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House Plants/Palm leaves turning brown

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QUESTION: I have a plant that was given to me last year. Attached a photo as I have no idea what it's name is. It was on my outside deck last spring summer and fall (I live in Phila area). It did great outside. I brought it indoors before the first frost and it seemed fine until about a month ago. The leaves are turning brown at the tips then moves up until the entire leaf turns brown and falls off. I don't believe I'm overwatering and I don't see any bugs...help! In a 16" pot which I've never repotted. Near a window but not directly in front of. Also about 6" from heating vent.

ANSWER: Hi Pegi,

Although house plants often benefit from the increased light and fresh air when moved outside for the summer, they also tend to decline when moved back inside for the colder months. Part of the reason is that indoors plants do not get as much light, so they tend to shed some older leaves in order to compensate. Another part is that plant owners fail to make the necessary adjustments in watering. Outdoors plants use a lot more water than they do indoors. If you keep your plants on the same watering schedule and use the same volume of water, then over-watering and root rot is likely.

Keep your Dracaena marginata (correct identification - it is not a Palm) right in front of your sunniest window and make sure the window is completely uncovered. Allow the top 3-4 inches of soil to dry in between waterings. When you do water, add just enough so that it reaches that level of dryness again in about a week. This will take a bit of experimentation.

It does not need repotting and fertilizing is also inappropriate at this time. Improve the light and pay close attention to the watering - that is all you can do. Some lower leaf drop will continue through most of the winter, but it should slow down.

Your plant will have to adjust once again in the spring if you move it outside and then again in the fall. This tends top stress plants, so you may want to consider making life easier for it and you by leaving it inside year round.

I have written an article on moving plants outside that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

If this information has been helpful, please click the Rate Volunteer bar below and enter a rating and nomination for me. I am a volunteer on this site so Ratings are the only compensation I receive for answering plant questions.

Need more information? Visit my website at:
A link to HorticulturalHelp.com

or email me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com or call me at 917-887-8601 (EST)
 
Regards,
Will Creed, Interior Landscaper
Horticultural Help, NYC

Visit my website at: A link to HorticulturalHelp.com




---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I've moved the plant and will most likely keep it indoors from now on. What type of fertilization would be needed and when/how often? Also how would I know if it ever required repotting?

Answer
Hi Pegi,

Keeping it indoors year-round would be a wise choice.

Fertilizing is over-rated and over-used. It is intended only for plants that are in good light, healthy and growing vigorously. Yours will not benefit from any fertilizer. Likewise, your Marginata is already in a large pot and it will never need repotting. The best rule of thumb for repotting is a plant that is so potbound that it requires a thorough watering every 2-3 days. That simply never happens with larger Marginatas that are grow indoors.

I have written articles on repotting and fertilizing that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

Need more information? Visit my website at:
A link to HorticulturalHelp.com

or email me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com or call me at 917-887-8601 (EST)
 
Regards,
Will Creed, Interior Landscaper
Horticultural Help, NYC

Visit my website at: A link to HorticulturalHelp.com

Regards,
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
Cell: 917-887-8601

Visit my website at www.HorticulturalHelp.com

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Will Creed

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I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.

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I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

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BA, Amherst College

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