Houseplants forum: Plant Struggling, What do you Think?

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RodneyB53
May 7, 2019 9:49 AM CST
I purchased this plant with two other indoor plants, different types, to keep in our classroom window sill. We've had them for about four months and the students have been monitored while they water them. The other two plants have been doing great, but this one has been wilting for about 2-3 weeks. Students feel the top of the soil for moisture and only add a bit of water if it feels dry. Any thoughts about what we could do to perk this little fella up?

Thanks

RB
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Name: Sue Taylor
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kniphofia
May 7, 2019 9:54 AM CST
When you say "add a bit of water" what do you mean? That compost looks bone dry.
Does the container have drainage holes?
When watering you need to thoroughly drench the rootball so that water runs out of the bottom into the saucer underneath. Then leave until the top couple of inches of compost is dry.
For underwatered plants the water can rush through without penetrating the rootball compounding the problem.
I think there's no way back for that plant.

RodneyB53
May 7, 2019 10:05 AM CST
We were watering it once a day. When it first started wilting we thought it might be getting too much water (water would run through the draining hole in the bottom) on a daily basis. We backed off to putting a bit less than a 1/4 cup of water when the top felt dry.

So since this guy is on his way out I think we'll replace it next year. I'll do some research on how to take care of them so hopefully the next group will do better.

Thanks.
Name: Gene Staver
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gasrocks
May 7, 2019 10:25 AM CST
Where do you live? You teach at what level? Gene

RodneyB53
May 7, 2019 10:27 AM CST
CA. I have a high school class of students with mod/severe AUT.
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
May 7, 2019 10:35 AM CST
Canada or Calif.? I might guess you are looking for plants that can grow indoors, are hard to kill and perhaps put on some kind of show? I am sure others here can suggest some plants that might fit the bill.
Name: tarev
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tarev
May 7, 2019 10:47 AM CST
Try to water the plant entirely, spritz the entire plant and water the soil line thoroughly. At times, there are tropical houseplants much more water and humidity needy. Then make sure you position it in just one area, where it will get bright indirect light. Do not move it around often. Got to allow the plant to acclimate.

Watering indoor plants does not mean doing it daily. The root zone area needs good airflow too and dry out time is affected by various factors like the type of container in use, light levels, airflow around the plant. Glazed container will hold water longer, so even if the top part of the soil seems dry, the soil below is still damp. Since it is a small container, you can compare the weight of the container before and after watering. If it still feels heavy after a few days, delay watering. Or use bamboo skewers, if you stick it in and comes out wet, delay watering.

Also what light orientation is there at the window sill? Your plant is more of a low light plant, so it will not like too much direct sun.
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Hamwild
May 7, 2019 10:54 AM CST
I thought Zebra plants wanted more light than low light. I'm all ears!
Name: tarev
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tarev
May 7, 2019 11:11 AM CST
I have always seen them growing in lower light levels even in my homeland. They are positioned similarly as bromeliads grow. However if they are being grown outdoors, and humidity levels are much higher it may take a bit more light, since it is obviously consuming more resources to sustain its growth, and will demand more frequent watering too while outdoors. But if they are being grown indoors, there will be adjustments to its needs.
Name: Gene Staver
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gasrocks
May 7, 2019 11:15 AM CST
IMO, bromeliads are not low light plants. But I live in WI not Calif.
Name: Gene Staver
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gasrocks
May 7, 2019 11:21 AM CST
My first thought for plants in a classroom setting is to get some grow lights and raise veg. from seed.

RodneyB53
May 7, 2019 2:38 PM CST
Thanks, everyone for the replies.

This is in Southern California. The sits on the inside of a classroom window sill where direct sunlight is blocked from the window all day. The pot is small, ceramic, and has a drainage hole in the bottom. When I poked down to the dirt underneath it was pretty dry. Guess I now know why it's dying.

I like the idea of trying to grow some small vegetables. Any thoughts about what might make for good vegetables in this type of setting. Also, indoor plans that are hard to kill and look nice might work for next year. Any ideas would be appreciated.
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plantladylin
May 7, 2019 2:40 PM CST
Zebra Plant (Aphelandra squarrosa) prefers bright light but no direct sun. Although it sounds as though you've been watering correctly (by pouring water onto the soil until it drains out the bottom of the container), it looks extremely dry which is probably the reason for the severe wilting. You need to water more often, the soil should be kept consistently moist but not soggy.
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RodneyB53
May 8, 2019 8:31 AM CST
Thanks, everyone for the replies.

This is in Southern California. The sits on the inside of a classroom window sill where direct sunlight is blocked from the window all day. The pot is small, ceramic, and has a drainage hole in the bottom. When I poked down to the dirt underneath it was pretty dry. Guess I now know why it's dying.

I like the idea of trying to grow some small vegetables. Any thoughts about what might make for good vegetables in this type of setting. Also, indoor plans that are hard to kill and look nice might work for next year. Any ideas would be appreciated.
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sallyg
May 9, 2019 6:08 AM CST
Vegetables-
Radishes. Lettuce. Spinach. Kale. Bush green beans. A pepper plant, maybe. Basil, parsley.

Not many vegetables will produce a meaningful crop in a windowsill pot. But those are either fast growing, need less light, or you can eat the leaves even very small. With beans they are nice big seeds easy to handle and grow, not sure if you'll actually get a few beans to eat.

To watch growth, potato or onions sprout easily. You can eat onion tops for fun, they taste like onion. No crop on potatoes.

My go-to plant is Aglaonema
Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema commutatum)
or pothos
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
May 9, 2019 6:10 AM CST
Radishes.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
May 9, 2019 3:31 PM CST
When water runs straight through it means the soil is already saturated and cannot absorb any more water. Or it may mean the opposite; that the soil has gotten so dry it is almost water repellent and not absorbing any water. In that case, the soil has to be rewetted by sitting the pot in water for an hour or so.

In any case, Aphelandras are not very tolerant of lapses in watering and maybe not the best choice for the classroom. They need to be watered as soon as the top half-inch of soil feels dry. Always add enough water so that some trickles through the drain holes. Partial watering is not a good idea.

Bright indirect sunlight means close to a window but protected from the rays of the sun falling directly on the leaves.
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Horticultural Help, NYC
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