How to take care of plants you have no idea what the plant is?

HopeRodriguez-cruzMarch 16, 2014

I have to house plants given to me and I have NO idea what to do. I do not know what they are so I can look them up. Is there a safe medium for houseplants with light and water? I have bought liquid food and bone meal and they continue to turn yellow after I snip dead off... PLEASE HELP

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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

If you post a photo of the plant either here or on the Name That Plant Forum you will get an id very quickly. There isn't a one size fits all plant care regime, although adequate light and not overwatering are two big factors in success.

Here is a link that might be useful: Name That Plant Forum

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 2:21PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

There may not be a one size fits all regimen, but there IS a one size fits 99.9% regimen which has proven to bear fruit for a LOT of growers.

I probably have about 300 plants covering at least 200 species and I don't know how many genera - maybe 125 to150. All those plants are treated exactly the same, except for allowances that a little more than half of them snooze the winter away, dormant, in a cold garage where they need no care other than the snow I toss on top of them occasionally through the winter so roots don't dry out.

The houseplants and succulents grow under the same lights, get watered ON A SCHEDULE at the same time, get fertilized with the same fertilizer, and manage to remain in excellent health, year after year.

It's true that when all you have is natural light, plants will need to be sited in consideration of their light preferences, and temperatures are a consideration, but the portion of the cultural conditions that are provided by the grower that are most apt to spawn trouble will relate to a triangle formed by soil choice, watering habits, and proper nutrition. These three factors are so intimately related that it's difficult to discuss one without including the others unless you're growing in a soil that allows you to water correctly.

The idea that different plants require different treatment (other than light and temps) comes largely from the fact that some plants are better able to tolerate adversity. 'Tolerate' somehow translated to 'appreciate', and soon people were believing some plants LIKED soils wetter than other plants. Most of the plants you'll grow perform best when their soils are barely damp - not wet, and never soggy.

If you're interested, read the link I left below. It will help you avoid most of the frustration suffered by people new to the growing experience if you put it to practical use.


Here is a link that might be useful: More here

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 2:43PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hope, does the pot have a drain hole?

It sounds like you got the fertilizer in response to the decline in your plant? If so, you're in abundant company thinking that fertilizer can help cure a sick plant. Or that plants need some kind of food like people do. A potted plant that never gets fertilizer might just sit there not really growing, but it won't die or otherwise look or become ill. I do dabble with fertilizer during the summer, but some plants haven't had any for years.

Fertilizer isn't medicine, and giving some to a plant in poor health can do more harm than good, especially if just guessing, and too much is toxic. I've killed many-a plant this way, many people have. Diseases/pests notwithstanding, plants that become ill do so because of a problem with their roots, of which there are MANY, but most of which can be remedied by repotting - removing the old soil and replacing it, whether the plant goes back into another pot or the same pot.

I also care for all plants in the same soil. Cacti and some succulents are left to dry out before watering again, but most are 'regular' plants that are kept most, would wilt if dried too much. If you are cutting tips, parts of leaves, your plant sounds like a 'regular' plant that would not like to dry out, but could rot at the roots if the conditions allow it. Without a pic, I'd guess that's what's happening from what you described.

You can add a pic to this discussion any time if you want, one pic per reply.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 12:39PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I'd also skip the bone meal (also may NOT be good to handle that stuff).

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 6:39PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I agree with Karen. Bone meal breaks down so slowly it is essentially w/o value in containers, and actually might more likely represent a limiting factor because of the potential air space it occupies. Even in gardens it is of dubious value because P and Ca are not often deficient in mineral soils. Read more about fertilizers in the link I left above if interested.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 9:19PM
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