Smelly goo at bottom of new plant pot

KateNYCMay 16, 2014

To my shock when I turned up at the grocery store today, the plants were all gorgeous - they must have just had a shipment straight from their supplier, because the plants were all new, and uniformly lovely, without that under-potted, over-fertilized look grocery plants usually have. So I bought a few.

Two of the three plants I bought are fine -- glorious, in fact -- but the third, an aspidistra, was shockingly far from fine. It looked nice. Strong, healthy leaves with good color, a fairly young plant in the right proportion to its pot. I lifted in the inside pot out just to check that roots weren't coming out of the bottom and found...

at least a quarter-inch of foul-smelling GOO covering the bottom of the outside pot. The stench was horrendous. I don't know how to describe it. Not plain rot, not sulphur. I didn't recognize it. The roots were sticking out of the bottom and they looked very strange -- swollen, and covered in the smelly goo.

I immediately took the whole mess to the bathroom, took off the outer pot, rinsed the worst out, soaked it in hot water and lots of soap.

Then, I took the plant out of the put, pulled off as much of the potting mix as possible and cut off the bottom few inches of gross roots. What remained looked fine and healthy - white, strong, not compacted. I repotted it immediately in a new pot (threw out the old one with the rest of the mess). After thoroughly cleaning out the original outer pot, I put it back in that.

What on earth was that goo?? I'm relatively new to plants, but I've read several books and kept more than a dozen plants prospering for about a year now, and I've never come across a hint of anything like this. Is my new aspidistra going to be okay now that it's repotted, or should I keep it away from the others and/or throw it out??

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Probably a clump of that soil moist stuff. It is in diapers to absorb and hold moisture.
Like a jelly when wet. The nursery probably uses it for certain plants that cannot handle drying out at all...
Maybe some pot handler/nursery dude just tossed too much in, : )
In a clump.
Terrible stuff for some plants, but good for others.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 9:37PM
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Oooh, thank you, that makes tons of sense. And suggests that my poor plant will be okay after all! Strange to put it in an aspidistra, that shouldn't be left too moist at all, but it seems to explain exactly what I saw and smelled!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 9:47PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

No idea, never heard of anything like that.

I would have just returned it to the store, rather than risk keeping anything like that.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 8:18AM
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I believe your aspidistra will be okay now that you have repotted it. If the goo was the kind of water retentive gel mentioned above, there should be no danger when you have gotten rid of it, nothing that spreads to other plants. This stuff is not necessary for aspidistra, a plant that can handle some drought.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 10:02AM
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