Entire Plant room drying up
I grow African violets and various other gesneriads, coleus and misc other houseplants.
This has been an ongoing problem this winter, but in the weekend I decided to visit my family I came back to find nearly every plant in my apartment completely or nearly dry, light as paper and floating off the shelf at the slightest touch. I'm in panic mode trying to water and salvage what I can. At this point the mess will have to be cleaned up later. I am already stressed because I've been trying to pull several all nighters working on another hobby that I'm trying to make into some kind of profit. Anyways feeling really discouraged and confused.
What can cause an entire collection of 100+ plants to all dry up at once, and dry up nearly every other day. Some plants I can be lucky and put off watering for about 3-4 days but most seem to find themselves bone dry within hours.
heat - not sure how hot it got while gone. I see it typically about 75-81 degrees. Very little to no control over the heat. It's either very warm or turn it off or crack open a window.
humidity - I haven't been able to get a measurement but I assume very dry. I can't be there all the time to boil water or tend to a very high maintenance humidifier.
light? I have the lights going about 10-12 hours, but maybe it is still too much? It's kind of hard with several different plants and their lighting needs.
- pests? I found soil mealybugs in some of the plants. I am treating them as I find them by crown cutting and repotting with a systemic. But it appears the plants drying up are not just the affected. The affected fair less well though.
Things I've tried:
-Wick watering - fails. Soil dries out before the water can absorb from the wick. Perhaps the nylon cord I was using isn't good? I bought it at a hardware store.
- repotting from solo cups or 3" pots to 4" - I don't know why but I always end up with the plant nearly dying in the 4". Survival rate seems best with standards in 3" and only growing large standards in the 4". But this also compounds the water issue.
- switch from peat to cocoanut coir and use less perlite + more orchid bark. Resulting in a heavier mix but still fast draining. Seems to help some but not a lot.
- putting in a tray using soaked batting as a matt. - Seems to produce the least water starved plants but not practical when dealing with a pest issue. I really need to separate each plant and keep them from sharing a water source. How to do this without going crazy?
This post was edited by fieldofflowers on Tue, Apr 22, 14 at 1:34