Sans is mad at me

MojaveLove(5 - IL)March 4, 2011

I know there's a forum dedicated to Sans but it seems dead so I'm going to ask here.

Over the last week (or less) I've noticed my Sans fading very quickly. The once bright, bold yellow edges are now very light and dull and sort of transparent (you can see the green and white pattern underneath from the rest of the plant). The white variegation is fading as well.

It has been in the same spot for months so I don't think it's the sun bleaching it (it does get direct morning sun. I haven't done anything different to it, the only thing I can think is I waited a bit longer to water it this time around but the fading sped up after, it didn't slow down or reverse.


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Howdy.. Do you have a pic of the plant and closeup of the 'transparent' spot? Think I know what you mean.
At first, it sounded like your Sans was getting too much sun..I've seen Sans color/leaves fade from too much sun.

Check for could be a bug eating at your leaf, if the trasnparent leaf/ves is what I'm assuming it to look like.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 5:30PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

I do not know if you have had the experience I had but I have been getting my stronger Spring sun the last two weeks. Although, it has been in the same spot all winter it may be getting some really strong sun the last couple of weeks.

This was the cloudiest winter we have had in my area for a long time. I moved my Sans in a corner away from the windows and put some plants that have been dying to see some sun.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 6:34PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The 'transparent' part makes me want to think it's something fungal or bacterial in the vasculature of the plant that is feeding on the pigments. If these areas ARE wet or look wet/mushy just under the surface, that's probably the problem, which would likely extend into the rhizome as well.

Have you been misting the plant?


    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 2:21AM
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MojaveLove(5 - IL)

I have not been misting it. The texture of the leaves has not changed. Here is an up-close picture - the yellow seems to be receding back toward the edge of the leaf on some, and on one it is almost completely gone. Here's a pic - the yellow stripes used to be lemon yellow and completely opaque.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 12:02PM
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Mojave..It's not the 'transparent' I meant.
Change of color could be from light. My Sans colors during summer, when they're set right before an east window.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 4:06PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I wouldn't argue strongly against it being a light-related issue, because it could be - especially if there is no clear indications that it is related to something fungal or bacterial (doesn't appear to be by what can be seen in the picture).

One other thing that can have a significant impact on leaf color is cellular pH and nutrient supply. I won't pretend that I know exactly what's happening, but leaf color is a funny business. There are nutritional issues, mostly with micronutrients that can make the interveinal or marginal areas of leaves exceptionally light or dark, which often makes the lighter veins more pronounced or changes color of certain tissues - especially variegations. There are also elements OTHER than nutrients that affect pigmentation, and tiny variations of cellular pH can have considerable affect on the color of blooms and foliage.

You may glean something from this. It's something I wrote about pennies not changing the bloom color of hydrangea, and how that whole pigmentation thing works. Note particularly the parts about cellular pH.

Pennies are made of zinc, aluminum ions are what affect the color of hydrangea blooms. Actually it is plant cellular pH that determines bloom color, not soil pH. Lowering soil pH makes aluminum ions readily available for plant uptake where it bonds to pigments in the blooms.

Three different pigments - chlorophyll, flavonoids, and carotenoids - mixed in different proportions, give color to plants. By mixing and matching the three pigments, an endless variety of colors can be created. E.g. most reds are the result of mixing orange carotenoids with magenta flavonoids. Cellular pH (not to be confused with soil pH) has a profound effect on plant color.

Even most experienced gardeners think that lowering soil pH produces blue blooms in hydrangea. Technically, it is only a part of the equation. Lowering soil pH makes aluminum ions more readily available for plant uptake. The aluminum is then available to bond with pigment compounds (anthocyanin, the colored component of flavonoids) changing the way color is reflected. Our perception is blooms changing from pink to blue.

The anthocyanidin group is what makes apples, autumn leaves, roses, strawberries, and cranberries red. They make blueberries, cornflowers, and violets blue. They also make some grapes, blackberries, and red cabbage purple. One of the things that changes the color of anthocyanins is the level of acid or alkali (the pH) in the cell surrounding the pigment. As cellular pH increases, the pigment changes structure and reflects different wavelengths of light. The anthocyanin reflects bright pink in acid cell environments, reddish-purple in neutral and green in more alkaline cells.

Since actual elemental availability and possible nutrient "lock-up" or overload due to soil pH can also have an impact on cellular pH, it's a good bet that having your soil professionally tested for pH and to see what nutrient problems there might be would be a good first step to definitively identifying the cause of the changes you observe." (skip the soil test part)


It doesn't have to be one of the essential nutrients (if it is indeed a chemical issue), either in short supply or excess, causing what you described.

Like I said - not pretending that I have the absolute answer to this - just illustrating there are possibilities other than light.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 4:37PM
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MojaveLove(5 - IL)

I wouldn't be surprised if it is a mix of light and soil to be honest, now that I read that. It's just strange how it happened so rapidly. As marquest mentioned above, the seasons will be changing soon and the sun is becoming more intense. I've noticed my aloe seedlings and succulent cuttings in the window in the same room as my Sans have been getting that great intense red tint those types of plants get in the sun.

In terms of the soil, I believe this was my second plant that I bought about a year ago before I knew anything about house plants. I threw it in some Miracle Grow potting mix that has fertilizer in it. Not the best thing for this plant as I now know, but wanted to wait until spring to change it. Right about now the soil is probably breaking down and becoming pudding (I think you used that analogy before), on top of that it is getting fertilizer that it doesn't need.

Al I have to say it never ceases to amaze me what you know. You even touched on hydrangeas, my favorite flower, AND told me something new about them (PH in plant is what alters the coloring)! I think you're a super chemist in your non-GardenWeb life. You know things that "experts" don't even know.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 5:33PM
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I stared and stared at your picture and can't find a thing wrong. Your plant looks absolutely normal to me. Any change in color would seem to be a reaction to the amount of light the plant is getting. Are you concerned about the green stripe separating the yellow ones on the right side of your photo? That is completely normal and I have many plants that look like that. Color me confused. You seem to be growing a happy, healthy plant and are doing a great job at it! :)


    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 6:13PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Lol - thanks for the kind words, ML. I appreciate that.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 9:11PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I can't see anything wrong with it either, Nancy. Is it too naive to suggest that the leaf in the picture is just getting older/more mature? Younger foliage generally has brighter colour and markings. Plants do not remain static however healthy they are. They age,change and some parts eventually die off. You can't stop it.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 6:54AM
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MojaveLove(5 - IL)

The yellow used to be lemon yellow and completely opaque. Now it is lime green and you can see the pattern of the green and white underneath it. In some spots the yellow is completely gone and it is just a green leaf. The plant is healthy, I was just wondering why it is losing color.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 7:18PM
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I grow Sans. also. that looks like a healthy plant to me also except at the upper part of the leaf where water may have dried. Soft water and a soft cloth would remove those little white spots, or a little vinagar in the water, that plant is just fine, and they don't get diseases of any kind. They may rot, but that is not a disease that is poor cultural care. If you still have cold weather below 55 degrees I would suggest stop watering until the weather gets warmer, and water from the bottom to keep water spots off the plant, it does like to be wet and cold, if you have water on the leaves and it turns cold, that could cause blister that may show up two months later as a brown spot, again this your problem and not the plants, I have over 250 of these plants, and none have illness, what ever they get it is my fault. Too cold and wet, Norma

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 1:26AM
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