African violets reach only about 6 to 10 inches tall.

How to Cut Back an African Violet

by Melissa Lewis

Most familiar as a houseplant, African violet (Saintpaulia ionantha) may grow outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11. It's usually grown as a houseplant because of its cold tenderness, ease of care and ability to grow and flower year-round indoors. To help maintain an attractive and blooming African violet, adopt a regular pruning routine.

Pinch off spent flowers when they fade to keep an African violet attractive and to encourage more flowers. Use your thumb and forefinger to pinch the stems underneath the flowers or bend them back and forth until they snap.

Pinch off a flower stem at its base when the last flower fades. You can also use a pair of scissors for this. Sterilize the scissors by wiping the blades with a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol.

Bend and snap off the lower leaves as they fade and shrivel, snapping them flush at the base of the plant. Typically, you'll need to remove three or more leaves per leaf stem each month.

Items you will need

  • Scissors
  • Cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol


  • Unless you want to propagate an African violet, remove suckers as they develop. Suckers grow on the outside of the main plant and develop at least four leaves.

About the Author

Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images