African Violet Leaves Turning Purple: How to Fix This Issue

Native to the coastal forests of East Africa, African violets are one of the most popular flowering indoor plants in the United States. They are hardy, easy to take care of, and provide a wealth of color to homes. However, you can experience problems with them, such as discolored leaves.

To fix the future issue of African violet leaves requires the use of a soil sample kit to properly adjust its level of phosphorus. You will also need to check your plant has access to indirect light and that you maintain proper levels of soil moisture, relative humidity, and temperature.

This article will cover the steps required to correct the issue of leaves turning purple on your African violets. 

Test Your Soil for Proper Phosphorus Levels

The most common reason African violets develop purple leaves is due to a lack of phosphorus. However, there could be other deficiencies affecting your African violets too. For that reason, you should consider purchasing a test kit for your soil.

MySoil offers an easy-to-use Soil Test Kit that takes the guesswork out of fertilizing your African violets. These kits test your soil’s phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium levels along with 10 other nutrients to include pH. The purchase of this kit includes everything you need for use, including a soil scoop, sample jar, instructions, a prepaid return mailing envelope, and access to MySoil’s dedicated customer support team.

Additionally, MySoil sends you a bar graph of our soil analysis along with precise fertilizer recommendations to improve the productivity of your soil. You will need to follow those instructions in order to raise your soil’s phosphorus to the proper level for healthy green leaf growth. 

Use Fertilizer Regularly

Like most indoor plants, African violets require the proper use of fertilizer, and as Benjamin Franklin stated, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” For that reason, finding and using an appropriate fertilizer for your African violets is essential to preventing problems like leaves turning purple in the future. 

When purchasing fertilizers, or plant foods, for African violets, make sure you selected a balanced one containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen is necessary for the development and growth of stems and leaves, and phosphorus is required for the growth of blossoms and healthy roots. Additionally, potassium is essential for the creation and movement of carbohydrates in plants.

The proportions of those three nutrients are listed on the label. For example, a fertilizer with 8-16-10 on the label contains 8-percent nitrogen, 16 percent phosphorous, and 9-percent potassium. The rest of the blend includes a filler like sand or granular limestone.

However, using slow-feeding fertilizer like Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food Spikes is perhaps the best way to avoid getting purple leaves on your African violets. Miracle-Gro’s plant food spikes contain all the micronutrients your African violets need. Additionally, when used as instructed by the label, they feed your plants continuously for up to two months.

When it comes to conventional fertilizer, several blends are available for African violets specifically. For example, Jack’s Classic African Violet Water Soluble Plant Food is available online. Its 12-36-14 blend provides a good proportion of phosphorus for use on all African violet varieties to include standard, hybrid, miniature, and trailing plants.

Make Sure Your Plants Have Proper Light

African violets are easy to grow and maintain. However, you do need to make sure they receive proper sunlight.

African violets require about six to eight hours of indirect sunlight to produce healthy leaves and flowers. However, if they receive direct sunlight, their leaves and flower can burn, and in extreme instances, your plant might die. For that reason, you should place your African violets in windows facing east or north.

If you cannot provide that kind of light, you should purchase a proper plant light system online. Mars Hydro’s TS 600W Led Grow Light is an ideal option for giving adequate lighting for your African violets.

It features full-spectrum lighting suitable for all stages of growth, from seed to flower. Additionally, its 225 LEDs and highly reflective heat sink reduces light loss and increases light intensity allowing your African violets to receive proper light levels without burning them. Best of all, purchase includes a three-year limited manufacturer’s warranty.

Check the Soil’s Moisture and Adjust Watering Methods as Needed

Proper watering techniques and soil moisture are essential to maintaining the health of your African violets. Although testing systems exist which measure soil moisture, they are costly and not very practical for home gardens. The best method is using your finger to test the soil.

If the soil is dry, that means you are underwatering your plant, which can lead to dried up leaves and blossoms and death of the plant in extreme cases.

Inversely, if the soil is wet, that probably means you are overwatering your African violets. If that is the case, you should remove the plant from its pot and check for any soft roots that are black or brown. Once you identify any affected roots, trim them, leaving only the light-colored or white roots and repot your plant.

Purchasing a self-watering pot for your African violets is the best way to avoid any issues regarding proper watering practices and the resulting soil moisture levels.

Mkono offers a three-pack of Self-Watering Planters explicitly designed for African violets. Available in small, medium, and large, these planters feature a rope wick for water absorption and the capacity to hold water for about 10 days.

Check for Proper Humidity Where You Keep Your Plants

African violets thrive in the humidity levels of most homes, doing best at humidity ranges of 40 to 60 percent. However, the relative humidity of your home may be too low in certain regions or during winter months.

It that is the case, you have three ways of correcting the situation.

  1. Lightly mist your African violets daily using a misting water bottle like the Driew Plant Mister Spray Bottle.
  2. Place your African violet planters on top of a tray of pebbles with water filled nearly to the top of the rocks. That way, your plants can absorb humidity radiating from the dish.
  3. Purchase a home humidifier like the Homasy Ultrasonic 2.2-Liter Cool Mist Humidifier.

Check and Maintain Proper Temperature Ranges

African violets also require temperatures consistent with most homes. You should maintain daytime temperatures ranging between 75°F and 80°F (23.9°C and 26.7°C). At night, you should reduce those temperatures to between 65°F and 70°F (18.3°C and 21.1°C).

Additionally, it would be best if you never kept your African violets in temperatures lower than 60°F (15.6°C) or higher than 80°F (26.7°C). In the wintertime, you should remove them from windows that can cool the air in their immediate vicinity.

Likewise, depending on where you live, you might need to take care of placing them too close to windows during the summer months.

It is recommended that you purchase a reliable indoor thermometer to monitor the temperature next to your African violets.

The ThermoPro TP55 Digital Hygrometer Indoor Thermometer is an outstanding choice with its jumbo-sized touchscreen and humidity gauge.

Additionally, it displays the maximum and minimum temperatures every 10 seconds with an accuracy rating of plus or minus 1°F and °C, and plus or minus 2 percent to 3 percent relative humidity.

What We Learned About African Violets

We covered a lot of information about African violets today. First, we talked about the use of soil testing kits to address the potential issue of a lack of phosphorus.

Next, we discussed the proper use of fertilizer to prevent the development of purples leaves on African violets in the first place. And, we talked about other considerations when growing them such as temperature, humidity, and proper watering practices.

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