House Plants/Ming tree

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Question
I have a ming (well several trunks in one pot) got her from a friend that couldn't care for her anymore.. The Pot is PLASTIC....around 16 inches tall and 15 inches in diameter.  The trunks are varied heights from around 3 feet to 6 feet. When I brought her home It was summer and I kept her on a screened in porch (light but shaded). I moved her in for the winter (we live in Charlotte NC) she is near a heat vent which is the only way to get light to her. The room temp is around 65 to72. She has been through a HUGE Shed, then new leaves started coming out and now the new leaves are starting to drop off. I know it is a big pot and some of the trunks feel real loose. I water her when i stick my finger down to the roots and they feel dry.....OK the question is....  do I let her dry out completely(she's in potting soil). Also how much light does she require ? She"s in a window with a slanted western exposer .. does it have to be some sun? indirect light ? low light ?I'm really concerned about her but I will not give up !!! Please help if you are still there to answer...THANKS SOOOO MUCH...

Answer
Linda,

Mings can be difficult. Inspect it very closely for signs of insect infestations. Polyscias can be magnets for spider mites -- esp in dry air situations which could be caused by that heat vent. Look for fine webs in leaf crotches indicating spider mites or tiny black insects on growing tips would be aphids, ants would indicate either scale or  mealy bugs. If you find any of those email me back and I will give you instructions for treating it. The pot is a little large  and that can lead to root rot. If it does not dry out in a week it is in danger of root rot and needs faster draining soil or a smaller pot. Allow the top inch of soil to dry in between thorough watering. Never allow water to sit in the drain tray. That will quickly cause root rot. Empty the drain tray with a turkey baster an hour after watering.

Mings can be quite sensitive to improper watering, especially at a season change. They are a bit less forgiving than many other house plants. They tend to shed leaves quickly in response to even minor over or under watering. It is best to err on the side of dryness however, because that is not fatal whereas overwatering and the resulting root rot is.

Mings do best in very bright indirect light with a few hours of early or late day direct sun. An east or north windowsill is best. It should not be near a heat vent. Since you cannot avoid that I would attempt to close the vent and seal it off.

Fertilize sparingly and use it only at half-strength. Misting it twice a day or setting it on top of a tray of wet stones so the water evaporates around the plant and moisturizes the air would be beneficial. Anything to increase the humidity would help this humidity loving tropical plant. If you have more questions feel free to write again. Good luck!

Darlene  

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Darlene K. Kittle

Expertise

I have been an Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years and I raise around 300 houseplants and bonsai trees a year including tropicals, succulents, and cacti. I have also been a professional plant care person for businesses in the Fort Wayne, IN area and currently professionally care for bonsai trees for my customers.

Experience

I am also studying the Japanese art of bonsai with tropical plants and is President of the Fort Wayne, IN Bonsai Club.

Organizations
Fort Wayne, iN Master Gardeners. President of the Fort Wayne Bonsai Club. Allen County Master Gardeners

Education/Credentials
I am not a hortculturist. I am a Purdue University Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years. I have studied plants on a personal level by growing hundreds of plants annually for the last 35 years. I have also studied under several nationally known American Bonsai experts.

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