African Violets are a compact flowering plant from tropical East Africa. They come in many colors and leaf-shapes, and even in single-flower and double-flower varieties.
They have broad, dark, fuzzy leaves that grow low to the soil. With the right care, they can flower year-round.
Their compact growth and bright colors make them a highly popular houseplant, but they can be somewhat sensitive, and one of the first signs that something isn’t quite right is leaf curl.
Why are my African Violet leaves curling?
If African Violet leaves are curling downwards, the plant is too cold, getting too much sunlight, has root rot or is experiencing a mite infestation. If its leaves are curling upwards, the plant is receiving too little sunlight, or its soil is too dry.
Why African Violet leaves curl downwards
The most common reason African Violet leaves curl downwards is that the plant is too cold.
African Violets like temperatures of between 18°C (65°F) and 24°C (75°F) during the daytime, and temperatures above 16°C at night.
Anything less than this and you will likely begin to notice downward leaf curl and brittle leaves.
Another sign that colder temperatures are responsible for leaf curl is that the leaves may become fuzzier than normal and the leaves in the middle of the plant may start to grow increasingly close together.
Again, as long as you identify the problem early enough, it is easily remedied! All you need to do is move the plant to a warmer environment.
If you have been keeping your African Violet outdoors, bring it inside!
If you have been keeping it in an area of your house with a significant draft, bring it into a warmer room.
If your house is too cold, you can use a heat lamp or grow light to provide your African Violet additional heat.
Another reason you might see leaf curl in your African Violet is that it is suffering a mite infestation. It may be difficult to distinguish whether your plant has mites or is suffering because of colder temperatures, as the symptoms are often very similar––both manifest in damaged, drooping leaves.
The mites will be miniscule and are often difficult to see. If you notice drooping, curling leaves and do not think the problem is temperature-related, begin by examining the new growth at the center of the plant for mite damage, as this is where the mites like to live.
Getting rid of a mite infestation can be tricky. One option is simply to dispose of the plant so that the mites cannot spread to neighboring houseplants. If you are determined to save your African Violet, however, you can quarantine the plant and attack the mites using a miticide.
Too much sunlight
If your African Violet leaves are browning at the edges, drying and curling under, it is likely because the plant is getting too much direct sunlight.
Try moving your plant to an area with less direct sunlight and make sure you are giving it enough water.
Root rot due to overwatering
Another reason African Violet leaves curl downwards is root rot. If an African Violet has been overwatered, is being grown in a poorly draining soil or has been left to sit in water for too long, it will develop root rot.
Downward-curling leaves are an early symptom of root rot. After this they will begin to turn brown and will eventually become soft.
Unfortunately, once root rot has reached an advanced stage it will be difficult to save the plant. If you notice that the plant has been sitting in water and that its leaves are beginning to curl, try placing it in a warm location and allowing it to dry out more than usual before rewatering.
However, if the symptoms of root rot continue to progress and the leaves begin to brown and soften, you will have to dispose of the plant.
Why African Violet leaves curl upwards
Too little sunlight
If your plant’s leaves are curling upwards, it may be that it simply isn’t getting enough sunlight. If so, it is trying to grow upwards in order to reach more light.
Simply put your plant in a brighter spot. Take care not to overcorrect the problem by placing your African Violet in direct sunlight––African Violets are happiest in bright, indirect light. Be aware that cultivars with darker green leaves require more light than those with lighter green leaves, so it is a good idea to look into the specific light requirements of the variety you have.
Dry soil due to underwatering
If the leaves of your African Violet have begun to curl upwards, it may be because your plant’s soil is too dry. African Violets are happiest if their topsoil is allowed to dry before they are watered again, but the majority of their compost should remain lightly moist at all times.
If you have not been watering your African Violets regularly and have dry, yellow, curling leaves as a result, you will need to be more disciplined with your watering schedule. Use a free-draining compost mix for best results or mix perlite into your multipurpose compost mix.
FAQs about leaf curl in African Violets
My African Violet has curled leaves but looks healthy otherwise. Why might this be?
Many African Violets have naturally curly leaves. Check whether your variety does before you look into other possible reasons for African Violet leaf curl.
How do I water my African Violet to avoid leaf curl?
Use lukewarm water to avoid shocking the plant and water the soil directly without getting water on the leaves in order to avoid root rot. Only water your African Violet once the top of the soil has dried, but remember to water it enough that most of its soil remains consistently moist.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.