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Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2004
by John From Canada on January 08, 2004 12:07 AM
Basically, I've never gardened before in my life, and i've taken on 8 plants. I live in relative low levels of light (basement suite).
I need help to grow these guys, and the more help the better. Plus, you can flex your gardening muscles and teach a young firebrand a lesson or two.
I'll probably have many stupid questions to ask, so please bear with me.

One thing to note about all these plants is that they were transported from the store to the house (via car) in very cold weather.

Most of the plants seem in good order at this time except two of them.
One is believed to be a dracaena palm tree type plant. It has general drooping and the leaves are curling on the edges a bit. What is usually a vibrant green is now a dark, lifeless green. I need a diagnosis.

The other problematic plant is of unknown name. It's a foliage, it has a leaves that are teardrop shaped (lots), and grow in a circular formation off of the stem in groups of 6-7.
The problem with this plant is that most of the leaves are culring from the egdes towards the sky (wrinkly edges), and are looking brown underneath the leaf.
The new sprouts have died, and i think that is from the cold exposure. But i'm definately not sure. Diagnosis?

Thanks for any help.

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by Will Creed on January 08, 2004 03:33 AM

The symptoms you described could be caused by chilling. Most houseplants are native to tropical regions and don't do well in temps below 55 to 60 degrees F. When transported, they have to have their foliage wrapped to protect them from cold exposure.

The second plant you described may be a Schefflera arboricola.

Light is the most important consideration in selecting plants. However, even low light plants have minimum light requirements. That would be enough natural light at least 8 hours per day to read small typeface comfortably. Incandescent light does not help. Fluorescent light is very good for low light plants.
by John From Canada on January 08, 2004 08:11 AM
Hmm.. 8 hours you say.
I guess i'll have to start getting up earlier.

I wonder why the Kentia (which had the same exposure to the cold) did not show any signs of shock.

So, when I have such low light levels, is it recommended to water as often? Should i water less?
How often do I water?
Also.. when do i feed the plants, how often, and with what?

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by John From Canada on January 08, 2004 08:22 AM
Ok, i looked at some pictures of a Schefflera arboricola, and it's safe to assume that it is.
Nice guess. I'm impressed.

But, new problem.
The plant is shedding all of it's leaves. They're falling like mad.
The situation is that, the tree just looks sad, the leaves are wilted, curled, somewhat brown and falling.
Need diagnosis and repair asap.
Is all lost?

On the upside, the dracaena is looking healthier.. still not great, but better.

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by John From Canada on January 08, 2004 10:22 AM
Are dead leaves in the soil good or bad?

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by plants 'n pots on January 08, 2004 03:00 PM
I can't answer your questions, John, but did want to tell you that I've had a Schefflera for 10 years now that grows like the Energizer Bunny! I got a great deal on it - the store had misplaced 10 inch pots of this plant under a $3 sign and had to honor it - I'm only sorry that I only took one because I didn't have more room at the time.

This plant grows in a Southeastern window in my bedroom and has reached the ceiling a few times. I have it staked, and cut it 1/2 way back when this happens. I then put the cuttings back into the pot and each one has taken off.

This is one indestructible plant - every now and then, one of my cats feels she just has to "BOX" the leaves in rapid motion [nutz] [perplexed] [tongue] - no harm done to the plant, and she's getting exercise! [dunno]

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 - Lynne's knitting journal  -  -  -
"I'm spayed, declawed, and housebound - how's YOUR day going???"
by weezie13 on January 08, 2004 04:42 PM
You asked;
Are dead leaves in the soil good or bad?

I would have ask questions.......
Were they green when they dropped?
And then mixed into the soil??
If that happened, when the green ones are into the soil and they start to decompose, they use up
nitrogen as the brown up, well in that case
it's not good... because that "steals" it from the plant....If they were already brown and crumbled, I can't say it would hurt, I might also say, I'd hope to hear from Bill, Will, Papito, Nikkal, Phil, who may give you an "offical" report on the effects of decomposing leaves in House plants... outside, nature would do that naturally and is good for them...
Houseplants?????? With trying to keep fungal desease out of house plants and wanting sterile dirt??? I'm a big out door gardener!!!


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Don't forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have
done this have entertained angels without realizing it.
- Bible - Hebrews 13:2

by Jiffymouse on January 08, 2004 05:01 PM
dead leaves in/on the soil are not a problem. they are rather like natural mulch for the plant. the only time i clear my leaves from my pot is if there is a watering problem, or if i have to repot. then i sometimes mix the leaves in the potting soil to replenish it.
by John From Canada on January 08, 2004 09:35 PM
Is un-natural light hurting the plants if it receives regular light as well?

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by Jiffymouse on January 08, 2004 11:03 PM
no, they are fine with your electric lights.
by rue anemone on January 09, 2004 04:23 PM
I think it might be the cold too. Whenever I have left my plants out too long during those cold frosty autumns, that is what they look like.

When I buy a houseplant during cold weather I make sure the store bags it in a big enough bag that I can blow some of my hot air(HEY NO COMMENTS) into it and tie it off. And that is my last stop so the plants don`t sit out in the car.

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by Will Creed on January 10, 2004 04:48 AM

Kentias are much more resistant to cold than most other indoor plants.

Schefflera aboricolas are very vulnerable to cold damage. There is not much you can do for it. Be very carfeul to cut back on the watering because it is no longer using very much. Remove the dying leaves. Cut back stems that have lost most of their leaves to a height of 3 to 6 inches. You should see some new growth within a couple of weeks if the plant is still viable. Otherwise, you will have to chuck it. Sorry, but cold damage can be pretty devastating to tropical plants.

In low light, growth slows considerably and so do plant needs. Low light plants use much less water and should not be fertilized at all. They also do not need to be repotted. In general, wait for the top quarter of the soil to feel dry to the touch before watering. Then water thoroughly so the entire rootball is saturated and a bit of water runs through the drainage holes.

Indoor plants do not need mulch. It is best to remove and discard dead leaves. They serve no useful purpose and can sometimes spread fungal and other diseases. They are also a haven for pests.

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