African violets: Repotting

If it’s been more than 6 months, and it’s time to repot your violet.  It’s best to do this when it when needed.  Don’t wait until your violet stops blooming–well cared for, it might not stop blooming!

Waiting too long only makes the job more difficult.  What is a simple job when done now, will become a BIGone if delayed (see “restoring your African violet”).  If done properly and carefully, your violet will continue to grow and bloom even after you’ve repotted it
First, remove all but the freshest, healthiest, leaves and blooms.  If you keep them now, you’ll only have to remove them in the near future–this will just create another problem that you’ll have to solve later.

A small neck (bare stem) will appear at the base of the plant above the soil level.  Since the neck is only about 1/2″ in length, it will be easy to lower the plant and cover the neck when repotting.

Pull the plant out from the pot.  This should be easy with a mature plant having a full root system.

Gently massage away much of the old soil and root system.  A general rule is this: the size of the root system below the soil should be large enough to support the foliage above the soil.  Since we’ve remove about half of the foliage, we can remove about half of the roots.  Don’t worry, we want to encourage new roots and leaves.

Using a clean pot (a 4″ pot is sufficient for a standard size violet), fill the bottom with fresh soil.  Then, holding the violet over the pot, tilt it to one side, and add fresh soil.  Turn the pot, tilt the plant to the other side, and add more fresh soil until the pot is full.

When done, your violet should appear to be resting atop a small mound of loose soil.  The secret: have enough soil so that you won’t have to add more when the plant is lowered in the pot (the mound is pushed down)–this will be much harder to do without making a bigger mess.

All that you need to do now is press-down the mound of soil.  Working with your fingers beneath the leaves, move around the pot and gently press and smooth the soil.  Since you’re working beneath the leaves, and don’t need to add more soil, this should be easy to do without making a “mess”.

Brush away the loose soil and dust from the pot.  When finished, you’ll have a still-blooming, freshly potted violet!

 

17 comments

  • I have a lovely pink and white variegated African violet that has been in bloom for more
    than 3 weeks. I notice that the big outer leaves are all “drooping”. I did overwater the
    poor thing, and poured off as much as I could. Should I repot it into a 8″ pot?

    • Given that this is your suspicion, likely yes. After repotting, you need to be more careful in watering, since the root system may not be able to process the additional water you are giving it before it begins to grow new roots into the additional soil. An 8″ pot is WAY too big–this will only make overwatering even more likely. No larger than a 4 or 5″ pot.

  • Your website is full of wonderful information in clear, direct language and illustrative photos. Have you thought of starting or keeping a U-tube channel ? I concentrate on orchids and violets and found the information and “how to” videos done by “the orchid girl” to be better than the orchid society magazine. Check it out: she has a huge following because she is a teacher for those of us who can’t join clubs or societies to gain plant knowledge. Your website, by the way, is one of the best I have encountered so far. Far better than the AVS magazine.

  • I just received my gr-grandmothers African Violet. She passed away in 1981 at the age of 96. “Papoo”, as we fondly called her, was an old southern woman. I remember the plants in her her house were always kept in her old claw foot tub. I often wondered how she bathed, and my dad told me she used the sink. My dad, now 90 years has given the plant to me. I followed instructions on how to repot it, and used a compass to place it in the same location at my house that it was at his house. I was SHOCKED to see an actual root bulb! It was huge! Needless to say, it seems to be thriving. I must add that my father never repotted it since he got it 1981! Dad estimated the plant to be a minimum of at least 60 years old. I’m honored to be a fourth generation “caretaker” to this beautiful plant! Thank you for all the information you provide on your page!

  • My violets are currently blooming in an east window. The foliage is perfect but they haven’t been repotted for at least 2 yrs since I bought them. They go through a long period that they don’t bloom but stay healthy. Do I now repot to keep them blooming or leave well enough alone?

    • Best to repot you violets at least once each year. If you wait too long, then it becomes a bigger job and “sets the plant” back further. If done regularly, there should be little effect on plant or blooming.

  • Hello,
    I’ve got a semi mini trailing (Rob’s Vanilla Trail) African violet due for repotting soon. I’m at a loss of what’s a good potting soil mix to buy. I don’t think I’d be good at making my own potting mixture and the ingredients on the back of these bags I’ve seen so far don’t even mention perlite. Is there a certain brand you guys might recommend? Or do you guys sell your own potting soil? That would be even better. I’d definitely buy that. Also, do I have to pot up? My violet seems to be doing great in its original pot and it being a semi mini, I wasn’t sure if it was necessary like standard violets. For any info, thank you in advance.

    • Best to repot all violets at least once a year in fresh soil Your semimini likely won’t need a bigger pot, since it will stay small. As for trailers, use larger pots as the root system demands, but keep the pots shallow, since roots don’t grow deep. Soil formula depends upon watering habits–the wetter you keep the soil, the more perlite you will need. If you use a self-watering system, it should contain at least 50% perlite. We mix our own and sell it as well.

  • The root system is very small on 2 violets that were just planted into 4 inch pots. Should I bag them or put them back in the pots they were shipped in?

    • No need to bag them, just be very careful with watering until root system begins grow into the additional soil. Water based upon the existing root system, not the size of the pot. The soil outside of the root ball can be moist, but not soggy, since roots don’t currently have access to this water. Water in moderation, and definitely do not use self-watering or wicking pots until root system develops. Best to water from top until plant develops, since you can control volume of water better.

  • I just received my first order of standard violets. Excellent packaging by the way. They are in the small pots. How long should I wait to plant them into larger pots?

    • Same general rule for all plants. Pot into larger pot (4″ in this case) when root system fills current pot. As a general rule of thumb, this will be about 6 months after the date shown on our pots (date when they were first potted as plantlets), but can vary by variety.

  • I tried to repot one of the miniatures african violet but as soon as I did it, it died. Because it is a small plant, the root system is not very long which I decided to cut any and repot with soil. Not sure why it died. Now I am afraid to repot the others that are slowing due.

    • Repot minis same as you would a standard violet. Since root system is small, use small pot, not larger than 2.25″ or 2.5″ at most. After repotting, only moderately water until plant begins to show signs of new growth. Many make the mistake of overwatering a freshly repotted plant–small root systems need less water than larger root systems. If a plant hasn’t enough roots to take up the extra water, the extra wet soil and water can do more harm than good. Since you didn’t say, don’t know if this is what happened here….

  • carmen stevenson

    many of my violets have 3-4 inch stems out of the dirt and then a sad looking plant above than. I don’t know how to replant or how to correct this problem as the actually roots are several inches from the plant. On the stem there are no leaves or roots. do I need to propagate using leaf cuttings and toss the plant or slice the stem and try to get roots to grow from it. ?

    • See our restoring/restarting an African violet lesson in the plant care pages. A good visual “how to” for what you’ll likely need to do.

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