Please Help ~ What's Wrong With Roots?

hostatakeover swMO(6a)July 12, 2014

When I received this Earth Angel it was a huge, gorgeous speciman; great root system, lots of eyes, huge leaves. It's been dwindling ever since. Leaves turn yellow and brown, shrivel up and die off, so I just removed it from the pot and the roots look like limp spaghetti. Discolored and dangling uselessly, they're easily pulled off.

That's just a few of the roots that came off, lying in the dirt next to the plant.

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hostatakeover swMO(6a)

Here's a close-up of the roots. You can see some white, healthy ones still remain.

Can anyone tell me where I went wrong, and is this fixable?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 5:21PM
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I'm guessing too much moisture, it wasn't draining in the pots. Roots need some air and roots were continually soaked.....add pine bark mulch (the small finer mix, not the bigger nuggets). I use 50/50 with Pro-Mix potting soil. BTW, don't use moisture retentive potting mix that have the crystals.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 5:35PM
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hostatakeover swMO(6a)

That makes sense, Paul, thank you. It did appear to be unusually wet, though I've only watered it once or twice since potting it up.

I only have red mulch on hand. Do you think that would be safe to use? The bark pieces are pretty small.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 5:41PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

they are dead.. they did not make the transplant..

only the white ones are live .. if it lives.. you will have a very small hosta next year ...

with no history of when or how you got a huge plant... nor why you potted it.. etc .... i can not guess why it failed ...

back in the day.. been there.. done that ... live and learn ...


    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 6:21PM
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hostatakeover swMO(6a)

Yep, this isn't the first time this has happened to me, either, working with potted Hostas, but at least I finally know what I'm doing wrong. Yay!

ALL my Hostas get potted up before planting, as digging holes here is extremely difficult. Granite and hard, red clay ensure only two holes can be dug in a day (I dig LARGE holes because the ground is so Hosta hostile). Age, heat and humidity also slow me down, but I'm determined to continue growing my Hosta garden, and at a faster pace than I've been doing it.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 6:48PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

Hosta Takeover,

I think Paul is right about too wet. It also appears that you have regular dirt in your pot. Was that dug from someone's garden? If the pot is just a holding place, you will have to move faster on the holes or pot them up to live in a pot.

Dirt won't work in a pot. You hose off all the dirt and put it in potting soil (only if it comes from a garden). If it's to stay in a pot for very long, You'll you need a good quality potting soil.

Miracle Grow is about the only thing available here. I have a lot of pots, so I mix a 40 qt. bag of Miracle Grow regular potting soil and a bag of the smallest pine bark mulch I can find. I throw the big pieces into the mulch and keep the rest of it in the mix. I store it in a big plastic trash can.

Make sure the pot has plenty of holes in it for drainage. Fill the pot from the bottom to the top with the same mix. Don't use rocks or anything to "help the drainage".

If we've totally missed it, let us know and we'll try again.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 8:37PM
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hostatakeover swMO(6a)

Thank you, bkay. No, it arrived bare root and I potted it, like everything else, in straight Miracle Grow Potting Mix. The MGPM has been hit or miss the last two years, with some bags being heavy and dense while other bags seem to actually repel water. I go through about 80 2 cubic foot bags per year, planting primarily Hostas. Had to literally toss 2 bags last year because the material simply would not absorb any water. Weird.

The plastic pots are just the kind you'd get when purchasing a shrub or plant from a nursery. Plenty of drainage holes.

Anyway, when I do finally get the plants in the ground they get about 50/50 mix of the dirt I dug and MGPM.

I think the addition of pine bark will eliminate the problem I've had occasionally with what apparently is root rot. I did notice when I removed the Earth Angel that the soil was exceedingly wet and very dense at the bottom of the pot, so there just wasn't enough drainage and aeration going on. Sadly, it went into a much smaller pot today. :(

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 8:54PM
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Use the bark, smallest pieces you can get. Do NOT use the red mulch unless it is pine bark. You'll have another problem with fungi growing on the wood particles. Not meant for pots.

I don't know how MiracleGro can be so variable in quality. Are you buying MG Garden Soil? Whole different product from the MG Potting Mix.

Like BKay, I mix a big 64 qt size of MGPotting Mix (no moisture control in what I get), And then I put a 2 cu ft bag of the pine bark mini-nuggets, whatever is the smallest size pieces of bark. I add a bit of vermiculite, and some spagnum peat moss and then some crushed crab shell to taste. Actually that is a personal matter, you won't need to do it.
Optional as they say in the recipes.

Make sure those holes in your pots are on the sides of the nursery pots. Most are, but who knows there might be a style pot that is only on bottoms. In which case, elevate the pots to let water drain easily.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 9:13PM
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