Spider plant not doing to well-- help

Lamora(4)September 17, 2011

Hi, so we moved into an upstaris apt,(finally!) lots of light, filtered by a bay window that I put my spider plant next too. It is a combonation of 2 types of plants, one is long and stands up straight, that one dont seem to be having any problims. The other one, same pot, (it came that way when I bought it) is a curly plant. The curlyness is going away, and is wilting a lot. It isnt turning brown, cept for all the tips again. The soil is drying out some on top.But still very moist in the middle. I dont know what to do for it. I keep thinking I put it in a too big of a pot, would putting it in a smaller pot help? or would it put it in kind of a "shock"?

Is a cloudy day the same as "filtered" sunlight? Also, would distilled water be better for it than city water?

Any advice would be very helpful and apprecieated. You have all been so helpful so far, Thanks to all of you :)

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Some info from something I posted previously:
While necrotic leaf tips or margins can occur in this plant from over/under-watering, in fact, it's much more common for the actual cause to be a high level of soluble salts in soils (accumulating from fertilizers and tap water). It's also commonly reported that this plant is particularly intolerant or fluoride, but it's still more common for the cause of leaf burn to be a high level of solubles, to which fluoride can be a contributor, than it is to be fluoride itself. WHEN there is a high level of salts in the soil, low humidity can also be a contributor, but low humidity alone rarely presents an issue, it must be in combination with a high level of soluble salts in the soil or either over/under-watering.

Of course, you cannot correct the already burned tips (they won't 'heal'), but you can take steps to keep it from happening in presently unaffected foliage.

A) Most important, and I can't stress this enough, is to use a soil that drains very freely. This allows you to water copiously, flushing the accumulating salts from the soil each time you water.

B) Fertilize frequently when the plant is growing well, but at low doses - perhaps 1/4 the recommended strength. This, in combination with the favorable watering habit described above, will keep soluble salts levels low, and keep levels from rising due to the accumulative effect we always see when we are forced to water in sips when plants are in water-retentive soils.

C) When watering, using rainwater, snow melt, water from your dehumidifiers, or distilled water also eliminates the soluble salts in your tap water and will go a long way toward eliminating or minimizing leaf burn.

D) If you make your own soils and use perlite, be sure the perlite is rinsed thoroughly, which removes most of the fluorides associated with it's use.

E) Allowing water to rest overnight doesn't do anything in the way of helping reduce the amount of fluoride (the compounds are not volatile), and it only helps with chlorine in certain/few cases, depending on what method of chlorination was used to treat your tap water.


    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 11:08AM
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Lamora. What size pot was your curly Chlorophytum 'Bonnie' Spider in prior to repotting and what size is its new pot?

Well-draining soil is important, moreso if a pot is too large.
As I have stated in numerous threads: A plant potted in too large a pot, requires extra soil. When a plant is watered, soil takes longer to dry. Many people tend to over-water...end result..root rot and death.
If your new pot is more than 4" largere than its previous pot, please water when soil is dry to touch. Especially during grey, winter months.
Last, some plants stop growing 'foliage' when over-potted.

Plants are best repotted in spring, when growth resumes. Roots spread out once the sun is brighter/shining.
Most plants go dormant or slow down in winter.

That is the reason authors who write plant books suggest repotting in spring.
I guess, after years growing plants, repotting and proper watering comes naturally. :)

There is no definate way to determine whether or not a cloudy day is equivalant to filtered sunlight.

Since you're in WA, placing your Spiders in the brightest windows during months is better than a shady spot.
In low light, Spider Plant leaves grow narrower than a bright area.

I learned long ago, water kept in containers, at a minimum of 24 hours, prevent Spider Plant leaf tips from browning. It can't hurt to try, at no cost. Toni

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 5:46PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I disagree entirely with the idea that any plant stops growing foliage when "over-potted". To begin with 'over-potting' is a rather ambiguous term that is widely used w/o qualification. We can never make the assumption that a plant will be over-potted if we increase container size dramatically unless we have direct knowledge of how well or poorly the soil drains and how much air it will hold at container capacity (immediately after watering). BEST growth (greatest increase in biomass) is realized when plants' roots are unrestricted and they are potted in VERY large pots in a very fast draining, well-aerated soil. Nurserymen and greenhousemen are always diligent about bumping plants up to larger containers before roots fill the pot because they understand it maximizes growth and allows plants to grow with greater vitality than their counterparts with restricted roots.

I'm not suggesting that everyone should grab a bag of Miracle-Gro and fill the largest pot they have and put a plant in it, because it takes an understanding of the relationship between pot size and soil type to determine what is appropriate. Those growing in sluggish soils that retain excess water (like Miracle-Gro) should avoid over-potting because of its potential negative effects on root health and ultimately plant health when you inevitably over-water. Those growing in well-aerated soils that hold no or little perched water needn't be concerned about 'over-potting' and can grow tiny plants, even cuttings in very large volumes of soil.

Plants that are potted in soil volumes too large to be appropriate because the soils are excessively water-retentive suffer all the symptoms associated with poor root health and metabolism only when they are over-watered. It's not the soil volume that determines whether a plant is over-potted, it's soil consistency - water retention. For example, a plant in a quart container moved to a 3 gallon container of Miracle-Gro soil would be inappropriate, while the same plant moved to the same container filled with a fast draining and well-aerated soil would be entirely appropriate.

This is a critically important point for plants with foliage easily spoiled (spider plants, peace lilies, Chinese evergreens .......) because through suppression of root function and metabolism, the heavy soils inhibit the plant's ability to move water to the most distal parts of the plant, those being leaf tips and margins. The result is the symptoms Lamora describes.

As far as repotting houseplants in spring - I'll avoid it for 95% of the most commonly grown houseplants except in extreme emergencies because plants are usually at their lowest level of energy reserves in spring, though geography does play a part in decision making. A plant's energy reserves plus it's current ability to produce energy (food/photosynthate) determine how long it takes the plant to recover from a repotting. It is definitely to the plant's advantage to recover from a repotting asap because it reduces the duration of vulnerability to insects and disease pathogens; and since a plant's energy reserves and ability to produce energy are greatest by far during its period of most robust growth (usually July & August, except for the winter growers), it is much more prudent to work WITH the plants energy flow and growth cycle by repotting immediately before robust growth - usually June/July.

Potting up, which doesn't include root pruning and complete or partial soil removal and replacement - only situating the plant in a larger pot and filling in around the edges and bottom with more soil - can be undertaken at any point in the growth cycle, but is also better undertaken during the same period that is best for repotting - summer. This is because a plant growing robustly during the warm months uses much more water for respiration, which minimizes the potential for ill effects of over-potting - in case the grower is using a heavy soil.


    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 7:12PM
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