Help me save Scheff..

tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)October 23, 2012

I just dont k now what to think anymore. Scheff is losing leaves and stems every week. The plant is about a year old, maybe a year and a half. It did great at my old home...and I mean great. It had brighter indirect light. It seemed to do fine here when we moved with FIL, but it seemed Scheff went unhappy when I changed the soil...Why. Can I save it. Here is before and after pics.

This pic is taken 8/22/12

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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Taken 9/22/12

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 11:47AM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Taken today 10/23/12
(weird that they all are taken a month apart huh? no i didnt do that intentionally)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 11:49AM
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Tiff, what a difference!

You said your Scheff is now receiving lower light. Is there a brighter window Scheff can be placed? Or is it possible to place in window w/artificial light?
A regular bulb makes a big difference...

What about other plants recently repotted? How are they doing? Toni

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 12:24PM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Toni. It is a little brighter in my room. THe Scheff is in the kiddos room right now. Other than that, I am going to mention to FIl plant is dying and I need to move it. The back of the house gets brighter light so I see if I can move it there. Here is the light the kiddos room gets. My room gets a few shades brighter, thats it. :( :(

Depressing isnt it?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 12:46PM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Here is a second picture.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 12:52PM
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Tiff..before I comment about plants...

Your children are cute together. I love the crib..Nice wood, looks very sturdy.

Your Dracaena? and Pothos are happy.

Hopefully, your FIL will allow you to move your Scheff to a brighter location. Do you think he'll say yes? It doesn't take much space so he should give you the go ahead. I would..:)

BTW, what type of soil/medium was your Scheff in before and after potting?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 1:31PM
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Tiff - What a lovely family you have, and such a nice bright room in which to grow many plants to surround them with clean-air benefits and green-life love. Arbs, arboricolas (the name by which dwarf schefflera is known in the industry) adapt to fairly low light, so that should not be the problem. If I were to walk up to your plant to try to determine its problem, the first thing I would do would be to check the soil moisture. Even though it appears that you have repotted into a more porous soil medium, it may still be possible to keep the roots too wet. I would suspect this first because arbs that are in medium that doesn't dry out sufficiently look just like yours, slowly dropping leaves. I would check soil moisture with a bamboo skewer pushed gently into the soil, then pulled up; when you run it between your fingers, you should feel only the barest trace of moisture, in other words, the soil should be almost dry, before you water again.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 3:05PM
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If moving it doesnt work out, I would do a Lamp. Just make sure the bulb isnt close enough to burn it.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 4:15PM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Toni, Thank you. They are a riot. Today it was like a 3 ring circus though and I was in the middle. AGH! My oldest, Jake, LOVES his little brother Luke. And Luke loves watching Jake. They are just awesome to watch together. I moved the plant to the dining room. I didnt ask as he is in FLA for business this week. He shouldnt care at all. It is his evil GF I need to worry about. She is about the most miserable person you can meet....and I will leave that at that. ;)Oh, that is a peace lily...not a dracaena. And Scheff was in some random soil before. I dont even know if it was MG. I think it was an off brand that was inexpensive. But it was plain old soil.

@ficus, Thank you as well. I am so happy to have two boys. Although I originally wanted one of each, I dont think a girl would have suited me well. HA! I thought too that they were adaptable to light but I dont think so. I changed the medium to 5:1:1 a month ago. I really do not think it is a moisture issue as I have been checking the moisture with skewers. The skewer has been ever so slightly damp in the top 95% of the pot and the bottom 5% is moist...not real moist, but kind of moist... so i really dont think that is it either. And I cant believe you think that room is well lit. Dont let the window fool you. That was just caught like that in the photo. I consider it to be a medium-low lit room.

@Polly, I hope moving it works. I hope I didnt wait too long and I can save it. I will be so super bummed because it was doing so super dooper fantastic at the previous home. *sigh*

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 7:56PM
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silentsurfer(6A OH)

hi Tiff,
interesting,, ive never even tried to grow plants more than a foot away from the windows ledge before,,, :/

in my limited (recent) experience the only 'real' issues ive had (other than being crazy brutal w/their roots, lol) were the ones i Bought as severely Overwatered from the store, even one of those i subsequently let dry out to what i'd call 'significantly' has recently begun coming around again...
im at a loss otherwise, but, Interested,, i think ive about (7) of these now, im determined to make something of em,,
keep us posted Pls, wishing you the best :)

I thought Polly said, 'just Burn it' :x
...that'll teach me to 'breeze thru' the other replies! lol

so thats the boogers eh? sweet! hehe

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 9:44PM
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Its easy to misread when your rushing. LOL I have done that before

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 10:38PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Agree with the above suggestions, more light, more dry. Compared to some places I've lived, that looks like a good amount of light to me, too.

This is kind of anal or picky, whatever, but I'd also drape the Pothos across the dresser. It would be so easy for one of the boys to pull it over, on top of their head at worst case scenario, but definitely a mess wherever it lands on the carpet.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 9:49AM
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Well your Scheff seems to be in a good environment with good vibes, that should be a good start for it. But I do think the problem is in the soil. Scheffs often grow as epiphytes or lithophytes with many of their roots exposed to air. They like hunid air around the roots, but not a lot of water. And as with many other epiphytes, you need to be sparing with fertiliser. They often wil be found under the rainforest canopy where light levels are low, but they strive to get out into the full sun where you will find them most of the time.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 9:53AM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Ok Tropic, what do you suggest I do then based off what I said aboue. It is in 511 mix and isnt moist...Heck when it was in the plain old soil before I think I watered it once a week. I also did fertilizer sticks once a month I think in the old soil...

Purple, I actually did wrap the Pothos up on the dresser last night. I didnt like it hanging in there near Jakes bed. The kid is adventurous and my luck he will pull it.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 10:07AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

FWIW - I grow all my scheffs in the gritty mix & water them on a schedule right along with all my other plants.

Scheffs do not like to get too dry before you water them. That causes drought stress in scheffs just like it causes drought stress in other trees grown as houseplants. That they hold onto their leaves a little better than most other houseplant/trees under drought conditions is not an indication they like it - a leap the wise will avoid making. Scheffs DO respond poorly to soils that retain a saturated layer of soil at the pot bottom for extended periods, so for best results, avoid them.

I'm not sure how T's soil was made or what's in it; that's not as important as how much water it holds. If it can be kept constantly moist or damp instead of soggy, the soil is highly appropriate.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 10:24AM
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Al certainly has some beautiful arbs, and its hard to argue with successful experience. However, I have also had much success and experience with arbs, and from it I can make a few observations. The arb, even more than its full-size cousin schefflera, is incredibly adaptible. They can grow in full sun, as well as medium-low light. BTW, Tiff, if your kids' room has a window, even a north window with trees outside, it would still be considered a medium light space.

If it were growing in conventional potting medium, I would have to say that keeping it constantly moist (or damp, if you like), would be the kiss of death, that an arb that looks like yours is exhibiting signs of overwatering, and that your soil probe should show the soil almost dry to very slightly damp in the bottom of the pot. Allowing it to aerate to this point will not cause drought stress. I can say this because over the course of 30 years working with plants, this is what I've observed over and over.

Of course, if your potting medium is more coarse than conventional mixes - by conventional I mean standard soilless mixes - such as Al uses, this may not apply. But if I had an arb that is reacting like yours is, I would still try watering it less, or less often. I am starting to
repot some of my plants into '5-1-1' or 'gritty' mixes, because I love to experiment, so maybe in a couple years I'll have more direct experience to toss into the ring.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 12:46PM
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FW. I've heard people say Scheffs do well in shade, but I must disagree..'sorry.' :)

During summer, my Scheffs are placed outdoors..west/south and north other words, direct sun.
They do wonderful, grow like weeds.
This summer, they were left indoors, west and north light..they didn't grow half as much, plus, I'm unhappy with this years progress.

As I said above, I've heard people say Scheffs AND Ficus do well in shade, but I disagree.

I once worked at a plant store. We'd get huge shipments, various plants. One summer we received several Ficus B's and Schef standard trees..They were left outside in direct sun. Foliage was vivid green and so very full. They literally looked better after being delivered to us.

Smaller specimens were brought inside..(bright light.) Although they were healthy, they didn't compare to those outdoors.
Just my opinion.

Tiff...I imagine having 2, 3 or more children would always be a 3-ring

It's great they get along. Hopefully, they'll remain close as brothers should.
Brings back memories..why does time go so fast???

Sorry about that..,eyes aren't what they once were..Could have sworn your PL had

Ha, yes, there's always one miserable person per family. I know a few, or did.
Well, you are family, she isn't..unless they marry you have more rights than she.

Since your Scheff was recently repotted, give it time and if possible, a little more light.
Some plants are fussier than others..

Good luck...

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 1:22PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I keep all my plants (other than cacti but including succulents) damp/moist at all times because drought stress is something to be avoided - period. No plant ever shows it's appreciation for stress because the definition of stress for plants is a plant operating at or near the limits of it's ability to cope with its cultural conditions. We want plants to be in that 'sweet spot' as much as possible - the right amount of moisture, light, fertility, and the right temperature. A dry soil is assuredly out of the sweet spot.

Scheffs are not unlike most other houseplants in that they like to dry down well past the point where any perched water in the soil has disappeared, so the question is how dry is it safe to let scheffs get? When the soil first feels dry at or near the drain hole, it's time to water. Letting the plant go another day, when it's at that point, invites stress. When soils first feel dry to the touch, plants are still generally able to extract water from soils. They're better at extracting it in vapor form than we are in feeling it. The cush is small, at that point, there is a small % of water still available, so the ideal time to water is about when the soil first feels dry deep in the pot or just before.

Scheffs and hundreds of other plants we grow as houseplants thrive in soils that can be kept constantly damp/moist, so neither damp or moist would ever be a problem for scheffs or any of the other trees commonly grown as houseplants. The problem is, the only way to keep plants evenly damp/moist is to use an appropriate soil that you can water frequently without it becoming soggy, or water in sips, which has its own set of problems. 'Damp/moist' isn't a problem - 'soggy' is a problem, and one that the plant can't adapt to using conventional methods.

Using most bagged mixes presents a quandary because before you can get to ideal soil conditions you have to endure a period of botheration. You water well & the soil is now soggy - impeding the function of at least a fraction of the roots and killing fine roots that happen to find themselves growing in the now anoxic pot bottom. You have to WAIT until the excess water evaporates or the plant (whose root system is having difficulty absorbing water for the lack of O2) uses it. THEN, the plant can use some of its energy to replace the lost roots until you water again and the cyclic problem is renewed ....... so it's never the damp/moist that causes a problem - we LOVE damp/moist. The soils I use are all built with the intention that soggy is a bane and damp/moist a boon. I don't have to wait for a week for soils to "aerate" to the point they're now healthy for plants because they're well-aerated at container capacity - immediately after fully saturating them. That's why they're so much more productive and easier to grow in than soils that hold so much excess water.

I'd ask the question - where does the 'GOOD' needle point on the imaginary moisture meter? We have DRY on the left, DAMP/MOIST in the middle, and SOGGY (WET) on the right. There is nothing else I can see that fits in between the extremes of DRY and SOGGY (WET) that would be a more appealing choice than DAMP/MOIST, so how can damp/moist be the kiss of death? Damp/moist as a wrung out sponge is about as ideal as you can get for almost everything we grow in containers as common houseplants, other than cacti at certain times.

The problem is, damp/moist is difficult to achieve with anything approaching consistency unless you have a soil that retains most of its moisture INSIDE soil particles, leaving the space between particles full of air ..... Consistently ideal moisture conditions are always linked to ideal soils or the growers ability to deal with the adversity inherent in less than ideal soils. The closer the soil is to ideal, the better will be it's ability to provide ideal moisture conditions, simply because that's what defines an ideal soil. Ideal soils aren't defined by a specific recipe, they're defined by their physical properties and how well they are able to provide the most favorable balance of air and water in the rhizosphere.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 3:52PM
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Al, I had to dredge up the meters.

Perhaps I've misunderstood your comment regarding moister meters..

Are you saying moister meters only display dry, moist and wet?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 4:12PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I made up an 'imaginary' moisture meter to make the point that it's really difficult to replace evenly damp or moist as the ideal state of moisture retention for a container medium. Soggy - bad ...... Dry - bad ...... Damp/moist - good, like baby bear's porridge. ;-)


    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 4:45PM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Toni. I have to agree with you, it needs more light. It had more light previous and it thrived, and that was in regular potting soil and I am sure the soil was kept wet as I knew nothing then...

So, maybe actually it is a mix of the two then. Needs to be more wet and needs more light. I guess we will see. I just hope so bad it bounces back since this is the first plant i ever had and I was doing sooo good with it.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 9:09PM
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silentsurfer(6A OH)

i gotta tells ya's, im leaning towards what wrangler says,,,
BUT, mine are simply pottedUP, Or 'stock plants' (as purchased), in an fairly NON-porous mix similar to what they came in (almost pure peat in several cases), fairly 'conventional potting medium' if you want,, so i would expect that my 'underwatering', is merely (an attempt) at retaining a fairly 'constant' moisure level thru-out the containers 'entirety',, (in as much as the medium will allow).

unlike Al's typically (noted) experiences (schedules?), mine seem to vary in their watering needs (requirements) despite their 'reasonably' similar soil types,,, note that i attribute (some,much?) of this to the fact they are also in (significantly) varyingly~Lit locations.

all i can really say at this point is: ive been kinda 'allowing' them (all) to go dryer than i would normally think i should, then soaking them. seems to be working 'okay', however i DO have minor yellowing, dropping leaves semi-regularly on about 1/2 of the (7) im tending,,,, but dont go by this, Trust YOUR meter. :)

it must be like beating a dead horse at times, but even still, now, every time i read your analyzations~ on soil structures, and their pertinence (and) Importance to growing container plants, it just makes soo much sense. :)
3 Mnths ago i wouldve Never Imagined roots needed aeration. soo looking forward to the 'seasonal-allowances' for repotting ALL my plants in more porous mediums. :)

Tiffany, whats w/the pot?
some kinda self-watering container m guessing?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 9:57PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

My thing is to try to help people understand how plants and soils really work. I think it's important to understand that evenly and continually or consistently moist or damp is a highly desirable state of (soil) water retention for plants and, a worthy goal for any grower to shoot for. Overly wet (soggy) or dry are not (for common houseplants other than cacti).

The ideal state of water retention for T's plant would be found in a soil damp enough that there is a microscopic film of water on all colloidal (soil particle) surfaces and water vapor between the soil particles but no interparticulate (between the particles) water. By anyone's standard, that could accurately be 'termed moist or damp, not soggy or dry'. Achieving that state of moisture retention is what I strive for whenever I make a soil, simply because it's such a worthy goal.

I don't look at plants the way a lot of people do. For instance, when FW says that scheffleras are incredibly adaptable, I know they're actually not. Humans adapt - plants react. We adapt to growing plants in the desert by providing irrigation and other conditions that allow plants to grow. If plants were able to adapt, we'd have Coleus growing on the dunes w/o our help. We adapted to life at the north pole by building igloos and snacking on whale blubber, but a coleus can't even adapt to growing at 40* (w/o being in decline).

T's schefflera can't 'adapt' to low light conditions. That implies that after a length of exposure to low light the plant would grow as well as a plant in high light, but we know that to be untrue. It can't adapt to too much or too little fertilizer, or too much/little water, to too hot or too cold temperatures ........ it simply cannot adapt - only react.

Sure, plants are variably tolerant to different degrees of adversity, meaning they can GROW under less than ideal conditions, but the decline in vitality exhibited when plants are grown under increasingly adverse conditions is actually the measure of a plant's inability to adapt. Understanding that concept is an important part of understanding why it's to our advantage to try to reduce limiting factors to the best of our ability - because plants CAN'T adapt, only react. We always pay a price for too wet, dry, bright, dim, hot, cold, fertile, infertile ........ Avoiding the extremes and going for the sweet spot - that's what defines our ability as growers.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 7:54AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Al, following this also, thanks for your efforts! Every time I read something, it makes more & more sense, even though I thought I already "got it."

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 9:25AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

SS mentioned something similar above, and added ".... even though it's like beating a dead horse", but sometimes people need to hear things over and over or consider it from a number of angles. The thing is, because I depend so heavily on science for what I offer, everything fits together nicely, and the better you understand it, the more sense it makes.

Sometimes what seems like parsing words, just a nuance, or a slightly different way of looking at something, is a more significant revelation than it seems on its face. Understanding things like the difference between adaptability and tolerance or vigor and vitality can make big changes in the way we look at growing.

I think what I often try my best to do is define the hurdles, then offer ways to get over them. That, I can do - I just can't make everyone want to jump. ;-)


    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 10:07AM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

@ Al. I love everything you always have to say and appreciate so much how you try to help me understand I guess the frustrating part of this sometimes is...whatever happened to just owning plants and watering and fertilizing them. I am sure my mom or grandma didnt use moisture meters in their plant growing days.

With that being you suggest I buy a meter? Are they pricey? I am going to adjust the water needs of the plant and the light. Hope that makes a difference and hope it isnt too late.

@Joe. Yes it is a self watering pot. HOWEVER, I do not use it that way, EVER. It was the only pot available at Walmart when I repotted this plant and it was early early in my plant days. I will now most likely switch everyoneover to clay when it is time to repot in the spring...if they warrant a repot.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 11:10AM
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Al, thanks for the explanation.
I can visualize the imaginary guage. :)

Tiff, if you feel a guage will help, go for it. Meter's differ in price..

When I bought my guages, they weren't the cheapest but certainly not the most expensive either. I believe the cost at that time started at 9.99.
Haven't priced meters in years, so you'd have to research costs.

BTW, if possible, purchase two to check for accuracy. If numbers differ, return both guages.

Also, prongs must be kept cleaned. A soiled prong can alter actual numbers and graphs.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 12:01PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

"Whatever happened to just owning plants and watering and fertilizing them?" That practice is very much alive. In fact, other than regular root maintenance, that's exactly what I do for my plants - I water and fertilize them - though I DO take them indoors in Sep when the weather turns cool and put them outdoors when the weather returns to something more accommodating. That's it. If simple is what's longed for, it hardly gets any easier than that. We can be successful with simple, but it's highly unlikely that we'll be successful without being purposefully engaged - that's where the difference lies.

I think there are 3 ways to approach growing. The best way is to learn how & why things work the way they do, so we have at the ready the knowledge we need to react to any situation that comes along. That's what I try to encourage whenever I can and why I post in detail - so those who want to understand, can.

The next best way is to follow the guidance of someone who knows how & why things work as they do and can offer advice that has proven to yield consistently good results. Still, it's nowhere near as dependable as being able to think on our feet.

The worst way is trying to take the bits & pieces of fragmented information we glean from a very wide variety of sources and try to incorporate them into a plan, not knowing how to combine them or even why we should. Generally that leads to disorder and chaos, and ends up adding a large measure of frustration and disappointment to the growing experience, frustration and disappointment that no amount of simplification can fix. Simple is good, but simple alone doesn't guarantee success or that we'll even be satisfied with the fruits of our efforts. Simple with a workable plan can put us on the right road, but without some sort of plan/direction/understanding, we end up in the unenviable position of having to depend more on luck than knowledge or skill.

Like the imaginary moisture meter, there is an imaginary 'control' meter. Stick the probe into the middle of a high % of the growers' growing experience and it will read 'reasonably well-controlled'. A few growers will be on the extremes, those being 'very well controlled' and at the opposite, 'chaotic'.


I've mentioned several times in the last few days that I think the inexpensive combination meters that measure light/pH/moisture are a poor investment. I wouldn't invest in any tool that measures pH because A) you don't need it, and B) they are worthless unless they can be calibrated against a solution of known pH. The 'moisture meter side of them doesn't measure moisture at all. It measures the electrical conductivity of the soil solution. A probe inserted into a clean cup of distilled water reads DRY. Add a little salt or fertilizer, and suddenly the water becomes WET. Your finger or a wood dowel is a more reliable indicator.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 2:27PM
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Al...not sure I understand your explanation why moisture guages don't work....

Have you ever seen birds, etc w/prongs that chirp when soil is dry? Prongs are kept in soil...when soil dries, birds chirp..
What's your opinion? Toni

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 2:54PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Ok - when you can put the probe of one of the cheap meters in distilled water and have it read DRY, obviously something's amiss. Adding a little salt or fertilizer to the 'dry' water will cause the needle to move to WET or MOIST. The reason is, these meters ACTUALLY test the amount of electrical current the soil solution can conduct conduct - NOT how much water is in the soil. More salt = more conductivity = a wetter reading = very inaccurate. Even for the newest of newbies and those who haven't the slightest clue about what constitutes good watering practices, they're so inacurrate as to be misleading. Their readings vary more with the salt levels in the soil than they do with actual moisture levels. A heavy soil with low level of salts will read DRY when the soil is still quite moist, and a barely damp soil with a high salt content will read wet when actually fairly dry.

I haven't seen the novelty chirping indicators you're referring to because I pay little attention to moisture meters. I have no need of them because I never have a concern that I might have over-watered, and because it's virtually impossible for me to over-water, I can water while there is still quite a bit of moisture in my soils with no ill effects. I suspect they work on the same principle as the others and as such would be equally inaccurate.

Better are wood dowels or bamboo skewers ....... or if you don't trust your own fingers, borrow a digital biosensor from a friend/relative/stranger on the street. They're all more reliable than the cheap meters.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 3:24PM
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Al..but most use tap water, right? What does distilled water have to do with it?

If a plant was never fertilized would soil contain salt?

Novelty chirping birds are usually placed on display @ the check-out counter for customers to see while standing in line.

Al, maybe you didn't see my post. My guages were purchased years ago, now collecting dust. :)

As I recall, I purchased guages for light and pH...I rely on my own senses when it comes to watering.

Al, I know you'll find this hard to believe, lol, but my mediums dry fast..too fast. Including plants in larger, 10" plus containers.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 4:55PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It doesn't matter what type of water is used - the distilled water example was just to illustrate how inaccurate they can be = equally inaccurate no mater what kind of water is used. It's not just fertilizer salts that would affect how wet/dry the meter reads, it's ANYTHING dissolved in the soil solution.

It's probably good that your gauges are gathering dust - your instincts and fingers are better measurers of soil moisture than the gauges. The cheapo gauges are also horribly inaccurate as a device for measuring pH because they can't be calibrated, not to mention the fact that 99% of the hobby growers who would aspire to measuring pH wouldn't know how to do it so as to ensure an accurate result, even assuming the gauge was accurate. Then, after getting a result, what to do then? A hobby grower trying to maintain a stable pH in containers is not unlike chasing a fart in a wind tunnel.

I'm not pushing 'the basics' particularly, but when you do get the basics right, there is very little need to fuss with a plethora of gadgets, gizmos, and the dozens of products that promise miracles. If growers are limited by inattention to the basics, there is nothing a gadget or the promise of a miracle can do to make up for it.

How I grow is extremely simple and extremely effective/productive. I treat all my plants alike, except maybe cacti - water when I think the plant might need it - only being careful not to overextend the interval between waterings, but never worrying about over-watering. I use ONE fertilizer and fertilize on a schedule that doesn't vary much, other than according to ACTUAL dormancy of temperate plants - I lay off those for the winter, but not those plants kept indoors. I make my own soils, which is sometimes difficult to get started at, but extremely easy once you're set up. I have no problems with retarded growth, or spoiled foliage, and disease/insect infestations are rare as hen's teeth. The most complicated thing I do insofar as maintaining a plant's level of vitality is root work, so there is nothing I do that others that wish to can't do as well .... and as well.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 6:21PM
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silentsurfer(6A OH)

hey Tiff
ahh gotcha,, didnt figure ya were letting it infringe on your watering habits,,, guess i was curious much as anything, im not familiar w/them,,

Good luck w/the 'clays', im kinda keeping-an-eye-out too,, :)
tho im still a leetle partial to the plasti-pots,, im still soo used to gauging by weight,,, ugh! lol definitely like to clay-pot my succulents tho.
btw dont forget bout that simple basic concept/practice 'Neglect', its working well for
more than 1 of mine here hehe :)~

if i started a 'blank' thread entitled: "Basic Root Pruning (Trees)"
would you be apt to find it (and carry the brunt of the discussion)?? ")
...all in Favor ??

Posted by hopefulauthor z5IL (***) on Fri, Oct 26, 12 at 16:55
"If a plant was never fertilized would soil contain salt?"

I'm curious too? maybe just the water-based 'lime' deposits/salts/minerals?? would the 'chirpers' make good 'salt-in-our-soil' detection meters then?? ;/

Thanks again for the 'Flogging' mista! :)~

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 1:24AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

SS - I already have a thread like that over at Container Gardening, but it would be useful to have on here. If you start it, I'll be glad to do some major copy/pasting from the other thread (like the entire OP) and contribute to specific discussion areas whenever I can. I'm always happy to do whatever I can to further people's understanding of plants & the growing sciences.

You're right - all the dissolved solids in tap water, along with fertilizers contribute to the EC (electrical conductivity) of the soil solution. In the occasional technical discussion, you often see me refer to the "EC/TDS" [electrical conductivity/total dissolved solids] of container soils. These are staple measurements of greenhouse growers, useful for helping them to ensure that fertility (salt) levels are not so high they inhibit water/nutrient uptake or so low deficiencies develop. These cheap meters are measuring EC/TDS, no matter that what the needle points to is WET/DRY/NORMAL, or similar.

I think that if you wanted to work at it, you MIGHT be able to figure out a useful way to measure salt levels with a moisture meter, but in order to work, the soil would need to be moist. If you are using a soil you can flush regularly without worry about the practice's impact on roots (a well-aerated, free-draining soil), you don't need moisture meters and probably not even fingers or probes as tools. Once you get the basics working FOR you instead of against you, there is no need to grasp at straws - everything becomes much simpler and the probability of a beneficent outcome much more certain.


    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 8:13AM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Ok..Back to my Scheff... ;)

So today I went to chack on it and it seems one stem (is that what its called) is shriveling. The other looks lush green and ok and there is babies coming from the top.


Say good bye to the bad one and repot the skinny one is a smaller pot??? Will it be ok that it isnt "repotting season"?

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 10:51AM
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silentsurfer(6A OH)

'In-Season' or not, ive been doing a few,,,
some of the ones that might not otherwise survive winter because of their cr*p soil,,, including an s. arboricola actually :x

im kinda 'visually-stimulated',, can we see whatchagot again Pls!?

in the after-repot pic, it 'looks' like ONE plant, with a 'fork' into 2 branches forming a 'V' just into the soil-line,,,
if it were me (and im understanding you correctly, that 1 'branch' is dying back?)
i would let it go awhile, could be still acclimating to the: repot, watering,, relocation(s),,,
AFAIK cutting out dead material wont inhibit any further die-back, than the plant has already decided. (luv to hear from the 'choir' on That tho!?) IMO it'll dieback to healthy plant and stop, i see no point in trying to 'chase' it ? likewise, Re-repotting,,,, erm, i dunno bout that one,,, :x

as a side note: 'compositionally' i prefer a single-stemmed specimen anyway. :)

i 'think' it (is, was) wet, enough previously to cause partial dieback, and yet push new growth on the healthy side,,,, allow it to do so, monitor it carefully, see what happens..?

healthy soil + watering practices de-necesitates salt-soggy concerns,, got-it,
i'll re-check the Container Gardening forum, (up to pg 10?)
might just 'jump' tho,, appreciate ya onboard always sir. :)

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 9:16PM
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Tiff, did you repot your Scheff in gritty mix or 5-1-1?

Since the stems, 'yep, correct' are shriveling, perhaps you need to water more...

Plants, including succulents shrivel when soil dries too much. Perhaps dry soil applies to tropicals, also?? Just a thought...

SS...I've been repotting plants out of season..As long as repotting is done carefully, there shouldn't be any problems.

Except for plants in bud or flower...those I let be. Toni

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 2:54PM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Well, I took it upon my own intuition to get rid of the one stem and repot the single one. I didnt want to chance losing both stems.

Joe. There were two stems, the one happened to start leaning. I had it leaning against a stake for a while and took it out.

Toni. I am using 511. This plant however had a little less bark in the mix because it was the last plant I did...because in my opinion was the healhiest since I had for well over a year. I thought I err'ed on the safer side with watering because of the lesser amount of bark and have been using skewers.

Maybe I am just not so good at this plant thing after all since a few things havent made it under my care. :( The pothos and philo's are doing excellent though. Although, a monkey could take care of those.

I know alot of it is the light in this house. So if you all can please see my "Grow Lights" post and chime in there. I dont want all babies that were just sent to me to not make it. They are all so important to me.


    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 4:33PM
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Tiff - Please don't think that just because you lose a plant here and there, you're not good at this "plant thing". People with "green thumbs" always have well-used garbage cans. Just keep trying and learning, remember all plants are not created equal.

I wish I had more time to spend on GW, I know that some of my experiences are quite different from many of the regular contributors, but I just don't have the time. However, a few entries upthread, there was some discussion of 'moisture meters', and I believe it was Al who mentioned they might be used as a crude soluble salt indicator.

Indeed that is true. The critical thing is to run the probe between your fingers when you pull it from the soil. If the meter was reading moist, but your fingers tell you dry, that's a good indication that you might have elevated salt in the soil.

Hoping that everyone has got/is getting through the storm OK.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 4:16PM
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