I woke up this morning to a winter wonderland. Wet fluffy snow has blanketed the landscape. It truly looks beautiful— from indoors. Later, when I have to go into work for a meeting, I won’t be warbling on about how lovely it is anymore.
But you’ve clicked on this link for another reason. You were charmed by my delightful retelling of the plant murders I’ve taken part in and now you’re back for the next instalment. Part two of the graveyard post: the plants I’m currently killing. Last week’s account of the plants that are no longer with us was grim, but almost relieving. The problems those plants gave us are no longer problems. We have laid them to rest and have moved on. But these plants… these plants are stubbornly hanging on, baffling us with their maladies and taunting us with hints of an unsatisfactory life.
1) String of pearls
In the many Facebook groups I’m a member of, and the instagram tags I follow, I see multiple posts daily on how difficult it is to keep a string of pearls alive. Now, my string of pearls is alive, and from what I can tell isn’t showing any real signs of dying, exactly, but it’s also not showing a great deal of success either. We had a small scare with mealie bugs about a month ago ( this was one of the plants living beneath the pothos that had been infested) but I removed the effected strands and treated with neem oil. I was concerned about spraying with neem oil as I know moisture of any kind tends to set these guys off on a dramatic rotting spree, but the light misting and subsequent observation and removal of any suspicious activity has kept things in check. It’s fine, for now, but I do check it daily for problems, which makes it one of the fussier in my collection.
2) Calathea zebrina
I hate this plant. When I bought it, from Walmart, it was already crispy. Since it’s been home with me it’s only gotten crispier. For a while it was living directly in the steam of mist coming from a cool mist humidifier that runs constantly in my front room. It’s still crispy. It’s still alive… but not thriving. It tried to give me some new growth a while ago, but those new leaves ended up crisping before they even unfurled. I have since given up. I have tucked him into a corner on my Marantaceae shelf, huddled close to a small water fountain that I keep there. I don’t think he’s gotten any worse, but then again, I’ve purposefully hidden him where he is less stressful to look at so maybe he’s dying a slow and agonizing death. Who knows. Edit: I pulled it out to photograph it and the son of a B has a new, perfectly healthy shoot.
3) Stromanthe triostar
Similarly, this jerk has been hella crispy. He’s also tried to give me new growth and both shoots ended up combination dying. They were both crispy and suspiciously mushy AT THE SAME TIME. I’ve moved it into brighter light, and it seems to be fairing a little better (the rate of dying has slowed somewhat) but I’ve seen no further growing action.
I’ll be honest, this one is kind of on me. I’ve put this guy in my hallway with a southwest facing floor to ceiling window, because I know these guys love sunlight. They also enjoy being kept moist and to be kept very humid with no drafts. Well. He’s got sunlight at least? The hall is quite draughty, and the heat that comes from down stairs is really dry. Plus, because he’s in the hall, he’s often the one that gets missed for watering.
The subsequent failure to thrive is entirely my doing. He even wound up with spider mites a few weeks ago ( although those are under control now). It’s my dad’s favourite plant in my collection though, so I will try to keep it going as long as I can.
5) Pothos, Cebu blue
This guy really isn’t that hard to keep alive, but he’s currently quarantined under suspicion of harbouring thrips, so he gets an honourable mention. I think I might be being paranoid, but I spray it weekly with neem just in case. He’s been banished to the North window in my kitchen for the time being. Edit: photo is of some cuttings I took because I couldn’t be bothered to get the whole hanging basket down for a decent photo.
6) Anthurium (sp.)
I’m pretty sure this is a case of root rot that I’m too scared to do anything about. Come spring I I’ll try a repot, but for now I’ll just see what happens. All the flower stalks have died, but the foliage looks ok, and I’ve been letting it dry out really well before giving it any water. Will keep you posted!
And there you have it! It sounds rough, but 6 out of 60 something plants giving me trouble really isn’t that bad at all. There is a lot more good going on right now than bad, despite winter having us firmly in its grip right now. My monstera, for example, has put out two new leaves (one with fenestration!) and my variegated rubber tree put one out too! (And it’s been really fussy!). I’ve also seen successes in water and soil propagations of my watermelon Peperomia ( which is honestly the easiest plant ever to propagate).
So yeah, there may not be much green outside, but the indoor jungle in the front room is still growing! See you next week, plant parents!