Snake Plant Experts - Please Read

gardenburger1May 23, 2010

I live in an extremely bright condominium in California with floor to ceiling windows and a Snake Plant that hasn't done any growing in nearly a year.

What I'm confused by is that the tips and edges are brown - which implied underwatering. However lack of growth implies overwatering.

My condo unit is very bright, warm and dry. Plant soil dries up quickly. I've never watered more than once a week, and for some reason this plant soil stays wet a lot longer than the others.

But still, it doesn't grow. And still, its browning. I have included some pictures. Is the pot too small maybe?

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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

"What I'm confused ... However lack of growth implies overwatering."

I don't follow the thinking above. Lack of growth is just that, I don't see the implication of overwatering.

These brown tips aren't necessarily from underwatering, I think it can just be wear & tear on the plant.

Can't say what the problem is, suspect is an improper mix (not fast draining). Tho' it may be a big job, if it were mine, I'd turn it out, check the roots, clean up & remove any dried up or shriveled roots & replace it in the pot, maybe change the mix. Also, I'd smell it, see if it smells earthy or rotting.

These plants will grow in almost anything, but it's best to be fast draining. If you need to change the mix, maybe start w/ cactus & succulent mix & add 30-40% pumice or perlite, whichever you can find, or coarse grit, (but no peat or sand).

I've never grown one this big, let's see what other folks suggest.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 11:56PM
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gardenburger1

I was just commenting that I have noticed that proper watering results in great growth, but too much results in none. That's what I was referring to.

As for wear and tear on the plant - i dont know what you mean. It has sat stationary, untouched, for a year. There are some odd "saw shaped" cuts in it - which I assume are from some sort of bug. Never saw the thing, only its handywork. But the rest ... it doesnt get any wear and tear.

I think i will try giving it a slightly bigger pot and some less compacted soil.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 4:02AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

(I still disagree w/ your reasoning.)

Sans leaves once scarred, don't get better. If you've had the plant for a year, perhaps the marring happened before you got it.

Most insects don't bother Sans plants, from all I've observed, seen & read.

Those saw tooth marks (which I hadn't noticed before) look like dogs or cat chewed marks to me. I'm pretty sure that would have had to be a GIGANTIC insect to do that! Perhaps consider removing those leaves & using them to start new plants.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 3:15PM
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brodyjames_gw

Personally, I think you may be watering it too much. You have it in a glazed pot (as do I), so the water can't really evaporate. It will sit in the pot until the plant uses it. That's why your soil remains wet. That being said, I don't think that is the problem. I don't think there is a problem; your plant will do what it wants to do in it's own time. I only water mine twice a month from May through September. After that, MAYBE once a month (more like every 2 months). I have a large one like you have. When I brought it home, I repotted it and the shortest leaf at the time sprang up taller than the tallest leaf at the time. A new shoot even popped it's head out of the soil. Then the plant did nothing....for a year and a half. Starting this May, that little shoot has now sprung up to 5 inches tall and the rest of the plant does nothing.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 6:33PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I hadn't thought about the glazed pot (nice by the way). Does it have a drainage hole?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 9:12PM
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tommyr_gw

If you are watering once a week that MAY be too much. How often do you feed it? I get one new leaf per year on mine.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 9:25PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

In the top picture I think there is one new leaf slightly to the right of center. Correct? I would think that is about what one would expect with a plant this size in a pot this size. If you really want growth I think you want to re-pot.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 12:05PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

Check out this thread on Gardenweb: ideal sans conditions

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 11:48AM
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gardenburger1

Thanks folks! I got a new pot, same exact style, but about 50% larger. Kind of excited to see what it does. Yes this plant has had some new growth - when I sat it in direct sunlight for a couple weeks. Odd. Maybe it dried out more that way, also implying it had too much water.

With this new pot, I put about an inch or two of rocks at the bottom, and Ill put some rocks into the soil itself to improve drainage too. Yes both pots had holes at the bottom. I really think this will do the trick.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 10:01PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Pls. no, don't do the rocks, one may think that helps, but it doesn't really . Maybe for ballast, but not for draining; you need to have a fast draining mix, not rocks.

Also, I don't mean to be a kill joy here, but a 50% larger pot is a huge increase to make a one time (IMO too big a jump). This suggests even greater risk of rot &/or overwatering, so you might be extra careful.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 10:17PM
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gardenburger1

Okay Im having some issues. Hope someone can help. I put soil that was labeled as intended for "Bushes and Shrubbery" into this new larger pot. Now when i water it, the water literally sits at the top and doesnt even soak in. When it finally soaks in, within a day, the soil is BONE DRY again. This is going to ensure the soil is never too wet, but I am not sure if the plant is going to get watered if all the water goes immediately into the collection tray under the pot. Because that's what it seems to do. Is this the nature of shrubbery soil versus potting soil? And is the plant getting watered even tho its sitting in bone dry soil now 100% of the time?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 8:43PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You need to purchase some proper potting medium and get rid of the outdoor garden 'dirt' you've mistakenly used. Soil intended for outdoor use will never be appropriate for container gardening.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 11:14PM
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gardenburger1

"You need to purchase some proper potting medium and get rid of the outdoor garden 'dirt' you've mistakenly used. Soil intended for outdoor use will never be appropriate for container gardening."

Well I appreciate the opinion, but the plant seems to be sprouting up new shoots in 4 different locations. First time in over a year. And only after I replanted it in this. So let me get back to what I was actually asking: Does the plant still get the water absorbed in soil like this? When I used "proper potting medium" the soil never dried and plant didn't grow for a year. Now its going gangbusters. So I guess I'll just assume that it absorbs the water b4 it drains....

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 5:13PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Likely your plant is responding w/ abundant new growth because it has room to do so.

I don't understand your watering question about whether it absorbs nor not, thought you said the water pools in the saucer below, confusing.

Don't know what you mean specifically about 'proper medium' you had been using.

Our modest friend above who spoke to you about proper Potting medium may well be right. She has the experience to know whereof she speaks, but up that's up to you. You may have problems w/ this mix in the future even though the plant's thriving now.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 10:14PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The plant stalled because roots were so tight it couldn't extend (roots OR shoots - that's the first symptom of tight roots - a lack of extension.) I would divide the plant & repot the divisions in the same pot, or come as close to bare-rooting it as possible & move to a larger pot and get it into a durable, well-aerated soil. BTW - the symptoms you're likely to observe from over or under-watering and/or a high level of salts in the soil w/o excavating the roots are the same.

I should add that you need to purchase some proper potting medium and get rid of the outdoor garden 'dirt' you've mistakenly used. Soil intended for outdoor use will never be appropriate for container gardening.

It won't do any good for me to go into a long explanation about your soil choice because your soil will quickly compact, retaining much too much water and insufficient air to allow your plant to grow anywhere near its genetic potential. That you have a shoot or two showing now is no cause for a celebration; rather, it's something of an indication the plant has temporarily regained a little of it's ability to grow a little closer to its genetic potential, but a return to stagnant growth and before long continued decline is inevitable unless you get the issues affecting root health/function/metabolism straightened out.

Al

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 10:24PM
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melba6088(5)

Dear Gardenburger and Pirate Girl,
FYI
I know what gardenburger means by "I am not sure if the plant is going to get watered if all the water goes immediately into the collection tray under the pot. Because that's what it seems to do"

I can water & it goes to the drip tray making you think the soil is soaked. however, if I stick a wood stick into the soil, the soil is not soaked and is dry in many places even though the entire top appears wet.

To try to avoid over/under watering, I actually water by the cupful, and then take the water in the drip tray and pour it back into the cup and rewater the plant. I repeat this until the soil finally absorbs the enire cupful before going to the next cupful.

I notice this phenomenum most often with soil that has a lot of wood pieces in it. It seems the water just 'rolls" off the soil. In the past When I tried to water thoroughly by watering from the bottom until the soil at the top is wet, I ended up with the roots being too wet and losing those at the bottom of the pot. NOTE: Once the soil at the top is wet, I would suction out the excess water from the drip tray so the plant does not sit in water. Even so, when I go to transplant, the roots are then short(er) than they were when I purchased the plant. I don't water like this any more because I lost my plants faster.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 7:59PM
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melba6088(5)

Gardenburger, forgot to mention previously about the brown tips. Does your water have chlorine in it? If so, that could cause the brown on the leaves. If it does have chlorine, you should allow the water to sit (uncovered)several hours before using it to water plants.
Melba

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 8:03PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

It's not the "wood pieces" that are causing this phenomenon, it's the Peat Moss in the soil.
Peat Moss is a pre-collapsed particle. When hydrated, Peat expands; but then it shrinks as it dries,
which creates a gap through which water pours. Wood pieces, on the other hand, are not collapsed -
and, although hydrophobic when dry, wood does not expand or shrink as dramatically as Peat Moss.

This is but one reason to eliminate or greatly decrease one's use of Peat Moss in containers.

Josh

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 8:53PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi Melba,

Pls. go to your thread, which I just answered & one of the things I mentioned is perhaps you should study mixes & work on that for a while. The mix you're describing is a problem & so's the watering technique.

This is what I was referring to in the other thread. No amount of treating, or medicating the plants will help if the mix below is not corrected. (Hey Al, sound familiar, even if stated so simply?) ;>)

One may be skeptical, but once the mix is corrected, then the watering can be corrected, then the plant starts to thrive.

I just experienced this w/ some Easter cacti I recently bought (Exotic Angel brand) with their terrible mix which hardened off & after a bit I was watering every other day & still, the plant was thirsty.

I didn't want to deal w/ it, was pressed for time & patience & kept putting it off. The plants started to suffer; I didn't want to kill them.

I had to stop everything, soak these plants for 2 days, scrape ALL the mix off their roots & they're now just 3 small plantlets soaking in water to plump back up.

I corrected the first one a month ago & it's absolutely florishing now. But I didn't the 2nd one & am suffering now for not having done so.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 10:14PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I agree and can't stress enough that the soil is the foundation of every conventional container planting. No matter how hard you want it to be so or how hard you try, you'll never be able to build on a poor foundation what you can on a solid foundation. You MUST make the roots happy or it's impossible for the rest of the plant to be happy - you can't have a healthy plant if the roots are unhealthy. While it's true you can have attractive plants that grow well in water-retentive soils with attention to details, it's also true that you cannot expect your plants to grow with the vitality they would have (all other conditions being equal) in a soil that is NOT water retentive. Water-retentive soils also narrow your margin for error considerably, and, in the end, require more effort to maintain a happy plant than lighter soils.

Al

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 11:30AM
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melba6088(5)

Dear Pirate girl and Al
Thanks for input about soil.

The type of soil with the wood chips and peat moss is ALWAYS soil that is in the pot when I purchase the plant new, so one would think this is the appropriate mix. Even so, (I eventually need to transplant and find I have lost roots.)
(I don't care for this type of soil it because it is confusing, troublesome watering,) and I struggle with it looking moist but being dry and/or watering as I explained earlier and finding the soil too wet and eventually diminishing down into the pot.

Eventually I transplant/because more soil is needed (It dries out too quickly). I usually have shallow roots at that time, sometimes caused by overwatering & sometimes caused by underwatering.

I have tried many different soils in my transplanting and have experienced more bad (compacted soil) than good results. I have used appropriate soils recommended for specific types of plants & still struggle. Most recently I have tended to use lighter soils which evidently contain more peat than I like. However, Using this with my clear pots has given me my best results.

Pirate girl, I have washed roots of many, many plants when transplanting some plants I was trying to save and/or nurture. Some thrived, some didn't. I don't know reasons why. Maybe if I did, I would't be online writing now. :)

Al, after thinking about my experiences, I personally beleive & and agree "the soil is the foundation of every conventional container planting". I think I just cannot get it right.

Thanks, Melba

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 1:32PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Well I have lots of experience in these matters, and I think you can get it right ;o) ..... and I'm pretty certain I can help if you want to invest some time and a little effort. Ball's in your court.

Al

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 4:36PM
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melba6088(5)

Thanks Al for the offer of help.
I would like to take you up on your offer at a later date.
Just had my yearly physical and have a slew of tests and referral appointments to schedule and keep. (8 so far).

I would like to contact you when I am ready. My email is
MsMel608@aol.com. If you don't mind emailing me your email address, I would put you in my address book. I am new to this website and still not familiar with the navigation and fear I might not be able to locate thread when I am ready.

NOTE: If you decide to send me email, Please put "Al the Snake Plant Buddy" as the subject... I usually do not open emails if I do not recognize the sender.
Thanks, Melba

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 6:22PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

'Please put "Al the Snake Plant Buddy" as the subject... I usually do not open emails if I do not recognize the sender.'

If I do that, aren't you afraid you'll get bit when you open it? ;o)

I'll watch for your mail or a call. Take good care .... and I'm sure every one reading this thread is hoping that all your tests are favorable and you get booted out of the offices of the physicians you were referred to because they discover you're in fine fettle.

Al

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 3:06PM
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neilby

Hello again. My snake plant blades are splitting vertically. I have researched the plant diligently and have followed advice about light watering in winter, (4 week intervals.) No fert. Moderate lighting. Tallest leaves 14 inches. 4 stands of leaves together. Pot surface about 10 inches wide. 10 or 12 inches deep. Most blades under a foot. Young blades in each of the four clusters or stands, measuring 3 inches and up. I am concerned about the splitting. The fifth cluster fell over and out of the pot a few days ago. It was the tallest, probably 15 inches.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 2:07PM
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thirdyearbonsai(Zone 4, VT, USA)

Definitely cut down on the watering in winter. I usually don't water my snake plants at all between December and February, and I water very little in the fall and early spring.

Check out this article from www.houseplantblog.com with more information on Snake plants, and propagating them from cuttings. Lots of good tips on houseplants as well!

http://www.houseplantblog.com

Here is a link that might be useful: Snake plants

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 9:01PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I too was watering them little in winter 'til just recently, when I learned to do otherwise.

I was given a Sans. which had leaves folded almost shut which turned out to be from thirst.

Since increasing my watering some of my Sans. in Winter, 3 different pots of Sans. have each put on new growth since December, new leaves. In particular one put out a new leaf in December which has grown 6.5 inches since then, slowing down in the last month.

My sense is that if I hadn't watered them more they wouldn't have had these growth spurts.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 9:52AM
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thirdyearbonsai(Zone 4, VT, USA)

You know, an NYC apartment building may actually be an acceptable zone in which to water your Sansevieria. In my experience in NYC it can easily be 80 degrees in an apartment in the middle of winter. If this is the case, by all means continue watering (just make sure they dry out completely between waterings :P ). It sounds like you are doing just fine pirate girl.

If you haven't already try propagating some new plants from leaf cuttings! It's really easy, especially if your home is very warm. Check out this article I wrote on Sansevieria cuttings if you haven't already.

-3rd yr.

Here is a link that might be useful: Snake plant cuttings

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 3:54PM
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