Why Are My African Violet Leaves Turning Yellow?

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African Violets, or Saintpaulia Ionantha, are common houseplants that will bloom multiple times a year when cared for properly.

These gorgeous potted plants have small but bright pink, purple, blue, or white blossoms with velvety green leaves.

yellowing leaves on African VioletPin

When leaves start to turn yellow on an African Violet, it’s not only unattractive, but it could indicate a more serious issue. An infection or root rot with your plant.

What Are Yellow Leaves?

Different leaf issues signal a variety of potential health issues for your potted plants. So, it’s essential to clarify what we mean by yellow leaves on African Violets.

In this case, we’re referring to leaves that turn from typical bright or dark green to a light yellow color.

White or brown spots on African Violet leaves are a different problem and could signify a deeper issue. But if you’ve noticed your African Violets leaves are turning yellow, then you’re in the right place.

Below we’ll cover common causes for yellowing as well as a few solutions you can try.

What Causes African Violet Leaves to Turn Yellow?

The simplest explanation for African Violet leaves turning yellow or brown is that they’re getting worn out. 

A shortage or oversupply of any one thing can turn an African Violet’s leaves yellow. That said, their outer leaves will also turn yellow and drop off as the plant ages.

The most common cause of this issue is a lack of magnesium; however, it’s also possible that a lack of iron or zinc is the problem.

Losing leaves in that manner is entirely natural, and it shouldn’t happen very often. When it does happen, it will only be the lower leaves, which tend to be the oldest.

Finding the correct location for your African violet also has an effect on whether or not the African violet blooms. 

If you find younger leaves seem to be yellowing, it’s time to troubleshoot the problem. Something vital is in short supply or excess; your job is to figure out what.

Leaf yellowing is often an early sign of overwatering, especially if it starts with the lowest leaves but quickly spreads upward. 

Water Issues

African violets are picky when it comes to watering. The fuzzy leaves don’t like water droplets and may turn yellow if you’re not watering close enough to the soil.

Too much direct sunlight or too little sun can damage your plant’s foliage. Too much water can lead to necrotic spots or rotting roots. A nutrient imbalance may cause similar issues, so be careful with your fertilizer dosage. 

They’re also sensitive to overly cold or hot water. If you use ice water or hot water on an African Violet, the fragile leaf cells collapse and create yellow spots.

Related: Learn about Wick Watering African Violets

Light Requirements and Lighting Problems

Most plants need light, and African Violet plants are no exception. However, too much sunlight will cause your plant to struggle, and insufficient sunlight can cause yellow leaves.

If you accidentally let your plant get more than an hour or two of direct sunlight, its leaves will scorch. Sun damage looks like ragged, dark brown spots, often with a dry and crunchy texture. 

Pest Infestation

Insect pests like mealybugs, plant scales, spider mites, ring spot, thrips, and aphids feed on African violets sucking nutrients from the plant.

This can lead to leaves turning yellow and other problems when pests are present.

If you find white fuzzy cottony-looking areas or dark spots, you may have a pest problem. Any pest problem needs to be addressed quickly before more damage occurs or the pest spreads to other plants.

Poor Nutrition

Poor soil or lack of fertilizer can also cause yellow leaves. When this happens, the leaves are no longer fuzzy or velvet-textured either.

How to Fix Yellow Leaves

In many cases, yellowing leaves are fixable with organic methods. We recommend changing the following:

  • Watering methods
  • Plant’s placement
  • Perhaps changing the soil to solve all possible issues

Water Fixes

Specialized watering cans with long, narrow spouts are available for African Violets. They allow you to water beneath the leaves, close to the soil.

By using one of these watering cans filled with room temperature water, you may solve the yellow leaf problem.

If you live in a low-humidity area, you can also try placing the pot in a saucer filled with pebbles and a little water. With this technique, roots should pull water up from the saucer, keeping the leaves dry.

It’s important to change the water every couple of days to prevent gnats from gaining ground.

NOTE: Avoid tap or chlorinated water, which is loaded with chemicals. Use distilled or rainwater for watering your African Violets.

Lighting Changes

If your African Violet is in an office or an area of low light, try moving it to a southeastern or western-facing window. There, it should get bright but indirect sunlight, which African Violet thrives on.

Make sure the plant’s pot is about 3″ inches back from the windowpane to ensure a maximum amount of light is reaching it through the glass.

Pests Problems

Remove any yellow leaves. Spray your African violet with a solution of neem oil once a week until the pests are gone. 

Make sure the spray covers the underside of the leaves and the stems. Keep the plant away from your other plants while treating pests until all the bugs are killed.

Fertilizer and Soil Solutions

In terms of fertilizer, use one formulated for African Violets, and don’t use it more than once a month during the growing season. You may also want to drench the soil 3-4 times per year to remove excess salt buildup.

If you’ve had your African Violet for more than two years, you should also re-pot your plant. Soil nutrients don’t last forever; fresh soil may be all you need to prevent yellow leaves.

It’s important to note that African Violets don’t like traditional potting soil. They prefer sphagnum peat moss, which you can find at most garden stores.

As for the yellow leaves that are already growing, you can pinch them off. This should encourage new, healthy growth.

If these solutions don’t fix your yellowing leaves, there may be a deeper issue at hand. In these cases, you may have to turn to nonorganic methods such as fungicides or pesticides to help.

Put these tips to use, and before you know it, your African Violet will have healthy, velvety green leaves.

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