How to Repot African Violets

For optimum plant health and bloom, African violets need plenty of nutrients. While they may handle slightly tight quarters for a while, eventually they will become root bound. Many experts recommend repotting at least twice a year, while others vary the routine according to the plant's size, performance and health.

Choosing the Pot

There are several basics in choosing an African violet pot. They are:

  • Use an Azalea pot, which is relatively shallow. The height should be three-quarters of the diameter.
  • Pot up or down in increments of one inch; the standard change in pot size.
  • Plant diameter should be three times the pot diameter.
  • The pot must have good drainage; bigger pots need more holes.

Mold Potting

Mold potting helps reduce transplant shock. Put enough potting soil in the bottom of the new pot to make up for the difference in height of the two pots. The final soil level should be ½ to ¾ inch from the top of the new pot. Place the old pot in the new pot; pack soil around it. Place the plant in the hole and water from the bottom.

To Water or Not

Experts are divided over whether to water an African violet before potting up. While it can make removing the plant easier, it may also make the stems and leaves swell. These waterlogged stems and leaves may break during transplanting. If your violet is growing in a clay pot, however, watering may be required to get the plant out of the old pot.

Bagging It Up

Bagging is the practice of placing a plastic bag over the newly repotted African violet. The humidity may help to decrease the chance of transplant shock. Choose a clear plastic bag that is big enough to contain the pot and entire plant but that has room for leaves and stems. Seal with a twist tie. Leave the plant bagged for one week; do not water or feed.

Potting the Neck

The neck of an African violet can become elongated from disease or nutrient imbalances. When the leaves die off the neck, or main stem, becomes more exposed. To pot down the neck, remove the plant, cut down the root ball equal to the length of the neck and replace the plant in the same pot with fresh potting soil. Cover the neck to the bottom of the leaf stems.

Disease Prevention

Commercial potting soil for African violets is usually pasteurized. If not, bring the temperature to 180°F (82°C) and hold for 30 minutes. Wash pots after use and prior to placing a new plant in them. Soak pots in a 10 percent bleach solution – nine parts water to one part bleach – for an hour. Rinse well with plain water and let them dry before use.