Problem With Chirita Leaves - Tips Turning Brown

Garner, NC

Hello! I am somewhat new to Dave's Garden; I have visited the Hoya forum most often. I have recently expanded into Gesneriads: African Violets, Chiritas, 1 Episcia, & 1 Streptocarpus and love them! The tips of the leaves of my Chiritas are turning brown & are dry & brittle - you can crumble the ends off. They were very healthy when I got them from a local greenhouse, and were doing fine until about several weeks ago. I have Aiko, Chastity - blooming but now fewer blooms it seems & falling off rather quickly, and Stardust (blooming). Tamiania is not having this problem however.

They are on a shelf unit - 2 shelves down below a grow light (grow light only above the top shelf) facing west in front of a sliding glass door. It is a wooded lot and they do not get any direct sun (maybe a little dappled sun late in the afternoon) - and now not even as much, but it seems very light. Can you help me figure out what I am doing wrong? I have trimmed the edges off - the poor things looked so bad. I cut off some of the leaves because the browning went back to about half of the leaf. The browing of the leaf tips is starting on the bottom leaves and working up the plants.
**I use Dyna Grow fertilizers (the Grow & the Bloom - alternatley usually) with each watering 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. per gallon of water - sometimes I use a few drops of Superthrive too... and I have also used Greenlight Superbloom & Peter's African Violet fertilizer (w/out urea). As far as watering, I don't believe I am letting them dry out too much and I don't think I'm over watering really...I use a moisture meter and when it shows in the dry zone, I water - I guess it's about once @ week.

Thank you so much for any help anyone can offer! The plants were so beautiful...

DC metro, VA(Zone 7b)

Hopefully there is someone here who grows these successfully. As someone who has had difficulty with Chiritas in the past, I will comment that my luck changed when I changed the potting mix to about 2:2:1 perlite, vermiculite and peat. This is a LOT lighter than what I use for all the other gesneriads. So far so good. And I am a serious underwaterer so it's not that I was overwatering in the regular mix.

I would cut back on the fertilizer (to zero), especially while the plant is stressed. Over fertilization can also cause leaf tips to brown (I see this most on the streps).

C. tamiana is a whole different beast. It's impossible to kill (withhold water for 2 months and it will still bounce back). In terms of culture, there's no need to group it with the other chiritas.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

For how long were they doing fine after you bought them? If it was just a couple of weeks, then maybe light could be the problem, although my only non-AV gessie is a C. tamiania, so I'm very far from expert. How does the rest of the leaf look -- any yellowing, spots or blotches? I'm wondering if you could make space on the grow light shelf for them for a couple of weeks & see if that helps? Also, I'm guessing that if you trim the brown off the leaves, you should leave a little bit of it to "seal" the edge of the green part, like I've heard you should do when trimming spider plants & others.

Good luck, and welcome to DG & to the AV forum!

DC metro, VA(Zone 7b)

I've been told that chiritas require less light than AVs - e.g., the edge of a 2-tube fluor fixture is fine. Of course, this is a huge generalization.....

DC metro, VA(Zone 7b)

I found MsC's post from a while back.

Here's to hoping Rita is kind to her and hers.

Garner, NC

Thank you Keyring & Critterologist! Just getting back to forum... I did move the Chirita's up into more light & with the next waterings, I will not fertilize until I see signs of improvement. I believe I am going to cut the very bad lower leaves off and repot one of the most affected Chirita's; I may have to even cut off part of the neck rather than just part of the root system to place it deep enough in the pot. I will use the lighter mix!
**Critterologist, you ask if any of the leaves were yellowing, spots, or splotches... well, actually a couple of the C. Aiko leaves are looking somewhat yellowish with some spots/splotches (sort of reddish looking spots). Does this indicate some other problem?

Thank you! Terri

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Sorry to take so long to respond, I just got back into town. Hmmm. If all the leaves were yellowing, I'd try different conditions with regard to light & moisture, but if it's just a couple of leaves... Yellowing or spots on any plant generally have me looking for pests, so I would check the underside of those leaves very carefully just in case.

Hope your chiritas are looking much better by now!

Silver Spring, MD

Wish I could help. I went to Dr. Optimara with avs. Brittle leaves and dropping flowers are signs of fertilizer. I would go with Keyring and stop fertilizer and hope they recover. Good Luck.


Dunedin, FL(Zone 10b)

I'm late reading and new. I would cut the fetilizer down to 1/4 per gallon and just use every three weeks. Don't over water them letting them not dry out but letting them get toward the drying point before watering. They don't seem to like being too wet.
Now Humidity they love and and not enough humidity ,this can cause the leaves to get brown crisp at the ends and flowers fall off . There's a few different ways to add humitdity. You could place you planton a tray/pate of moist
pebbles marbles. . You can put cups of water around your plant . Misting is nice. I keep mine close under gro-lights . Some of my plants are large now. When they are full of buds I remover them to a room with a morning sunny window where they enjoy the sunshine and bloom for months :)) They also grow easy by leaf !
Hope yours will be doing better soon. Allison

This message was edited Nov 2, 2005 5:52 AM

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