Ask a Question forum: Help with a Clusia

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Zurich, Switzerland
quietjuan
Sep 24, 2017 7:45 AM CST
Hi,

Two years ago I bought my first plant, a Clusia, which I have managed to keep alive until about two months ago when its stem starting turning brown. I have no idea why it's happening.

Thumb of 2017-09-24/quietjuan/4a2fba

Does anybody know what may be wrong with her? I haven't changed its soil since I bought it and I water it every 4 days. It's sitting here:

Thumb of 2017-09-24/quietjuan/7070b7

Thank you
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Sep 24, 2017 9:34 AM CST
It sounds to me like you might have some rot going on. Have you taken it out of the pot to inspect the root area? They are supposed to be drought tolerant so you could be overwatering.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Sep 24, 2017 2:59 PM CST
It is normal for the lower Clusia stem to develop a bark covering as it ages. It is not a cause for concern. However, judging from the photo, yours is not getting enough light to thrive and that could become a more serious problem. It should be within 2 or 3 feet of the window. It will also need to be pruned back periodically. The pot size is fine.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Zurich, Switzerland
quietjuan
Sep 25, 2017 11:34 AM CST
Woofie: thanks for the advice. I will be careful about watering: my wife does regularly point out that she thinks I overwater the clusia.

WillC: thank you, I will move her closer and see if it helps.

1) I read online that when you prune houseplants you should prune about 10% of it and that twice a year is a good frequency. Does this apply to my kind of Clusia?

2) Does it also apply to areca palms this size:

Thumb of 2017-09-25/quietjuan/596f0c

3) Are there any rule of thumbs or telltale signs for when to replace the soil and when to add fertiliser? Both my clusia and areca palms are in the soil they came in when I bought them at IKEA 2.5 years ago.

Thanks
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Sep 25, 2017 2:16 PM CST
1. Ignore such pruning rules because every plant species and every individual plant is unique. Pruning is all about shaping a plant and controlling its growth so that it pleases you. Thus, it is as individual as you are. Understand that new growth will emerge on your Clusia stems just below where you make the pruning cuts and grow upward from there. Let that guide you in pruning.

2. With most Palm species, each stem has a single growing tip. If that growing tip is cut off, then that stem will slowly die and not produce any new growth. Understanding that you may choose to cut off some Areca stems at the base if they are too tall of look very leggy. New growth will emerge from the soil and grow upward to replace stems that you have removed.

3. Never replace soil. In doing so, you will damage most of the tiny roothairs that do most of the work and there is nothing to be gained by replacing soil anyway. Sometimes potted plants need to be moved into a pot one size larger, but only when there is no longer enough soil to retain water for more than a few days. Many older plants will stay in the same pot indefinitely. When you repot, keep most of the original rootball intact.

If your plant has been in the same soil for more than 6 months, is healthy and growing well, then it is a good idea to fertilize monthly at half the recommended label strength.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Sep 25, 2017 2:25 PM CST
If I repot every 5 or 6 years, my plants feel lucky. I very rarely fertilize, maybe once a year in late spring and then I use it at 1/4 to 1/2 strength.

When I do repot, I carefully remove the plant from the pot and then see what falls away. That's the soil you should replace.

Palms easily suffer from salt burn (from fertilizer and chemicals in your water supply) - the soil can use a good flushing once in awhile.
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

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[Last edited by DaisyI - Sep 25, 2017 2:33 PM (+)]
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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
Sep 25, 2017 2:36 PM CST
woofie said:It sounds to me like you might have some rot going on. Have you taken it out of the pot to inspect the root area? They are supposed to be drought tolerant so you could be overwatering.


I find the black spots on the stem a little disconcerting but they don't travel all the way to the soil so I'm not sure what is going on. The plant looks really healthy otherwise.

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

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Zurich, Switzerland
quietjuan
Sep 26, 2017 10:28 PM CST
Will, Daisy: thank you very much for your help and directions. I will follow them and report back if the situation doesn't get better. :)

Will: I was going to ask for a book for beginner plant owners but I see on your sig that you published a book so, I assume that's your best recommendation for someone new to plants like me, right?

Thanks
Zurich, Switzerland
quietjuan
Sep 26, 2017 10:38 PM CST
Actually I have one more question about re-potting: the reason I asked is that I see what, to me, looked like the roots growing out of the pot, see the light-yellowish stems at the back on this photo:

Thumb of 2017-09-27/quietjuan/b26577

If re-potting isn't a good idea unless the soil has the problems that you mention, should I do anything about these yellowish stems?

Thanks
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Sep 26, 2017 10:56 PM CST
I hope you just watered. That soil looks like muck! WAY too wet for this plant.
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

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Sep 27, 2017 5:10 PM CST
The stray surface roots are not a reason to repot. You can leave them, cut them off or cover them with soil.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Zurich, Switzerland
quietjuan
Sep 30, 2017 2:55 AM CST
Thanks Daisy, Will! I will report back in case of problems.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Sep 30, 2017 7:30 AM CST
Quietjuan - Yes, my book is intended for anyone who struggles with their indoor plants, including those who are starting out. It was written because it is so difficult to find up-to-date and reliable information on plant care on the internet or in other plant books. It is available through bookstores and on Amazon.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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