Ask a Question forum: Smoke Damage?

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Name: Naomi
Mo (Zone 6a)
Aug 7, 2016 9:54 PM CST
I purchased my AechmeaFasciata about 5 yrs ago. The original plant has since died but left behind pups, which had granpups and great granpups. I gave a granpup (about 12" tall) and a greatgran pup (about 5" tall) to a neighbor a few weeks ago. They were in the same pot, not repotted since they were removed from mom plant. She had it outside today and I was shocked at how bad it looked. The main plant has big black spots in the middle of a couple leaves. The great granpup, so sad, is beyond help. The center was all brown and mushy, only 1 outer leaf had some green left but was going limp. She thought it was over watered as she had watered it and then her caretaker watered it, one watered center plant and the other the soil. Hoping to save it, I took it out of the pot (mix wasn't waterlogged just damp), removed the dying ggranpup, rinsed off the roots, applied some cinnamon ( read that works as fungacide), and repotted with fresh mix (equal parts cactus soil, perilite, and bark chips). I suggested she water the center just a little and then no more for a week or 2 and keep out of direct sun. Now my question, she is a heavy smoker, could that be or contribute to the plants failure? None of the plants had been subject to smoke enviroment before. The soil mix was the same as the mother plant that I still have, which is flowering. If smoke is a possible problem, what can be done to help the plant survive? Wiping the leaves? How often and with what-dry cloth or wet with water? I hope my "treatment" was the right thing to do, suggestions appreciated. Thank you!
The photo is of the great granpup. I didn't have access to the main plant at this time.
Thumb of 2016-08-08/Anni55/14f74b

Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
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Aug 8, 2016 5:41 AM CST
I think correcting the watering is 95% of the cure. I've never come across comments about smoke killing plants, but if the leaves get dirty, I guess yes that will decrease the plant's ability to thrive. Smoke dirt on the leaves would be a slow death but bad watering can be a much faster death.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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Aug 8, 2016 8:13 AM CST
I agree with Sally. Most likely it got watered too much, although with bromeliads that's not usually a problem either. Their roots don't take up a lot of water, most of their water and nutrients are taken in by the leaves. The roots in the medium just hold the plant in place. My broms here get deluged with rain in the summer and have no problems.

Lots of smokers grow plants just fine in their houses. Bromeliads are epiphytes that do feed through their leaves though, so it might be a good idea for her to wipe the leaves off once in a while, but the smoke should really just be a source of airborne nutrients.

If you gave her the mother plant, it's possible that plant is just dying its natural death, too. Broms do die off once they have bloomed and produced pups. That doesn't explain why the baby died, though. Possibly that was from too much sun.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Christine
Saugerties, NY zone 5a
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Aug 8, 2016 9:31 AM CST
As an X smoker Hurray! I can say that as long as the leaves were kept cleaned, smoke never effected any of my plants, I agree that over watering is more than likely the issue. Welcome!
Name: Naomi
Mo (Zone 6a)
Aug 8, 2016 8:10 PM CST
Elaine: No, she didn't get the original mother plant. Sorry that was confusing, the main plant was the mother to the pup that died. Neither of them has ever bloomed. She never leaves it outside for long so I don't think it was too much sun. I really think it was the watering. Thank you all for your advice. I really like this site!

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