The Q&A Archives: African violet leaves turn rust colored

Question: The stems of my African violet get rust colored and watery and the leaves eventually die, although the plant itself survives. The problem is more noticeable in the winter. What can I do? Mrs. John Holsopple Hooversville, PA

Answer: Move the plant to a warmer spot and irrigate with tepid water. Robert Fortney, professor of floriculture at Pennsylvania State University at University Park, says, The symptoms you describe appear when night temperatures get below 60oF. Cool temperatures also encourage fungi to develop, which could be infecting your leaves. Fortney especially warns against locations near cold windows. I put my African violets in the bathroom in winter, he says. They like the warmth (60_ to 75_F), indirect light and high humidity (50% to 60%). To keep the plants healthy through the cold weather, I water thoroughly with tepid water, provide good drainage and fertilize once every three weeks with a complete fertilizer high in phosphorous, such as 15 30 15, he explains.

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