African Violet Suckers: What Are They and Removal?

African Violet Suckers: What Are They and Removal?
  • African violet suckers are baby plants that outgrow from the stem of the mother plant.
  • These suckers are found attached to the plant stem and not to the leaf stem. Occasionally a single plant will have multiple suckers.
  • Any new growth which does not originate from the crown, most likely will be an African Violet sucker.
What are African Violet suckers?

Why do you have to remove African Violet suckers?

  • To maintain a healthy plant it is important to remove all suckers as soon as possible.
  • Suckers are responsible for robbing the African Violet plant from essential nutrients and slowing the growth of the plant.
  • Suckers drain energy from the healthy crown growth (center of the plant) of the main plant.
  • Suckering also leads to less flowering, again due to the plant energy being diverted towards sucker growth.
  • Finally suckers are responsible for ruining the symmetry of the African Violet plant and creating distortions in the rosette leaf pattern of the plant.
Why remove suckers from African Violet plants?

Where can African Violet plant suckers be found?

  • Suckers are attached to the stem of the main African Violet plant.
  • Suckers can also look like tiny leaf outgrowths from the axils of the leaf (the area between /around were the plant stem and leaf meet).
  • The sucker offshoots can grow into new individual plants or develop crown growth if not removed in a timely manner.
Where can African Violet suckers be found?

What do African Violet plant suckers look like?

  • African Violet suckers look like a small baby plant, i.e. two to three tiny leaf outgrowths from the side of the stem, not from the center (crown) of the plant.
  • Over time they grow into bigger mature leaf sets and can be easily spotted between the leaf stems.
  • As suckers grow larger they begin to develop their own crown and rosette pattern in addition to the main crown of the plant. For more information on rosettes, please visit “What are the Different Types of African Violet Plants?”).
What do African Violet suckers look like?

Why do African Violet plants sucker?

  • As with any other living organism the production of progeny/new plant growth or suckering is a means of survival for the plant.
  • Usually when a plant is stressed, it responds by suckering to ensure its future survival.
  • Many times, when a plant experiences extreme changes in its environment (temperature, fertilizer, water or soil) they react to this change by producing suckers. For more information, please visit “Ideal Conditions to Grow African Violet Plants“)

How to prevent African Violets from suckering?

  • Ensure basic routine care of African Violets to prevent suckering. Keep the plants watered, fertilized and repotted in fresh soil and suckers will not form. (For more information on soil, please visit “African Violet Soil / Potting Mix“)
  • Many times, if the suckers are continually removed from the plant, this will also prevent future suckering.
  • Routine grooming of the African Violet plant can ensure that it maintains good crown growth and breaks the habit of suckering.

How to remove African Violet suckers?

  • African Violet suckers can be removed using a “ sucker plucker “ tool or a similar sharp blade, pencil or sharp tool which can be used to pluck or scrape the sucker off from the stem.
  • Apply some pressure and remove all the small leaves / parts of the sucker from the stem of the mother plant.
  • If the sucker is large, then you can scoop up the whole sucker crown using the sharp tool and re-pot the sucker to create a new plant.
How to remove African Violet suckers?

Re-potting African Violet plant suckers?

  • Once you have removed the large sucker from the mother plant, it can be re-potted in a small 2oz pot filled with potting mix.
  • The pot can be placed in a small Ziploc bag or under a humidity dome and allowed to form roots.
  • The sucker will eventually in 4-6 months grow into a similar plant as the mother plant.
How to re-pot African Violet suckers?

Is it time to replace the suckering African Violet plant?

  • Routine inspection and removal of suckers from the African Violet plant prone to suckering will deter the plant from producing future suckers.
  • However, if an African Violet plant is neglected for a long time and large multiple suckers have formed similar to the size of the main crown of the plant, you can go with two options.
  • First, either remove and pot up suckers as mentioned above and then pot up the neck /stem of the main plant (For more information, please visit “How to Bury and Re-Pot African Violet Bare Stems or Necks?“).
  • The second option would be to put down some leaves (For more information, please visit “African Violet Leaf Propagation: How to Produce Baby Plantlets?”) and get rid of the plant or replace with a new African plant.
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21 thoughts on “African Violet Suckers: What Are They and Removal?

  1. Very much appreciate this detailed article, and the photos included. I’m new to AV’s, and purchased one recently that looks similar to the one in the photo. I thought it was a sucker growing off the side but wasn’t sure, and wasn’t sure how to safely remove it. This article was exactly what I needed.

  2. I don’t believe it is necessary to simply throw away a plant because it has large suckers formed under it. I’m certain there are plenty of people who would be thrilled to have any African Violet given to them. I have removed these suckers and have gotten beautiful new plants from them.

    1. Hello Purple,

      Thanks for your comment, appreciate your feedback. Yes, that is true, suckers can be re-potted to produce new plants, as mentioned earlier in the post. However, sometimes, if the suckers are really large, they sap energy from the main crown and the main crown gets crowded out and starts growing smaller and distorted. In such a case, yes, there is the option of re-potting the suckers, which involves removing all the suckers, re-potting the suckers, cleaning the neck of the main plant and then repotting the neck. If you are short on time and cannot attend to the plant, then yes, the other option is to save some leaves and then get rid of the plant. Which I personally have done on multiple occasions, when the plant is really full of suckers and in a bad shape and I just do not have the time to pot up the suckers and the main plant, I just quickly put down a few leaves and get rid of the main plant.
      Happy Growing!

    2. Hello Purple,

      thanks for your comment, we have gone ahead and made some changes to the post, have added the other option of potting up the suckers too as an alternative to just getting rid of the plant.

      Happy Growing,

  3. I am afraid to remove the suckers from my violet. I did this some years back and killed my plant. Do I need to do this? Ann

    1. Hello Ann,

      thanks for your question. Yes, absolutely do remove the African Violet suckers, they will drain energy from your plant and interfere with the crown growing flat and rosette shaped. Not only, will African Violet suckers make your plant look unsightly, but it will also reduce flowering over time. As long as you gently remove suckers using a sucker plucker or sharp tool, there will be limited damage to the original African Violet plant. Its best to take care of the suckers, as soon as you see them. Removing African Violet suckers immediately will discourage the plant from suckering in the future. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

    1. Hi Chris,
      Thank you for your question.
      Usually the noids available in big box stores are always rosette plants and never trailers. If you do have an unknown NOID, the way to tell the difference between a sucker and trailer is to look at the leaf axil (the space between the leaf and main stem/crown). The leaves on suckers stay close to each other and the leaf axil is very short, the crown of suckers usually hugs the main stem and the leaves grow closer to each other. Whereas if its a trailer, the leaf axil is longer and the new crown will be larger in size, more spaced out leaves and forms its own open rosette mound shape on the side of the main crown. Though its worth noting, that on trailers, the new crowns do start off as suckers, but as they grow, they open up more and become individual crowns. Hope this helps and I tried to explain as best as I could. If you have some other information of identifying a sucker from a trailer, please do share. Thanks!

  4. Some African violets have developed suckers and I have selectively plucked older leaves off to make room for the new crowns. The plants are now so beautiful in my opinion that I will be nipping the crowns of my other African violets to stimulate more suckers.

    I am interested why it’s considered so bad in the African violet community. One of the plants is blooming so strongly, from two crowns, it’s brilliant!

    So what’s with the sucker aversion ? Will my suckering plants die early?

    1. Hi James,

      thanks for your comment. I think suckers are considered bad in the violet community, because producing suckers is against the natural growth pattern of an African Violet. A violet is supposed to grow in a radial format with one single crown, unless its a trailer. This is especially true, if you are growing a show plant, there are rules to be followed. In the long run, the suckers can drain energy from the main crown and change the shape of the plant. I dont think a suckering plant will die early, it will just put too much stress on the plant in the long run, meaning less blooms and less healthy leaves. Though I have had an experience just like yours, where I had beautiful large suckers growing from the main crown and I let them be. I enjoyed it for a while, but then separated them into individual plants. Hope this helps, BV.

        1. Hello Cindy,
          thank you for your question. Yes, that is normal. Those small leaves on the flower stem are only seen in certain varieties and not all. They are like two small extra set of leaves on the bloom stalk or bloom stem.

  5. This was such a helpful article. I was wondering why my AV plants were duplicating themselves. I did separate them and grow new plants in other pots but had no idea about how this came about. My babies have been growing very successfully and I have several flowering now but had no idea why this was happening. Thank you for your help. It is much appreciated.

    1. Hello Patty,
      thank you for your question. Suckers are attached to the main stem of the plant. They can originate between the leaves and /or around the crown. They are not attached to leaves, but rather grow in between 2 leaves. Hope this helps,

    2. Hi
      I have seen this suckers on my AV teo weeks ago, then one week after I saw the leaves under that were becoming yellow. I removed all the yellow ones.
      The new suckers have grown more.
      I didn’t know that I can repot this new group of leaves.
      I would like to replant them, I am not sure, how to dettach it from the main stem of the plant.
      Please be kind to explain a little bit more about it.
      How often do you water them? I thought I put so much water on them. every 6 days. For this reason they turned yellow. But after reading this I noticed it could be the suckers too.

      1. Hello Maria,
        thank you for your question. To detach the sucker from the plant, you can use a tool such as a sucker plucker, found here or for the time being you can use a pointed scalpel knife, a knitting kneedle, a pointed forcep or sharpened pencil too. Find the edge of the sucker, and slice it off from the point where it is attached to the main stem/ crown of your original plant. If the suckers is large enough (at least 0.5 inch leaves), yes you can re-pot these. Smaller ones wont have a chance to survive. You can repot the sucker in a light peat moss/perlite mix. Can follow up, similar instructions outlined here,, can use similar soil, potting technique and taking care technique. African Violets should be watered when the pot feels light in weight when you pick it up, when the top layer of soil is dry about an inch, when the leaves look slightly limp (not completely, be careful here). Since everyone’s conditions are different inside the house, its difficult to give a time line, like water every 3 days or 6 days. Its best to observe your plant and then decide when to water. Some soil mixes, retain water for a longer time, so that can also make a difference on how frequently you water African Violets. For more tips, can check out Hope this helps,

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