Persian Shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus) --aka the 'stick'

paul_(z5 MI)May 2, 2009

Persian Shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus) -- how does one keep it going over the winter? Picked a nice big one up last fall. Put it in an unobstructed SW facing window for the winter. Over the course of the winter it dwindled to a tall stick -- every leaf and branch died. I suspect it may have simply been too dry in my apt. My humidity tops out at 30% -- and that's with 2 humidifiers in the room. So how do any of you in the northern climes do it?

Btw, said stick is still green so perhaps at some point it will decide to put out some leaves...

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Not sure if I have the best advice/ideas here, but nobody's replied yet and it's been a few days, so...

I'm wondering if it might be light. Some plants just need more than you get in the home, even if you have a fairly good window. This might cause the plant to go dormant, even if they don't typically do this in nature. Put it outside this summer, see if it leafs up/resumes normal growth, and maybe try a grow light next winter.

Also, were the leaves getting crispy before falling off? I was under the impression that if it's a humidity issue, they generally do, whereas if they just drop off it's either light or watering.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 12:28PM
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Paul, Persian Shield is not an easy plant to grow indoors.
Most outdoor gardeners plant PS in their garden, then come autumn, they end up in the compost.
They're sold here, (IL) as annuals.

As long as the trunk is green, your PS is alive.
During winter/dark months, place your PS in the 'sunniest' window, but there are other demands this plant requires.
Humidity is needed, but not as much as certain tropicals, eg, Gardenias.

More important is keeping your PS in a cooler room away from a heating system/vent. Too hot, goodbye plant.

Artificial light helps. Since you're in MI, your climate is similar to ours which means week after week of dark, cloudy days.
A semi-unheated enclosed porch, facing south or west would be ideal.
Some people fertilizer in winter, I don't. Unless an annual is showing signs of growth/flowering, especially Geraniums, they get half-strength doses. Now that days are longer, they get 1/4-1/2 strength, w/All Purpose fertilizer.

PS love the outdoors in spring/summer. Will yours be going outside? If so, place in a shady spot. Super shady. They're heavy drinkers, some need daily watering. So, keep watch, especially on sunny and/or hot days. Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 1:53PM
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chazparas(USDA zone 9 , San Jose, CA)

Paul, I've kept them going in a cool sun room over the winter and had them flower in the fall. I've also forced them into complete dormancy in a dry basement, they've come back from the roots in the springtime when the pots were placed outside. Don't give up on it to quickly! What I have noticed is the leaves are not as dark beginning in the second season. Maybe I've given them too much light or not enough fert. Anyway, here's a photo of the flowers if you can keep them going.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 9:40AM
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bihai(zone 9)

We grow these in the ground here, sometimes they are annuals if winter is too cold and sometimes they are perennials, LOL. But once they freeze to the ground, they never come back as nice as they were originally, so they might as well be annuals anyway. I plant them sometimes, knowing that they only have a 50/50 chance. We plant them in part shade, and they tolerate temps in the 90's without problems. They will burn in full FLorida sun unless gradually acclimated.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 11:42AM
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"What I have noticed is the leaves are not as dark beginning in the second season. Maybe I've given them too much light or not enough fert."

Noticed this with my A. Squarrosa too, another plant that's mostly dormant and non-leafy indoors in the winters. Kind of suspecting iron chlorosis.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 6:55PM
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Chaz, your PS is lovely. I've never seen one in flower. How long do blooms last?
What did you do to keep them dormant? In the basement? That's very interesting. How long did you keep them dormant? And what did you do to bring them out?
Its flowers are really pretty. I love their pod-like bases. This year, once PS's are available in garden centers, one will follow me

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 2:08PM
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chazparas(USDA zone 9 , San Jose, CA)

Thanks, the flowers seem to last a long time but what happens is they begin to separate from the bracht and stay on the plant if not disturbed until they completely brown! So they are there for a long time, and the spike takes forever to finish blooming! They usuallay go from around thanksgiving until end of February. When I let them go dormant they are put in a dark, coolish spot and kept very dry, maybe a cup or two of water a month. The stems die back and the plant resprouts from the roots when it's ready to re-grow again, ususally just in time to be put out for the summer. The photo of the flowers is from a couple of years ago, that plant never got it's purple coloring back but did retain the silver on the leaves. I left it out this past winter so I'll have to start fresh again this year. Also, the brachts are very sticky and have a scent very similar to cannibis if touched.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2009 at 9:55AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Well the 'stick' is starting to leaf out. Not sure just how good or bad it may look once all is said and done, but it is alive and making a bid for survival.

Amc, the leaves would get very convex with dry edges and fall. The leaves were not brown and still seemed to have some crispness to them

Chaz, how tall did yours get after it resprouted from the roots? When did it start resprouting?

Toni, surprised at what you said about shade. My sis had them planted in a west facing bed that got direct sun for much of the afternoon. They did well.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 10:32PM
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chazparas(USDA zone 9 , San Jose, CA)

I don't remember exactly when they started resprouting, I think sometime late march early april, but they didn't actively grow until they got placed in a warmer area over 60 degrees F. They grew to about 24 inches tall each season, no bigger than that but with the multiple branches and side shoots they were really full looking plants. Only difference from first year is the purple colour was gone, they were basically silver and green.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 8:55AM
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Anyone still checking this thread?
FYI, you can easily root cuttings of persian shield, but keeping them over the winter is tough. I started with something like eight or ten cuttings last fall and come spring I had three live plants.
Who knows about dieback in persian shield? Both last year and again this year, the plants get large with beautiful, healthy foilage, and then one day I come home and one looks wilty, is dead within a day's time. It doesn't seem to be connected to too much or too little water - of four plants in a row, one in the middle will just be gone, the other three fine. ???
Also FYI, these look great paired with purple salvia & purple stokesia.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 10:06PM
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shanielynn(9, Englewood FL)

I just bought mine last weekend. It is still in the pot it came in, sitting on my lanai, dying. Very quickly. I don't think I've even got a stick left... Lowe's labels them as Florennials. Mine shoulda said a Day or Two. =D

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 12:18AM
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marquest(z5 PA)

shanielynn, I had mine in a position on the patio of full sun it was doing real bad. I moved it back so it was in more shade and it got better.

I do not think this is a full sun plant. Mine get morning sun afternoon shade.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 10:53PM
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The local Hy-Vee Grocery store was selling these for $1 each so I just bought 4 today. I'll plant 3 outside and one in a pot to try to bring it in over the winter. After reading this though I'm not hopefull it will survive an Iowa winter even indoors.

Any other suggestions on things that might help this guy make it through the winter in my living room besides keep it watered and get it sun?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 4:51PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Well -- for those who may be interested -- "the stick" did okay over that summer and was on my unsheltered SW balcony with no problem. This past winter, it once again lost all leaves and branches. However the stem did not leaf out this spring rather it sent a new growth up from the base/roots. It looks like the old stem has died. Not sure why .... possibly I gave it less water over the winter but I can't say for certain. It is once again on the sunny balconey. I'll try to get a pic taken of it at some point.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 8:12PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

I purchased one plant last summer. I read this post and since I used in in a patio pot I brought it in for the winter and put it in the basement. My basement is 60 degrees. I watered it about once a month. A few leaves stated on it until about Jan.

I put it outside a month ago because we had a warm Spring. It is coming back and it is as dark as it was last summer.

I will take pic of it when it stops raining.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 9:05PM
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Dear Paul, I suspect it may be just too cool here in San Francisco, I have tried to grow Persian Shield for years. Although I get it to survive it mostly just lanquishes. In the house it is mostly dormant (we have little extra heating...stays around 65) but radiant heat to the humidity is always high. I am in a warm SF microclimate so outside it starts to grow a bit in June/July then goes dormant again in November. Not this year yet because it has been so oddly rainy and cool. My Persian Shields are always puny and pathetic. I probably will give up unless I build a solarium. If you find a way to grow one here to reveal it! Jeff

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 7:48AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Here's a pic of "the stick" as of today

Don't know that I can be of much help, Jeff. Your conditions are bound to be different from mine. I grow mine for the summer outside in full direct sun from 8 or 9am to around 1 or 2 pm on my balconey. My balconey gets quite hot truth be told so I put most of my plants on plant stands to keep the pots from sitting on the hot surface of my balconey. (My balconey literally gets hot enough to hurt my feet.)

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 7:09PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Mine was kept in a 60-65 degree basement laundry room all winter. The leaves all died but the stems did not die. They grew new leaves and more stems grew from the roots.

I gave it deep watering twice a month since my laundry room is so warm.

It has been on my hot sunny all day sun patio. It gets lots of water in that type of heat and sun. End of year 2 this is what it looks like.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 6:45PM
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Paul, hey, you were able to over-winter your PS.
Do you have a garden? If so, next spring, why not plant it in the garden. You'll be shocked how tall/full it'll be by the time you uplift and pot.
If it branches out, take a few cuttings. PS cuttings are very easy to can be done in water.

Marquest, your PS is gorgeous. Plants do fantastic when grown in ground. Are you planning on bringing indoors this winter? Their colors are beautiful..Purple and silver.

You both did fantastic jobs..Toni

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 2:48PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Thanks Toni, I have 4 acres of land but I like to grow a lot of tropical and tender plants on the patio. It is a big paio and it needs plants. LOL

I am going to bring it in again this winter. This will be the 3rd winter indoors.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 9:38PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Nope. No garden, Toni. I'm an apartment dweller so that isn't even an option. I've brought it inside and it is already starting to drop some leaves. Assuming all goes well, this will be the 3rd year the "stick" will overwinter indoors.

I've never had any luck rooting cuttings from PS.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 5:43PM
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Marquest..Your patio IS huge!!! Your Cannas are beautiful. Where do you find such tall types? They remind me of Gingers. Very nice..Is that an Australian Tree Fern on the left side table??

Paul, do you have a cool room? Is your heat turned on yet? That's one problem with tropicals/sub-tropicals/tender-tropicals, or in our zones, annuals. When they're brought indoors after a summer outside, there's less chance of leaf drop if set indoors before heat is turned on.
But if a plant is placed in a cool, semi-unheated room, like an enclosed porch, there's less stress.
Lol, the stick.
Good luck to you both, Toni

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 7:41PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Thank you Toni, I have been growing the same cannas for 8 years. I do not put them to sleep totally. I put them in the laundry room and give them a little water so they do not go totally asleep so when I put them outside I do not have to wait for them to start growing. They get huge.

The fern in the pot is a common garden Ostrich Fern. LOL. I do everything I can think of to make the patio look tropical. It is a big thing 30' x 60' so I need lots of plants.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 1:33PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Nope, don't even have that. My apt has central heating and because of my "critters" and orchids I keep the apt fairly warm.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 8:40PM
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Marqest..Thanks, I'll have to try the 'little watering' Cannas in winter. I've got one in the back room, leaves are dead. should I give it a drink now?

Your fern is 30'-60' or 3' - 6'?? Ostrige gets tall, but 60'? Lol..Your fern certainly looks nice in a pot. Does it die back in winter? Do you bring it indoors or leave out?
I have a zillion O. Ferns..they're growing everywhere. lol. Started w/7, all in back, in a they're in back, side of the house, and front..make sense? lol

Paul, what type of critters do you have? Toni

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 2:23AM
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marquest(z5 PA)

No Toni I was talking about the patio being 30 feet x 60 feet. The Ostrich Fern in the pots in the sun and lots of water grow 4-5 feet. They look tropical in the summer and like you said they grow like weeds so I always have penty to use on the patio.

I would start watering the cannas in December. I do not bring mine in until frost takes them down. Usually in my area that will be about Nov. I start gtiving them a sip of water after Christmas.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 1:39PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

what type of critters do you have? Toni

2 tarantulas (one of which is 15+ years old), one scorpion, 3 madagascar hissing roaches (currently at school), and -- as of Sunday -- 2 snakes (one of which is at school).

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 8:31PM
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quinnfyre(z7 PA)

Wow! How long can tarantulas live? And what do you feed them? Just curious. I don't know anyone with pet tarantulas, so it never occurred to me they could live as long as a dog or cat, or even longer maybe.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 12:57AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

How long can tarantulas live? And what do you feed them?

From all I've read, no one is quite sure -- there were so few raised from hatchlings in captivity until rather recently. Like most animals, those in the wild are believed to have shorter life spans due to diseases, predators and parasites.

Then too, the species makes a difference. But in general, males typically live only about 5 years whereas females can live for 20+ years.

I feed mine mainly crickets. Over the summer, I occasionally supplement with japanese beetles or grasshoppers that trespass upon my balconey plants.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 9:13PM
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