African violet leaves have a short lifespan, lasting no more than a year. After that, older African violet leaves will begin to wilt, turn yellow, and eventually die to make room for new foliage.
However, if your plant is drooping, appears burnt, and nearly all of the leaves are yellow with brown spots, you should look into why your African violet is dying prematurely.
The most common causes of African violet death are crown rot, root rot, and leaf rot. Overwatering, poor drainage, or the wrong soil are all common causes of this problem. Remove all diseased or dead roots, crowns, and flowers before repotting in a new growing medium to save your plant.
How Do I Know If My African Violet is Dying?
You can tell if an African violet is in distress or dying by looking out for the following apparent signs and symptoms:
Leaves Turning Yellow
One thing is for sure: African violet leaves do not persist. For ten months to a year, they remain vibrant and healthy. However, older leaves are naturally prone to turning yellow.
Typically, the older leaves are the first to show signs of aging. Eventually, they will wilt, die, and fall off the plant before turning yellow. So naturally, this is a part of aging.
There are many reasons for yellowing leaves other than the aging process, from root rot and overwatering to underwatering, pests, and disease.
If these problems are not addressed on time, they can lead to the death of your plant.
For starters, the leaves of African violets don’t like being splashed with water when they’re being watered.
Bleached or yellow ring spots, lesions, or water-soaked areas will appear if they are kept wet for an extended period.
It’s a sign of overwatering, root rot, or stuffiness when only the lower foliage turns yellow. Dehydration, low humidity, or sunburn can cause the plant’s outer leaves to turn yellow first.
If your African violet is nearing its end, you may notice it drooping.
Dehydration, light, humidity, and temperature stress may be blamed for your plant’s demise.
Water it thoroughly if you haven’t watered your plant for some time. It will likely revive itself in the next few hours or days.
If your plant is drooping despite being watered properly, check to see if it is in a drafty area.
Although African violets benefit significantly from good air circulation, they do not do well when exposed to direct hot or cold drafts, such as open doors, windows, or air vents.
Root rot and other rot diseases can also cause extensive leaf damage and loss of turgor pressure, resulting in drooping leaves.
Leaf Tips and Edges Turning Brown
There is a good chance your African violet is dying if you notice that its leaf tips or margins have turned brown or burnt. If you’ve recently fed it fertilizer, you may have over-applied.
Direct sunlight, a severe lack of moisture, or a low humidity level can result in the leaf tips’ browning.
You may have also watered your African violets with softened tap water.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of phototoxic chemicals in softened city water, such as chlorine, potassium, sodium, or fluoride.
If you notice brown leaf tips or edges, you’ll want to take action immediately. If you don’t act quickly, the leaves will die or dry out, causing irreversible leaf damage.
Stem and Crown Rot
If you don’t do something about an African violet with stem, crown, or leaf rot, it will die.
Instead, spots, stripes, and lesions will appear on the plant’s stems or crown, either black or dark brown.
During watering, soil-borne fungi on branches and foliage are the most common culprits in spreading these rot diseases.
Overhead watering is almost always to blame for crown rot. Handling the foliage or crowns with wet or soiled hands may accidentally transfer rot-causing fungal spores.
It’s possible that the same thing could happen if you don’t clean or sterilize your pruning scissors after each use.
In some cases, crown and stem rot may begin as root rot below the soil surface.
As soon as this occurs, the roots will show significant signs of decay, which can be seen on the stems and crowns of the plants.
You may be too late and have to destroy the entire plant and begin again through propagation.
Several factors contribute to stem and crown rot, including overwatering, a lack of drains in the soil, and water while the plant is in its dormancy period.
Overwatering is the most common mistake beginners make when taking care of their plants. Putting an African violet on “wet feet” is never good.
Droopy Blooms and Loss of Flower
The ever-present blooms of African violets make them a sought-after houseplant. Healthy blooms are an indicator of the health of your plant.
However, it’s also true that an African violet with wilted, limp, or damaged blooms often indicates that it is in distress and maybe dying. Another red flag is the death of flowers.
Your plant is probably dehydrated if it loses too many blooms at once.
So make sure it gets plenty of water. Nutritional deficiency, too much sunlight, or insufficient humidity can also cause flowers to perish.
It’s essential to ensure your plant isn’t getting too much direct sunlight.
So there’s no harm in giving your plants an occasional dose of diluted liquid-soluble fertilizer or plant food (Check the latest price for Amazon here).
Your African violet’s blooms and health will be preserved with this fertilizer’s growth-promoting properties throughout the year.
White/Bleached Blooms and Foliage
The velvety green leaves of an African Violet lack a natural sheen. However, if your specimen has white, bleached, paled, or powdery foliage, it has a problem.
A plant with white or bleached foliage is usually a sign of a lack of light. In addition, mildew and other fungi can cause leaves to become covered in white powder.
Overwatering is a common cause, so you should use a fungicide, repot your African violet, and adjust your watering schedule.
Regular baking soda or hydrogen peroxide can also help with most fungal growths.
Brown Spots on Foliage
If your African violet is exposed to sunlight, its leaves may turn brown and dry out.
However, bacterial or fungal leaf spot diseases can cause brown spots to appear on the foliage.
They usually begin as small, water-soaked lesions that gradually grow and merge into larger ones.
These leaf spots are common on weakened, diseased, or overwatered plants.
Make sure your African violet is in a bright place with plenty of indirect sunlight.
Allowing for adequate air circulation can also help to prevent or control leaf spot diseases.
Malnutrition and underwatering are both characterized by stunted or distorted growth.
To put it simply, if your African violet does not recover from wilting and is overwatered, that could spell doom for your plant.
Likewise, pests, diseases, and poor cultural practices can contribute to stunted growth.
Causes and Solutions for a Dying African Violet
 African Violet Crown Rot
Crown rot is one of the most common causes of African violet death. The problem occurs when water splashes on your plant or if the growing medium is too wet.
However, the decaying is only one factor at play. Fungal crown rot is caused by the fungi Pythium ultimum, Phytophthora spp., and Rhizoctonia spp.
They will all attack your African violet if it is overwatered and kept in an area with poor air circulation.
Phytophthora Crown Rot
In African violets, Phytophthora parasitica is frequently responsible for crown rot.
Wilting leaves that are black or dark brown are typical signs and symptoms.
Long-term infection can cause foliage to become soft, jelly-like, and translucent brown.
The foliage will remain firmly attached despite your plant collapsing due to decay. Engorged roots and crowns will appear dark brown or black.
Pythium Crown Rot
This type of crown rot disease is caused by severe root rot that has spread beyond the soil line.
Common symptoms are decomposing crowns, pungent odors from both soil and crowns, and darkened leaves.
The stem frequently begins to rot at the base, whereas the crown may turn light gray or appear soft and swollen.
Your African violet will appear wilted and limp, with generally yellowed foliage.
Rhizoctonia Crown Rot
In African violets, this is the most common type of crown rot. It causes your prized plant to wilt, blacken, collapse, and die.
The infected tissue begins to redden at the soil level, and the foliage of your dying plant may fall off.
Treatment and Management of African Violet Crown Rot
- Remove infected plant parts and dispose of them. If the infection is severe enough, consider removing the entire plant.
- The majority of Pythium Crown Rot cases are spread by propagation. As a result, you should avoid propagating with infected cuttings.
- Between waterings, allow the potting mix to dry out.
- Avoid using overhead irrigation and make sure irrigation water is not contaminated.
- Spray with a fungicide and repot in pasteurized potting mix.
 African Violet Root Rot
As you might expect, root rot is a common cause of African violets dying. Fungus Pythium ultimum is commonly blamed for the disease.
The fungus can survive almost indefinitely in the soil and overwinter in plant debris. As long as the potting medium is moist, it will thrive.
Consequently, most cases of root rot in African violets can be traced back to overwatering or poor drainage of the soil.
The fungus feeds on your plant’s roots, causing them to die back and decay. The more water your African violet is exposed to, the more quickly it will die.
Roots become soft, spongy, and rusty brown or black due to the disease. Sadly, the roots are hidden from view while the damage occurs. Signs above the soil’s surface include:
- Wilting or withering leaves
- Yellowing of leaves
- Leaf drop
- Rotting of the stems at the base
Sadly, many of these symptoms are difficult to distinguish from a dry plant. Read this step-by-step article to save your African violet from root rot.
Treatment and Control of African Violet Root Rot
Root rot in African violets can be prevented and controlled by keeping the soil dry between waterings. However, it should not become scorched.
Before repotting in a new batch of pasteurized, well-drained growing medium, trim off diseased and dead roots and affected plant matter.
It would be best if you used a new pot or container that has been sanitized.
 Botrytis Blight
African violets can succumb to Botrytis blight in humid environments, a fungus that attacks the leaves.
Flower petals turn gray and nearly colorless as the disease progresses. Also, the central crown’s growth appears to be slowing.
Fuzzy growths will appear on the stems and leaves very shortly. They can come in a variety of hues, from gray to brown.
There will also be a few water-soaked lesions on the stems and leaves.
If the fungus spores enter through wounds, cuts, and other points of damage, it may affect healthy leaves and stems.
Blooms will fade prematurely and may appear to melt, while leaves will begin to wilt and fall off.
Dealing with Botrytis Blight in African Violets
- Prune away all affected plant parts, including foliage, stems, and blooms.
- Apply fungicide (Amazon link) if only a few symptoms are visible and can be rescued.
- Space your houseplants apart to improve air circulation.
 Bacterial Blight
Bacterial blight is a more severe disease of African violets. It appears as rotting areas of dark-reddish-brown to black rot on the crown and roots.
Infected areas may appear greasy and ringed with yellow halos.
- To avoid bacterial bloom, always use the sterilized or pasteurized growing medium for propagation and repotting. Furthermore, avoid propagating from infected cuttings.
- Avoid exposing your African violets to hot, humid conditions.
- To prevent the spread of pathogens, separate your old plants from your new houseplants.
 Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew is what you’re looking at if you see white, powdery growths on your African violet’s blooms or foliage.
It usually does not kill your plant but weakens it and makes it more vulnerable to other diseases.
The foliage and flowers may dry out, die, and fall off. The leaves may turn brown or yellow in some cases.
- Isolate the affected African violet and remove any dead plant materials as soon as possible.
- Plants should not be crowded; instead, they should be spaced apart to allow for better air circulation. When the air is hot and humid, you can also use a fan to increase ventilation.
- Ensure that the temperatures are consistent.
- Apply sulfur dust to your African violet.
 African Violet Pests
Aphids, mealybugs, and cyclamen mites are among the pests attracted to African violets.
They usually eat the leaves and do a lot of damage. Honeydew secreted by some sapsuckers attracts ants and promotes the growth of black sooty mold.
It was common for the bugs to congregate around the buds of leaves and flowers.
If an area is infested, the foliage tends to become distorted and darken in color.
Infected leaves are often covered in purple areas with blotches and streaks.
Mealybugs such as Comstock mealybugs and citrus mealybugs are the most common pests on African violets.
Both varieties have a white waxy coating on the leaf undersides that gives them the appearance of cottony fuzz.
The sap they consume causes the leaves to become stunted and yellow. African violets can die from severe infestations.
Small, soft-bodied insects feed on the African violet’s juices, which can cause the plant to grow in an abnormal or stunted way.
They can be black, brown, green, or light green, depending on the color. They’re usually not visible when honeydew develops into the black sooty mold.
How to Deal with African Violet Pests
- The best way to keep these pests at bay is to inspect your African violet regularly.
- Cotton swabs soaked in isopropyl alcohol can be used to remove small infestations.
- Non-toxic insecticides such as neem oil, pyrethrins, and insecticidal soap effectively control the majority of these bugs. Apply as needed every week.
- Consider using a high-quality miticide to control Cyclamen mites.
 Improper Watering
Your African violet will suffer if you give it too little or too much water. If your plant is sitting in a soaked or soggy medium, it will develop root rot and crown rot.
When African violets become overly dehydrated, they wilt, droop, lose their blooms, and develop dry, yellowed foliage with brown tips.
Both overwatering and underwatering will result in your African violet dying.
How to Identify an Overwatered African Violet
- Leaves are generally yellowed, often impacting lower foliage first.
- A decaying order from the growing medium indicates root rot.
- Crown and stem rot.
- Your plant droops despite being irrigated.
- The growing medium takes unusually long to dry out.
- Soft, brown, or black roots.
How to Identify an Underwatered African Violet
- The soil is bone-dry before you water it, and it’ll begin drooping.
- Your plant is wilted.
- Leaves may start dropping due to an extreme lack of water.
- Brown, dry tips and edges of leaves.
The soil may dry out too quickly if your African violet sits in a hot, overly bright spot or has become rootbound.
How to Fix Watering Problems
- Water your African violet with lukewarm water, making sure the soil is moist but not soggy.
- Don’t spray water on the leaves. So, instead of using overhead irrigation, opt for bottom-watering instead. Your problems can be solved at once by using a self-watering pot.
- If your plant appears to have been overwatered, take it out of the pot and inspect it for root rot. Reduce irrigation and let the soil dry out slightly between waterings if root rot isn’t present.
- If rot disease is detected, act quickly by pruning away rotten and dead roots. Repot using a well-drained pasteurized growing medium and a good pot with excellent drainage after fungicide treatment.
 Soil Issues – Incorrect Soil pH, Poor Drainage, etc.
The growing medium in which your African violet is potted is another common problem that can kill it.
African violets prefer moist, well-drained soil with a balanced nutrient profile for optimum growth and development.
A well-drained root system is essential to keeping excess water from accumulating and causing root rot.
Conversely, overly organic soil retains excess water, hardens quickly, and inhibits root growth.
African violets prefer slightly acidic soil in the 5.8 to 6.2 pH range, so the pH of the soil is another consideration.
The availability of nutrients will be hampered by acidic or alkaline soil. As a result, your plant’s growth will be stunted, eventually dying.
How to Fix Soil Problems
You should repot your African violet every two years using a well-drained mix specifically designed for the plant. Make sure the pot you choose has enough drainage holes.
You can either lower or raise the pH of your soil by mixing in some limestone or aluminum sulfate. Then, work them into the growing medium thoroughly.
How to Bring an African Violet Back to Life
You have a few options if you want to save your African violet. It all comes down to the problem your plant is having.
- Repot your plant as needed – This should correct nutrient deficiencies and root rot and eliminate soil-borne pathogens.
- Provide bright, indirect sunlight.
- Water your plant when the first inch of the soil feels dry between your fingers.
- Trim off all dead, diseased, or damaged parts of the plant.
- Inspect your African violet regularly for pests and treat them immediately.