African Violets are one of the most popular houseplants around.
They’re relatively easy to care for, they bloom frequently, and they come in a wide range of colors and flower shapes.
However, your African Violet can become underwatered even with the best care.
Here’s what you need to know about identifying, treating, and preventing an underwatered African Violet.
Why Is Undewatering A Problem?
Water is essential for African Violets (and all plants) because it helps transport nutrients from the soil to the plant.
It also helps the plant regulate its temperature and provides support.
When a plant is underwatered, it doesn’t have enough water to perform these essential functions.
As a result, the plant may wilt, its leaves may turn yellow or brown, and it may stop blooming.
In severe cases, an underwatered African Violet will stop growing, will become brittle and dry, and may eventually die.
How Does Underwatering an African Violet Occur
Underwatering happens when a plant cannot take up enough water to meet its needs.
There are several reasons why this might happen, including:
Not Enough Water
The most obvious reason for underwatering is simply not giving your African Violet enough water.
They need to be watered at least once a week and more often if they’re growing in a pot with drainage holes or if the temperature is hot.
They must also be watered until the soil is moist but not soggy and allowed to dry out slightly between waterings.
If you’re unsure how often to water your African Violet, it’s better to err on the side of too little water rather than too much.
Another common reason for underwatering is poor drainage.
If the pot doesn’t have drainage holes, or if the holes are blocked, the water will have nowhere to go and start to build up in the potting mix.
This can cause the roots to rot, preventing the plant from taking up water even if you’re regularly watering it.
When you water your African Violet, ensure the water drains out of the pot’s bottom.
If it’s not, repot the plant into a pot with better drainage.
Hot, Dry Weather
Hot, dry weather can also cause problems for African Violets.
If the air is very hot and dry, it will cause the African Violet to lose water faster than it can take it up.
You may need to water your African Violet more often in these conditions.
You can also help reduce water loss by misting the leaves, using a humidifier, or placing the pot on a pebble tray.
Damage Root System
If the roots of your African Violet are damaged, they may not be able to take up water properly.
This can happen if the plant is pot-bound (the roots have filled the pot and need to be repotted), if the roots have been damaged by pests or disease, or if the plant has been recently transplanted.
If you suspect your African Violet’s roots are damaged, gently remove the plant from its pot and check the roots.
The plant should be fine if they’re healthy, white, and firm.
The plant must be repotted with a fresh potting mix if they’re brown or mushy.
Poor Quality Water
Using water high in minerals can build up in the soil and prevent the African Violet from taking up water.
This is a common problem with tap water, which is why many people recommend using distilled or rainwater for watering indoor plants.
You can also let the tap water sit for 24 hours before using it, allowing the minerals to dissipate.
Wrong Potting Soil Mix
If you’re using the wrong potting soil mix, it can also lead to underwatering.
African Violets need a light, well-draining potting mix high in organic matter.
If the potting mix is too dense or doesn’t have good drainage, it will hold onto water and make it difficult for the African Violet to take up what it needs.
When you’re potting or repotting an African Violet, make sure to use a light, well-draining potting mix.
To improve drainage, you can also add perlite, vermiculite, or coarse sand to the potting mix.
Too Much Sunlight
If your African Violet gets too much direct sunlight, it will wilt.
This is a sign that the plant is losing water faster than it can take it up.
To avoid this, place your African Violet in an area that gets bright indirect sunlight.
You can also move it to a shadier spot with indirect light if it starts to wilt.
If your African Violet has a disease, it may have trouble taking up water.
This can happen if the roots are damaged by root rot or if a fungal disease damages the leaves.
If you suspect your African Violet has a disease, look closely at the plant.
The plant may be infected if you see brown or mushy roots or spotting or wilting leaves.
If you suspect that your African Violet has a disease, you should first quarantine the plant.
This will prevent the disease from spreading to your other plants.
You should also take a closer look at the plant, remove any infected parts, and treat the plant with a fungicide or insecticide.
If your African Violet has pests, it may have trouble taking up water.
This can happen if root-feeding insects damage the roots or if aphids or other sucking insects damage the leaves.
If you suspect that your African Violet has pests, take a closer look at the plant.
The plant may be infested if you see any insects on the leaves or stems or any small holes in the leaves.
If you think your African Violet has pests, you should first quarantine the plant.
This will prevent the pests from spreading to your other plants.
Once the plant is quarantined, you can treat it with a natural pesticide or an insecticide designed for houseplants.
How To Tell If Your African Violet Is Underwatered
It’s essential to catch underwatering early, so you can take steps to save the plant.
That’s why it’s essential to know the early signs of underwatering.
Signs of an Underwatered African Violet
There are a few signs that you can look for to tell if your African Violet is underwatered:
The most common signs of underwatering are:
If your African Violet leaves are drooping, it’s a sign that the plant is not getting enough water.
When the leaves droop, it’s usually because the plant cannot take up enough water to support the leaves.
The leaves will start to wilt, eventually turning brown and falling off the plant.
Leaves that are drooping is one of the first signs of underwatering.
Dry or Cracked Soil
If the soil in your African Violet pot is dry or cracked, it’s a sign that the plant needs water.
When the soil is dry, the plant has used up all the water available.
When the soil has been dry for a long time, it can crack and pull away from the sides of the pot.
If you see dry or cracked soil, water your African Violet right away.
Brown Spots on Leaves
If you see brown spots on African Violet leaves, it’s a sign that the plant is not getting enough water.
When the leaves don’t have enough water, they will start to turn brown and wilt.
The brown spots may eventually spread to the rest of the leaf, and the leaf may fall off the plant.
If you see brown spots on the leaves, water your African Violet right away.
If the leaves of your African Violet are wilting, it’s a sign that the plant needs water.
When the leaves wilt, they are not getting enough water and are starting to dry out.
The leaves may eventually turn brown and fall off the plant.
If you see wilting leaves, water your African Violet right away.
If the leaves of your African Violet are curling, it’s a sign that the plant needs water.
When the leaves curl, they are not getting enough water and are starting to dry out.
The leaves curl as they try to conserve water, but if they don’t get enough water, they will eventually turn brown and fall off the plant.
Brown Leaf Tips or Edges
If you see brown leaf tips or edges, it’s a sign that the plant is not getting enough water.
When the leaves don’t have enough water, they will start to turn brown at the tips or edges.
The brown edges may eventually spread to the rest of the leaf, and the leaf will fall off the plant.
If you see brown leaf tips or edges, touch the soil to see if it’s dry.
If the soil is dry, water your African Violet right away.
If the leaves of your African Violet are falling off, it’s a sign that the plant is not getting enough water.
When the leaves fall off, they are not getting enough water, and the plant cannot support them.
The leaves will turn brown and wilt before they fall off the plant.
Check the soil to see if it’s dry and if it is, water your African Violet right away.
If you notice that your African Violet is not growing as fast as it used to, it’s a sign that the plant is not getting enough water.
When the plant doesn’t have enough water, it will start to slow down its growth.
The leaves may also start to turn yellow or brown.
If you notice slow growth, water your African Violet more often.
How To Save an Underwatered African Violet
If you think your African Violet is underwatered, there are a few things you can do to save it.
Here are some tips:
1. Water Deeply and Thoroughly
When you water your African Violet, water deeply and thoroughly.
Water the plant until the soil is saturated and water starts to run out of the drainage holes.
This will help ensure that the plant’s roots are getting enough water.
2. Move to a Humid Environment
If the air in your home is dry, it can make it difficult for African Violet plants to get enough water.
To help the plant, you can move it to a more humid environment.
A bathroom is a good option because the air is usually more humid.
You can also use a humidifier to increase the humidity around the plant.
3. Use a Humidity Tray
If you don’t have a humidifier, you can create your own humidity tray for your African Violet plant.
You’ll need a big enough tray to fit under the pot and some stones.
Place the stones in the tray and add water until it just covers the rocks.
Place the pot on the tray and ensure the pot’s drainage holes are not in the water.
The water will evaporate and increase the humidity around the plant.
4. Group Plants Together
You can group them together if you have more than one African Violet.
When plants are grouped, they create their own microclimate, which can help increase the humidity around them.
5. Repot in a Larger Pot
If your African Violet is potbound, it may be difficult for the plant to get enough water.
When a plant is potbound, the roots are cramped and have trouble absorbing water.
To help the plant, you can repot it in a larger pot.
Make sure to use a well-draining potting mix and water the plant thoroughly after repotting.
6. Cut Back on Fertilizer
If you’re fertilizing your African Violet, you may want to cut back.
Too much fertilizer can make it difficult for the plant to absorb water.
Stick to a light fertilizer and only fertilize during the growing season.
7. Check the Soil
If you’re not sure if your African Violet needs water, check the soil.
Stick your finger in the soil and see if it’s dry.
If it is, water the plant right away.
If the soil is still moist, wait a few days and check again.
How To Prevent an Underwatered African Violet
If you’re worried about your African Violet becoming underwatered, you can do a few things to prevent it.
Here are some tips:
- Check the soil before watering. Is it dry? If not, wait a day or two before watering again.
- Use a moisture meter to help you gauge when to water.
- Water in the morning so the leaves have time to dry before nightfall.
- If you’re going on vacation, ask a friend or family member to water your plants.
- Group your plants so they can help each other retain moisture.
- Use a pebble tray to help increase humidity around your plants.
- Use a self-watering pot. This will help ensure your plant always has a consistent water supply.
- Use a pot with a drainage hole. This will help to prevent the roots from sitting in water, which can lead to rot.
- Mulch your plants with Sphagnum moss. This will help to hold in moisture and keep the roots cooler.
- Try to maintain a consistent temperature in your home. Hot or cold drafts can stress your plant and cause it to dry out.
If you follow these tips, you should be able to prevent your African Violet from becoming underwatered.
As you can see, an underwatered African violet is not a death sentence for your plant.
With the proper care, you can bring it back to good health in no time.
Remember to be patient, as these plants can take a while to bounce back from drought conditions.
And keep an eye on your plant’s watering needs going forward to avoid future issues.