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Growing Problems with African Violets


As much as I love African violets, I do have a cautionary tale about African violets.  Well, one day a friend of mine brought me a dish garden for my birthday.  Boy was I surprised but I was surprised in more than one way.  First, the dish garden was beautiful.  The combination of flowers and foliage really enhanced the arrangement but………there was a little problem and when I say little I mean little or at least in the size aspect.  Having said that, what I am really talking about when I refer to a “little” problem is plant disease.  While the gift was very much appreciated, the pests and plant diseases that were brought into my home were horrific.  This is why understanding plant disease and pests is so important.

After about a week, I began to notice my arrangement in decline.  At the same time, the plants that were in the same room with my dish garden began to show similar symptoms.  To get to the root of the problem, I began to look at my dish garden with a little more detail.  Lo and behold, what I found was an old plant enemy of mine and that was white flies.

Below is a description of each plant disease and pest that you can find on an African violet.  You will also find and organic treatment for that aliment but keep in mind that sometimes the best treatment for the plant problem is disposal.

Crown and Root Rot

As the name applies, this is a plant disease that is brought on by a fungus.  This fungus attacks the leaves and the crown of the plant.  The first signs that appear is the older leaves began to droop while the center leaves develop stunted growth.  As the disease progresses, the stunted leaves will begin to turn black and die.

While this plant disease is caused by a fungus, there are three major causes of this fungus developing.  This includes the African violet being planted too deep, poorly draining soil, and watering too much.

The best treatment for this plant disease is proper watering and good drainage.  If you do find that your African violet is suffering from this plant disease, throw it away. 

Botrytis Blight

This plant disease is another one that is brought on by a fungus.  The sight of an infection will start off as water-soaked lesions that appear on the underside of the leaf.  As the disease progresses, the fungus will not only attack the leaf but will also appear on the stems and flowers.  Once this happens, the affected area will turn black and die.

Again, watering is a key to prevention.  Avoid getting the flowers and/or leaves wet.  Also, improve the amount of air that can move around the plant material.  Doing this latter step will allow any plant material that may have gotten wet to dry quicker, which means a reduced chance of developing a fungus problem.

Bacterial Blight

This plant disease can be seen on the leaf stems.  If you happen to notice that the foliage’s stems look a little greasy then chances are you have bacterial blight.  Another area that this disease hits is the roots.  This damage will be displayed as rotting areas that will appear reddish to black in nature.

To prevent this plant disease, one must first get control of the indoor environment.  Bacterial blight thrives in environments that are humid and hot. 

Ring Spot

The ring spot appears on the leaves as a bleached or bright yellow spot.  What causes this issue is water.  If you happen to get water on the leaf and it is warmer or cooler than the surface of the leaf, the cells that have gotten wet will collapse.  This collapse is the ring spot.

Prevention is easy.  Watering should only occur from the bottom.  Following this approach will keep the water off the leaves. 

Foliar Nematode

Foliar nematode appears on the lower parts of the leaves as small tan spots that are sunken down into the leave.  As the problem continues, the sunken area will dry out and enlarge.  When this happens, the affected area will turn black. 

Another symptom that the affected African violet may display is stunted growth. 

The best approach to control when it comes to foliar nematodes is prevention.  Again, it all comes down to watering.  To keep this problem at bay, water your African violet in a way that the leaves stay dry and there is no water splashing between plants. 

If you find any of the symptoms described above, remove the affected plants and destroy immediately. 

Pythium Root Rot

Symptoms of this issue start at the roots.  If you pull up your African violet, you will notice the roots are dark brown instead of white.  Above the roots, the plant will be yellow and wilted.

When it comes to African violets and Pythium root rot, the first thing is to only plant your violets in fresh, pasteurized planting medium.  The second thing to do to prevent this problem is to only propagate from healthy plants.  If you are not sure if your African violet has this issue, do not propagate. 

Rhizoctonia Crown Rot

This issue starts off with the plant wilting.  The wilting will continue until the plant collapses.  Once that happens, the plant turns black and dies.  As the problem progresses, you may notice the foliage at soil level may develop a red line. 

If you notice some or all of these symptoms, you only choice is to throw the plant away.  To prevent it, only use sterilized planting medium.

While the symptoms described above are plant diseases, there are other issues you may be confronted with when it comes to growing African violets.  The first one is leaf spots.  African violets are notorious for having issues when their leaves get wet.  These issues can range from problems with appearance all the way to disease.  To prevent this problem, always water the African violet from the bottom never from the top.

The second issue is petiole rot.  This occurs where the petiole touches the side of the pot.  The touch is not the problem but the salt from the fertilizer used is.  To prevent this problem, only use salt free water and do not over fertilize your plant. 

The last problem you may face and is the reason why you grow African violets is lack of blooming.  This can be caused by several issues, which includes dry air, cool room temperatures, and wet soils.  If you find that your African violets have stopped blooming, move them to a new location. 

Yes, it does appear that African violets are difficult to grow but in reality they are very easy.  Once you have success with one, you will find that your collection will grow and so will your delight each and every time they bloom.


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Fungi Problems?

Mushrooms usually appear during the rainy months, but they can appear throughout the year.

If you have lots of mushrooms growing after regular watering, it could mean compacted soil is not allowing water to drain properly.

Allow the area to dry out, aerate it, and apply some gypsite to help make the soil more porous.

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