Ask a Question forum: Watering issue

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Swarthmore, PA
jde68
Jan 18, 2018 7:59 PM CST
I am new to owning houseplants. I recently acquired several large house plants teh largest of which are in pots that are about 15 inches high and 18 inches in diameter. The previous owner is moving and can not take the plants with her. My problem is watering them. When I do they overfill the drip trays. If I just do a little they fill the trays but the soil never passes the first knuckle test. How do I water these big guys and still keep a dry floor? Also helo in id'ing the plants would be helpful.Thanks.

-joe
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
Image
Philipwonel
Jan 18, 2018 8:51 PM CST
Joe : Howdy 😀
Sounds like there rootbound,and can't take up any water if not soaked in a bucket of water.

Get ready to re pot, and, I say ready, to up pot tall one.

😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Jan 18, 2018 8:52 PM CST
Welcome!

It looks like the previous owner of these plants left you would a big transplanting project. How attached are you to these plants?

The first is a Peace Lily and the second is a Bamboo Palm. #3 - Sansevieria in the forground. Background and #4, I don't know. I suspect that if the water is just running straight through, they all need new potting soil.

I am going to put a "shout out" to someone who actually knows what he is talking about. You can call him "George"

@WillC you home?
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
[Last edited by DaisyI - Jan 18, 2018 8:53 PM (+)]
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Swarthmore, PA
jde68
Jan 19, 2018 7:17 AM CST
Thanks for the replies thus far...I am not overly attached to the plants but I don't want them to die or get rid of them just because they need a little extra care...but if I do have to repot them can I wait until spring? They are so large I couldn't do it indoors without making a huge mess? And if it can wait what are your suggestions for how to water them to keep them alive for the next few months. Thanks again for the help
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Jan 19, 2018 7:25 AM CST
If they are not too heavy to lift, put large saucers under them and water until the water comes out into the saucers. Empty out whatever water is left after about an hour. Still not easy, but possible?
Porkpal
Swarthmore, PA
jde68
Jan 19, 2018 9:32 AM CST
porkpal said:If they are not too heavy to lift, put large saucers under them and water until the water comes out into the saucers. Empty out whatever water is left after about an hour. Still not easy, but possible?

Thanks...They have saucers under them...the problem is that within an hour the saucers become full and sometimes overflow with very little watering...and the soil doesn't even feel damp...I am giving them a little bit of water at a time...hopefully keeping the roots moist...
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Jan 19, 2018 10:49 AM CST
You need BIG saucers.
Porkpal
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 19, 2018 11:24 AM CST
Thanks for the shout-out, Daisy!

The pots all look quite large to me, so I don't think that they're being rootbound is the problem (sorry Daisy). Sometimes when the soil gets very dry it becomes almost water repellent and doesn' absorb water. If indeed the soil feels dry an inch or so into the pot soon after watering, then that may be the case. The solution is to re-wet the soil by letting the pot sit in several inches of water for a couple of hours so the soil wicks it up until saturated.

But I am also concerned that when you assess the soil moisture by doing the "knuckle test," the soil may be more moist than you realize. Try pinching out some soil from the top inch with your fingers. If it is not dusty dry and sticks together a bit, then it is not really dry. The Peace Lilies will wilt very pathetically if they get the least bit too dry, so that is another check on how dry the soil really is.

Good sized saucers large enough to hold excess water is important, as Porkpal suggested, especially for the Peace Lilies.

For the Peace Lilies (it looks like there are three), water them thoroughly and then wait for them to start to wilt. That will tell you how many days they will go in between thorough waterings. The Sansevieria prefers to stay dry and will only need water every two weeks or a very light watering each week. Your tall Chamaedorea will need water only when the top inch or so of soil feels very dry.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Swarthmore, PA
jde68
Jan 19, 2018 12:08 PM CST
WillC said:Thanks for the shout-out, Daisy!

The pots all look quite large to me, so I don't think that they're being rootbound is the problem (sorry Daisy). Sometimes when the soil gets very dry it becomes almost water repellent and doesn' absorb water. If indeed the soil feels dry an inch or so into the pot soon after watering, then that may be the case. The solution is to re-wet the soil by letting the pot sit in several inches of water for a couple of hours so the soil wicks it up until saturated.

But I am also concerned that when you assess the soil moisture by doing the "knuckle test," the soil may be more moist than you realize. Try pinching out some soil from the top inch with your fingers. If it is not dusty dry and sticks together a bit, then it is not really dry. The Peace Lilies will wilt very pathetically if they get the least bit too dry, so that is another check on how dry the soil really is.

Good sized saucers large enough to hold excess water is important, as Porkpal suggested, especially for the Peace Lilies.

For the Peace Lilies (it looks like there are three), water them thoroughly and then wait for them to start to wilt. That will tell you how many days they will go in between thorough waterings. The Sansevieria prefers to stay dry and will only need water every two weeks or a very light watering each week. Your tall Chamaedorea will need water only when the top inch or so of soil feels very dry.


Thanks Will...I am very glad that I might not have to re-pot. The lady did say she hadn't watered them for a while to make them lighter to carry. I will try larger saucers as recommended by Porkpal for the the largest plants and let them sit in water and a few inches in the bathtub for the smaller ones. Also if I can tag on one more question: the lady who gave them to me also said the Chamaedorea gets a powdery substance on it that yields insects (not sure if aphids or fungus gnats) she recommened sparying with alcohol when I see the powder return...Do you suggest this or is Neem Oil a better solution?
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
Image
Philipwonel
Jan 19, 2018 12:50 PM CST
I'd do as the lady who gave them to you. Alcohol.
I wouldn't spray Neem oil in my house. I don't care how safe ( THEY ! ) Say it is !
What did ( THEY ! ) Say about Round-up, years ago ???
Humm ? You could drink it !😮
😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
Image
Philipwonel
Jan 19, 2018 1:06 PM CST
In my experience of bottom watering my cati and succulents, that get very dry between watering's. The only way to get water to wick up to top of soil, is to have pots in a bucket, with water almost to top of pots.
😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Jan 19, 2018 2:19 PM CST
To be fair WillC, I said I thought they needed new potting soil - nothing in there about being rootbound. Smiling

I suspect the white powder is either scale or mealybugs. Alcohol would be my first choice.
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
Image
WillC
Jan 19, 2018 2:21 PM CST
Most Palms are highly prone to spider mite infestations. The mites make very tiny webs on the leaves. I suspect that is what the woman was referring to. Mites are best treated with a solution of water with a squirt of liquid dish soap. Alcohol is unnecessary and too drying for the Palm. Be sure to spray all leaf and stem sr-surfaces until they are all dripping wet. The mites are very tiny and easily survive between routine spray droplets, so thoroughness is the key.

Philip - As long as the bottom water is sufficient to maintain contact with soil through the drain holes, it will get wicked up. Unusually porous potting mixes don't wick water as readily, however.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Jan 19, 2018 2:24 PM CST
Sorry, Daisy. Sad
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Swarthmore, PA
jde68
Jan 19, 2018 5:58 PM CST
Thank you all for your help...
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!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Jan 19, 2018 9:00 PM CST
Welcome! from me too!

Photo #1 Peace Lilies (Spathiphyllum)
Photo #2 Parlor Palm, Chamaedorea we have a few varieties in the database with photos for comparison: https://garden.org/plants/sear...
Photo #3 Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) back left and Snake Plants (Sansevieria) front right.
#4 Another Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

As has been mentioned, Peace Lilies love water; you can sit their containers in a bucket of water and allow the soil to soak up as much water as possible or put them in a tub and water them. Don't allow water to sit in the tray/saucer for too long or you will end up with root rot.

The Sansevieria (Snake Plant) is more of a succulent type and does not require water as often as the Palm or Peace Lilies.
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Swarthmore, PA
jde68
Jan 20, 2018 7:31 AM CST
plantladylin said: Welcome! from me too!

Photo #1 Peace Lilies (Spathiphyllum)
Photo #2 Parlor Palm, Chamaedorea we have a few varieties in the database with photos for comparison: https://garden.org/plants/sear...
Photo #3 Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) back left and Snake Plants (Sansevieria) front right.
#4 Another Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

As has been mentioned, Peace Lilies love water; you can sit their containers in a bucket of water and allow the soil to soak up as much water as possible or put them in a tub and water them. Don't allow water to sit in the tray/saucer for too long or you will end up with root rot.

The Sansevieria (Snake Plant) is more of a succulent type and does not require water as often as the Palm or Peace Lilies.

Thank you very much for the info...
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!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
Image
plantladylin
Jan 20, 2018 1:01 PM CST
I tip my hat to you.
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


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