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Soil Infection

I have been growing several indoor plants. My apartment does not gets too much direct sunlight but gets enough indirect light. So I prefer growing plants that need less sunlight. Usually my plants grow slow but do not show much sign of disease or death. Since about an year or so I am facing problem of some plants dieing out slowly. Mostly I was advised to not over water. I tried doing so but without any gain. Rather  I felt my plants died more or were shedding more leaves or more leaves were turning yellow / brown. In many cases the plats died from the bottom though the top was perfectly healthy. I felt it might be because of root rot due to excess water, so in a few cases I un-potted them and checked inside. The soil was moist but not too wet. Neither did they smell bad or gave any feeling of wetness in my hand. The soil on top was rather a bit dry. There are enough holes at the bottom of the pots for drainage and the soil is very porous with enough coconut fiber added to it. Apart from this problem some of these plants have also started growing black spots / black tips and they eventually are dieing. This usually happens with  Zamioculcas Zamiifolia.  Sansevieria leaves slowly turn extremely pulpy and soft and fall apart.  Ficus elastica did not respond well from the beginning, leaves kept shedding and out of four plants I had two died in about a month and the remaining two also had their leaves slowly turning black / brown and eventually all of them died.  Epipremnum aureum (pothos) is the one that has less problem but it also often faces problem of sudden dieing from the root side. I have tried a lot giving less or no water for extended period of time but somehow the problem is increasing instead of getting less. I have a strong feeling that there is something wrong with the soil. Perhaps some infection. Can anyone suggest, anyway so that I can disinfect the soil. Changing the entire lot of soil is not practical and might still not get rid of the infection. Earlier spraying fungicide (I am not sure what it was, it was given by a local gardener) on the leaves did lessen the black spots on the leaves. But it keeps coming back.imageimageimageimageimage

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  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 33,842

    Hello NeoX. May I ask if you are in the UK where this site is based? What type of compost have you used to grow your plants in as you mention coco fibre? The surface of your pots appear to show a great deal of compaction which inhibits the entrance of air to the compost. Sometimes leaves can show browning if they are too close to radiators.

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • NeoXNeoX Posts: 34

    Thanks for your reply Lady Bird. I have to travel to different countries for my work. Right now I am in a place near Shanghai. The weather is cold but snow is over. I bought some soil online and mixed coconut fiber with it. It worked well but now these problem are cropping up. The surface might look compact but it is not too tight. I often insert my finger an inch or more in the soil to check moisture and never felt it was compact. Radiator is far away from where my plants are. I even moved them outside in the balcony a few times hoping for some recovery but seems it was too cold for them and in a few plants black spots actually increased.

  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 33,842

    It is difficult to hazard reasons as to the plants' failing. Could it be an irregular watering as you say that you have to travel for your work? For example, the plants dry out whilst you are away and then you get a bit over generous with the watering on your return?

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • NeoXNeoX Posts: 34

    Sorry, seems I did not make it clear. I do not have to travel, I move to (migrate) to different countries, that is why I am not in UK. Where ever I am sent for work, I have to live there for many years. In fact apart from this I rarely 'travel' as such. So it is not irregular watering. There seems to be something else going wrong. Looks like some infection.

  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 33,842

    Ah I understand now and thank you for explaining. I do think it might be the compost though. I take it that you have been feeding your plants? Coco fibre is severely lacking in nutrients.

    Last edited: 27 February 2018 13:53:58

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
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  • NeoXNeoX Posts: 34

    Ladybird4 : Yes I do spray general fertilizer on my plants but here also there is a little confusion. A lot of people claim that indoor plants (which do not get enough sunlight) do not need much fertilizer. So it is getting too confusing what is killing my plants.


    Freddies Dad : Thanks for your message. I am not too sure about that. Some one on a forum advised me about Sansevieria that it should be firmly potted deep enough. If depth of potting is killing my plants then how can it happen several months after the plants were moved to a new pot and what about those black / brown spots ?

    Last edited: 28 February 2018 02:57:00

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  • NeoXNeoX Posts: 34

    And why are the leaves turning black and that also after months of nice growth ?

    I have a small tree in pot which also gets black spots on its leaves but after I spray fungicide for a few days it goes away but of course keeps coming back. And when problem crops up, it does only with one type of plant at a time, like this time it is only with ZZ plant and Sansevieria. Is it that I make the soil level high only by plant species ? If I have a habit of doing that I will do that for all. Like in general my pothos grow pretty well and though it does not has a very distinct stem and root, it has its roots growing out every where (so it should not have soil level problem, so much) but it also off and on gets such problem. From my experience with my plants I can make out that level of water / fertilizer / soil level might be affecting to some minor degree but a major problem is about something else. Which I have not been able to make out and no one has been able to figure out / advise. I am growing plants since childhood, but this kind of confusing behavior I have never experienced. First I thought it might be I am not taking care according to the requirement of the weather here but later I realized in the first 4 to 5 years all this problem never happened. It started happening since less than an year.

    Can any one advise how can I make sure that my soil is not carrying any infection, without changing the soil.

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