Brown tips on a Lucky Bamboo

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Tropical Foliage, Jul 2, 2010.

  1. Tropical Foliage

    Tropical Foliage Member

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    I have a dracaena sanderiana and the tips of it's leaves are still turning brown. The plant gets no water with fluoride, good shade with only a few minutes of direct light on it... I don't get it, what's up?
     
  2. Fen Sandar

    Fen Sandar Active Member

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    Could you post a picture of the damage? We can't tell what's up with it either just from typing unless it is a very distinctive condition...in which case, you would have probably found lots of information already or described the particular oddness that would be a dead giveaway.
     
  3. Tropical Foliage

    Tropical Foliage Member

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    Here's a pic, yes, the quality of which is poor, but it's not the best camera.

    I got thinking. I read in an article once that brown tips on these plants can be a sign of a few things one of which being contaminated water. I've been watering all my plants lately with rain water since it's relatively pure and has no fluoride. I haven't noticed a change in any of the other plants (dracaena marginata and 2 philodendrons) they look healthier with the rainwater. But I was thinking, I collect the rainwater off the broken gutter and maybe theres something in/on the gutter that the D. Sanderiana is sensitive to? These's a little bit of mold on some of the gutter, but not near the part I got the rainwater from... course who knows what's in the gutter. IDK, it's puzzling. If that's the case why would it not bother the other plants?

    I just trimmed away and tried to shape some brown tips before the water switch, I thought that would be it. I guess not :/



    Thank you for your help, it's much appreciated.
     

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  4. Fen Sandar

    Fen Sandar Active Member

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    Is it growing in water or in a pot? If its in water maybe you need some sort of air pump to make bubbles for it to oxygenate the water. They seem to react well to water that doesn't get a chance to lose its excess oxygen and has lots of nutrients (I was using miracle grow in the water on some of the green bamboo that seems to be the most common type). Try a DIY hydroponic system how-to or find a fish/reptile tank water fountain pump.

    If it is potted in dirt, have you tried flooding the pot over the course of a day outside so you can clean any impurities out of the soil? I think that might be your problem (but I am not sure). Also if you have not re-potted in a while I would check your dirt. If it has bugs, or has exhausted the nutrients in the dirt, it will need some feeding probably (miracle grow, eggshells, coffee grounds, essential minerals, ect...something of that nature that is good for your plant type).

    If you are in doubt about the rainwater, give it a good boil on the stove in a big pot or a tea kettle and let it cool. If it has enzymes that are affecting your more sensitive plant that should kill them.

    Also if you re-pot, I cannot remember who it was that posted the wonderful post about re-potting trees (with the no peat soil, lava sand and such...very good post I cannot remember the website they sent the person to but it was someone looking to re-pot a tree within the past month that they responded to!). I think it would probably work similarly on houseplants because it looked like a good all purpose treatment for plants that need special attention to help them grow.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2010
  5. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Forgive me for going "scientific" on you. Fen appears to be on to something.

    Dracaena sanderiana is a popular name but it is no longer accepted scientifically since that name was sunk into synonymy with Dracaena braunii Engl. Dracaena braunii was described in 1892 while Dracaena sanderiana was not described until one year later. Both are the same identical plant so the first published name becomes the accepted name and the later name is only a synonym. I have no idea why commercial growers love to sell a plant by an unaccepted name but they do it all the time, likely to make it sound unique in some way.

    Dracaena braunii lives naturally in tropical central East Africa in a variety of countries and is often found growing standing in water, especially during the rainy season. Cuttings of this plant are commonly sold in aquariums stores, KMart, WalMart and others and will grow nicely in an aquarium or vase filled with water.

    Having not seen your plant I have no way of knowing how you grow it but it just may be begging for more water. However, you should make sure the plant is in a "jungle" soil mix which includes amendments to make the soil very loose. Soggy garden or potting soil can easily develop saprophytic growth and those bacteria can easily kill the roots. Just add a substantial amount of Perlite, orchid bark, peat and aquarium charcoal to you soil.

    Moderately bright light will also help.



    Steve
     

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  6. Fen Sandar

    Fen Sandar Active Member

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    I found these in my efforts to find the site that was given as a source! (blasted cookie clearing internet browser!!!!). I did find these http://1greengeneration.elementsintime.com/?p=1136) which talked about peat soils. It's a debatable topic and I'm not sure it really matters aside from a personal preference.
    I'm going to do some digging and see if i can find that plant post again! :]

    Note: At the time I first posted this it was meant to show that there are other options and some of the opinions/reasoning against peat soils. I should have clarified this.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  7. Fen Sandar

    Fen Sandar Active Member

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    Aha! I found it! (Of course it was advise given for lime trees, but hey it will probably work about the same since limes need very well draining soil.)

    Saltcedar posted this for someone and I am itching to try it on my little limes when they get big enough for at least a gallon pot...I don't think 2 inches counts as a tree quite yet.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2010
  8. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Fen, please forgive me for being direct. I do all I can to hold my tongue when I am challenged but in this case I cannot.

    f you could visit a rain forest you would quickly learn the soil is composed of leaf litter, decaying wood, compost and the charcoal left behind when a part of the forest burns. If we'll just listen to Mother Nature we can all make our plants grow as they should in nature. That is precisely what I attempt to explain when I recommend mixing soil, not just buying a bag at the store.

    I have no idea how many rain forests you have visited around the world, but I've seen my share on several continents over a 30 year period. Since the soil is largely composed of compost growers can easily use peat moss to duplicate that in a hurry at a very reasonable price. Just like the Missouri Botanical Garden, I mix every bucket of soil specifically for the plant based on where and how it grows in Nature. Every grower should do this but few will take the time to learn how any particular plant grows in nature. I looked up this plant on four scientific sources before I composed my answer! It need composted soil and peat is the fastest way to get it unless the grower has a compost bin in their back yard.


    The advice I just gave came from the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis and they use peat in ALL their soil mixes. Dr. Thomas B. Croat, head of botany at the garden is a personal friend as is Emily Colletti who runs their greenhouse and takes care of all their plants. If you would like to disagree with those experts I will gladly give you an email address.

    At least look up what you wish to prove or disprove in a scientific source. You will be amazed at what you learn that disproves all the trash on the internet. I am an officer of scientifically based plant society and all our botanist members advise the use of peat in soil mixes every day of the year.

    You are more than welcome as is any grower to grow your plants in any mixture you choose. However, please do some homework on a scientific site before discounting advice that has been researched.

    Here is a list of major scientific resources:

    The Royal Botanic Garden Kew, London
    http://www.ipni.org/index.html

    The Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
    http://www.tropicos.org/

    The Royal Botanic Garden Kew, CATE Araceae
    http://www.cate-araceae.org/index.do;jsessionid=96982249A0181F1EB1E74E6CEB9841D4

    The World Checklist of Monocotyledons
    http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/qsearch.do

    The World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
    http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/prepareChecklist.do?checklist=selected_families@@186050720100655197

    The International Aroid Society
    https://www.Aroid.org

    The Encyclopedia of Life
    www.eol.org

    USDA/GRIN
    http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/index.pl


    It will help if you invest in an inexpensive botanical dictionary such as the Oxford Dictionary of Botanical Science available at Amazon.com

    Again, please forgive me if I sound rude. That is not my intention. I just sincerely tire of inaccurate information finding its way onto sources like this when it has never been researched for authenticity and scientific accuracy.

    Steve Lucas
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  9. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Forgive me, but I cannot let this comment on the “Dirt Doctor” pass without comment”

    “Peat moss is anti-microbial. Microbes don’t grow well in it."

    That’s just the opposite of what we want! The anti-microbial properties are exactly what we want to achieve since it helps to prevent saprophytic growth!

    Despite the belief of far too many growers, successfully growing is often about how fast the water flows through the soil, or the lack thereof, that can cause a lack of oxygen, anerobic fermentation and saprophytes that turn into pathogens. These are the same pathogens we want to suppress and peat moss is vary successful at this job!

    As a result, it is necessary to use soil mixes that allow the roots to breathe and will not remain soggy. I've attempted in many threads to explain the necessity of mixing proper soil for plants but the advice is often ignored since it requires some "work" on the part of the plant's keeper. The reason plants rot is not the amount of water given to the plant! These are rain forest plants and are literally drowned and stand in water for months at a time!

    Rain forest soil is composed of leaf litter, decaying wood, compost and the charcoal left behind when a part of the forest burns. That is what I am attempt to explain when I recommend mixing soil.


    The common advice on most garden websites is to allow a plant to dry between watering is not always good advice. Anyone that has asthma knows the difficulty of getting air out and then drawing it back in. A potted plant is much like your lungs. As a result the top layer of a potted plant's soil should not be allowed to dry since that dry soil prevents the intake of fresh air including oxygen! Although plants give off oxygen through their leaves they take in oxygen through the roots.

    Once the soil dries it creates a "blanket effect" to hold in the stale moisture and keep out fresh oxygen. Once the upper soil dries the moist layer below cannot easily breathe in order to re-oxygenate the soil. The dry upper layer actually prevents the capillary effect of the wet surface evaporation when damp soil is exposed to air. When you pour water in the soil the air inside the soil is displaced and the oxygenated air inside has now left the pot. If the upper soil layer completely dries the "lungs" of the pot cannot work and can no longer continue to draw in another breath of fresh air. As a result the entirety of the soil needs to remain evenly damp so the roots can continue to draw in fresh oxygen. Otherwise, root rot is more likely to begin to become anoxic and peat and compost are key to this not happening especially due to the anti-microbial properties!


    Good Growing!

    Steve
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  10. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Forgive me, but I cannot let this comment on the “Dirt Doctor” pass without comment”

    “Peat moss is anti-microbial. Microbes don’t grow well in it. That’s just the opposite of what we want.” The anti-microbial properties are exactly what we want to achieve! I fear the Doctor has not done his homework.

    Despite the belief of far too many growers, successfully growing is often about how fast the water flows through the soil, or the lack thereof, that can cause a lack of oxygen, anerobic fermentation and saprophytes that turn into pathogens. These are the same pathogens we want to suppress and peat moss is vary successful at this job!

    Saprophytes are organisms including fungus or bacteria that grow on and draw nourishment from dead or decaying organic matter that often includes soggy wet soil. The pathogens attack the roots and cause them to rot so all of the advice to "slow down on the water" is really about how to control the pathogens. Not only does peat moss help to reduce the pathogens it causes the water to be absorb before it can cause damage. Mother Nature is pretty smart and it is likely she designed peat moss for a specific purpose!

    Fermentation and saprophytes often occur in muddy soil that will not not allow the roots to breathe but they don't necessarily occur in water and is why we can cause a plant that is about to die to grow new roots in a clean glass of water.

    As a result, it is necessary to use soil mixes that allow the roots to breathe and will not remain soggy. I've attempted in many threads to explain the necessity of mixing proper soil for plants but the advice is often ignored since it requires some "work" on the part of the plant's keeper. The reason plants rot is not the amount of water given to the plant! These are rain forest plants and are literally drowned and stand in water for months at a time!

    Rain forest soil is composed of leaf litter, decaying wood, compost and the charcoal left behind when a part of the forest burns. That is what I am attempt to explain when I recommend mixing soil.

    We grow over 300 species of rain forest plants in various mixtures on the advice of the aroid keepers at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis as I explained earlier. Many of our specimens have reached or are beginning to reach their adult size and have produced inflorescences. The goal of this mix is to allow the roots to freely find places to extend and grow without constantly finding wet places where they will rot. This mix will remain damp but drain quickly.

    The common advice on most garden websites is to allow a plant to dry between watering is not always good advice. Anyone that has asthma knows the difficulty of getting air out and then drawing it back in. A potted plant is much like your lungs. As a result the top layer of a potted plant's soil should not be allowed to dry since that dry soil prevents the intake of fresh air including oxygen! Although plants give off oxygen through their leaves they take in oxygen through the roots.

    Once the soil dries it creates a "blanket effect" to hold in the stale moisture and keep out fresh oxygen. Once the upper soil dries the moist layer below cannot easily breathe in order to re-oxygenate the soil. The dry upper layer actually prevents the capillary effect of the wet surface evaporation when damp soil is exposed to air. When you pour water in the soil the air inside the soil is displaced and the oxygenated air inside has now left the pot. If the upper soil layer completely dries the "lungs" of the pot cannot work and can no longer continue to draw in another breath of fresh air. As a result the entirety of the soil needs to remain evenly damp so the roots can continue to draw in fresh oxygen. Otherwise, root rot is more likely to begin to become anoxic and peat and compost are key to this not happening especially due to the anti-microbial properties!

    Although we mix our soil based on how a species grows in nature we primarily use a very loose soil mix with 40 to 50% Miracle Grow Moisture Control Potting Soil combined with 20% high quality peat moss, 20% orchid potting media that has hard wood, charcoal and gravel mixed with 10% Perlite™ that is combined and mixed thoroughly with a hand full or two of cedar mulch along with finely cut sphagnum moss. If you have some good compost feel free to add it. We recently had a large walnut tree removed from our yard and once the stump was ground we composted the remains that are now being added to our soil. Extra orchid or aquarium charcoal is also an excellent additive since it helps to purify the soil. The exact mixture is not critical but all of these ingredients should be mixed as thoroughly as possible.

    Many growers call this type of mixture a "jungle mix" due to its similarity to the very loose soil in a rain forest. The peat, orchid medium, charcoal, mulch, sphagnum and Perlite™ hold moisture and release it back to the roots as needed. The other ingredients keep the soil loose and from becoming hard packed. The roots of the plant will easily move through he mix and will also attach to the bark just as they do in nature on the side of a tree. Depending on the species, we sometimes also add small pieces of crushed volcanic rock frequently sold in orchid supply stores.

    Anyone is welcome to follow the advice in your link but I know botanists that would laugh loudly if they were to read that article.

    Good Growing!

    Steve
     
  11. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Hi Steve,

    I realise this is a bit off-topic, but I have to agree with the "dirt doctor" site that peat shout not be used, though for very different reasons to the ones the "dirt doctor" cites. The problem is that peat is not a sustainable product; it is being mined for horticultural use at a rate vastly in excess of regrowth / new production, leaving behind a devastated landscape with all of its biodiversity destroyed, which will take many hundreds (probably thousands) of years to recover (if it can do so at all when further subjected to warming, drying climates). Peat should be left where it belongs in peat bogs, supporting its unique natural flora and fauna. Coir (coconut fibre) is by contrast a 'waste' product produced sustainably from coconut orchards; using it helps support third world growers.

    Ex-peat bogs . . . where's the flora?
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BordnaMona_2930.jpg
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frastorv.jpg
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Peat_Harvesting_-_geograph.org.uk_-_245853.jpg
     
  12. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Fair enough, but Steve does have a point about the properties of high-organic "peaty" soils - which can absolutely be reproduced using coir. Or, of course, if you live in a wet enough climate, you can always try growing your own moss for use in planting mixes (at which point you're not disturbing any bogs.)
     
  13. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    I will not comment on environmental issues since in the past some of these posts have turned into rather unkind discussions from people on both sides that refuse to listen to anything with a different view. There exists on UBC a lengthy thread on peat moss that went on and on for weeks, perhaps months. The person who started the thread had very good intentions and I have no disagreement with that. However, if anyone were to present an opposing point of view such as to point out the real problem with collection of peat is mismanagement of the resource as well as totally stripping certain areas.

    I did not go back and reread the thread but I do recall it being stated that less than 1% of the worlds peat has been recovered. The difficulty is the majority is taken from a tiny area far too close to the home of UBC and the destruction to the environment in that area is painfully obvious to anyone that is unfortunate enough to have to see it on a regular basis.

    Like anything else Nature gives us, peat can be used but it should not be totally stripped from any single area of the world. That is someones personal greed to exploit a resource! Again, I refuse to be drug into any such discussion again. Ever. But I understand and have repeatedly proved the value of peat in the growth of plants. Go back through UBC and you will find the words of folks thanking me for explaining how it works as well as telling how its use has made a difference in the way their plants grow.

    If anyone wants to use another source as Beth recommended, I back him or her fully, but I challenge anyone to tell me the use of the resource for the right goal does not benefit your plants. I grow hundreds of species, some extremely rare including one beautiful specimen that is the only know specimen of its type in any collection in the world. It is currently being scientifically referred to as Croat 101488 and herbarium specimens have already been stored in the Missouri Botanical Garden collection of some 6,000,000 other plants. We hope it will soon be published to science.


    Steve
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  14. Tropical Foliage

    Tropical Foliage Member

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    Oh my god, I can't believe how this thread exploded! I didn't even read all the messages. Some are quite lengthy, but I understand.

    I guess I should save myself a lot of time and trouble and just go to Aquafina. I can't use tap water because of the fluoride and not to mention it's hard water, theres days I don't wanna drink it.

    It is in dirt, what ever dirt the greenhouse grew it in. Um, I guess I should give it a good flush. Flush out any bacteria or fluoride that could still be in the dirt. Wouldn't that though be like over watering?

    WOW, I thought I was just buying a plant, seems like everyday I learn a little more about horticulture which is a good thing. It's good to learn new things and skills.

    Thank you for the help guy and gals!
     
  15. Fen Sandar

    Fen Sandar Active Member

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    Since it is a tropical plant, provided you do not already have root rot, it should be fine so long as you let it get back to the moisture level it should be at after doing this.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  16. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    No where did I say I don't want you here. You are drawing conclusions. Try anything you choose and that is perfectly fine but please don't discount science.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010

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