Leaves just shrivled up, stems are mushy

splatteredwhim(7)April 28, 2013

Hi there,

This is my first African Violet, and I am in uncharted territory as far as my plant experience goes. I have been watering this one when it starts to seem dry on top, which I thought was right, but just the other day things went wrong.

On one side, some leaves just shriveled up, and the stems seem floppy on many of the leaves. Underneath, they look brown.

Is this too much watering? Or is it something else?

Next question...how do I rehab it? Or should I just make arrangements for the funeral?

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Linda

Whim,
First-don't give up so easily! AV's are tough! Usually when leaves /stems are mushy it is an indication of too much water-either over-watering or the soil retains too much water. Your soil looks very heavy. You need to remove the dead material and then re-pot into a non-soil mix. Most growers use peat moss, perlite and vermiculite in equal parts. (You will see this referred to as a 1:1:1 mix.)
Check your root system. It should be firm and whitish not brown and mushy. If mushy, remove those roots and then re-pot. If you find all your roots are bad come back here and I'll tell you how to re-root.
Also, get used to the way your plant feels when just watered and when it needs water. Lift the pot. Feel the weight. You will soon be able to tell just by lifting a plant whether it needs watering. Trying to tell by the feel of the top is deceiving. The top area dries out quickly due to exposure while the area in the pot can be dripping wet.
No funerals!
Linda

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 11:52PM
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splatteredwhim(7)

I lifted it up and it doesn't look so good down there. I didn't see any white roots in the outside of the root ball. I didn't have time to start poking around much deeper than that. It looks likely that I will need to know the process for re-rooting. How is that done?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 8:12AM
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Linda

Whim,
The first thing you need is to be brave! Many newbies hesitate to do this but it's a tried-and-true method and it works great. First, remove the plant from its pot. shake off as much soil as you can. Inspect the roots. If they are all brown remove the bottom leaves to reveal the stem. Check the stem ("neck") for brown areas. Now....cut ALL the roots off of the violet. Cut out any brown areas on the stem. This is rot and you need to get it all out so it doesn't spread. Now re-pot in your mix; preferably 1:1:1, in a pot that is 1/3 the diameter of your plant. It will probably be smaller now due to removal of the bottom leaves. Water lightly; you want your mix just moist. It helps to pre-moisten peat before you pot. I just dump some water in my mixing barrel when I am going to pot. Now-the most important step-put your violet in a baggie or under a dome and seal. There are lots of things you can use for this: some people use the clam shells from the salad bar, some use a cake pan. Use whatever has a clear top and can be sealed. The baggie retains humidity which the plant must have since it cannot take up water due to having no root system. Put pot in your light source and check it occasionally to make sure the soil is still moist. In a short time; mine usually take about two weeks, you'll have roots! Give a leaf a gentle tug. If there's resistance, you have roots. If nor, re-bag and give it a while longer.
It all sounds complicated and time-consuming but it's not really. It takes me about ten minutes and works like a charm!
Let me know if you need more help.
Linda

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 11:15AM
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Linda

Whim
When you remove the roots, you do so by slicing through the plant at the neck.
Linda

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 11:21AM
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splatteredwhim(7)

Ok, this sounds like a a do-able plan. I'll be gathering supplies and preparing for surgery this evening, and come back with any questions! Thanks a bunch for being so helpful.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 2:13PM
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Linda

I'll check up on here later tonight. Good luck!

Linda

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 5:08PM
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splatteredwhim(7)

So all the mush is scraped off, which left a few leaves and a little stem to stick in the soil. I couldn't find vermiculite, and the space for peat was empty, but I did find the perlite, so I did perlite and some regular potting soil. Will this be a big problem?

I moistened the soil and put it in, and now I'll wait and see what happens.

For a cover to keep moisture in, can it be a tomato clamshell with some little holes along the top, or should it really be fully sealed?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 9:28PM
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Linda

Whim,
There are many different soil formulas growers use for violets. The main objective is to use a soil that is light and therefore well-drained. Store-bought mixes are invariably too heavy without addition of perlite. Your perlite and potting soil mix looks light so it shouldn't be a problem. When trying to achieve a soil mix for av's, think "fluffy".
A clamshell is fine as long as the plant is not crowded and there should be NO holes. You want a complete seal. When it is established that you have roots, you will open the container gradually to acclimate the violet to the conditions in which it will grow. But that comes later.
Your pot looks a little big but I think it will be okay. Just check on the violet every few days and make sure it's not too wet. You want nicely moist. If it gets too dry, and it shouldn't if properly sealed, give enough water to moisten. If the inside of your container looks as though it's raining, vent the container to release some of the moisture and then reseal. (This is usually a sign that there was too much water in the soil. Venting should take care of that).
Your plant looks good. It looks like you did a good job. How did you feel when you were doing the "operation?"
Most people cringe the first time they do this. I've done so many, I could do it in my sleep, I think!
Keep me informed of your progress and ask any other questions you have. I'll be happy to answer. Somebody once did this for me and someday you will do it for someone else. It's how we AVer's hook you! ;)
Linda

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 12:08AM
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ultra_violet

Jumping in... can decapitated crowns be rooted by putting it in a little jar of just water, like how leaves can?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 10:29AM
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Linda

Violet,
Good question! I've never done this nor do I know anyone who has. Theoretically, I guess it's possible but for practical purposes, I would say no. The most important part of the re-rooting process is the retention of humidity so the plant can survive until it grows roots. Assuming you could enclose your water container, the resulting humidity from so much water would probably rot your plant.
Rooting in water has gone out of favor; when I started to grow (many years ago!), that was the way it was always done. The theory now is that water roots are different than those produced in soil and when a plant is removed from the water and potted, it must grow new roots. Having done rooting both ways, soil rooting is always much quicker for me.
Maybe someone else has had experience in this?
Anyone care to add?
Linda

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 10:51AM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

I think it makes sense - if the crown is tired and wilted - you rehydrate it - and it will be much more viable. I wouldn't keep it in a glass of water for too long - may be until the roots just start to show a bit.

I.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 3:55PM
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splatteredwhim(7)

Doing the "operation" was nerve-wracking. It feels like doing something totally against all plant-kind. But I guess it isn't that much different than when I stick bits of vine back up into the pot after a trim....Just that it's the whole plant.

One more question...when the roots come in, does it need water like a normal plant, or does that come when it has new leaves, too?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 9:38PM
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Linda

Not sure what you mean...When the roots come you treat it as you would any other violet. The roots should come before any new growth in the crown. Then gradually acclimate it by opening the container little by little but still continue to care for the violet like you would any other. Did I answer your question?
Give yourself a pat on the back. That particular operation is a tough one for most to get past. It does go against everything we have learned when it comes to protecting a plant's roots!
Now keep an eye on it and let me know if you need more help.
Linda

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 10:19PM
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irina_co(z5 CO)

It won't need too much water for sometime. If you keep it covered - angel cake container or transparent plastic shoe box - you do not need to water it very often. It should stay barely moist for the success of the surgery. I would say for 3 weeks.

irina

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 12:30PM
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perle_de_or(Zone 7)

I have saved several of my older plants using the above discussed method. I does work wonderfully, and you get a totally rejuvenated plant. It might look a little droopy at first, but it will soon grow roots and bounce back. Covering it is essential. I have used a large glass bowl upside down over the plant and even that has worked well.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 4:56PM
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splatteredwhim(7)

Well, a few months later and it isn't dead. But it hasn't sprung back yet, either. I decided I wanted to try to put it in a smaller container a week ago, for concern that the too big pot was inhibiting it's ability to bounce back. I found that it still doesn't have much root. It was still wiggly in the pot, and has a few bits coming out of the bottom of the stub that was left at the time of surgery, but that's it.

It's now in a 2.5 oz. condiment cup with holes cut in the bottom for drainage (Don't know WHY that didn't occur to me before. It seems so simple. Unless that's too small...). But I'm wondering what else I can do to encourage more roots? Is it likely from the wetness of a too big pot, or something else?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 3:57PM
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aegis1000

Check out the Chloramine thread ...

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 11:10PM
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splatteredwhim(7)

So this chloramine in the city water might be impacting the ability to form roots? The threads I read on chloramine reference problems with leaves going south, not so much roots.

I'll try store-bought water for a bit and see if that makes a difference.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 4:10PM
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Linda

SW,
Check your county or city's web-site under water quality. It should tell you somewhere what is contained in your water. I checked my county's and found it right away. I tried again and couldn't locate it so I e-mailed. I got an answer immediately.

Usually anything that is going to affect the leaves will affect the roots directly or indirectly and visa-versa. Leaves cannot live without roots and roots cannot live without leaves.

Linda

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 1:33AM
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fortyseven_gw

Linda,
Oy! Leaves heading south, sign of chloramine
poisoning ... guilty as charged ... shamefacedly
skulking away ...
47-Anonymous

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 1:29AM
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