3+ old Aeschynanthus twister plant is dying

basie9(5)December 9, 2010

I have had an Aeschynanthus twister (lipstick) plant for 2.5 years from a greenhouse. It's branches reach down to the floor, at least 4 feet. It flowers several times a year with deep purple/red flowers. It's in a Southwest facing window and has been flourishing, until about a couple of weeks ago...

All of a sudden, the long branches are dying. The leaves are turning yellow, then brown and falling off. They are crispy, not soft. It seems to be dying all over.

I water it the same as I always have, it's location has not ever moved. I did repot it about a year or more ago, but not recently. I fertilize sometimes with the drops you add to the water, but that is only on occasion. HELP! It's the one plant I've never had problems with. I don't see any obvious bug issues. I did find it interesting enough that about 5 months ago a couple of yellow mushrooms grew in it, then died and didn't come back, which I thought odd since I have not ever taken it outside or used dirt not from a bag. But it didn't seem to do anything to the plant at the time.

Any ideas?

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

There is no way to tell for sure by the info provided so far, but the odds-on favorites co-occupying the position of suspects #1,#2 and #3 are accumulating salts from fertilizer and/or tap water, excessively root bound, over-watering. That isn't to say it can't be something else, only that the odds favor one or more of the things I mentioned.

If you think it's in danger of succumbing before spring, and you want to save it, you might wish to flush the soil thoroughly and pot up slightly until timing is better for a full repot. An emergency repot, which is just an out-of-season repot, is another option.

Following a few basic growing guidelines and making sure you're using a durable soil that will drain well for the intended interval between repots will go a very long way toward relieving you from having to deal with issues like you describe. If you need more complete guidance or specific directions, just ask. Don't worry about the mushrooms - it's just the fruiting body of one of possibly thousands of fungi living in the soil.


    Bookmark   December 9, 2010 at 5:06PM
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I think Al has given you good advice. It's very possible that the fertilizer salts have gotten to a critical strength that it's poisoning the plant.

Also the soil may be too dense for an Aeschynanthus. Aeschynanthus is an epiphyte and usually grows in the part of the tree where the branch meets the trunk. It grows in very porous organic medium that has collected there.

Aeschynanthus likes to get a little dry in between watering. I'm not talking about drought conditions, but one should not keep it continuously sopping wet. It's not an aquatic plant.

I would definitely check the plant for root rot. That would be to take the plant out of the pot and inspect the roots. If they are white then everything is fine. If the roots are black or brown, you probably have root rot. Cut all of the black or brown roots from the root ball and repot with fresh medium. You should probably repot in fresh medium anyway. After three years that original medium should be just about shot.

I would also take cuttings from the plant and start a new one. This is just in case your Aeschynanthus doesn't make it. Aeschynanthus is very easy to propagate. Just cut 4 inch tip cuttings off the plant. Stick the bottom of the cuttings in a very porous medium. Put a clear plastic bag around the plant and pot and tie it closed with a twist-tie. Give it good light, but do not put it in direct sunlight. You will cook the plant. After one month you can take the bag off. The first day just take the twist-tie off with a small opening at the top. On the second day open the bag a little bit more and take the plant out of the bag on the third day. Hopefully the original plant will make it, but with the new cuttings you will be assured that you will still have a plant.

I hope this helps.


    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 7:59PM
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