alocasia roots wrapped in gauze? what?

greentoe357July 29, 2013

When I repotted an alocasia recently, I wanted to get all the old soil out of the root ball. But the bottom of the stem had some potting mix that was enveloped in something like very fine gauze, and the mix would not wash out. I took the liberty to cut the gauze and bare-root the plant before repotting because my mix is very different (gritty mix).

I am curious why the growers did this. The plant was bought at Home Depot or Lowes, so it must be one of the huge growing companies that do this. The only reason I can think of is to make sure that at least the roots very close to the stem would never dry out - which makes sense because alocasias like wet feet. (Although wouldn't root rot be an issue?)

Did I do the right thing by cutting the gauze and planting it into gritty mix?

But primarily I wonder why the gauze was there in the first place.

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my guess is that they do it for the ease of xplanting. the tuber needs to be very wet and hot to break dormancy - so it's proly peat pocket that is on a heat-mat in propagator. once it's growing, they pop it in a larger pot.
they need fast drainage , fertile mix and plenty of water. the hotter the more water they will take. like 35C and higher is just fine.
it's when it drops below 70F (the soil will be even cooler then) and it's damp - that spells trouble. but then it will slow down. at 65F they start declining and going dormant - that's when you need to keep it drier.
I do not use gritty - can't comment on that.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 9:23AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Peat pellet.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 9:29AM
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grabmebymyhandle(6 Kentucky)

Ill agree with peat pellet, or something very similar, I'm afraid you'll find the gritty mix to be too dry, alocasia DO NOT want wet feet, colocasia do, alocasia can handle tremendous amounts of water when growing, when they are not growing... Wet feet are doom! Just like petruska said!
Gritty mix and wet feet will likely work just fine for many alocasias when actively growing, just return it to normal plant treatment in fall.

You didn't mention what alocasia it was, if it was amozonica/poly or any jewel type, there's a good chance that bare rooting it will lead to lost leaves, possibly dormancy, keep it warm, over 75 if you can, and don't let it dry out much, but for heavens sakes let it dry some, jewels HATE wet feet, no matter the mix.
They prefer soil to stay the same moisture level, not quite evenly moist never dry...kind of a pain, but worth it!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 3:30PM
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It's Alocasia Polly. Here's how it looked right before being repotted a few days ago.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 4:03PM
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not everything needs to be put in gritty or 511. you can see a lot of posts where people dried up their plants indoors, 'cause they did not realize that they will require more watering then in prev commercial mix. you might need bagging too for a month or so.
and bare rooting too... it was really not necessary, uppotting would've been fine until the first dormancy - then you can clean it all up and start using your own mix from scratch.
I can't see tubers in the pic - they are quite small, no?
my understanding that such small tubers require tight quarters - they grow faster in small pots. also there is less danger of tuber/root rot.
also for small plants like that it's critical to NOT let them go dormant for at least 1st winter - small tubers might not survive drying up.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 4:58PM
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I'd agree, it's something like a peat pellet. They were probably being sprouted bulk and once leaves developed they would have been just plopped into a pot of soil.

It's correctly Alocasia "Poly", the "poly' is an abbreviation of "polyploid". These, as mentioned, like frequent watering in fast draining soil.

Quite a few Alocasia like to sit in water, they're more marginal rather than fully water plants. Others prefer only damp to a bit wet soil. And as mentioned, the "Jewels" like instant drainage and air around the roots otherwise they rot almost immediately.

There's a number of Colocasia that don't like over wet soil, whilst quite a lot like to sit in free water. That's why it's important to know exactly what you've got, or proceed with caution.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 2:48AM
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Yeah, the roots were pretty small and no tubers at all. The plant did not grow one bit since I got it in May. Two leaves looked like they were unfurling, and they still look like they are unfurling now. On the other hand, it is not dying either, so I am happy.

Not letting it go dormant this winter is a challenge in my zone and with me preferring cool space for myself.

Root rot is now not a danger, I hope, as the mix it is now in drains very fast.

Tropic breeze, interesting about polly vs. poly, thanks for mentioning. I looked online, and not much info there - surprising for such a popular plant. I do not care much either way - I keep the plant for how it looks no matter how it spells its name. :-)

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 3:49PM
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exoticrainforest has a good wright-up on poly :
and on aroids in general.
the best thing to do to keep it warm in winter - put it on a heating pad (one that does not shut down , but stays on all the time) or better get yourself a heating mat (used for seed germination) AND bag it in large dry-cleaners bag for humidity and to keep mites out (ok if leaves touch the sides, leaves are tough), and ..if it's not dropping the leaves, keep it moist. and let it stay like that thru the winter.
the reason it's not growing - it does not have enough light. what's the best light you can give it? and it prefers to be 85F - really warm, but at least 75F.
when my temps went below 65F (close to 62F near windows), it dropped most leaves and went dormant.
it all depends if it's worth a bother to you.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 9:03PM
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Exoticrainforest is the only place where I saw the polly vs. poly discussion. Other than that, Google says "Did you mean Polly?" Hilarious.

Light is a challenge in my apartment. Indirect light only. What kind of grow light setup can you guys recommend for a city apartment that is relatively inconspicuous? (not the apartment - the setup hehe)

Heating pads is another thing I might need to look into - although I wonder if setting the alocasia on top of my fridge will do the trick, with perhaps a light directed on it there.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 12:06AM
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fridge top is good, provided there's light. for now you could use a table lamp of some sort/spot light fluo/incandescent combo. like a picture lamp or architect work-light (they take very strong bulbs/fluo).
i don't use lights per se. though some of my plants are on a kitchen isle in winter with 4 built-in ceiling spots. i use day-light bulbs in them. and then i have a 300W halo floor lamp: that gives off quite a bit of heat and very bright light next to the window. so that's some supplemental light in the evening. things like that.
you're good for now - it's warm and enough light, it's the winter that is problematic. but you have time to figure smth out.
may be smbody else will pitch in...

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 10:47AM
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>> the roots were pretty small and no tubers at all. The plant did not grow one bit since I got it in May. Two leaves looked like they were unfurling, and they still look like they are unfurling now.

Since the time I bare-rooted and repotted about 5 weeks ago, I also bought a light fixture and put the Alocasia under it. When I was watering yesterday, I noticed a couple of new shoots coming up! Very excited! But why do they have these dry threads at the ends? Any why are the shoots blunt and not pointy? I have never seen new growth on this plant, so no idea how it should look like (and google image search barely returns anything useful), but this looks a bit weird, so I thought I'd run it by the community.

I attribute this new growth primarily to much better light, by the way - Petrushka, you were right on this. All sorts of plants started growing, or growing faster, now when they are supposed to slow down before the winter.

In the bigger scheme of things, does this plant now think it's spring and it decided to come out of dormancy? Looks like in order not to disappoint it, I will definitely need a heating pad for the winter. What else can you knowledgeable folk tell me? Shall I bag it on a heating pad for the winter, or not?

Edit: forgot to add also that this plant along with a few others got spider mites on them a week or so ago. I washed them off with flexible shower head (and then again a few days later just in case) and am now watching in case the little buggers return.

This post was edited by greentoe357 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 22:24

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 10:17PM
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the leaf and flower start out the same (the flower is fatter) - so it's hard to say what it is yet. the leaf comes out of a sheath - both of which are pointy. so it looks like 2 leaves are coming out, but it's just one.
the thread is the dried up tip - looks like you let it go dry too much.
if your temps in winter do not drop below 65F and you have enough light it'll just sit there, some leaves will die, but some will persevere. if you put it on a heating pad - you'll be able to give it more water and with more light it will continue much better. there's more info on heating pads/mats in - aroid section. but heating pad is only necessary if you have cold room. it will dry up surrounding air - so you'll need a humidifier or to bag it and closely monitor water. if it's warm, it should have enough water. but generally they are kept drier in winter, when they are not producing new leaves.
if it does not have enough light AND is warm and moist, it could rot the tuber. brits repot their alies in smallest pots for winter to prevent tuber rot (when they lift them out of the ground). general idea is never to overpot.
not many posts here about it. am i exasperating you yet;)???
they are heavy feeders when in growth. need good ferts.
i use 50% rubbing alcohol 50% water solution to wipe the leaves when i see mites. mites on crotons and poly are sort of a given. but i managed to be free of them all winter on crotons when i bagged them.
in my experience poly likes very similar conditions, except it likes to be even warmer.
uff! i am exhausted just talking about it!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 9:47PM
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grabmebymyhandle(6 Kentucky)

The dried up thread is likely not from slowing to get to dry...

It's actually, atleast in my experience, An aborted leaf, jewel alocasia do this rather frequently, it's likely cuased from the trauma of being pulled from its ideal conditions in a greenhouse, and spending a week or so in a dark truck, then an undetermined amout of time in a store...

Unlike most EE, including the bigger alocasia, jewel alocasia will stop growing, yet retain their old leaves, not exactly dormancy...if conditions are promptly returned to ideal, they will spit a nub like that...a new leaf will emerge from that nub and life will go on, if condition remain marginal they will hd the leaves for some time before letting them go, if conditions decline, the leaves will drop quickier!

The fact that yours has restarted growing is a good sign!

Sorry to here that you have made a lifelong have a pretty good chance of spider mites from now on...hateful little things!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 11:22AM
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One of the young shoots has pulled out about an inch ahead of the other and has become a little sharper in appearance like a new growth is supposed to be. I'll see what develops with those two.

I bagged the plant in plastic, just as I did with some other of my plants - to increase humidity but also to have a mite barrier. Between this one and my maranta, there seems to be a competition who gets more mites, or gets them more often. My croton was the gold medal winner of that competition and is retired to a dumpster somewhere and could not be reached for comment on his mite situation.

I mentioned the two leaves that appeared to be unwrapping when I bought the plant in May and did not change that appearance in all these months. Could it be that mites stunt leaf unfurling? I only recognized mites in the last few weeks for the first time, but they may have been present a while ago. Or what else could it be?Lack of light? These are the leaves in the foreground here on the photo.

I used straight up rubbing alcohol, both as generous spray on both sides of all leaves till it drips and on a cotton pad to wipe the leaf surfaces. No idea which application method is more effective, but wiping gives me more of a physical contact satisfaction.

Thanks for all your comments.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 12:03PM
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I thought I noticed this the last time I watered, and today there is no doubt in my mind - the plant (both plants really) have grown significantly. The shoot I posted a picture of ~20 days ago is now 10+ inches tall. It's an unfurling leaf, not a shoot anymore.

The new thing I noticed though is the significant thickening of the base of both plants. They are just swelling in girth and looking very healthy at the base. The other plant in the pot now also has a leaf shooting out.

They both were very shaky and unstable after the repot, being relatively top-heavy and root-light. Any time I'd water and then tilt the pot to let more of the perched water out, both plants would wiggle significantly from side to side. Not anymore! They feel much more secure in the ground now - so there's definitely root growth as well.

What has not changed is the two leaves which seem to be unfurling without moving at all forever now. I guess this is how it'll stay with those two.

Mites have been a recurring event on these Alocasias, unfortunately. I shower the leaves, wipe and spray them with rubbing alcohol, but the plants are not out of the woods yet.

Probably because of mites, leaves are increasingly getting these tiny permanent speckles on them (been happening for a while), and lately I also noticed overall change of leaf color from uniform dark green to lighter slightly spottier more washed out green. This last thing may be because of mites or maybe because of the increased light, temp or bagging. All three are relatively recent changes, and so is the leaf color change - can they possibly be related?

So, it's a strange combination of, on the one hand, the definitely improved shape of the plant and finally some growth due to better light and possibly heat (I've been keeping it on top of a grow light in low-80s temps), but on the other hand, sicker-looking leaf color and the speckles caused by mites. I wish I could snap a pic of my leaf color next to a healthy-looking plant to show you.

I think I do need to get more serious about mites. Shall I keep doing what I am doing more often and be patient or shall I bring the wrath of miticides on their sorry little asses or something else?

Thanks all for your advice - I could not have achieved this growth without you all.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 5:29PM
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looking good. the pot is quite nice too.
leaves get like that from mites. also oldest will start getting kind of yellow margins that will spread and then it will die. that's normal. usually the new one opens up when it's growing.
been telling you it needs bottom heat! to grow roots and all.
clever to put it on top of fixture.
i wipe with half alcohol half water so as not be too drying on the leaves. the young ones are very tender, easy to tear - spraying might be safer. i check for little specks in the sun (or lamp) ev few weeks. and wipe at least once a month.
try spraying with neem oil - it's a miticide. sometimes i use insecticidal soap spray. i read that you need to do it at 5 days interval sev times to catch hatching mites and whatever you missed.
i had mites in them always, except for this year, when i re-potted tubers fresh and had it bagged for sev months while growing. even now they are clean - quite a miracle!
oh, and by the way i had my new stromanthe in the bag from the start and repotted - it looked clean so i did not spray...
discovered mites the other week on them. so they were there all along for a ride. coulda been worse if not bagged ...
spray or wipe ALL new plants as a routine, even after you wash them, even if you don't see anything.
make sure it gets enough water - don't let it dry out. on heat it likes to be almost damp, can't overwater it!
one of my tubers is developing the 5! leaf - i never had more then 2 at a time before. i am feeding it with ev watering - that is mine is self-watering, it drinks what it wants with liquid fert.
half the babies have 3 leaves already.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 7:50PM
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about the leaves that won't unfurl.
my philo xanadu was pushing out new leaves when i did a bare-root repot. it was growing already well. but 3 new tiny leaves went yellow and wilted. it immediately pushed out new ones too.
so it might be because of repot - it just got shocked or smth. i usually try not to repot when leaves are unfurling and tender.
donnow..could be because of lower light conditions when you brought it in.
too bad nobody else wants to talk about it.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 7:59PM
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>> the pot is quite nice

and you can't beat the $2 price!: (those come in smaller size too.) I drilled holes in the inside one, put an old peanut butter or nutella (or something) lid in-between the pots to have some space at the bottom and to create that 2-color look, popped one inside the other and voila! The only disadvantage is the single pot is too flexible and has too much give, so feels a little iffy in the hand sometimes. But they are fine doubled.

>> been telling you it needs bottom heat! to grow roots and all. clever to put it on top of fixture.

Yes! Definitely good advice on the heat.

I am proud of the lamp idea. (Little things, right? :-) It is especially good for plants that need temp differences between night and day (like when encouraging a phalaenopsis orchid to produce a flower spike at this time of year or a bit later - or perhaps to encourage flowers on a Christmas/Thanksgiving cactus). You do not even need to move the plant or bother opening and closing the window or whatever - the lamp is on a timer, so the temp fluctuations just happen automatically. Beautiful. At least that's the theory - my phals are probably too weak to flower this year, and I am on the fence even trying to induce it.

So now I have all those differently-lit shelves, a lamp that can be used as a day-time heat mat and a real heat mat for 24/7 operation. I suppose I can also use the top lamp as a daytime heat mat as well - for those plants that do not need a lot of light (not quite sure what those would be, but nice to be aware of the option). I am quite happy with how this set up is turning out. And it's non-ugly, which is important in an urban apartment in the room I use most often.

I am glad your alocasia and strom are growing well, too!

>> about the leaves that won't unfurl - it might be because of repot

Yeah, if my memory serves me right, I repotted three times since May, first into perlite-amended store bought mix, then into a bark-heavy but still less than optimal mix, and finally into gritty mix. I actually think gritty mix was an overkill - Alocasias do like wet feet, and it drains arguably too fast. I have better bark now, so another repot may be in order, but of course not till the spring or summer, and even then I'll see how it's doing at the time.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 10:54PM
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good i asked about the pot ;) - i might pop in containerstore to have a look.
so i take it you got the 2nd fixture and put it under the shelf and plants on top get light from the top fixture and bottom heat from the one below? that's nice!
tradescantia or pothos might be good for the top fixturel - they'll trail down and hang in the light!
you could aim at getting a kind of jungle monster sculpted look :). hang some round mirror balls like shifting eyes and a perched bird or halloween spider live-in...
all you are missing iare some spider plants as a grass-skirt or moustache;))). they take very low light too! they can obscure pots very well ANd they can live on top! too. and multiply like crazy... but i digress ... yet again (misty morning... zz got more rot in one pot...just pissing time away from annoying chores...)

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 10:06AM
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Sorry about the delayed reply.

>> so i take it you got the 2nd fixture and put it under the shelf and plants on top get light from the top fixture and bottom heat from the one below?


>> tradescantia or pothos might be good for the top fixturel - they'll trail down and hang in the light!

Good idea - or a hoya that has particularly long vines. Hoyas are some of the plants I am most obsessed about lately. Just got and planted a dozen different cuttings I've ordered online.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 12:43AM
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