African violets: Restoring or Restarting

What happens when you’ve really neglected your violet?  You might have a plant that appears something like the one shown at left.  This plant (aSaintpaulia species) has been left virtually ignored, other than occasional watering, on the corner of a light stand, pressed up against a wall.

For more than six months, it hasn’t been turned or had any leaves or (dead) blossoms removed.  Though seemingly healthy and still in bloom, it needs a lot of work…

Turning the plant around and looking at it from behind, you can get a better idea of its true condition.  Lots of dried, shriveled up leaves and blossom stems

Also, as the lower leaves have gradually died and dried, a long neck (bare stem) has developed.  About 2 inches of bare stem appears between soil level and the lowest row of leaves.

African violets should be repotted every 6 months to avoid this, and this one hasn’t been.   We’ll need to repot this one, once we’ve removed all of the old, dead, and dying, leaves.

Once we’ve done that, we’re left with not much more than the newest, attractive growth atop a very long neck (and a pile of compost).

Normally, we’d like to repot the plant, lowering it into the same size pot, covering the neck with fresh soil.  Unfortunately, this would require removing 4″ of the rootball to lower the plant enough to cover the 4″ neck!  The pot just isn’t deep enough!

What to do?  Start over again!  We’ll just lop-off the top of the plant, and reroot the crown.  A drastic measure, but one that’s necessary.

Remove the crown with a pair of sharp scissors or a knife.  Notice that you don’t need to keep much of the neck with the crown.  Just enough to reroot.  The idea, after all, is to give the plant a fresh start, including the root system.  Keeping the neck would mean starting over with a (very) old root-system.  Discard the neck and the old soil.

Using a clean pot and fresh, premoistened soil, make a hole just large enough to accommodate the base of the crown.

Firm the base of the plant into the moist soil.  It almost looks “normal” again, except for the fact that it has no roots!

Because it will easily wilt without roots, we’ll place it in a covered container (a large plastic bag would work as well) for about a month until the crown is well-rooted.  At that time, remove the cover (or bag) and voila!

Now, of course, your job is to take better care of it the next time around.  Give it good light, remember to water it when needed, and regularly remove dead and dying leaves and blossoms.  In another 6 months, repot it by removing a bit of soil from the bottom of the root ball and lowering the plant into the pot, adding fresh soil to cover the (small) neck.

183 comments

  • I have several plants, some new, some older who have not matured enough to bloom that have a white frosty look on new leaves coming in. I have several and want to save these plants. What should I do?

    • Likely this is powdery mildew. Not uncommon, and rarely fatal to your plants. For more information, search this term from the homepage of this site.

  • Thanks for this article and your responses to the questions. I’ve learned a bunch! I have my mother’s 50 y/o AV that has a spiraling neck at least 4″ long. The thing is, it’s honestly doing quite well. Of course, now I know it is just a matter of time before it isn’t, even though I re-pot it every 10 or so months.
    So now I understand I should “restart” it, but frankly, I’m terrified!! She’s been gone 30 years and I don’t want to lose it.
    I have taken leaves from the “mother” and have its babies, but I am very worried about losing this plant.
    If a restart is done as instructed (and with the tips from your responses), does this process truly have a very good success rate? I usually have a Round-up thumb, but for some reason, this AV has thrived. I don’t want to blow it. Thank you!

    • If the plant is otherwise healthy to begin with, you should have no problems. Of course, it does help to have done this before–practice makes perfect.

  • I came upon your site about 1 1/2 years ago. At that time I had 3 different AV’s that were over 10 years old in various states of neglect. From all your advice, I was able to restore the 3 and from all the leaves that I removed, I have propagated almost 50 more plants. I now have 10 of the 50 blooming. I can tell from the leaves on the different plants which parent plant they have come from because the leaves of the 3 parent plants are all different. I have one of the propagated plants that looks completely different from all the rest. The leaves are speckled green and white. It has not yet began to bloom. I am wondering if it is a new species or if it is defective. It is a very healthy plant otherwise. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    • There is no way to know unless you know the variety from which the leaf came. It may very well be a mutation from the original, or simply a short-term consequence of the environment or care. You’ll know more when the plants grow out and mature.

  • Hello, I acquired an African Violet from a friend only on Wednesday, it was in really good health. I didn’t think it would be too much sunlight (September in the UK) so put it in the window. It was slightly hotter than the last few weeks on Friday and I noticed the flowers are browning/yellow, but leaves are ok. I’ve moved it onto a table in a sunny room, but not in the window. Will the flowers recover on their own or is it best to remove the burnt ones?

    • The flowers won’t recover, but you likely will have more coming on the more anyway. If they’re no longer attractive, may as well remove them.

  • I have several beautiful blooming violets under grow lights . One violet’s leaves look so wilted . I treat them all the same but this one is wilted and has never bloomed ! The inside leaves look healthy . HELP !

    • Would need much more information for a diagnosis. Wilting usually means roots aren’t happy–either a result of damage from under or overwatering, or from pests. Once damaged, proper watering becomes even more difficult, since the damaged roots don’t take up water as they should. You may want to repot the plant, and give the roots and plant a fresh start.

  • I had an AV with dying leaves – they would come in healthy, then turn brown and die instead of growing larger. My diagnosis, with help from articles on this site, was root rot. It seemed like the plant couldn’t be saved, but I noticed 2 tiny babies growing from the neck, so I thought “what the heck” after reading this article. I followed the directions exactly, and now have 2 thriving plants that seem to do best with only very rare watering (now I know). I’m looking forward to the sparkly pale pink flowers the parent plant used to produce!

  • What do I do with violets that are dying? Do I cut them off? From the base or just the heads? They’re attracting small fruit flies. Help!

    • The “fruit flies” you refer to are likely due to the damp soil. Let this dry between waterings and you won’t notice them after a time. My guess is the wet soil (or soil that isn’t porous enough–add some perlite) may be causing the plant’s distress. The fruit flies are not the cause of the plant’s poor health, but a symptom of the same problem–the plant being kept too wet. Repot the plant to give it a fresh start (or restart it), using a soil containing more perlite.

  • Help!!! I have an AV that I acquired when MIL passed away in 2002. This AV is about 25 yrs old.

    Plant is in AV pot but this morning top broke off, stem is curved not straight. Question; should I repot in dirt or put in water?

    Help, I do not want plant to die!

  • Hi, my AF recently died and the crown sent up new shoots but today the leaves all fell off the stalk in a clump. Now I have an empty stalk and a plant without a stalk. Is it possible to save the plant by planting the leaves without the stalk? Is there anything I can do?

    • If the leaves remain healthy, you can root these. See the lesson on propagating violets by leaf.

  • I have read thru your questions and answers and don’t think I saw this particular problem. Hope I didn’t overlook and you are having to repeat.
    I bought a small AV along with some other things that were not important to bring in the house right away. Well sadly we got home about 7 pm and didn’t remove the AV. I went to church the next day, got home about 1 pm and then remembered the poor thing! It was easily 110 in the car that morning, if not more. She looks bad, I just feel horrible, I’m so sad. All her leaves are drooping and just looks terrible. My first thought was to cool her off with some water, she was very dry by then. Then after reading thru your site I think she is now to wet. :( Is there anything I can do to save her? I have her saucer dry now and she is sitting on the window sill but I’m afraid it is to much sun. Thanks in advance and I love your site!!

    • If the wilting was due to the heat and being dry, your violet should (at least mostly) perk up within a few hours of a good watering. If it doesn’t, it may have been damaged too much by the heat to recover. If it perks up, then droops again after a subsequent watering, then you may have overwatered it. In any event, I would aim for moderation at this time–out of the bright sun, and kept moist (not soggy, nor dry). For now, water from the top, as you can control water better this way based upon its needs. Give it a chance to recover without subjecting it to any more stress.

  • My AV was possibly destroyed, my roommate and bf have people at the house a lot, someone knocked over my African violet and left it a mess. it looked like they tried to fix it but… anyway Everything on it died, flowers and leaves, its just a little nub now. I want to bring it back. i tried re-potting it, i put it in the sunny corner in our house, I only water it when the soil feel dry to the touch, and I water from the bottom. Am I doing everything wrong? is it salvageable ?

    • If there is any healthy growth in the center of the plant (the growing point) the plant may recover. If not, it won’t. African violets are fibrous rooted, and once the top growth is dead, there is no coming back.

  • Hi and thanks for all of the great info here! I trimmed back and repotted three AVs yesterday that had all grown out to expose bent crowns. I trimmed outer leaves and have some of the nicer ones rooting under a plastic dome in moist soil now. I repotted the main plants in moist soil after trimming the crowns as recommended. Two of the three are in those moisture wicking pots (the ones where you put water in the outer pot and then put the inner pot into the outer one). Do I also need to plastic bag or dome those too? Or is it just keeping the soil moist that is necessary for root development? Thanks! These were very large and lopsided so they got a good trim!

  • ps A few days later now. With a magnifying glass, I see what looks like tiny new growth growing up in the V of the three leaves. Hope!

  • I have a small plant started from a leaf that I had for 25 years. It was doing fine until I took advice for powdery mildew and sprayed Lysol high above it. The spray settled on the leaves and killed the powdery mildew, but it also killed the tiny crown in the center. I am left with only three outer leaves. It has not sent up a new crown. Is there anything I can do with this root ball and leaves to get this plant started growing? I would like to send a picture.

  • Hello, I plan on cutting the neck on a violet and doing the above. Would rooting hormone be a good idea?

    • Only if the neck is very woody and tough. Generally, it’s not needed since Afican violets are relatively tender plants.

  • How moist is moist for the soil? A few spritzes of water or a soaking of the soil?

    • Damp to the touch, and so the soil is moist throughout, but not so much that water runs out the bottom of pot or you can easily squeeze water from the soil like a wet sponge.

  • Excellent Violet care site!

    I have four very lovely violets in bloom and three babies that are going to come into their first bloom soon, all sitting on the North facing windowsill in front of me. I’ve had these plants for many years and become ridiculously attached to them. My question is: Is there a way to “sterilize” AV soil before using a bag that is no longer sealed. I have never had any insect problem and I don’t want to take any chances. I wont hesitate to purchase fresh if you think that’s the wise thing to do.

    • Most modern “soilless”, peat-based, mixes are sterile and should pose few if any problems. Unless the bag has been kept open in an problem area (like outdoors) where you know pests are likely an issue, it probably is fine.

  • Andrea Reynolds

    Please help! I have an AV that has been propagated and passed down for many years and is of great sentimental value. He never looked really good but i love him. I recently changed his soil and he’s pretty shocked still. Its been about three weeks and little by little all his leaves are dying. I moved him to a new window, even let him sit outside for a day. Am i not watering enough? Should i put him in a bag? Thank you for any advice!

    • Without knowing more, it is hard to say. The most common mistake when repotting is to water too much afterwards, especially if potting into a larger pot. Keep in mind that the root system needs time to recover and grow before being able to process all of the water you may be giving it. Soil should be moist, not actually wet or soggy. If the soil is moist, and the leaves still appear limp, then it’s been overwatered. Bagging the plant may help, but don’t do this if the soil is very wet, since it may only make the problem worse.

  • LuAnne Segars

    I have a very large African violet that has rooted 3 others in the same pot. I nitpicking fed 2 of them hanging and the stem was hollow. I lifted then up the are healthy and rather large. How can I replant these. I have had these for close to 30 years

    • Divide the clump into three individual plants with a single crown, or growing point. Pot each into its own pot. Use a pot just slightly larger than the root system of that plant. In the future, grow as a single crowned plant by removing suckers as they appear (unless a trailing variety). It will bloom better, with a better appearance, when grown this way.

  • What are your thoughts on foliar feeding. I have a friend who is adamant about not getting the leaves wet

    • Though we don’t do this, many growers do. If you do foliar feed, spray with slightly warm water, so that water is close to room temperature when it reaches the leaves, and keep the plant out of cold air or direct sunlight–it is the temperature of the water that will damage leaves. Use only very diluted fertilizer (much less than if you watered with it), to avoid leaving fertilizer salts on the leaves or burning the foliage.

  • Hi I’m having trouble with all of my violets. One was even a prize winner. They all have quit blooming and have grown really tight leaf clusters in the center. There is a noted difference between older leaf length and newer. What could be causing this? I have recently moved and they are in a brighter location than before, could thus be affecting them? What can I do to fix this?

    • Many things could cause this, including very bright light. If the plant looks otherwise healthy, this might be the case. Consider your water source, as well. Very hard water, or acidic/alkaline water, can also cause this. Very cold, or warm, temperatures can cause this, too. If the plant does not look healthy or is distorted or discolored in center, it may be a pest issue.

  • How frequently can I repot an AV? I repotted mine 3 months ago but have realized the pot is too big and I want to pot down but is it too soon? Secondly, I’ve kept it in a plastic bag the past few months and it looks nice and happy, but when I tried to remove it the leaves all drooped (so I put it back). I recorded the temperature in the bag (70%) and in the rest of the room (40%). Is there anyway I can get my AV to adjust to the humidity outside the bag or is the difference too much? Ive considered adding a humidity tray if I were to take it out. Thanks for your help! This page is very helpful!

    • Repot your plants when they need it, if they grow quickly, this can only be three months, but usually is longer. Use a pot only slightly larger than the current root system. If rooted well, the shock from being removed from the bag should only be temporary. It should adjust in a day. If it doesn’t return it to the bag and let it get better established. It should only take a few weeks for a plant to get rooted adequately.

  • I have an AV that has been growing in water for a few years. It bloomed like crazy this winter. It’s in a vase, so the roots hang free in the water. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I’d like to put in dirt….do I just cut all the roots back to the crown & reroot in soil?

    • Plants can grow and bloom in water. Purpose of the potting mix is to stabilize/anchor the plant and while also providing water. You can pot into soil with or without the roots. If you remove the roots, and reroot the crown, place plant in clear bag/container for a few weeks until it can (re)establish roots in the soil.

  • Hi Violet Barn. I’m about to repot several AVs that I’ve let grow to about a 4″ neck (yikes, I know.). I have some rooting hormone that I want to use to encourage regrowth after lobbing off the crown. Do you think I can just dip the bottom in the powder and plant as usual?

    Thanks for your advice!

    • You may, but rooting hormone isn’t usually necessary since AV’s are fairly tender and not woody.

  • Hi, I find your site very useful and informative. I’ve had an African violet for over 12 years, it’s always done very well but recently my mother in law messed with it and overwatered it and it developed root rot. I repotted it and it’s produced some new leaves but they turn brown and crispy few days later. I suspect that it might had aphids too as I found one on the back of a leave. I’ve removed the rotten roots but it’s only a tiny yellowish stump left and have put it in a smaller pot in a plastic bag. I’d be very gutted to lose this plant as it was given to me when my son was born so it has a special meaning. Does it have any chances of surviving? Is there anything else I can do? I am going to treat the leaves with rubbing alcohol to kill all the bugs.

    Many thanks in advance

    • Know way of knowing without seeing the plant. If you have a healthy crown (center of plant) then it should survive with some TLC. Would suggest washing it thoroughly with some mild soap (like dish soap) and room temperature water. Then (re)root it–see our “restarting an African violet” lesson in the plant care section.

  • My african violets have created center leaf clusters that are very tight and hardly any stems. So the plant has a row of pretty leaves around the base and then a tight cluster of leaves in the center. This has happened to several of my plants. What could cause this?

    • A number of things can cause this. Environment, care, or pests can be the cause. Search “tight centers” from our homepage to be directed to more information.

  • I have 3 violets rooting from crowns and have been covered in zippered bags for about two-three months. They look great and when I checked them today they seem to have rooted nicely. I took the bags off and within a few hours they seem to be wilted. I did not water them because the soil was moist from being in the bags. I put the bags back on until I can find out why this happened. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    • They should be rooted by now. Open the bags, but don’t remove plants, then remove from bags a few days later. Likely the plants just need to get acclimated.

  • Hi I have a quick question. What do healthy AV roots look like? Trying to tell if my plant has root rot. It seems to have heathly growth on top (it’s grown a lot since I got) but some of the roots look dry and the roots aren’t a pure white. I was wondering if I was doing something wrong. I also potted it with some natural soil from outside and it has little baby earth worms and other tiny bugs I don’t know. Would these have any effects?

    • Healthy roots should be light in color (not really “pure white”), supple, and not dry. Garden soil can be used, but isn’t recommended, though everyone used it 60 years ago out of necessity. Though the baby earth worms may not be an issue by themselves, there may be other things in the soil that could be. Also, garden soil won’t provide the aeration or “lightness” necessary for good root growth and will only make root root more likely. Modern, peat-based, “soilless” mixes are better for this reason, especially if containing plenty of coarse vermiculite and perlite.

  • I got an african violet to take care of while my parents traveled, but when I received it (and had the chance to unpack it from the box) the plant was soaked, and the leaves browning and limp. I immediately drained the plant and put it on an absorbent paper towel to dry it out. The leaves continued to die even as the plant dried out. I have also re-potted it in dryer soil, but there are only 3 leaves left. They have some green, but are limp. Any help? This was my grandmother’s violet – the last of hers that our family inherited and I’d like to save it.

    • What you did was proper. If the root damage isn’t too severe, it may still recover. If the remaining leaves are in the center/crown and still look healthy, it should be fine with some TLC.

  • I planned to have a vaction, can I place the healthy AV in the dome or plastic bag for a month without attending them? Thanks for your information.

    • Yes. Keep out of heat or intense light–you don’t want to “cook” them in the bag. Disbud them before you leave, so you don’t come home to a bag full of spent/rotted flowers.

  • Is it possible to save plants that became extremely dry and dehydrated after being left in an overheated room for two weeks? Their leaves are brown and soft and the plants appear to be dead. A couple of the plants have partially green leaves.

    • It depends upon the condition of the plants. If the center growth remains healthy, it can likely recover.

  • I just can’t bring myself to discard the neck stump after surgically removing the crown. Having noticed that the neck has developed airiel rootlets on one side, I’m thinking about cutting the stem stump down to pot soil level and then positioning it like a log with the rootlets pointed down into the soil. If I do this, what do you think the outcome will be? And what precautions should I take?

    • Unless there is at least the beginning (doesn’t have to be much) of growth of foliage/crowns/suckers along the stump, nothing will likely come of it.

  • I am totally embarrassed to admit that I have neglected my violets for a LONG LONG time. I had no idea they needed frequent pruning and repotting. My poor plants! I hope they survive the boot camp they are about to begin. 10 years old (at least) and never been tended too. They still bloom like crazy and seem healthy. Can’t wait to see how they do after this…. Thanks for all of the great advice.

  • Dear Violet Barn, I am so glad that I found you. My African Violet has been struggling since summer, and I assumed it was from rot and/or crown rot. I just took it out of its pot and saw that it barely hung onto the crown which was all dried up. So I separated it from the crown, potted it in a small pot with good African Violet soil, and put a clear plastic bag over it per your instructions. I am worried that I took the entire crown off, but to be truthful, it was all dried up anyway and the plant barely was attached to it. I plan to out it under a grow light as well. Any thoughts about whether this will work, given that there are not roots or crown left on the plant.

    • Little confused–no crown nor roots? Apparently only some leaves attached to the trunk of the plant, but no center? In any event, so long as you have healthy material of some sort, eventually it will reroot and grow. If it doesn’t have a center/crown, it will regrow one in time.

  • I was wondering if a humidifier would substitute for a plastic bag/container? I don’t have a clear plastic bag that fits right now. Will a plastic tinted grocery bag do or is a clear bag better?

    Thanks!

    • Since the purpose of the baggie is to provide a high humidity environment, a humidifier would help as well–it’s just a more complicated solution.

  • Why do I find most of my AV are growing (very) slowly? Is it normal? It has been like 2 weeks and the tiny leaves are still in the same size. An AV beginner here.

  • I have several of your miniature/trailing AVs & the leaves appear over crowded in their pots. Can you advise me as to the needed pot size for these trailers. Presently they are in 4 inch pots with 2-3 crowns. Thank you so much for all of your very helpful information.

    • Miniatures should only have one crown. If a trailing variety, multiple crowns and branches are encouraged. Like any plant, choose pot size based upon size of root system. Use a pot only slightly larger than current root ball. As trailers spread, you can go to larger pots, but keep them shallow, since the root ball won’t grow very deep.

  • I am so happy I found your site! Following you directions I was able to save my violet! I’m not saying I didn’t flinch when cutting the crown but I’m glad I did, my pretty magenta colored violet is now happy healthy and blooming again! Looking forward to filling my home with some of the beautiful varieties you carry! Thank You for helping to save my violet :)

  • Thanks for all your good advice. Please emphasize that pots need to be CLEAN. I know you say that, but I did not realize how important it was until I killed off most of my AV’s because I did not wash and sterilize my pots. Hard lesson learned, though I did get to order more AV’s from you!

  • I bought a couple of African Violets today from my local garden centre. The pots were wrapped in a bit of plastic that covered the leaves a bit. When I took off the wrapping 2 leaves from each plant fell off. I’m assuming they’ll grow back, but just wondering how long that might take?

    • Depends upon your care and conditions, as well as the variety(ies) in question. Under our conditions, a violet will produce a new row of leaves about every 3-4 weeks.

  • Hi, i have a violet that is about 70 years old. Its an offshoot of my Granny’s. I live in Melbourne, Australia and it has thrived for a long time. Its a lot bigger than any of the pictures you have here and the necks are long and droop over the edge of the pot. The pot is at least 12cm high and 12cm wide. The necks are all hanging over the edge of the pot but leaves do grow down low on them and all the way to the end. It always has lots of flowers. I don’t know whether to re-pot it into a bigger pot so it sits more upright now or whether to seperate the different plants. It seems to me there might be 3-4 different systems growing. I would appreciate your help. Thank you!

    • At some point, you will have to follow the procedure shown in this lesson. After that, repotting regularly to eliminate the “neck” (see the lesson for that), will avoid having to “restart” the plant. Your violet can live indefinitely with the proper care.

  • Stephanie Pietro

    My mother overwatered my AV and it’s mushy! This plant has been very neglected the last year or 2. Only ever repotted once and has since grown to 4 or 5 crowns, two of which have fallen off since the overwatering. The two fell off as I was trying to remove some wilted/dead stems and are currently in jars of water to regrow roots.
    As for the rest of the intact plant, I’m not sure what to do. The root/neck is out of the soil about an inch, maybe 2 on the 3 crowns attached to the plant. Should I separate the 3 rosettes/crowns? Where would I cut them? Or should I lower the entire plant with all three crowns attached into the soil until it’s healthier? The “neck” is much thinner than the images you show and it hasn’t bloomed in a couple years.
    Your input would be greatly appreciated!!!

    • You only want one crown/plant to a pot. Cut the neck/stem just beneath the lowest leaves, as pictured in the lesson, and reroot the crown.

  • Connie Godsey-Bell

    Hi,
    Thank you so much for your wonderful site. I had no idea that I was supposed to re-pot my African violet on a regular basis. As a result of my ignorance, I now have a sickly violet that appears to be dying It has a neck that is 3 1/2 inches long. It’s leaves are still green, but are very droopy. Should I follow your advice in restoring or restarting? I can provide a picture of my plant.

    Thanks for your help!

  • I love variegated AVs, especially with red/purple under the leaf. The beautiful one I have now needs some serious work- it’s droopy and has a 2″ neck. I’ve decided to start some leaf cuttings to be sure to preserve it. In the past when I tried variegated cuttings from other plants, all the new plants only grew to about an inch high then died. Is there any special advice for variegated AVs? Also, how many leaves should you allow to remain on the crown when cutting it off for rerooting?

    • Treat it the same, but the leaves that remain should have at least some green–the more the better. If all or, nearly all, white, the plant simply doesn’t have enough chlorophyll to grow very vigorously. Also be careful in handling heavily variegated leaves–they tend to bruise more easily.

  • I love variegated AVs, especially with red/purple under the leaf. The beautiful one I have now needs some serious work- it’s droopy and has a 2″ neck. I’ve decided to start some leaf cuttings to be sure to preserve it. In the past when I tried variegated cuttings from other plants, all the new plants only grew to about an inch high then died. Is there any special advice for variegated AVs?

  • Valerie Potocki

    I left my african violet outside to repot it, I forgot about it until the next day. Needless to say we had 98 degree weather and direct sun. My violet now looks like it’s dying and I would like to save it. It was from my father in-laws funeral, and it hadn’t flowered until this past year and we had it for 4yrs. How can I save it now? Please help.
    Thank you,
    Valerie

    • Would need to know its condition to say. If the center growth is still green and alive, it will recover and grow.

  • Hello, I just “restored” my AV following your instructions. I’m not sure about the plastic cover, as I’m concerned about suffocating the plant somehow. Is the objective to keep it airtight?? I have a plastic bag around the pot with a rubberband. Many thanks for the great step by step instructions!

    • Until the plant/crown develops some new roots, it can collapse–since it will not be able to replenish the water that evaporates from its leaves. The purpose of the bag is to provide a high humidity environment to greatly reduce this loss of moisture. You won’t suffocate the plant. It also is more convenient–you won’t have to constantly monitor the plant…just bag it and let it be for a few weeks. The soil should be moist, but not soggy. If it’s too wet then the plant may rot in the enclosed bag. Place it in a light, but not hot (you don’t want to bake it), place.

  • I have a Kentucky Gooseberries AF that I haven’t repotted in years. It has a “neck” with the original rosette on the end and another rosette near the base. Can I slice off the rosette at the base and re-root it? Will it be okay for the original plant to have a slice on the side of neck? I hope this makes sense!

  • Any advice would be appreciated! I realized I had not trimmed root ball in nearly a year and africa violets (3) were looking leggy. Trimmed roots in p!ants and replaced in clean pots. Realized after repotting that AV mix actually felt soggy from too much water. Pots very heavy. (What was I thinking!!) Removed plants, let drain briefly on plain paper towels, repotted with dry potting AV mix. Afraid to water, due to trimmed overly wet roots. Should I water from bottom of are these doomed? Thank you.

    • Soil should be moist, not soggy. Best to water from the top until plants grow a fuller root system, since this gives you more control over amount of water the plant receives.

  • I tried to move a potted leaf and accidentally snapped it off its stem. The stem has roots. I know I can try to re-pot the leaf, but will the topless root stem produce a plantlet, or will it just rot?

    • You can reroot the top (see the lesson above). As for the topless root stem (stump?), it may resprout another crown, especially if it has at least one healthy leaf still attached. If not, odds are not good for resprouting.

  • Do you water while rerooting in bag and how often?

    • Once in the sealed bag, it shouldn’t be necessary to water again during the few weeks it will take to root.

  • Kathleen McCarthy

    I have an African violet that is healthy but is in need of a neck trimming. It has grown quite large;its leaves spreading to about 13 inches across. Although I see that you recommend a pot of no more than 5″, it seems that this plant will need a larger pot. It is presently in a 8-9″ diameter pot that is about 6″ deep, and it has done well. Should I use the same pot, switch to a smaller one, or find a slightly larger pot than what I have been using? I know I have to consider the root ball when I see it, but I’m concerned that it will be larger than your recommendation for a 5″ pot.

    • Let the size of the root system determine pot size–size of plant is irrelevant. Use a pot no more than 1″ more in diameter than the healthy root ball.

  • I have received an African violet plant from an Aunt who received it from my Nan who passed away 20 years ago
    It has died since I left it in the sun a few days ago. Is there anyway to revive it ? All the leaves have died and I am afraid I’m going to lose this sentimental plant

    • No way to know. If center leaves of plant are still healthy, plant will recover with proper care.

  • Rosida Vignesvari

    I have some overheated african violets. The center leaves are deforming in shape and size. Can my violets getting healed?

    • With a return to proper environment and care, it will recover and grow out. The damaged leaves will not return to “normal” however.

  • I have an AV that needs “restoration”, but I’m not sure how best to tackle it. A few months ago I accidentally bumped it and broke off the innermost tiny leaves, including the growing point. Being a free-bloomer (Persian Lace is the variety), it continued to produce flower stems from the axils of the surviving leaves, but the crown was clearly gone. Eventually I realized that it was never going to produce more leaves as long as I let the flower stalks develop, so I removed them all. Now it appears to be growing several suckers sort of from the side of the damaged stem. What would be the quickest way to get back to a healthy normal plant (or plants)?

    • Remove and root the suckers/crowns when they are large enough to confidently handle, then start again. See our lesson on propagating chimeras, since the concept is the same.

  • I have a violet that keeps blooming like crazy but has practically no leaves. That can’t be good. It has developed a neck of about 1.5 inches. Should I restart it when it’s bllooming?

    • Repot plants when they need it, rather than when blooming or not. If done regularly, when the neck is very small, blooming won’t be interrupted. Otherwise you end up in you current situation.

  • I found an African Violet at work today in the trash. No root ball just maybe 4 dried up single roots at end of very long neck. . Neck is still very alive with healthy crown but needs re rooted . I am new to planting but I have African violet soil and bags . Will this lesson above help me save this African violet?

  • I have a violet that I’ve had for 8 years. After the original blooming it never bloomed again. I found this site about a month or so ago. My plant needed some work. So I followed these steps and my plant now has new roots and there are buds forming! It looks so good and I’m so excited to see what the blooms look like! I don’t even remember what color the blooms are! Thank you for this great restarting information!!!

  • Cheryl Ouverson

    Getting ready to restart a couple of AV plants…would dipping the severed crown in rooting hormone be ok before planting?

    • You can, but it shouldn’t be necessary. African violets are tender plants.

  • So, I’m trying to save my violets. My one had 5 necks, the other 4… so I’m trying to separate them into their own pots. Should I all the necks into their own bags to start regrowth??
    And when using the bag method, is it just the crown and soil?? Or do you put the pot in the bag as well??

    • Each pot should only have one crown/plant. Each can have its own bag (or one very large bag for all of them). You can place both the pot and plant in bag–you can just “tent” the plant above the pot, but this may require you to monitor the plant every once in a while to see if soil has dried.

  • I had a AV that is dear to a friend and I tried to repot but it died. I now have two leaves that I have rooted in water. I don’t want them to die but if I put them in dirt do they need plenty of water or just slightly moist? I know the roots are very delicate. Not sure how to precede. Thanks

  • I tried the method you suggested for cutting down the neck, replanting and placing in a sealed bag. It has been about 2 weeks, so I peeked in to check on the progress. All three re-plants have fuzzy mold growth on at least 2-3 leave each. What did I do wrong and what do you now suggest? Thanks!

    • The source of the mold could be almost anything, something in the soil, on the leaves, from your hands when handling, etc. The high humidity in the bag (things may be too wet) just provides the perfect environment to grow it. You can also wipe the leaves/mold with a soft sponge or cloth with some mild dish soap. Your plant should be rooted in another couple of weeks and can be unbagged at that point.

    • Thanks for the quick reply! I was so happy to find your site. Very informative and helpful. Had NO idea about the replanting of AVs – this one had been in the same pot for at least 4 years and stopped blooming. Now I have three newbies that I hope I can restore :)

  • How often do you water an AV after you replant it like this? I know she’s nice they’re covered, you don’t want to water them too much or you might get root rot.

  • I just checked on my 3 restarting violets – I’ve had them sitting with moist soil in large ziploc bags for about 2 weeks – and there was green spots of mold and also white fuzz with yellow antenna-looking stuff sticking out of it – all over the sides of the pot. I can see that the green mold extends beyond the surface of the soil, still mostly visible on the pot.

    What should I do? My first two violet re-starts went off without a hitch, but I only placed the bag over the top of the plant, with the bases (that contain drainage holes) sitting in their saucers, not inside the bag.

    I wiped the mold off with a damp cloth and something that looks like spores poofed up when contact was made. I’m worried about the plants being affected – is there some procedure to deal with this? I’ve taken them out of their bags and washed & sanitized the bags. I will place the bags on top this time, with the base left uncovered to allow for airflow.

    • Likely something in soil when plants were bagged. This can happen. Your strategy of opening the bag seems to be the right one in this case.

  • Can I use a grow light in regular lamp to grow miniatures and a trailing violet in my office? What is the best type of light to use. ..regular or LED? I see lights with red and blue spectrum…..does it make a difference?
    Thanks!

    • Though all of those things make a small difference, don’t get too distracted by the details. So long as your plants get enough light, on a regular basis, they’ll grow and bloom.

  • I have about a dozen starter plants I have started from leaves. Should I transplant them into clay or plastic pots?

  • When new plants are started from leaves, what size pots should they be transplanted in once they are growing into their own tiny plants?

  • I am considering trying some of your seeds to start some violets.
    How do u recommend starting seeds?
    The dome method?

    • We don’t sell seed. African violet seed are VERY small–like fine pepper. Sow on surface of moist soil (not soggy) soil, place in clear container, and place in low light at room temperatures (no bottom heat). When begin to germinate (in a couple of weeks) can move under brighter light.

  • My Grandma gave me a pot with 2 AV in it. After reading this info I definitely need to restart the crown. Can I put them both back in the same pot, or should I seperate them??

  • I have a violet which my grandmother started I’m guessing in the 1960″s. Over the years I would repot it for my mother, discarding bad lower leaves and putting it in an increasingly larger pot to accomodate the neck and root. (Never disengaging the crown from the old root) Fast forward to now, I am deathly afraid of losing it by doing what you describe . Since my mother passed in 2012, my life has been disasterous and the violet’s care minimal. Would it be wise to do some cuttings as a safeguard?Is it safe to put violets atop a frig that is not enclosed? (I have a kitty!))

    • First, don’t use a pot size larger than the plants root ball. This usually means no larger than 4 or 5″ in diameter. To be on the safe side, you can restart the top of the plant while also rooting some of the leaves that you’ll have to remove (see our lessons on propagation). The top of the frig should be OK, so long as it has enough light and is otherwise cared for. After rerooting/restarting the crown of the plant, you will need to enclose it until it has rerooted. Once rooted, this won’t be necessary.

  • Wow….so much good info here…..Now I know that I need to do a lot of neck-cutting and crown repotting, but am hesitant to do so now (January in KY) as available sunlight is all I have and it is less intense and less available due to shorter days right now….I worry that it won’t be enough to sustain a rootless plant in a bag…….should I just wait until Spring ?

    • Best time to do this is when it needs to be done. If there is enough light to sustain plant now, it will be enough to sustain it as a cutting in a bag..it just will grow slower.

  • I have several violets with leaves growing skyward instead outward. The crowns are compact and very firm, the leaves are small and somewhat curled upon themselves. Any idea what I’m doing wrong?

    • Unless this is the genetic nature of this particular plant (would need to know variety name), “reaching leaves” are symptom of not enough light. Not sure what you are describing with crowns and curled leaves–would need to see this, since this could be result of many things, including light.

  • I cut the crown off several African violets and scraped off the crusty outside and then put it in new soil and bagged it. Will it root this way or should I not have scraped the crusty stalk.
    I am enjoying this web site so much.

    • You should (gently) scrape the old, woody, stubble and growth, though don’t peel it like a carrot. Sounds like what you did was fine.

  • Thank you for such excellent information! When using the bag method, is it okay if the leaf edges are touching the bag?

  • When can I repot/restart a violet? It’s end of November and it doesnt seem right doing such drastic surgery this time of year. My violet has a long neck but I have been waiting for it to stop flowering for months. It really needs the full crown off/restart treatment. My alternative would be to take off an inch or so and do it again in 6 months.

  • I have been growing African violets since 1978, but I have never seen the following problem, and it is spreading to neighboring plants:

    The leaf looks normal, but the stem has shriveled to its thread of a core. It looks as if the leaf is connected to the plant by a string.

    Same method of watering as ever: 1 cup of distilled water which collects on a plastic bottom plate for only 10 minutes. Then the flow-through left over water is discarded. Once a week.

    • Would need to know far more, about care and environment to make a guess. First question is always: when was last time plant was repotted? Do this first, then see if things improve–if hasn’t been repotted in year or more, it’s time.

  • I have ordered some violets from you my problem is they never bloomed, I have managed to grow a lot of leaves I do not know what to do the leaves are strong and in shape but no flowers I need advise.

    • Assuming all else is good and the plant is healthy and growing, lack of flowers indicates it needs more light. For more detailed answer, search “no blooms” from our homepage.

  • When I repot my plants do I use a larger pot, or just take some of the soil off the plant?

    • Pot size is always determined by size of root system. Never a larger pot until root system fills the current pot. Grown as houseplants, standards rarely need a pot larger than 4 or 5″, minis and semis never larger than 2 to 2.5″ in diameter. To lower an older plant, with a neck or trunk, into pot, you’ll likely have to remove at least some of the root ball and soil.

  • elaine cruickshank

    I rerooted with plastic bag method and the outer leaves look kind of limp, center are okay, its been 2-3 wks , any tips?
    I wish I could send a picture.

    • Leaves shouldn’t be limp, unless they were to begin with. But, so long as center is OK should be fine. Be sure that soil was moist (not soggy) and that crown/stem was FIRM in the soil–otherwise, won’t root well or quickly.

  • I was asked by a friend of mine to re-pot her violet. I am totally scared (this plant is still going strong since 1972). I have read the re potting and restoring. But, am still nervous. Once I have cut off the neck, can it go in water to root? Instead of the bag or dome? This plant needs a lot of work. It looks more like a hanging plant.

  • I just discovered mini-violets. So cute!!!! I’m wondering how long I can leave them in their plastic pots from the nursery. The pots are only about 2″ high. Should I wait until I see the roots starting to migrate out of the hikes on the bottom? Thanks so much! Love this site! I’ve learned a lot already.

    • Repot them when they begin to form a “neck” or trunk. From the date on our pots, perhaps 8 months. Afterwards every 6-12 months. Never use a pot larger than 2.25″ or 2.5″.

  • elaine cruickshank

    When using the plastic bag method, Is an east window okay(lots of light but no direct light or sun) or should it be in a dark room?

    • Can’t speak for your window, but sounds OK. You do want light but don’t want to overheat the plant inside the bag.

  • I was recently gifted a small African violet with no watering or care instructions. I think I overwatered it because the plant is very sad looking at has white “dots” around the stem and lower leaves. Is there something that can be done to revive it and let it grow?

    • Repotting in fresh soil should help greatly. When doing this, examine the rootball and inside of the pot for more of those “white dots”. If you see the look of confectioners sugar on the root ball or pot, you may have mealy bugs (otherwise you probably needn’t worry). If this is the case, search this term on our site for more information. To be on the safe side, you can always reroot/restart the top of the plant as shown in this lesson.

  • I had no idea they were supposed to be repotted twice a year. Mine are such a mess now because the necks are so long that they curl and re-curl upon themselves. I feel like a terrible “parent”. I guess I’ll have to cut off the crowns on all of them and hopefully save them all. Wish I had found this site a long time ago.

  • Julie Christianson

    I have a Ann violet, it’s a starter plant. I noticed as the new leafs start to grow they turn brown and fall off, but the existing leafs are just fine. What’s going on? All of my other violets are doing just great. Thank you

    • We need more information, but usually when leaves are lost it’s a soil and/or watering issue. ‘Ann’ is a slower grower and can be more difficult, especially when young.

  • I really love flowers.Would these survive in a south facing window w/ maybe 21/2-3 hrs. Of sun?

    • Hard to say. Every window is different. If the leaves begin to bleach/turn yellow, or bunch in center and become brittle, you’ll know the light is too much.

  • Can I put it under a glass dome instead of a bag?

  • Some time I inherited an aging violet with 3 necks. Following this advice I repotted/rerooted 2 pieces but simply added soil to the original. The 2 new ones “took” and grew but never bloomed (gave them a year ). While the original continues to grow and bloom and has 2 new necks that I am afraid to deal with. What went wrong.

    • Nothing went wrong. If suckers aren’t removed as they appear, you’ll eventually have multiple crowns. If not repotted regularly (at least once each year) then you’ll have necks. You may simply have to repeat the process.

  • Rebecca Worthing

    I have repotted my violet and used the bag method you described in your website. It’s the next day now and the leaves and blossoms are all drooping and it looks like it’s going to die. What should I do? I don’t want to lose this violet. Should I take a clipping now to be safe? Thanks For the advice!!!

    • When bagging a violet, the soil should be moist, not soggy–so you don’t rot the plant once in the baggie. If plant was firm when placed in the baggie, it should perk up in time when rooted.

    • Rebecca Worthing

      The leaves and blossom have popped up and the plant looks really good right now. The soil is moist not soggy but how do I know when it needs to be watered and do I water it from the bottom or the top and how much? Thanks ahead of time for the advice!

    • If in baggie, likely won’t need watering until removed from the bag. Once removed, water when surface is “dry to the touch”. Goal is moist, not soggy.

  • So glad to have found your site. After liking a co-workers violet, I just purchased my first one. Can I leave it in the little pot it came in since its growing well in it, or do I need to repot it? And if I need to repot it, do I upsize the pot? Thanks in advance.

    • Would need to know size of violet and size of pot. If a standard variety, use no larger than 4″ (or 5″ at most) pot. If miniature, no larger than 2.25″ or 2.5″ pot. Pot “up” only when current root system nearly fills pot.

  • Just found your website, thank goodness! I’ve obviously been treating my violets very poorly. I’ve tried transplanting before with little luck, now I know why. Thank you so much for such great information. I’ll be back regularly. :-)

  • Wow, what a great site. If only I had looked it up sooner. I have a violet with a long neck and a sucker growing on it. Can I restart the original and the sucker?

    • Restart the plant and the sucker in the same manner–basically “rerooting” each crown.

  • Can I put a newly repotted violet that is in a bag…can I put it on my lighted plant stand? Thank you

    • Yes, as you would your other violets. Since you don’t want to overheat it while in the bag, avoid the warm spots (like uppermost shelves) on your light stand.

  • I didn’t realize I had to replant every 6 months and I was wondering what I was doing wrong. Now I know!! Thanks for all the information☺️

  • When using the plastic bag method (I assume a ziploc would work?) to help address the wilting, should the bag be sealed shut after placing the violet inside?

    thanks – great step by step process to follow here!

    • The bag can be sealed. So long as the soil is only moist (not soggy) plant will not need (re)watering and won’t rot.

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