In-dorm Gardening Issues

JZK100April 5, 2014

Hey all,

I'm having some trouble with a couple of plants I'm keeping in my dorm.

I've posted a couple pictures of them, along with the general set-up I have.
Also, if the soil looks darker than it should be, it may be because I just watered the little guys.

I have them on my desk right now, with a normal desk lamp (40watt bulb) as a light source. They get watered from the bottom-up via saucers. Everything was just fine until a couple of weeks ago. I brought them home for spring break, as I have for other breaks, and they decided that the trip back was just too much. When they got back to my dorm, they started having these issues.
(Also, a side note that may or may not be helpful: I was using a different light source at home. I had a 60watt grow bulb, and a bigger window. Could a switch in light sources cause problems?)

With the basil, I'm thinking it's an over-watering or under-watering issue. I'm just not sure which. The leaves are wrinkly, leathery, and almost deflated-looking. There are also some brown spots at the very tips of some of the leaves, along with a few small holes/tears.
The leaves at the bottom of the plant are starting to turn a yellow-y green, which makes me think it's an over-watering issue, but I tried letting the soil dry out for a couple of days and it didn't make a difference.

The african violet issue is pretty self-explanatory with the picture. The edges of the leaves are turning a white-tan color, and it's slowly working its to the center of the leaves. The edges of the leaves are also starting to curl under, but a couple of the leaf tips are actually starting to curl over the leaf. I have absolutely no idea what's causing it.
It's trying to flower, though, and the new leaves look healthy enough, if a bit crowded by the older leaves.

The problem with these guys is probably pretty obvious, and I'm just too dense a gardener to see it. Any help from you more experienced plant-keepers would be much appreciated!

This post was edited by JZK100 on Sat, Apr 5, 14 at 15:21

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Lack of sufficient light is a real problem here. Incandescent lights are not appropriate for plants....too much heat and the wrong wave lengths.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 10:51PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Basil, especially, is always going to cause trouble inside. It is a full intense sun plant and to grow it inside you'd need to recreate a sunblasted Mediterranean climate. Most successful house plants are naturally suited to lower light levels e.g. woodland floor. Like the Sanseveria you have there.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 1:26PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Ditto on the light. Incandescents are awful for plants for the reasons stated above. A cfl would be a better option.

Basil: Most are annuals and do not survive more than one or two summers.

AV: You may have fried it. They do not like hot, intense light. If sunburn is the issue, then eventually you'll have leaves to replace them -- providing you change the light situation.

Dorms are notoriously hard on many plants.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 1:42PM
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JZK100

So basically, I just need to give them more natural light? Should I cut off the discolored leaves on my AV, or should I let them be for now?

I have a plant-growing light back home (that I unfortunately can't use in the dorms), would that work better?

Thanks for the help, everyone!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 1:41PM
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louisianagal(z7bMS)

You may have continual disappointments if you try to grow light-loving plants in a dorm. You may want to search "houseplants" and find some that take low light. Perhaps there is a plot of soil outside that you would be allowed to grow herbs, e.g. African violets are notorious for being fickle, I think. You have to water from the bottom, I think. I guess you are doing that. There is a forum for them, those folks could help.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 1:59PM
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asleep_in_the_garden

Hi!

Another tip for your av would be to get a little terrarium for it. In my experience they do better in one. :)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 2:22PM
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Photo Synthesis

Incandescent light bulbs serve nobody any good. They are way too inefficient and don't provide the proper light spectrum needed to grow plants sufficiently. Your best bet would be to use a compact fluorescent light bulb, one that's listed as "daylight" and 6,500K. Get one that's 26-watts (100w equivalent).

These are the only bulbs I use, and they work great, while using significantly less electricity. I grow carnivorous plants under them, and they absolutely love it. And carnivorous plants (well, most anyways) need to be grown in full, direct sunlight, in order to grow properly, and they do just fine under these cfl lights. And another good thing is that plants that need less [indirect] light can grow just fine under them as well w/o burning, because CFL's don't give off heat like incandescent bulbs do.

Use this specific bulb, and your plants will thank you for it. They don't even have to be listed as "grow lights" or anything, just a regular "daylight" cfl bulb that's 26w (100w equivalent), and gives off light in the 6,500K range. Just make sure that it's in the 6,500K range. Any other range (2,500K or 5,000K, for example...) won't provide the proper spectrum needed. All of this info will be listed on the light bulb's packaging.

:)

This post was edited by ToMMyBoY69 on Tue, Apr 8, 14 at 11:45

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 11:38AM
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JZK100

Alright, thanks so much! Glad I can keep these little guys in my dorm :) I'll look for one of those bulbs next time I'm out!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 12:38PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

In addition to the light issues, how cold was it for the trip home and back? Even a short jaunt to and from the car could do a number on tender things like basil if its was cold.

tj

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 5:18PM
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