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Beginner Houseplants: Peace lily with brown tips

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kg2943
Eagle Mountain, TX

September 8, 2011
7:25 PM

Post #8799956

I have only been keeping houseplants successfully for a few months now. I have always had a black thumb, so I'm glad they're alive. But they are not really thriving, especially this peace lily. I've read so many tips on them. I switched to filtered water. I have tried several different locations. I learned about overwatering, so I'm very careful about checking the feel of the soil before I water, and I read not to over fertilize. I recently trimmed it back drastically, thinking it might help to give it a fresh start. It does well at sprouting new shoots, but never blooms and the leaves are already turning black again. It is sitting on the opposite side of the room from an east facing window, that has a sun shade screen over it. I do not have any north or south facing windows in our house. What should I do???

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tommyr2006
Poughkeepsie, NY

September 9, 2011
6:00 PM

Post #8801338

http://www.plant-care.com/peace-lily-brown-tips.html
candles4u
Mount Vernon, IL

September 12, 2011
11:54 AM

Post #8805245

too much sunlight not enough water, peace lilies like water! don't let the soil go dry and it will bloom, water 1 or 2 times a week should be enough. the ends look like sun burn to me. mine looked like that so I put it in a darker room, boom it looks fabulous now
WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

September 27, 2011
5:33 PM

Post #8827119

you have removed too much foliage, these plants flower best when the pot is bursting with with stems and roots, it should look like it needs re-potting, also water from below, this prevents the foliage / stems getting wet, every so often I give mine a misting but allow it to dry out again. Feeding is needed but I begin with half dose as on the bottle and use a liquid indoor plant feed or a seaweed liquid feed. they like a light place but not direct sunlight, once they do flower you need to remove spent flowers as you see them and they will send out more buds. looking at you picture I would re-pot the plant, use a slightly smaller pot, nice new compost and water the new compost from bottom in a bowl of water, drain away any excess, don't sit the pot in a saucer where water will be left, the too wet soil will rot the roots. The marks on the leaves look like water marks and maybe the sun had got to the foliage and burnt the tips, if this happens, try cutting off the brown tips rather than removing the whole leaf, only remove the leaf when the whole leaf and stem is dead and then it should be tugged away.
Hope you get good results and you get blooms next spring.
Good luck. WeeNel.

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

September 28, 2011
11:42 AM

Post #8827970

First, and very important, the plant needs more light. Photo load is reduced by the square of the distance from the light source, which means that a plant 10 ft from a window receives only 1/100 the light that a plant 1 ft from the window would receive. Your PL likes very bright light, and will even tolerate full sun through a window if there is adequate air movement to disrupt the boundary layer (of air) that surrounds leaves. Plants grown indoors react to the HEAT generated by the photo load and not the light itself. Air movement over the leaves prevents heat build-up and allows you to grow in much brighter light. At any rate, 'across the room from an east window = insufficient light for best vitality, regardless of the plant material.

Spoiled foliage that isn't related to insect or disease issues is almost always the result of the effects of an inadequate volume of water being supplied to the top of the plant. Under-watering can be the issue, but if you haven't noticed regular and severe wilting in the days after you water, it's not under-watering. More than likely, the issue is either a high level of solubles in the soil from fertilizers and tap water, or over-watering. All three conditions, a high level of solubles; under-watering; over-watering, all produce the same symptoms because the plant's reaction is the same. It's VERY easy to over-water when light is inadequate because the rate of photosynthesis drops off VERY sharply as light levels are reduced, which also reduces the volume of water being used for photosynthesis.

Watering from the bottom ensures that salts remain in the soil and accumulate, which is a decidedly bad thing for a planting. The best way to water containerized plants is from the top. If you REALLY want to water the best way, first allow the soil to dry down so the plant is nearly at the wilting point. Then water just enough to wet the soil, but not enough that water exits the drain hole (drain holes are almost mandatory for healthy plants). Then, wait 10 minutes and water again, so that at least 10-20% of the total volume of water applied exits the drain hole. This flushes accumulating salts from the soil and goes a LONG way toward maintaining roots in a healthy state, which is a prerequisite for healthy foliage.

If you cannot water in this manner w/o risking root rot, your soil is not what it should be and it will be ensuring that you're leaving a considerable amount of growth/vitality on the table.

Soils comprised of significant volumes of peat, compost, sand, coir ... any fine particulates, are going to be much more difficult to grow in than soils comprised of larger particles, like pine bark and other large gritty materials like Turface, chicken grit, Haydite, pumice ...

Your soil choice is probably the most important choice you'll make when you put a planting together or repot. So much so that it's fair to say that in most cases - whether or not you're satisfied with the fruits of your efforts depends on the soil. Roots come first, they're the heart of your plants. If the roots ain't happy, you cannot expect any part of the plant to be happy.

The houseplant soil I grow in:

Al

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WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

October 2, 2011
5:56 PM

Post #8833378

I have to disagree with you Tapla and say that there are very few indoor plants that will thrive sitting in full sun beside a very sunny window, for a start this sun is like an artificial sunlight because it comes through the glass from the window, the sun is magnified many folds and this dry hot sun is what causes the damage, there are very few of us can leave a window wide open all day to give our plants air movement while out of the house.
Also these plants like a good deal of water but less after September when they like a rest period till about March, start feeding then, they also like a humid atmosphere so mist the plant in the growing period and stop at rest period, I would move the plant to a brighter area in winter IF there is less day light, but never sit the plant too close to a sunny window, by sunny, this means a window that gets bright sunlight for several hours per day.

The plants natural habitat is edge of tropical wooded areas where there is water /damp soil in Columbian rain forests in hot humid conditions, we who grow them as indoor plants have to try replicate as best we can the proper conditions, so for NEW growers thats all they can try to achieve. best of luck. WeeNel.

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

October 2, 2011
6:55 PM

Post #8833448

I have owned a glass company for about 35 years, so I do know a little about light transmission through glass. Glass in 2.5 and 3 mm thickness reduces visible light by about 30%. Windows with insulating glass units and pyrolytic coatings, currently so common as energy conservation measures, reduce light significantly more. Flat glass does not magnify or focus light, it absorbs a portion of the light passing through it and turns it to heat. This reduces passive solar gain (heat build-up) at the leaf surface.

My comment that most plants will tolerate full sun if there is sufficient air movement to disrupt the boundary layer is common knowledge in the greenhouse trade. A fan works for plants in the same way it works for humans. Moving air over our skin disrupts the boundary layer of air that traps heat against our body and cools us. Operating a fan in a room full of plants reduces the effects of solar gain (heat of the sun) dramatically. We need to apply some common sense here. I'm not suggesting that new growers site their "low light" plants in front of a southern bank of windows and hope for the best. I was simply making the point that indoor sun isn't as bright as we think and most plants will tolerate it if you have adequate air movement.

For the record, sunburn and overheating are two different things. Sunburn involves the release of an O- radical as molecules excited by the sun return to a less excited state. These radicals are the same O- radicals found in the bleaching agent H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) and they attack and oxidize chlorophyll and other pigments. This usually NEVER occurs indoors in acclimated plants. What DOES occur is, plants get overheated and can't keep up with water needs. This can be combated simply with air movement (a fan) in most cases.

Plants like soils barely damp - never wet or soggy. Plants don't sip or drink water like humans or animals. they absorb it molecule by molecule from colloidal surfaces and water vapor in the soil. Any time there is any portion of the soil saturated and devoid of air spaces, it is counter-productive and limits the plants vitality and ability to grow. The best growth potential will be realized when growing in soils that support little or no perched water - soils that don't support that soggy layer of soil at the bottom of the pot that ensure the cyclic death & regeneration of roots every time we water.

The plants we grow indoors don't all come from Colombian rain forests. They come from much broader latitudes and longitudes, and exhibit a wide range of cultural preferences. They are selected from hundreds of thousands of species and varieties because they tolerate the indoor conditions so totally foreign to where they occur naturally better than other plants best left in the wild. All respond very well to very bright indoor light, and an appropriate soil/watering regimen that is increasingly more difficult to achieve as water retention increases.

Al
WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

October 3, 2011
8:45 AM

Post #8834174

Thanks so much Tapla, your a star, I have to admit I am unaware of the actual thickness of the glass in my own windows as I am sure most other folks will be and cant say I've had any conversations re - O radicals about when asked about plants burning to a frazzle sitting on a table at a sunny window but, I will listen out for all that info when it pop's up, so long as it happens after I loose the will to live ha, ha, ha.

I think the clue to the forum "Beginners House Plants" has been forgotten along the way and maybe even the question. Lets just agree to differ on our opinion and stick to what we know best, your expert knowledge on Glass and my pleasure of growing plants. under glass and outdoors.
Happy gardening and good luck WeeNel.
cathy166
Stamford, CT
(Zone 6b)

October 12, 2011
5:47 AM

Post #8845973

I don't get too technical. They don't fuss too much with artificial light. If the leaf tips are drying, try misting more often, place pot on a try with rocks and add water to add some humidity or my favorite is a plastic bag over its head for a while. The rocks/pebbles under the pot keep it out of the water below. This is not a difficult plant to keep happy.
WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

October 17, 2011
9:54 AM

Post #8852563

Cathy 166, you have brought a breath off fresh air back into Gardening / indoor plants, I have been gardening for over half a century and had I needed to study a load of technical know-how to grow any plants let alone a fairly easy one, then believe me along with millions of other gardeners, there would be no people gardening / growing anywhere, but I say to all new folks who want to give it a go, the first rule is to enjoy it, remember your life is not depending on it being perfect every time and most of all, just grow what you really like either to look at, eat, or benefits your needs, every year you get better at it.
So happy gardening to you all and good luck. Weenel.

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

October 17, 2011
11:50 AM

Post #8852694

FWIW, and especially to the newbies. If you're happy being able to keep a plant alive for a few months or a year, and then replacing it when it dies or 'gets sick', then relying on the 'experience' you get from trial & error growing might be fine; but trial and error is actually a very poor approach to becoming more proficient at growing. If you're serious about improving your growing skills to the point where you aren't operating on a revolving door plant policy, and you ARE able to keep your plants happy and thriving indefinitely, then reliable information that is rooted in science is key. I know that I enjoy my growing experience much more because I know with a high degree of certainty how plants will respond to the cultural conditions they are experiencing and to my ministrations. I've been studying soils and plant physiology for more than 20 years and teaching others how to improve their growing kills for almost as long.

Those that acquire knowledge that is reliable and then use that knowledge to actually validate their experience and observations will leave the trial and error growers standing in their slipstream every time. I've seen it happen thousands of times. I am also familiar with hundreds of growers that, through the acquisition of a little basic knowledge and understanding, are consistently producing better looking and healthier plants than those still relying on trial & error and pooh poohing anything technical. Growing is really not all that difficult unless you are self-limiting (often unknowingly) by choices that are inherently limiting. It's a very fundamental truth, but worth saying that knowledgeable growers are able to recognize limiting practices and advise against them, while less knowledgeable growers habitually perpetuate limiting practices. This is true no matter what the endeavor.

As far as enjoying the gardening experience - enjoyment is closely linked to the effort:reward quotient. If you're putting forth the effort and being rewarded with failure, it quickly takes much of the fun and satisfaction out of gardening. Is the potential for reward better when you can say "I have a _______ (fill blank) that is 20 years old & growing strong", or "gee - I killed 4 of those last year".

I've been there. I was so taken with bonsai that I knew I HAD to learn how to grow those little trees in tiny pots. I failed (20+ years ago) but didn't give up. I started to study, and I studied for about 4 years before I tried again. It made a HUGE difference in my ability to keep plants healthy. These days, I lecture widely (by invitation - and get paid for it) about bonsai and all types of container gardening, including how to maintain houseplants in good health over the long term. When I say something or make an observation, it's always based on sound horticultural principles or one of the supporting sciences, and I'm always willing to discuss my comments in detail. I've helped (literally) thousands of growers on this and other forums, and thousands more in the real world become more proficient at growing. I didn't mention the lecturing as a boast, I mentioned it to illustrate that the basic principles that I teach are widely accepted as valuable to growers at every level, and the thousands of growers that have found them pivotal offer easily accessible support for any who doubt that assertion. I'll be happy to supply links to discussions if any are interested.

Al

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WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

October 17, 2011
1:10 PM

Post #8852841

Hi again Tapla, once again you have proved you are a star, all your scientific examples make me question how over the many years, centuries even, folks who worked the land managed to produce food, for the masses, or families, especially in this diverse world and climate we have in our world.
Whilst I agree that there is loads of room for science in gardening, it is not a must as you believe. We all want to learn how to grow plants, but it will not cause the earth to turn brown because gardeners don't go along with your beliefs or mine, there are many, many ways people garden Happily for many years with excellent results, winning prizes year after year for their effort, yet, never used a known scientific management plan to get them into the record books.
What I personally, and others like myself would rather do is, encourage new gardeners to go out and try grow stuff, armed with simple knowhow, where certain plant likes to grow, be fed, watered and soil type best for growing in is sufficient enough to get them started, THEN as their confidence grows, allows them to experiment to find what gardening skills suits them and their plants.
Of-course there are as many ways to garden as there are to making a pot of soup, but my way or your way does not mean people are wrong to garden any other way than yours.
I am so happy for you that you can earn a living at lecturing about the science of growing plants, I am even pappier that people must want to pay to hear your expertise's on the subject but, a week later there could be someone else lecturing on how to garden by the position of the moon and how they have gardened this way and no other way for many years, it does not mean everyone attending this lecture has to go home and plant by the position of the moon and any other way is wrong.
Gardening as a hobby is meant to be fun, you learn from your mistakes, you ask questions on a site like this and as you know, you will get several different answers to the problem, whats wrong with that, the beauty of this site is it is for BEGINNERS, not people who have a degree in scientific gardening needs, we would all have starve to death IF we had not used methods known to work for different crops and different climatic areas while awaiting scientific answers coming along, probably too costly and probably not feasible to the area. We all have to adjust our gardening methods to suit our needs, soil, climate and other factors so there really is no right or wrong way if it works for you.
From reading your last contribution to the thread, anyone who cant, wont, or disagree with your scientific methods must be idiots and our plants must be substandard, believe me there are people who garden by the position of the moon, others the temp of soil, others are totally green, others use prolific amounts of chemicals, all think their way is best, so please remember there are lots of ways to garden and this site is for learning how to, not be shot down for not understanding someones methods, not wanting to change their ways and lets face it, some people might like the rotation of plants after their last months purchases have died, not my idea of treating plants but, I wont Lynch these type of people for letting there plants die.
My way of gardening is classed now-a-days as organic (just plain old gardening to me) I don't like chemicals, others do, I learned all my gardening skills passed down from my dad, His dad, and Great grandfather, there was nothing scientific about there gardening believe me, the youngest member of the gardening team had to drop his pants, sit down on the soil to test IF the soil was warm enough to plant the beens / peas etc, no thermometer, no scientific knowledge required, just plain old common sense learned down the ages.
I hope none of my ramblings or yours puts people off coming onto the forum to ask questions as the forum is for Beginners not ment to encourage / escalating differing opinions.
For that reason I wont be replying re this subject anymore and will agree to have a different outlook to gardening as I do as a hobby. feeding family and just love hands in the soil.
You take good care Tapla and happy gardening. WeeNel.
cathy166
Stamford, CT
(Zone 6b)

October 17, 2011
5:24 PM

Post #8853243

Oh, Tapla, I never consider it lecturing. I consider it sharing. And it is a lazy or foolish gardener who does not go out of his/her way to listen or give the plants an opportunity to perform. Also a wise gardener who cultivates the right plants for the available conditions.

Good gardeners love to share. Thanks to all who do.
candles4u
Mount Vernon, IL

October 19, 2011
4:48 PM

Post #8856248

Wow! KG wanted some help, and I'm sorry but I think all of this would only be confusing. Peace lilies like less light than most plants and are heavy drinkers, I like keeping things simple, my plants thrive and I'm happy with that. I do try to learn as much as I can but keeping it simple works for me.
nana1957
Muskegon, MI

October 21, 2011
11:39 AM

Post #8858326

Hi Al,
I was just looking closely at the picture you attached. Is this what you grow your plants in, or do you combine this with a soil substance? Can you identify what the different substances are?

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

October 21, 2011
12:44 PM

Post #8858368

That is exactly what I grow all my houseplants, all the woody material I grow on as potential bonsai, and all my bonsai in. Those that don't yet understand the importance of a soil's structure, place a higher value on a rich black appearance than they do on what is actually the most important attribute of a container soil, which is its ability to hold enough air so that 'soggy soil' does not become a limiting factor. Unfortunately, it's the commercially prepared water-retentive soils based on peat and fine particles from which the largest impediments to success arise.

While many shun anything technical or scientific when it comes to improving growing skills, knowledge is the quickest and surest way to success, especially when compared to the experience gained from trial and error. Knowledge is where the ability to delineate between practices that are likely to yield poor results and practices conducive to success. Without knowledge, we're traveling in the dark and as apt to bump into a boulder as we are to follow a favorable path.

In my travels and efforts here I get to see the value of knowledge accumulated every day first hand as it relates to our abilities as growers; and if the number of people showing up in my D-mail and email is any indication of the value placed on reliable information, a large % of other growers, regardless of their status as beginners, intermediate growers, or experts, do as well.

The ingredients that go into the soil are: screened Turface, as seen in the picture below at lower left; crushed granite, aka Gran-I-Grit in grower size or #2 cherrystone; and screened pine or fir bark. The 3 ingredients mixed i equal measure by volume makes a really great soil that is tremendously healthy for roots, the heart of the plant. A similar soil can be made from pine bark fines (5 parts) and i part each of perlite and sphagnum peat. Note though: what makes these soils so productive and easy to grow in isn't what they are made of, it's how they are structured.

By gaining a little understanding of something as fundamental (and too often ignored) as the importance of adequate air in the root zone, and how to provide the aeration that makes a soil a healthy one, certainly all beginners to growing can take one giant step forward; with growers at every other level of expertise also being able to enjoy the fruits of that understanding. If it wasn't so pivotally important, I'd be trying to help by addressing other issues.



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tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

October 21, 2011
12:51 PM

Post #8858377

Suitable pine bark would look like those (all different sources) at 3, 6, and 9 0'clock. The bark on top is excellent for making the gritty soil pictured upthread. It's fir bark that I buy pre-screened. The soil in the middle is a dry 5:1:1 mix of pine bark:peat:perlite and very good medium for houseplants because of it's excellent drainage and ability to hold air.

Al

Any interested in learning more about soils or wanting an overview of favorable growing habits can visit the following threads for more information:

About soils: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1073399/

Help with Houseplants: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1226030/

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Jtaylor38
Highgrove, CA

October 21, 2011
1:30 PM

Post #8858417

it looks like it could be dried out
Bloomfly22
Palmdale, CA
(Zone 8a)

December 3, 2011
5:50 PM

Post #8915371

When I fertilized my peace lily i mixed 1 premeasured packet into 2 gallons. Was this good?
ssgardener
Silver Spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

December 4, 2011
5:18 AM

Post #8915723

Al, I for one appreciate all your knowledge. Honestly, I don't understand some of what you write, but I get the gist of it, and my peace lily LOVES your soil mixture.

Weenel, I was like kg2943, thought I had a "black thumb," and killed every houseplant I've ever had... probably 10 or 15 if you count all of them. So after 10 years of having houseplants, I was still a beginner. I was doing trial and error, without any benefit from the errors, because I had no idea what I did wrong to kill the plants. Al's mini lessons here have been invaluable. His posts are very thoughtful, and never condescending, and those who disagree with him are never considered "idiots" or "substandard." His disagreements with posts are always backed up with scientific explanation, not personal attacks. I appreciate the civil discussions on here, and he encourages intellectual disagreements/discussions.

For instance, my parents have gorgeous long-living houseplants, and they use black, moisture-retentive soils. Yes, it's a different way of container gardening that works for them, but I was not able to keep the plants alive with their method. (Btw, the only plant they've ever killed is rosemary, which would have LOVED Al's gritty mix! :-)

Some more PL questions:

-I was told that you shouldn't fertilize as much, or at all, in the winter. Honestly, I've never fertilized my indoor plants at all. Oh, maybe that's why they call died? :-) Can you talk a little about fertilizing? (PL in particular).

-My PL is MUCH fuller than this picture posted by kg2943. It's extremely thick, and I didn't thin out any stems when I root-pruned. Should I thin it out?

-Someone wrote that you deadhead the flowers to encourage reblooming. When do I do that? Mine's blooming beautifully right now.

-How often should I mist the leaves or wipe the leaves down with a damp cloth? I have forced air heating, so it can get VERY dry indoors, but not really dusty.

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

December 4, 2011
8:45 AM

Post #8915883

Thank you, SS. I appreciate the kind (and supportive comments). I do try to keep my posts impersonal when there is disagreement and personable when there isn't. Usually, the reader can make up their own mind about what they want to believe as the best course.

I understand that it rankles some people because I sort of automatically take the role of teacher when I post. I've fallen into that pattern because almost all of my posting is in response to questions or problems that require some technical information, and because I've been active in the community and in forum settings helping others to become more proficient growers for more than 20 years. That I'm matter-of-fact and think logically doesn't help much either, unless you're trying to learn something instead of debate; THEN, it's a very good way to reach others.

I've never felt the need to be a star. In social settings, I'm perfectly content to let others hold the stage; and in forum settings I welcome honest debate ... as long as the personal stuff is left behind. I'm not here to make friends or enemies of anyone who doesn't agree with something I say. I'm happy to support or debate anything I say in order to make my points as clear as they need to be for anyone that wants to to understand, without getting personal. I hold myself to a certain standard, which is: If I don't thoroughly understand the topic at hand, I keep my thoughts to myself. I think that is the best way to build and protect my credibility and gain confidence. I think hobby growers, and especially those new to growing, are better served by trying to follow the message of one bright beacon than by trying to follow that of 100 not so bright beacons. While I might do my best to BE that brighter beacon through my efforts on your behalf and by limiting myself to operating well within the limits of my knowledge, it's not because I feel the need to shine like a star ... it's because I feel something of a need to help guide others along their way. The selfish component in that doesn't come from any notoriety I might gain from my efforts - it comes from the satisfaction I get when I hear that someone has improved their skillset and/or growing experience because they took to heart and implemented some or even most of the things I offer in guidance. The 'thank yous' and testimony to the fact that indeed I have been helpful is where it's at for me.

I'll be brief in answering your questions because even though it's relevant to this thread, it IS someone else's thread. If you have more questions, just see the sticky at the top of this forum (Beginner Houseplants).

I was told that you shouldn't fertilize as much, or at all, in the winter. Honestly, I've never fertilized my indoor plants at all. Oh, maybe that's why they call died? :-) Can you talk a little about fertilizing? (PL in particular).

PLs are medium high feeders (fertilizer isn't really plant food - it just supplies some of the building blocks plants use to make their own food and to keep their systems orderly). Unfortunately, they don't do well when you maintain high levels of fertility because it tends to cause spoiled foliage, usually in the form of necrotic (burned) leaf tips and margins. Since high fertility levels inhibit water uptake, you can see that high fertility levels are undesirable in winter; this, because the plant needs to move MORE water in winter to keep foliage hydrated. In winter, homes w/o humidifiers can hold air drier than that in the Sahara! The keys are: A) Use a fertilizer with a 3:1:2 RATIO (make sure you understand this 'RATIO' business - it's important - see the sticky I referred to), B) use a free-draining soil you can flush regularly w/o concern for salt build-up from fertilizers and tapwater, Fertilize regularly at low doses, but water so that at least 10-20% of the total volume of water you apply exits the pot. If you can't water in this manner, without risking root rot, we should talk more because your soil will almost certainly limit your ability to grow PLs w/o spoiled foliage (unless you regularly flush the soil - ask how to go about this if interested).

NOTE: Watering from the bottom on a regular basis is not a good practice. It ensures that ALL dissolved solids in tap water and fertilizer solutions remain in the soil. These salts make it much more difficult for the plant to absorb water and nutrients (explained upthread). Over-watering and its accompanying inhibition of the plants ability to move water and a high level of dissolved solids (salts) in the soil/soil solution, are why most growers experience such shabby foliage, particularly in winter.

My PL is MUCH fuller than this picture posted by kg2943. It's extremely thick, and I didn't thin out any stems when I root-pruned. Should I thin it out?

Maybe - here is where that 'qualifying' thing comes to play: The stress of tight roots can help induce blooming and make the plant bloom more prolifically. That, however, pleases the grower and not the plant. Tight roots are a STRESS. As such, they negatively impact growth and vitality. Dividing, bare-rooting the divisions, and potting them in an appropriate soil and watering/fertilizing appropriately offers the potential for your plant to GROW to its genetic potential within the influence of other limiting factors. Tight roots ensures it cannot, but is somewhat effective at increasing bloom production. It's your call, but I almost always choose the path best for the plant. I reason that the plant blooms quite nicely when growing in situ (where it naturally occurs) with out inducing stress; and to me, the mark of a good grower are plants that have been grown with their vitality as the primary focus. I would divide, repot, or (at a dead minimum) pot-up whenever the plant became congested to the point that roots and soil could be lifted from the pot intact. Divide & repot in summer - pot-up any time.

Someone wrote that you deadhead the flowers to encourage reblooming. When do I do that? Mine's blooming beautifully right now.

Deadhead individual blooms as they fade.

How often should I mist the leaves or wipe the leaves down with a damp cloth? I have forced air heating, so it can get VERY dry indoors, but not really dusty.

Misting raises humidity for maybe 10 of the almost 1,500 minutes in a day. There's a message in that fact. Using a humidifier to raise the humidity in the room can be helpful in combating spoiled foliage. I have posted hundreds of pictures of perfectly healthy plants at this and other gardening sites, and I never mist unless it's with water/alcohol and I'm treating mites. From this I conclude that at least, misting is unnecessary ... but read on, please:

Here is something I wrote recently about misting at another forum site:

To a large degree, raising the humidity in a room and using humidity trays is sort of like trying to fix a flat tire by putting more air in it; and misting is like trying to fix a flat by getting really close to the tire and blowing on it - IOW, it's ineffectual.
If you want to grow a plant that you think might be marginal at the humidity levels you're going to be able to provide, you should start by understanding that necrotic leaf tips and margins and spoiled foliage are caused by the plant's inability to move enough water to the leaves to prevent tissue(s) from drying out and dying. The problem should be approached first by understanding the things that make it difficult for the plant to move water, and then ensuring that those conditions aren't a part of the cultural conditions you provide.

There is a triangle formed by your soil choice, your watering habits, and the amount of solubles (salts) in the soil, that is going to have the greatest degree of impact on the appearance of your foliage. While very low humidity can be a significant contributing factor, it's like the flat tire - it doesn't really fix the flat if all you do is air it up. Raising humidity in the hope that it prevents spoiled foliage is placing faith in trying to cure the symptoms instead of dealing with the root issue(s) - there's a pun there, but it's also sound reasoning.
;-)

Wipe leaves with a damp cloth whenever they get dusty. Dust reduces photo load (the amount of light reaching the leaf surface) and inhibits the plant's ability to make its own food (photosynthesis).

Time for a second cup of chocolate tea! Yum ...

Al









cathy166
Stamford, CT
(Zone 6b)

December 4, 2011
8:52 AM

Post #8915890

SS, if you have forced air heat, you should mist daily. In their native habitats, where they grow outdoors (Central America), I'd expect them to have morning dew. See my note above about putting a few rocks in the saucer (for the pot to sit on) and add water for humidification. Then you can see how long it takes for a half inch of water to evaporate.

If a houseplant is not doing well, it may help to repot in a fresh pot with fresh potting soil. The soil you purchase already has fertilizers, and you can add perlite, vermiculite or something like coir to aerate. If you think the plant is a bit big for its pot or rootbound, go to the next larger size (about 1 inch larger in diameter), not a pot that is triple in size. Plants that require a lot of water do not like unglazed clay due to the loss of moisture.

I don't know how everyone else feels about it, but my plants seem happier with friends. So I often pick a larger pot and plant 2 of the same plant. Houseplants can take a bit more crowding than annuals, and the root systems like the extra spreadability. Begonia, coleus and taro do well this way, and are nicer visually.

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