Return to the House Plants Forum | Post a Follow-Up

What to do?

Posted by backyardbum (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 18, 12 at 21:14

I'm new to this forum.

My niece delivered a dining table and hutch a couple of weeks ago. The lady included the philodendron she had on top of the hutch. It was beautiful.

Two weeks later the leaves are turning yellow and dropping off. Im not surprised just put it down to the move. I took it down to check the pot situation and assess the best way to water.(the thing is huge!)

The plastic pot is crusted with white crystals on the bottom and up the sides 3-4 inches. and in the drip pan. What should I do?

I want to repot it and give it some fertilizer. I know that will require cutting it back which will be a shame because it reaches the floor on both sides of the hutch. I know it is the wrong time of the year to do this, but it hurts to just leave it in that condition.

I am not successful with philodendron. I can't seem to get the light and/or water right. any growing tips would be greatly appreciated.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: What to do?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 18, 12 at 21:24

The dropping leaves could be caused by a number of influences. Markedly lower light levels where it is now, over-watering, sudden exposure to chill, a high level of solubles (salts) in the soil solution, tight roots, insect infestation .....

I'd flush the soil VERY thoroughly, pull the plant from the pot and pot up slightly if roots are badly congested. If you find the plant to be badly root bound, I'd start planning for a full repot into an appropriate soil next summer. Then, the plant will really take off.

If you're interested in turning a plan into action, or learning more, let me know and I'll do my best to help.


RE: What to do?

Hi, backyard, and welcome.

I agree with Al in that the plant should be flushed thoroughly. The white crystals are most likely the excess salts in the soil, as he said. I don't understand why you would need to trim the plant back, though. Get it into the brightest indirect light you have and give it a chance to acclimate to your home.
Others will soon chime in with their thoughts too.


RE: What to do?

What a mess!!
Al, I put the plant in the tub and turned the shower on. The water seemed to pool on the surface and was slow to start draining. It did drain, and I let the water run for several minutes. I took the saucer off the pot and continued to run the water. I rubbed the pot and saucer. The build up seemed to be hard water deposits.
When I thought it had flushed sufficently I turned the pot on its side and tiped it slightly. Everything came tumbeling out. The soil seems to be a potting soil with lots of sand(?) added to it. The roots look healthy but only three or four stems were growing deep. The rest were shallow. I scraped the soil back in the pot and stuck the roots back in the best I could. I had to add potting soil to get all the roots covered. It definately was not root bound.
Now what? I hope I didn't kill it!
What lighting should I try for? It is along an east wall about 8 ft. from a north patio door. I don't like full spectrum light but I could put a bulb in the dining room over head light.
I don't like to back down in face of a challenge.

RE: What to do?

It is my understanding that when a plant is root bound you need to trim the roots before repoting. To compensate for the loss of roots the top also needs to be trimmed the same amount. Right? Wrong?

RE: What to do?

Do you have any photos? They'd help immensely to better understand the problem. It's not necessary to have all the roots covered. Philodendrons are an epiphyte, are in their element climbing up the trunks of trees. The roots are exposed to air while still attached to the bark/wood. Ideal in a pot would be the bark/wood chips they often use for orchids. As an epiphyte they don't get a lot of nutrients into their roots, so don't be tempted to fertilise extra to get them going. they'll be more likely to suffer fertiliser burn on the roots. They don't have a 'dormant' period, but respond to temperature by slowing growth as it gets colder. They don't cope well with cold but if on the drier side they do better. Cold wet would finish them. In their natural habitat they're mostly under a tree canopy, so they get filtered sunlight, and on overcast/rainy days they'd have heavy shade. But brighter light would be better than heavy shade over the long term.

RE: What to do?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Oct 19, 12 at 8:32

The hard water deposits on the outside of the pot are harmless - some folks even find the patina they impart interesting & perfectly acceptable .... or even desirable. It's what's in the soil (solution) that's important, and by flushing the soil thoroughly, you probably helped ensure that the level of soluble salts in the soil is relatively low, which is how it should be. A high level of solubles in the soil impairs the plant's ability to take up water and the nutrients dissolved in water, so it affects the plant in a number of negative ways - growth/root health/root function, all of which affect the well-being of the organism as a whole.

"Small root mass" raises all sorts of warning flags. How much soil would you say was devoid of roots? 1/2, 2/3, more? less? How long had it been since you last potted up? When the plant came out of the pot, was the soil beneath the plant soggy?

To compensate for the loss of roots the top also needs to be trimmed the same amount. Right? Wrong?

This is another near myth that has some truth in it at certain times, but is largely false. Without going into all the ramifications (unless you want to know them), it should be sufficient to say that whether or not you need to prune the top back (at all) when transplanting or root pruning depends on several factors - including type of plant material, how drastically you cut back the roots (no need to cut back roots, even when top pruning is severe), and the timing of the operation - especially where deciduous material in leaf is the subject. In this area, there is no substitute for a decent understanding of how plants work and some practical experience working on roots/shoots.

I usually try to keep the canopy intact when I root prune, simply because that's where the food the plant uses for root regeneration comes from. After roots have recovered (evident by commencement of new growth) I prune freely, and often drastically.


RE: What to do?

Not that the above advice is not excellent regarding repotting, I find repotting vine-type plants is a frustrating wrestling exercise and completely unnecessary. I just trim off all of the stems, remove the 3-4 leaves closest to the cut end, and bury all of those ends in a pot of new soil. After about 2 weeks of sulking, while new roots start to form, you'll get crazy growth, much faster and more healthy than what could be obtained from any repot.

There are some pics in this discussion of a recent giant Philo I did this to that used to share a pot with a little tree. On June 11, you can see the before pics, on Jun 22, you can see what I did with all of the pieces.

Here are the plants as of this morning, 3 months later (one at a time):

RE: What to do?

Sorry this is kind of dark, I can't get close to the sunny side without stepping on plants next to the porch.

RE: What to do?

It is a new plant to me. Like many of you I had questions and the only way to get them answered was to take it apart and look at it.

I panicked when I saw the deposits on the pot. Now I am concerned about the soil. I will get busy and find the ingrediants for Al's potting mix however.... I cant find the original that explains what everything is. I have found the ingrediants (list) and sizes.

since I disturbed it so violently I will give it a good rest and learn its light and water requirments. Probably won't try to repot before spring. (unless you can give me a reason)

The root mass is not! Probably has been top watered, spairingly,I guess this because the plant is long and hard to manage. The pot is about 10 " and heavy. You have to climb on something to get it off the top of the hutch. It can't be over watered or you risk damage to the huch. therefor the roots are in the top 1/4 of the pot. They are healthy but I wonder how they are supporting the plant.

It is a pretty plant. and apears healthy.

It doesn't know it yet but come spring it will learn some new tricks. I would like for the plant to be thicker. It just droops down the hutch. Not much at the pot. anyway I think I just added a few more plants to the collection!!

RE: What to do?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Oct 20, 12 at 12:52

These links should help, especially the second one, but please read the first one first if you decide to investigate.

Here's an overview.

..... and here's the link that goes into more detail about container soils.

Good luck - hava good wknd!


RE: What to do?

Thank you everyone for all the information. I have been reading lots. think I will have to go back and read again and again.

Purple your plants are beautiful. Now if I can only...

Is there any way to cure plant fever before it gets out of hand (again!) I don't have time for this. ... Oh I have to go to wal- mart today. And to HD early in the week.

RE: What to do?

Not that we're not glad to have you around, but coming here to chat won't help that cause! And thanks! You can do that if you want. The hardest part was untangling the vines.

I do think the fever for more cowbell is stronger. Maybe you can catch that instead?

RE: What to do?

I came here seeking information about a plant that is new to me. I asked and recieved answers to my questions. I also recieved additional information that will help me become a better grower. I appreciate that information and will continue to put it to use. If I offended you I am very sorry. I promis it will never happen again.
Thank you all for your time and trouble.

RE: What to do?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 22, 12 at 7:54

BYB - I'm quite sure there was no animus in P's post. I can see how it might be interpreted as having been written with an attitude, but unless she did a 180 from her usual course and went completely off her nut, you just got a friendly poke in the ribs meant to give you yet another reason to smile.


RE: What to do?

Oh no! What I said was in complete jest. I should have listened to that little voice of hesitation that said my reference to a Saturday Night Live skit from about 25 years ago was way too arcane to be appreciated. Sorry it missed the mark!! Please accept my apology, backyardbum. I didn't mean to offend.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hopefully this will expain the cow bell joke

RE: What to do?

Purple, love your Philo in a bucket idea. Good reason to recycle instead of discarding this or that.

Backyard. Are the crystals in or outside of pot? Any on leaves?

Regarding Purple's comment..I've known Purple a while now. She's one of the nicest people on GW, among others of course.

People kid around here. Jokes are innocent, meant to make one laugh.
At times, a jest might be taken the wrong way.

A similar situation happened, 'another thread,' between Purple and me. She said she did something or other with a plant, and I, jokingly said, 'Shame or shame on you.'
I didn't think anything of it, but she took it seriously, felt offended.
It's something we say to each other at home, and friends I know personally..joking, not meant in a negative or harmful way.
I felt terrible afterwards, although I meant no harm.

Please don't read anything negative regarding Purple's joke. She posted a link to explain.

She and I sometimes comment about the show, Seinfeld, since we're both Seinfeld fans.
It's possible one might not understand if they don't watch Seinfeld.

Take what about the crystals? Toni

RE: What to do?

  • Posted by tifflj 6 Pitts, PA (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 22, 12 at 15:09

Agreed. Purple is one of the awesomest people I have met thus far, along with many others...Toni, Joe, Laura, Al...and so many more. :) No worries.

It is SUPER SUPER easy to take something the wrong way in written communication. It is the worst. Maybe GW should develop emoticons to aid in how our tone is set forth?

Purple...I love more cow bell. It is my fav and I want to pee my pants everytime I see it. HA

Good luck with your plant and please keep us posted on how it is doing. Also post a pic please. We would all ike to see it!

RE: What to do?

Thanks, Al, Toni, Tiff! Maybe I should start vid-taping jokes so I stay out of trouble. Yeah, right, my jokes were in person in HS and I definitely got in trouble there too, and in insurance class, and at various jobs, perhaps with law enforcement although my attorney has advised me not to comment on any of that. I may be a hopeless clown.

Toni, I think I just had PMS that day. I know you didn't mean it literally! And *I* felt bad for saying anything about it. We're good ;)

Speaking of Seinfeld, I asked my son if he wanted me to work on getting him a pirate costume together again (he was Captain Jack Sparrow last year) and he whined, "I don't wanna be a pirate!" and sounded just like Jerry in the puffy shirt episode with Kramer's "low talker" girlfriend. So I said, "How about a cowboy?" and he whined again, "I don't wanna be a cowboy" right on cue for me, like the episode where Kramer takes all of Jerry's sneakers to be repaired, leaving him with nothing but a pair of cowboy boots he doesn't even like. I was laughing so hard he got mad. See, everybody's mad at me!

RE: What to do?

No I am not mad.
I did not understand the joke.(I do not watch tv at all!)

I had spent the majority of Sunday with family members who think I voice my opinion too often and I have no brains. I was a little defensive.

Another day and a good nights sleep (which I didn't really get because I read the house plant forum till 2:00 am.) My perspective has changed dramitically. I'M SORRY! Lets just chalk it up to a misunderstanding and forget it. (I seriously want to steal some of your ideas without feeling guilty!)

And I have great plans for all the cowbells.

RE: What to do?

about the plant. It looks worse than ever.
actually it didn't look bad before I attacked it. Some of the leaves turned yellow and dropped. I thought at that time it was just because of the new enviroment. (I still think that.)

deposits were noticable on the outside of the pot, but I am sure there were depposits in the soil. I flushed the soil for several minutes then accidentally dumped the whole thing when I tried to slide the plant out to check the roots. Now the little guy is pouting. It looks like a drowned Rat.
The soil (sand and potting soil) was still dry in the center of the pot when I dumped it. I would have had problems with it sooner or later. My style of plant care is different than the lady who gave it to me. Now I can get ready to make some serious changes and make a happy home for it here. Thanks to the information all of you have generously shared I feel somewhat confident I can enjoy this little guy.

RE: What to do?

crackin me up,,! lol
man i used that line All-the-Time, 'more cowbell please',, hehe
..oh you brought me back, all those episodes,, the puffy shirt, rhymes w/angina,,, lol
then SNL, and MadTV,,, Fav BOC song too btw :)

I think backyard got the 'itch' !? right before our very eyes here maybe? lol :)
BYB, watchit mista! Purples Philo's'll do-that-to-ya! hehe

man i remember when (I) didnt used to watch TV,, now im either Here, or laying infronta the tele hehe

BY, so is there any consistency of water retention in the (Entire) potting medium Now??
once peat based soils become extremely dry (sand or not) they can actually Repel water,, is that whats happening maybe?

sometimes, if i anticipate this phenom~, I'll mist the soil 1st, then gradually start drippin wtaer onto it,, takes a min., but seems to help saturate it more evenly,,,
Good luck w/the Philo :)

RE: What to do?

"I had spent the majority of Sunday with family members who think I voice my opinion too often and I have no brains." Well, obviously they're wrong. You're smart enough to find this excellent forum and it sounds like you have some viable plans for your new plant. Nothing but good wishes to you and your new Philo!

Glad somebody liked my joke, silentS! Good point about peat becoming hydrophobic.

I've gone through times, entire years, when I didn't watch TV, and admit I got a little frustrated with how prevalent TV is in our culture and people's constant references to it. And here I am doing it... although in my defense, since I'm sharing my house with someone now, we take turns on the computer and it's daggone boring when it's not my turn and it's dark outside.

RE: What to do?

Backyard...can't recall if I said this before..there are quite a few new GW members.

Welcome to GardenWeb.

Tiff, you're SO IS easy to take something wrong when it comes to written communication. Tone of voice is lacking so a word or words can come across insulting when in fact the comment was said in a joking manner.

Purple, yep, I 'hope' we're good..You're a very nice person, and I enjoy talking to you..

LOL, yes, the Puffy Shirt and Low Talker Series. Remember the ending..They 'all' HEARD 'low-talkers' last
Oh yeah, Kramer took all but one pair of shoes, boots to how Jerry walked in those boots, then George left Jerry in a bad neighborhood because Jerry teased him about who, 'George believed, John Vogt, spelled Jon instead of John' owned the car previous to George buying it.
Oh your son must have been sooo're laughing, and he's wondering why and irked at the same time.
Does he watch Seinfeld? Had he decided on a costume?

Backyard..the reason I asked about crystals..every so often I find crystals-like deposits on leaves..I hose off foliage and they're gone..Don't know what they are, but they're NOT insects or disease.

Yep, moving a plant can cause problems..Some plants, example Ficus, don't like being moved at all. In some cases leaves drop..sometimes every single leaf.

After acclimating to its new environment, your Philo should be fine.

Backyard, in your second post, you said Philo is definately 'not' root bound..then post 3, you mentioned a root bound plant/cutting roots, ect....
Was the Philodendron rootbound? I don't understand...

Purple, like you and BY, I too stopped watching TV..When people mentioned shows/movies, I had NO idea what they were talking about. To be honest, I didn't care for new shows..nowadays, I dislike reality TV. Now I watch shows I missed when I stopped watching TV, and older stuff.

SS...glad to see you. Thought you left GW..Happy you didn't.

Purple, one computer..Oh Lord! 'It's my turn, it's my turn.' lol. I remember when we had one. Thankfully, DS wasn't interested, and DH didn't care much either. I taught DH, 'mistake.' DS figured it out on his own. Now we each have a computer..It'd never work having one. Or one TV either..We all watch different shows. DH and DS love sports..I like LMN, and a few other stations.

Way back when, families had one TV. The world has certainly changed.

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the House Plants Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here