Help me save my beer bottle ivy plant!
May 24, 2007 11:51 AM   Subscribe

Help me save my beer bottle ivy plant!

A few years ago while walking my dog I found a Carona Lite bottle that had an ivy plant of some kind growing out of it, I thought it was cool because it's just roots and water in the bottle. I put it on a shelf in my house and it just kept growing for years, getting eventually to be quite large. I never really had to do much for it other than keep it's bottle about half full of water. Moved and put it in the new apartment on a windowsill in my kitchen, and it did fine for a while but it's started to die.
I think it might have been getting too much sun there. I've moved it now to a shadier spot, but I want to know if there's anything I can do to help this plant come back. Anyone here an experienced beer-bottle gardener?
posted by shanevsevil to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
you probably need some nutrients in the water.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 12:09 PM on May 24, 2007

A couple of drops of liquid miracle-gro (or similar fertilizer) would probably help, though of course it may be too late.

Also, in my experience, these sorts of plants are very prone to being choked out by algae, so keep an eye out for that.
posted by jedicus at 12:16 PM on May 24, 2007

Thirding nutrients. Ivy grows roots really easily though, so if it doesn't work out you can get a new ivy cutting and start over again.

What's happening to it that makes you say it's dying?
posted by benign at 12:26 PM on May 24, 2007

Depending on how it's dying, it could be many different things. The windowsill could've been too hot, or too cold, or too sunny as you noted.

It could be malnourished in which case a tiny bit of fertilizer might help. Don't go oveboard because a beer bottle doesn't hold much water.

The plant could've filled the bottle up with roots, many of which are now choked and dying - causing algae and yucky water. Hold the bottle up to a bright light and try to check the roots.

If that's the case, might be able to carefully pull out the plant and either move it to a larger container, or very carefully remove the dead matter from the root ball.

If the leaves are powdery - you could have mildew or pests. Spider mites seem to like ivy - are the leaves powdery and do you see any tiny webs?

This link from Lowe's
has some pictures that might help.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:30 PM on May 24, 2007

Response by poster: I assumed it was dying because it's having more than a usual die off of leaves and it's branches have withered mostly to four or five inches (from about 2 feet a year ago).
I don't have any miracle gro or anything like that, as far as nutrients do you think that changing out the water for some new water mixed with a pinch or two of soil or something might help?

Benign: How would you get a cutting growing in a bottle like that?
posted by shanevsevil at 12:38 PM on May 24, 2007

Change the water. Put a few pinches of dirt in the water or a few drops of miraclegro.

Although last time I tried this (with a colius plant), it promptly died. But maybe you will soon have dark shiny happy ivy again.
posted by bluenausea at 1:05 PM on May 24, 2007

Dirty water isn't the same :) Go anywhere you see garden, a neighbor or nursery. Schools, parks anywhere that has a grounds keeper? If you spy some plants with a person near them just ask I can assure you no-one will refuse you the very literal crumb or drop you would require to save your plant.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 1:06 PM on May 24, 2007

To grow ivy from cuttings: Cut off about six inches from the end of a vine (making sure to include a couple of leaf nodes). Pull off some of the leaves closest to the cut end so you have ~3 inches clear, then stuff the cut part down a bottle into water. Keep the water level over the end of the stem and it should send down roots in 2 weeks or so. It's best to try a couple cuttings in different parts of the house if you're new at it... you also don't have to start them in your coke bottle, you can start them in vases (usually a little easier to see through and water) and "replant" which ever one is going strongest in the bottle.

You'll probably do better with a liquid nutrient (e.g. MiracleGro) as opposed to putting some dirt can pick up the smallest bottle of the store brand liquid fertilizer at your local home & garden store, and it should be relatively cheap and enough for a looooong time.
posted by anaelith at 1:10 PM on May 24, 2007

You need a length of Ivy with some leaves on it, and a container with water. You should cut it from the plant just below one of the nodes where a leaf grows out, so you have a length of Ivy with a node at the bottom. If there's a leaf growing out of the node, cut it off right at the node. Get a container of water and stick your cutting in it, with the node in the water. Put it somewhere that it'll get some light, and keep the node/roots submerged. That's about it.

I try to make sure that no leaves are submerged, so you might have to fill the beer bottle quite high to start. Either that or use a longer cutting, and take off more of its leaves. When I root cuttings I generally use a small drinking glass.

Your cutting device should be sharp and clean. I use a box cutter and it seems to work OK. I'm sure there are better implements for the job, but I don't think it matters too much.

I also want to second Squeak Attack's recommendation to check for spider mites. They're the only thing that's ever caused my Ivy any harm. The mites generally seem to be on the undersides of the leaves, and look like tiny black specks.

Changing the water is probably a good idea, but I don't know about putting dirt in. You might also want to clear off any dead leaves/stems, and give the living part of the plant a gentle rinse under running water in your sink.
posted by benign at 1:18 PM on May 24, 2007

i assume it's not specifically ivy, but pothos or philodendron: photo here (scroll down).
these are the perfect plant. they like to be left alone.
they hate too much sunlight, it burns their leaves.
and they will easily grow in water or dirt. if they're in dirt, they don't like to be watered too much.

to save yours:
1. cut off all the withered or brown leaves.
2. put it in indirect sunlight- i keep mine in the corner of my room away from the windows. it will grow back.
3. wait.

you can also plant them really easily. just bury the roots in dirt and water well for the first few days. after that, let the dirt get pretty dry before each watering. imagine you're trying to re-create an extreme environment where it's very hot and dry for a week or so, then it rains a lot for an afternoon. keep them out of direct sunlight- even an hour in the sun will make the sunburned leaves turn brown a few days later.

to grow more cuttings from your plant, just take trimmings off the ends. on each cutting, make sure there's at least two little brown bumps on the stem (those are root buds) and at least two fully-grown leaves on each piece (plants need leaves to make food). you can cut off lots of little pieces, each should be about 3-5 inches of stem with leaves and root buds.
put them in a bottle of water, in a shady spot. ta-da!
posted by twistofrhyme at 7:34 AM on May 25, 2007

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