African violet insect problem

The center of my African Violets are leaved very tightly and not blooming. They look like healthy plants otherwise. I have tried to thin the packed leaves but it doesn’t help.

First check for cyclamen mites a serious pest of African violets. These tiny arachnids like to hide in the growing center of the plant causing leaves to curl up and dry, grow tight center leaves, deform, twist and stunt the leaves-giving them a grayish or discolored appearance. They feed by sucking on plant sap and inject toxins that disrupt normal growth. If you take a magnifying glass and look in the crown or creases of the leaves you may see small eight legged creatures.  Cyclamen mites thrive in high humid (80-90%) and warm temperatures in the 60’s.

To treat for cyclamen mite: Isolate the plant from all others to prevent infesting other plants. An old -fashioned treatment is to plunge the plant in a pot of 115 degree water bath for 15 minutes-which should kill the mites but not the plant. After treatment, place the plant in another area so that it doesn’t get re-infested.  Another method is to spray the plant with Neem (check label directions before spraying) or treat with a miticide labeled for indoor use such as Avid, Akari or Bonide Mite-X.  Once you get rid of the mites and removing the dried distorted leaves from the center,  it may take some time for the plant to return to a normal growing pattern.

The second possibility is that the African violet is getting either too much light or too much fertilizer causing the leaves to form a tight compact rosette in the center of the plant.