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Help save my episcia, please!

Posted by Firefly_Christina z8 TX (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 18, 04 at 15:37

I am in Dallas, TX, and went into my local Home Depot two days ago to find a plant that could withstand my brown thumb. (They offer a one-year guarantee on the plant, you see, and will replace it even if I am the reason it died.) The lady kindly sent me to the ivy display and said I better stick with them. I got a couple english ivy plants and saw this adorable soft, fuzzy one mixed in and picked it up too. It didn't have any care or identification labels, just that the 6.5" pot cost however much, so I got on the Internet to find out what it is. It looks like I am now the proud owner of a Bronze Queen Episcia. I could be wrong on whether it is a Bronze Queen or not. Mine has broad, medium green leaves with a silver undertone through the veins. I just searched through Google's episcia pictures until I came across one on the Af. Violet Society of Canada's homepage that looks the closest to it.

So now I am a little worried about the poor thing and have no clue how to care for it. Everything I've found about care is written with the assumption a gardner is reading it...and I don't understand a thing other than it wants a warm, humid place to live. There are a handful of leaves that were wrinkled and dead that I pulled off. A few leaves are half-dead (brown, shriveled and dried) and half alive (green and thriving). I don't know if the dead brown spots are from poor care in two days time, or from a problem it already had.

Overall, I want to be able to keep the thing as I do like it, but I don't have a clue on how. Could you kindly lay it out for me in beginner's terms? I might have to take up the store on the 1 year guarantee, but I would at least like to try to keep it alive and see it bloom.

Your help is really appreciated!

Christina


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Help save my episcia, please!

Christina, read the back post here, theres very good growing tips and much specifics, just keep going back in time and you will find what ya need to know. I have two varieties and am new to raising them, but they seem to be thriving with the information gleamed here. good luck with your plant. Portia


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RE: Help save my episcia, please!

Thanks Portia! I'm afraid the same holds true for this forum, though. It is taken for granted that another gardner will understand "cuttings" and "crowns" and soil mixtures and "semi-hydroponics". My old science classes lend me an assumption on the meanings, but not enough understanding to carry out any type of procedures. Of course, I don't intend to get Horticulture 101, as that would be asking way too much of you. I was hoping to learn *that* with my hardy ivy plants! I'm reading up, and studying, but until I get a basic working knowledge under my belt, could you tell me what to do with my ailing episcia right now?

For example, one might say, "Put it in the bathroom window under a fishbowl with this ____ fertilizer. If it looks like this ______, then water it. If it looks like this ______, then leave it alone. If it looks like this _______ then try again by doing this _________. If this _______ is the case, just take the thing back now."

Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated!

Christina


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RE: Help save my episcia, please!

Christina,
Loved your last post! It always helps to have a sense of humor about these things.
First of all you need to repot the poor thing. Any store-bought plant you ever buy will need repotting right away.
Second - buy some pre-packaged AV potting soil OR Miracle Gro Moisture Control Potting soil AND a small bag of Perlite. Most Wal-Marts carry these things. Mix one part Perlite to three parts potting soil and use that mixture to repot your plant. Water thoroughly and allow to drain.
Now, answer a couple of questions for me -
Will you be growing it near a window or under florescent lights?
If it's to be near a window - what is the exposure of the window? East, north, etc.
Approximately how large is your plant - diameter across?
Episcias are not terribly difficult to grow, so I know you can do this :-)

Jeanette
Texas
zone 8b


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RE: Help save my episcia, please!

Oh, thank you Jeanette! That was *exactly* what I needed! I understand it all, and will be at the store tomorrow. I don't mind really where it grows, so long as it is living.:) We have kitchen windows in the south and west that it was getting a little light through, but when I read that it wanted warm and moist air, I moved it to the bathroom facing north. It was the best I could think of. We have plenty of places away from windows as well, if it would do better on a counter or table somewhere. It's pretty lanky and droopy, but I would say from the longest place across it is about a foot wide. I think I can revive it, as most of the leaves are still nice and green, but I am worried about the dead places. It looks like a brown dead spot is creeping across the leaves, leaving a withered dryness in its wake. Is that just from poor care? I fear the worst! Do you think I would be better to trade it in now for a new one, or that I should do CPR on this one and see if I can get it breathing again first?

I am determined to grow one of these now, as I learned today that my fiance's horticulture-nut mother whose house looks like a nursery, can't grow AVs for anything and get them to bloom. (I noticed on another post it probably wasn't getting enough light...but don't tell her that!) I'll have a gorgeous episcia trained to a trellis up my bathroom window, and blooming like mad this time next year and she'll be in awe of how I ever kept it alive.

:D hahahahahaha... The vision keeps me determined!!

Thanks, again, Jeanette!


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RE: Help save my episcia, please!

I think you can probably get this one revived.
BTW, they are more like a 'groundcover' in their growth habits rather than a climber. So much for climbing up the BathR wall :-) They can make a lovely hanging basket though.
A north BathR window sounds great! That way she can get light without having to worry about getting burned. Like African Violets, they like Lots of light, but direct sun will fry them. Not a pretty sight.
Okay, dead spaces - Episcias are a trailing plant. You will probably notice what appears to be baby plants at the end of those trailing stems. Those are very easy to root - which you might want to try in case the big plant bites the dust. I have just learned how to root them and they are Very Easy to propagate. Cut a few of those babies off with a small amount of stem attached. Lay them on top of some damp potting soil (about 1/2 soil + 1/2 perlite). Be sure that a leaf joint is in contact with the potting soil. You can cover the leaf joint enough to hold it in place. Then slide that pot into a large Ziploc bag and put it in a bright place, but out of direct sun. They should begin to form roots pretty fast if the room is warm enough. If too much humidity begins to build up in the bag, just open it for a few hours until the sides of the bag are dry again.
Then zip it back up.
While you are cutting off baby plants to root, go ahead and give her a 'haircut'. She needs to concentrate on growing instead of producing lots of baby plants. If you can bear to do it, and get her repotted as well, your plant should take right off and begin putting on new growth.
I hope this is not 'information overload' :-)
Let me know if you need additional clarification.
Now, if you really want to give future MIL fits, buy an African Violet and get it to grow and rebloom. LOL
I know, I know one thing at a time.

Jeanette
Texas


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RE: Help save my episcia, please!

Jeanette,

You are wonderful! Your patience and clarity have made my day. I just went to look for the babies, and didn't see a one. Several more leaves succumbed to the brown death, but overall the stems and leaves are stronger and healthier than yesterday. (I think my daughter's extra long hot shower made it happy!) I had one of those "Congratulations! You will spend all day on the phone in an automated maze only to be connected to the wrong department and treated rudely by a company whose fraudulent account is messing up *your* credit!" kinda days...so I didn't re-pot the Mama plant today. I'll be able to get the little pots at the same time tomorrow when I get the bigger one. How should the soil feel? I know it doesn't like to go dry or be overwatered, and that is why it needs the Perlite to keep it kinda mushy and moist all the time instead of dried out and compact or dripping wet and muddy. Right now it is pretty dry. Would it be better to err on the side of dryness, and not water unless I'm sure? I'm thinking that would do less harm than overwatering on accident. Also, I didn't think to ask what size pot I should be moving up to. It is in 6.5" now. Would it hurt it to be in too big a pot with room to grow? And lastly, I am fearful of killing it in the move. Do I just set the whole pot's worth of dirt down inside a bigger pot and fill around it, or do I need to break up the dirt that it is in now?

I know I sound like a total nincompoop, but I am OK with that. I'll have a bathroom full of *hanging* gesnariads in no time and will be able to kindly offer advice to other nitwits who buy them thinking they are ivies. :) ...And maybe even to my fmil. :b

I really appreciate your help!

Christina


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RE: Help save my episcia, please!

I took some pictures of the little guy and posted them on my personal website and made sure to get the good and the bad. (If you're interested.) I've picked out the four most relevent.

Here are two pictures of the death spots that seem to be growing over the leaves: The overview and the close up.

And here are the pretty pictures that show off the silver leaves (as I favor the positive a bit more): My Episcia and her pretty leaves.

My Episcia album has the rest.

(For those just lurking, don't laugh too hard. She'll be a beauty soon...with my love and Jeanette's knowledge you won't be able to distinguish mine from the Canadian prizewinner up above ;)

Christina


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RE: Help save my episcia, please!

We're not laughing--I'll bet just about everyone here has gone through similar situations. After all, nobody's born knowing how to grow things, right? And different plants take different growing techniques, so when we try something new we get to learn all over again. Also, when we move to a different climate. Still amazes me how much difference climate can make for houseplants. But in my opinion at least, that's half the fun!

Nancy


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RE: Help save my episcia, please!

Hi Christina
I couldn't get your pictures to come up :-(
Is it me or the pages?

Jeanette
Texas


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RE: Help save my episcia, please!

Nancy, Thank you for your encouragement. It definitely makes me feel a little better! -Christina

Jeanette, I asked my resident computer guru why the links work for me and not you and he said your computer wasn't recognizing them as pictures since I left the .jpg off the end. I renamed them all, and he said I now need new links since the names have changed. So this one should work just fine. Let me know if they still have problems. -Christina

Here are two pictures of the death spots that seem to be growing over the leaves: The overview and the close up.

And here are the pretty pictures that show off the silver leaves (as I favor the positive a bit more): My Episcia and her pretty leaves.

My Episcia album has the rest.


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RE: Help save my episcia, please!

Chris,
After looking at the pictures of your plant, you don't have anything to worry about. The leaves with damage are probably 'abuse' damage and they should not cause any lasting harm. You can cut away the damaged leaves.

Would it be better to err on the side of dryness, and not water unless I'm sure? ........
As long as you add Perlite to your mix it will be difficult to overwater, though not impossible. Since you have her in the bathroom, give her a 'shower' about once a week (warm like you would like it). Allow the water to drain and the leaves to dry and she should be as happy as a bug in a rug :-)

I didn't think to ask what size pot I should be moving up to. It is in 6.5" now. Would it hurt it to be in too big a pot with room to grow? ........
If the plant is rootbound, I would say yes, move up to a bigger pot. If it is not rootbound, then just break away some of the old soil, wash and dry the old pot, and then add fresh soil around the roots.

I am e-mailing you a photo of one of the 'babies' that I suggested that you root. You have several.

Jeanette
Texas


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RE: Help save my episcia, please!

Ah, Jeanette & Christina! I thoroughly enjoyed your back & forth exchange! I'm a newbie to the site--and episcias as well--and sometimes one DOES just need Step A, followed by Step B...etc. Bravo to you, Jeanette, for taking the time, and kudos to you, Christina, for having the brawn to ask for it! =)

I also found my episcia @ the Home Depot Landscape Store (in Grapevine--same guarantee, it's great!). It had red blooms with a yellowish center. I can't remember what cultivar I'd decided it was....ah well. Mine is doing surprisingly well atop my kitchen cabinets, right near the ceiling. My kitchen faces north, and has alot of muted lighting. I also have flourescent lighting in there, so SOMEhow, my plant happily gets enough light. Occasionally, I give it a morning direct sun in another room, just to give it a boost.

I keep mine from getting crispy-edged by watering w/AV food from the bottom, and keeping it aloft a pile of pebbles in a tray of water. I'm able to avoid rot & keep it w/its needed humidity.

This odd spot in the kitchen has kept my episcia girl happy & healthy for about 5 months now, so YAY for me! ;-)

Good luck to you, Christina, and you CAN do it!

MK, in Trophy Club


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RE: Help save my episcia, please!

I've been meaning to get back on here and post an update. As of right now, my "Queen" is alive and well in a new home all her own. I found some Aqua Core something or another soil that is supposed to stay nice and damp for her, and I've been taking nice, long, hot showers every day...to make the bathroom humid for her, of course! (Ahhh...if only that could be my reality!) We lost a couple beautiful leaves in the process, and my choice of pot was really not the best, but she seems to have taken a liking to me because she is growing stronger by the day, despite my mothering. :) I even found the AV plant food and gave her a feeding so she'll be blooming sometime hopefully, too.

There is no way I could have gotten her this far if it wasn't for Jeanette's help. Her patience, and willingness to respond, was instrumental in saving my poor Queen's life.

I'll have to take new pictures sometime soon. Look for the heading "God save the Queen!" in the days to come... hahaha

Thanks for the encouragement, MK. I think I can now, too...

:)

Christina


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RE: Help save my episcia, please!

Looks like this is an old post, but I'll put my two cents in anyway.

I'm anxious to see yours. A friend sent me a bunch of these about two months ago, and I'm just getting around to potting them up now. I've cut away a lot of bad leaves. Two of the plants started to bloom in their miniature pots! I felt so guilty I had to do something. I'm DETERMINED to make these live.


Potting them up


Don't know what these are


Does anybody know what this is? It's in a thimble-sized cup, and it looks like it's planted in cat litter.


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RE: Help save my episcia, please!

Posiegirl the gesneriads all look fine :)

The last picture shows plantlets from a leaf cutting of one of the x Graptoveria hybrids. They do need more sun, they naturally grow in a more compact rosette on slightly spreading stems. If you can't find much information on those, read up on Graptopetalum and Echeveria, which are the parent plants.

They do well in a sunny window that would be way too hot and bright for your Episcia (or most indoor gesneriads). Grow them more like indoor cacti. In fact, the cactus and succulent forum people could probably tell you more.


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RE: Help save my episcia, please!

I've got them all under lights which I'm hoping will work. One of them produced big pink and white blooms -- gorgeous!


All potted up! The one on the right is the pink and white flowered one, but since the wall is white you can't get a good look at it.


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