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Does this need to be repotted?

Posted by johnthelandlord 10 (My Page) on
Sun, Dec 29, 13 at 20:53

I have a Dieffefenbachia Camille that still is in it's 6" starting pot. It has grown quite a bit and was wondering if I can get opinions if it should be transplanted yet. Also, what potting soil would be suggested. It's been growing indoors. I would like to keep it outdoors if possible, I live in Los Angeles so it doesn't get too cold. It is doing quite well now.

It grew a little funny since it was up against a window.

Thank you.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Does this need to be repotted?

Here is another pic. Can I get a new plant out of the side shoots?

RE: Does this need to be repotted?

I won't comment about outdoors growing - where you are - I suspect you might at least need a sheltered patio spot - and I wouldn't do it in one go, edge it out gradually after winter.
They don't mind being a bit root bound as long as they get nutrients, but will certainly grow taller and bulk out a bit more with a deeper and wider container. Any good quality, well draining mix is fine - again, I don;t know what brands are available to you.
A little tilt towards the light is natural, and can be rectified by turning the pot the other way for a while. If you repot it, tilt the root mass (brush away a bit of the soil on the high side) and set at an angle in the new pot so that the growth is more upright. Then fill in the pot with new soil.
Yes you can definitely get new plants off the side shoots, or just allow them to grow up and expand the width of the plant.

RE: Does this need to be repotted?

It looks like it may have spider mites. I'm not sure it's just one plant. When you repot, you may find several individuals. I would probably put them back on one pot, but separated a bit, so each has a little elbow room. I've never been able to ease one like this into any direct sun at all except very early in the morning.

It looks like chemicals/salts are building up in that pot (the white residue at the surface.) Being outside where it could drain properly - w/o the drain saucer (and get some rain water if it ever rains there) would probably do wonders for it. Good advice above to try to find a less peaty soil (something more chunky, porous, airy.)

RE: Does this need to be repotted?

Thank you for the advice. Purpleinopp why do you think it has spider mites? It seems healthy and I have never seen anything crawling on it. The white stuff is just from the water residue which has high ph and plenty of calcium and solids.

RE: Does this need to be repotted?

The leaves look stippled - the term for the damage pattern of spider mites. Could just be a little chlorotic, a Dief leaf is harder to see stippling than others, but they look it to me in those pics, not just normal variegation. Most sets of eyes can't see spider mites, they're really small. They are usually noticed by the stippled leaves, and/or webbing. That little plant looks small enough to turn sideways and rinse (so you don't drown the roots with more water than necessary, or even flood the soil out of the pot.) Most people do that with running tap water, out of necessity/lack of other options. For inside plants, that's usually enough to keep them under control. The thicker the foliage, the more difficult it is to rinse them all away. Another option would be to gently wipe the leaves, top and bottom, with cotton ball/q-tip moist with rubbing alcohol. I try not to moisten so much that drips run down into the soil since I don't care to spend time finding out what harm that could cause.

RE: Does this need to be repotted?

Aaargh! You are right. Under close examination under magnification I can see little tiny critters. So small that even under 7x jeweler loupe they are still hard to see. I also see a bit of white stuff that looks like mealy bug residue. I will try to rinse it off under running water.

Like mealy bugs, I know spider mites are next to impossible to eradicate once that starts.

Great :-(

RE: Does this need to be repotted?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Dec 30, 13 at 14:59

A good rule of thumb is, when you can lift the soil/root mass from the pot intact, growth and vitality are being limited in direct relation to the amount of root congestion. This would still be true even if the plant's nutrition was being supplemented perfectly. That doesn't mean that your plant is in eminent danger, but it does mean that it is in decline and that decline will continue unless corrected.

Unfortunately, potting up won't fully correct the problem, and it will ensure that decline will continue - even if potting up does allow the plant to grow a little closer to its potential, temporarily. This temporary improvement in growth rate is usually interpreted as a growth spurt, but in actuality is just as I described. If the roots were regularly pruned and soil changed, the plant's growth rate and state of vitality would consistently be better than the temporary improvement after potting up.

Mites are easy to control. A weekly spritz with a 50/50 mix of water and 70% rubbing alcohol that covers the entire plant will keep them in check. Higher humidity (50%+) and air movement also helps. Mealybug is another story, but they're not that difficult to control either. A mix of horticultural oil labeled 'summer', perfect, or all-season mixed with insecticidal soap will do a good job if you cover the entire plant (under leaves and leaf axils, too), or you can take plants outdoors and spray with Bayer 3-in-1 insect/fungal/mite control. Try the oil/insecticidal soap first.


RE: Does this need to be repotted?

^ Thanks for the tips.

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