Q&A – Fasciated African Violets

Roger R. asks Annie:

Q Hi Annie,

I have a number of plants (one purchased plus additional ones I propagated) of Music Box Dancer.  When I prune off suckers to avoid multiple crowning, I get rapid (few weeks) and prolific growth of new leaves at the lesion.  And they rapidly grow into new little crowns if I don’t continually cut them off.  But that makes an ugly lopsided plant with a hole on the side where I prune out the new suckers.  Is this something that is variety specific?  I don’t do anything special except carefully extract the cut off sucker.

The first photo shows a lesion where I just removed some suckers.

A picture of a fasciated violet. It has lost its crown.
A fasciated violet. It has lost its crown.

The second photo shows a new crown that has developed in just a few months.

A picture of all the suckers that happen after an African violet fasciates.
All the suckers that happened after Roger’s African violet fasciated.

The third photo shows another trait of this plant—joined leaf stems.

A Hi Roger!

When I initially looked at the photos you sent, it looked to me like you’d lost the crown of this plant completely.  Once that happens, pretty much all you will get will be suckers.  But I thought more might be going on here, and I suggested that you isolate the plant. I checked in with Joyce on this, and she had some great information to share about how and why African violets sometimes fasciate or “zipper.”

After seeing the first two photos, Joyce said:

“I can’t be certain, but I suspect that the strain Roger purchased of the original Music Box Dancer has a genetic tendency to become fasciated. That’s often what is happening when a crown begins to sucker. You can almost see the suckers lining up in the first photo. Since fasciation is genetic, once it shows itself, all the propagated offspring will show the tendency too. The only cure will be to buy a different strain of the variety (from a different dealer.) These probably can’t be corrected.

And after seeing the third photo of the split stem leaves, she added: “That fasciated leaf is confirmation of my theory. Yes. The plant strain has a genetic weakness to fasciate. Another strain of the variety would probably not be so inclined. It’s not that it is massively unstable, but that it has sported to this undesirable trait and it will pass the trait to all propagated babies.

Joyce sent an article which appeared in a Growing Tips a year or so ago, and she gave permission for me to publish it here on the podcast Website.

Roger, I hope this answers your question!