African Violet Blight Control: Treating African Violets With Botrytis Blight

By Bonnie L. Grant

We are all familiar with cold and flu season and how contagious both illnesses can be. In the plant world, certain diseases are just as rampant and easy to pass from plant to plant. Botrytis blight of African violets is a serious fungal disease, especially in greenhouses. African violet fungal diseases such as these destroy blooms and can attack other parts of the plant. Recognizing the symptoms can help you develop a plan of attack early on and head off an outbreak among your prized African violets.

African Violets with Botrytis Blight

African violets are beloved houseplants with sweet little blooms and engaging fuzzy leaves. The most common diseases of African violet are fungal. Botrytis blight affects many types of plants but is prevalent in the African violet population. It may also be called bud rot or gray mold, descriptive terms that point to the symptoms of the disease. African violet blight control starts with plant isolation, just as you would with a potentially fatal contagious disease in animals and humans.

Botrytis blight stems from the fungus Botrytis cinerea. It is most common in situations where plants are crowded, ventilation is not sufficient and there is high humidity, especially brief periods where temperatures cool quickly. It affects many ornamental plants, but in violets it is called Botrytis blossom blight. This is because Botrytis blight of African violets is most evident on the lovely flowers and buds.

If left unchecked, it will rage across your violet population and destroy the flowers and eventually the plant. Knowing the symptoms can help prevent the spread of the disease but, sadly, African violets with Botrytis blight may need to be destroyed.

Symptoms of Botrytis Blight of African Violets

African violet fungal diseases such as Botrytis thrive in moist conditions. The signs of the disease start with blooms becoming gray or almost colorless petals, and center crown growth that is stunted.

Progression of the disease shows an increase in the fungal bodies with a fuzzy gray to brown growth on leaves and stems. Small water soaked lesions will form on the leaves and stems.

In some cases, the fungus will be introduced in small cuts or damage on the plant but it also attacks healthy tissues. Leaves wilt and darken and flowers fade and seem to melt. This shows an advanced case of Botrytis blight.

African Violet Blight Control

Affected plants cannot be cured. When disease symptoms infect all parts of the plant, they need to be destroyed but not tossed in the compost bin. The fungus may be able to remain in compost, especially if it hasn’t maintained a high temperature.

If damage presents as minimal, remove all infected plant tissue and isolate the plant. Treat with fungicide. If only one plant shows signs, you may be able to rescue the other violets. Treat unaffected plants with a fungicide such as Captan or Benomyl. Space plants to increase air circulation.

When reusing pots, sanitize them with a bleach solution to prevent spreading the fungus to new plants. African violets with Botrytis blight may be saved if quick action is taken and the disease is not rampant.

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