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Help my spider plant!

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by hisgal2 on February 15, 2005 12:23 AM
Here is a pic of the plant...
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I realize its a big picture, but I wanted you to be able to see the poor leaves! This plant was Stephen's grandmother's plant....its like 60 years old!!! When she died, the plant was horribly neglected and then when Pap died, I took the plant. It was doing really well (was getting nice green leaves to replace dead ones) and then when I looked at it last week...this is what I saw!!! Now, those dead leaves, the brown is creeping to the main part of the plant...like from the lower parts to the higher parts. But its making new leaves at the top...those leaves are like 4 days old. So, what do I do with this thing!? Do I pinch off the dying leaves to help it out? I water it once a week and every 2nd or 3rd week it gets a tiny little bit of miracle grow to help it out. It just started to die on me! [Eek!] [tears]

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by hisgal2 on February 15, 2005 12:37 AM
Here's a pic of the top of the plant. Nevermind the cobweb in the corner! [Roll Eyes] [Big Grin]

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by Amy R. on February 15, 2005 02:40 AM
wow! 60 years old, we must save this plant! i'm sorry i don't know why your plant has taken a dive, the only thing i can think of is that it is stressed from some generic reason, i.e., change in temp, water, too much fertilizer, etc. but because i want to help, i'm going to post you a few links that might shed some light on the problem. and hopefully an expert will come along and set you straight! i certainly hope so!

http://www.thegardenhelper.com/spiderplant.htm

an interesting general link:

http://www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/plantsci/landscap/pp744w.htm

http://home.att.net/~chameleons/spider.html
by Cricket on February 15, 2005 03:42 AM
Jenn, my spider plant gets brown tips when humidity is low. I just cut off the brown to a healthy green part of the leaf (cut at a diagonal or 2 if you want to keep the leaf shape) and mist more often.

Maybe someone else has other suggestions. Wow, 60 years old! I didn't know they'd live that long. Hope it recovers.

Cricket
by Will Creed on February 15, 2005 04:59 AM
Hi Jenn,

It looks like a light problem. Spider plants are not good low light plants.

It appears that the plant is hanging too high to benefit from the light that comes in the window, especially with the curtains at the top of the window. In addition, it looks like there is a porch overhang outside the window and that would also block out a lot of the direct sun that your spider needs.

In addition to providing more light, you have to be very careful about watering too often. Ailing plants with few leaves use very little water. Their roots also shrink back in poor light. Be sure to wait until the top inch or two of soil is dry before you water and that might take a lot longer than a week.

Finally, stop fertilizing until the plant is fully recovered and growing vigorously... and that will be a while, so be patient.

Good luck with this oldie!

BTW - Thanks for the great photos. I could not have made this diagnosis without them.
by hisgal2 on February 15, 2005 05:22 AM
Will,

I don't want to second guess your first diagnosis, but that plant actually is hanging between 2 windows. It gets almost direct sun in the morning between 9 and 11 and then gets hit by the sun again in the evening as the sun sets and the light goes below the porch roof. I've put the plant high because my youngest cat liked to claw at the leaves and shred them. Having this information, do you think it is still a light issue? Here is a picture of the corner that the plant is in. Our house is in a weird position, so that both of those sides of the house see the sun...actually, there is only 1 side of the house that really doesn't see the sun at all! (that is why I'm always having issues trying to pick out plants for this house!!)

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So...watering it once a week is too much?? I water it using a small jar that I have...its about 4 oz. Should I water once every 2 weeks then?? or week and a half??

The leaves seem somewhat brittle...is that normal for this kind of plant? I ask because the main stems of the plant are not centered...they are pretty close to the side of the planter. I wanted to move the stems a few months ago, but ended up breaking a few of the leaves....which was really tramatic for me since I'm trying to get this plant in decent shape!! Any thoughts on that???

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by hisgal2 on February 15, 2005 05:30 AM
Sidenote...

I water with distilled water also, because I read somewhere that a spider plant can react really badly to things in tap water. In Altoona, where it used to be, they have really really good water...almost like spring water, and that is what they used for it...just plain old tap water. When I first got it, I watered it with our tap water for almost a month and it REALLY hated that!!!

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by pcgrav on February 16, 2005 02:42 AM
I have a small spider plant in my kitchen that was looking a lot like the one in your picture. It turns out that the central heat vent was blowing directly on it. Is yours close to a vent? If so, do the things Will suggested and try doing something about the air from the vent blowing on it. Especially when you run the heat. I have a very large and healthy on in my living room that gets a lot of northern light and its doing better than its ever done before. Lots of Luck...

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by Will Creed on February 16, 2005 04:53 AM
Hi Jenn,

Yes, I still believe it is a light problem. The weak, sparse leaves that crack easily are all symptoms of poor light. I think you are overestimating the amount of sun that it is getting. It would get a lot more light if it were sitting right on a windowsill - closer to and lower in the window. I know the cat is a problem, but I don't have a solution for that.

Will
by rozy221 on February 16, 2005 06:11 AM
Hi Jenn,

I'm not an expert, by far, but I have a similar plant (but much smaller), and pretty much everytime I've fertilized it, I've lost a couple of leaves-first they turn yellow, then brown and shriveled up. I usually use the miracle grow sticks, although sometimes I use a different brand. I've had the same experience either way, and, last time, I went about 2 months between fertilizing, and it still happened. Don't know if this is helpful at all to you, but best of luck!
by Jiffymouse on February 17, 2005 01:20 AM
you know, that got me thinking... i have had several through the years... and the ones that did the best did well with very little fertilizer. so... what i would do if it were me...

first, i'd repot it so that it is centered in a pot. and when i repotted it, i would use potting soil mixed with sand. and no fertilizer. and then, i'd let it go for about 3 months at a stretch w/o fertilizer, but keep it watered.

as for the light issue, i have to differ with will on this one. my best spiders grew in a corner of my kitchen that only got indirect light from a west facing 2x2 window that was over the kitchen sink. the spiders were on the same counter as the sink to the south of the window where they didn't even get the light slant when the sun was morning or mid day, so the light was very indirect.

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