African Violet Pythium

oceanchick99(7 NY Long Island)April 7, 2010

Hello everyone. I'm a newcomer to the site. This is my 1st post.

I recently purchased an AV from the local grocery which seemed to be in good condition in the store. I got the plant home and since then, things have gone downhill. I tried different lighting situations, different watering routines careful not to touch the leaves, feeding, etc, but only out of desperation tonite have i hit the forums searching for what the problem could be. Up until tonite, I thought i was just dealing w/ a finicky plant. Little did I know i set the stage for it's demise. I kept the plant in its original container from the grocery as it was a nice little pot w/ drainage. I used AV food. i did not replant nor add any soils to the plant, it has remained as it was when purchased.

Symptoms: stems are weak and mushy, unable to hold the weight of the leaf. leaves turn grey and fall from lack of stem support. i cut off the bad stems. i cannot find any evidence of bugs on the plant or in the soil. i see no mildew or spotting. plant does have a few new growth areas, but has not flowered since i brought it home and i have more wilted stems than new growth.

Based on all the research i've done, i have Pythium growing wildly in my little AV, and w/o knowing it, i've managed to make my AV the party center for Pythium by watering patterns and fertilization.

My question: I have researched fungal removers such as Benomyl but have found most of these have been removed from the market. I have since purchased Actinovate Organic Fungicide for Lawn and Garden in an attempt to reverse the condition. It should arrive on Thursday. I have, however, been unable to find if AVs will tolerate the Actinovate. At this point, i'm also unsure if i should go ahead and treat all my other plants with Actinovate as a precautionary measure, especially now that I have a meyers lemon tree on it's way to be used as an indoor ornamental citrus tree as well as several other new plants recently added that are going thru the "shock" of transplant, etc.

I plan to do my best to keep this little plant alive as i feel up to the challenge and honestly, as stupid as this may sound, i feel responsible. I have isolated it from all my other plants and i hope that i have separated it quick enough to prevent it from spreading to other plants. I am concerned about this as it has been close to my other plants for over a month. i do have a dieffenbachia that is showing lots and lots of yellow leaves w/ sagging stems complete with hardened solid areas where the stem meets the leaf that cannot be removed, which is starting to concern me, but that'll be mentioned in another post at another time. Right now, my concerns are for the AV.

Experienced people, I want and need your help. I realize that I inadvertently brought the pythium into active growth by watering and fertilizing the plant, and even though i've read a lot of people suggesting to throw the plant away, it gives me a pain to consider doing that.

Please help me save this tiny little african violet. Any advice is appreciated. Home grown advice, organic, otc medications, etc...anything. i even considered spraying the roots w/ a fungicide for athletes foot or treating it w/ tea tree oil which helps w/ yeast infections.

if someone would explain or give me a link on how to post photos i will gladly do so.

Any help or advice is greatly appreciated and thank you in advance.

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Take a deep breath :) It will be ok.

Do you think it is possible that you can remove the crown on the plant and put that in the soiless mix that we recommend (1:1 peat moss, vermiculite,perlite) and then bag it for a few weeks? You can toss what's left and see if you can salvage what you have.

At one point, if we are willing to admit it, we have all experienced what you are going through and have that deep seated desire to 'save' something. It's normal and innocent as long as you realize that it could be unrealistic. Nothing wrong with trying though :) Nothing ventured; nothing gained.

Consider this a personal invitation to stick around here and join us on a regular basis. The amount of experience and knowledge and wisdom contained in the regulars here can almost boggle one's mind :) Hope you'll return.

Please keep us posted on the plant :)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 8:05AM
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Welcome Oceanchick
There are those here with much more experience then I have, and I am sure they will be able to offer you more advice, but I will just tell you what I can. From what you wrote I would suspect root rot. It is good that you have isolated the plant. Always a good idea with any new plants you bring into your home for at least a month or two.
When you buy a plant from the grocery store they are potted in a very heavy soil, usually mostly peat. This holds water well, so it is good for the seller, but bad for the plant. African Violets need a very light soil that drains water well. The heavy soil from the store holds it to well and so causes root rot. Most African Violet growers use a mix that is 1 part peat, 1 part vermiculite, and 1 part perlite, or something close to it. You can buy the parts and mix them together yourself, or buy a soil labeled for African Violets and add more pearlite to that. By themselves, even potting mixes labeled for African Violets are usually to heavy.
You said that the plant does have new growth areas. With African Violets, as long as there is new growth there is hope! I would take the plant out of the pot it is in and gently work the soil away from the stem and roots so that you can see what is going on better. Anything that is brown or mushy needs to be cut away till you get to what is left of a firm stem, with or without roots. Even if all you have left at this point is a green leaf with no signs of rot on it you may be able to create a new plant from this. You can gently handle African Violet leaves. They really dont mind. I even pet mine sometimes. (Big grin) What they donÂt like is water left on their leaves, then being put under strong light before they are dry.
Once you have plant parts free of rot, you can use a tiny bit of root gel or powder on what's left of the stems and put them in the light potting mix. Add just enough water to make it moist and then tent the plant or leaves under a sandwich baggie or something similar. In a few weeks you should have new growth, and maybe new babies growing off of any leaves you planted, and you can remove the plastic.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 8:27AM
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Welcome and good luck! Dora and Raven gave great advice. Hope you're able to save your plant.

If you have an account with an image hosting service such as Photobucket, WebShots, etc., you can post photos right in the messages in this section of the forum by copying and pasting the service's link to your picture inside the message box as you're creating your post. If you don't have an account, it is easy and free to get one.

If you don't have/want an image hosting account, you can go to the AV gallery section, start a message, upload your picture, and a link will allow people to view it there. You'll also need to post a message here referring people to your gallery post. Below is a link with detailed information on how to post pictures. Photos are so helpful when trying to ID plant problems.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 1:23PM
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Most of us here have had similar problems in the beginning.
Please don't get discouraged and you will find that AV's are easy to grow. I have made an offer a number of times here on the web to send three info sheets that I used to hand out to novices when I lectured on AVs. If you are interested, email me and I will send them back to you as an attachemnt.
Fred in NJ

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 3:05PM
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oceanchick99(7 NY Long Island)

i'm such an idiot, maybe you guys should take my houseplants away. laughs. i couldn't remember the site! now that i have it bookmarked, i won't lose it but sheesh.

i took the AV out of the pot & discovered underneath there WAS standing water and totally drenched soil that i couldn't see from the top/sides. seeing that, i manually squeezed excess water out of the soil and off the roots. i took a lot of soil out, made sure what i have left in there is very fluffy and light. i then put it in a zippy bag and put against window w/ morning sun only, and left it there w/o disturbing it for a week. much to my surprise, the AV is still alive and i have 2 itsy bitsy new leaves, so i hope there is still time.

i got the Actinovate but omg, reading the cautions, warnings, do not's, etc i'm scared to open the package! also i'm very unsure how much if any to use being as though you'd only need 1tsp or so for something like 1-5 gallons of water. we're on cesspool system here in Long Island, so i know i can't let anything go down my drains or else things could get ugly.

i've considered cutting back to the crown, but i hate to cut off the new baby leaves. older leaves are still wilting.

after a week in the baggie, leaves that were already grey and wilted started showing white spots, which i'm thinking is some kind of mold reaction to moisture in the zippy bag?? i've removed the plant from the baggie now but i am not adding water. soil is still slightly moist via finger test. i also made sure the soil was still fluffy. i did buy bag of AV potting mix which i plan to use when i repot the AV as the drainage i thought i had obviously wasn't good enough.

thanks for the advice and for the welcome. i'm hoping that someday i'll know enough to be helpful as you all are.

any advice regarding the updated condition is appreciated.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 1:57AM
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Well, you're off to a start :)
I would recommend that you get your hands on something called "Perlite" (looks like little white/ragged bb's) and ad that to your AV mix. Most commercial AV mixes sold in box stores are still a bit too dense and would benefit from the additional perlite.

I understand not wanting to cut the crown out but you will probabaly/eventually have to do that anyway. Why not just go ahead and cut the crown out where those new leaves are coming in? The fact that new leaves have come up is proof that life is in there but if you wait, the root rot or whatever is ailing the plant may get to that crown too if left alone.

If it were my plant, I'd cut out the crown, plant that crown in some of my new soilless mix, bag it and put it back in that window for about a month. I bet in that time, you'll have 4-7 new leaves and the rest of the rotted plant will have been long gone and not infecting other stuff.

Stick around,

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 2:00PM
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