African Violet leaves at the bottom closest to the soil are falling off.

(Question)

A few months ago I was given several African Violets and the oldest leaves, closest to the soil are just falling off – why is this happening and how can I stop it?

(Answer)

I think the problem is two fold.

Firstly, you may be watering your plants too often.  Stick your finger under the bottom leaves to feel the soil; if it still feels moist, don’t water yet, wait another day and try again.  Once you feel that the surface of the soil is dry, wait another day and then they are ready to be watered.  If you forget to to this, you will notice that the leaves will start to droop and let you know that they need water.  Most African Violets though are killed by overwatering.

Secondly, watering should be done from below as the plants don’t like to get their leaves wet.  I don’t know how many plants you have but if you have a few, you can put tepid water into a tray and then sit the African Violet pots into the water in order to do them all at once.  You can leave them there for a while in order for the soil to soak up the water – this could be 15 minutes or an hour or more depending on the size of the pot and the type of potting soil.  Once the surface of the soil feels moist again to the touch, remove the plants and place them back into their nice sunny window.