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Repotting African Violets ~ Single Plant

Repotting African Violets was originally posted here on Real Country Living ~ August 2008

Many people have a fear of repotting African Violets because they think of these house plants as fragile or dainty.  While the flowers themselves are tiny, the plants that produce them are anything but frail.

Don’t Be Afraid of Repotting African Violets

Here I’ll explain the procedure for repotting a single African Violet in its pot.

Sometimes African Violets Propagate spontaneously and produce a second plant in the same pot. I’ll be posting instructions on how to divide and repot those soon.

African Violet Pot With a Single Crowded Plant

The African Violet shown below is much too crowded and the plant has too many whorls (a “whorl” is a row of leaves or petals encircling a stem), which need to be removed.

It also has unsightly spent (dried or dead blooms) flowers that reduce the production of new ones.

over grown African Violet

A very over grown African Violet plant

Dead and dried up flowers should be removed anytime they are present…not only when repotting African Violets.

All three of these plants have roots that are crowded in old soil. The soil’s nutrients are depleted, which makes it all the harder for the mass of roots to find what the plant needs.

Step #1

Start by identifying each row of leaves, starting in the center.

There should be three or four whorls only.

When you know which leaves are to be left, start at the bottom row of leaves and clip them off.  It is also very easy to “snap” them off and makes a neater stem, but some growers prefer to clip.

clipped leaves of African Violet

The unwanted leaves have been clipped from this African Violet

snapped off leaves of African Violet

This plant had its unwanted leaves “snapped” off…very easy…just grab one and bend it downward until it snaps off the main plant stem.

Don’t try to be too precise about the number of whorls left.  It’s not rocket science!

Step #2

Once the lower leaves have been removed, there is room to insert a knife along the edge of the pot.

Run the knife around the entire edge, to loosen the root ball. The soil and roots should come out very easily.

repotting african violets

Use a serrated knife and run it around between the dirt and the side of pot to loosen the root ball.

Step #3

With the plant completely free from its pot, take a serrated knife and cut 1″ off of the bottom.

cutting off bottom of African Violet root ball

Cut about an inch of the dirt/root ball off the bottom. Don’t be afraid…you won’t hurt it!

Step #4

This method of repotting African Violets allows the plant to utilize the same sized pot that it was in previously.  This works well if you don’t want the plant to take up more space with each repotting.

Put about half cup of new soil in the bottom of the pot. Then place the plant on top of this “bed“.

pouring potting soil in pot

Make a nice “bed” for your newly trimmed African Violet…with fresh soil in the bottom of the same pot you removed the plant from.

The top of the plant should be just above the pot rim, so press the root ball down into the pot if necessary.

Continue putting new soil around the bare stem and press it down gently with your fingers as you fill.

Again, don’t be afraid to press that soil down firmly around the stem. You want to make sure the roots and stem are surrounded securely by soil.  The more soil you can fit in, the longer your newly potted plant will thrive.

repotted African Violet

Look at all those leaves and dead flowers that were trimmed off this little guy…he’s a new man!

After you finish filling around the roots and stem with new soil, place the pot in a small saucer that holds water.

repotted African Violet

Water your African Violet by filling the saucer and not pouring it on top of the soil…their leaves don’t like getting wet and you can end up with dead “spots”.

Newly Repotted African Violet Plants

Here are our newly repotted African Violet plants! Very soon, the violets will fill in with many new leaves and it will be time to repot them again!

african violets and angels

Three of the African Violets take their place in the kitchen windowsill, along with my collection of Willow Tree Angels that family & friends have helped me accumulate.

Next, we”ll be dividing an African Violet that has self-propagated…oooo…exciting stuff!!!


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  1. Sue Utterback Sue Utterback
    July 14, 2011    

    Thanks, Deena! I have been putting off doing this cuz I wasn’t exactly sure how to do it. This demo helped and took away any excuses I have!?! :)

  2. July 14, 2011    

    So glad! I’m sure you have some of Mom’s ‘babies’ in your care, huh? I’m needing to do a post on dividing one that has self propagated…planning to do that very soon! luv you :)

  3. Michele Howard Michele Howard
    July 21, 2012    

    My violets have now turned into two plants. How doI divide and repot them so as not to hurt them?

  4. Melba Melba
    November 15, 2012    

    My sister left her plants with me while she winters in Florida. I notice the violets have little white specks and the flowers are sticky. I believe that is mealy bugs, right? How do I eradicate them from violets? I’m afraid if I spray them the leaves will die as I know you don’t put water on violet leaves. Need some help NOW. Thanks.

  5. January 20, 2013    


    I was given three of these African Violet plants with no instruction on how to properly care for them except to water once a week. I have done so but they have gotten bigger now and I am worried that since recently re-potting them I may have damaged or harmed them more than I have helped them. I was looking for some more helpful information on how to better care for a bigger African Violet and noticed you mentioned a post you were going to do. I was wondering if you could help me understand how to better care for these plants so I don’t break my promise to the lady I got them from. I would hate to see them die. Also I have some questions about the flowers. Since receiving them I have not seen any flowers growing but put it off because it is winter and didn’t think it was the proper time for them to bloom. Is this right or wrong?


  6. Maureen Maureen
    March 20, 2013    

    Can’t help but share here. I will never again divide a plant or rotate it to keep it balanced. I have found if i leave two growing in one pot I only have to turn it about once a month. It ends up like a plate facing out on both sides. One side or the other is always blooming! LOVE IT!

  7. Maureen Maureen
    March 20, 2013    

    They actually like and bloom best in a tight pot when they are ‘root bound’. They bloom best then. Don’t water from the top. It always ruins the leaves the water touches and even just from the edge of the pot. If you can afford it get the ceramic self watering one. You lift the inner pot out and put the water in the outer pot. It wicks it through the pot-never too wet or dry! Use something like Miracle Gro that you mix a tiny bit with water when you fill the bottom resevoir. They like window light but will sunburn if it is too much- too strong, too long, or if they are like a person-just fair and will burn. Best is just bright light. They are really tough plants! Fun to grow babies.

  8. April 29, 2013    

    I totally agree with the watering method! Thank you for sharing that. They surely don’t like water on the leaves. I will have to try leaving mine to get root bound and see if they bloom more that way. I don’t always have time to divide them anyway! Oh, and yes, the lighting tips are super too…you are spot on!

  9. April 29, 2013    

    Very nice!!! They must be gorgeous! I totally know what you mean and are describing. Thanks for the tips!

  10. kelly lloyd kelly lloyd
    May 7, 2013    

    I was wondering if I could put my African Violet out side on my front porch,or should i leave it inside?

  11. May 11, 2013    

    Hi Kelly! You sure should be able to put your African Violets outside during the summer months….this would be my advice: Don’t have them in direct sun….is your porch covered? That would be perfect for lighting and also you don’t want the rain to get on the leaves so a covered porch would be perfect. I would also start by putting your violets out for an hour or two one day, then 3 or 4, and so on to get them used to being outside slowly. I hope this helps and thanks for visiting! DKink

  12. kerry keeler kerry keeler
    April 24, 2015    

    Can’t wait to know what to do with self propagating A. V.s Litterally. I have two plants each very crowded in their pots and are sharing space with three or four other plants. they are suffering and I am afraid I will loose all of them soon. Soooo hurry please.

  13. September 10, 2015    

    Hi Kerry, I apologize for my extreme delay on responding to your question. I thought I had, so if I did, I’m sorry for the repeat info! But if you go to this link, you will find the complete tutorial for dividing your crowded african violets. I tried my best to not leave out any detail, so I think it will serve you well. Please let me know if this helps you or if you have need for any further information! Thanks a million for visiting! DKink http://www.realcountryliving.com/container-gardening/dividing-african-violets/

  14. November 28, 2015    

    Hello Kerry, I thought I had already posted this, but just in case I haven’t…find full instructions for dividing your plants here: http://www.realcountryliving.com/container-gardening/dividing-african-violets/

    That should give you all the answers you need!

  15. Lorraine Arnott Lorraine Arnott
    July 1, 2016    

    Hi I did some leaves in a dark bottle (5) once they rooted I placed them into pots and read about how long they take to start producing new leaves to learn that it takes five months. Well I lost 2 why I do not know the other 3 look a bit suspect about dying so very disapointed.
    Oh well will just keep trying.

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  1. African Violet Growing Tips|Real Country Living|Deena Kinkelaar — Real Country Living on March 12, 2015 at 11:38 am

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