Yellow Leaves on African Violets

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African violets are one of the most popular types of flowering houseplants due to their hardiness and ease to grow, according to Purdue University’s Department of Horticulture website. The flowers, which vary in color and cultivar, are typically grown indoors and are especially sell-suited for windowsills. The flowers are favored by gardens regardless of skill level, though without the proper care, especially light requirements, an African violet’s leaves may turn yellow or drop prematurely.

Natural Light

  • African violets require a steady source of sunlight, but too much sunlight, especially in the summer, can cause the leaves to burn, which will result in yellow leaves. Place the plant in a northern or eastern exposure window. If possible, rotate the plant once during the day so that the light gets to the plant evenly.

Artificial Light

  • If you are unable to provide adequate natural light for your African violent, you will need to use artificial light. Place the violet 12 to 15 inches under two 40-watt wide spectrum fluorescent light tubes for approximately 15 hours each day. It’s important that you don’t put the lights any closer to the flowers because, just like natural light, the artificial light can burn the leaves, causing them to yellow and drop.


  • There are many varieties of insects and mites that can infect your African violets, causing their leaves to yellow and fall. If you see signs of pests, such as yellow leaves that are curling or have bite marks, or if you actually see insects on the leaves, spray the plant with a pesticide. There are countless symptoms of many types of pests, so to correctly identify what pest may be yellowing your African violet’s leaves, consult the list provided by the Cooperative Extension at Texas A&M (Resource 1). The website also provides a chart with pesticides that treat specific pests that are safe for use on African violets.

Additional Care Requirements

  • If your violet is getting adequate light and is not infected with any pests, make sure that the plant’s other care requirements are being met. Always water your plant with room temperature water. Water until you see drips coming out of the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. Avoid getting the plant’s crown wet and do not spray cold water on the leaves. If the leaves are turning light green and yellow, your plant may need fertilizer. Fertilize the plant once a month with a well-balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. For African violets grown in natural light, discontinue fertilization during the winter. If you’re growing the plants in artificial light, continue to fertilizer during the winter.

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