Cactus and Succulents forum: Does Dioscorea elephantipes need a deep pot?

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British Columbia, Canada (Zone 9a)
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cullen_
Jan 11, 2020 4:33 PM CST
I've been growing this one for a few years from seed. But, my leaves are never nice pretty. They are always splotched. Never the nice green I see in pictures. It does seem to like a lot of water during the growing season, so this year I started it out in a semi-hydro. pot with the same results. For the last two months it has been growing back in earth. The growth is the same. The leaves start out correct, dark olive, but instead of turning to a nice green they are green with lots of splotches.
It is not a bug like spider mites. It definitely has something to do with it's growing conditions. I have never tried a large pot. I have never tried a very organic soil. Does this plant like to have deep roots?
Thank you.

FYI - I added some photos with my next post on this thread.
[Last edited by cullen_ - Jan 12, 2020 11:36 AM (+)]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Jan 11, 2020 4:41 PM CST
I had one for years (it was not a survivor of our move to Reno). It was in a bonsai pot just larger than it was wide and about 2 inches deep. The leaves on mine were always light green with yellowish edges but, I figured it was my (lack of) care. Whistling I lifted it to expose the cool roots.
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Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
British Columbia, Canada (Zone 9a)
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cullen_
Jan 12, 2020 11:34 AM CST
I did find a little evidence of spider mite, but that is new. His neighbour to the west has spider mites. But this discolouration started months ago. And is the same as last year. I have been expecting spider mite to start to spread. Next week my Persimilis, biological pesticide, beneficial insects arrive. They will destroy all of these mites. I am trying to keep leaves clean until it does.

I took some pictures of the leaves. It almost looks like a nutrient deficiency, but that is not right. It looks like???

FYI: If they have what looks like dust & white dots, just ignore that. That is a beneficial microbe I was spreading around the whole grow area. Some got on the leaves.

I also took the pictures with & without a flash to help you see them better.

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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Jan 12, 2020 12:32 PM CST
Have you given the plant a warm soapy bath? Have you considered cutting the stem off and letting it start again?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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tarev
Jan 12, 2020 12:54 PM CST
What a nice caudiciform...wish I can help, but have not grown this plant. Have always admired it when I see it at the more specialized succulent nurseries, just way too expensive though for my budget.

Hmm. but reading about it online, somehow it reminds me of my Boojum tree (Fouquieria columnaris), seems similar growth habit, awake in fall to late Spring but asleep in summer. My Boojum tree handles the cold very well, I just position it in the sunniest side of the garden during the cold season, grown in a very gritty media, container smaller. Actually I have not even repotted it since I bought it a couple of years ago. Our cold conditions is much milder than yours though, nothing yet below 30F (-1C)

Do you augment your light for it during winter? Where do you position your plant during this winter?
British Columbia, Canada (Zone 9a)
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cullen_
Jan 12, 2020 1:11 PM CST
I first stem broke. The second stem I cut back after it got too large. It recently died, must have broken it, it looks like it's still attached, but I don't see why else it would have just died. The other two stems are fairly new. There is one more that just started to emerge. No matter the leaves do the same thing. Last year it was like this as well.

I've been spraying the leaves with water, because I figured the spider mite would eventually attack it as well. Probably why the only webbing I have seen is today. I checked it two days ago. I'm not using anything on it. I do not want any residual of anything that might interfere with the bugs coming. This is why they are not coming until next week, because I sprayed the Palms with a Pyrethroid almost three weeks ago. I want no residual anything to interfere with the work they have to do.
Name: James
North Louisiana (Zone 8b)
Adeniums Cactus and Succulents Enjoys or suffers hot summers Garden Photography Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Gulf Coast
Region: Louisiana
deepsouth
Jan 12, 2020 1:36 PM CST
I have a Dioscorea mexicana ~ Mexican Elephant Foot ...

the soil depth is less than 2" - as roots spout laterally, or sideways from the caudex

Potting medium is the same I use for adeniums:

1 Part: Coconut Coir -
1 Part: Redwood Bark (or) Orchid / Phalaenopsis Mix - Break-up, cut or crush larger stems & bark
1 Part: Poultry Grit (or) Pea Gravel
1 Part: Perlite - coarse -
1 Part: Sand - coarse = Leveling, Horticultural, Builder's Sand > screen out fine sand & dust
1 Part: Lump charcoal - Break-up, Crush to 1/4" to ½" sized pieces > screen out dust
1 Part: Lava-rock – (volcanic cinders or pumice)

in the summer months - this plant gets morning sunlight only ...now the plant is indoors and only getting ambient light - and gets watered perhaps once a month

the leaves thrive in sunlight - but the caudex does not


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Name: James
North Louisiana (Zone 8b)
Adeniums Cactus and Succulents Enjoys or suffers hot summers Garden Photography Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Gulf Coast
Region: Louisiana
deepsouth
Jan 12, 2020 2:36 PM CST
oh yeah ....

not sure if Dioscorea elephantipes does the same thing - but my Dioscorea mexicana will not retain leaves from year to year .... as leaves yellow, I will cut them from the vine - but will leave the vine as is .... this leaves a "frame-work" for the following year ...

when plant moves outdoors - new vines and leaves will emerge from the old vine

might add ...yours looks too wet ....
British Columbia, Canada (Zone 9a)
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cullen_
Jan 12, 2020 3:00 PM CST
@deepsouth Mine is wet because I watered it just before I took the picture. It is actually in a soil very similar to yours. It dries out in two days.
I never kept the vine before. I always thought they started with new vines each year. That would be a lot less energy, just having to leaf out. Thanks. I will give that a try this year.

It likes it best between the grow lights. When I tried it under the grow light the leaves burned as soon as they formed. Once I moved it out from them, but still in a bright location, it gave me leaves. Not the best looking leaves, but leaves. If I could only get some green leaves. that would be amazing.

Name: James
North Louisiana (Zone 8b)
Adeniums Cactus and Succulents Enjoys or suffers hot summers Garden Photography Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Gulf Coast
Region: Louisiana
deepsouth
Jan 12, 2020 3:49 PM CST
yeah ...let the potting media dry out for a longer period between watering .... and when it is watered, make certain it doesn't sit in water afterwards

don't fertilize during the winter months ....

when actively growing - the vine growth on these things are amazing .....never seen anything quite like it .... one day it may only be 1" of growth...a few days later it can easily be a foot or more

have had very few insects attack .... and when I have had issues, usually aphids or scale ...the only thing I have used is insecticidal soap ....

as for lighting during winter months .... maybe shade it more, or give it less light .... and maybe far less heat ..... that is ...cool but no-where near freezing
Name: Bob
The Kau Desert, Hawaii (Zone 12a)
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OrchidBob
Jan 14, 2020 3:03 AM CST
I have been growing this Dioscorea elephantipes for 16 years from a small plant in a 3 inch pot to this beauty in a 10 inch Azalea pot. So they do not need to be potted in a deep pot but I feel they do not require a bonsai pot either. The mother plant it came from had a three foot diameter caudex. Madelyn the owner said the best time to transplant these guys is in the spring, as these are summer growers. I pot it up about every 2-3 years in my typical succulent mix. (nothing rich about it). I cut back the dead vines when all the leaves fall off in the winter. My cold season is just starting so, as you can see my leaves are changing. They look kind of mottled. Just like yours. This is normal for leaves that are dying. Your plant looks great and you should not worry about the changing colors of the leaves.

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Name: Eric
Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Cactus and Succulents Plant and/or Seed Trader
Hallow
Jan 14, 2020 6:01 AM CST
I have a number of these I been doing experiments on. (I grew a bunch from seed) right now I can't think of the insect's name anyway, there white and fuzzy. Those bugs seem to love these plants. And sometimes those bugs attach to the plant under the soil. Just a thought. I grow them in different lighting and different levels above the soil. With little differnces in growth. But soil seems to make most difference. The ones doing the best are in very well draining soil in standard clay pots. Water often with very well draining soil seems to be my best results while there growing. When dormant. Leave them cool and minimal water until they start growing again. A longer rest will give you better longer duration growth.
[Last edited by Hallow - Jan 14, 2020 6:06 AM (+)]
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