Ask a Question forum: Colocasia - Growing Indoors

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duppiman
Oct 15, 2013 8:17 PM CST
Hello. I have 2 plants, Dragonheart Gigante and Noble Gigante. They are both quite young, about 9" high. A leaf on each plant Iis wilting. I asked the nursery from which I bought the plant about the leaves wilting over a week ago and they suggested that I move them away from the artificial light and water sparingly. After moving them away from the artificial light and into an area that gets indirect sunlight the 2 leaves I mentioned started wilting even more.
So, I know that the cause is not light. The soil is moist on the surface, not wet. They are in 8" self-watering pots. I gave each plant about a half cup of water on the soil 3 days ago.
The reservoir of each planter is empty.

Most of the posts I have seen on the Net are for issues with outside growing. Any advice for an indoor grower to resolve this issue?
Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
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Dutchlady1
Oct 16, 2013 5:23 AM CST
Welcome! to ATP duppiman.
In my experience these plants like nothing better than a moist atmosphere - most indoor spaces, once heated, are too dry. Therefore placing the planter on a shallow dish filled with stones, which is kept full of water at all times, will ensure a better environment.
Others may have suggestions as well.

duppiman
Oct 16, 2013 5:51 AM CST
Thanks for the reply DutchLady1.
I read something similar to what you suggested regarding the humidity in the home - emulating that of a tropical environment.
That person suggested putting a bowl of water near the plants.
I will do as you suggested. Will post the results.

Thanks!
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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eclayne
Oct 16, 2013 10:55 PM CST

Plants Admin

Hi @duppiman and welcome. Colocasia can be a bit of a pain as indoor plants. Whereabouts are you? I don't believe light is the issue either. If you can't replicate outdoor summer growing conditions then the normal rules don't apply. A photo of the plants in their pots would be helpful. I'd definitely follow Hetty's advice about the tray. Have the plants been outdoors and recently brought in?

Where I am a few hours of direct sunlight does them good. For over wintering indoors the soil should be very well draining and airy. Good soil aeration helps a lot in preventing tuber rot while the plants are sulking (50/50 potting soil/perlite). The plants should be under-potted which will help keep the soil on the dry side. Too large a pot and the soil will remain too wet. I've made both mistakes.

Evan
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Oct 17, 2013 7:33 AM CST
duppiman: Welcome to ATP!

I've used self watering containers in the past for Gesneriad type plants (African Violets etc.) If you water from the bottom reservoir and the soil is wet at the top, the roots may be totally saturated. Self watering pots allow the plant to take up water from the bottom as needed and it sounds like the soil in your pots may be holding way too much water. I'd remove the plants from their pots and inspect the roots to make sure they are not rotting; even though the reservoir is empty the soil around those roots can remain quite wet so the cause of leaf wilt can indeed be from too much moisture.

As Hetty stated, Colocasia plants prefer an atmosphere of high humidity and a tray with moist pebbles for the pot to sit on will help raise the humidity level around the plants.

As Evan said; an airy/well draining soil will help with proper drainage. I use a mixture of potting soil and lots of orchid bark mix for everything I grow. It makes for a chunky, aerated and well draining medium and I just adjust the watering as needed because some of my plants prefer more water than others.

Again, Welcome! to ATP!

Lin
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~

duppiman
Oct 17, 2013 8:57 AM CST
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Hello everyone! Thanks so much for all the great replies.
My name is Rob. I live in Northern VA.
The potting medium is a mixture of potting soil, sphagnum and peat moss, and orchid bark. Florida Hill Nursery recommends a 50/20/20/10 mix.
I followed Hetty's advice and placed the planters in trays on top of stones with water in the tray.
These planters do not have the bottom sitting in the water reservoir like the water spa planters. They are 8" planters.
The water is drawn up to the roots via two pieces of cloth.
So, while I may think I have not over-watered them and that I do not have a case of root rot I will do as Evan and Lin suggested.
I'll check the roots today when I get off from work :-).
Evan had asked if these have ever been outside and the answer is no. They were placed in temporary pots when I got them from the nursery and put near an artificial light.
Once the self-watering planters arrived I re-potted them making sure that I kept the sane ratio of potting medium.

I agree with Evan about raising them as indoor plants being a pain. My wife is going to beat me if I kill another one :-)
Most of my experience has been with Clivias.
I really like colocasias bur have never had any luck with them but the Marine in me will not allow me to quit :-)
Thanks again for all the great advice. I will post my findings later this evening.


Rob
[Last edited by duppiman - Oct 17, 2013 9:21 AM (+)]
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Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Oct 17, 2013 10:07 AM CST
Welcome!

You have much more patience than I do!
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Oct 17, 2013 2:49 PM CST
Rob:

I agree with Jennifer, you must have a lot of patience! I tried wick watering years ago for African Violets but I had to discard that growing method because the cloth was wicking up way too much moisture and keeping the soil too wet causing root rot. There are many folks who use that method of growing with great success though.

Looking at your above photo's, the plants look healthy to me! I don't grow Colocasia so I can't say for certain, but I wonder if there's a little too much water in the saucers? Usually you want the water level to be just below the top of the pebbles and replenish it little by little as it evaporates. I like your statement regarding the Marine in you not allowing you to quit and I want to say Thank You For Your Service! Thumbs up

LOL, I've been growing houseplants for 47 years but the older I get, the less patience I have with some of them.

Here's the link to the database for Elephant's Ear (Colocasia Dragon Heart Gigante)

and: Super Size Elephant Ear (Colocasia gigantea 'Thailand Giant Strain')

And, there's some great information about Colocasia at the Exotic Rainforest site too: http://www.exoticrainforest.com/Colocasia%20esculenta%20larg...

~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~

duppiman
Oct 17, 2013 3:33 PM CST
Hello Lin! Thanks for the support (Marine Corps). What they say about us is very true for most - dedication.

I thought what Jennifer had said was very funny as well. Made me think of my wife and how she rolls her eyes when she sees another colocasia in the house Green Grin!

Thanks for the links. What prompted me to ask was about their health is that they were a lot more healthy-looking when I received them. Usually plants sent via mail are wilting but these were very healthy.

I could not wait until later this evening to look at the potting medium.
I removed the soil from the pots and was surprised to find that it was saturated.
Think of a damp sponge after water has been slightly squeezed out of it.
There are no where near as many roots on the plants as when I first received them.
The excess water could not have come from the reservoir. It had to have come from the 1/2 cup or so that I gave them when I repotted them.
That mixture really hangs on to moisture.
My plan is to dry out the pots with some paper towels.
I will gently pat the roots to remove any excess moisture.
Then I will repot the plants with the same medium. No water after I repot them.
I am also going to remove some of the water from the humidity tray so it is just over the rocks as was recommended.
No water in the water reservoir at the bottom of the planter.

I want to thank all of you again for taking the time to respond to my question.

It will take a few days for them to recover but I will be certain to post the results. If you don't hear from me I have succumbed to a well-deserved beating.

Best Regards to All.


Rob
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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eclayne
Oct 17, 2013 4:25 PM CST

Plants Admin

Rob, does the potting soil you are using have moisture crystals in it? You need to add perlite or bark mulch or styrofoam beads, but not peat. Peat retains moisture like a sponge and most regular potting soils are 80% peat anyway. Those Colocasia are not happy as I see brown on the edges of all but the newest leaf. Disregard advice you find on the web that is specific to growing Colocasia outdoors when they are getting loads of sun and heat. I'm sure they'll do fine with a lighter soil and less water.

If you can more sun would be much better.
Evan

duppiman
Oct 17, 2013 5:14 PM CST
Thanks for the advice Evan.
I'll take out the peat moss and add the perlite.
I do not see moisture crystals in the soil but one of the bags (I am pretty sure I had used that one in the mixture I just dumped) is a moisture control mix produced by Miracle-Gro.
I needed the moisture control soil for my Clivias and you are right; the nursery from which I bought the plants gave general advice about planting them outdoors.
I have orchid bark in the mix and I used potting mix that does not mention anything about moisture control.
I have already repotted them with that soil and the peat. No water.
I'll go to the local nursery tomorrow and pick up some potting mix and perlite.
They are getting a lot of light where they are now and it is the indirect light that I have read that they love so much.
Before this set I had a 3' Black Magic Elephant Ear. Bloody thing died on me after too much exposure to direct light.
So, I have traded spots with my wife's plants since hers require indirect light and have been much better than mine. Can you sense the envy?

Sincere appreciation! Signing off!



Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 17, 2013 5:49 PM CST
>> The water is drawn up to the roots via two pieces of cloth.

Maybe a long-term solution would be to remove one of the wicks, and/or prop the pot up 6" higher than it was so that water would have to CLIMB to reach the soil. That might humidify the air, also!

Or wrap some waxed twine around the remaining wick and pull it tight to "choke" most of the wick's water-carrying capacity.

Or only lower the wicks into the water overnight, not all day.


>> it was saturated.

>> There are no where near as many roots on the plants as when I first received them.

Glub-glub! Drowned or rotted roots.

>> The excess water could not have come from the reservoir. It had to have come from the 1/2 cup or so that I gave them when I repotted them.

Are you positive? A wick might start out the right size, but then as sizing washed out, it could start wicking faster.

If some roots drowned, then the balance between root uptake and wick transport would change, water would have more chance to build up, and more roots would drown. Then positive feedback would give you water-logged peat.

>> My plan is to dry out the pots with some paper towels.
>> I will gently pat the roots to remove any excess moisture.

Great, but, since you already have wicks in place, you could instead back-wards-wick the pot dry by setting it on a Tee shirt (or paper towel) that drapes over the edge of the shelf and hangs down. Then capillary attraction PLUS gravity will pull perched water out of the pot, DESPITE the peat moss and potting mix.

>> That mixture really hangs on to moisture.

This, I totally believe. it sounds like 70% peat plus a little coarse stuff. I would have thought it better to have 10-15% peat or fine bark, a little coarse stuff, and the rest grit-sized bark or very-fine-gravel-sized bark.

>> Then I will repot the plants with the same medium.

How about much less peat and potting mix? Replace with more screened bark mostly in the range 1/4" down to 1/10" (or 5 mm down to 2 mm?) Chips & shreds are better than square nuggets.

Why use any more peat than needed to establish wicking inside the pot? And you could do that with 10% peat plus 90% bark (mostly grit and fine gravel sizes, plus some bark fibers or shreds).

If you don't like paying for orchid bark, there is a product that my local Lowe's sells named "Medium Bark Nuggets" that are almost as clean as orchid bark I've bought, but it's around $4 for 2 cubic feet. As long as it doesn't smell fermented, you don't even have to flush it first (but I'm not familiar with Colocasia).

(I never buy "bark mulch" anymore, especially from Home Depot, because I've gotten such nasty logyard trash there in the past, full of wood, stones and muddy dirt.)

I screen my bark nuggets with 1/2" and 1/4" hardware cloth (galvanized, woven, welded steel mesh). I wish I had 1/8" mesh. For me, the stuff that is briefly held back by the 1/4" mesh is good, but I also use some that passes slowly through 1/4". I avoid dusty bark powder like death, because it holds almost as much water as peat (well, half as much).

Good luck!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 17, 2013 5:52 PM CST
Cross-posted!

Again, good luck.

I'm experimenting with different fabrics, twine, and rope to find non-rotting wick materials.

I bottom-water seedling trays using a mat of cotton flannel. I know that the soil in the bottom of the seedling cells is almost exactly as wet as the cotton mat is, and the only water reservior is the grooves in the bottom of the tray.


duppiman
Oct 29, 2013 7:06 PM CST
Hello Everyone!

Thanks for the very detailed response Rick. Apologies for the late reply.

Update. They are alive. Recovering slowly but they are alive.
I explained the issues to a very nice lady at the local nursery.
Premium moisture controlled soil was bought along with a product that reduces the shock of re-potting.
I made sure that all of the planters were well ventilated from the bottom.
The 6" planters have plates above the water reservoir and those plates are ventilated but anything above 6" is not ventilated that well.
The plants are in a room that gets a lot of light during the day but not direct sunlight.
This past Sunday I was organizing a bookshelf and found a pamphlet with planting and care instructions from one of the nurseries like Direct Gardening or Inter-State. I found the Elephant Ears in the House Plants section.
Aside from the regular tips on humidity and light requirements there is a warning about using tap water.
Rain water or bottled water is recommended. The tap water can actually kill the plant.
I am pretty sure that it is the tap water that killed the 3 foot elephant ear that I had before these patients arrived.
Along with the tray of pebbles and water misting is suggested.

I also discovered that the wilting can be a sign that they are going dormant because of the time of year.
Advice is to leave them alone for about 8 weeks if they do go dormant but do not let the soil dry out.
After 8 weeks start watering again with small amounts from the top and they should start responding.

I do not think that these are going dormant because new leaves are appearing. I will continue misting.

Thanks again for everyone's help.


Best Regards,


Rob
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 29, 2013 8:03 PM CST
Thanks for the update! " Recovering slowly" is very good news.

I hope "moisture controlled soil" addresses "not retaining too MUCH water" as well as "preventing too LITTLE water".

>> a warning about using tap water.
>> Rain water or bottled water is recommended. The tap water can actually kill the plant.

Interesting! I didn't know that. Did it hint whether it was chlorine or minerals that were the problem with tap water? I always love to find out "why".


duppiman
Oct 30, 2013 9:24 AM CST
Hi Rick!

Yes, that soil does address the two concerns.
With no watering from the top for over a week the soil's moisture content is just right.

It is the chlorine.
I read about the chlorine in the tap water on another site a while back and forgot about it.
However, the phrasing on that site did not imply certain death if tap water was used.
I do not recall the mention of other minerals on that site and the pamphlet does not mention it either.
It does mention using either rain water or bottled water.
Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator Region: Florida Cat Lover Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Tropicals
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Dutchlady1
Oct 30, 2013 9:27 AM CST
If it is chlorine you can just let the water stand overnight in a bucket and that will deal with that issue (the chlorine evaporates). It is then safe to use.

duppiman
Oct 30, 2013 9:35 AM CST
Yep, thought so. The same process for creating distilled water. Thanks!
Name: Ginger
Fountain, Florida (Zone 8b)
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gingin
Oct 30, 2013 1:58 PM CST
Hi Rob and Welcome! to ATP from the Florida panhandle. I have very much enjoyed this thread...you have a great sense of humor. Good luck with your "patients" and I too would like to thank you for your service Group hug Again, Welcome!
Each cloud has a silver lineing if only you look for it.

duppiman
Oct 30, 2013 3:50 PM CST
Thank you so much for the kind words and the encouragement Ginger!
I am very hopeful as well that my patients will do well or I will be the next patient

Hilarious!

Love the tag line. Thumbs up

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