Problem with earth in planter

norkNovember 19, 2006

Right off the bat i should point out i'm not much of a gardener, but i am learning and trying my best. I am getting the hang of it outdoors but i have an indoor problem.

There is a huge brick planter in my house. Its 20 ft long, about4 ft high and about 20 inches wide at the top, but its design is such that its a lot narrower at the bottom, maybe about 8 or 9 inches. It was built the same time as the house, about 40 yrs ago. Its in good condition, fresh coat of paint about 3 yrs ago.

Originally i didnt have any plants in it. I have a huge 60 in tv. So i completely covered the planter with plywood and put my tv up there. Im sure you are cringing, lol. I had it that way for about 8 yrs or so.

Anyway, i remodelled the house about 3 yrs ago, took the tv down and took off the plywood.

Last year i planted a few plants. They are all vine types as i was hoping they would work their way up the wall, which is brick as well. The planter is there, then a brick wall and its attached to the garage, thats why there is a brick wall there. Anyway, these vine-type plants rooted for me and i planted them. They got about a foot or so long and stopped growing. I also have another plant that has done the same thing in that i planted it but thats all. It hasnt grown and it looks about 10% dead.

Now i water these plants once a week. I use a few gallons of water as the planter is large and there is a lot of earth there. I dont think i water it too much. If anything the earth still seems to be a bit dry.

I am wondering if i did something to the earth by covering it for those years? Sounds a bit dumb but what do i know, lol. Or is there some other reason?

What do i need to do to get these plants to start growing instead of sitting there? There are 5 plants in total, 4 have larger, fairly broad leaves, likely a very common type of vine. The other one i bought in a store, dont know what it is, but its got small leaves on it.

As for light, they dont get a lot but they do get some light, the leaves on most of them are very green. There are some fluorescent lights above the planter. I tried leaving them on for a few days to see if that helped. Didnt seem to. But it seems to me the lights are a bit too high anyway, they are on the ceiling. Perhaps they should be lower? This is all guesswork on my part, you could say that i basically have the black thumb of death, although i have learned a tiny bit lately.

Can anyone help me out with advice?

thanks for listening

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I'm having trouble picturing an indoor planter that big, but it sounds like it could be fabulous!

It is possible that the soil is just "dead" -- all the little microbes and stuff have passed on. It's also possible that the nutrients that were in the soil have been used up over the years. (Who knows how long it's been since fresh soil was added?) You might try digging in some healthy amounts of compost or aged compost -- you don't have to replace all the soil, which could be pretty expensive, but you do want to jump start things.

Light could be another issue. I've never had a whole lot of luck with grow lights, but I think there is a whole forum on that where folks may be able to better assess what you've got and what's best for that set-up.

Or it could be the plants. They may need more light, or may simply be short growers. (Can you post a picture, or find a picture of something similar?) If you want vines that will cover the wall, you'll need to get a trellis of some kind. It doesn't have to be elaborate; it could just be fishing line suspended from the ceiling. But the only vines that will scale a brick wall on their own will ultimately damage the wall, and you don't want that!

How/where does the planter drain?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 1:00PM
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It would appear that like many first time posters, nork hasn't bothered to read the replies to his/her question or follow up.

Such is life.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 10:21PM
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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

Well, it is kinda lonely in here. Do you think its due our location in the list? We are un-alphabetical.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 1:49PM
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lori_londonuk(zone 8-9)

Since I posted for the first time in this particular forum the other week, I'd better say hello! :) I like the fact there is a forum for gardeners that are likely to have different challenges than those with lots of space. Maybe there are simply many more suburban/rural gardeners on this site. But about the topic at hand, I had similar questions to alison, especially about the drainage. Also the 'vines' may not be suitable as indoor plants depending upon what they are - I know hedera helix gets used as a houseplant.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2006 at 5:31AM
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