Why Are Your African Violets Roots Above Soil?

When an African Violet’s roots are above the soil, the plant is distressed and needs to be repotted. A simple repotting, done correctly, will fix the roots, so they are able to function properly below the soil level.

African Violets are a popular house plant due to their low maintenance and beautiful flowers, but sometimes they need extra attention. In this article, we will look at how to take care of an African Violet, why their roots come above the soil, and how to fix exposed roots.

Do African Violets have Deep Roots?

According to Optimara, a grower and distributor of African Violets, these particular plants grow out as opposed to down, and sometimes standard pot sizes don’t work because they’re deeper than African Violet’s roots.

The best type of pot for African Violets is the “Azalea” pot. This type of pot is more shallow than a standard pot. If an African Violet is not in a well-fitted pot, this can lead to a number of health issues such as root rot or roots above the soil level.

What do African Violet Roots Look Like?

Healthy African Violet roots appear white or grey, and the crown is firm to the touch. The roots that typically branch off the crown stem are fine or appear thin like strings.

Why are Your African Violet’s Roots Above Soil?

African violet Roots grow above the soil as a sign of distress, and it means the plant is looking for more nutrients. The roots will completely fill the pot and start to come out through the drainage holes and along the top like a web of strings.

What are the Common Reasons for Roots to Show?

There are four common reasons why your African Violets roots might be showing, which are: a small pot, compact soil, nutrient deficiency, or the environment.

Why is a Small Pot Bad for an African Violet?

According to FlourishingPlants, all plants like the African Violet grow over time, meaning that a small pot can choke the roots. If that happens, the roots will become so dense and thick that the pot becomes a barrier to the roots, and it can’t properly grow or take in nutrients. This is called being rootbound.

How Does Compact Soil Affect the Roots of an African Violet?

When soil is pressed down hard enough to become compact, it can create a barrier for the roots of the African Violet. This will stunt the growth of the plant and may cause the roots to appear along the surface. 

What Causes Nutrient Deficiency in African Violets?

When the potting soil for African Violets is lacking nutrients, such as regular fertilizer treatment, this can cause the roots to grow up in search of more nutrients.

How Does Environment Play a Role in African Violet Roots?

The environment can play a role in African Violet roots in several ways, one of which being uncomfortable heat for the roots or not enough water.

If the surface under the pot is generating too much heat, it can cause the roots to look upward. And if the plant is watered shallowly or not given enough water to saturate all of the roots, the plant may search upward because the moisture is in the upper levels of the soil. 

How to Take Care of an African Violet with Roots Above the Soil?

If your African Violet has roots above the soil, you will want to put it in a pot that is one inch larger than the previous pot. This will eliminate the plant’s need to have its roots above the soil as it will no longer feel distressed.

To repot your plant safely, grab the top of the plant as a whole, tip the pot over, and lightly shake the root ball from the pot. If it’s stuck, simply push a pencil through one of the drainage holes, squeeze the sides (if it’s a plastic pot), or wiggle a butter knife in between the soil’s edges, to loosen it.

Have your new pot ready with a thin layer of potting soil along the bottom, about half an inch to one inch in thickness. Gently place the African Violet and its root ball in the new pot and add more soil to fill the pot and keep the plant stable. 


Learning how to take care of an African Violet can be easy if you know why the plant has its roots above the soil and how to properly treat it. After finding a slightly larger pot to put it in and gently repotting your plant, you will find your African Violet to be much happier and healthier for years to come.

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