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Help with house plant

Posted by vons zone 7 (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 28, 12 at 11:28

I have four Ficus elastica variegata that are very sick looking, not sure if i am over-watering or if it something else. The soil mix is MG, perlite,and starter soil and sphagnum peat moss, with very good drainage, i water from the bottom at least once a week or if needed. I live in zone 7. Any help would be appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Help with house plant

Vons, did you recently water? The soil is drenched.
If you hadn't watered, you're not allowing soil to dry.

Do you fertilize?

Every so often water should be given from the top to release salts from chemical fertilizers.

Are the last two plants cuttings??

What is starter soil? Toni


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RE: Help with house plant

I believe bottom watering developed by someone who had let some plant get such a tight, hard root ball that soaking in water for hours was necessary for getting water to penetrate. There is no other reason, from the standpoint of a plant, for bottom watering to be used.

This method is something I blame for the deaths of many plants over the years before I started paying more attention to the roots. It puts too much water at the bottom of the pot but doesn't always leach up to the top. Like Toni said, the soil needs to be flushed, at least periodically. I prefer to do it every time while they're outside for summer since I have too many to do it much during the winter. Also, Mother nature puts the water on top to wash down, so it makes sense to me to replicate that.

Your plants don't look like being rootbound is the problem but that's hard to tell from just looking at the soil surface. You may want to check. I agree they should be allowed to get more dry between waterings. They look very wet and the yellow edges look like the roots are spending too much time in mud.

Those are pretty leaves and the plants look vigorous enough to recover nicely if they get a chance to breathe.


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RE: Help with house plant

  • Posted by vons zone 7 (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 28, 12 at 13:18

Hi hopefulauthor, yes i just water the plants today. I will try to fertilize them at least once a month. No the last two plants are not cuttings. I got all the plants in one pot from a friend, so i re-potted them in singles to find out what was wrong with them. just in case i could not save all of them. now they are looking much better. starter soil is what you plant seeds in to start growing.

Purpleinopp i will try watering from the top starting next week.

Thanks for all the help, just wanted to know if i am doing this right. They are very pretty plants and i would like for them to survive.


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RE: Help with house plant

Next time, leave out the 'starter soil' and the extra peat moss. It will be much too fine textured to be used in as a potting mix. You don't want something really fine textured....but very coarse, composed of large particles.

Your plants don't look 'sick' to me!


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RE: Help with house plant

Vons, I see.
Actually, the first two Ficus look good, the third a little bare, but eventually new stems and leaves will fill it out.

I agree w/Rhizo about skipping starter soil and peat. MG contains peat, so additional isn't needed.
I add peat for plants that need acidic soil, Ficus do well with nuetral mediums. pH 6.8-7.0 is perfect.

As long as soil is well draining, watered when soil is a wee dry, 'summer semi-moist, but still needs to dry between waterings, winter, soil needs to dry out more,' your Ficus will do well.

F. Rubber Trees aren't the fastest growers, 'espeically in containers,' so please don't think you're doing anything wrong.

I love their variegation. Toni


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RE: Help with house plant

  • Posted by vons zone 7 (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 28, 12 at 14:30

Thanks for the info rhizo_ 1 ,i thought they look sick because of the brown spots and they only has a few leaves, i will leave out the stater soil and use something with larger particles, when i re-pot them next year.

I love the variegation to hopfulauthor, that's why when my friend was going to throw them away, i said i can try to bring them back to their full glory.

Thanks again for the help, hopefully everything will work out fine.


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RE: Help with house plant

Agreed, the soil looks mucky. If these were mine, I would take them out, add & mix some mulch in the dirt, by about half, then put them back in the same pots after removing any dead, circling or mushy roots. Then flush well as soon as they are dry. Dry again, repeat.

And agree about not looking sick, but the yellow/crispy edges are the sign of some kind of problem that should be easy to remedy before it proliferates further, assuming it's given a chance to dry out a bit, preferably in less dense/more airy soil. The edges of the already damaged leaves won't repair, but hopefully spending less time being soggy can prevent it from happening to any of the other leaves.

If you don't want to get into all that right now, just letting them get dryer than you have been should do wonders.

However you decide to proceed, I would recommend using the weight of the pots as your gauge of when the plants are dry enough to water again. If they don't feel significantly lighter than when you know they are wet, they shouldn't need more water yet.

What kind of light are they getting?


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RE: Help with house plant

  • Posted by vons zone 7 (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 28, 12 at 14:38

purpleinopp they are outside on the balcony right now, i get full sun around 2pm till around 6pm. I will try your suggestion about the soil when they dry out a bit.


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RE: Help with house plant

  • Posted by vons zone 7 (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 28, 12 at 15:02

I had the wrong picture up here is one with all five plants


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RE: Help with house plant

Vons, very nice.

Watch your Spider Plant..since plants are getting afternoon sun, 'west?' it might be too harsh and fade the leaves.

Ironically, the side of your house looks identical to mine. I thought I posted a pic but forgot, lol.


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RE: Help with house plant

They look even better from that angle. Nice!


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