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Question: My problem: Many of my violets are producing buds brownish in color, and when they open the flowers are brownish. I wick water, fluorescent lighting in racks. I pulled all the brown buds off, but when more appeared they were the same.  Read more ...

Answer: The symptoms you are describing sound a lot like botrytis blossom blight, which is a fungus disease that is very difficult to control. While you describe the blossoms as brownish, I might say that the flower color has a tan hue. My husband describes it as looking like the color got sucked out of the flower. When it is advanced, the buds also show the odd color. If the disease is advanced, you would also see some stunted growth in the center of the plants with a grayish color. If you are seeing all of these symptoms, then it is a fair bet that you have botrytis blight. The disease thrives in high humidity particularly if the temperatures tend to go above 80 during the day and below 70 at night. It spreads by spores that are in the air. Having fought the disease myself, I have found that the best cure is to discard all the plants that show symptoms and to treat the rest with a fungicide like Physan 27 which is specifically effective on botrytis blight. Once the disease is established, it can take a while to get rid of it. Be prepared to continue discarding plants that show signs of the disease. You should also take steps to maintain humidity at 40- 50% and no higher (day or night), as well as to maintain the temperature in the growing area between 68 and 75 degrees (day or night). It is also wise to keep a fan running day and night in the area so that the air is continually stirred and humid pockets of air are dispersed. Finally, I would suggest wiping down the area and the outside of your pots with bleach water or with Lysol disinfectant to kill any spores that might be on surfaces. If you think I'm on the wrong track, please send a photo of the affected plants and I'll think this through again.

Happy Growing!

Joyce Stork

 Much of the information here in Violets 101 was originally published in the African Violet MagazineJoin AVSA to receive the magazine with much more in-depth information.

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