go at last.
  • Avoid ripping or tearing the leaves, as disease or fungus may enter the plant.
  • Throw or burn the old and wilted leaves. Consider propagating the healthier leaves.
Image represents the pruning process of African Violets
While cutting the leaves, secure a 45-degree angle and trim at the base.

B. Pruning with Scissors

If you aren’t comfortable pruning the leaves with your fingers, rely on sterilized scissors.

  • Inspect for dead, dying, and unhealthy leaves. They are the first ones to go.
  • Next, grasp the leaf in one hand and snip it off with scissors as close to the stalk and stem as possible.
  • Make sure you don’t rip or tear the leaves off.
  • Burn the old and wilted leaves. Use healthier leaves for propagation.

Pro Tip: Check for spent flowers and follow any of the two methods to trim away old blossoms to make way for new flowers.

You can also check the following video to learn the process of pruning.

Common Problems with African Violet 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 a few 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 at night.


  • Provide a temperature of 75-80oF during the day and 65-75oF at night.
  • Relocate plants to a spot that receives filtered sunlight during the day.
  • Avoid placing them in high humidity.

2. Bleached or Paler Leaves

Direct bright light can cause bleached or paler leaves.

When you notice the older leaves closest to the soil appear pale in color or wilted, it’s time to prune them to encourage new leaves.


  • Relocate the plant to a place with less intense light for a few days.
  • Keep the plants near an east-facing window.
  • Use curtains or drapes to shield them from the blazing sun.
Image represents African Violet plant placed near a window
African Violets prefer dappled sunlight from an east-facing window to support their foliage growth.

3. Leaf Spots

Leaf spots are visible brown, yellow, or faded patches on the leaves caused by the water droplets left on the leaves post-watering.


  • Consider watering close to the root and soil to avoid getting water on the leaves.
  • Utilize the approach of bottom watering by placing the potted plants on a tray of water about an inch deep for 20 minutes.
  • Water early in the morning so the leaves stay dry for the rest of the day.

4. Lack of Foliage and Rusty Leaves

These issues arise from nutrient deficiencies or irregular fertilizing, and rusty leaves are caused by overfertilization.


  • Fertilize your plant with a high phosphorus feed every time while watering.
  • Dilute the fertilizer to one-fourth of its strength to prevent overfertilization.
  • Cut back on fertilizer in fall and winter.

How to Care for African Violet Leaves?

African Violets require perfect conditions to grow healthy leaves year-round.

  • Provide African Violets 14-16 hours of dappled sunlight daily for lushful leaves.
  • Ensure the potting soil dries between watering.
  • Cast off any dust or debris from the leaves using a soft-bristle brush.
  • Use special African Violet Plant Food to feed the plant every 2 weeks in spring and summer.    
Image represents dried flowers of African Violet
African Violets expend too much energy on spent blooms, so pruning them at the base of the flowering stem is the best option.

FAQs About Pruning African Violet Leaves

How Many Leaves Should An African Violet Have?

African Violets have 3-4 rows of leaves, which is required for producing the blooms. In total, they have 12-15 leaves.

How do you Fix A Leggy African Violet?

To avoid lanky growth in African Violets, repot the plant to offer it wider legroom.

What happens if you Accidentally Cut Healthy Leaves off African Violets?

To settle the healthy leaves, propagate them in an equal mix of vermiculite and sand. Ensure the petiole is 1-1.5 inches long from the base of the leaf.

From Editorial Team

Use the ‘Bottom-Up’ Pruning Approach
In African Violets, rows of leaves at the bottom die first. So, it’s appropriate to remove them asap and focus on the diseased leaves. Along the way, save some suckers to plant for next season!

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