7 Reasons Your African Violets Aren’t Blooming
Are your African Violets struggling to bloom this season? There are a few common reasons that this can happen. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen looks at the different issues that may prevent your African Violets from blooming to their fullest potential.
African Violets are one of the most widely recognizable houseplants around. They are beautiful little plants that are commonly available for purchase at garden centers, nurseries, and even grocery stores. With their soft, fuzzy leaves and cheerful flowers, their popularity is well deserved.
But these popular houseplants have a reputation for being a bit finicky. They do have some particular requirements for their growing conditions, and they can get distressed if their growth needs aren’t met. This can cause their leaves to turn yellow, wilt, or cause a lack of blooms.
African violets may stop blooming for several reasons. It could be a brief pause in the plant’s natural cycle, or it could be a sign of a more serious problem. Depending on the issue, it may take a few weeks to a few months for your plants to resume blooming. So be patient, and give them the best care you can while you wait. Let’s take a look at the most common issues that can prevent the bloom cycle and how to address them.
Too Little or Too Much Sunlight
If your African Violet isn’t blooming, the first thing to check is how much light it’s getting. They do best with at least eight hours of indirect sunlight per day. Ideally, they should receive between 10 and 14 hours of light each day.
They prefer bright, indirect sunlight, and they also do well under grow lights. In addition to sunlight, these plants also need 8 hours of darkness each night to recharge.
Too little light will cause the plants to stop blooming as they strain for more light. Plants will become “leggy” looking, with extra long stems.
Leaves may become thinner and look less healthy. In low-light conditions, your plant may continue to bloom, but flowers will be sparse and weak looking. If you notice these symptoms on your plant, just give it a little more light and see if it improves.
Too much direct sunlight, on the other hand, will burn the leaves. Leaves may become dry and brown around the edges. Flowers will turn brown and dry. Plants may stop blooming entirely. You may even notice that your plant is growing extremely densely with very short leaf stems.
These are all signals that your plant may be getting too much light. If you notice any of these symptoms, move your plant to a location that’s less bright, or put up a thin curtain to help diffuse strong sunlight coming through the window.
Soil is Too Wet or Dry
African Violets like their soil to be moist but not wet. They like to dry briefly between waterings, and they never want to be sitting in wet or soggy soil. If either too wet or too dry, your plants will definitely stop blooming. Be sure to check soil moisture regularly to ensure ideal soil conditions.
They do not like over-watered, wet soil. If the soil is too wet, your plants will start to rot, beginning with the roots. If the excess wetness isn’t corrected quickly, the entire crown, including stems, leaves, and flowers, will all rot.
The earliest visible sign of soil being too wet is that the leaves start to look soft, wilted, and droopy. Soon after, the leaves and stems will start to look soggy and mushy. If caught very early, a partially rotting violet can sometimes be saved by removing rotting parts and repotting in fresh dry soil.
If the soil is too dry for too long, the plant will start to wilt. You will know this wilting is from dry soil, not rot, because the soil will feel powdery and dry rather than wet and soggy. If the plant stays too dry, the leaves will become dry and start to turn brown. If you catch excessive dryness early, you can just give your plant a regular drink of water, and it should revive.
Incorrect Climate Conditions
If your plant has stopped blooming, it may simply not like its surrounding microclimate. It may be too hot or too cold. It also may not have enough humidity to flourish.
Ideally, the temperature for proper blooming should stay between 60 and 80 degrees F. Temperatures that are too cold will cause your plant to slow its growth and stop blooming. A plant that is too hot for an extended period of time will also become stressed and stop flowering.
African Violets also like high humidity, preferably between 70 and 80%. Humidity of less than 50% will likely cause your violets to stop blooming. You can increase humidity around your violets by placing several plants in close proximity to preserve humidity. You can also try using a humidifier or placing a few small open containers of water around your violets and allowing the water to evaporate.
African Violets do need a bit of fertilizer from time to time to stay healthy and vibrant. You can buy plant-specific fertilizers for optimal results. Be sure to carefully follow the directions on the package for application and frequency of use. Many fertilizers can be used every 4-6 weeks during active growth and blooming times.
A plant with too little fertilizer simply doesn’t have the energy to grow well or bloom. If you have never fertilized your plant, or if it has been a long time since the last fertilizer application, then perhaps it’s time for some more nutrients.
If you happen to over-fertilize, this can also cause it to stop blooming. Over-fertilization can sometimes cause your plant to become very leafy and green but cease to flower.
If you think you have over-fertilizer your plant, you can try to flush some extra nutrients from the soil with an extra big drink (and be sure to allow soil to dry again afterwards), and then give your plant some time to recover before resuming fertilizer applications.
Container is Too Large
Perhaps surprisingly, African Violets enjoy being snug in their pots. In their native environment, they typically grow in tight rocky crevices. Their roots filling the space is a natural trigger for the plant to start flowering.
You can repot them periodically to refresh the soil. When repotting, you can usually reuse the same pot and just give it a good cleaning before using it again. If your standard-sized plant is fully grown, the pot should be approximately 4” across.
If your plant is in a pot that is much too big, it will continue to try to grow roots to fill the space, and this takes energy away from blooming.
The familiar form of an African Violet plant is a single rosette with a ring of flowers. But violets will often sprout additional suckers, or “pups,” from the base of the crown. The extra suckers divert the plant’s energy from producing flowers to producing more foliage.
For the best flowering results, thet plant should have only one main crown. If your plant starts to develop suckers, you can carefully remove these. Extra suckers can be used to start new plants if desired.
Plant is Not Yet Mature
If you purchased your plant at a retail establishment, chances are it is already full-size and already blooming. This means plant maturity shouldn’t impact their bloom cycle, and this reason for not blooming won’t apply to you.
If, however, you propagated your plant from leaf cuttings, seeds, or suckers, you will need to wait until your plant is nearly fully grown before you can expect it to bloom. It may take ten months or more for a plant to grow from seed or cutting into a full-size bloomer.
African Violets are beautiful houseplants. Once you know what conditions they like, you can grow them easily. If your plants have stopped blooming, you can try to correct any issues you have with lighting, watering, temperature, humidity, or fertilizer.
You can also be aware of other potential issues, like suckers or growing in the wrong pot size. Once you identify and correct any issues, your plants should bounce back and sprout new flower buds for more beautiful blooms!