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Dying Calathea Plant

Posted by avanns none (My Page) on
Wed, Sep 5, 12 at 15:51

Hello all! I have recently started getting interested in house plants/gardening. I need some advice on a dying plant that I just bought. Here is my story:

Yesterday at work I picked up an on sale calathea plant because it was really droopy. I bought some soil and a pot and brought it back to my house. I clipped off all of the crunchy leaves and then I watered it and when I woke up the next morning it was still droopy. The roots were very compacted in the small pot so I took it outside and repotted it. I posted a picture on this post of what it looks like now.

I was just wondering if I was going through the right steps to bringing this little guy back to good health. The stems of the plant still seem very soft. Do I need to stake up the leaves so that they stand up straight? Any advice would be great.

Thanks for your help!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Dying Calathea Plant

Did you repot in the shade? Was the root ball wet or dry? Are you sure that's not a Caladium?


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RE: Dying Calathea Plant

I repotted it in the shade and it is in the shade now. The root ball was moist when I repotted it. I am sure that is a calathea - it came with a tag!


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RE: Dying Calathea Plant

Well hopefully someone else will pick up here. About all I know about Calathea is it has beautiful leaves and likes to die at my house. I thought it had more of a central stem though, but it's been a while... sorry I don't know what else to tell you, good luck!


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RE: Dying Calathea Plant

The undersides of Calathea leaves are often purple (on some varieties). What did the root ball look like when you repotted? Any sign of damage? Generally it takes quite a lot of drying to make a Calathea droop as badly as that. So maybe it'll take a while for it to recover and straighten up. I'd give it a bit more time.


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RE: Dying Calathea Plant

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Sep 5, 12 at 18:27

The drooping IS from a lack of water, but not in the sense that the plant was too dry - it was too wet, which inhibited root function which rendered the plant unable to maintain turgidity, so it wilted - dying of thirst in a sea of plenty. That it didn't perk up right away after watering is a good sign that the issue isn't from under-watering. You should hope it's a result of recent over-watering or not enough O2 in the root zone for roots to function. If not that, it is probably the result of prolonged over-watering prior to your taking it home and a root system compromised by rot - a more serious state of affairs. It also looks like the plant might be planted too deep, but if you decide to follow the following suggestion, you can correct that right away.

I think the first order of business is to check the roots & see what's there. The roots should all be tan or white & plump, not dark, slimy, hollow and easily broken, or sour smelling ..... they should smell like fresh earth. If you find roots that aren't as they should be, trim them back to sound tissue - even if you have to bare root the plant entirely to do it. Then repot into whatever you have on hand for potting soil, but make sure the soil is no wetter than a well wrung out sponge - DAMP is what you want, not WET. The key is to get some air into the soil asap. Uptake of water and nutrients isn't a passive or energy-free process; it requires energy, and an adequate supply of O2 (aeration) - a key ingredient without which the root system cannot carry on transpiration, which is the energy-driven process the uptake of water/nutrients depends on.

If you're just getting started, I think if you're willing to put just a little effort into gaining an understanding of the basics, you will save yourself a lot of unnecessary heartache that comes from learning by trial and error. I'll leave you a link to look over if you want to. It's a basic overview that covers a lot of things you won't find in check-out stand plant books. If you find value in it, or you're interested in taking another step forward, let me know, and I'll link you to a thread about soils. Your soil choice is going to be pivotal in determining how hard you have to work at coaxing good vitality out of your plants, but lets save this one before we worry about the ones you don't even have yet. ;-)

Best luck!

Al


Here is a link that might be useful: An overview for you to think about ....


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RE: Dying Calathea Plant

Just popping in to send good vibes and well-wishes to your plant!


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RE: Dying Calathea Plant

Good news - the roots were not damaged! They just looked very dry. The plant is doing well now... the stems are slowly raising up and the leaves are nice and shiny now! Al, I followed your tips on watering and planting and it looks like everything is going well! Thank you SO MUCH for all of the advice. When I get home next I will post a picture of the healing plant for you all. :)

Also, I would love that link about soil. I'm always willing to learn more!! I'm excited!


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RE: Dying Calathea Plant

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 7, 12 at 11:25

I was hoping you'd be keen to learn more after taking the time to read the link. I've helped a lot of new growers skip over many of the common trials and tribulations associated with 'just starting out', and it's ALWAYS the ones who are excited and enthusiastic that benefit the most and move forward the fastest. They're also the most fun to work with and leave whomever is helping them feeling a lot of the same excitement & enthusiasm they feel. I'm not telling you this to butter you up, rather, because my experience has shown me that there are traits that help you learn and traits that hinder learning ..... and of course, nothing makes learning a facile chore like an open mind.

In the next link, you'll find a concept that links soil choice to the effort involved with bringing along healthy plants. In that light, you will learn soils are created far from equal. Whether or not you want to implement the concept is up to you, but there is little question that understanding the concept will always be a very important, probably the most important, piece of the container gardening puzzle.

ANY questions can be asked there or here, at your thread. Have fun. ;-)

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: About soils for containers


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RE: Dying Calathea Plant

Here is an updated picture! The plant is slowly but surely coming back to health! :) Thanks to everyone who gave me advice... and a special thanks to Al for the great links!


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RE: Dying Calathea Plant

Hey, what an improvement! Your smile and thumbs up (and improving plant, of course!) made my morning!

Tina Fey glasses rock! Now I know you're one cool chick!


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