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  #1  
Old May 30th, 2006, 01:44 PM
jwarndt jwarndt is offline
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very ill peace lily

Help! My 3 yr old peace lily is in very bad shape. It started wilting a few months ago, so I re-potted it, which only made matters worse. (It may have gotten a bad chill around the time it started wilting.)

Now all but the very biggest leaves are completely limp. What few new leaves it is still sending up go limp shortly after they sprout. I have gotten confusing and contradictory advice on it, but want to do whatever it takes to rescue it.

One suggestion I read on another forum for somebody with a similarly ill peace lily was to divide it up. I thought maybe if I divided it ito several parts and put them all in seperate pots, at least one of them may survive. How many can one be cut into?

Somebody else suggested growing it hydroponically. Could somebody direct me to a good primer on how to do that?

Here it is in its better days:

http://www.geocities.com/johnwarndt5...taerobics.html

Thank you for any suggestions.
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  #2  
Old May 30th, 2006, 02:14 PM
Chester Chester is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Let's start with culture. They like bright diffuse light, and can take some direct sun. I was rather stunned at the thought that a plant should be allowed to go limp before watering it. No way with a peace lily or any houseplant in my experience. Peace lilies like to be kept damp, not moist, and like good drinks when they are watered. Mine loves to be watered in the shower with tepid water - thoroughly waters the plant, mists and cleans the leaves all at once. Watering is a fine point with any plant, and takes some adjustment depending on location and size of pot. Just remember to not allow to go cactus dry between waterings. Willful lack of watering to the point of wilting is cruel.

You could try to knock it out of the pot to see what the roots are doing. If you've been overwatering, they will be mushy and rotten. If so, cut away those roots, repot in fresh soil, and lightly water for a few weeks until new roots have formed.

Some people water with very cold or hot water (why I don't know). Don't do this. Make sure the water is tepid.

It could be that the plant needs to be repotted. Most plants need to be repotted within 6 months or purchase. If it is completely rootbound, the water will drain right through and plant will be almost perpetually wilted. Check for this.

If it has been potted in almost pure peat, and then allowed to dry out, the medium will be very hard to re-wet and could account for the wilting problem. Again, knock out of the pot and check for this. If so, repot with more suitable growing medium.

Check a few of these and write back.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 05:36 PM
jwarndt jwarndt is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Hello Chester,

I never let it get cactus dry, just dry enough that the leaves woud start to droop. They'd always spring right back up when I watered it- till recetly :(

And I always use tepid water.

I guess I'll have to remove it from the pot again to check on those roots. By "rootbound," do you mean the roots would be all wrapped up in a tight knot? That would pretty well describe how they were when I re-re-potted it a few weeks ago. How would I un-bind them? Just loosen them up and stretch them out?

Also, when I remove it from the pot, wold it be safe to just pull it out, or should I break the pot? (That's what I did the other two times because I was afraid it would fall apart in my hands.)

What a more suitable growing medium be? I think there was a lot of peat in the old soil, but I forget what brand I used. (threw away the bags...)

I'm quite clueless about this because I've never owned a plant before, but I'm very emotionally attached to this one and I'd like to salvage it if at all possible.

jwarndt
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  #4  
Old May 31st, 2006, 01:26 PM
Chester Chester is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Yup, when the roots are all wrapped around in a knot, then she's rootbound. You could unbind it a couple of ways. Hose off the soil (if there is any left), and then firmly pull apart the root ball. Some will be damaged this way, but they will regrow. You could also take a knife and slice through the rootball from the top to the bottom in say, 3 areas, and then spread out the roots. Again, you will lose some roots, but I cut my peace lily in thirds every year, slicing right through the rootball, and it is just fine. Root pruning is perfectly acceptable.

You could just pull it out of the pot unless the pot has a neck on it that curves in at the top, in which case getting the plant out is more difficult. You may need to break the pot in this case. Usually I just turn it upside down, and gently tug on the leaves. If the plant is somewhat moist it may come out more easily.

I repot my peace lily into a good quality potting soil. Many are almost entirely peat, and these I try to avoid. Not that a peace lily doesn't like some peat, but not entirely peat. A nice dark soil with perlite, vermiculite and some peat is preferable. If you cannot find one with all of these components, choose a nice dark soil with maybe some worm castings included, and then purchase some vermiculite and perlite and add these to the soil. What I do every spring is buy a large quantity of dark loam soil and add perlite, vermiculite, a bit of peat, and some washed sand together with a slow release fertilizer (osmicote or nutricote), and mix this all together. Then I repot all of my houseplants (except orchids, and succulents/cacti) into this soil. My ferns and begonias get an airier and peatier misture. I have great growth with my plants throughout the year, and need to divide and repot most of my plants every year. That is unless you want a really big peace lily, in which case let it get bigger. I usually find though that like all perennials, peace lilies need to be divided every second or third year as they get kind of woody and bald in the centre.

I love peace lilies and have had mine for years, and so can understand your attachment to it.
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Old May 31st, 2006, 05:04 PM
jwarndt jwarndt is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Than you very much for the advice.

I'll have to cut into the rootball to spread out those roots, as I live in a tiny studio apartment and have no access to a hose.

How close to the center should I slice?

But first I'll call around garden shops to see if they have a packaged soil with the ingredients you've recommended. And I'll pick up a spare pot in case I have to break the present one.

I'll try to get that surgery done this weekend.

Again, thanks.

jwarndt
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  #6  
Old June 1st, 2006, 11:50 AM
Chester Chester is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Try combing through with fingers first. If you can loosen the roots, fine. If they are encircling and breaking when you try to comb through, then cut an inch or say two in. Sometimes cutting once is enough to pull the roots apart. Cut more slashes down around the side if one is not enough. If the peace lily is large, you could just slice it in two and get two plants out of the bargain. That would loosen up the roots big time. Above all, relax. Peace lilies are very hardy, and you could butcher it with the knife and if would probably pull through. Put on the music, a glass of wine, and go for it.
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  #7  
Old June 8th, 2006, 11:42 AM
jwarndt jwarndt is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Well, I tried combing throughg the roots but they just fell away in clumps. After a minute of trying to untangle them there weren't many left. I made a few slits on the remainder and tried to loosen it up before repotting. That was week ago. Things don't look good at all. It's more wilted than ever and I see no new leaves forming. I thnk I may have doomed it ):
I have heard these plants can be cloned, but I haven't the foggiest idea how to do that. Do you know of ay books or web sites that would instruct a novice in the basics?
I'd like to keep it alive some form or another.
jwarndt
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  #8  
Old June 8th, 2006, 02:04 PM
Chester Chester is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

I find this all very odd. Were the roots mushy and foul smelling? Are there any signs of pests or disease?

Root rot is about all I can think of as far as why your plant is so poorly. If the plant is really failing fast, you might try to isolate a piece of the plant that has a healthy bit of root attached. Cut away all of the rest. Do not leave too large a clump of leaves as the smaller rootball cannot support a large top growth. Repot into a much smaller pot depending on the size of the rootball. If it is really small, like say the size of a coffee cup, repot into a 6" nursery pot. Put into slightly moist soil, and do not water for while until the plant has had a chance to form some new roots. You could also surround with a clear plastic bag (the idea is to make a mini greenhouse) to slow down water loss until the plant has a chance to form a new root system.

As far as cloning, I can't help you there. Most of our houseplants are clones is my understanding, but the specifics, I cannot say.
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Old June 8th, 2006, 06:48 PM
jwarndt jwarndt is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

The roots didn't seem particularly mushy, but I don't have anything to compare them to. They were terribly delicate and just fell away at the touch. There was no foul smell. There were no pests that I could see.

I will try what you recommend. There are still a few large leaves that are not completely wilted. Would it be a good idea to preserve them, or will wilted leaves that are still green and moist come back to life if new roots grow?

I read somewhere else about simply cutting everything off above the soil and waiting for new shoots. What do you think about that idea?
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  #10  
Old June 9th, 2006, 03:01 PM
Chester Chester is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Well, I would be careful to try that, as the plant is very important to you. That is a kind of 'last resort' thing to do, and I am nervous for you to try that. If you have enough pieces you could try it with one piece, and try pruning the top back on other pieces. If the root system is very small, it will be hard for it to support a lot of leaves. Getting rid of some of the top growth eases the burden on the roots. The plant will wilt throughout this process, and by making a mini-greenhouse, you slow down transpiration (water loss) through the leaves.

Cacti, for instance, will form roots from cuttings that have been dried a bit and allowed to callus over, but this is a herbaceous tropical, and will not respond that way. Prune off anything that is clearly dead and dying, leave any leaves that are still looking ok. If the rootball was positively tiny, and you have a lot of leaves left, I would trim away some of those, enclose it in the clear plastic bag and put if a sunless, but medium light spot, like in front of a north or east-facing window. Do not water, but make sure the soil is very slightly damp. It will not need to be watered in your 'greenhouse', and do not disturb any more. This is all you can do. After this, what will be, will be. In 25 years of raising tropicals, I've only had 2 mystery deaths of plants, but hopefully this won't be one for you.

Good Luck,
Chester
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Old June 10th, 2006, 08:26 PM
jwarndt jwarndt is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Well, I followed your suggestions, separating the main root ball from the rest, trimming away the wilted leaves and re-potting it in a frame that I built to hold a sealed clear plastic bag over it. Even the remaining leaves were so wilted that I had to prop them up with a stake so they'd get some light. I did the same with three smaller remnants. I'm afraid I was rather clumsy about the whole business, but if even one survives and begins to prosper, I'd conisder it a success.

How long should I leave them like that?
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Old June 11th, 2006, 02:12 PM
Chester Chester is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

I would leave if until you see the plant show some signs of recovery. Ideally what will happen is that the leaves will plump up and not look so wilted and best case scenario, you will see the formation of some new leaves. I was checking some of my plant books for problems, and there are some root fungus problems (pythium, fusarium, rhizoctonia, and others) that can cause wilting of the entire plant. It may be one of these and recovery will be iffy. You also mentioned at the onset that the plant may have gotten a chill? Are we talking a freeze, or too close to an open window? A freeze would cause some loss of leaves (as long as it wasn't too prolonged), but recovery is more likely than with a root disease problem.

Anyway, I would leave the plant in there until you see some improvement. :)
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Old June 17th, 2006, 07:07 PM
jwarndt jwarndt is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Hello Chester,

The plastic that I used for the greenhouses could best be described as
semi-clear, and it was impossible to discern exactly what was happening
underneath it, so after the largest of the pieces I broke the peace
lily into was under its enclosure for one full week, I tore away the
plastic and found some improvement. The remaining leaves showed a bit
more color and springiness, and two tiny new shoots have appeared, so
I misted it well and re-sealed it tight.

Unfortunately, most of the leaves are pressed down by the bag- it being
the largest I could find in a pinch- and the frame I built for it, so
any renewed springiness has not been manifested in them actually
standing back up.

Not wanting to disturb them, I've not yet inspected any of the other,
smaller (and not pressed down...) cuttings. The plastic lets in plenty
of light, but it is cloudy enough to obscure any details underneath.
How long would you suggest I wait before inspecting them?

John w. Arndt

PS The chill that it received was from the heat being out in my apartment early this spring. I haven't a thermometer, but I'd guess it got down to about 45F for a couple nights in a row.
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Old June 18th, 2006, 08:58 PM
Chester Chester is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Hi there jwarndt:

I am relieved to hear about the small leaves. That is fabulous news. Recovery is looking more likely now.

The plastic sounds fine. Plenty of light is key. I would leave the plant in there until you see quite a bit more improvement ie. more new leaves. Just make sure the soil is damp, but be careful not to water too much as there are/were root issues. You may not have to water at all in your greenhouse. Check anyways.

When you see many new leaves coming, or the plant's existing leaves are upright, and looking absolutely perky, then it will be time to bring it out. This will need to be done slowly to acclimate the plant to life outside the greenhouse. Usually what is done is that the greenhouse is opened up a bit to allow some air inside, and is left that way for a few days. Gradually more is opened up and and the plant left inside for several more days. After a period of a week or so, the plant(s) can be removed from the greenhouse. This process prevent 'shock'.

Anyway, good news thus far.


Chester
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Old July 12th, 2006, 06:24 PM
jwarndt jwarndt is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Hello Chester,

Every time I take the peace lily out from the artificial greenhouse,
the two leaves that show some life will wilt, but when I put it back
under the plastic, they spring back up. All the other leaves are
completely wilted and their stalks are sharply crimped where their
tensile strength failed, yet most are still green.

Should I simply clip away all the wilted leaves so the two healthy ones
can benefit more from the root system? Or do you think that the wilted
ones are still functioning on some level?

One of the smaller root divisions that I planted in another pot shows a
tiny bit of life, but the new shoot hasn't yet opened up into a leaf.

Any suggestions? I appreciate the tips you've already given me.

John

PS Every other day, I'm putting a fresh glass of carbonated soda in
under the plastic so they can get some CO2 as it slowly bubbles away.
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Old July 12th, 2006, 08:02 PM
Chester Chester is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Hey jwarndt: I was wondering how everything was going for you...

Great idea about the CO2. As for the wilted leaves, I would cut them off. You should leave some leaves though. We are looking for a balance between roots and leaves. The fact that the plant wilts when you take it out of the greenhouse could still mean an insufficient root system.

This was/is one sick plant(s). I've had peace lilies for over 20 years, and they have always been so consistently strong and resilient. My thoughts are with some kind of root rot caused by a fungus of some sort, or a nastier chill than was originally suspected. Doesn't really matter now I guess.

Say, have you ever looked them up? There are dozens of cultivars of peace lilies. Basically with shiny green leaves, and the white flowers, but so many variations within that. Some are quite small and others very large. I've had several over the years, and while they are similar in appearance, they have all been quite different in how fast they grow, how often they flower, how many flowers etc. They are truly one of my favorite plants besides reportedly being able to remove toxins from the air.

Well, I hope things improve over the next few weeks. Keep me posted.
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Old September 4th, 2006, 06:27 PM
jwarndt jwarndt is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Hello Chester,

Shortly after I last wrote, things began to look very bad and I thought I'd lost the plant. The one remaining leaf on the main root ball I'd re-potted wilted and there was no sign of life whatsoever in any of the others.

I finally worked up the stomach to throw out the pots containing those and as I was carrying them to the dumpster, I discovered a tiny new leaf growing out of one! After neglecting it completely for two weeks! So I put it back under the pastic and soon discovered a new leaf breaking through the soil of another. I've attached a picture that I just took a few minutes ago.

What concerns me is a fuzzy yellow mold that has covered all of the dead stumps and the surrounding soil. I'm hestitant to do anything that might further traumatize them, so I've left it untouched. The mold has also infected the large pot containing the major root ball and the one living leaf. I'm keeping them all undeneath the plastic, mostly to protect them from the harsh light by my window. I have less than no space whatsoever in my microscopic studio, so it's there or so far away from the window that artificial light would be all the light they get.

Do you know what that mold is, and whether it can harm the pant?

John

PS A friend told me there is some sort of watering meter that gagues the soil's moisture so as to avoid under or over-watering, but she didnt know too much about them. Could you recommend one?

PS2 That one living, but wilting, leaf spang back up after a good watering, so it must have simply been dehydrated
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  #18  
Old September 4th, 2006, 09:13 PM
shelli shelli is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwarndt View Post
Hello Chester,


I'm keeping them all undeneath the plastic, mostly to protect them from the harsh light by my window. I have less than no space whatsoever in my microscopic studio, so it's there or so far away from the window that artificial light would be all the light they get.

Do you know what that mold is, and whether it can harm the pant?

John

PS A friend told me there is some sort of watering meter that gagues the soil's moisture so as to avoid under or over-watering, but she didnt know too much about them. Could you recommend one?

PS2 That one living, but wilting, leaf spang back up after a good watering, so it must have simply been dehydrated
I don't know what to suggest about the mold. I'm surprised that mold would grow on them when you haven't even been watering lately. Is there condensation from the plastic? For watering tips... I've found that my peace lilies prefer to get dry to the touch between waterings. I have 4, all in different pots and soils, 3 have drainage holes on the bottom and drain into a drip tray, the 4th is in a pot without drainage. This one I water ONLY when it's dry. The others I water about once a week unless they still feel damp on watering day. None of them get direct sunlight and seem perfectly happy with incandescent light. If they dry out to the point of wilting I water them thoroughly and they spring back (and are more likely to flower because of the stress). I only do this about twice per year. I give them a light shower when they get dusty ;). I keep my house warm (about 70 degrees) year round except in the summer when it can get as warm as 80. They seem to like this just fine. Your plant in plastic looks a little soggy. Does this one have drainage or is it just that it has just been watered? At any rate, your new growth looks promising. I'd suggest putting them near a lamp, get rid of the plastic, and watering once per week (but not if they are still soggy). This is perplexing because they are relatively easy to care for. I think they'll spring back. I've seen one spring back that had been ignored and dried out for over a month. I adopted it, watered it, left it alone and it resprouted... so to me, your's are looking good for a come back! :-)
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Old September 4th, 2006, 10:15 PM
Rima Rima is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Two problems - bad soil and being covered in plastic (though hopefully not in the sun where condensation will surely rot anything inside, or at least grow lots of nice mold). Your soil should have been changed ages ago to one with lots of grit in it, and no peat, one with coarse particles that would allow the roots to breathe 02 (they need it too), but also allow water to flow quickly through and out the drain hole. Don't let the pot sit in drain water at all either, or roots will rot from water wicking back up. A garden ctre can help you with the right soil (most potting soil is mostly peat), and with coarse sand (not beach or play) or grit of some kind to mix together. Don't use pebbles or anything as a bottom layer, it certainly does NOT help drainage. And just get rid of the plastic, plants need to breathe unless they're just being propagated.
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Old September 6th, 2006, 03:19 PM
Chester Chester is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Hi jwarndt, been away for a while. Was disappointed to hear about your peace lily taking a turn for the worse, but just when we thought it was all over...

I agree with Shelli and Rima. Time to take the plant out of its plastic tent. No longer helpful if there is mold growth. Usually I don't find the growth of mold to be too harmful on a large, thriving plant, but in this case your wee one does not need the added hassle.

It appears that repotting may be in order again. A coarser, better draining soil would certainly help with drainage, and hence mold build-up. Also a smaller pot, so that your plant will dry out a bit more quickly between waterings. Cut, or pull apart the healthy bit, again trying to take as many live, healthy roots as possible, and put 'er in the new pot.

You know, I've never owned a water guage, so can't recommend one to you. Perhaps someone else has some experience in this area? Anyway, best of luck with that peace lily.
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Old September 6th, 2006, 03:34 PM
Rima Rima is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

You don't want a water gauge, but more attn. paid to the plant more often so you learn to 'read' when it needs water, as that can change with seasons, daylight, lots of things, but once you know what it needs, you'll be a lot further ahead.
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Old September 13th, 2006, 10:13 AM
Chester Chester is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

A water gauge will get him started, and will help him to develop confidence in this area methinks.
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 05:51 PM
jwarndt jwarndt is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Hello Chester and all,

Sorry that I have been out of touch.

Two of the peace lilies- the one containing the main root bulb and one that I cut from it, each of them kept under plastic for weeks- have have done rather well after pulling their little Larazus act, (there wasn't a sign of life in any of the four and I was on my way to the dumpster with them wihen I discovered a tiny new leaf sprouting from one...) but last week I had to move to a new studio with practically no sunlight. So I bought a Philips 75 watt Plant Light and a Philips 75 watt Argo-light and am aiming them from opposite sides. Each is about 1.5 meters from the nearest leaf. Am I doing anything that would harm them? Of course I know sunlight would be better, but it is so shady around my new studio that you need a light indoors to see even on a sunny day. Attached is a picture I snapped a few minutes ago under those plant lights, with no flash. I'd appreciate any feedback on how to keep them healthy under artificial light.

Thanks.

JWarndt
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  #24  
Old April 22nd, 2007, 06:01 PM
Chester Chester is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Can't say as I have much experience with grow lights. Just watch your plants, and if they show signs of yellowing or scorching, maybe too much light. I don't think you'll have a problem though.

Those two plants look pretty good. Getting the hang of correct watering and all? Hopefully the problems are a thing of the past. I was kind of surprised, peace lilies are very hardy. Anyway, they sure look good. Best of luck!
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 07:29 PM
jwarndt jwarndt is offline
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Re: very ill peace lily

Hi Chester,

Thanks for getting back to me on that. I'll certainly keep an eye out for yellowing. As for watering, I'm feeding them each a little bit every day, and not letting them get wilted like before. But I'm trying to be stingy as well, so they don't get root rot, as they may have had when they ("it," actually, when it was just one plant...) nearly died last year.

jwarndt
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