My African Violet Ordeal

by Barbara-

Yeaaa! I finally got an African violet to flower. This is a big deal in my home. I have been through 3 rounds of trying to get African violets to flower properly but to no avail. I had no problem propagating tons of them but then when it got to flowering, they teased me every time. I would see a bud but either it wouldn’t open or it would look like a very ugly flower when it did. I think it had to do with the fact that I did not have enough sunshine power in a north facing window to support flowers. I gave away the ones I could and threw away the rest. I had had enough disappointment and I did not want to see them at all, lest they remind me of how I could not master them. I totally gave up on them and told myself I would never try to grow African Violets again.  However, a month ago all that changed when I found a variegated kind. I thought that even though I couldn’t get them to flower, the variegated leaves were interesting to look at so I scooped it up.


I decided to place it in a terrarium so it would have all the humidity it required and maybe, just maybe it would flower for me. We moved and I finally had access to a west-facing window. I placed it on a shelf and forgot all about it (because I never had to water it). A week ago though, I was looking at how my terrarium collection was faring and I noticed it. I couldn’t believe my eyes, I grabbed a camera right away.

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I was doing the happy dance until…wait…what??!! Are those what I think they are?


Yep! Mealy bugs. I found tons at the base.  And I was make sure to look over a plant first for pests before buying. Sigh!

At first I was like…




OH boy! I just can’t win with African Violets. So, now what do I do because my skin crawls at the thought of picking them one by one (Did not enjoy doing that in the past) I’m thinking of getting a commercial insecticidal soap (too busy/lazy to make my own) and spray it all over. We’ll see if that gets rid of them. For now I have taken a mealy-bug free leaf from the plant to root and hopefully I’ll get a whole new plant. How have you successfully rid your plants of mealy bugs?sign-off1-300x46


Hi, I’m Barbara and I’m a little obsessed with house plants. I share my house plant adventures in the hopes of inspiring you to continue to enjoy the greens in your home. And if you have no plants (yet!) I hope this blog inspires you to add some green to your home. So go on! Try it! I think you might quite like it. And who knows? You may end up being … obsessed too.


  1. Michelle Homewood

    Hey, i’m looking to get a jade plant, got any tips if i see pests?

    11 . Apr . 2016
    • Barbara

      Hi Michelle, Mealy bugs would be the number 2 culprit. You can try and pick them off but I’ve found that doesn’t get rid of them totally. I’ve lost too many battles with mealy bugs so I’m probably not the best person to give advice. All the best with your jade plant.

      13 . Apr . 2016
  2. Aimee Williams

    Just found your blog. Try this – it really works for my african violets and orchids: fill a spray bottle with 70% rubbing alcohol and spray directly on the mealy bugs. I have never seen any damage to the plants and the mealy bugs die very quickly. I’ve been using this technique for years. You will have to repeat in a couple weeks to kill the hatchlings that are protected while still in the egg.

    09 . Jan . 2016
  3. Darryl Cheng

    Hi Barb! I’ve spent hours removing mealy bugs from different plants without much lasting success. I’ve tried picking them off with tweezers then dipping them into a small dish of diluted liquid soap – this satisfied my rage against house plant pests for the moment (like your first gif). But weeks later, they’ll come back. I should really do more research on the life cycle of different pests – I’m sure their eggs must have been hiding somewhere in the soil or foliage.

    The best advice I can give you is to decide how much time you’re willing to spend controlling the pest population. It’s rare to achieve full eradication unless you caught the infestation very early on.

    Good luck!

    17 . Aug . 2015
    • Barbara

      I took your advice and got rid of it Darryl, as painful as it was 🙁 At least I salvaged a leaf for propagation.

      18 . Aug . 2015

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