What Pot Size To Use For African Violet Plants?

Why do African Violet plants need to be in a certain size pots?

  • African Violet plants potted in a too small or large pot, will not grow to its full potential.
  • The growth may be slower, leaves smaller and blooms/bud may not produce.
  • The African Violet plant will still survive, however it will have an uneven growth habit.

What is the ideal pot size for my African Violet plant?

(a) Choosing pot size based upon type of African Violet:

  • One method to choosing your correct African Violet pot is identifying the type of African Violet plant you have.
  • If you have a miniature/mini African Violet plant, the ideal pot side is between 1″- 2″ pots.
  • Miniatures maximum diameter is 6″ across.
  • If you have a semi miniature (semi-mini) African Violet plant, the ideal pot size is between 2″- 2.5″ pots.
  • Semi miniatures maximum diameter is 8″ across.
  • If you have a standard / large African Violet plant, the ideal pot size is between 3″- 4″ pots.
  • Standards maximum diameter is 12″ across.

Examples of 2″ & 3″plastic pots, great to keep a few extra in your growing tools:

(b) Choosing pot size based upon diameter of African Violet plant:

  • Ideal pot size for African Violet plants is 1/3rd size of the plant.
  • Which means your African Violet plants diameter should be 3 times the diameter of your pot.
  • For e.g. if the diameter of your African Violet plant is 3″, it should be in a 1″pot. If the diameter of your African Violet plant is 6″, it should be in a 2″ pot. If the diameter of your African Violet plant is 8″, it should be in a 2-3″ pot. If the diameter of your African Violet is 9″, it should be in a 3″ pot. If the diameter of your African Violet plant is 12″, it should be in a 4″ pot.
  • The diameter is measured from the outer edge of one African Violet leaf across the crown to the outer edge of the opposite leaf.

Examples of 2″ & 3″plastic pots, great to keep a few extra in your growing tools:

(c) Choosing pot size based upon the size of your African Violet plants roots:

  • One final method of choosing the pot size for your African Violet plant is to pick a pot size similar to the length and / or width of your plants roots / rootball size.
  • The pot size should be just big enough for all the roots to nicely fit inside the pot.
  • There should be just enough space around the roots to add soil in the pot to fill up the pot.
  • After filling up the pot with soil, the roots should not stick out from the top of the pot and also not come out from the bottom of the pots drainage.
  • If this happens, pot up, which means pot the plant in a 1″ larger pot.
  • African Violet plants prefer to be potted in 1″ increment pot size.
  • For e.g. if your African Violet is in a 3″ pot, then pot it up next time in a 4″ pot.
  • Conversely, the if your African Violet plant has a smaller root system and it is potted in a larger pot, then it will contain too much soil, compared to the roots and the soil will retain too much water.
  • Over the long run, this can lead to root rot and if planted deep inside soil, crown rot too.

Examples of 4″ plastic pots, great to keep a few extra in your growing tools:

What happens if pot size is too small for my African Violet plant?

  • If your pot is too small for your African Violet plants, you will start to see roots growing out from the top of the soil and through the drainage holes.
  • The roots will become “rootbound” and compacted within the limited soil available.
  • Rootbound means when the roots have taken up all the space within the pot and when there is no space left, they start to circle around the existing roots and form a tight root ball.
  • This can deprive your African Violet plant of moisture, nutrients and air pockets.
  • The African Violet growth will slow down, leading to leaves growing slower from the crown, the older leaves falling off or turning yellow/mushy.
  • This in turn can lead to an elongated neck. To learn more about long necks in African Violet plants, How to Bury and Re-Pot African Violet Bare Stems or Necks?
  • The leaf stems will also grow elongated and the African Violet plant will cease to bloom, form buds.

Examples of self watering pots for African Violet plants as shown below:

How can I pot up my African Violet plant in a larger pot?

  • First of all find out what size pot your current African Violet plant is in.
  • Then select a pot 1″ larger in size than your current pot.
  • Gently remove your African Violet from its current pot. This can be done by gently squeezing the sides of the pot (if its plastic) to loosen up the soil/roots slightly.
  • Then turn the pot at an angle, tap the pot base gently with one hand and with the other hand holding the base of the stems, gently tug the plant out of the pot.
  • If the plant does not come out of the pot, do not force it out and do not pull the stems. Gently squeeze the pot sides again and tap the pot base a few times, this will loosen up the roots and soil and the plant should easily come out of the pot.
  • Once the plant is out of the pot, inspect the roots for any bugs/ infestation. If all looks good, can shake off / brush off any old soil.
  • Do not disturb the root ball or the root mass.
  • Then transfer your African Violet plant to the new pot.
  • The plant should sit in the pot such that the outer leaves just brush the rim of the pot.
  • If the plant is sitting too deep into the pot it can lead to crown rot.
  • To prevent your African Violet plant from sitting too deep inside the pot, add a fresh layer of soil in the pot.
  • This soil will form a base on top of which your African Violet plant can rest.
  • Then place your African Violet plant into the pot, it should now rest higher above the rim of the pot and not too deep inside.
  • You can now add soil in the pot to cover the roots and any empty pockets in the pot.
  • There is no need to pat down the soil. Keep the soil loose.
  • Alternatively, instead of adding soil to the base of the pot, you can add coarse perlite.
  • This layer of perlite in the bottom of your pot can improve water drainage in your plant.

Examples of self watering pots for African Violet plants as shown below:

What happens if my pot is too large for my African Violet plant?

  • If your pot size is too large for your African Violet plant, the opposite will happen, the roots will be lost in all the extra soil.
  • The roots will keep trying to fill up the pot and expanding, in the process the plant it will forget to grow the top part of the plant (leaves/flowers) and focus on growing the bottom part of the plant (roots).
  • This will in the long term, diminish the African Violets growth above the soil and it will also flower slowly.
  • Another sign that the pot is too large, is if the soil is always wet even if you have enough drainage at the bottom of the pot.
  • As there are not enough roots to absorb all this extra water, the African Violet roots will just sit in the wet soil and over time this can lead to root rot.

African Violet potting mix, perlite and coco coir shown below:

How can I pot down my African Violet plant in a smaller pot?

  • First measure the pot size of your current African Violet plant.
  • Then go down 1″ in size and select another pot. For e.g. if your current pot size is 3″, then repot in a 2″ smaller pot.
  • The size of the pot is measured in diameter, so 2″ means 2″ diameter of the pot.
  • The base and the top of the pot usually measure same. A slight half inch difference between both is fine.
  • Follow the same steps as mentioned in the prior section (potting into a large size pot).
  • The potting method is the same. Can also check out the article, How Often To Change African Violet Potting Soil Mix & Why?, for more tips on re-potting African Violet plants.

Perlite mixes shown below:

How many holes should my African Violet pot have for drainage?

  • Sometimes, you may use a container in your house to pot African Violets and choose to drill holes by yourself in the container.
  • When doing this remember:
    • 4 inch pots – 4-6 holes (1/4″- 1/8″ diameter)
    • 3 inch pots – 3-4 holes (1/4″ diameter)
    • 2 inch pots – 2-3 holes (1/8″ diameter)
    • 1 inch pots – 1 hole (1/8″ diameter).
  • Pots should always have holes underneath. African Violets need to be planted in pots which can provide drainage.

Examples of self watering pots for African Violet plants as shown below:

What kind of pot should I use for African Violet trailer plants?

  • African Violet trailers like shallow depth pots and wide in length.
  • Something similar to Azalea pots would work well for African Violets.
  • Can use a pan pot, this way African Violet trailers can have space to branch out horizontally.
  • When deciding the pot size, measure the length or spread of the trailer plant.
  • Then select a pot 1/3rd size of its spread. So if your spread is 12″, choose a 4″ pot. If its a 9″, choose a 3″ pot and if its 6″ spread, then choose a 2″ pot.

Few more examples of bulb pans for African Violet trailing plants as shown below:

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16 Responses

    1. Hello Patricia,

      thanks for your question. Yes, I actually realized that I forgot to put in the pot info. I will go ahead and add that. There are lots of places to buy African Violet pots. Can try first with Robs, Lyons and a few sellers on Ebay. Of course can also find them here too, https://amzn.to/3abuKqz these are 2″ ones, https://amzn.to/2UtDkKD these are 4″ ones, I like the Dillon ones, I have used them for years in a smaller size. These are 3″ ones, https://amzn.to/2UcsbPP. There are also fancy self watering ones, like these, https://amzn.to/3hiPYH5, but I havent had any personal experience with self watering. Hope this helps,

      1. I am having a hard time finding shallow well draining plastic pots for my trailing AV. Also what is “Robs and Lyons” for pots? Are they stores? Thanks

        1. Hello Karil,
          thank you for your question. Dr. Ralph Robinson (Robs) is an African Violet hybridizer and the owner of the store “Violet Barn”. Lyons is also a violet store, “Lyndon Lyons Greenhouses”. For trailers, I would recommend a bulb or azalea pan, similar to these, https://amzn.to/2OuNFE9 or
          https://amzn.to/2Ow52UZ . Hope this helps, regards, BV

  1. Wonderful info and images! You might want to fix a little typo under “How can I pot up my African Violet plant in a larger pot?”@ point 13 “You can not add soil in the pot to cover the roots and any empty pockets in the pot.”
    I think you meant “can now add”

  2. I have a violet that is 11″ across and the roots are growing done the wick at the bottom of the 4″ pot. My question is, the plant is in full bloom, about 15 flowers and another 10 or 15 buds yet to open. Should I wait till flowers die off to pot up ? Thank You so much, great site.

    1. Hello Everett,
      thank you for your question. Yes you are right, you can wait till your plant has gone through its bloom cycle to re-pot the plant. Let the flowers dry up before re-potting. Hope this helps, regards, BV

  3. I am new in growing AV, would like to know if AV can be planted in terracota pots or need to be in plastic pots? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hello Rita,
      thank you for your question. I would recommend plastic pots, they are low maintenance. You dont have to worry about watering as with terracotta pots. With terra cotta pots, you have to keep an eye that the soil doesnt dry out too much. If your plant is in an office and you are constantly close by to monitor the soil dryness, then you can use terracotta. However, for a fuss free pot, plastic ones are best. Can learn more about pots here, http://www.babyviolets.com/what-are-the-best-type-of-pots-for-african-violets/.

    1. Hello Nancy, thank you for your question. It may be that your plant has outgrown its pot, you can re-pot in a fresh soil and / or a larger pot, if the plant has not been re-potted in the past 8 months. It could also be that the plant was potted in shallow soil, if you still have space in the pot, you can cover the roots with fresh soil. Another method, would be to re-pot the plant in the same soil, remove the plant, then place it deeper into the pot, so the roots and inside the pot deeper, then cover with remaining soil or fresh soil if needed. Hope this helps, regards, BV

  4. I bought my AVs at a grocery store during some impulse shopping. How do I know which AV type I have? They both sit in their own 4” pot. I see references to miniature AV but they both look small to me!

    1. Hello,
      thank you for your question. Usually when you purchase from a grocery store, the violets are from Holtkmap greenhouses. They are some type of Optimara violets. Did they come with a label or small name on the side of the pot, usually the series name is mentioned? You can check the optimara website to find out, however they have hundreds of violets, it may be difficult to exactly identify. Sorry, couldnt be of much help, regards, BV

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