Tight Crowns on African Violet Plants

Tight Crowns on African Violet Plants

Tight crowns or tight centers on African Violet plants can unfortunately occur when we are overzealous with fertilizer, light, heat or due to heavy soil or cyclamen mite infestation. (For information on normal rosette or trailing growth habit in African Violets, visit “What are different types of African Violets?“).

What is a tight crown in African Violet plants?

  • A tight crown is when the center leaves of the African Violet plant grow tightly bunched up next to each other with no space in between the leaves.
  • This smaller crown with tight center leaves is known as a tight crown.

How do tight crowns occur in African Violet plants?

  • Tight crowns occur in African Violet plants over a slow period of time.
  • First the African Violet plant will slow down in growth and begin a stunted growth period.
  • The leaves will be smaller in size, they become brittle and hard to touch and shiny in appearance.
  • The leaves also start to curl inwards or outwards depending upon the cause of tight crowns in African Violet plants.
  • Over time the leave at the center become bunched up and the plant ceases to grow.

What are the tight crown symptoms of over fertilization in African Violet plants?

  • The most tell tale symptoms of over fertilization in African Violet plants are tight centers, bunched up crown leaves and stunted plant growth.
  • No signs of twisting or curling of leaves, just tight visible crowns.
  • Brittle leaves, hard to touch which can tear or snap easily.
  • Rust colored leaves or rusty spots on leaves.
  • Burned edges on outer leaves or yellowing spots on margin of leaves.
  • Outer leaves start to turn yellow in color.
  • Leaves become smaller in size and whole plant looks smaller in size.
  • White salt deposits on the soil surface or white salt crust layer on the edges or sides of the plant pot.
  • Orange fertilizer salt crystals on the leaves or soil surface.

How to remedy tight crowns due to over fertilization in African Violet plants?

  • First you have to pin-point that tight crowns are due to over fertilizing, by identifying above symptoms.
  • Once symptoms of over fertilization are identified, rule out the possibility that tight crowns are due to high light intensity. For this, place a thin tissue paper over the plant, to block out excess light.
  • Can also move the plants to a lower shelf away from bright light. If after a week, the crowns do not loosen up slightly, then over fertilization may be the reason for tight crowns.
  • If the crowns are still tight, do not fertilize the African Violet plant for a month.
  • Flush the soil with plain room temperature water several times. Make sure soil is drenched.
  • For this, add water to top of soil, let it drain out from the bottom, discard drained out water, allow plant soil to dry and repeat this stem 2-3 times.
  • Keep flushing soil, as mentioned above till the water runs clear from the bottom.
  • If you are wick watering the plant from a capillary mat, remove the wick, place the pot in an enclosed ziploc bag. Leave for a month in the ziploc bag, the humidity will help to loosen up the leaves. Remember to water only slightly, let the soil dry out, do not overwater.
  • If you are wick watering the plant from a container or reservoir, make sure to replace container/reservoir water with fresh water and replace the wick with a new one. If possible, remove the wick and place the plant in a ziploc bag, enclosed for a month.
  • If you are not using wicks to water the African Violet plant, then isolate the plant and place in an enclosed ziploc bag. Leave for a month in the bag. The humid environment inside the bag will help loosen up the crowns.
  • In all these above instances remember to not over water the plant and let the soil dry out slightly.
  • After a month you should see the crowns loosen up slightly and the leaves spread out.
  • After a month slowly resume fertilizing the plant at half your normal dose. Then after another month resume your regular fertilizing. (For more information on African Violet fertilizer visit, “Fertilizer for African Violet Plants“).
  • If after a month, crowns have not loosened up, you can research for other symptoms/causes mentioned below or just save the leaves (more tips on propagating African Violet leave can be found here) and discard the plant. Start fresh!

What are the tight crown symptoms of excessive light in African Violet plants?

  • Symptoms of excessive light in African Violet plants are tight bunched up centers on the crown of the plants.
  • African Violet leaves drooping down or curling inwards
  • African Violet leaves are crowding together with no space in between.

How to remedy tight crowns due to excessive light in African Violet plants?

  • First you have to pin-point that tight crowns are due to excessive light by identifying above symptoms.
  • Once symptoms of excessive light are identified, place a thin tissue paper over the plant, to block out excess light. Can also move the plants to a lower shelf away from bright light or move the plant from bright direct light to a window with low filtered light. Leave the plant in the low light area for at least a month.
  • After a month, you should see crowns loosen up a little and centers opening up.
  • Placing the plants in an enclosed ziploc bag to increase humidity, will help this process and allow the leaves to loosen up in a comfortable environment.
  • During this time, do not water too much and allow the soil to dry out a little. (For more information on African Violet natural light requirements please visit, “Natural Light for African Violet Plants“).

What are the symptoms and how to remedy tight crowns due to excessive heat in African Violet plants?

  • Symptoms of tight crowns due to excessive heat in African Violet plants are tight centers and bunched up smaller leaves at center of plant.
  • African Violet leaves curling up or inwards.
  • African Violet leaves crowding and growing closer together.
  • African Violet flowers streaking, spotting and loss of color.
  • Outer leaves dry up and become crispy brown.
  • Plant growth slows down and stops to bloom.
  • Remedy would be to try to lower temperatures in plant area below 80F.
  • Another option would be to move the plant to a slightly cooler location in the house.
  • Alternatively can draw the curtains or close the blinds to block out excessive light and make the area cooler at the same time too.
  • The crowns will loosen up, but over a period of several months. It will take time if symptoms are due to excessive heat.
  • Another option, if growing under lights, would be to reduce the number of hours to 8-10 hrs under lights.
  • Alternatively, you could keep the lights off during the day and keep them on at night, when temperatures are too hot and cannot be controlled.
  • Make sure to increase watering during this period of hot days and not let the plant soil to dry out too much.
  • The African Violet plants can tolerate excessive heat for a few days, but prolonged heat will damage the plants permanently.
  • If the crowns still do not loosen up, can look for other symptoms mentioned in this article. The final option would be to save/put down leaves and discard the plant. (For more information on saving/putting own African Violet leaves please visit, “African Violet Leaf Propagation: How to Produce Baby Plantlets?“).

What are the symptoms and how to remedy tight crowns due to heavy compacted soil in African Violet plants?

  • Symptoms of tight crowns due to heavy soil in African Violet plants are tight centers and bunched up smaller leaves at center of plant.
  • African Violet leaves crowding and growing closer together.
  • Plant growth slows down and stops to bloom.
  • The remedy would be to re-pot the plant in fresh soil. Remove any damaged, dry, leaves and repot in the plant in a new clean pot of the same size with fresh soil. (For more tips on African Violet potting mix please visit, “African Violet Soil/Potting Mix“).
  • Place the plant inside a ziploc bag and close it to create a humid environment. Do not fertilize during this period and keep watering limited.
  • After a month, the plant should loosed up its crown and start growing normally.

What are the symptoms of cyclamen mite infestation in African Violet plants?

  • Symptoms of tight crowns due to cyclamen mite infestation in African Violet plants are tight centers and bunched up smaller leaves at center of plant.
  • The centers are scrunched up, stiff and brittle to touch centers, lighter in color, fuzzy and hairy in appearance.
  • African Violet leaves are distorted, bubbly and twisted in appearance.
  • African Violet leaves are smaller in size and stunted in appearance.
  • African Violet leaves are dull, rusty and excessively hairy in appearance.
  • African Violet leaves become hard, brittle to touch and shiny in appearance.
  • If African Violet leaves turn inwards (broad mite infestation) and if they curl upwards (cyclamen mite infestation).
  • A clear tell tale sign is if the centers are grayish, yellowish, bronze or tan in color.
  • The African Violet flowers also become stunted, smaller and brittle to touch.
  • The African Violet flower buds also are tightly closed and smaller in size.
  • The African Violet flower stems are also brittle and have a tendency to curve inwards under a leaf.

How to remedy African Violets infested with cyclamen mites?

  • First all make confirm the above symptoms and make sure you have cyclamen mite infestation in the plant.
  • Visually its very difficult to see cyclamen mites on African Violet plants and therefore difficult to confirm there physical presence on the plants.
  • Cyclamen mites are very small in size and can hide in the crevices of distorted African Violet leaves or the center crown area.
  • Cyclamen mites are tiny crawling spider like with eight legs. They can be seen with a magnifying lens.
  • The best way is to look for plant symptoms as mentioned above.
  • They spread fast, so if a high number of your plants show above symptoms, its best to get discard them, sterilize your pots, plant area with bleach or alcohol and start fresh.
  • For remedy a miticide is the best option. A miticide can control the infestation and also target eggs, preventing future infestation.
  • First isolate your infected plants to a well ventilated area, before you apply the miticide. After application, keep infected plants isolated from your healthy plants.
  • Please note, miticides are highly toxic chemicals and should be used as a last resort only!
  • Forbid is a commercial miticide available for cyclamen mites. Can mix 3-4 drops of forbid in a standard sized spray bottle filled with water and spray the plants liberally.
  • Another option would be use systemic treatment, which can act as a preventive measure for future mites from occurring. This would be include either Pylon or Judo or Neem oil.
  • Systemic treatments are absorbed by the plants roots and leaves and remain in the plants system over a long period of time. As a result, they can defend themselves from future infestations.
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26 thoughts on “Tight Crowns on African Violet Plants

  1. This was SO informative! I truly appreciate your detailed descriptions, as well as the different photographs. It has been so challenging to find this information so clearly on the internet, which has made diagnosing my poor violet very tricky. Thank you so much for this article! I am continuing to read your other articles for various information.
    Thank you! Thank you!

    1. Thank you Jordyn for those kind words. Glad to be of help. Please let me know if you have any questions about violets in general, would be happy to help,
      regards,
      BV

  2. Wow…your article is so thorough & informative. As an old-time grower we sometimes have to be reminded of these remedies. And you made it so clear/helpful for newbies to our AV world.
    Thank You for sharing this.

  3. My AV has two tight crowns. I have moved it as I think it may be getting too much light but should I be separating the crowns at this point?

    1. Hello Jo, thank you for your question. A picture may be helpful, if you could email me one. Based upon the information, if you have two separate suckers, then yes, it is time to separate them. However if both crowns are tight, then there may be another underlying problem. You can wait to see if the crowns open up first, then once the leaves open up and resemble normal leaves, you can go ahead and separate them. Hope this helps,
      regards
      BV

      1. Thank you for your advice. I will try to send a picture before doing anything. I’ll wait to see if the crowns open up in the reduced light.

  4. Hi Jo
    Love these instructions. Determined some of my AVs are suffering with too much fertilizer. Drenching the soil the water coming out looks like weak tea. Is all that color from the fertilizer? Would love to hear form you. Thanks!
    ST

    1. Hello ST,
      yes if the color is rust like and like weak tea, it could be fertilizer salts or it could also be old soil too. Glad you hear you have pin pointed the reason why your violets are not doing well. Sometimes, that’s the most difficult part, figuring out whats wrong with them. Happy to hear the articles are useful.
      BV

  5. Hello
    I got an African violet as a gift in October. It was happy and healthy until I repotted it at the beginning of January. It started having a tight crown after about two weeks. I thought maybe it was over fertilized so I stopped adding fertilizer and hoped it would improve. I have been traveling a lot for work and not at home, I’ve been having it watered every 10 days or so but no other treatment has been applied. I’ve come home this weekend and it still seems to have a tight center. It looks to me like it tried to grow leaves everywhere in the pot, they are all on top of each other and the flowers are growing under the leaves and not blooming. The leaves are still pretty green. Is this mites? Is there hope of saving it? I have some pictures I can send.

    1. Hello Michele,

      Thank you for your question. Yes pictures would definitely help. That way I can see your African Violet plant and it makes it easier to know whats wrong. Can send pictures at babyvioletss@gmail.com.

      regards,
      BV

  6. One of my african violets have outside leaves dropping around the edge of the pot and smaller leaves bunching in the middle, however the other leaves are large n look healthy. Is this a sign of a tight crown. I have been using fertilze every time you water. What am I doing wrong.

    1. Hello Margie,
      It could be signs of tight crowns. Maybe can stop fertilizing every week for now, see if it makes a difference. Can continue again at 3 weeks. Also make sure the plant is not exposed to too much light. Lets hope its either light or fertilizer and not mites.
      Hope this helps,
      BV

  7. Several of my violets have tight crowns. I have repotted into 50/50 soil with half african violet soil and half perlite. And I am not fertilizing and moved them out of light as I think they may have gotten too much or gotten too hot as they are in a sun room with inconsistent heat or cooling. How long should I expect to see loosening before I throw in the towel?

    1. Hello Jill,
      thanks for your question. You should expect to see the loosening of the leaves within 2 weeks time. You seem to have done everything else right. Best of Luck!

      BV

    2. Forgot to mention, if after 2 weeks you dont see any change at all, you can check the soil for mealy bugs. You can proceed for treatment of soil mealy bugs, if you see any or if its not an important plant, you can get rid of it. Sometimes its not worth, baby sitting a sick plant.
      regards,
      BV

  8. My newly purchased violet (wick-watered) now has a white powder-like substance on it:some on top of the leaves, but which doesn’t brush off easily, more under the leaves, and finally clustered around the center stem. Under the loopi it doesnt look like spiders. What could it be? And what to do?

    1. Hello,
      thanks for your question Myrina. It sounds like powdery mildew. Please take a look at, http://www.babyviolets.com/powdery-mildew-african-violet-plants/, compare your plant with the pictures, do they seem similar. If it looks like powdered sugar coating, then it may be powdery mildew. I would suggest, Immunox, can be found here at homedepot.sjv.io/XMBD3 or amazon. For a more gentler approach, can try neem oil, found here, https://amzn.to/2J3EgjA, might need few applications. Hope this helps,
      regards,
      BV

    1. Hello Sharon,
      thank you for your question. Yes if using neem oil you can spray on the leaves (this one is a ready made solution, https://amzn.to/2J3EgjA or water with a diluted solution (this one is a concentrated solution, homedepot.sjv.io/mPd6O which you dilute accordingly. If using systemic granules, like this one, https://amzn.to/2TnctAs , it is mixed directly in the soil (1/8tsp per 2″ pot). This same bonide systemic comes in liquid form too, which can be sprayed on the leaves/plant exterior. Please note, that Bonide, is banned in certain states from use. I am not sure about watering with it, I am assuming you can, will have to check package directions. The Pylon or Judo is very toxic, please read package directions for application, as it depends on the concentration of the solution you purchase. Also please use this chemical only outdoors in a well ventilated area away from pets, children and other edible plants. Hope this helps,
      regards,
      BV

  9. I just got an African Violet and I feel like I am killing it somehow. I think I am giving it too much light but I was wondering what drooping leaves means? It is almost as if the stems are no longer stiff to hold up the leaf. Also on the back of them it seems like it is losing the violet color.

    1. Hello Jaclyn,
      thank you for your question. Drooping leaves which are soft to touch and limp and have lost there shine/luster, could be dry soil. If the lower leaves are brown and mushy, it could be over watered. This can also happen, if the plant has gone through dry/wet cycles, that is if the plant was bone dry, then it was watered and then again it became dry. This can stress out the leaves. If the leaves are crunchy, tightly growing together and hugging the rim of the pot, it could be excessive light. You can move the pot to a different location, with less light and see if that makes a difference. Can also read the post, http://www.babyviolets.com/why-are-my-african-violet-leaves-curling-upwards-or-downwards/ for more tips. Hope this helps,
      regards,
      BV

  10. I have 4 violet plants, only one is blooming. They all did. Now on three I keep getting more and more leaves. I water once a week, I don’t have a east or north window so their in north west & southeast windows. I fertilize once a month. Just don’t know what to do. Thank you

    1. Hello Jayne,
      thank you for your question. Sometimes, after a plant goes through a bloom cycle, they do take a rest for a while. When did you last re-pot the plant. They need to repotted at least every 6 months. If the leaves look healthy and the crown is growing, that’s good. That means the light i good, the soil seems good and they like the temp/humidity. You can change the fertilizer, you are using, see how that works out. The plants, maybe be missing a nutrient component. After trying out the new fertilizer, wait for 3 weeks. Hope this helps,
      regards,
      BV

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