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Beginner Houseplants: sick Banana Tree

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diamond9192002
(Anita) Fort Wayne, IN
(Zone 6a)

October 26, 2009
4:03 PM

Post #7210055

Hi all, I am in desperate need of some help with my Banana Tree. This is the first BT I have had. She has never been outside. She appears to be sick. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. She was in front of a south facing window, however, that window has a heat vent close by. I moved her to get her away from the heat vent and she developed a couple of huge brown spots. I'm not sure if this is how the leaves naturally die off. The reast of the leaves look a little droppy to me. Makes me believe my plant is sad. Will you please, take a look at her and tell me what you think? I will add a couple of pictures.

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diamond9192002
(Anita) Fort Wayne, IN
(Zone 6a)

October 26, 2009
4:04 PM

Post #7210057

The other brown spot

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diamond9192002
(Anita) Fort Wayne, IN
(Zone 6a)

October 26, 2009
4:05 PM

Post #7210058

Droopiness

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diamond9192002
(Anita) Fort Wayne, IN
(Zone 6a)

October 26, 2009
4:06 PM

Post #7210065

last picture of sick banana tree

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jasminesmom

jasminesmom
Saugerties, NY
(Zone 5a)

October 26, 2009
7:09 PM

Post #7210664

Being by the heat vent is not good, south window is great. I think your nana isnt getting enough humidity. I would rest the pot in a big tray of pebbles and water for humidity. Misting isnt to great for them from what I've learned. Also go easy on watering over the winter, soggy roots will surely kill it. Hope that helps. I'm sure you'll get more advice from other members.
Christine
diamond9192002
(Anita) Fort Wayne, IN
(Zone 6a)

October 26, 2009
7:37 PM

Post #7210756

Ok, you probably can't tell that I have a pebble tray underneath and I have been misting. I may have to shut the heat vent and put her back directly in front of the window. I guess I'm getting conflicting information on the Banana Trees. I don't know what variety it is but if I had to guess I would think it is the Bajoo.

I thought they liked alot of water. I have a couple of babies coming up so I was trying to make sure they didn't dry out.

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

October 26, 2009
7:39 PM

Post #7210763

The stem is very thin in relation to the ht & size of the leaves, telling me it needs more light. The necrotic (burned/dead) leaf margins are most likely from over-watering or a level of soluble salts (from both/either fertilizer/tap water) in the soil. Unsure of the cause of the other spots/lesions you pictured - possibly from the same cause as the necrotic margins, possibly a fungal issue, or even from mechanical injury (like a bruise).

Al

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

October 26, 2009
7:46 PM

Post #7210793

If you have a pebble (humidity) tray, that's fine, but it really isn't all that effective. You need to be sure that there is no way the soil in the pot can absorb any of the water in the pebble tray. Misting is ineffective and more apt to cause problems than do the plant any good. Lesions on leaves possibly related to misting.

You should be able to water copiously so that you can flush the soil each time you water. If you cannot water this way w/o risking root rot, you should really take a close look at the soil you are using and consider switching to something more appropriate.

Al
diamond9192002
(Anita) Fort Wayne, IN
(Zone 6a)

October 26, 2009
7:51 PM

Post #7210818

Ok so what do I do about it? It's cold here and pretty heavy, so I can't move it outside to rinse out salt. I know it's not a bruise, nobody gets close to my baby. I know I will have to move back directly in front of window. Is there anything I can do about the necrotic issues? What's a good source for plant /flower care? I have gotten conflicting information about the amount of water for Banana Trees.
diamond9192002
(Anita) Fort Wayne, IN
(Zone 6a)

October 26, 2009
7:58 PM

Post #7210837

I have used a good potting mix with sphagnum peat and perlite for good drainage. I use fish emulsion for fertilizer. I have to use tap water otherwise I don't think I could afford to have as many plants as I have.

So you're saying pebble tray should have water but not enough for the plant to drink (no wet feet). And when I water, the water should flow out of the bottom to make sure the excess salt is being rinse out each time? This plant is 4 ft. tall, are there any tricks to that?

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

October 26, 2009
8:00 PM

Post #7210845

I noticed you have another post about another ailing plant, so maybe we should take a step back and get a more holistic overview of things. The reason I say that, is because if you are having these symptoms now, they're not going to get better on their own - especially during winter, with its low light levels and humidity. You need to identify the cause and correct it, or the plant will progress from the stress it's under now to strain, which is somewhere between stress & the organism's death. I'm not trying to scare you or overblow the situation here, but you probably should start by opening a dialog about the soil you're using and your watering habits. IMO, at least 90% of the problems folks bring to these forums, including insect and disease issues, can be traced to their choice of soils and watering habits.

Al
diamond9192002
(Anita) Fort Wayne, IN
(Zone 6a)

October 26, 2009
10:56 PM

Post #7211480

Thanks Al, both of these plants were side-by-side but they were having different symptoms, sort of (both droopy). The soil and watering has been the same. The only thing about the environment that has changed has been turning on my furnace. That's why I opened that dialog.
Last year I didn't have these plants, so I can't compare to last year's winter. I was wondering about either insects or disease. I'm not trying to suggest any problems. I'm strictly trying to save my plants, so I'm asking for help or direction.

I guess I'm asking more of what I should do or try to help my plants. I understand the stress my plants are going through could eventually kill them. I was told to come to this forum to seek answers.

Thanks for your help. I will try another avenue for assistance.

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

October 26, 2009
11:38 PM

Post #7211622

I think you misunderstood. I was only suggesting that we start talking about the soil and your watering habits. See, if your watering habits stay the same, and light levels or temperatures fall, or the plant slows down in preparation for a winter rest, what might have been appropriate watering habits now become over-watering. Also, if you aren't watering so a fair amount of the water you apply exits the drain hole each time you water, salt from fertilizer AND your irrigation (tap) water are accumulating in the soil. When this happens over time, the salt can build up in the soil to levels so high it actually pulls water OUT of the plant - just like salt pulls water out of ham and bacon. Telling symptoms that this might be occurring are the burned leaf margins. Of course, this could also be simply from over-watering, which kills roots or impairs their function/metabolism, making it difficult for the plant to absorb enough water to remain hydrated. While dry winter conditions aren't the actual cause of burned margins & tips for most of the plants we grow as houseplants, they can, and do, exacerbate the problem.

You should be using a soil that allows you to water copiously w/o risking root rot. If you're not using a soil like that and you're not watering so you flush the soil, we need to figure out a way to fix that, but more input (about your soil & watering habits) from you is needed.

Al

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

October 26, 2009
11:42 PM

Post #7211634

PS If you take some time to read this thread (link below) & understand how important your soil and being able to water properly (very closely related) is to your plants vitality, you'll be well on the way to getting your plant(s) turned around.

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/796311/

Al
diamond9192002
(Anita) Fort Wayne, IN
(Zone 6a)

October 26, 2009
11:58 PM

Post #7211681

Thanks Al! I understand what you are saying and I did read your posting earlier. My soil is composed of 40% Miracle Grow, 40% Sphagnum peat moss and 20% perlite. My elephant ear soil is kept fairly moist, not wet but I may water 3x per week. The Banana is watered maybe twice a week. I allow it to dry then water until water barely escapes the bottom. They are both 4 ft. in front of a south facing window. I had been feeding 1 per week until September. Now I simply water. The elephant ear was outside until September but the Banana has never been outside.

I honestly do understand that my soil is important.

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

October 27, 2009
12:57 AM

Post #7211915

OK. I'm not sure what else to offer then, other than offer any help I can if you have any questions. The soil you described will be very water retentive and will collapse quickly, which may be combining with light issues as the the root causes of your troubles.

Take care,

Al
plantladylin
South Daytona, FL
(Zone 9b)

October 27, 2009
1:40 AM

Post #7212091

I don't really know anything about growing Banana's indoors, mine are in the ground, but my first thought was either possible sunburn, or a fungal infection as the cause of the leaf spots. A south facing window is fine but if there is direct sun coming in that window and the plant is too close to the window, the suns reflection from the glass can cause foliage burn. Heat and/or air conditioning vents blowing directly on plants is not good either. Banana's do need many hours of sunlight and also good air circulation. Banana's like high humidity but misting can cause fungal problems. A lot of people who grow tropical's indoors invest in inexpensive humidifiers.

I am in agreement with Al that you really need to think about the soil/potting medium you use. Most commercial potting mediums tend to hold a lot of moisture, as does Peat, and I think you said you were using a combination of both, along with perlite. Perlite does aerate the soil which aids in drainage but I think you'd have to use a considerable amount of Perlite if you are using a combination of MG potting soil and Peat.

If your potting medium is heavy, watering twice a week is way too much, it doesn't leave enough time for the soil to dry out. It may look dry on top of the soil, and even feel dry when you stick your finger into the top of the mixture, but deep down in the pot around the roots, it's more than likely the soil is still quite wet. Bananas do like a lot of moisture but the soil should be a well draining mix or you will end up with root rot.

Fertilizer for Bananas should be a balanced plant food (all three numbers the same) and once a week sounds extreme to me also with the soil that you are using, so your leaf problem could very well be a a water as well as fertilizer issue. I'm not sure Fish Emulsion is what you should be using but hopefully someone else will chime in about that.

Have you had your plant out of the pot to take a look at the root system? The pot looks a bit small to me for the size of the banana tree, but my eyes aren't that great so it might be fine.

It's really hard for anyone to know exactly what to tell you to do since we can't see your plant in person. I do hope you are able to figure out the cause of your plant problems so that you can continue to enjoy your indoor plants for a long time to come.

Hopefully others will come along to offer their opinions as well, and you can narrow down what may be causing your plants unhappiness.
.






diamond9192002
(Anita) Fort Wayne, IN
(Zone 6a)

October 27, 2009
4:07 AM

Post #7212556

Thank you both Al and Lin. I thought I would try to grow them as houseplants over the winter. It may be best to winterize them if I want to have them next year. The Banana has been inside since I bought it but the Elephant Ear has been outside and simply may not have suitable conditions for the winter. I cannot thank you both enough for tyring to help me figure out my plant issues.

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