Saturday, April 16, 2011

Three Common Problems in Potted Plants

I have been planting decorative potted plants as a hobby for quite some time by now. Same like baking, I find planting is therapeutic and enjoy this 'me-time' activity so much.

One of the beauties in my mini garden. 
Name of the flower is unknown.

Despite my careful attentions in keeping my plants healthy, I still encounter few plant problems that repeatedly occur to my different potted plants from time to time. I am a self-educated amateur gardener so my below analyses may not be totally true. I write the below assessments from my own planting experience. Whenever I find problems in my plants, I try to identify the natures of disease, the causes and disease management strategies of my sick plants through desk researches.

The following are three common problems in planting potted plants.

1. Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew is a fungal disease that affects various range of plants. This disease is very easy to spot. The symptoms of the infected plants are displays of dusty white coating or white powdery spots on the leaves and stems. As the disease progresses, the white spots get larger and spread to more parts of the plants.

The white powdery spots found in my flower potted plant: It is located outdoor but sheltered.

Disease management for this includes gathering and destroying the fallen leaves, reduce the relative humidity around plants and spray fungicides to treat powdery mildew.

Removing the infected leaves and stems to avoid further spread in the plant.

I have never applied fungicides or other chemicals to treat powdery mildew in my plants previously but do seriously consider this option.

The fungicide to treat Powdery Mildew on plants. 

As I was not sure what fungicide used to treat this plant infections, I paid a visit to a local garden shop and consulted the shopkeepers on the best mildew remedy for my plants. My burden was kind of lifted when the shopkeeper presented a small glass of white chemicals to remove mildew from my plant. It was only RM 5/pack and all I need to do was to mix a spoon of this chemical with water in a water sprayer then spray the mix to the mildew in my plants. I tried it and it worked magic. The annoying white powder on my plants were instantly disappear. The challenge here is to find garden shops that sell this fungicide since not all of them sell this in their shop. One more thing, this chemical really stinks. The strong smell of this fungicide is equivalent to the strong smell of the cream to perm our hair.

2. Root Rot

Root rot is a condition where the root of the plants rots due to poor drainage. Root rot will cause the plants to dry and this condition is lethal to the plants. Root rot is usually resulted from overwatering which decays the plant's root. Some root rot cases are also caused by water mould. Root rot caused by water mould contaminates other plants. There is no effective treatment for this problem, hence the plants with root rot should be removed and destroyed.

 A comparison of healthy vs. root rotted mini golden crest trees.

A comparison of healthy vs. root rotted flower plants.

Management strategies to avoid root rot are to water the plants when the soil becomes dry and put the plant in a well-drained pot.

3. Brown Spots

Brown spots on plants' leaves are commonly caused by too much or too little watering, poor nutritions and bad lighting on the plants. Brown spots near the tips of the leaves usually signify too little watering and brown spots near the base of the leaves resonate too much watering on the plant. Also, plants need several fertilizations in a year, especially for indoor plants. Therefore, lack of nutritions may also caused brown spots in the plants. Lastly, bad lighting can also cause plants' leaves covered in brown spots. With bad lighting, the spots will grow bigger, make the entire leaf to become brown and eventually fall off.

Brown spots found on my pachira/money tree's leaf.

Management strategies to tackle this problem are, firstly, to be more careful in watering the plants. Some plants don't require that much water on daily basis, hence, best is to water when the soil is dry. Try to maintain the soil moist but not too wet and mist the plants' leaves with water daily to promote humidity. Secondly, try to give all-purpose fertilizers on the plants more regularly for better nutritions. I have obviously forgotten to do so in the past few months and will definitely apply fertilizers on my plants soon. Third, put the plant in a location with good sunlight. In the beginning, I thought plants with brown spots are caused by too hot sunlight which dries the leaves. Seemingly, I was wrong on this. Lighting is just one of the causes that produce brown spots but the correct placement of the plants in the house/garden to receive more lights is definitely critical.

All the above are common issues that I perpetually face in growing my plants every now and then. I hope by realizing the causes and solutions to overcome the aforementioned plant diseases, I'd be more careful in taking care of my plants and growing healthier plants from now on. 

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