Can an African Violet Have Too Much Light?

African Violets are one of the most attractive plants anyone can keep in their homes or gardens. Among other things, the amount of light you allow your violets to have is extremely important. Light is essential for photosynthesis and growth but can African Violets have too much light?

African Violets can have too much light if you leave them in direct sunlight for too long. Although they need sunlight like other plants, excessive direct sunlight will cause their leaves to burn. Therefore, it’s important to filter the sunlight the plant gets with a screen.

Figuring out how to properly give your African Violet enough light can be difficult, especially if it’s your first time caring for one. Thankfully this guide is here to help, so keep reading to learn more!

Telltale Signs of Excessive Light

It’s always better to prevent a problem than cure it. However, if you’re here, there’s a good chance that you’re worried you’ve overexposed your violet to light. If you’re concerned about this, it’s important to carefully check the plant for signs of light exposure.

Here are some signs that your African Violet is getting too much light:

  • Brown spots 
  • Dark green leaves
  • Curling leaves
  • Dry soil and leaves

As crucial as knowing what is excessive light on your African Violet, it’s also important to know what isn’t. A few of the symptoms are also seen with other issues, so understanding the signs properly will stop you from treating the wrong problem.

Brown Spots

One of the most common signs of high light exposure on your African Violet is the appearance of brown spots on the plant’s leaves. These spots usually start small but can worsen as the problem continues.

This browning of the leaves is a form of leaf necrosis called leaf scorch. Although it isn’t necessarily a death sentence for the plant, you will need to fix the lighting issues if you hope to save your plant. 

Brown spots are also a common sign of magnesium deficiency in plants. Magnesium is central to chlorophyll in plants and, as a result, is responsible for the green color in leaves. As such, its absence can cause the leaves to turn brown.

Magnesium is also responsible for plant growth. A good way to differentiate excess sunlight from a magnesium deficiency is to check for stunted growth in your plants. If their growth has halted, it’s more likely to be a magnesium deficiency.

Dark Green Leaves

Excessive sunlight is bad because of the damage it can cause to chlorophyll in plants, and African Violets are no different. However, different plants react differently to excess sunlight. 

One common sign of excessive light on your African Violet plants is extremely dark green (sometimes almost black) leaves. Be sure to differentiate this from the naturally dark green leaves found in some plants.

Curling Leaves

Another symptom of excessive light on your African Violets is curled leaves. Depending on your African Violet variety, it might be slightly difficult to tell when the problem begins. However, with time, the curl becomes a lot more noticeable. 

There are two main ways the leaves on your plant curl:

  •  When the leaves get too much light, they tend to curl downwards away from the light source to reduce their exposure. 
  • When leaves curl upwards, it usually means that your plant is getting too little light. 

However, in some cases, a few varieties of African Violets might have leaves that seem to grow upwards towards the light even when there is excessive lighting. This difference is a protection mechanism where leaves closer to the center move inwards to protect them.

Dry Soil and Leaves

While this isn’t specific to African Violets, it’s an important enough indicator when combined with the other symptoms mentioned earlier. Increased sunlight on your plants will gradually raise the temperature of the mini-ecosystem around them.

Higher temperatures cause water to evaporate significantly faster, leading to dryness of the soil. Also, the transpiration rate is significantly increased under excessively intense sunlight. Since transpiration directly controls the amount of water vapor leaving the plant, excessive light can cause your plant to wilt and die if the problem is not fixed.

If you notice the other symptoms on the list and need to confirm that excess light is also a problem, dry soil and leaves are usually decent indicators.

Recommended Light and Dark Exposure

Now that you hopefully understand what happens when an African violet gets too much light, it’s time to see just how much light the plant needs. Although most plants thrive in light, they don’t need it all the time. In fact, darkness can sometimes be as important as light. 

African Violets need about 12 hours of light a day to grow. They need less light than most plants and require about 8 hours of darkness per day to metabolize properly. Although plants need light to photosynthesize, they also need a particular amount of darkness to grow.

Photosynthesis is the process plants use to create their energy and is a key part of the carbon cycle. However, a lot of the energy they store goes unused until it gets dark. This characteristic is an adaptation of plants to the natural day/night cycle. 

For African Violets, 8 hours of darkness is optimal. Although you can usually go higher with minor problems, extended periods of darkness will stunt your plant’s growth. After 8 hours, most of your violet’s energy from photosynthesis is used up, so it’ll need more light to restore it.

This is the reason why keeping plants in completely shaded corners is bad for their growth. Without proper lighting, plants can’t create food for themselves, thus they wither and eventually die.

How to Provide Proper Lighting

Sometimes, how you expose your African Violet to light can be almost as important as the amount of light you feed it. Plants are phototrophic, growing towards the light source. This movement, combined with the fact that they need light for photosynthesis, makes the type and position of the light source you use particularly significant.

Here are two ways to properly light an African Violet:

  • Sunlight
  • Grow lights

Although both methods are significantly different, there is no definitive ‘best’ method. However, each method has advantages that can make it better suited to you, depending on your needs.


Sunlight is usually the best way to ensure your plants get enough light. With African Violets, direct sunlight can be a death sentence, so when using natural light to raise your plants, try to keep them out of direct sunlight.

There are multiple ways to do this, but the most common are:

Choose a North or South-Facing Window

You should keep your violet next to a north or south-facing window. Since the sun is always going to be in the east or west, a north or south-facing window will give your plants proper sunlight without having them directly in the sun’s path.

Use a Screen to Filter the Light

If you have no north or south-facing windows, a sheer screen or curtain can do the job just as well. An opaque screen will allow light to pass through it but will also block a bit of it out, protecting your plant from the intensity of direct sunlight.

Adjust for the Season

When using sunlight, it’s also important to adjust for the seasons. For example, winter usually has longer nights and shorter days. Depending on where you live, the days can be too short that your plant doesn’t get enough light. 

On the other hand, summers can be nearly the opposite. While the length of the day will rarely be a problem, the intensity of the sunlight reaching your plants can sometimes be too much for them to handle – even with indirect sunlight.

Grow Lights

Grow lights can be a good investment if you have many plants that need specific lighting conditions. These are artificial lights used to mimic the sunlight plants need to grow. 

If grow lights mimic sunlight, then why not just use the sun? It’s free and easy to use. 

While the sun might be free, grow lights have two main benefits that can tip the scale for many people:

They Have Adjustable Intensities

For plants like the African Violet that need light below a certain intensity, grow lights eliminate a lot of the guesswork. They allow you to set the intensity of the light reaching your plants.

Grow Lights Are Mobile

While you might not constantly be moving your plants around each week, having grow lights means you’re no longer forced to keep your plants by the window.

Adjusting the Amount of Light Your Plant Receives

Change the position or location of your African Violet if you think it’s getting excess light. Remember to rotate your plant every five to seven days to ensure all leaves receive adequate light. Also, if the room gets too bright, especially in the summer, you can move the pot a few feet away from the windows or place it in a dimmer room.

If you have no alternative to direct sunlight or the other rooms in your house are too dark for the plant, you’ll need to place some blinds or a sheer curtain between the violet and the sun. 

Pro-tip: If the leaves of your African Violet have started to develop brown patches from excess sunlight, remember to cut them off to allow new, healthy leaves to grow. However, it’s best to use pruning scissors or a sharp knife to avoid damaging the stem.


African violets require indirect sunlight for about 12 hours a day. Direct sunlight can be extremely bad for your violet, impeding its growth and eventually killing it. If you’re worried that your plant is developing signs of damage from the sun, move it to a less exposed area, trim the damaged leaves, and water it to undo the damage.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the founder of and its lead content writer. He created the website in 2022 as a resource for horticulture lovers and beginners alike, compiling all the gardening tips he discovered over the years. Alex has a passion for caring for plants, turning backyards into feel-good places, and sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world.

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