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Diagnosis & Treatment of Problems and Pests on African Violets

Symptom Cause Control/Treatment Notes

Brown or scorched Poor quality water Have water tested and follow laboratory
leaf tips or edges of recommendations
Excessive dryness Water regularly
leaves between watering
resulting in poor root
Poor root health from Leach out salts with plain water; don't let Look for
excessive fertilization plants stand in water crystalline
or other soluble salts in deposits on outer
soil edge of soil and
rim of pot
Low humidity Put plants on pebble trays; cover plant
stands with plastic sheeting; or use
humidifier in plant area
Pesticide injury Spray damage in applying pesticide
Mechanical injury Watch knives and scissors they will nick
and scratch leaves
Leaf spots, Intense light (like Reduce amount of light or move plant away
blotches and/or sunburn) from light source
Low temperatures Increase heat in plant area
Chemical spray injury Do not direct aerosols on the plants, spray
over plants letting the mist fall upon them
Water droplets on Blot any droplets dry before putting plant in
leaves light
Watering with cold Use room temperature water
Yellow-green Insufficient nitrogen Water occasionally with a high nitrogen
foliage on older fertilizer like fish emulsion
Compacted soil, poor Repot into the same size or larger pot,
leaves; leggy plant drainage removing as much of the old soil as
growth possible without damaging the root ball
pH too high or too low Repot in fresh properly pH mix
Insufficient light Increase light or move plant closer to light
Yellow-green Soil pH imbalance (low Test soil to verify low pH; add a little lime to
foliage on younger pH=acidic) soil mix, repot
Nutrient imbalance, Use a fertilizer with trace elements
leaves especially iron
Generalized Too much light Reduce amount of light; move plant away
yellow-green from light
High temperatures and Plants are very stressed; water carefully;
foliage dry soil reduce temperatures
Insects Isolate plant and identify bug; it is taking its
nutrition from the plant; use appropriate
means to get rid of it; or destroy plant
Crown or Root rot Check root ball, cut off diseased part. Make
sure healthy roots are present, remove as
much of the soil as possible and repot in
fresh, sterile soil; or take crown cutting and
restart plant if not spread to crown. Usually
as the result of over watering
Wilting and/or Soil mealy bugs Apply an appropriate pesticide
drooping foliage Excessive dryness Water regularly
Excessive fertilizer or Leach out salts with plain aged water; do
other soluble salts in not let plants stand in water
Compacted or poorly Repot into same size or larger pot,
drained soil removing as much of the old soil as
possible without damaging the root ball; use
fresh soil mix
Crown or root rot Check plant for a viable
crown and some
healthy roots; repot
healthy part of plant;
otherwise, destroy

Brown dry leaves in Spider Mites Isolate plant; spray with Malathion,
crown; excessively Insectidal soap, Avid
hairy; may see
Tight centers; Excessive light Paper towel over center of plant for one
stunted growth week; if center open light level is the
Cyclamen Mites Isolate; Look for bugs using magnifying
glass; look for webbing; spray with
Malathion, Insectidal soap, Avid
Excessive fertilizer Lower dosage of fertilizer about 50% for
one month
Pot bound Repot Could occur after
heavy blooming
White stick cottony Mealy bugs Isolate plant; dab where seen on foliage Disyston in
mass at leaf axils; with alcohol swab; spray with Malathion, reservoir 1 tsp per
Neem oil, or Insecticidal soap; Disyston in 16 oz reservoir for
cottony spots on soil <in reservoir?> 3-4 weeks, then
leaves discard replace
with clean
reservoir and
Burned out crown Pesticide spray Do not let pesticide solution set in crown;
dab with absorbent paper towel
Washing foliage Blot dry crown and leaves with absorbent
paper towel after washing
Leaves curl around Excessive light Move plant from light source, reduce time
pot lights are on; tray holding plants may reflect
too much light, use colored surfaces

Cold plant area Heat area or move plant or warmer area

Pollen on petals; Thrips Disbud ALL plants in room; keep disbudded Blow gently on
blossoms fade at least two months; spray with Avid (1 tsp blossom, watch
per gallon of water Conserve 1/4 tsp per larvae scurry
quickly gallon); Neem oil away
Powdery patches Powdery Mildew Lysol spray; sulfur spray; benomyl or
on upper surfaces thiophanate 5 spray; Phyton 27 spray
of leaves, also
patches on
No Blossoms Insufficient light Increase light; move plant closer to light
Too cold Heat plant area; move plant to warmer area
Lack of fertilizer Apply fertilizer recommended for African
violets weekly
Heavy or packed soil Repot into porous light mix. Do not pack
soil into pot.
Pot too large Use pots that are approximately one-third
the diameter of the plant.
Stems & leaves Over watering Mix holds too much water; repot in porous
limp, turn mushy, mix
glassy, then rot
Loss of Variegation Too much nitrogen Change to a fertilizer with less nitrogen; do
not fertilize with fish emulsion
Too warm` Wait for cooler weather; use air conditioning
or ceiling fan in plant area
Ring spot Impatiens Necrotic No cure - destroy plant; get rid of thrips;
Spot Virus bleach all surfaces and tools
Water droplets on Blot off all droplets before placing violets in
leaves light