How to Bury and Re-Pot African Violet Bare Stems or Necks?

How to Bury and Re-Pot African Violet Bare Stems or Necks?

What does a long neck look like on African Violets?

  • An African Violet neck looks like a long and thin tree trunk. It can resemble a small tree.
  • The trunk starts upwards from the base of the soil and ends at the leaves of the plants.
  • Below are three images of an African Violet neck:
  • These are relatively small necks (1-2 inches).
  • Sometimes, if an African Violet is left unattended it can develop a long thick neck (5-6 inches) long.
  • This kind of neck ultimately tilts sideways due to the weight of the crown. This kind of neck is known as a “goose neck”.
  • A neck can also resemble a palm tree/coconut tree trunk.
  • These are close up images detailing the scaly surface of an African Violet neck:

How does a long neck develop on African Violets?

  • African Violets grow from the top, developing its crown and displaying its rosette forming leaves.
  • As the plant uses its energy to produce leaves from the top/center, the lower older leaves start to lose their usefulness and die back.
  • The plant loses these mature leaves as they become dry, shriveled or yellow.
  • It then becomes necessary to keep removing these lower leaves to promote growth at the top/center of the African Violet plant.
Robs Macho Devil African Violet Plant
Robs Zipper Zapper African Violet Plant
  • Overtime, as more and more lower leaves are lost or removed a bare stem or neck forms on the African Violet plant.
  • As the African Violet plant grows, the neck pulls the plant away from the soil and the pot.
  • This is when the neck needs to be buried/hidden underneath soil and the Violet needs to be repotted.
  • Sometimes, when the lower ring of leaves become old, tough, yellow, brown or mushy, I remove 1-2 rings of leaves from the plant.
  • This leaves behind tiny leaf stalks as seen below.
  • When these stalks are removed, the neck of the African Violet plant becomes visible.
  • Below are images of African Violet plants with the lower ring of leaves removed.

Why do we need to remove or hide the neck on African Violets?

  • One of the reasons to hide the neck is aesthetics. The African Violet plant will look unattractive as it no longer maintains its flat rosette shape.
  • The African Violet plant with a neck will eventually start to grow at an angle.
  • The plant will be more susceptible to disease, such as root rot, if the neck is left exposed to the outside environment.

How to repot the neck on African Violets?

  • Below are three examples which show how to repot African Violet plants with a neck:

Example 1:

  • This plant has lost its rosette shape and the bottom leaves are starting to look damaged, old and yellow.
  • I first removed few of the damaged, old and yellow leaves. 
  • This revealed the neck of the African Violet plant, which had brown scabs and dry roots up and around the entire length.
  • I then removed the plant along with its root mass from the pot.
  • To maintain its rosette shape, I removed a few more straggly leaves.
  • To encourage new root growth from the neck, I scraped off the brown scabs and dry tissue from the neck of the violet.
  • This can be done with a sucker plucker tool, a sharp knife or a clean fingernail.
  • After scraping the neck the exposed tissue looks bright green.
  • Since my African Violet plant has not developed a very long neck, I just removed a layer of soil from the bottom of the root mass that is equal to the length of the neck.
  • So my neck was around 1” in length, I removed around 1” of soil from the bottom of the root mass.
  • I added some fresh perlite at the base of the pot and set the plant back into its pot.
  • I then filled up the pot with fresh soil and covered the root mass and neck of the African Violet plant.
  • The buried neck will now spread out new roots into the soil.
  • You can sprinkle the neck with rooting hormone to speed up the process, but I have never done this.
  • I just place the freshly potted up neck in a Ziploc bag or humidity dome to increase the humidity and promote root growth.

Example 2 & 3:

  • I first removed two sets of leaves (6-9) which were dead, damaged, old, brown or yellowish in color.
  • I then removed the tiny leaf stems completely off of the main stem of the plant.
  • The plant is now ready for next step. Take a sharp knife or sucker plucker tool or use your clean fingernail and gently scrape the “trunk” or “bare stem” or “neck” of the plant stem all around and down the entire length, to expose the inner green tissue layer of stem.
  • Exposure of this tissue layer along the neck/stem promotes growth of new roots.
  • I used my fingernail to gently scrape the neck.
  • I then removed the plant along with its root mass from the pot.
  • Since both of these plants have a short neck, I removed only ½” of soil from the bottom of the soil mass.
  • Here, I also removed a little bit of perlite from top part of the soil mass.
  • Finally, place the plant along with its root mass back into the pot.
  • I did not add any extra soil at the bottom of the pot, as there was enough on the plant and the height of the plant in the pot was just right.
  • The bottom leaves of the plant should just touch or graze the rim of the pot.
  • If the leaves are too high, you can remove more soil from the bottom of the root mass.
  • If the leaves are sitting too deep in the pot, you can add more soil at the bottom and then place the plant and root mass in the pot.
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