Ask a Question forum: Sad China Doll - Advice Requested

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Jersey City, NJ
explaurie
Jun 5, 2017 7:21 PM CST
I bought a large, gorgeous China Doll plant about 10 days ago. I took it out of the garden shop pot and promptly replanted it in a larger terracotta pot I have here at home using fresh potting soil along with the soil it came with. I tried not to disrupt the roots and, once planted, watered it a fair amount (but didn't drown by any means). It's in front of a large sliding glass door that gets loads of afternoon sun. I was SO happy with it! Over the last 48 hours, however, the leaves are ALL drooping (not dropping off, just drooping). And the plant seems to have lost is dark green sheen. Does it NEED water? Did I water it TOO much? Is it in shock and beyond hope already? Help! And Thanks In Advance!
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Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Jun 5, 2017 7:33 PM CST
If you didn't loosen the root ball, it may not have gotten enough water. If you did, it just needs time to acclimate to it's new surroundings.
Jersey City, NJ
explaurie
Jun 5, 2017 7:39 PM CST
Thanks. I've read a couple of places that this particular plant likes to remain rootbound. Does that change your suggestion?
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Jun 5, 2017 7:49 PM CST
Not really. Root bound plants still need water , and if they have been in the pot for a while the root mass could be dryer than the new potting soil, so won't absorb the water. In that case a soak in a bucket might help. A moisture meter or a bamboo skewer or freshly sharpened pencil poked into the root area can answer that.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Jun 5, 2017 8:25 PM CST
I would try Carol's suggestion first about soaking in a bucket..then let it drain. I wonder if it is getting way too hot by your window too, afternoon sun is often stronger, and your plant is still acclimating.

I grow my China doll outdoors in a container but it gets a good shade in the afternoon and during this time of the year it gets watered often. I even spritz the stems. Our humidity here is rather lousy, so it really helps my plant endure our long dry season.
Jersey City, NJ
explaurie
Jun 5, 2017 8:28 PM CST
I've been advised that I'm terribly mistaken and that this is an indoor gardenia plant! I'm rather a novice at all this (not much in the way of successful past houseplant experience) and took my mom's word for it when she gifted it to me and said it was a China Doll.
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
Jun 5, 2017 8:34 PM CST
Oh that makes sense now. I was thinking maybe my drier condition makes my China doll leaves smaller. I don't grow gardenias, hope someone else can give you advise about it. Good luck!
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Jun 5, 2017 8:51 PM CST
Ah! That old problem with common names. I haven't tried to grow Gardenia for many years, but I don't know of any that are house plants...at least in my area. All I know about them is that they are acid lovers and need some sun. How much sun I don't know.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jun 6, 2017 4:50 PM CST
It is apparent from the photo you posted that it is not a China Doll. Glad you got clarification on that.

Gardenias need to be quite potbound, cool temps, soil kept moist, protection from direct sunlight and their roots left undisturbed. It is hard to advise you on the watering because we don't have details on the repotting.

Gardenias are not easy plants and they are quite demanding in having all of their requirements met and not very forgiving when they are not.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Laurens Passer

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LaurensPasser
Jun 20, 2017 3:19 PM CST
Good advice WillC, I would recommend to use a soil moisture meter. This is because your fingertips will not be as accurate as a meter. The best is to make a test with a meter and make a test with the tips of your fingertips. You don't need a very expensive meter to measure it. A cheap one will do the job, it is just to compare it with your current thoughts. Here you have some cheap but high quality meters: https://bestmoisturemeters.com... that I bought. I use the Dr.Meter Moisture Sensor Hydrometer for Indoor/Outdoor Use myself for my plants. Maybe other people have better suggestions, but I think a meter is always good to use.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Jun 20, 2017 5:13 PM CST
A freshly sharpened pencil or wood chopstick/skewer will also tell you how deep the moisture goes. You can see where the wood is damp.
Name: Laurens Passer

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LaurensPasser
Jun 21, 2017 1:32 AM CST
Also true, I would use a few pencils/chopsticks then to stick it in the ground on different places. And compare the different places and the moist in those places. And with those resulst you can determine if you need to water them or not. Personal I still think a moisture meter is more accurate, but everyone has their own preferences. Hurray!
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Jun 21, 2017 9:54 AM CST
Also, if it turns out that it does need watering, lift the pot up after watering and see how heavy it is. That way you'll have an idea what it feels like when it doesn't need watering. Water is heavy, so if the soil is dry, that pot will feel a lot lighter. By the way, unglazed terracotta pots dry out a LOT faster than glazed ceramic or plastic pots.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jun 24, 2017 9:43 AM CST
A few thoughts on determining how moist the soil is. Moisture meters are not always accurate although they appear to be scientifically so. They measure conductivity, not moisture directly. The premise is that wet soil conducts electricity better than dry soil. That's true, but how compact the soil is and the mineral content of the soil also affect conductivity. Thus, the meters may be accurate with some soils, but not others. The problem is that we allow them to overrule our common sense because they seem to be so scientific.

Determining moisture content by weight is very subjective. Weight can be affected by soil density and other factors. Until you know how to associate a particular weight with the soil moisture, you are simply guessing.

I do think the old fashioned finger in the soil is still the most reliable way to go, although that too has a learning curve. The bottom line is that there is no easy and completely accurate method for determining the moisture content of a plant's soil. It takes some educated guesses, some mistakes, and understanding that what works for me may not work for others.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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