Help Save My Vine

Q: I have inherited some household plants from my recently deceased mother in law. I don't have a green thumb, and find myself at a loss with one particular vine. It has green and yellow variegated heart shaped leaves and is in a hanging basket. My problem is that some of its leaves are turning yellow and dyeing off. What am I doing wrong?
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I am watering while trying to be sure I don't over water. I give it a good soak, then I let it completely dry out before re-watering it (about a week to 10 days). She has had this plant for a very long time. I hate the thought of killing it once it came into my household and care. She didn't have it near a window so I haven't put it near one either, do any of you have any suggestions? Should I give it more light?

I have also noticed a browning on the tips of a few of the leaves as well, what causes this? Please help me save this plant!

Thank you,
Brenda from Athens, Ohio

A: Brenda,

Without knowing what type of plant you have it's difficult to diagnose. If possible, get to the library or search online and try to determine exactly what type of plant you're dealing with.

The most common reasons houseplants fail are: soil dryness; overwatering; underwatering; cold nights; strong direct sunlight; hot, dry air; cold drafts and too little light. You'll need to look at your specific environment and try to diagnose the problem by the process of elimination.

If the plant is mature, it's normal for an occasional lower leaf to turn yellow and eventually fall off. However, if several leaves turn yellow at the same time and then fall off, the most likely cause is overwatering or cold drafts.

Also consider shock. If the plant has been dropping leaves quickly without a prolonged period of discoloration it could be signaling that it has recently experienced some sort of shock. This could be from being moved (into a new house), from a cold draft or the roots are becoming too dry between waterings. Check to make sure the plant isn't located in an area near doors or leaky windows. You might consider purchasing an inexpensive water meter to stick in the soil to measure the moisture content.

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Leaves develop brown tips for many reasons. One is dry air-especially this time of the year. Check to see if you have it hanging near a heating vent. Keep a water bottle close at hand and give the plant a mist a couple of times a day when you walk by. Bruising can also result in brown tips on leaves. Leaves can be accidentally bruised if touched by people or animals, or if they are pressed up against windows or walls. Other reasons can include overwatering, underwatering, too little light, too much direct sun, too little heat, over feeding, or cold drafts.

Ellen

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

Anonymous Flag
February 10, 20060 found this helpful

I think what you are describing is a philodendron. They grow like mad here in Central Florida and if you let them grow up onto trees, the leaves of this plant get gigantic. If your plant is indeed a philodendron, it is a hearty plant and does need water but don't drown it. Maybe the temperature is different from where it used to live. You might want to see if the area is too cold. They don't like the cold weather. These plants like it warm and moist, that's why it grows so well here. I wouldn't put it in the direct sun nor the shade, somewhere in between.

You can clip these plants, put them in a glass of water and they will sprout roots then just stick 'em in the ground. They grow like crazy.

Sometimes the plant gets 'root bound' in a pot and needs a larger pot or new soil. If the soil is old the nutrients are all gone. Make sure the pot has plenty of drainage holes. Good luck!

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February 10, 20060 found this helpful

I agree, it sounds like a philodendron to me, too.

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February 10, 20060 found this helpful

Brown tips: the plant has been too dry. water more often with less water. Ellen

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February 11, 20060 found this helpful

The plant you've described sounds like a variegated philodendron. Keep in mind that most house plants are killed by overwatering. However, philodendron can be rooted by placing in a glass of water.. In fact, it will live in the water without soil...! I grow philodendron because I have a house that does not receive much sun.. they dont like too much sun.. I would like to add that my plants live in rooms where I have the thermostat turned to 55 degrees in the winter... I'd say water liberally when the soil feels dry to the touch of a finger.. Once in a while give it a shoer under the sprayer on your kitchen faucet... You may want to try adding some plant food... Best of luck

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February 11, 20060 found this helpful

When I am not sure what to do with certain plants that look sickly, I take them to one of the nurseries in town and get an expert's advice. They are always happy to help. Good luck!

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