The reason why you chose African Violets over any other type of houseplant is that they’re beginner-friendly, easy to take care of, and pleasant-looking. But, when you end up with leggy African Violets, you’ll start to question your decision.
There’s no need to fret, though, because it’s pretty simple to identify the causes of why your plants appear disheveled. Plus, restoring African Violets to their former glory isn’t a tough ordeal.
In this article, we’ll list a few reasons that lead to leggy African Violets and recommend a few fixes for your issue. Let’s dive in!
Before we discuss the causes of this phenomenon, let’s first understand how it came to be.
When an African Violet plant develops new growth from the tip, this part will start to take more and more nutrients, sunlight, and water. With all these resources spent on the top part, the lower portion of the plant will grow weaker, and the leaves will start to fall off.
After they fall one after another, you’ll see the plant’s stems exposed, henceforth giving an unpleasant leggy appearance.
But what’s the reason for all this drama? It’s time for you to find out!
In most cases, African violets become leggy due to excessive or too little exposure to sunlight. That’s because their light requirements are pretty specific, and not meeting them can lead to a multitude of issues, including being leggy.
The ideal lighting conditions for African Violets include exposure to a minimum of 8 hours of indirect sunlight per day. Then, they’ll need 8 more hours in the dark each night.
Any less than the required amount causes the plant to stretch up, searching for more light, which gives it a lanky appearance.
On the other hand, receiving high-intensity direct sunlight for a prolonged time will lead to the burning and drooping of leaves. As one leaf falls after another along the stems, the African Violet plant will end up with a leggy look.
While unsuitable light conditions may be a major cause for your plant’s unhealthy looks, don’t underestimate what using too much fertilizer can do to it.
See, applying generous amounts of fertilizer may lead to growth spurts in your African Violet plant. All of sudden, your plant will look bulky and too tall, which will definitely be unsightly.
The more the merrier doesn’t apply to African Violets when it comes to watering, either. That’s because excessive watering, especially if you target the foliage instead of the roots, can form patches of mold with time.
Then, in its hasty attempt to get away from the sickly moldy parts, the stems will stretch as far as possible, giving you a long-limbed plant.
Sometimes, the answer to your legginess problem can be as natural as the plant just growing older. Just like our human bodies, the system of a plant faces several changes with age.
In old age, the leaves at the bottom of the plant may become yellow, wither, and fall off. This makes the plant’s stems bare, resembling a leggy African Violet.
Pruning houseplants is a surefire way to get rid of dying leaves and make room for new, healthy growths.
Therefore, if you don’t keep up a regular pruning schedule, the older leaves will be pushed downward and new foliage will form from the center.
But, because the old leaves will still be consuming a good part of the plant’s energy, the rate at which new leaves can grow will be much slower. Without pruning the old leaves, the plant will be stuck in this cycle, which will leave it in a leggy state.
Thankfully, fixing a leggy African Violet and preventing this scenario from happening once more isn’t an impossible task. All you’ll have to do is adjust the light conditions, your feeding frequency, your pruning habits, and other tiny details!
Here are all the tips that should help you restore your plant’s beautiful and lush appearance:
As we previously pointed out, your African Violets will need 8 hours of indirect sun during the day and 8 more hours of darkness at night. So, if your plant doesn’t normally receive this much exposure to light and dark, it’s time to fix that!
Fortunately, it’s quite simple to expose your plant to indirect sunlight to rest assured that its leaves won’t be scorched by harsh sun rays. You can do that by either:
- Keeping its pot next to a window covered with a sheer curtain
- Putting it in a brightly lit room
- Planting it underneath a tree in your garden where filtered sunlight can reach it
It’s not enough to make modifications to the light conditions to solve your leggy African Violet issue. It won’t get shorter once it gets its ideal amount of sunlight!
That’s why it’s important to transplant it, and here’s how you can do that:
- Choose a pot that’s larger than the existing one and fill it with a well-draining potting mix.
- Using a sharp, clean pair of scissors, cut off any dead leaves toward the bottom.
- Plant the African Violet plant in the soil, making sure it goes deeper than before to submerge the long legs.
- Ensure that all the healthy foliage is above the soil’s level.
- Water your African Violets’ roots by running distilled water over the soil until it’s damp but not soaking.
- Make sure not to overwater your plant by waiting until the soil becomes dry before your next watering session.
To help your plant grow and produce lovely flowers without ending up with an undesirable leggy appearance, it’s best to go for slow-release fertilizer with low amounts of nitrogen.
As for the frequency of your feedings, a 4–6-week interval during the plant’s growing phase is the perfect schedule to go for.
Part of our plant care routine should include pruning to maintain the clean look of your African Violets, and this is how to do it:
- Make sure your pruners or clippers are sanitized with rubbing alcohol before use.
- Carefully remove any yellow-tinted leaves or dying flowers off your plant, starting at the end of the growing season.
- Even during the flowering season, make a habit of periodically removing wilted flowers, old-looking leaves, and the top parts of stems.
Following all the previous steps once or twice throughout your plant’s life and then neglecting it for long periods afterward will simply wash away all your efforts.
That’s why the most important thing about your African Violet care is consistency.
Also, always monitor your plant’s growth, shape, size, and color; those will immediately let you know if the plant is going through a rough patch.
By keeping a close eye on your plant, you’ll be able to fix any issues as soon as possible and help it thrive into the beautiful flower-bearing specimen that it is!
Leggy African Violets are surely unsightly, and their mere appearance can stress you out even more if you’re not sure what’s causing it.
Now that you’ve read our brief guide, you know that excessive or too little sunlight, wrong watering habits, and too much fertilization are the ones to blame. Other factors that may lead to leggy African Violets include old age and not enough pruning.
By adjusting the amount and intensity of sunlight that the plant receives, transplanting it, and watering it properly, you’ll be on your way to fixing its problem. To encourage healthy growth, you’ll also need to follow a suitable feeding routine, prune the plant regularly, and repeat!
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.