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I may have Ph do I find out for sure?

Posted by Begonia2005 7 (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 19, 12 at 14:26

A few of my plants tend to grow curled up in the middle...the leaves become somewhat like a spoon. Otherwise, they have no other suspicious symptoms.
I checked Dr. Optimara, and it appears that curled up leaves may be a sign of Ph problems. So I took this 3-in-1 gadget I bought at Home Depot and which is suppoed to measure Moisture, Light as well as Ph (pic provided), I set it on the Ph function and stuck it in the soil. For whatever it's worth, the indicator is always around 7 or even a bit above. Assuming the gadget works correctly, which comes with a major question mark, this would mean that the Ph is too alkaline and that I may indeed have a Ph problem.

But then again, I don't trust this thing because when I measure light with it, the result makes me very skeptical. I have my plants placed under a grow light, at the right distance, by the book, where they also get filtered sun from a south-west window (have sheers on).
I have showed the set up to other experts on this forum and people said it looks absolutely right. However, when I measure flourescent light right above the plant, it never shows more than 200 ft candles. If I was to go by what this gadget indicates, it would mean my set up doesn't work bc 200 ftcandles is very little. And yet, my plants already show signs of too much light (slightly pale in the middle), plus they have bloomed under those I really doubt that grow light only provides 200 ftcandles like the gadget says.
The only time when this gadget registers lots of light is when plenty of us comes through the window a nd then it jumps straight to 1000-2000. Otherwise, it seems incapable of registering the softer light of fluorescents.

If this device is not accurate with measuring light, what makes me believe it is accurate when measuring Ph?

For a while I have been using tap water but then I have switched to spring water. I really don't know what kind of water we have here... soft, hard, whatever (???)...I just know we don't have any private filtration system. My soil is 1/3 perlite, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 AV Mix, overall quite light.

What is a very good method (and easy, if possible) of testing the Ph?
If that gadget is right and my Ph really is around 7 to 7+...what should I do to fix the problem?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: I may have Ph do I find out for sure?

Here is an example of how the middle curls up.
This particular plant has another oddity compared to others, in that the older leaves have grown long and bending down and under. Thet look as if they are wilty and drooping but they are in fact firm. They just grew that way for whatever unexplained reason. However, the little leaves in the middle are starting to curl up.

I still don't know much about the needs of verigates as this is the only one I have (Witch Doctor). Do they typically want more light or less light than the classic dark green leaves?

Either way, a few regular plants I have also show the curling up/spoon symptom though they do not have the outer leaves growing under like this one does.

I just need to know whether the spooning thing can be attributed to Ph.

RE: I may have Ph do I find out for sure?

And another view of Witch Doctor with curling up leaves in the middle and bending-down-and-under outer leaves.

RE: I may have Ph do I find out for sure?

Light meters are much more finicky to get working right, however, the ph meter should be ok as long as you have let the soil-less/water mixture sit and equalize at room temperature for a while. (sticking it in dry will always yield something around 7).

As for the droopy (looking), firm leaves, that's generally caused by too much light and/or no leaf supporting ring.

The over-all look of the of the center of the plant looks fine to me for juvenile leaves (I think you might be jumping the gun on the pH issue - a pH between 5-7 is good).

When I've had pH issues in the past (due to the addition of chloramine) the leaves start taking-on a tired yellow look more than anything else.

RE: I may have Ph do I find out for sure?

I'm not certain there is anything wrong with your center leaves; they may grow normally with time. Don't use water that is too cool. Room temperature around this house is a bit on the chilly side so I sometimes heat up my water so it is slightly warm on the wrist.

To check water Ph, I use test strips designed for aquarium use. You can find these at pet stores or Wal-Mart. Take the water you use for your violets minus any fertilizer & dip strips according to directions. You then compare the results to a chart. This isn't a scientifically accurate system but will give you a general idea. If the water is way too acid, you can add some baking soda, too alkaline, add vinegar. The test strips also have an indicator for water hardness & a few others that would only pertain to fish. I have also used these to test soil Ph on violets that have been potted for awhile by running my violet water minus feritlizer through the plant & then testing. This is an inexpensive way to do some water checking.


RE: I may have Ph do I find out for sure?

I side with Terry. You do not seem to have problems, and Ph problems create major yuckiness. It looks like that's how the young leaves of this variety grow being spooned.

Ph 7 is NEUTRAL. So if it is a bit above 6.3-6.8, it won't create any major problems.

Unless you have a seriously alkaline water - artesian well water can be it - city water is usually very decent. With time the soil becomes more acidic because that's how peat desintegrates. As far as I remember you experimented with adding stuff to soil mix - and if you added lime - it can cause some disbalance.

I do not trust Home Depot gizmo- it will probably tell you if you have severely acidic soil - or severely alkaline - but to trust it to show if your soil is PH 7 or PH 6.8 - which is good - it is probably just not precise enough.

The test which Terry suggested - is much more reliable - and as far as I remember - you use distilled water to add to your soil - and then measure the Ph of this water.

Good Luck


RE: I may have Ph do I find out for sure?

Your plant looks fantastic, Begonia.

I don't think that you have a problem, either.

AV's have different shaped leaves. Yours look beautiful.

Enjoy ...

RE: I may have Ph do I find out for sure?

Then it is probably not Ph. Otherwise the plants look fine, it's jut that a few of them have the tendency to spoon in the middle and I didn't know what this was. Who knows...

As for Home Depot gizmo...I just got the confirmation that it wasn't really working, certainly not to accurately measure light.
I just received another light meter (Analog) which someone recommended on this forum and that seems to be quite reliable. I was surprised to learn that this one uses a tri-stage foot-candle range for precise readings on three scales; so fluorescent light is measured on a different scale than sun light. When I set the meter on fluorescent, it registered exactly 500 ft candles right at the plant level, so the set up I have really is the way it should be. Now I just need to receive my timer so I won't leave the poor plants under the grow light for all eternity, as I have sometimes done...and then get them pale in the middle.

And some leaf rings for support...:-)

Looks like this hobby is not as inexpensive as I thought it would be but it certainly is fun.

On top of that, a few days ago I also got my very first mouse ear EVER! It's embarrassing how exciting this thing can get. :-))))

RE: I may have Ph do I find out for sure?

Rather than a leaf ring support for the plant pictured above, I would take off the long stemmed leaves hanging out and let all the growth go towards the middle. (Repot lower to bury any naked trunk.) Most of those longer stemmed leaves look slightly smaller than the row above it anyways?.
A good healthy repotting hardly ever hurts!

RE: I may have Ph do I find out for sure?

Young plant leaves often don't flattenout until later on. They look normal to me.

RE: I may have Ph do I find out for sure?

Mouse ears ... are exciting.

RE: I may have Ph do I find out for sure?

Hmmm - as far as I remember the timer in Walmart is about $5 - the one for 2 prong fork, but the connector from 2 to 3 is something like a $1. The timer for 3 prong fork is $9.

You probably need several hours of supplemental light in the fall and winter - and just a bit if at all in summer.


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