Why Do African Violets Grow Sideways?

Are you trying to grow African violets but instead of expanding upward the plant is growing sideways? If yes, then don’t worry because we have faced this problem before and we can help you solve it.

Just read this article carefully and you will get answers to all your questions!

African violet grows sideways when it gets light exposure from the sides instead of the top. In fact, this plant grows in the direction of light. So, when it is exposed to light horizontally, it will be forced to grow leggy in order to catch as much light as possible.

There are many other factors that can cause African violet to grow sideways. Lack of pruning, overwatering, soil erosion, overfertilizing, and windy conditions are all factors that may contribute to this issue.

In this article, we are going to go through each factor that causes African violet to grow leggy and we will provide a solution for each situation. Additionally, we will give you some preventive measures that will help you avoid this problem in the future.

African violet growing sideways

What Causes African Violets to Grow Sideways?

Wrong Lighting Angle

All plants grow in the direction of light because this allows them to photosynthesize, produce food and stay alive. If your African violet is getting light from the top, it will grow upward. In this case, the plant will look normal.

On the other hand, if the plant gets light from the side, it will stretch the leaves and stems in order to catch the amount of light it needs for its growth. In this case, the plant is going to grow sideways in order to maintain a normal supply of light.

This issue is common among people who grow African violet indoors using artificial light. Most people who grow this plant believe that it’s enough to put an artificial light bulb in front of the plant.

While this is sufficient for assuring the necessary functions required by the plant, it may not give you the aesthetic appearance that you want. 

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If you grow African violet indoors using artificial light, then you should place the light source above the plant. In order to simulate natural sunlight and the sun cycle, you should place grow lights on the ceiling or over the top of the plant.

The right lighting conditions that prevent African violet from growing sideways

Additionally, you should place the artificial light source a few inches away from your plant in order to prevent any potential leaf burn.

Lack of Pruning

New growth in African violet starts from the tip of the plant. When the plant grows new leaves, the old ones stay at the bottom. Therefore, if you don’t cut back the old dead leaves, this plant will grow sideways and develop a long neck.

Not pruning your African violet will also lead to a lack of growth. You’ll find that new shoots will develop and new leaves will form, but the growth will be slow and stunted.

Pruning is an essential part of maintaining a healthy plant. Without proper pruning, a plant can become weak and vulnerable to pests and diseases.


If you notice that your African violet is growing sideways with a lot of dead leaves, then you must prune the plant immediately. 

To prune this plant, remove the dead or dying leaves using a sharp knife or a gardening scissor. Try to cut out above the stems and only prune the dead or damaged parts. 


Watering too much causes African violet to stretch out and grow sideways instead of upwards. In fact, waterlogged soil causes the roots to rot, making it impossible for the plant to find the needed oxygen. As a result, the plant will start growing sideways before showing more serious signs of stress such as yellow and wilted leaves.

Overwatered African violets can suffer from numerous fungal diseases, which weaken the plant and ultimately cause death. If the soil becomes completely saturated, it will become compacted, which can then lead to root rot and plant death.

Are you dealing with a leggy African violet? Read this article to discover how to fix this issue.


In order to avoid overwatering your African violet, you should check the soil moisture every few days. Dig down your finger about two inches near the base of the plant. Squeeze the soil to check the moisture content. If it feels damp or cool to the touch, your plants are fine, but if it feels cool and dry, then you can water them.

A more accurate way to determine if your plants are getting enough water is with a moisture meter. All you need to do is to insert the prob of the device inside the soil and you will know exactly how much moister is available for your plant. If the moister meter indicates that the soil is dry (red zone) then the plant needs to be watered.

Soil Erosion

In some cases, soil erosion can also cause African violet to grow sideways. When erosion happens, the soil loses its natural nutrient balance which causes plants like African violet to become leggy and grow sideways.

Soil erosion is the process by which the topsoil is lost from its original location. It happens when the topsoil is broken apart and blown away. The most common reason for this is wind.

When there is a strong wind, it blows the topsoil around, carries it with it, and deposits it in new areas. Another reason for erosion is water. The water and debris flow through the land and carry topsoil along with it.

As wind and water continue to pick up the topsoil, it eventually carries it away.

Soil erosion is not only a problem for your houseplants, but also for people who live in the area. If the land is not protected properly, it could be permanently damaged.

Erosion can occur anywhere, but it’s most common near the coasts. Once the topsoil is carried away, the land loses its ability to absorb nutrients.

Are you interested in using LED lights for African violet? Read this article before doing so.


The best way to minimize soil erosion is to use mulch. It can be done easily and effectively by making sure that you mulch around your garden beds in the spring and fall. Mulching helps to retain moisture and keep your soil free from weeds.

As your African violet matures it will help prevent soil erosion automatically. As it grows, it will create a root system that holds the soil together. This system prevents the soil from washing away, which in turn stops erosion.


Fertilizers can add nutrients and energy to your plant, causing it to grow quickly. However, too much fertilizing can be harmful to your plants. For example, applying a high dose of fertilizer to African violet can cause this plant to experience rapid growth but it will also cause the stems to bend and even break. This can force the plant to grow sideways.

It’s important to keep track of the nutrients in your soil and adjust them periodically. Fertilizers containing Nitrogen and phosphorous can cause leaves to grow sideways.

Inorganic fertilizers can also cause this problem. So, it’s best to use organic fertilizers made from natural ingredients.


In order to avoid overfeeding your African violet, you should stay away from fertilizers that contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Also, try to utilize organic fertilizers in liquid form and apply them according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Using Liquid fertilizer to prevent African violet from growing sideways

If your plants are fertilized with a slow-release fertilizer, it’s important to apply them only once a month. This will help the nutrients spread evenly throughout the roots and leave enough time for the fertilizer to reach the top layer of soil.

Click here to check our latest article about soil acidity preferences for an African violet.

How to Prevent African Violet from Growing Sideways?

In order to prevent African violet from growing sideways, you should make sure that the plant is receiving light from multiple angles, the dead leaves are removed regularly and the soil mix is changed every year.

Here is a full guide that explains the actions that will help you prevent your African violet from growing sideways:

Rotate the Plant: In order to keep your African violet healthy, you should rotate it every few days. This will ensure that the plant is receiving light from all angles which will prevent it from growing toward one side.

Prune Regularly: Pruning will improve the health and appearance of your African violet. By removing damaged, diseased, or dead tissue, you will stimulate new growth and improve the plant’s appearance. 

Repot Once a Year: It is important to repot your African violet annually to ensure that its roots are well-drained and prevent soil erosion. Additionally, repotting helps prevent the growth of diseases and pests in the root system. The best time to repot your plant is by the end of winter. This will help it use all the energy it gets during spring in growing new healthy leaves.

If you found this content helpful, don’t hesitate to check our latest article about droopy African violet.

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