New plants, how am I doing?

BostonbullApril 15, 2014

Bought quite a few new plants. Ficus Alii (8'), Fiddle Leaf Fig (30"), Dracaena marginata(6'), Norfolk Island pine(7'), ZeeZee(18"), Rubber Tree(3'), and some herb plants such as mint and lemon balms(5").

I water all plants once a week with Neptune Harvest Sea Kelp, Organics Rx indoor Plant food, and EM-1 microbial innoculant. Good deep watering on all.

All plants received a top dressing of compost with peat moss when I brought them in about 3-4 weeks ago from the nursery.

The Norfolk is turning brown on the bottom, thinking it needs water more than once a week? I moved it to a sunnier spot, indirect morning sun only, reflective light after that.

Dracaena has dropped 1-2 leaves every few days for past 2 weeks. Not sure if this is normal, or it needs more/less water? Not looking bare, and the leaves yellow and fall off different areas. Gets good light all day, never direct, but never shaded.

Alii is same story as the Dracaena, nothing crazy but a few leaves a week yellow and fall off. Plenty of indirect sun.

I had one leaf on the rubber tree yellow this week, very odd. Both of these get plenty of morning indirect and one (the one that browned) gets tons of direct afternoon light.

The ZeeZee and fiddle leaf (both get an OK amount of indirect light all day) are doing great! Couple of the very lower small leaves right near the pot have browned and fallen off, but the soil was far too deep for them anyway.

What else should I be doing or not doing?


I am a certified arborist for 10 years who is a complete geek with trees, and shrubs. First go at indoor plants.

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Any chance of images?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 1:53AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Sounds like a nice grouping, some big plants!

Watering on a schedule can lead to trouble since this fails to compensate for the varied amount of water plants need at different times, during different seasons.

"when I brought them in about 3-4 weeks ago from the nursery" Do you mean these plants were outside in MA?

Do you think any of the browning is sunburn, or something else? Have you slid the plants out of the pots to get a look at their roots? Are your plants going to stay inside all year 'round?

"What else should I be doing or not doing?"... there's no one right way to do things, but here's some of my thoughts about what you said toward the 'wrong' area.

Compost is not usually used for permanently potted plants (permanent that although they may be periodically repotted, the plants will be spending their entire indefinitely lives in pots) for a myriad of reasons, though I share what is probably a desire to do things 'more naturally' on your part. Compost tea might be a better idea, though I wouldn't get involved with either for plants inside, a little too much nature-inside even for me (who puts some plants in the ground for a summer vacation, them digs them back up to come inside, still with some yard dirt since it's such a short amount of time that they'll be inside.) A tea of pureéd banana always perks plants up a bit, you might like to try that (something I only do outside.)

Top-dressing is also not usually part of the regime for permanent pots. If there's space between the top of the pot and soil surface, I have much better results adding more soil under the root ball, not on top of it, where that may hinder the ability of roots to access oxygen while they are moist. However, if a root ball comes out of a pot in 'pot shape,' it's usually time to consider repotting soon. Roots need room to keep growing.

As far as doing 'right,' you "should" continue to gather info and ask questions, and enjoy your plants well. Hope I never reach the end of this journey myself!

When convenient, I would recommend checking the info here.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 3:38PM
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