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!
Examples of commercially available African Violet fertilizers below:
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.
Below are examples of temperature and humidity meters, useful to keep in your growing area, especially when monitoring formation of tight crowns on your plants.
- 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.
These are chemical alternatives to spray on African Violet plants to treat mites:
- 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.
Few more examples of commercially available treatment options for mites on African Violet plants: