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ben's avatar

How can I save my office plant from dying?

Asked by ben (8389points) February 8th, 2010

Pictures:

Brown tips.

General die-off.

Background
We got this great bushy plant for the Fluther office from Home Depot. Unlike the other plant, it is clearly suffering. I have no idea what’s wrong with it, or how to save it.

It’s right next to the window that gets plenty of light. I haven’t been watering it very much, because I’ve previously killed plants by over-watering. The soil never felt too dry, but honestly I have no clue how much it needs.

It was fine for a few weeks, then the tips all got brown/black, which clearly seemed bad, though I don’t know what it means. Coming in today, whole branches are dying off.

What is wrong with it, and what can I do to save it?

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21 Answers

Val123's avatar

Under watering will cause the leaves to shrivel and become brown….sounds like that could be the problem. Also, might get an insecticide for plants just in case.

Look up the plant on the internet. There should be care instructions there. I have a boat load of plants. Some are really big. I usually water them all once a week during the summer, and water them until it runs out the bottom. In winter I water maybe every other week.

I’ve also found that the more I fuss over my plants the more problems I have with them!

gailcalled's avatar

Call 555-Gail.

Or better yet, call Home Depot and have them ID it. Then we can help. Usually if it is just the tips that brown, you can snip them with a scissors. But this sounds as tho’ it is not happy with general habitat. Maybe it gets too much sun. Do you turn the heat down very low at night?

Perhaps the root system is too big for the pot and the plant is rootbound. Either you repot to a larger container or prune root ball and plant itself. If this is a plant that really wants to be in Beliz or Cosumel, you’re in trouble.

njnyjobs's avatar

What you possibly have is a Palmera plant (Chamaedorea seifrizii) also known as reed palm or bamboo palm. It is a tropical palm plant species that requires high humidity environment in order to thrive indoors.

Here are some tips from various websites:

Expose to bright light but not necessarily any direct sun. Morning sun is always acceptable if it’s not a hot exposure. Bright light for 8 hours a day (or more)

Humidity, 70 percent or more would be very nice

Warmth, over 75 degrees at all times. No sudden cold or drafts

Pure water, rain water being by far the best. If possible, create a rain collection system so you will always have some on hand for your plants. A large bucket to collect rain off the roof is fine

Good soil. This would be a ‘pro mix’ or a ‘nursery mix’ that has peat moss, wood chips, perlite, charcoal etc then add about 30–40% coarse sand. Tropical plants DO NOT want (heavy) ‘top soil’

Fast and easy drainage. Water should pour through your soil and out the bottom very easily. Trays, saucers, at the bottom of indoor pots = murder, if trays hold water

Clean leaves. cut-off the brown tips of the leaves.

Make sure there are no pests infesting the plant. You can use a tropical plant insecticide to rid it of any bugs.

marinelife's avatar

To add to the humidity, you can put a dish with water in it next to the plant. You can also mist the plant with water.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

Unfortunately, I’m not very good with plants. When I was a medical intern, a plant in the Chief Resident’s office was dying. First we stuck an IV needle in it and gave it a sterile water infusion. Then we wrote an ICU admission note. When it finally died, we signed a death certificate. The Chief was not amused.

Obviously, we were extremely sleep deprived and sugar overloaded…

ben's avatar

Okay, this is really helpful. It sounds like I’m simply underwatering it. I’ll start fixing that right away, trim off the dead tips, and see how it goes.

There are no pests or fungus (that I can see), but temperature/humidity could also be an issue. It definitely get’s pretty cold in here. Not sure how I could reasonably go about remedying that.

Hope to see this turn around!

Snarp's avatar

Water may help, but as @gailcalled said, a large pot may be necessary too.

njnyjobs's avatar

Use a glow lamp to warm up the plant. . .

gailcalled's avatar

Ben; Check out this areca palm:photo and tips for care and feeding

This is also known as a Madagascar palm, which tells you what kind of habitat it likes. Perhaps sprinkle a few lemurs around, also.

susanc's avatar

Shouldn’t we know what kind of plant it is before we give advice? I’m stunned.

Val123's avatar

I leave my plants outside until the forecast says it’s going to freeze. They do OK with temps at 35 and above. Except for one of them gets shocky at anything below 40, so I bring him in first every year.

.ALSO, ALL plants love, love, love the light from florescent office lights. :)

njnyjobs's avatar

@susanc . . . we already have a probable genus/specie of the plant and the advice given are based on the similarity of the plant structure.

Val123's avatar

@gailcalled [Removed by me for not paying attention]

gailcalled's avatar

@Val123 : He did; check out his two links. That is how I fastened on the areca palm.

erichw1504's avatar

Tell it you will have to relocate it to the basement if it doesn’t stop dying!

Val123's avatar

@gailcalled (I beat ya to it! I removed the question as you were posting what I knew would be a correction for me!)

susanc's avatar

@gailcalled : you identified it from the photo? Wow.

gailcalled's avatar

@susanc: Not exactly a eureka moment. I remember how corn plants look, then I went on to check out pictures of various palms that would fit into a house.

njnyjobs's avatar

@susanc and @gailcalled… I actually have this plant for many, many years at one point or another…. and when I saw the pics posted, I knew right away.

It’s less likely to be an Areca palm simply because the Areca is actually considered a tree and are best suited for outdoor landscaping. The bamboo/reed palm, however, is more of a plant and has been commercially propagated for indoor use.

Val123's avatar

YEAH! I recognized it too! But not quite as precisely as @njnyjobs and @gailcalled did….

Jill_E's avatar

If all else fails…I learned this from a friend at college.

Pour aquarium tank water.. (we currently have a betta fish) One time a little tree looked like it was living last few days..and he poured fish water in it. And it perked up along within days with new green leaves.

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