Transplanting prize Calathea

cj_speciosa(7a)June 13, 2014

So this plant is my prize piece out of my whole collection of various house plants. It's been in the same medium for over three years and even though it's still doing fantastic, I'm wondering when and if I should "clean it up" a bit. Like go in and change the soil, trim some roots and get rid of some unwanted material. Thing is, I'm scared to ruin it.

Can anyone with experience in this realm chime and give me your opinion on that? I would be absolutely gutted if I destroyed this beautiful specimen.

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Sorry I don't have any advice. I just wanted to say WOWZERS that thing has grown!


    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 2:29PM
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It's stunning in person. Everyone who sees it has something to say about it. It certainly has a presence. It's about four feet across and almost three feet high.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 3:06PM
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Could you get a foliar feed for it? It doesn't look like it needs much doing to it. It's magnificent.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 3:13PM
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I've never even heard of that before. Thanks! Going to look into it.

You can't tell by the pic, but the more mature leaves to have brown edges. I do mist it a couple times daily, but they like it humid, so it's almost an impossible task.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 3:36PM
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MsGreenFinger GW(8 Ireland)

Calatheas can be fussy so just let it be. The dry edges aren't because it needs repotting. When I repotted mine (a zebrina) it lost many leaves before it bounced back with new growth.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 6:16PM
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The dry edges are because it's needs aren't being met 100%. In any type of house, the perfect humidity for this type of plant is almost impossible to achieve.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 6:59PM
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i looked thru my notes again.
it seems calatheas are sensitive to fluoride in the water - that can cause leaf-margin spotting.
also they need to be flushed regularly to prevent tap water salt/fertilizer accumulation: pour cool boiled water thru sev times in the sink amt=5 times the volume of the pot.
but it is generally normal for them to drop older leaves in spring. which starts with crisping tips/edges.
did you notice when they did this before? is now similar or different?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 9:01PM
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Here are pics of what the leaves are doing. It has nothing to do with the leave actually dying. They have been this way for quite some time. The new leaves look perfect, but after a month or so, they start browning like this.....

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 8:03AM
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Another shot......

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 8:04AM
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This is a relatively new leave. It's perfect.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 8:10AM
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This leave shows how the browning starts

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 8:11AM
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There was a time when this plant always had perfect leaves. Now things are changing, and I'm not sure what it could be, so that's why I was thinking of a transplant.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 8:12AM
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how do you fertilize? do you ever flush?
it could be a fertilizer burn. or your water - hard salts accumulation over time. give it a good flush - even just with tap water. pour in a quart or two slowly. wait 30min, pour thru another 1-2 qts. wait 30 min. then 3 time.
but of course, you won't be able to see if it worked or not until sev weeks pass. and it won't hurt anything either. just do it instead of reg watering.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 9:22AM
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i remember you asked last year about repotting too. i found the thread and reread it again. slickrick is about the only one with experience growing them and repotting them - that posted quite a bit there. and he uses black gold mix and self-watering pots. i water-wick too (self-watering) all of my water-loving plants.
combining his prev advice and more of my notes:
this plant resents root handling. if you decide to repot - you need to be very careful with handling the roots - trim only if they look rotten (brown, limp, hollow,etc). do not trim healthy white roots.
and they recommend to give it a pot that just fits the roots not more.
i don't know about cals, but on my stromanthe roots were abundant, very tangled and quite thin. bare-rooting it and washing all the soil out cut the root mass by half.
in retrospect i would never do it again. it slowed down the plant growth tremendously(and it is a slow grower too). i should've just divided it by cutting, handled minimally and uppotted (uppot=adding fresh mix on sides/bottom).
cals need very water retentive high-organic soil: which means peat. the ratio recommended: at least half peat, perhaps to 2/3 . the rest you can do perlite, bark, lava stones.
ready mix for african violets is very good to use as 'peat ingredient' in above.
so if it were up to me (not seeing your roots) - i'd just get a similar but 2" larger pot and uppot it.
perhaps, some roots are bad and if you trim them some soil will shake down too - perhaps it can even fit back in current pot. smaller seems better. but i would be ready with new pot and soil mix if you decide to pull it out to examine the roots.
there's another poster greentoe...(with numbers) - that bare-rooted his small 6" cal. ornatas into 5-1-1 bark based mix. and they are doing good - but they sulked and needed tenting until the roots reestablished). but his was a much smaller plant then yours.
i'd say be prepared for sulking, leaf drop, slow growth on major root disturbance.
another point i found: best to do rhizome division/repot in feb when plant is still dormant and not pushing out new growth.
do post more pics whatever you do. i am very interested to see the results.
here's more:
production guide mentioned that it prefers N 50% or more derived from ammonia/urea, NOT nitrates(synth ferts). and in general low N , low P formulations.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 10:22AM
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I'm thinking I'll try a flush. I've never done one with this plant.....ever. It's been growing in that pot since I've had it....three years or more. I fertilize with foliage pro every week or so. And I know I also have hard water.

So for this flush, I should take it out of saucer and pour in non-tap or filtered tap water, correct?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 10:35AM
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yep. lots of it. sev times.
dynogro foliage-pro is too hi in nitrogen for this plant, based on what i read. also from the spec sheet it contains about 30% of ammonia N to 60% of nitrates - not recommended 50% and up of urea/ammonia N. it def could contribute to salt build-up (hence reg flushing for 511 gritty).
i use 1:1:1 (like AV fert or osmocote TR 14-14-14) ratio instead. also it likes kelp based ferts. which you can use alternating.
look into coir-peat - there is a current post in cacti forum with a couple of links. it performs better then sphag-peat. has more wetting but less compaction and higher aeration. you could use it instead of peat for uppot-mix, perhaps.

This post was edited by petrushka on Sat, Jun 14, 14 at 11:12

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 11:09AM
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I have a bat flower which I am trying to get the hang of at the moment, and Im having the same problem. My humidity hovers around 50 percent now. But the new leaves shrivel from the tip while they grow out from the center of the plant, until, by the time they open, only a third of the leaf is left. It has a healthy root system though, and three healthy leaves. So I'll figure it out.

For your plant, it looks like the pores of the leaf are open due to the misting, but the air itself is drier than ideal. I believe thats what causes those brown spots on the edge of the leaf. You could try a cool-mist humidifier right next to the plant.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 12:16PM
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Thing is, the humidity is just above 60 now, and the conditions have always been the same in the house. Just for the past couple months the browning has become more pronounced which leads me to believe it has to be something else, like build up of some sort.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 12:49PM
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Oh, you are right then. It could very well be. Have you tried submerging the pot to the rim until the bubbles stop, and then letting it drain?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 1:31PM
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