African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha) are popular tropical flowering plants usually grown indoors. African violets are low-growing, compact plants with thick dark green leaves that produce clusters of colorful flowers just above the foliage. Conventional single-flower types come in solid colors of pink, white, violet blue and fuchsia, but the newer flower types might have two colors with double rows of petals. African violets are relatively easy to grow, but occasionally become infested with pests, like mites, that can be a challenge at times to control.
Check African violets for evidence of pests. Mites damage the plants by sucking the juice out of flowers or leaves, often causing them to become yellow, twisted or disfigured. These tiny pests are usually found on the underside of foliage.
Treat foliage with insecticidal soap spray, and then allow to dry. Most light to moderate infestations of mites can be controlled with the use of these sprays. Insecticidal soap sprays, those specifically made for controlling pests on indoor plants, can be found at local nurseries or garden centers. The spray is generally applied to the underside of leaves, but read the instructions thoroughly before applying.
Keep African violets moist, but do not over-water. Water the plants whenever the soil feels dry, but before it becomes hardened and the violet begins to wilt. Many pests and diseases thrive on African violets that are watered too much.
Check plants again for pests after applying the insecticidal soap spray. It usually takes several days for mites to die off after the initial application of soap spray, but if mites are still present one week to 10 days after the first application, spray foliage a second time.
Discard any African violets heavily infested with pests. Some plants become infested with cyclamen mites, pests that are very difficult to control. The best way to prevent these pests from infecting other nearby African violets is to destroy any infested plants that do not respond to insecticidal soap treatment.
Things You Will Need
- Insecticidal soap spray
- African violets require high levels of light--eight to 12 hours per day--to bloom well, but no direct sunlight.
- Caring for African Violets. University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticultural Program, 2000 (Accessed Oct. 29, 2009).
- Baniecki, John F., Ph. D. Plant or Spider Mites. West Virginia University Extension Service, August 2000 (Accessed Oct. 29, 2009).
- Brown, Sydney Park. African Violets. University of Florida IFAS Extension, 2009 (Accessed Oct. 29, 2009).