Peace Lily. I killed her!!??

Willami02October 24, 2011

I purchased Audrey our Peace Lily not long ago and she's been thriving well in our home. She's even flowered a few times. I decided to re-pot her after she was keeling over in the pot (still quite happy mind you). The aftermath is an incredibly sad and pathetic wilted mess.

Using the same pot, I replaced the soil with Scott's Moisture Advantage Potting Soil and gave her a huge watering afterward. In the process of replanting her I wondered why her roots seemed so small relatively. I now suspect that in separating her from the old soil, I also separated a larger root cluster unseen in the low light.

911! What can I or should I do right away to resurrect poor Audrey? Can I save her?

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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Get rid of that soil and repot with something that doesn't hold water like a sponge. You want free draining.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 6:38PM
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William. First, spread the Moisture Control Soil in your garden, not indoor plants.

Peace Lily roots like being snug. Too large a pot, with soil that holds water will kill a plant. Very few indoor plants thrive in constantly wet soil.

The best time to repot is spring/early summer, when days are longer and plants grow at a faster pace. Some plants stop growing during winter months altogether.

Was your PL growing in extremely low light? Although they say PL's thrive in low light areas, the truth is they do best in indirect bright. Too much shade could be the reason Audrey's leaves started drooping.
Or, she was getting too much or too little water.

If it were my plant, I'd buy different soil, perhaps mix my own??? Toss the Moisture Control, then repot in a container with drainage holes.
Soil will be dry. Give a hearty drink, then place in bright light.

I don't understand why MG and other brand name soil manufactures come up with, so-called, new and improved methods. Moisture Controls and added fertilizer is plain nonsense. They can keep it. It's a way to up the price.

William, do you have a picture? Toni

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 7:21PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Good point, Toni, to ask of Audrey's pot has drain hole(s). And 2nd your opinion of that type of soil.

Do you still have the "chunk of dirt" that might have most of Audrey's roots? That might be the easiest way to answer the question of whether or not any roots were removed and how much/many. Regardless, I'm left wondering why she would be "keeling over in the pot?" Happy PL's don't keel. They are upright plants that shouldn't trail or lean. Was there any type of white or yellowish crusty ring around the outside of the top of the soil, and/or inside the pot? I suspect this plant was sitting in a bog for a while, and most of the roots had died.

Even if you accidentally tore most of the roots off, Audrey has a good chance of survival. If the amount of roots left are too small to support all of the foliage, some of the leaves will die. For now, if it were my plant, I would cut off any leaves that don't look great, as close to the soil as possible so you don't get a skewer look. Put Audrey in slightly less light than she was getting when she was happy and made a few flowers. Then put her back into more light when you see any new leaves growing.

Most plant advice you will encounter says to let the soil dry completely between watering but PL's do not like to dry out. Keep Audrey damp but not soggy. Is that possible with the pot and soil you have? Did you pack the soil tightly or just let it sift/fall into place? When you gave the huge watering afterward, did the soil float around, or stay mostly in place? If you didn't pack it, and it stayed mostly in place, there should be some air pockets within the pot. If you packed and had floating, it might be too wet and devoid of air, even for Audrey.

As long as the excess water drains out of the pot within 5 minutes, Audrey's roots should be happy. Unless there is a problem with water draining from the pot, I wouldn't repot again right now until her condition is more stabilized. Even though that soil is not desirable, PL likes damp conditions and can regain some health without being further molested right now if it is draining.

I would also like to see a pic of Audrey.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 11:33AM
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Thank you so much! I really would like to post a picture or two but I don't know how to do that here. To address some of your questions;

She's gotten ample indirect sunlight at a south window; watered about once a week and leaves spritzed with water 2 or 3 times a week. Outside of a couple of browning leaf tips from when I hadn't spritzed her previously, she really was a happy thriving plant.

She was keeling over because she was originally planted well to the side of the pot causing her to lean over the bigger she got. Hence my desire to replant her.

The original soil looked "good" and dark. There was nothing yellowish or whitish evident on it or in the pot.

I don't think I packed the new soil around her too tightly; only to position her. Watering was a good soaking but not enough to cause the soil to float.

Looking at her today, I do think that the "plate" I placed underneath the pot prevented her from draining properly. In other words, I hadn't allowed her to drain completely before bringing her back in the house. I do now see a bit mold forming.

Based on that question, I have removed that "plate" (which had accumulated water in it) to allow any further draining. Would this then be the cause of her malaise??

What then would my next steps be? To repot or not repot. More watering...or not? I really do wish I could post a picture. Cheers!!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 2:39PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The measure of a good soil isn't how 'dark and rich' looking it is, it's how porous it is and whether or not it will retain that porosity for the life of the planting. Case in point: this

is an extremely easy to grow in and productive soil. The average grower might glance at it and never give it a second look because it isn't 'dark and rich', but those who use it can attest to how easy it is to grow in and what a healthy root environment it provides for plants, which is probably the most important yet least considered requirement for good plant growth/vitality. Roots are the 'heart of the plant'. If you can't keep roots happy, there is little chance (none) you can keep the rest of the plant happy.

"A huge watering" shouldn't be a problem. If it is, your soil is inappropriate, limiting growth and vitality. That is a blunt statement, but all soils that support perched water for more than a few hours are limiting because the perched water kills roots and impairs root function/metabolism, so the idea should be to eliminate as much excess water from soils as we possibly can & still keep up with watering needs. Soils that are about as damp as a wrung out sponge are ideal.

If I were you, I'd be thinking seriously about trying to find a bag of pine bark fines to make a soil that you won't have to fight until the next repot. A soil with the largest fraction being pine bark fines (about 75%)

and the other 25% being equal parts of perlite and the soil you're using, will yield a well-aerated soil that allows you to water properly w/o risking root issues ..... and just make your growing life easier/more productive.

Wilting is actually a drought response, even when it's caused by too much water. Roots become damaged, or their function compromised so severely that they are unable to move enough water to the foliage to keep it hydrated. The result is a plant dying of thirst in a sea of plenty. In your case the remedy to a lack of water to the top is less water (and more air) at the bottom (so roots can function normally).


    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 4:54PM
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