House Plants/Spider plant

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Question
Every spring and fall I take my 60 house plants out of their dirt give them a bath mix up the dirt and replant them. I have this spider plant that I took out of the dirt and had to put it in water for a couple days because I got called away. When I came home this water smelled so bad I almost lost my stomach. It has big tuber like roots and they were all mushy. I cut off all those roots....did I do the right thing?  Why did it smell so bad?  I have never in my life smelled something like this. I put it in a jar of water until I find my answers.
I also have a queen of the night plant that I have had for at least 10 years. Will it ever get this night blooming flower?  Is there a way to get it to bloom?  I just want to see it once in my life. Maybe it's my soil or light. Can you give me some tips on that?

Answer
Hi Victoria,

If you are washing away and replacing the soil of your plants every year, that is a practice I do not recommend. There is no good reason to do it because "fresh" soil has no advantages. More importantly, removing old soil damages the tiny root hairs that do most of the work. This tends to put plants in shock while they recover and regrow new root hairs. Perhaps I am misunderstanding what you are doing. I hope so.

Roots, tubers and rhizomes that are grown in soil have different cell structures than when they are grown in water. That is why it takes time, patience and care to move plants that have been rooted in water to soil. Getting roots grown in soil to adapt to water alone is very difficult and often leads to root rot. I suspect that is what happened with your Spider Plant tuber. Most living things that rot also smell bad. I don't know the present condition of your Spider Plant, but you should remove all rotted material and re-root them if there is enough healthy plant material left.

Your Queen of the Night has pretty strict requirements to bloom. First, it has to be quite potbound and in the same pot for several years or more. It must gets lots of very bright, but mostly indirect sunlight every day. It should be potted in a porous potting mix that dries out fairly quickly after a thorough watering. In the fall, it requires a couple of months of short days and cool temperatures. If possible, leave it outside in a protected area in the fall until temps start to drop close to freezing. By then buds should be set, assuming your plant is potbound and has had lots of bright indirect light. If you have been changing the soil of this plant every year, then you are probably several years away from having it bloom.

I have written articles on repotting, roots and on Epiphyllum care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com. I have also written an indoor plant care book in a PDF format that I can sell you if you contact me at my email address.

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

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Regards,
Will Creed, Interior Landscaper
Horticultural Help, NYC

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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.

Education/Credentials
BA, Amherst College

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