Help!

distantshoreJune 6, 2013

Hi, everybody,

This is my first post here, and I believe this is the right place for me to check, as you have very friendly and knowleadgeble forums!

I've had a small house plant for about 10 years. It has been going strong most of the time (with a few ups and downs), but recently it started to lose its leaves, and it is in bad shape now, with only a few leaves left. We changed it to a new pot and everything, but it didn't seem to help. Today it looks like a couple of tiny new leaves are starting to grow, but I'm very concerned that I'm not following the right steps to save my little plant.

After all this time, I still don't know what kind of plant it is - I am attaching a picture of when it was doing very well, with lots of leaves. The leaves are green and small, and occasionally it has also tiny white flowers and red fruit (which I have been told are not tomatoes).

I am going to buy a new vase today and ask for some tips at the plant shop, but if anybody here can help with any suggestions, it would be great. Also, if you know what type of plant it is, I'd love to find out.

Sorry about the "wall of text", and thanks in advance for your help! I love my little plant, and I want it to get well again.

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hi & welcome to Gardenweb! The more info the better, no apologies needed.

It's some type of Solanum, maybe S. jasminoides. It is related to tomatoes, which are Solanum lycopersicum.

What is different about its' conditions from when it was doing well? If it had been a long time in the same soil, changing that as you've done is likely to help a lot. Maybe more light? It would probably be in a lot of sun outside in its' natural setting.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 10:15AM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

May you please post a picture of the plant in its present state. I agree on solanum, the flowers are unmistakable

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 10:22AM
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distantshore

Hi,

Thank you so much for your replies! I think you are absolutely correct - it's solanum, I found matching images online.

I am attaching an image of the plant in its current state now. I know, it is not doing well at all. There were not many changes in the conditions - it normally stays inside, on my window, where it gets sun in the morning. We have a balcony, and now that it's finally warmer, I can put it outside if it's going to help.

I bought a new pot (the best one I could find) and the person at the shop recommended using some tomato fertiliser too (you can see the one that I bought on the picture). We have just repotted the plant once again - I don't know if it's visible on the photo, but there was some white stuff appearing in the soil in the last couple of days, and we were very concerned about it.

I will post a second picture in the next message with details about the two tiny leaves that sprouted since yesterday.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 12:22PM
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distantshore

I don't know if it's very clear in the picture, but we spotted these two tiny leaves this morning - it gives me some hope that my plant will recover...

If you have any tips or suggestions, I will be extremely grateful. I know close to nothing about plants and gardening (my husband knows a bit more, so he's the one in charge of repotting and things like that), but I do love my plants, and (to cut a long story short) this one is special and has been with me for a long time, so I really hope I can help it recover.

Thanks a million for your help and for welcoming me to the board!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 12:27PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

It looks like there's some (harmless) mold forming in the pot because the organic material in the potting mix is decomposing (also harmless.) But, the excessively moist condition allowing/causing this to happen so visibly is not going to be good for the plant. Constantly moist roots can rot.

There are signs of life on the stem so that's good. If it was my plant, I would put it outside in a spot that gets at least a few hours of sun per day. Baking in the heat and sun will help it dry out and put an end to the mold. The existing foliage looks dead, so you don't need to worry about sunburn on leaves that aren't used to a ton of sun, like one usually would when putting a plant outside that's been inside.

When it has dried significantly, water it gently but thoroughly, so water runs out of the holes in the bottom (and is not trapped in a drain saucer, not necessary outside at all.) Then let it bake and dry again, but never so dry that leaves wilt, a sign of severe plant distress.

Struggling plants can be overwhelmed by fertilizer, I'd wait, but a tomato fertilizer is probably great for any Solanums when some is appropriate. Also, potting soil often has some time-release fertilizer in it, as well as some natural fertility. Newly repotted plants aren't usually fertilized, as a general rule.

This is a notoriously thirsty plant, although I killed a pretty variegated one a while back, by watering it too much/keeping it too moist. When/if you do put it in a lot of direct sun, keep a close eye on it at first, so you get an idea of how long it takes to dry out. You want it to dry, but not baked completely parched.

Here is a link that might be useful: Monrovia says it can take full sun

This post was edited by purpleinopp on Thu, Jun 6, 13 at 13:00

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 12:59PM
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distantshore

Hi, purpleinopp:

Thank you very much for your detailed reply - this is very helpful. We don't get sun here in the afternoon, but there is direct sunlight for a few hours in the morning, so I will put the plant outside in the balcony from tomorrow morning and will keep a close eye on it as you suggested.

By searching a bit more online, I think I've found the exact name of the plant - it's Solanum pseudocapsicum.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 1:12PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

That does match better, the flowers aren't in clusters. Good job investigating, there are a lot of Solanums.

Interesting species name, translates to fake pepper.

Hope your plant recovers well!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 2:17PM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

Cant help much with care, but wish your plant good health as well:-)

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 2:30PM
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distantshore

Thank you very much for your replies!

I will start leaving the plant outside in the sun for a few hours every morning from tomorrow. I will post a follow-up in a few days and let you know how things are going.

Thank you :)

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 4:11PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

May I also suggest you pls. cut off the yellowing stems. The yellowing portion will not recover, might as well just cut them off & discard them.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 6:01PM
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flowerpottipper

Most people manage to only keep Jerusalem Cherry for a short time (during the holidays when it's sold), but I'm very impressed you've managed to keep yours for ten years. I bought mine this last December and right now I have it outside. It did drop all of it's berries ( which are poisonious) and a lot of leaves, but it's grown back new leaves and has started to flower (but it must not be getting pollinated outside cause no cherries/tomatoes yet.

I really don't know how long a life span this type of plant is suppose to have, I always thought it was pretty short (I always thought most pepper/tomato plants live a short time)...I hope you find a way to save it, but if not, maybe it's time to retire the plant and buy a new one this next holidays.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 11:28PM
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flowerpottipper

Most people manage to only keep Jerusalem Cherry for a short time (during the holidays when it's sold), but I'm very impressed you've managed to keep yours for ten years. I bought mine this last December and right now I have it outside. It did drop all of it's berries ( which are poisonious) and a lot of leaves, but it's grown back new leaves and has started to flower (but it must not be getting pollinated outside cause no cherries/tomatoes yet.

I really don't know how long a life span this type of plant is suppose to have, I always thought it was pretty short (I always thought most pepper/tomato plants live a short time)...I hope you find a way to save it, but if not, maybe it's time to retire the plant and buy a new one this next holidays.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 11:29PM
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pelargonium_gw

If your plant does die, and you decide to buy a new one, remember that you can take cuttings and root them to get more plants. If you insist on trying to save the one you have, you should examine the roots to see if some of them are alive (look fresh and white.) Then cut off dead roots and the dead part of the stem, and water very carefully in the beginning, till you hopefully see new growth.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:18PM
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grabmebymyhandle(6 Kentucky)

Yes, always keep a spare!

It maybe better to actually find a good spot to leave the plant, they usually aren't very happy with daily moving, even it gets them much needed sun, they never really adjust if they get moved daily, also, if ur anything like me, u will forget it once and that it, 6 hours of full sun and its dead...

I wouldn't remove the dead either, quite likely the plant is resorbing just a bit of nutes from it... At this point a little maybe alot, once it's brown and dry it's dead then get it off there

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 10:53PM
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