Plants dying - Dollorama potting soil or something else?

ddobro2(5a)November 5, 2012

Hello all,

I'm a newbie and I am seeking some opinions about the following scenario. In mid- to late- summer I acquired two pots of ground cherries, about 12 inches in height. They were both very healthy and producing ground cherries. I kept them on the windowsill here in Montreal where I live.

I then decided to transplant one of them into a larger pot to see how it would do. I used potting soil from Dollarama to do this. The new pot I put it in was too large and heavy to be safely kept on the windowsill so I put it on a bookshelf that is maybe 5 or 6 feet from a window that faces another apartment building and gets some light but not as much as the other two windows in the apartment (but does have the advantage of a desk directly in front of it on which plants can sit).

I also put a pot of Cuban oregano there. I was told that the Cuban oregano doesn't need to get that much light and does fine indoors in the winter. So I noticed that the groundcherry plant was wilting and having yellow leaves and the Cuban oregano (which was healthy before although leggy and leaning to one side) was getting a brown woody stem creeping up from the bottom and yellowing leaves. The Cuban oregano was not transplanted and had the original soil.

I decided at this point it was due to lack of sun so I put them on the desk in front of the window. This did not ameliorate the situation - they have both continued to do poorly. The ground cherries look completely dead whereas the other pot (although, it is in a sunnier window) is green and healthy. As far as the Cuban oregano, I decided to save some of it by taking cuttings and putting into water to root (hasn't yet) so there is just the brown stump of a stem left. When watering the ground cherries, I noticed that the potting soil from Dollarama takes very long for the water to soak in compared to the other pots I have. It pools there and sits for several seconds which I know must not be good. I also don't think the groundcherries are shutting down for the winter because the other pot is doing great, like I said.

Dear Gardenwebers - is the quality of the Dollarama potting soil contributing to these problems or what is the reason for these sick plants?


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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

I wish I could give you some valuable advice about your ground cherries, but I have only grown them outdoors, where they self sowed successfully. A far as the Dollarama soil is concerned, I have used it in the last year to pot up seven hibiscus cuttings I rooted in water. Of the seven, five have survived and are thriving, so I don't think the soil is your problem. I think both of these plants need full sun, and you may have stressed the ground cherries even more by repotting. I have never grown Cuban oregano, so have no knowledge of its growing habits. Hope some other gardener can be more helpful.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 9:59PM
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Hi northerner_on. Thanks for your reply! That's interesting you haven't noticed any problems with their bags of soil. I posted on another forum and someone responded that he used it many years ago and whether the plant died or just didn't thrive, he was not impressed with it and hasn't bought soil from Dollarama since. I can see your point about stressing the plant further by transplanting. My intention was definetely not to stress it, but to see how it would react with more space for its roots to grow. The pot of ground cherries that wasn't transplanted looks pretty much like it did when it came home or a bit better (the one on the right here in link below). The one on the left in pic is dried up, collapsed, and dead. The surviving ground cherry pot is now in a more sunny window than in the picture btw. I would have put them outside but I don't even have a balcony. Sometimes I open the window for it to get unfiltered rays though.

Here is a link that might be useful: groundcherry

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 10:45AM
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Regarding the Cuban oregano, when I got it from a greenhouse run by students they told me it would survive indoors during the winter. It looked like this originally: (see link). Right now it is just a brown stubby stem because the leaves started wilting and I cut them to root in water to try to save them. Was never transplanted into other soil/pot.

Here is a link that might be useful: cubanoregano

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 10:48AM
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dollarama soil shouldn't be the problem. it's basically a soilless mix. not much nutrition added to it. Much of the other soilless mixes have slow release fertilizers added to them.

Anyway ground cherries and cuban oregano are both outdoor plants but in our cold climate they just won't survive outdoors in winter. if you have a good plant light, then there's a chance they will survive.

Lost of factors why plants will wilt right after planting - one is that it suffered transplant shock. A way to go around it is to make sure the plant is well watered hours before transplanting. Also to make sure roots are not damaged or disturbed during transplanting. Especially with ground cherries which are succulent like plants, they do need a good drink before transplanting. Also not a good idea to fertilize a newly planted plant. You risk damaging the roots. In anycase the roots having just been transplanted will need time to recover and cannot absorb water nor nutrients for the time being. Rule of thumb, the smaller the plant, the less transplant damage it will occur.

Leaves go yellow when they don't have enough nutrients. Tropical plants can actually go into a form of dormancy in winter- its a reaction to lesser daylight hours.

Some tropical plants can actually react to lesser lighting by shedding leaves or have branches dying. Like for example the ficus tree.

Also last, overwatering.. Too much water can make cells 'explode' wilt and then die. Cells are like balloons that do not know when it has absorbed too much water. So water carefully. Let it dry between watering.

Cuban oregano certainly resembles coleus, succulent tissues and they are okay under good amount of indirect sunlight. But greenhouse lights would be better. You can propagate more by taking branches, letting it dry in between and then sticking them into soilless mixes.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 5:10PM
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