Help! Zamia cycad dying....dying

Discussion in 'Indoor and Greenhouse Plants' started by jpasquini, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi All,

    I have had this plant 2x before, and it is always the same. I fertilize it, water it regularly (sparingly, or not).........give it good lighting and feed it fresh air.

    And then, about a month later, BLAM! The leaves start turning yellow, from the bottom fronds up. Slowly death creeps over the plant, until in 3 weeks tops it is gone, dead.

    What in the world am I doing wrong? For the life of me, I just cant figure out whether this plant is overwatered, or underwatered. Information on the web seems to indicate the plant yellows in both circumstances, which of course is useless.

    This time I got a professional hygrometer, and when I stick it in, it hovers around 2 (1-4). I also put the plant in a high pot, with a styrofoam splint under it, so it would never stand in water, ever. Foiled again!
    So far of 4 fronds, 2 are yellowing, and now the black is appearing. The Grim Reaper is hovering with his scythe.
    This is the "cardboard Palm" plant. Would appreciate any advice- See pics
     

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  2. Blake09

    Blake09 Active Member

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  3. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    If I pull on the plant, the entire plant comes out of the pot, a mass of roots, and there is
    several inches more soil underneath. That soil is moist, reads about a 4, but the root ball is usually dry.

    There was something like a dark line about 1/2" on the bottom of the root ball. Should I take the plant out and let it sit on a paper towel and dry, maybe? I tried this once before but then again, I can't tell if it is drying out or overwatered.
    The root ball read a 1 after I aired it out (bone dry), so I watered it afterwards, afraid it might have been drying out all along. How can you tell if its overwatered or underwatered?

    The camera angle from the above pictures was a bit misleading (see below). The pot is actually quite deep, about 7" but the last 1.5" or so is a styrofoam block with a plastic coffee can cover on it, holes poked in it for drainage, so if it is ever overwatered the water drains out and sits below the soil line.

    One website talked about a yellowing Zamia and instructed to put it in a shallow pan of water overnight and let it 'wick up'. As you can see, there is contradicting stuff all over the place.

    Pics-----
     

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  4. Blake09

    Blake09 Active Member

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    maby a pot with more width. maby you could (if you repot it) cover up the root ball a bit more maby a haf of an inch or one inch.. Is it near a heater? how much light does it get?
     
  5. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    It is by a window and also a bright overhead light that is on every day.

    It never gets down below 60 in the house.

    Transplant it to a larger pot?
    ? ? ?

    Let the bottom dry out first?
    ? ? ?
     
  6. Blake09

    Blake09 Active Member

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    "aneyone correct me if I am rong"......You might want to trans plant it in to a bigger pot with more width and just a tadd deeper. also cover it (root ball) up an inch more with dirt and water it. then let it dry out a bit........................ Which direction is the windo faseing?
     
  7. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    Window is facing North.
    There is not too much light coming from the window so I flick on an overhead light.

    But the one odd thing is the leaves go vertical (point up and down) during the day. So the only thing I can think of is that the plant is getting too much light, and is moving the leaves sideways so it gets less.
     
  8. Blake09

    Blake09 Active Member

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    maby the leaves are getting cold and trying to turn away from the coldness.... try moving it to a south window for a few weeks and see what happens..
     
  9. bertoli55

    bertoli55 Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi, the only experience that i have of growing zamia is in full sun in free draining sandy soil. It really depends on the species.

    Your plant looks as though the base has been sitting in water -the soil and roots at the base are quite dark in comparison with the top third Maybe if you replanted in a larger unsealed terracotta pot in a free draining soil mix you may have a better result.

    Try watering the plant by placing it in your laundry trough or bathroom, give it a thorough soak -without the plant saucer. Allow the plant to drain thoroughly and then place it in the sunniest, warmest place in your house. Don't water again until at least the top 2 inches of the soil is dry. You may need less water during your winter months -sorry growing indoor plants is not my speciality but there are some basic procedures that you need to follow for growing plants in pots
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
  10. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    The current plan is to leave it on the paper towel overnight and let the bottom dry.
    I hope I don't wake up and find the whole thing brown!

    Then tomorrow I will find a larger pot. Maybe larger diameter, with sand on the bottom?
    What is free draining soil mix?
    ?
     
  11. Blake09

    Blake09 Active Member

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    sounds like a good plan!
     
  12. bertoli55

    bertoli55 Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi, a free draining soil mix is one which doesn't retain lots of water. Some potting mixes have peat and high levels of compost which keep the soil moist for quite some time after watering. Some plants need this sort of soil but the zamias that I'm used to don't.
    You don't need to put sand at the bottom of your pot -maybe you could have a layer of charcoal pieces or a few stones to help with drainage.
    Your local plant nursery should be able to recommend a good quality mix which is suitable for an indoor zamia.

    Hi, just be careful where you leave your plant if you've decided to leave it out overnight as you could dry it out too much. It could be potted up straight away.
    If you don't suceed with this Zamia, I'd try another type of plant :)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2010
  13. Blake09

    Blake09 Active Member

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  14. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    Ha thanks. Still alive to date.
    (from link) Cardboard Sago: "Makes an excellent, forgiving houseplant -- fun to grow and easy to maintain. "

    Ha ha- where's my forgiveness?!
     
  15. Dave-Florida

    Dave-Florida Active Member

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    It really does look like Zamia furfuracea (cardboard palm), which thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. I see there's a thread titled "My Zamia furfuracea has gotten too big"
     
  16. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    Hey guys I might just pull this off after all.
    I was at Lowes and stumbled on a 'self watering ceramic pot'. Its quite a bit larger than the old pot, and I picked up some high drainage (cactus) soil.
    The old plant looked worse this morning.....pretty haggard..........but top fronds still green. I transplanted.

    Does anyone know how these pots work? No instructions whatsoever. There are two clay pots one inside the other. The inside pot is bare clay (has no glaze).

    I assume the plant goes in the INSIDE pot with the soil, and the outside pot is filled with water, then the inside pot is dipped in, where it sits like a beer in a barrel.

    But do you water the plant, too, at least, initially? Will it dry out in the meantime if I don't, or rot if I do? As you know, its currently yellow so its either drowned or dying of thirst, probably drowned. But then again, its been sitting out with bare roots overnight.

    scanning Google...........
     
  17. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    Seems to look perkier and happy in its new pot, although its only been a couple hours.
    Could be my imagination.........
     
  18. bertoli55

    bertoli55 Active Member 10 Years

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    Good luck :) it should do well
     
  19. jpasquini

    jpasquini Active Member 10 Years

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    I have a final post/report on this thread.

    I would rate the self-watering clay ceramic pot as THE end-all easy solution for potted Zamias and cycads.

    I have bought many of these type of plants over the years and they all eventually died within a few months no matter what I did, until I tried one of these- just put the plant in the smaller pot with dry soil, fill the outer pot half way with water and dip it in. When the outer pot water level runs low in about a week, refill. Never water from above. Completely idiot proof! ;)

    Not only did the plant survive (all leaves that had started to yellow, dropped, but greens all remained) but the plant has thrived and gone on to put out four more new leaf shoots. Never had it happen before! I rate this as a hole-in-one.
     

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