Though African violets are beloved flowers and "easily the most popular flowering houseplant in America," according to the Clemson University Extension, these indoor beauties are not without problems. Blooming in nearly every hue, these plants are not too challenging to keep free of pests as long as you provide appropriate care. However, when problems arise, simply act quickly to bring your plants back to full health.
Provide consistent care to your African violets as vigorous plants have a greater capacity for avoiding and overcoming pest problems when compared to stressed, neglected plants. Grow African violets in bright, indirect sunlight but avoid direct light that can damage your plants as well as shade that will result in poor flowering. Maintain extremely well-drained media composed of peat, soil and perlite, according to the Clemson University Extension. Irrigate until soil is saturated, but do not create waterlogged conditions. Maintain nighttime temperatures of 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and daytime temperatures at a range of 15 degrees higher.
Sucking bugs like cyclamen mites literally suck plant sap from your African violets. Considered "one of the most serious pests of the African violet," according to the Clemson University Extension, these pests are extremely tiny. Thriving in humid conditions, infestations can grow rapidly. Diagnose a problem based on symptoms as these mites are too small to see, measuring only 1/100 inch in length.
Chewing bugs also pose a problem on African violets. American cockroaches, in both their young and mature forms, often attack African violets, chewing on plant tissue. American cockroaches are the common large dark roaches that make their way into homes.
Cyclamen mite infestations of African violets are extremely problematic regarding damage as these pests inject toxins into plants while they feed. Look for abnormal growth, distorted plant parts and the death of individual parts like flowers. Examine the middle portion of the plant which typically first displays a curled appearance before the entire plant dies.
Due to their non-discriminatory feeding, cockroaches can cause extreme damage to African violets when left untreated. Chewing every part of the plant from roots to flowers during major infestations, minor problems will likely only result in chewed blooms.
Control cyclamen mites on African violets by keeping infested plants away from other plants to prevent the spread of pests. For extremely damaged plants, remove and destroy the entire plant and sterilize the pot before reuse. Apply a pesticide with the active ingredient acephate or diazinon for only moderately infested African violets.
To control American cockroaches on African violet plants, apply a fungicide with the same active ingredient as those suggested for cyclamen mites, or select malathion.