What Did I Do Wrong?
I have many people come into the nursery with their poor sick plants. They are desperate to find out what they are doing wrong. I have put together a few of the most common symptoms that may help you out with figuring out what could have happened.
This is the most common of all the problems:
Symptoms: The leaves have turned yellow and are falling.
Cause: Since the plant has been left standing in a saucer of water, this is a simple case of gross over watering.
Treatment: Pour the water out of the saucer immediately and never let it accumulate again. Permitting the compost to drain properly after watering is as vital as getting the compost thoroughly wet in the first place. This applies to all plants, with the rarest exceptions, such as the umbrella plant, which thrives when standing in water. Compost which has become waterlogged should be allowed to dry out until it is barely moist before you water again.
Symptom: The edges of the leaves have turned brown during the dormancy period (during the winter).
Cause: This is a common reaction to over watering during the winter.
Treatment: Let the compost dry out thoroughly and then reduce the frequency of watering while the plant is dormant. During the spring and summer months the plant may be watered more frequently, but in the winter months the compost should be barely moist for most of the time -- except just after watering. Don't be surprised if leaves which have turned brown as the result of over watering soon drop off.
Symptoms: Leaves look dull and lifeless.
Cause: They are covered with dust and grease which is slowing down photosynthesis and clogging the stomata in the leaves through which the plant breathes.
Treatment: Wash leaves with a mixture of one cap-full or one tablespoon of dish washing liquid with water into a large spray bottle. Please do not use Dawn. Dawn will do more harm than help. Take the plant to a sink and spray on the top of the leaves as well as the underside. You may even want to rub the lather in like shampooing hair. Rinse with water. If necessary repeat. To keep leaves clean, do this about once a month.
Symptoms: If you have a plant for many years and the leaves are turning yellow and die it maybe from old age.
Cause: Natural causes and, for once, in no way your fault. Leaves do age and die, as eventually the whole plant must.