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Help! My (diffenbachia/dumbcane) plant is dying!

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by Spring Prayer on December 24, 2004 10:56 PM
Hi I recieved a plant as a gift and I dont know how to care for it. The smaller leaves are beginning to turn yellow! My plant is all leaves the biggest being about 6 inches long. They are dark green on the rim of the leaves and light green to white near the vein. Sorry,I dont have a picture of the plant, so please try to guess from my description. Please hurry I dont want it to die.

by Jiffymouse on December 24, 2004 11:24 PM
hi! welcome to the garden helper!

is this your plant?
 -

if so, go here to learn how to best take care of it. your plant may have larger leave, or more white than those in the picture...

it may look like this instead. Here is one last picture of a different variety of them. if none of these are your plant, let us know so we can try to find the right one!
by Spring Prayer on December 27, 2004 01:17 AM
Hi,
I think its the Tropic Dumb Cane. They all look so much alike. I'll try to get a pic. I think I've been watering it too often.
Thanks. I'll put up a picture of my plant soon.
by Spring Prayer on December 27, 2004 01:30 PM
Hi, I got a pic. How do I post it here?
by Jiffymouse on December 27, 2004 04:30 PM
well, if you have an image server like photobucket or imagestation, you can like the photo so it will show up on this screen. otherwise, you can get a webshots album which will let you post a link to your picture.

all of them are free, and there are more out there, those are just the ones that most folks around here use.
by Spring Prayer on December 28, 2004 12:07 PM
Hi,

Here is my plant.

http://www.kardio.us/DSC00926.JPG

Please let me know what type it is.

Thank you
by Jiffymouse on December 29, 2004 04:27 PM
well, i'm not positive which diffenbachia it is, but that the care instructions are posted here on the garden helper will apply either way. one thing you have to remember with ever-green tropicals, while the leaves my stay on a plant for months or even years, once that leaf loses its ability to produce food, or gets damaged in any way, it will die. that doesn't always mean the plant is dying, but rather that the life cycle for that leaf is over. if the other leaves are healthy, you are in good shape! keep us posted.
by Spring Prayer on December 30, 2004 08:27 AM
Hi,

Thanks for the welcome weezie. [Smile]

Jiffymouse thanks for the info but i think my plant is dying [Frown] It doesnt look as healthy as when I first got it. Some of the leaves are turning yellow and the seem wrinkled. I'm not sure if I gave it too much water or not enough.
btw does artificial light count as indirect bright light?

Thank you,
Spring
by Jiffymouse on December 30, 2004 11:11 PM
ok, lets start from scratch. we know your plant is a diffenbachia, just not sure what kind. and we know it is having some issues and isn't the healthiest. i have some questions, and some remedies, and some time will tell if it will work. but... i have to say, plants from a florist shop versus a nursery don't always do so well, so that may be part of the problem.

first, artificial light is fine, if there is enough of it and/or it is flourescent. if you can get a grow light or a small flourescent light, you will do better.

second, do NOT fertilize it until it is back "up to snuff" and looking better. if you did fertilize it, that's ok, we are going to fix that with the next thing.

third, feel the soil. is it dry and hard, dry and sandy, wet and hard, or wet and mushy? each one has a different way of being dealt with. i'll outline them all so you can know what to do without waiting for me to get on.

  • dry and hard - lift the plant out of the pot, brush off any loose soil, check for any exposed roots. if there are any, note the condition and let me know when you post again. put the plant back in a pot that has good drain holes and does not have more than an inch (2.5 cm) between the rim of the pot and the soil cake. put about a half inch of fresh soil in the bottom of the pot before you put the plant in it, then fill the edges with good soil. put the plant, pot and all, in a bowl or bucket of water (not cold, not hot, just room temperature) for about an hour or so. let it drain thoroughly and then resume normal watering (when the plant is dry on top and almost dry when you poke your finger in the pot)
  • dry and powdery - do not disturb the plant in the pot (yet) but put the plant, pot and all, in a bowl or bucket of water (not cold, not hot, just room temperature) for about an hour or so. let it drain thoroughly and then resume normal watering (when the plant is dry on top and almost dry when you poke your finger in the pot)
  • wet and hard - lift plant out of the pot, set root ball on some paper towels or something to pull some of the water out of the plant. use a clean, sharp knife or ice pick to poke some holes (from the top of the pot) in the dirt to let it get some air. after a couple of hours, replace plant in a pot that has good drainage holes. when the plant is dry on top and almost dry when you poke your finger in the pot, you can resume normal watering.
  • wet and loose - lift the plant out of the pot by the crown, tugging gently. let all the soggy dirt drop off that will. with a clean, sharp pair of scissors, trim the exposed roots (there will be some) that are mushy until you get to firm, off-white roots. if that means triming the roots back to the main stalk, that's ok, you won't do any additional damage to the plant. when you get that done, using fresh, dry potting soil, pot the plant back up in a pot with good drainage that has no more than 1 in (2.5cm) of space between the root ball and the edge of the pot. put about an inch of fresh dirt in the pot before you put the plant in it, then put the plant in and fill the edges with fresh, dry, potting soil. water VERY lightly to settle it, then resume normal watering.

finally, take a clean, sharp pair of scissors and trim off any yellowed or dead leaves. this will serve 2 purposes. one, to make plant look better, and two, more important, to rid the plant of anything that would block the light from the healthy green areas of the plant. it will also enable the plant to focus its efforts on new, healthy roots and leaves, instead of being bogged down with sick leaves.

let me know how it goes. also, i am moving (and renaming) your post to the house plant section.
by Spring Prayer on January 04, 2005 09:05 PM
Hi,
The plant was dry and powdery. I did as you suggested and put the pot in a bucket of water, it was empty in about 20 min. I removed the yellow leaves and none have turned yellow since then.
Do I water it every 2 weeks from that day?
by Jiffymouse on January 06, 2005 03:33 AM
plants can rarely be put on a human schedule. they do better if you just stick your finger in the pot every few days and if the soil seems dry, give it a drink! glad you found out your problem!
by Spring Prayer on January 06, 2005 06:25 PM
Thank you!!!! [Smile]

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