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?

Below are useful tools for removing suckers:

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“)

Below are rooting hormone examples useful for rooting African Violet suckers during re-potting or leaf propagation too.

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?

Below are perlite recommendations, useful for potting up suckers, as an additive to soil or even used a thin layer at the bottom of a pot for drainage.

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?

Tool recommendations below, useful in removing suckers or slicing leaves for propagation too.

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.

African Violet and other potting mixes shown below, also my favorite African Violet fertilizer, optimara.

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57 Responses

  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 Janice,
      thank you for your kind words. I am glad the article was helpful.

    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,

  6. Miniature violet suckers are so tiny they were difficult to pinch off with forceps. Instead I used the hint to rub them off. I use another forceps with needle points to successfully rub the tiny leaf off, trying to avoid puncturing the regular-sized leaf stem below. Thank you.

  7. I am new to AV and was confuse why mine wont grow round and flat, now i understand. So, i have leaves that grows facing sideways or even down are most likely suckers right?

    1. Hello Vivin, thank you for your question. If the leaves growing sideways have there own crown, that is center and look like its an offshoot from your main crown, then yes its a sucker. However, if these sideways leaves are part of your main crown, or growing out from your main crown, then they are not suckers. They are just leaves from your main plant, reaching for the light or they need to be rotated on a regularly basis, so light reaches each leaf uniformly. When light reaches uniformly on each leaf, the plant will grow flat and not sideways. Regards, BV

  8. Thanks for the great article! My neighbor gave me an AV last year. For a long time it grew flat and bloomed, but in the past 4 months the new leaves are growing straight up and it has not bloomed. Leaves are very green but curly on the edges, and now look nothing like the original plant. There are no suckers, but I feel like I am doing something wrong… Any advice?

    1. Hello Judy,
      thank you for your question. Has there been a change in lighting? If the leaves are growing straight up, it could be they are reaching for light. Are they being rotated each week. If they are near a window, its best to rotate the plant each week, so that they can grow flat and not at an angle. Have you fertilized recently. I would recommend Optimara fertilizer. I recently used this on all of my plants, and buds showed up within 2 weeks. Also repotting can help, you should repot in fresh soil every 6 months. You mentioned the leaves are curly on the edges, are you watering with cold water? Sometimes the leaves can get shocked if cold water is used. Remember to water with room tempertaure or warm / tepid water. Hope this helps, BV.

      1. Hi, BV,
        Thanks so much for your response! FYI – No lighting change, rotating weekly, have not fertilized (but will), also planning to trim off older leaves (and try to grow new babies), and I have watered with cold water but I have one of those double pots where you put the water in the outside pot and it absorbs through into the soil in the inner pot. After repotting, I will move to another location and see if that helps. Thanks again!

  9. Re av suckers…I have an av that I let develop suckers …it’s a mini…it now looks like a little ball of dark green leaves and I am hoping it will bloom…I am going to let some of the highly varigated av do the same-should be interesting…not too sure if I will get blooms !!…I know there are ‘rules’ but…!!

    1. Hello Barney,
      Sure, its always good to experiment and try it out. Dont have to follow rules. As long as you are prepared for the results either way! BV

  10. I am having a hard time telling if and what a sucker looks like? I have tons of little leaves new little leaves growing at the crown of my planet and some little leaves under my mature leaves. How do you know if your removing a flower starting?Im so confused as what is new growth and a sucker.
    My flower bloomed twice but has not since spring

    1. Hello Valerie,
      thank you for your question. You mentioned that you are not sure about the difference between a small bloom or small set of sucker leaves. Yes, sometimes it does become difficult to distinguish between the two, especially when they are very tiny. For blooms, there will be two tiny frail set of leaves and a tiny speck in the middle, when this grows out, you can see the bloom forming. If this were sucker leaves, both of the tiny leaves would be close to each other, nothing in the middle, just a tight set of leaves. If you are not sure, you can let the leaves grow larger in size (0.5cm), if there is a flower bud in between the leaves, you will be able to see it as the leaves grow larger. If its a sucker, you will just see the two leaves grow larger and no sign of a bud in between the leaves. Based upon your description, I am concerned about the tons of tiny leaves growing from the crown, that doesnt seem normal. Was the crown damaged? That can cause lots of tiny new leaves to sprout from the crown. The other tiny leaves under the mature leaves, keep an eye on them, if they seem like suckers, go ahead and remove them. You can send me a picture of your crown at, that can help me see whats going on with the crown. Hope this helps,

  11. Thanks for all of your great articles, especially the one about suckers. In September, I repotted an av that had 4 suckers. I rooted all the suckers, and they are small, but healthy looking. The main plant also looks healthy, but the leaves are not as large as they originally were. Do I need to be more patient? Should I just root a leaf and begin from scratch?

    1. Hello Mrs. Plum, I am happy to hear the African Violet suckers article was useful. My first thought about the main plant, would be lack of fertilizer. You can start to fertilize your plant at least once every 2 weeks. In general, can mix 1/8 tsp fertilizer per gallon of water. Recently, I have had great success with optimara fertilizer, Another issue, maybe if the plant has formed a long neck. When you removed the suckers, did it leave behind a long neck, you may need to re-pot the plant. On average can re-pot every 6 months in a light soil mix. Finally, it could be the cold weather too, growth slows down when the temperatures drop and the amount of light received also drops. You can wait a few more months till spring and it may perk up. If it still looks small after a 1-2 months, you can put in a ziploc bag, to increase humidity and that may encourage new growth. Hope this helps, BV

  12. I have recently acquired an AV from my dad’s house, other than occasional watering it has not received any care for years. I removed a lot of dead leaves from it and the remaining leaves look healthy. My biggest question is that it looks like 2 plants grow ing from one root system. There is a long rope like stem with a flowering plant on the end, it has grown out of the pot and is hanging over the side. What is the best method to remove this growth and pot it so that it can develop its own root system?

    1. Hello Debbie, thank you for your question. It seems like you have a split neck or two necks growing from the same main stem. You can decapitate the plant and separate into two necks. Then re-pot both neck/stems. Please read this post of mine, It outlines smaller necks, but can also work for your longer stem/neck too. In short, first remove the plant from pot, remove older soil from around the stem. Locate the junction (connecting part) where the two stems meet. Scrape off the outer layer or stem/bark from the two stem necks and the main neck. Slice off the neck as outlined in the above post, creating a V shape at base. Then re-pot in light soil mix, remember to put in an enclosed plastic baggie and leave for at least 1-2 months. Check on it as outlined in above post. Hope this helps, regards ,BV

  13. My AV stem keeps growing to the side but i can’t find if it has a sucker or not it looks like one plant to me. I looked but couldn’t find two rosettes. My stem is producing leaves from the bottom of the stem though.

    1. Hello Lori, thank you for your question. If it is producing leaves from the bottom, but they are not suckers, that’s ok. Sometimes a violet will produce smaller leaves from the bottom, you can go ahead and remove those. Before removing, make sure they are not flower stalks. Sometimes there will be smaller leaves at the bottom, they seem like suckers, but they turn out to be tiny flower buds stalks, but tiny leaves on each side. If your plant is growing to one side, the next time you re-pot, you can re-plant it in the center of the pot, sometimes when the plant is reaching for light, it will grow sideways towards the light. Make sure to rotate your plant every couple of weeks, this way each leaf gets uniform exposure to light. Hope this helps, BV

  14. After removing the sucker and potting them, I put in a ziploc bags. My question is how do I leave them in their ziploc bags? I have 2 suckers and the mother plant and I also potted up a few leaves just to be on the safe side. I really like this plant. I also have another question do I put the new potted plants under the grow light or do I try to use natural light ? I started using grow light after I lost 15 of my plants when we moved into a new house and state. It took me awhile to figure out there wasn’t enough light to grow my sweet babies here . I’m still learning to grow them this way but I’m trying very hard to learn. I love my babies

    1. Hello Jan,
      thank you for your questions. You can place newly potted sucker plants and the leaves inside a ziploc bag and close the bag. Leave the bag in a slightly sunny spot, which has filtered light coming in, not direct hot sunlight. You can also leave the bag near your grow light. If the soil becomes too wet or you see too much condensation (water droplets) on the inside of the bag, you can open the bag, allow the water to air dry or wipe up the inside of the bag. Then close the bag again. Leave the pots inside the bag enclosed for 2-3 months. Then open up the bag and leave the plants inside for another 2 weeks. Then remove the plants from the bag, they should have formed a nice strong root syste. You can put the newly potted plant either under natural light or grow lights. I personally, have a few plants under natural light and a few under LED lights. Its a personal preference and what works best for you. Mine seem to grow larger and faster under natural light, but that may be just the location ( its a south facing window). Hope this helps, regards, BV

      1. Thank you so much. I like your articled. I have learned so much from them. I also like the fact that no matter the question you answer it. I started using grow lights when I finely figured out the light in this house just wasn’t enough to grow my plants. Our old house faced east and west, perfect for growing most plants. The house faces north and south, not so good for growing my plants. Like I said this growing with grow lights is new, so I may have to contact you again with questions
        Again thank you and keep the information coming

  15. Very useful article–thanks! I am an experienced AV grower, and thought I could manage suckers well. But recently I acquired Seductress, known to produce lovely rings of flowers from under the leaves. I thought the new leaves appearing were just this lush growth pattern, but they have turned into a mish mash of leaves and a double crown. Is this typical of these very floriferous hybrids?

    1. Hello Carol,
      thank you for your question. I am not sure whether this leaf pattern growth is typical for Seductress. I have known other violet varieties in my collection to be prone to suckering. I have found, that continuous removal of the suckers, will over time, stop the suckering behavior of the violet. I would advise to remove this new growth/other crown, before it takes over the main crown. Glad to hear you are an experienced grower!

  16. Since both suckers and flower stems both originate from the leaf axil, does this mean that if a sucker develops at a particular leaf axil first this will prevent a flower stem from developing at that spot? Or by removing the sucker it will allow a flower stem to develop? I’m thinking it’s an all or nothing situation and my really profuse suckering plant is doomed for blossoming, hoping you’ll say otherwise. Steven

    1. Hello Steven,
      thank you for your question. Yes you are correct, in most cases, the sucker will prevent a flower stem from originating. If a sucker develops and it is removed, then a flower stem can still originate from that area. If the sucker is not removed, it will prevent the flower stem from originating. Your suckering plant, should bloom when suckers are removed and temps warm up above 70F. Hope this helps, BV

  17. The information on sucker’s was very good thanks for being complete on how to handle them “love my violets “

  18. I have been growing African Violets for many years, and this is the first time I hear about the suckers growing on the main stem. I always saw small little growths starting, but was afraid to remove them, thinking I would kill the main plant.
    Thank you for this very helpful information, it was very thorough, and greatly appreciated!

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