Gardenfilter: please help me save this plant!
January 17, 2014 11:44 AM   Subscribe

I have had this plant for 12 years, I am attached to it. I don't know what kind of a plant it is, but it is in rough shape.

It had a "plant sitter" read 'plant killer' for six months. Who returns a plant in this condition? (My MIL; lesson learned.) I can't seem to revive it.

I have repotted it and it seems to be getting worse. (It was green.)
Please help my poor little mystery plant, thank you so much.
posted by ibakecake to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think it's a very sick Pothos, but I have no idea if that can be revived.
posted by cecic at 11:48 AM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could start a new node and put it in fresh soil. They like medium light. My pothos (it was 10' long) would start looking like that if I didn't water it once a week.
posted by hanoixan at 11:53 AM on January 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am very good with vegetables and succulents but don't have a lot of practice with houseplants, so take this input with a grain of salt...

I would prune it quite a bit, removing all dead leaves and stems that are beyond repair. Also trim back the healthier parts of the plant a bit so it can focus its energy on healing a smaller area. Give it some sun, watch it carefully, check its soil dampness often...and cross your fingers. If you can figure out what kind of plant it is and what kind of soil it likes, you might check out your garden supply store for fertilizer or other soil supplements.

I know it's hard, but try to go easy on your MIL. Unless you think she was trying to murder your plant, I'd try to keep in mind that some people really don't have green thumbs. :)
posted by schroedingersgirl at 11:53 AM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

first, trim back all the dead stuff. When you repotted it, did you replace the soil?

yellow leaves are usually from overwatering, and it looks like the actual green leaves are kind of far apart- which may mean it needs more light. I get the feeling that first the plant was neglected, and then before it was returned it was drenched in water and now the poor plant has no idea what is going on.

A good trim, keeping the soil stable, and consistent indirect light should bring your buddy back- Pothos are pretty indestructible overall.
posted by larthegreat at 11:56 AM on January 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

Yup, that poor little guy was starved and then drowned. I don't think you're gonna be able to save it honestly.

Try to trim back what you can, as dead leaves are dead weight on the health of the rest of the plant. Be sure to put it in INDIRECT sunlight
posted by matty at 12:12 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Looks like a Pothos to me as well. It will root in water as well. Cut a piece above a node and put it in a container of water. Roots should show up in a week or two - pot it after 4 weeks, but don't wait any longer than that or it will not adapt to the soil well.
posted by jquinby at 12:12 PM on January 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have brought one of those back from dry stumpy twigs after 9 months of neglect and back to being verdant and lush-- and I am really bad at plants! I just trimmed off all the dead stuff (which, in my case, was most of it) put it somewhere where it got some light, and watered it so that the soil was moist.
posted by chatongriffes at 12:13 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

More light, less water damp not soggy, keep it warm, prune it back pretty damn hard. If you have the money a grow light and a heating mat would probably help. If you used new potting soil with fertilzer in when you repotted it don't add any more, if you didn't then a light fertilizing when it next needs watering couldn't hurt. When I say prune it back I am thinking to a few inches max so there are only a few nodes on each stalk for new stems to grow from.

I'd try and grow some cuttings from the healthier looking bits you prune off too as this is a super easy plant to grow cuttings from, I would do the water method jquinby suggested or just dip a bit in rooting hormone and shove it in a well drained pot. If it seems to be rotting from the base you are probably out of luck and cuttings will be your best bet.

Good luck.
posted by wwax at 12:19 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

It looks more like Philodedron scandens to me. I would make some cuttings, root them in water and replant.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:20 PM on January 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Also: moderate lighting, no direct light. Moderate water. It should not be soggy.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:21 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sorry, doing many things at once: do not fertilize stressed plants. If you see with new growth that a deficiency arises, that is the time to fertilize.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:25 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

It looks like t the plant has been very soggy for too long. In cases like this, I've had good luck with cutting all of the arms off - the dead stuff and the green stuff. I leave an inch or two of the stem above the soil level. You can re-root the healthy arms to try to make clones (very easy with Pothos). Also, cutting off all of the arms will jump start a surge of growth hormone in the plant and the new growth will be very healthy. Don't fertilize or overwater during the initial stages of regrowing. It sounds dramatic, but it works very well. It'll seem like nothing is happening and then you start getting green shoots everywhere.
posted by quince at 12:56 PM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree with oneirodynia - it's a Philodedron, not a Pothos. I've heavily neglected my Philodedrons and Pothos numerous times (poor plants) and they always bounce back to normal with some tlc. Just follow the above advice on trimming back, rooting the cuttings, and watering and it should come out on the other side just fine.
posted by bluesapphires at 4:28 PM on January 17, 2014

Pruning off the dead stuff and rooting a couple clippings in water sound like good ideas to me. The main plant could maybe be coaxed back to life, too, but I think it's going to need to be re-potted to have a shot.

I agree that it looks starved-then-drowned, and I would bet on there being a mold or root-rot issue fomenting now. In order to re-pot, I'd try to be really thorough in order to get rid of any possible mold or rot -- I'd take the plant out of the pot, try to "clean off" the roots by shaking out all the dirt possible and rinsing them, throw out the current soil and cans/gravel/pebbles (whatever you used for the bottom "draining" portion of the pot), thoroughly clean out the current pot with a paper towel, and repack the pot with new draining media as well as using new soil to replant.

I also would be really careful about watering the plant right now, because it's easy to over-water (or over-fertilize) a plant that's so sick it's barely photosynthesizing. I'd personally only give it water when it's dry enough that the dirt is pulling a little away from the wall of the pot (probably only once every week or two at most until it's a lot healthier). In my experience, it's better to err on the side of slightly too dry than slightly too wet, maybe because the plant can adjust to being slightly dry by photosynthesizing slightly less, but too much water can start up problems that the plant isn't equipped to deal with too well and which are much harder to correct (like rot or mold).
posted by rue72 at 6:14 PM on January 17, 2014

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