Coloration problems after light, feeding, repotting changes

mdhutchJanuary 29, 2013

Hi, I've been growing African Violets now for about a year. I struggle to keep plants alive but through a great deal of continual research have kept 4 AV's alive so far.

I'm still in college and my lighting situation is less than ideal so I recently put my plants under a grow light. I hadn't been fertilizing them but have started that recently and also re-potted them with new AV mix into self watering pots. 3 seem to be doing great and are growing blooms which they haven't in a long time! However, my heartiest one recently developed a brownish discoloration around the leaves (see picture) and its new leaves are growing in lighter. This one was also recently separated into 3 plants (it was store bought this way) but was the main plant with the large root system, so a lot of changes.

So, is this problem due to too much light, too much feeding, too much watering (I try not to leave the water in for too long even though its self watering), a difference in soil properties or something else?

My guess is the brown is from the fertilizer and the bright green is from too much light?

I'd really appreciate the help! I'm really trying hard for my "babies"!

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irina_co(z5 CO)

Probably too wet. Your soil is too black. For self watering pots it should have a lot of perlite.

You can top water it even in s/w pot to keep it on a drier side.

When it too much fertilizer - it shows like brown crystals on the very new leaves, not on the old ones. Too much light shows as a tight center and very pale bleaching.

If you like to preserve the AV that is not doing good right now - you can put a leaf down for propagation.

The best site for all the know-how is rachelsreflections. org.

good Luck


    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 5:03PM
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Thank you! I've never had the overwatering problem before so I guess now I know what it looks like. I'll probably try still self watering it but removing the water an hour later (I heard both this works and that you can leave it for a few days but now I guess I know which is definitely wrong). Can I not save it how it currently is? It still has new growth. Well I guess if it does die I can take back the cutting I gave my Mom, she's probably going to kill it anyway haha.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 6:38PM
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How many leaves are affected and how big is its pot?


    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 11:49PM
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About 6 leaves are affected (this being the outer ring of leaves) which is the majority since it was just separated from its suckers when I repotted. But it seems to be growing healthy new leaves and flowers. The pot is about 4-4 1/2 I guess, an average large pot. The affected leaves seem healthy besides their discoloration. They're not wilting or anything else.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 5:23PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

The fact that some of the leaves are ugly - doesn't affect the development of the plant - and eventually they will age and you can remove them.

The problem with too dense of the soil- is that roots have trouble breathing - and even if you do not overwater the plants- they do not grow as well as they could.

It seems like some one time event - something undesirable happened and the leaves got burned.

Continue growing - and think about replacing the soil.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 3:13PM
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Should I mix my own soil then? I've been avoiding this since I feel like I'd mess it up. What I currently have is marketed as an African Violet mix I bought at a nursery.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:48PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

you can take this AV mix you bought in the nursery, buy a small bag of perlite - if there is a choice - get the medium, not the small size - and split half and half. You are in business. Otherwise - it is peat-perlite- vermiculite - 1:1:1 - and for self watering pots probably 1:2:1 or 1:3:1.

The reason the ready mady AV mix is not good - that it is heavy on the cheapest ingredient - peat. Plus self watering pots require more perlite anyway.

Good Luck

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 1:15PM
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Such great advice, thank you so much! I'll probably mix my own since I had to throw out the last bag of mix since it contained fungus gnat eggs :(

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 3:53PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

They probably all contain some eggs. Open it outside, move to the bucket - and pour boiling water on it. Nuking the soil in a Microwave for some time wouldn't hurt too. The best is to bake it in the oven with 185F for a couple of hours, but it wil stink.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 6:11PM
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More great advice, I'm sure my African Violets will be as thankful as I am for the wisdom.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 8:39PM
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Soil can also catch on fire in the microwave...mine had some little pieces of bark. So keep an eye on it when nuking. I've also just used the av mix and added a handful of perlite to every two handfulls of soil...for the self watering pots. Watering from the top has worked best for me. Just don't let much water sit in the bottom pot.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 10:49PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

Regarding nuking the soil

Do not nuke perlite or vermiculite - there are no bugs in them.

When you nuke your soil - start with adding boiling water. You want to steam the soil - not to burn the house!

Tish! be careful!!!


    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 12:32PM
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Should I repot as soon as possible with the perlite added? I was weary about repotting when I did in the first place since it is winter and they seemed a little dormant. Will it stress my AVs out to be repotted twice in such a short time.
The brown has stopped progressing for now and new leaves look healthy so at least it's sitting kind of stable for now.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 5:52PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

You can do it - if you treat the plant with care, with minimal disturbance. Do not press on the soil, let it be quite loose to maximize the air supply to the roots. After repotting cover it with a baggie for a week to help it recover.

if you choose not to repot it till warmer days - make sure that you do not overwater. The goal is to keep it barely moist - not wet.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 10:40AM
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