Houseplants forum: Houseplant Nightmare!! Newbie needs help

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Hunterdon County NJ (Zone 6b)
Chrissyd1121
Dec 31, 2017 7:38 PM CST
I live with my bf who is a hoarder (objects as well as plants). I can't seem to ever do anything right in his eyes. I need some advice. I don't have enough room for all the plants he brought in for the winter. We basically only have one west facing window. He set up shelves so I could fill the window with plants but there's still not enough room. I was rotating them so one would be in a window with good light for a while and then I would switch it out so one that wasn't getting good light got a window spot for a while. He told me to stop moving them around, find a spot for them and leave them there. Then (of course) the ones in the center of the room that didn't get enough light started getting shabby and he says I'm trying to kill them. I'm not trying to kill them I just don't know how to balance them all.
I tend to overwater. I noticed a while ago there were fungus gnats and white fuzzy mold on the surface of most of the soil. So I stopped watering so much and now he says I'm trying to kill them bc I'm not watering them.
Idk what to do. Here's a couple pics of the mold on the tops... I'm pretty sure it's from overwater but maybe it's something else...
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And this is what the room looks like now... From the entrance and then closer up...




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I ask a lot of questions about everything I learn about and he never answers any of them. This site has been a god send!!! He always says he doesn't know, then whatever I do is wrong. Only a couple of plants have totally died and those are the super tropical ones that are usually just annuals here in NJ anyways. Right now the ornamental peppers are almost dead but I just don't know how to give them the humidity and light they need. Plus it's drafty in this house....
I guess I just want to know if there's something I can do differently.
I wanted to get rid of some of the spider plants so that I had more room for better plants but he just has to keep every single thing and I can't handle it.

So here's my questions
1. Any better way to arrange all this mess? Should I be rotating or not?
2. Is that mold from overwatering or something else? Does it look like I withholding too much water?
3. Any help or advice would be appreciated

Thanks guys!!!
Greece (Zone 10b)
Houseplants Foliage Fan Cactus and Succulents Tropicals Aroids Bromeliad
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Faridat
Jan 1, 2018 3:56 AM CST
Hi there! I actually like places with many plants! But you are right on the organizing part and on the part of meeting the plants' needs.
I would rotate the plants. I do this to mine also, turning the pot a bit every time I water.
Note: rotating doesn't mean eternally moving plants around our space though, there are plants that crave stability in their microenvironment, like ficus plants, crotons, etc.
So, rotate, once you have them established in their place.
Now, for the putting more plants near the windows, try tiered positioning. That way more plants can reach to some natural light. If you cannot provide efficient light, you can always supplement with artificial.
Succulents need a lot of sunlight, so I'd move those the nearest to the windowsill space.
Can you do something about the drafts though? Most of indoor plants do not like cold drafts.
For the mold you see on the soil, it's probably due to bad air circulation. Do you open the windows at any time in the day? If not, try to open them two or three times a day for 10 minutes, that alone should help with the mold in a way. Plants that are squeezed in a small space cannot get all their needs met unfortunately, but I wish you best of luck with your collection. :)
In some Native languages the term for plants translates to "those who take care of us."
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Hunterdon County NJ (Zone 6b)
Chrissyd1121
Jan 1, 2018 4:23 AM CST
So I have several artificial lights set up around there. Idk if you can tell so here's a better pic of them. They're pretty much all for the succulents right now. I have another shop light style grow light that's going to go somewhere... Possibly on the ceiling over the right window, probably on the bottom of the bottom shelf, a continuation of the one on the right. It would prob be best to put it up somewhere else to spread the plants out more so they are not all on top of each other. There's just no other natural light to lead me to the answer!!

I don't think there's anything I can do about the drafts short of covering the whole window. I try to keep the more sensitive plants away from the window bc of that unstable temperature.

Havent been able to open the windows lately. Way too cold here. Think a fan to circulate would be sufficient?
Greece (Zone 10b)
Houseplants Foliage Fan Cactus and Succulents Tropicals Aroids Bromeliad
Orchids Region: Europe Garden Art Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Faridat
Jan 1, 2018 4:48 AM CST
A fan would be a great idea, I was also thinking about getting a ceiling fan for my indoor plants actually! It would certainly help with the air and it would reduce such unpleasant "visitors" in the soil. It's great that you have set up lights already!
In some Native languages the term for plants translates to "those who take care of us."
Robin Wall Kimmerer
[Last edited by Faridat - Jan 1, 2018 4:54 AM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 1, 2018 10:06 AM CST
I think the issues you described here are a lot deeper than the plant problems, but that is a topic for another forum entirely.

As for the plants, a few observations:

1.Try to slim down your collection if possible. There simply is not enough available light to have success with so many plants.

2. Plants do not like to be moved so that the light changes significantly. That forces them to adapt each time they are relocated and that is stressful. Keep the plants that require the most light closest to the windows and the others further away. Don't move them back and forth.

3.It is hard to tell from the photos what the white stuff is on the soil surface. It might be a type of fungus or it may be mineral salts or something in the potting soil you used. When plants are moved outdoors in summer, they are often exposed to various molds, fungi, and pests that they don't experience indoors.

4. Prune back large plants and those with long, leggy stems. It will be better for the pruned plants and it will open up space for more plants.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Tommy
Hudson Valley of N.Y.
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tommyr
Jan 1, 2018 12:08 PM CST
Chrissyd1121 said:I live with my bf who is a hoarder (objects as well as plants). I can't seem to ever do anything right in his eyes. I need some advice. I don't have enough room for all the plants he brought in for the winter. We basically only have one west facing window. He set up shelves so I could fill the window with plants but there's still not enough room. I was rotating them so one would be in a window with good light for a while and then I would switch it out so one that wasn't getting good light got a window spot for a while. He told me to stop moving them around, find a spot for them and leave them there. Then (of course) the ones in the center of the room that didn't get enough light started getting shabby and he says I'm trying to kill them. I'm not trying to kill them I just don't know how to balance them all.
I tend to overwater. I noticed a while ago there were fungus gnats and white fuzzy mold on the surface of most of the soil. So I stopped watering so much and now he says I'm trying to kill them bc I'm not watering them.
Idk what to do.


For the fungus gnats Buy a package of "Mosquito dunks" at the garden center. Put one quarter of one in your watering can. This will kill the larvae in the soil and stop future generations. It is all natural and safe. Use sticky traps and manually kill the adults.
Hunterdon County NJ (Zone 6b)
Chrissyd1121
Jan 2, 2018 11:26 AM CST
Thanks for the input everyone!!

WillC- I know, I know!! He's impossible sometimes and I could just strangle him. But then he cooks me dinner and i forget that I was just about to move out over some damn plants.
Ohh, you know what?!? Could the white mold be from using a 3 in 1 as a drench? The label said I could use it that way and the plants themselves didn't seem to be negativity effected (yet) but I know that stuff can be sticky no matter how many times you wash it... Hmm.....
Thank you for saying that (slim it down bc there's not enough light to have success with all of them). That's what I needed to hear. I didn't know how much work plants could be! So needy! We do have a guest bedroom with good southern light that is supposedly getting shelving like on these windows so I've been placing everything tentatively bc I thought I would have another window in another room by now... I've basically put the significant plants in the good light and leave the ones I like least in the center of the room now bc I've kinda given up.

Seriously, we need 19 (seriously, I just counted) spider plants?! And that's just the ones in pots... There's more he put in water. At the end of the summer we had a couple really nice looking spider plants, I actually loved the look of them. But now, since they're lacking in light and piled on top of one another, the nice big ones are down to just a few leaves, half yellow and with brown tips. I hate a dinky shabby leafless spider plant!

Okay so I'm gonna
1. prune down the larger stemmier plants.
2. "accidentally" kill a couple spider plants to make some room
3. Get a fan goin in there for a couple hrs a day
4. Go for a tier from the window... The left window has a table with lights for succulents but the right only has a low bench so I can get some plant stands from outside and layer some plants behind that.... Great idea!!! (Thank you Faridat!)
The plan was always to hang some too... That would help
5. Get Mosquito Dunks! (Thank you tommyr!)

Idk what I would do without you guys! You rock!
Name: Alyssa Blue
Ohio (Zone 5b)
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AlyssaBlue
Jan 2, 2018 12:00 PM CST
I don't want to get too off topic but I do have a suggestion for you- to find something that you like doing that will provide light and enjoyment. Everyone needs it- could be an old/new hobby, an activity in or outdoors, a church activity. Something where you are caring for yourself. Hurray!
Hunterdon County NJ (Zone 6b)
Chrissyd1121
Jan 2, 2018 2:16 PM CST
Honestly... I want to tell you to [removed] bc you could have stated that less offensively. However, you're right. How could you tell?!?!
[Last edited by dave - Jan 2, 2018 3:46 PM (+)]
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Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
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pirl
Jan 2, 2018 2:34 PM CST
Dave does not allow that language here.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 2, 2018 6:00 PM CST
Chryssy - What is 3 in 1?
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Alyssa Blue
Ohio (Zone 5b)
Bloom where you're planted
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AlyssaBlue
Jan 4, 2018 7:12 AM CST
I guess you remind me somewhat, of myself 30 years ago. Peace.

Stick around though- you may end up being the ultimate plant hoarder. Thumbs up
Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Jan 4, 2018 10:16 AM CST
WillC said:Chryssy - What is 3 in 1?

Chrissy is probably referring to Bayer 3 in 1 insect control: https://www.bayeradvanced.com/... The product is highly toxic. Anyone using chemicals should always be cautious and wear protective masks and gloves. Here's an info safety sheet for the 3 in 1 product: http://www.kellysolutions.com/...

~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 4, 2018 3:40 PM CST
Thanks, Lin. All I could think of was 3-in-1 oil that is used as a lubricant!

Imidacloprid is an effective treatment for many indoor plant pests. But I agree with Lin that it is toxic and should be used with caution and not at all if there are pets or children about. There are other effective, non-toxic treatments for various indoor plant pests.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Zack
Upstate NY (Zone 5b)
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TheWitchBoy
Jan 31, 2018 12:58 AM CST
Hey! Popping in because I've just learned of humidity issues with plants, and that this can cause mold. Have you tried or do you have a dehumidifier? I'm not sure if this would solve your (supposed?) mold problem, but it could be something to look into.

My source is a Scottish man on YouTube whose indoor jungle caused hmidity/mold issues until he got a dehumidifier, haha. Best of luck!
"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - A. A. Milne
Name: nathan mann
43524 (Zone 6a)
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18mann
Feb 21, 2018 1:14 PM CST

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appy epsom salt, cinnimon, pepermint oils to drive off the gnats and apply artifical lighting. or buy a $20-40 small greenhouse Acorn Thumbs up

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