Save an African Violet from Root Rot

Tricks to combat rotting roots

The key to remedy an African Violet with root rot is to understand that rather extreme measures need to be taken. Often with African Violets, growers feel they are too delicate and thus, are not nearly aggressive enough during repotting to ensure the plant gets the proper treatment it needs to survive.

Strip Away ALL flowers and Sickly Leaves

African Violet Fertilizer Care

First, we want to remove ALL flowers that are presently on the plant. We know this sounds counterproductive, and perhaps this whole tutorial will, but trust us, this is the way to save your African Violet.

Next, we need to remove any leaves that look unhealthy. This includes old leaves, damaged leaves, and leaves that are losing color. Once you are done, you should have removed a fair amount of leaves. It’s very common to have less than a dozen leaves after this exercise.

Next, use a dull scraping utensil (preferably the backside of a knife or scalpel), to even out the section of the stem below the bottom row of leaves. By doing this, we are removing any remains left behind by the leaves we just removed.

Cut Your African Violet in Half

Now we are going to tell you something that sounds ridiculous. Cut your plant in half. That is, make a clean, straight cut about two inches below the bottom most set of leaves. You should now have two halves of your African Violet. The top half (the good half) you want to keep. The bottom half should be thrown away. The part you are throwing away should contain the old root system (root rot).

At this point, we should have only the top half (the healthy half with leaves) of our African Violet plant. Ensure it is indeed healthy by examining the stem and making sure there doesn’t appear to be any rot present. If you still see rot, cut above the rot on the stem. Repeat this process until only healthy tissue remains.

Pot the Healthy Top Half in Mix

African Violet Fertilizer Care

OK, so you should now have a healthy, nicely groomed top half of your African Violet plant that is ready to be potted in fresh new mix. Let’s go ahead and get our pot and mix ready. Typically we recommend using the same size pot as before, but repotting it in a new pot. It’s best in this instance to start over completely: a new pot with fresh mix.

Now, let’s take our new mix and fill our new pot with it. When filling the pot, make sure not to compact the mix too tightly. We don’t want to smother the plant or the new root system that will form. Now that we have filled the pot with mix, gently push the bottom most part of the stem into the mix. Try to position your African Violet in the center of the pot during this phase. At this point, your African Violet should be in its new pot and all leaves should be above the mix.

Let the Healing Begin

Finally, we want to put our newly repotted African Violet, pot and all, in a clear plastic bag. We do this to keep the heat and humidity up while the plant “heals” itself. Simply put the African Violet inside the plastic bag, blow inside the bag once (it should puff up like a balloon), and seal the bag off with a twist tie (or an equivalent). We are going to want to keep the African Violet sealed in the bag for roughly 4 weeks. 

Congratulations! You’ve most likely saved your African Violet and survived one of the most extreme repotting methods around. Remember to put your newly repotted African Violet in a place that gets a good deal of indirect sunlight and enjoy your happy, healthier plant.

Helpful Products You May Be Interested In