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Poor drainage..

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by sabrinajellybean on February 14, 2006 11:39 PM
Late last summer I transplanted a large spider and a smaller english ivy into larger pots..Now they are both suffering from white mold..Before transplant neither had this problem. When I transplanted I failed to put in pebbles at the bottom of the pots and I think this is the root of the problem (no pun intended) And with it being winter the air circulation in my apartment is not very good due to all my windows being closed..I guess my question is would it hurt the plants if I transplanted them again now..But this time adding pebbles to the bottom of the pots for drainage. I have a feeling I should wait until spring but I am antsy and impaitent.

Thanks,

Michelle

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Michelle : )
http://callmeshell.blogspot.com/
by tkhooper on February 15, 2006 04:10 AM
Good ahead and do it now and use new potting soil not the infected stuff. At least I would but someone will be along with better information.

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by sabrinajellybean on February 15, 2006 04:15 AM
Thank you for your advice. Should I keep it out of the windows after I do so..It is a very sunny window but drafty this time of year.

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Michelle : )
http://callmeshell.blogspot.com/
by margaret e. pell on February 15, 2006 05:56 AM
Yes, transplant now into new soil, and you can ix some pebbles into the soil, too, to improve drainage. Both spiders and Engish ivy are very hardy plants, they'll mind the mold more than the transplant. I'd leave them in relation to the window however they are now. One change at a time and all. Let them get dry an inch down before watering - the spider can probably take it a little drier than the ivy, the ivymight like a little less sun than the spider. Anyway, happy growing!

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may God bless the WHOLE world!
by Cricket on February 15, 2006 07:36 AM
I respectfully disagree. Placing pebbles at the bottom of a pot does not assist drainage and could actually make the problem worse. The explanation of why that is involves some knowledge of physics and is rather complicated, having to do with the surface tension of water wicking moisture into the soil. For an excellent comprehensive explanation that another member posted last winter (if memory serves correctly), search the houseplants forum archives.

Are you sure the problem is mold and not mealybugs? Mold is usually found only on the soil surface. Too wet soil provides a good growing medium for existing spores. Scrape the mold off as well as all loose soil and, as Margaret suggests, let the soil dry out an inch between thorough waterings. Also, if the plants were repotted to larger pots, you might inadvertently be overwatering as excess soil takes longer to dry out.

I assume the pots have drainage holes. What type of potting medium are you using? Good quality commercial mixes already contain perlite and shouldn't require additives for drainage.
by sabrinajellybean on February 15, 2006 09:28 AM
Thank-you Margaret and Cricket.. The mold is only on top of the soil. I have scraped it off and also let them dry out several times. The mold always comes back..

Last year when I transplanted these 2 plants I also transplanted several others with the same commercial potting soil purchased at home depot...The other plants have no problems as far as drainage and mold is concerned.

The Spider was put into it's Mother's original pot after I cleaned it out thoroughly. It was a pot that came along with this black like thing a majig on the inside bottom of the pot..I failed to put it back in when I put the new plant inside. Now if my memory is correct it seemed to me like this was some sort of thing to help aid in drainage or to keep the roots away from the drainage holes. I am not sure..But it is why I believe that pebbles may help..

The second plant, My English Ivy went from a small terra cotta to a larger terra cotta that is painted in a blue shiny laquer finish..I think it holds the moisture longer..When it was in the regular terra cotta it had pebbles..Thus leading me to believe the pebbles will help..Or maybe a change into a regular terra cotta would be better..I dunno..I am going to try the pebbles first..If all else fails I will purchase new pots for them both..

Not that this will help but the spider is here,
http://callmeshell.blogspot.com/2006/02/mommas-first-child.html

And the Ivy is here, http://callmeshell.blogspot.com/2006/02/hedra-helix.html

Thanks alot for all your advice. When I add the pebbles I will update my thread to let you know their progress..

[wavey]

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Michelle : )
http://callmeshell.blogspot.com/
by Will Creed on February 15, 2006 10:01 AM
Hi Michelle,

If there is mold in the soil, it is coming from spores that were in the soil before you purchased it. Adding pebbles or drainage will have no bearing on the presence of the mold. You can try persistently scraping off the mold as it emerges and in time you may gradually eliminate it. Also remove any soil that you added to the top of the rootball when you repotted.

You could also add a systemic fungicide as a soil drench, if you want to go the chemical route.

As previously indicate by others, it is also important to allow the top inch or so of soil to dry out between waterings as mold thrives in moist conditions.

Adding drainage material to the bottom of pots is an outdated idea that has been recommended in the past, but research has clearly demonstrated that by shortening the height of the rootball, you actually decrease the drainage capacity. I know that is counter-intuitive and goes against past practices, but it is factually correct. Professional growers do not use pebbles in the bottoms of pots.

A good potting mix is sterile and should be naturally porous so that you do not have to mix in any porous material, such as perlite and ground bark chips. As long as you use good potting mix and a pot that is not too large and one that has a drainage hole in the bottom, then drainage of excess moisture away from the roots will never be a problem.
by sabrinajellybean on February 15, 2006 11:06 AM
Ty Will. I guess I could just keep scraping eh? I wonder if it would actually go away..As far as the pebble thing goes..I dunno. I have never heard that you SHOULDN'T use them until today. Oh well, I guess you learn something new everyday...

I hope I can decide on what to do now that I know I shouldn't use the pebbles. I could keep scraping or I can repot in some new sterile pots and soil..
Oh the decisions one must make..I am going to sleep on it and dream about my veggie garden I am going to have this summer..

Thanks Everyone!
[wavey]

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Michelle : )
http://callmeshell.blogspot.com/
by Will Creed on February 15, 2006 11:22 AM
Michelle,

Caring for indoor plants is not as simple nor as easy as it often appears. There are choices and decsions to be made and they are not always clear cut.

Do your best, learn from your experience, and never lose any sleep over it!

Will
by Longy on February 16, 2006 01:45 AM
You could put the pebbles on top of the soil, they'd act as a mulch, it looks ok and the mold will be buried.

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The secret is the soil.
by sabrinajellybean on February 16, 2006 04:19 AM
Thank-you Longy. I have decided that Sunday on my way home from work I will stop and get some repotting materials. I am going to repot The Ivy and Spider as well as my Kalanchoe of which I am very exited to see what color the flowers are. Wish me luck. [Wink]

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Michelle : )
http://callmeshell.blogspot.com/
by margaret e. pell on February 16, 2006 07:09 AM
Hi again, and here is my [Big Grin] on your subject, being an old(fashioned?) indoor gardener. I always use pebbles and raise the pots in the saucers so they never touch any drain-through water, no wicking problems there. I raise them on plastic bottle caps or the caps from 1/2 gallon containers of milk or juice. I almost always add drainage material to the soil; it's easier to rewater than unwater! I never use glazed or plastic pots for other than tropicals and seedlings that really want evenly moist soil. Even my cactus seedlings do better in plastic than terra cotta until they are 1+ years old. Yes, the mold spores came from somewhere, but they're in your pots now. You need to get rid of them. I've read that the way to sterelize a terra cotta pot, glazed or not, is to soak it in 10% bleach solution for 15-30 min, then let it air dry. I've never done that, I just run the pot through the dishwasher and retire it for a few months. I've never had any carry-over rot/mold problems. Since you've had these plants for years and the problems began with the repotting, I'd guess the soil is the problem and these specific pot conditions allow the mold to grow. Go for the new soil, do something to clean the pots, and may your plants and you live happily ever after. I saw the pics, they're beautiful! Almost makes me want to get a new spider! I've got an ivy, it's wintering in a sunny garage (unheated but not too often far below freezing at night and usually above freezing in the day) window. Keep us posted in the weeks to come!

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may God bless the WHOLE world!
by sabrinajellybean on February 16, 2006 07:59 AM
Thank-you Margaret. I appreciate your reply and I will certainly keep the board updated on my plant's progress.

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Michelle : )
http://callmeshell.blogspot.com/
by Marajane on February 16, 2006 01:24 PM
This is probably ridiculous, but is there any way the "mold" you are seeing is in fact accumulated fertilizer salts???
by sabrinajellybean on February 16, 2006 08:59 PM
Hi Marajane..I thought of that too..But it's fuzzy. I have seen built up salts and this is not the same. [Wink]

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Michelle : )
http://callmeshell.blogspot.com/
by peppereater on February 19, 2006 02:23 AM
Will could be right about the spores arriving in the new soil, but spores are in the air and everywhere. The fungus is eating something. There is some sort of wood product, manure or compost, or forest litter in the soil. These enrich the soil, but can feed fungus. Using a soilless mixture is one way to avoid fungus.
Fungi are killed by U.V. light, and moving the plant nearer a window will up the U.V., although from your pictures, the plants may not allow much light to the soil surface. Good luck!

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Dave
Even my growlights are getting restless!
by TomR on February 20, 2006 10:24 PM
You should re-pot both using a lighter soil mix, I use one part Pro-Mix and one part perlite. I think an airier mix is needed for you. Spiders like to dry out a bit between waterings. You may be overdoing it with the water.

Tom

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My memory's not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory's not as sharp as it used to be.
by sabrinajellybean on February 23, 2006 01:32 AM
Hi..Thank you Dave and Tom. I repotted the ivy that was having a mold problem into a new pot. I also got a lighter mix which seems to have more perilite then the other soil. That soil, when I took it out of the pot, was real woody..I am waiting to repot the spider as the mold has not reappeared since the last scraping. Thanks again : )

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Michelle : )
http://callmeshell.blogspot.com/
by GardenGuy_Gardener on February 27, 2006 08:13 AM
I agree. Ive read in many places not to put pebles at the bottom of the pot b/c its just wicked back into the saoil as someone has alreadym entioned. You also could by a pot sauser the kind that sits under the pot an put it upsidedown on the botto of the pot. Of course youd hav to buy a saucer smaller then the width of the pot.

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The good thing about snow is that it makes your yard look just like your neighbors! [Big Grin]

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