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Beginner Houseplants: Help with houseplants!

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babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

January 31, 2007
3:18 PM

Post #3141844

Please help me. I apparently have a brown thumb. I can't seem to figure out why my plants (all of them) get some kind of white growth on the soil. I thought it was the fact that I put fertilizer in the soil. (which I found was a BIG mistake) Now I have "clean" soil. (soil bought from the store) I haven't added anything to it except water. I have well water that I use straight from the tap. I have seeds that I planted about a week ago. The seedlings are coming up but I am getting a white fungus! I do not know why. Can anyone help me?? I really love houseplants but seem to kill them ALL. Any advise would be appreciated!
ginnylynn
Blyth, ON
(Zone 5b)

January 31, 2007
3:37 PM

Post #3141910

Hi babybird. Welcome to Dave's Garden. I'm not sure exactly what might be happening to your soil, but here are some things I would try.

o Your pot may have been contaminated with some fungus or mould spores. Get another pot, clean and disinfect it well in hot soapy water with some ordinary chlorine bleach added to the water. Rinse well. Fill the pot with clean soil. Remove your seedlings carefully from the pot they're in - try to leave as much of the old soil behind as possible without damaging your seedlings. Replant in new pot.

o Is it possible that the "white fungus" is not a fungus at all but rather a mineral sediment from your water? You might want to use distilled water for your plants and seeds, or at least let your tap water sit in a container to settle for 24 hours before using it.

o Maybe you are watering too much? Especially when germinating seeds you want to keep the soil moist but not wet. This can also contribute to "damping off" of your seedlings. If they sprout and then appear to rot at or near the soil line and die you are probably experiencing damping off. You can purchase a product called No Damp (or something similar) to try to avoid this happening. Just follow the instructions on the label. The most important thing to do though, is to start with sterile pots and soil.

I hope some of this might help you.

--Ginny
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

January 31, 2007
3:51 PM

Post #3141966

What a mystery! If it happens within a week, then what you're seeing is not fertilizer salts leaching up onto the surface of the soil... You might see if scraping off what you can and then letting the soil surface get a little dry between waterings will help. Adding hydrogen peroxide to the water when you water can help against fungus or mold also (1 tablespoon of standard 3% hydrogen peroxide from the drugstore shelf per quart of water is the dilution I see mentioned most often, although doubling that wouldn't hurt).

I had some mold popping up recently on some transplant pots, and I think it was because I sterilized the soil and then let the warm, moist soil sit for several days... I'm sure some fungus spores found it and had a party. The solution was just to re-sterilize the soil, which I do in the microwave. Even "clean" soil from the store won't be sterile, so I like to do this to my potting mix when I'm starting seeds or repotting african violets... most of my plants have to deal with soil straight from the bag, because I don't have the patience to sterilize great quantities this way!

Some folks sterilize their soil in the oven, but that process tends to make an unpleasant odor.

I take the largest tupperware bowl I have, which I think holds about 8 quarts. Add plenty of water to moisten the mix, about 1 cup per quart of potting mix. Do not microwave dry mix, as I can tell you from personal experience that it will catch fire! Place the cover loosely on the container and microwave on high 10 or 12 mintues, until you see steam condensing on the lid. Seal the lid down, and let the steam do its thing for at least 10 minutes more, then allow the soil to cool. The steam will kill off weed seeds, bug eggs, and various pathogens... and as a bonus, it does a great job of "opening up" the peat moss in the mix to get it nicely moistened.

So... scrape off what you can, add some hydrogen peroxide to your water, try to let the soil surface get a little dry between waterings (obviously you don't want to wilt your seedlings), and if you do some repotting you might want to sterilize your potting mix.

Maybe somebody else will have some additional suggestions... Good luck!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

January 31, 2007
3:53 PM

Post #3141976

hah, see, I was right about additional suggestions... yes, sterilizing your pots is an excellent idea. You could well be contaminating your "new" soil by using an "old" pot.

And if your water is hard, maybe you are seeing a crust of mineral deposits rather than a mold/fungus... do you have a photo that you could post?
babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

January 31, 2007
4:04 PM

Post #3142016

thank you both so much. I have actually been misting the seedlings (which are herbs) and have a cover on them with a heating pad underneath. Heard that this was good to start seeds (hope I am not wrong) I will try everything that I am offered. As far as my already grown houseplants, I will make sure the water sits for 24 hours before I use it. I do have such a brown thumb, but I hope to get better at this so I can grow plants as well as my mother and grandmother.
babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

January 31, 2007
4:08 PM

Post #3142030

It likely could be mineral deposits. Unfortunately I can't send a pic, my daughter took the camera today. It is like a white hairy like fluff..like cotton candy texture. Don't know how else to describe it. but it has just started. Probably last night or late yesterday. There is not alot on the seedlings and I want to get rid of it before it grows.
Allison_FL
Dunedin, FL
(Zone 10b)

January 31, 2007
4:50 PM

Post #3142203

You have a lot of good help ! First reason for the white is over watering and cold. This time of the year it happens more often. Water less and use warm/warmmer water.
Yes Clean pots soaked in bealch, Sterile soil , air circulation is important also.
I like to put a capful of lysol in my water in the winter help keep any fungus , mildew and any build ups that happen more in the Winter months !
Best to scrap it off and replace with fresh soil as if it is fertilize and salt build up leach it threw will be harmful for plants.
babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

January 31, 2007
4:52 PM

Post #3142209

thank you very much! :)
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

January 31, 2007
5:29 PM

Post #3142335

Letting your water sit for 24 hours will get chlorine out, but if you have hard water the minerals will just stay put. But "cotton candy" doesn't sound like a mineral build-up to me, so I think you're dealing with a fungal growth as you first thought.

If you are misting *and* covering, I am guessing you have too much humidity for those seedlings. What works for me is to use a cover on my seedling trays, but keep it slightly ajar or poke a bunch of little holes in it for ventillation... If you see a little puff of mist on the inside of the cover, that's generally about right for most plants, but if you're seeing big droplets of condensation, that's a level of humidity that can cause problems.

Don't give up! Growing and propagating is all about trial and error... you're paying close attention to your plants, and you'll figure out what methods work for you!
ginnylynn
Blyth, ON
(Zone 5b)

January 31, 2007
5:48 PM

Post #3142385

[quote] ...but if you have hard water the minerals will just stay put. [/quote]
You are absolutely correct. Duhhhhhh, what was I thinking? What I should have meant to say :-) was that hard water issues can be resolved by using distilled water, and leaving tap water to sit for 24 hours will rid it of all those nasty chemicals that are added to it in many places. I know my water after sitting for 24 hours has a layer of cloudy "stuff" at the bottom of the container that I am careful to not mix back in. We don't have a water softener so it's not anything we're adding to the water.
babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

January 31, 2007
5:53 PM

Post #3142400

I do have large droppletts of water on the lid. So I will put it ajar to get rid of some of it. will let you know how it works.
plantladylin
South Daytona, FL
(Zone 9b)

January 31, 2007
7:13 PM

Post #3142677

If it's "white, hairy like fluff, with the texture of cotton candy", it doesn't sound like mineral deposits at all, but rather a mold or fungus in the soil. You say it's on both your herb seedlings that you have in plastic, as well as your houseplants? What about watering ... how often do you water your plants? You may be overwatering also. It sure would help if you could post a photo. There are so many knowledgeable people here on DG, I'm sure someone would be able to look at your photo and give you some suggestions.

Keep us all posted as to how your plants are doing. I have been growing house plants for nearly 40 years and mine tend to thrive on neglect. Many years ago I killed everything from over watering ... now I keep everything on the dry side and they seem to do much better. In the winter months, I only water every two to three weeks.
babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

February 1, 2007
3:08 PM

Post #3145463

Well, Guess what?? I don't have any problems any more!!! Thanks to you guys!!! I put the lid ajar on the new seedlings and no fuzz! Also I changed the soil in my houseplant that was corroted with a white "deposit" of what ever kind. I did both of those things yesterday and today they look fine! But I have pics of the better look of them! The one in the round container looks kinda pathetic, but I am hoping for a miracle!! LOL The other one is my fist attempt at a Faerie Garden that my daughter and I are going to get going. Of course, when my son saw how "cool" mine is, he wants to do one with his army guys. So when we get my daughter's and son's started I'll post pics! See, I'm a brown thumb'er! LOL i'll send the second one in a minute!

Thumbnail by babybird
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babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

February 1, 2007
3:10 PM

Post #3145466

here is my first attempt at a Faerie Garden! With stuff I had around the house! You can't see the seedlings ,really but I will keep you posted!

Thumbnail by babybird
Click the image for an enlarged view.

plantladylin
South Daytona, FL
(Zone 9b)

February 1, 2007
3:11 PM

Post #3145471

That is soooooo cute! I never would have thought of doing something like a "Faerie Garden"! Hope you will keep posting photo's as the little plants grow.
babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

February 1, 2007
3:26 PM

Post #3145507

I will and I plan (with all hopes I'll have time) to make a larger Faerie Garden outside in my yard when Spring finally comes. By then, hopefully, I can get my teens interrested enough to help me. My daughter and I LOVE faeries! I will post everything! Can someone please tell me if there is much benefit to purchasing a "subscription" to DG?? I am interested but would like to know if there is much difference. I know the basics--like you can get to certain forums and can enlarge the pics. Is there anything else?? Thanks in advance you guys are soo helpful and I just got here! Here is a pic of my very last wildflower (among the very few that popped up this summer)- I planted them in the spring so I am hoping for lots more this summer! As I registered my yard in the National Wildlife Federation certified wildlife" Backyard Habitat" So I have alot of work to do. I bought the place last spring. Ok enough about me!! LOL

Thumbnail by babybird
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ginnylynn
Blyth, ON
(Zone 5b)

February 1, 2007
3:30 PM

Post #3145515

What a wonderful idea! It's given me lots to think about in how I might use this idea as a jumping off point with landscaping my garden railroad. Thanks for showing us, and yes please do keep us posted.

--Ginny
babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

February 1, 2007
3:34 PM

Post #3145536

Oh, yes, I first got the from a garden program, unfortunately I don't remember which. BUT you can google Faerie Gardens and you'll get ideas. Also I believe I saw it on DIY network.com You can use any kind of things that you like (knick knacks, etc) In a small garden like I made it was suggested to buy dollhouse things. There are also site that sell stuff specifically for it!
Allison_FL
Dunedin, FL
(Zone 10b)

February 1, 2007
4:10 PM

Post #3145673

Yeah ! Good Job ! So cute. I had one of them fairy gardens few years back so cute !
happy Growing !
Allison
plantladylin
South Daytona, FL
(Zone 9b)

February 1, 2007
4:36 PM

Post #3145797

B'Bird: When you get your Nat'l Wildlife Backyard Habitat Yard all planted and going strong ... don't forget to take photo's to post! You should do BEFORE and AFTER photo's!

babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

February 2, 2007
2:14 PM

Post #3148576

I sure will!
babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

February 2, 2007
2:18 PM

Post #3148591

OK, so today, my houseplant that I transplanted looks like it's getting strong. It is starting to stand up!! YEAH!
But my seedlings in my Faerie garden are drooping over! Is it time for me to "water" them -instead of just misting?? or should I have it in more direct light???? I planted Dwarf Parsley and Dwarf Basil... Please let me know! Thanks!
plantladylin
South Daytona, FL
(Zone 9b)

February 2, 2007
2:27 PM

Post #3148621

I don't know anything about parsley or basil ... do they need a lot of light, or sun? If the plants are drooping, I'd say they may need a drink of water, or it could just be they are a bit stressed from transplanting. You could use an eye dropper and give them a little drink and see if they perk up a bit. Just be sure not to drench them.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

February 2, 2007
2:39 PM

Post #3148668

I can't tell from your picture how much light your Faerie garden is getting, but seedlings need lots and lots of light, I have a fluorescent light over my seedlings, it's just a couple inches above the tops of the seedlings and I leave it on for 16-18 hrs a day. So if yours are just getting light from a window that's most likely not enough, especially in the winter when the days are short.
babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

February 2, 2007
3:32 PM

Post #3148864

I thought they shouldn't get much light til they got a little bigger.(hence the brown thumb!LOL) Well i will get light on it right now!!! Pardon my ignorance :) I really need houseplants for dummies 101!!! HAHAHAHA! No, ...really.
babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

February 2, 2007
3:37 PM

Post #3148886

ok, if only I'd read the directions!!!!! From what I read on the packet, I think it's saying (both) need sun from the start. Boy do I feel silly {blushing} Ok I have a perfect plant light that'll be just right. And they are from seeds only a week old. I'm gonna have to look for a Plants for Dummies book.. Or have my mom move in so I can enjoy her planting abilities! LOL

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

February 2, 2007
8:02 PM

Post #3149808

since you claim ignorance, I'll ask, is your plant light fluorescent? thats OK but if you have an incandesecent called a plant light it will get very hot and fry the seedlings if too close.
gessiegail
Taft, TX
(Zone 9a)

February 3, 2007
11:11 PM

Post #3154230

I get excited about the silliest things to the 'pros'...I love syngonium of any kind...this is from Lowes and is called '
Berry Allusion'. It has more real red than any I have had. My others have a pink tone to them and this isn't a good pic, but there is a lot of red in it...
don't anyone feel bad about not following instructions...I still do the wrong thing because I have forgotten what i did last time and don't bother to even read!!

Thumbnail by gessiegail
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plantladylin
South Daytona, FL
(Zone 9b)

February 4, 2007
6:19 PM

Post #3156908

Bettygail: I LOVE that Syngonium 'Berry Allusion' ... I have LOTS of the regular Syngonium and I guess I need to stop in at our local Lowes to see if I can find that red one! That is sooo pretty. Here's a photo of one of mine sitting on the brick wall in the front of my house:

Thumbnail by plantladylin
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plantladylin
South Daytona, FL
(Zone 9b)

February 4, 2007
6:22 PM

Post #3156921

Here's a photo of a green Syngonium growing up the side of my screen enclosure. This one is growing in the ground and will die back if we have real cold weather or frost, but comes back in spring.

Thumbnail by plantladylin
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plantladylin
South Daytona, FL
(Zone 9b)

February 4, 2007
6:24 PM

Post #3156931

Here's a couple of real small babies:

Thumbnail by plantladylin
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plantladylin
South Daytona, FL
(Zone 9b)

February 4, 2007
6:27 PM

Post #3156942

Last one ... I Promise! This one is in a pot in my screen room on the deck. It likes to attach itself to my wicker unit and grow up the side, but I keep pulling it off.

Thumbnail by plantladylin
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plantladylin
South Daytona, FL
(Zone 9b)

February 4, 2007
6:28 PM

Post #3156947

OOPS ... that was the wrong one ... that's another view of the one growing up the screen outside. Here's the one inside in a pot ... I had pulled it down off the wicker shelf.

Thumbnail by plantladylin
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babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

February 5, 2007
2:22 AM

Post #3158299

plantladylin,
I love your plants they look so full and healthy. i hope I can get my plants to look so good!
plantladylin
South Daytona, FL
(Zone 9b)

February 5, 2007
2:36 AM

Post #3158334

Thank You Babybird! I have been "into" plants for almost 40 years! No one in my family had ever been plant or gardening people ... when my family moved from Virginia to Florida in 1967 is when I became interested in gardening. A friend of mine once laughed when she saw an old black and white photo of me with a couple of houseplants in the picture, she isn't a plant person but knows how I love them, and thought it was neat that I had a photo from when I was 19 years old with plants in the photo.

Don't get me wrong. I haven't always been good with plants! I used to water them to death! Really! Now, I kinda neglect them and keep them on the dry side, only watering about every week and a half to two weeks in the summer, and even less in winter.

I know you will do Great with your plants. This website has so many folks who are very knowledgeable and generous with information ... I have learned a lot since joining in October!
babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

February 5, 2007
3:29 PM

Post #3159755

I planted some seeds yesterday that I bought from Park Seed. I have my boy friend helping me with them because he says he's always been good with gardens. I really want to plant a LARGE veggie garden this year cuz I finally have the space to do it! So that's one of the plans for Spring and Summer! I can't wait.
plantladylin
South Daytona, FL
(Zone 9b)

February 5, 2007
3:36 PM

Post #3159769

Keep us posted on all your house plants, seeds and that veggie garden! I have always wanted to plant a veggie garden, but we don't have the space, or enough sun. I would put one right smack dab in the middle of the front yard if I could get away with it, but my husband doesn't like that idea. In Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and I'm sure a lot of other Southern States, we have seen veggie gardens in the front yards of homes. My husband has been in the South all his life, but he still thinks veggie gardens belong behind the house for some reason! And, we don't have space in the backyard with enough sun. I have grown tomatoes over the years, but that's about all. I just need a Farm! ... or else a few acres!

What kind of seeds did you get from Park? Flower or Veggie?

You will have to post some photo's as you go along!
babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

February 5, 2007
4:10 PM

Post #3159879

flower and veggie. Salvia, and impaitients and cactus. veggies I have hot pepper and soybean. they were a decent price and I have been looking for soybean seeds for about a year. We are a family of sushi lovers' and steamed soybeans are one of the things they have at the Japanese resterant we goto. YUMMM. Matter of fact we are going there tonight to get a bite to eat! YUMMM! I can't wait. LOL!
rlaWestTX
Midland, TX

March 20, 2007
4:45 PM

Post #3302508

If I want to just grow bulbs in pots - having them bloom at the normal times, just moveable - is that "forcing" or can I just treat them like they are in the ground?
Thanks!!!

(I was not sure where to stick this for an answer...)

Machikoneko

Machikoneko
Hometown, IL
(Zone 5a)

March 23, 2007
4:40 PM

Post #3312696

Your best bet would be the bulb forum.
triss96
Paxton, FL

April 25, 2007
5:43 PM

Post #3430283

The white growth on your plants happens to mine all the time,and it doesn't hurt them at all!At first I got a little worried that I too was doing something wrong but a few days later the plants came in perfectly normal.Unless your plants died or didn't come in at all,I wouldn't worry too much.
babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

May 15, 2007
2:38 PM

Post #3499731

I haven't been on here in soo long! I almost forget what the computer's like! LOL
Well, I have killed my houseplants. I think what I am going to do from now on is add peat moss to my potting soil. Probably what I was supposed to do in the first place! O.K. for anyone that remembers last year, i was talking about having a Faerie Garden. I tried to grow one inside over the winter; you can guess what happened to it!
Now, since Spring has sprung; I have started a Faerie Garden outside! With all anxiousness getting it started, I forgot to take "before" pictures. But, I will take pics as I go, from this point on.
This is one of my earlier ones. One of my dogs got into the pic...(not part of my Faerie Garden-LOL)

Thumbnail by babybird
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babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

May 15, 2007
2:45 PM

Post #3499759

I have alot of clay in the native soil, so I have been adding new soil and peat moss. Hopefully it will work. I have been tearing out large rocks from the area, too! Yes, by myself, do you actually think my boyfriend would be bothered?? LOL He'd rather make comments and laugh at my Faerie Garden! (he got my older son in on it, too!) That's ok, my younger son wants to help!
Two of the larger rocks I am not moving. I would need a jack hammer and crane. So I am going to bury most of it and put up a small wall to hold the new soil.
I will also be adding a small pond.

Thumbnail by babybird
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babybird
Wilkes Barre, PA
(Zone 6a)

May 15, 2007
2:47 PM

Post #3499763

I am going to make a new thread so it can be for Faerie Gardens. Look for new progress, SOON!
itsmecheetos
San Diego, CA

May 18, 2007
7:15 PM

Post #3511617

The Syngonium looks really so beautiful Plantladylin :)
I would love to add them to my patio garden. Can you suggest some basic care for them? I have had a very bad experience last year. I got this lovely pot of red-green Syngonium as a gift from my husband (july time). Very healthy looking. Within a few weeks, the tall stems drooped as if they couldnt hold the weight of the leaves any more. The plant just wilted away and died. I am really scared to get it again and have a same experience with it.

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