Update: Plectranthus Ernstii Care

greenthumbfaerieDecember 23, 2011

Last time I posted, the leaves on my new P. Ernstii were turning yellow and dropping off in random places all over the plant (both old and new leaves). Upon closer inspection, I found that this plant was actually 3 separate plants that had all been crammed together into one little 3" plastic pot. My first instinct was to separate them and do a full bare root re-pot on each one of them immediately, but I decided to email the owner of the nursery that it came from first and get his opinion. His response to my email was far from helpful, and even condescending. He said that it should NEVER have to be re-potted and that "plants do not keep every leaf they produce, they make new leaves and some of the older leaves turn yellow and fall." Well, that would have been all fine and dandy, but the plants were dropping NEW leaves too!

So after waiting longer between waterings didn't work, I decided to go with my gut and re-pot the plants about 2 weeks ago. What came out of the pot was one solid mass of half-rotten roots that took the better part of an hour to untangle. After bare rooting and root pruning all three, I re-potted them separately. Since the cuttings I took from the plant are thriving in a 50/50 mix of seed starting mix and vermiculite, I decided to try that with the others as well, and put pebbles in the bottom for increased drainage. I was told that indirect, bright light was best, but they actually seem to do MUCH better in a sunny window, at least during the winter months when the days are short.

After just 2 weeks, they already look significantly better. You can see in the pictures below that they've lost a lot of leaves since I got them, but now the only yellow leaves left are a few that were already turning yellow before re-potting them that haven't fallen off yet. All three of the plants have new growth, and even what's left of the older growth looks much healthier! :)

The key to keeping these plants alive and healthy seems to be good drainage, infrequent watering (for mature plants, water every 1-2 weeks or when the soil feels almost completely dry, and for cuttings or seedlings, water when the top layer of soil is dry), fertilizing at only half strength about once a month and lots of sunshine! :) I've also noticed that they seem to do better in plastic pots than ceramic pots, or at least the cuttings do.

Here's the biggest one:

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Here's #2

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And #3

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Another view of #3

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8 week old p. ernstii cuttings

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I wish you all good luck with your plant(s). Just so that you know, it is a common and accepted practice to put more than one cutting in one pot. Three is typical. The reason behind this practice is to produce a full and pleasing finished container of your chosen plant.

This practice is not harmful to the plants.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2011 at 10:20AM
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greenthumbfaerie

Thanks rhizo! I do know that it's common practice to put several cuttings in a container, but these were severely root bound, so I thought it best to separate them. :)

    Bookmark   December 24, 2011 at 1:08PM
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