Peace Lily needs some help?

walkerkaliMay 5, 2014

I work in an office building, five stories up. Up until this morning I had three plants to take care of, a peace lily, cat palm, and pothos(spelling)? Our other division that works in the sub-basement brought up their dying plant for me to save. Its a peace lily, and doesn't look so peaceful. Not entirely sure whats wrong with it. All leaves are browned, stems have broken from the root and are leaning down. I pruned some of the completely dry leaves off and was going to attempt to bind it up against its root but it was going to be to heavy so I gave up. I gave it a little bit of water to see if there would be any reaction and I would have to venture a guess that it went right through the soil.

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Closer look.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:37AM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

My guess is that it is very thirsty, as peace lilys oftren get...or it can be drowning which would explain disconnected stems. Does the pot have a drainage hole?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:37AM
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Yes, pot has a drainage hole and a tray. I watered it a little when I first got here this morning and I would venture a guess that the soil didn't soak up a drop of the water as moments later the tray had water in it.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:44AM
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Yes, pot has a drainage hole and a tray. I watered it a little when I first got here this morning and I would venture a guess that the soil didn't soak up a drop of the water as moments later the tray had water in it.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:46AM
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Here's what I'd do if it were mine. I'd put the container in a bucket and then water til the water is level with the top of your mix. Then I'd let it soak for a few hours,followed by then putting it in a sink to drain. After this,I'd put it in a clear plastic bag and seal it. After a day or two I'd check back on it to see if there was any progress,which by then there should be. In rare cases I've had to keep 'em bagged for extended periods,but PLs are pretty forgiving in my experience. :)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 11:40AM
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You might have to ask the person you got it from how often they watered it...

If it hasn't been watered for a long time the soil might have shrunken up and won't absorb water easily. In the store I worked at, what we'd do is just spray the soil for 1-2 minutes, maybe more, till the soil is completely saturated. An alternative is to sit the bottom third in water and let it soak up for 30 mins or so.

TBH I dunno for sure if that's ideal though since supposedly PLs don't like saturated soil. From my understanding, in an extremely thirsty PL this probably won't be an issue. Esp, if it's in an airconned office with dry air.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 11:41AM
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I agree with the others, most probably the soil is so dry it's repelling water. Soaking it in good fresh water would be the way to go. rain water would be the best if available.

On the matter of PLs in saturated soil, I grow some in sitting in my pond, as do a lot of other people. They're even used as aquarium plants. The big issue there is water quality, it can't be stagnant water. Saturated soil will become stagnant too quickly, hence the problem. If the water circulates and is aerated there's no problem.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 3:49AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's not so much water quality as it is the difficulty with which the root system is able to adapt to the presence or lack of air in the rhizosphere.

The plant will grow well in a well-aerated medium or in aquaculture, but can't make the back and forth transition. Soils that are constantly saturated are fine, but the key word is 'constantly'. You can't keep the plant in soggy soil for a few days until air returns to the soil, and then water again when it's dry. The plant adapts to saturated conditions by growing a root system with a tissue called 'aerenchyma' (instead of the normal, 'parenchyma' when grown in a solid, well-aerated medium) which allows the plant to obtain the oxygen it needs to drive root function from the air surrounding the top of the plant instead of air in the soil.

Aquaculture is fine, or a well-aerated medium that holds little or no perched water and can be kept evenly moist is fine, but you'll be fighting a soil that is soggy half the time and well-aerated half the time - just as you would with any other plant. Another issue (for all plants) with saturated soils that drain poorly is, low oxygen levels cause iron and manganese to become electron acceptors, which means they form insoluble compounds with other elements. This leads to their precipitation (iron and manganese) and, even though these elements might be present in soils, the plantâÂÂs inability to assimilate them. Soggy soils also make it difficult or impossible for plants to assimilate Ca, which leads to all sorts of problems.

To be honest, I'd cut the top back hard, bare root it, repot it into a medium that drains VERY well, & keep the soil DAMP until the plant responds, at which time I'd start feeding. Warm temps & bright light but not direct sun to satisfy the other cultural wants of the plant.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 3:27PM
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So Monday I ended up tying the plant in an upright position to give the stems some support. Yesterday I gave a little water as the soil felt dry and sprayed the leaves. A coworker suggested I take the yarn off and see what happened. Well, I did, and the stems are mostly supporting themselves now. I was amazed. The person who previously took care of the plant said it would not perk up not matter how often she watered it.

When I got home I told my boyfriend the surprising fact that it had already began to support itsself. He suggested that when it was laying against the pot that perhaps it was pinching its veins off and it could not get water through the full stem, thus not being able to perk back up.

I think I need to get it new soil or suck it up and leave it in the bathroom sink for an hour or so and then drain it. (Multiple divisions share the bathroom as there is only one per floor.) Also need to get it some plant food.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 9:01AM
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That's very interesting, I've always been taught by my more experienced coworkers to go back and forth between saturation and dry, but I've always felt like it wasn't the best way to do things.

Hmm, I've read that hydroponic roots are different from dirto-ponic roots, would that be the growth of aerenchyma?

Hmmm PL's ability to perk up once it's been properly watered can be quite amazing. Hope it's out of the woods.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 8:04PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I suppose it depends on what one might consider the meaning of 'saturated' to be. If we pour 10 gallons of water over a bucket of marbles, the marbles are wet and can't hold any more water - does that mean the marbles, taken as a medium in their entirety, are saturated?

Soils made of fine particles, when saturated, hold a considerable amount of perched water, and we know THAT type of saturation isn't good for plants. Soils made from larger particles

hold very little or no perched water, so going back and forth between saturated to fairly dry (as long as drought stress doesn't become a player) doesn't pose anywhere near the limitations inherent in more water-retentive soils that oscillate between saturated to nearly dry. In shallow containers, some soils hold virtually no oxygen at container capacity (when the soil is holding all the water it possibly can), which is very bad for plants, while other soils still hold plenty of oxygen to drive root function and maintain root health, even when the soil is holding as much water as it is capable of holding.

You are correct in noting that roots growing in water are markedly different than roots growing in a well-aerated medium, and the roots can't work efficiently under both conditions.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 8:54PM
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Ahh wow, those are huge particles. I guess you'd have to water that pretty often then, esp with a water-friendly plant like Peace Lily right?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 4:14PM
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