How to Transplant African Violets With Long Necks

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African violets can be propagated by seeds, leaves and stems.
African violets can be propagated by seeds, leaves and stems. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

As African violets age, their stems can elongate, giving them a “leggy” or “long-necked” appearance. Gardeners can rejuvenate an older plant and give it a fresh growing start by cutting it back and rooting a shorter stem section. Leaves are not removed and remain intact during the rooting, unlike many landscape plants. Pruned and rooted with this method, African violets will flower very soon after repotting. This will extend the life of the plant and restore its vigor.

Things You'll Need

  • Bleach
  • Paring knife
  • Paper towel
  • Cup
  • Aluminum foil
  • Potting mix
  • Houseplant fertilizer for African violets

Remove the African violet from its pot. If the plant has grown lateral crowns, gently separate it into individual plants with single crowns. Remove all flowers.

Make a 10 percent bleach solution by mixing 1 part bleach to 2 parts water. Disinfect a kitchen paring knife by dipping the blade into the bleach solution. Place the knife on a clean paper towel and allow it to dry.

Cut the stem of a long-necked African violet at soil level, using the disinfected knife. Trim the stem to a length of 2 inches below the plant’s crown. Discard the trimming.

Scrape the stem gently with the paring knife, as if scraping a carrot. Remove only the tough, brown outside stem layer without cutting deeply into the stem. Place the plant on the paper towel and allow it to dry for half an hour.

Fill a small cup with water to within one-half inch of the top. Cut a piece of aluminum foil to fit the top of the cup. Place the foil on top of the cup, pressing edges over the cup to seal it. Make a small hole in the foil with the tip of the knife.

Place the stem of the African violet into the hole in the foil, and gently guide the plant down until the plant’s crown is resting lightly on the foil with its stem in the water. Lift the foil every few days to ensure that the stem is still submerged in the water. Add more water, if needed.

Remove the plant and foil from the cup of water when roots form on the stem; discard the foil. Plant the rooted African violet in potting mix, making sure not to bury the crown. Fertilize the plant in two weeks.

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