Large triangular brown tips on leaves of Zebra Plant

reezierumpkinOctober 15, 2012

This is my first Zebra Plant. My house is dimmly lighted so I put the plant on a table under a skylight. I have been keeping it moist and fertilizing with miracle grow at a low strength each time I water. But the larger lower leaves keep getting a large triangular brown tip ( up to 3" from tip to leaf area) then fall off. There is new growth on the top of the plant, but the stem is about 8" tall due to the larger lower leaves dropping. Does anyone know what I am doing incorrectly or have a solution?

Thanks

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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

You feed each time you water? How often do you water, because miracle gro is normally given once a month! Its what I use, so this sounds like overfeeding.
Many dont realise but houseplants can and will do fine without feeding!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 3:56PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Actually, they don't do just fine without feeding. At least, not for very long. And fertilizing with a very low dose of soluble product is a perfectly acceptable practice...especially if one is using a nice, coarse textured mix.

Reez, are you talking about Aphelandra squarrosa? If so, many people find that plant very fussy to keep happy in the average home. It's particular about humidity and watering (soil moisture content) . Some might say that the symptoms you've described are kinda normal for this plant.

Maybe someone will jump in with a success story to share.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 6:14PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Hmm. I rarely feed mine regularly because I forget, yet they do fine. The intention is there, feed once a month just like I used to, but it slips my mind!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 7:11PM
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theficuswrangler(9/10)

Don't have a success story with these to share - never had one - but if I had a plant doing the brown tips then dropping thing, I'd look first to soil moisture. It sounds like the roots are staying too wet. And my experience is that potted plants do just fine being fertilized only 1 - 4 times a year.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 7:44PM
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Polly381(5/6)

I have never had luck with them

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 10:06PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

I keep thinking of Zebrina, duh, totally different plant!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 7:22AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

In one way, fertilizing is just like watering. We scoff at the grower who suggests you should water weekly or every X number of days for a number of reasons - the main one being we all know with a great degree of certainty that watering on a schedule is bad for plants - right? How is it then that I'm able to water on a schedule and still produce perfectly healthy plants? You've seen the hundreds of pictures ......

How is it that one grower can suggest to another grower how often they should fertilize? Without specific knowledge of several factors, it's inappropriate at best. In the summer, while plants are growing well, I fertilize weekly. Sometimes it's at half the recommended strength, but it's not unusual for me to fertilize at 1.5X the recommended strength weekly. During the over-wintering period, I fertilize EVERY time I water (that's every 3 -4 days), without fail ..... and you've seen the pictures that witness to the results.

Dori is right, of course - you cannot depend on the soil to provide nutrition in sufficient quantity or variety and expect your plants to do well. The grower needs to shoulder responsibility for the plant's nutritional needs, and that is amazingly simple to do. Plants don't do well by ignoring their nutritional needs by most standards, but I'll remind you that how well a plant is doing is a very subjective thing and depends on our standards.

The goal of the container grower should be to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that ALL elements essential to normal growth are present in the soil and available for uptake at all times, in the ratio at which the plants will actually USE the nutrients, and at a concentration high enough to ensure no deficiencies yet low enough to ensure the concentration doesn't make it difficult for the plant to absorb water and the nutrients dissolved in that water.

The above is very difficult to achieve when using soils that require watering in sips - soils from which you cannot flush accumulations of salts at will without risking lengthy depression of root function or worse. It's VERY easy to do when using soils that allow you to water properly, by supplying very frequent applications of fertilizers at very low doses and flushing the soil of accumulations when you water. Mother Nature supplies a continual supply of nutrients in low concentrations, so it would be kind of silly to suggest it's something plants don't deal with as the norm. Foreign, is that monthly or 3 times yearly flood of nutrients that gradually transitions from feast to famine with a bunch of residual dissolved solids left over in the soil to interfere with the plant's normal way of coping with the hand it's dealt.

To give advice meaningful advice about fertilizing, you really need to understand how/what the grower is doing AND some of the nuances associated with nutritional supplementation. Most of us aren't interested in what you don't have to do - we want to know what TO do in order to give our plants the best chance at fulfilling their potential.

Al

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 8:04AM
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