Q. Why are my African violet's leaves wilting?
There may be a couple of reasons why your plant is wilting. It could be that the plant is too dry and needs water. On the other hand, wilting African violet leaves may also be a sign of overwatering. This can occur when the plant is watered too much, especially if the plant is in a plastic pot. Soil in plastic pots retains more moisture than soil in terracotta pots, especially during the low light and cooler temperatures of winter (or a cold room). Overwatering can also occur when a plant is placed in a pot too large for the root system, which causes the soil to retain moisture too long, resulting in rot.
One way to reduce the risk of overwatering is to use terracotta pots. Terracotta (unlike plastic) is porous and will dry out more easily and so may be a better choice if overwatering is an issue, especially in winter.
Too-wet soil can cause a fungal disease called stem and crown rot or root rot, which causes wilting. To prevent this fungus, water only the soil. Use a long-stem watering can and keep the water away from the plant stem as much as possible. Water early in the day, never at night. Use room-temperature or warm water--never cold.
This rot is difficult to treat, but repotting may help your plant recover. Before you repot, let the soil dry out. Then cut away damaged foliage with a sterile cutting tool and remove the plant from its pot. Carefully remove the old, dry soil. Repot, adding fresh potting mixture, and give proper care. The plant should eventually flower again. To keep your violet flowering happily, repot once a year or every 6 months.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service
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