Why Are My African Violet Leaves Soft, Limp or Mushy?

Why Are My African Violet Leaves Soft, Limp or Mushy?

Why do leaves turn soft, limp or mushy on my African Violet plants?

  • There are a number of reasons why your African Violet leaves are turning soft, limp or mushy.
  • If your African Violet plant has been over-watered, the soil will retain too much water.
  • This retention of water will cause the leaves and /or leaf stems to turn soft, limp or mushy.
  • If your plant has been over-watered, the roots may develop root-rot (To learn more about root rot, can read the article, “Root Rot on African Violet Plants”).
  • The roots absorb so much water, that they can no longer hold onto so much water and eventually rot.
  • This will cause the leaves to turn soft, limp or mushy. Following root rot, the crown will start to rot and the African Violet plant will eventually die.
  • If your soil is not overwatered and your plant is still experiencing soft, limp or mushy leaves, it may be that the leaf has become old, which is a natural process in African Violets.

What to do if your African Violet leaves have turned soft, limp or mushy from overwatering?

  • If you have soft, limp or mushy leaves due to overwatering, first of all stop watering the plant.
  • Then gently remove the soft, limp or mushy leaves and gently remove plant from pot.
  • Gently remove the old soil, not too much soil, as the African Violet plant likes to be root bound.
  • Check to see if there are a large number of roots which are mushy, or brown in color. If only a few and the majority of roots look healthy (as seen below), then that’s good, that means root rot is not the cause of your leaf browning.
  • If however you do see a large number of roots which are mushy or brown in color (as seen below), then root rot may be the cause of the soft limp or mushy leaves on your violet.
  • Try to gently trim away any roots that are rotting or mushy, brown in color.
  • For more information on root rot, can read the article, “Root Rot on African Violet Plants”.
  • Then re-pot the plant in fresh dry soil.
  • Do not water for at least a week, and then slowly start your watering schedule.
  • If your African Violet plant does not recover, then root rot may have already taken over the majority of the plant roots.
  • The root rot will soon spread to the crown and other leaves will start turning brown/mushy.
  • The African Violet plant will be dead within a week.
  • At this point, put down leaves to save the plant variety and to produce baby plantlets. For more information, can read the article, “African Violet Leaf Propagation: How to Produce Baby Plantlets?”.

How to prevent African Violet leaves from turning soft, limp or mushy due to overwatering?

  • First of all, only water your African Violet plants when they need to be watered.
  • As a rule of thumb, its better to under water an African Violet, then to over-water.
  • An African Violet soil mix which is too dense, retains water in the pot for longer periods of time which can result in root rot.
  • A more lighter African Violet soil mix, can allow the water to flow/drain through the pot easily and prevent packed dense soggy soil.
  • African Violet soil mix should be porous and provide adequate drainage. This can be achieved with the addition of a layer of perlite at the bottom of the pot and also perlite mixed in with the potting soil.
  • Always remember to use room temperature or tepid water.
  • To check for dry soil, stick your finger gently in the soil (1/2 inch deep).
  • If a lot of soil sticks to your finger and feels damp, then no watering is required.
  • However, if your finger is clean and only a few dry specks are attached to your finger, then its time to water the African Violet.

Why do we have to remove the soft, limp or mushy leaves from the African Violet plant?

  • To maintain a healthy plant it is important to gently remove any soft, limp of mushy leaves from the African Violet plant as soon as they develop.
  • Once the leaves turn soft, limp or mushy, they do not change back to being firm, green and healthy.
  • However, if left unchecked, it can lead to faster spread of diseases already present or develop root rot.

What do soft, limp or mushy African Violet leaves look like?

  • Below are pictures of soft, limp or mushy African Violet leaves:
  • If your soil is soggy and wet, accompanied with browning/yellowing, soft, mushy and limp leaves, then you have over-watered your African Violet plant.
  • If your watering schedule is fine, then it may be just time for your African Violet to groomed.
  • When you first inspect your African Violet plant remove the wilted, dried, shriveled, limp or dead leaves.
  • Also remove leaves that have turned brown and/or are damaged.
  • Regular grooming of the African Violet is necessary to maintain a healthy plant.
  • For more information on grooming, can read article, “How To Groom African Violet Plants?”.

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4 thoughts on “Why Are My African Violet Leaves Soft, Limp or Mushy?

  1. I found your website from Wikipedia. I have been addicted to African Violets for 20+ years. I plan to add to my violet collection and varieties. Since I live in a townhouse with limited windows, I found your information on artificial lighting to be most helpful. I am looking forward to reading Part II and setting up a tiered environment for my African Violets. Thank you for the advice.

    1. Thank you Karen, appreciate your comment. Yes, hopefully by early next week will get the part 2 done.

  2. Help
    We moved into this house 2 years ago when we moved in I had 14 live blooming and healthy plants now I’m down to 4 and they don’t look to good they are green but have not bloomed in those 2 years. I moved them to a brighter room hoping that help that was 6 mouths ago still no blooms and I’m slowly loosing the leaves. Could it be that it is not enough or not the right kind of light
    Any help would be appreciated
    Oh I have them in self-watering violet pots
    Thank you

    1. Hello Janice,
      Thank you for your question. You mentioned a brighter room, as long as the light is indirect and filtered, it should be ok. Direct sunlight should not hit the leaves (otherwise they turn limp and brown). No blooms, could be lack of fertilizer. Can give a weak solution every watering . Also check the soil, when it was re-potted last. Loosing leaves is normal in violets, especially if they are the lower outer ring of leaves. Hopefully your not loosing the middle or center leaves. Hope this helps,

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