African violet

(Question)

I’ve raised my African violet since it was a leaf.  It is vibrantly healthy, with 14 leaves in a nice symmetrical arrangement, the largest of which are about 1.5 inches (4 cm) inches across. I can see 15 smaller leaves hiding under the top leaves. Should I remove these?

(Answer)

The symmetrical shape is called the ‘crown’, and it is preferable to keep the African violet growing a single crown. All those tiny leaves you see are actually new crowns forming, which is one of the ways African violets reproduce.

Check your plants once a month or so for new crowns and scrape them off the main stem with your fingernail.   If you forget and the little crowns have grown, carefully pinch out the  entire little crown and plant it.

Sometimes, I’ve been given almost dead plants with three or more large crowns. The plant looks like three little green umbrellas stuck together. I remove the plant from the pot and divide it into three using a sharp knife, trying to get an equal amount of root on each new plant. Often the plant necks (stems) have become long, leafless and ugly, and you can slice the necks to about 2 inches (5 cm) below the crown and re-root. African violets are very amenable to this treatment, so don’t be nervous