assistance with reviving neglected plants, please

o0erin0o(5)October 16, 2012

i have some houseplants that have been neglected which i am trying to revive. the first is an aloe plant. it was basically ignored for a couple months, and the tips of some of the spikes are brown. i have repotted it into better sandy soil and watered it once, but i'm wondering if i should cut off the brown tips? also, i watered it on sunday (2 days ago). should i water it again, since the soil is completely dry and it still feels a little... floppy?

next i have a ponytail palm which was also quite dehydrated. again i have repotted into better soil, and i'm wondering how often i should water while it's in this revival stage? once again the soil has completely dried out since sunday.

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For most plants, rot from over-watering is deadlier than being a little dehydrated is, and those plants are especially well-adapted to surviving drought since they're succulents, so I'm sure your plants will recover.
Due to the risk of rot, I wouldn't water them any more frequently than you normally would. I'd just continue to water them when the soil is dry (just make sure you keep checking often so you can water them right away once the soil dries out).

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 8:17PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)


Sorry to have to tell you this, but sandy soil is one of the worst things you c an do for an Aloe, the sand tends to interfere w/ drainage. I don't get floppy, are the roots OK? Watering it 2x in 2 days will likely rot an Aloe, they hold their own water & don't need such frequent watering or they'll rot.

As we say abt succulents, when in doubt about watering, don't.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 8:43PM
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I don't think you would want to water them more frequently than whatever would be normal. Sometimes if plants go too long being dry, they become more prone to root rot, so it might be a good idea to give them less water until they're more acclimated to being watered again.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 8:47PM
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thank you all for your help.

by "floppy" i meant that the spikes (i don't know what else to call them) aren't particularly stiff, but upon further research i think they're normal.

as far as soil, i put some gravel at the bottom of the pot to help with drainage. will that be okay or should i repot again into different soil?

also as far as the brown tips on a couple of the spikes, should i cut the brown part off? or just leave it alone? i'll clarify here that this is definitely a "dry" brown and not a "mushy" brown, and the rest of the spike seems healthy.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 9:41PM
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Hi Erin,

You should probably get a whole new soil. The easiest options are a 25% potting soil/75% perlite mix or a 50/50 mix of cactus soil and perlite. Get rid of the gravel on the bottom because it actually doesn't do anything to help with drainage. What you're trying to create with your soil choice is a fast draining mix. People continually want to put sand in mixes, but think about it...ever seen a sand castle? It's held together with water! If the sand stayed dry, the thing would collapse, so, more proof that sand just holds onto water.
Your pot should only be 2-4 inches bigger than the root ball of your plant. Terra cotta is best, but at the least, make sure the pot has a drainage hole. For succulents, which both of your plants are, you never water immediately after a repot. It's always best to wait a few days before watering...I usually wait at least 5 days. When you do water, water until you see it draining out the bottom of the pot. Discard the excess water and then don't water again until the soil is dry. How long this takes will be based on pot type and where you keep your plants (indoors/outdoors).
As for the floppiness of your aloe, that could be caused by the aloe absorbing some of the moisture from it's leaves to sustain itself through a drought (completely normal). The brown tips are probably a result of the same thing. You can cut them off (to make the plant look a little better) or leave them. If you do cut the tips off, be aware that they will not grow into points again.
If you're keeping the plants indoors, get them into the brightest light possible. If outdoors, acclimate them to the sun gradually. If over-exposed to the sun, the aloe will turn a reddish brown color. Again, this is completely normal. If you like the look, fine. If not, move it back into a less sunny space and it will revert to green.
Hope this helps!


    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 11:17PM
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great, thank you! i'm trying to develop a green thumb. i'll get there, eventually... ha

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 11:33PM
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