JUST THE STEM
Every plant lover can tell if a plant is healthy. Take its vital signs by analytical observation: look at it! Look at the condition of the leaves, stems, and roots when you repot, and be aware of the entire look of the plant. Plants should look strong and upright and be the appropriate color for that that plant.
Plants naturally grow towards the sun or light source. Long stems may indicate over-reaching, trying too hard to get to needed light. Increasing light strength by getting a high-watt light bulb or moving the plant closer to the window will make the plant happier.
Another sign of health is new growth. Plants have dormant seasons usually in winter but should at least annually have a round of new roots and leaves.
Plants need regular amounts of three nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. All three of these come from the soil. Refreshing the soil (replacing it or adding some new soil mixed in, will rejuvenate your healthy plant. Feeding your plant with some fish emulsion, worm castings and or commercial plant food adds essential elements too, use as directed. Combined with water and light your plants will thrive!
Good To Know
Common Stem and Leaf Problems
When our plants are attacked it can be disheartening. The most common cause of disease and infestation is over-watering, so you might try waiting a little longer between watering and moving your plant to a warmer place. It may just spring back to vibrancy. If not, it may be a sign of a plant disease problem that needs a little more attention.
Here is a quick guide to some common plant diseases. The most common symptom is discolored leaves. Check it out:
Angular Leaf Spot
This leaf disease is caused by debris on the leaf that attaches to the leaf in moisture and adheres to it. It creates holes in the leaves and dead tissue in random places. There is no known treatment, however it diminishes in dry climates with adequate air circulation.
Is very similar to Angular Leaf Spot, and caused by debris that settles onto leaves, obstructing light and photosynthesis. It is identified when leaf tips and or edges turn brown. It is best treated by removing the infected leaves and allowing the soil to dry between waterings.
Aphids grow and thrive in warm environments that have high nitrogen to feed the baby aphids in early growth stages. They appear as small green or yellow bugs that look like dots on leaves and stems.
The treatment is the gently wash plant leaves by wiping them down with soapy water or diluted rubbing alcohol. After prolonged exposure to Aphids a plant may develop another disease called Cucumber Mosaic Virus. This is identified by yellowing leaves, streaks and large yellow spots on plants. Plants with this advanced state of Aphid infestation should be discarded and strict Aphid prevention measures should be taken to ensure the future plants stay Aphid-free.
Is caused by cool, moist to wet non-circulating air. It appears as large yellow spots on leaves, and eventually turns brown. Left untreated, it spreads and kills the leaf. In time, it can spread to the entire plant and kill it. To treat Bacterial Blight, remove infected leaves and clean the remaining leaves. Move the plant to a warm dry area. If an entire plant is infected, remove it and clean and protect the remaining plants from cool damp air. A rotating fan may help, as well as allowing the soil to dry more between waterings.
Bacterial Wilt/Ralstonia Solanacearam
This is caused by soil or other plants in close proximity with preexistent contamination.
It is identified by wilting leaves that are exaggerated in full spectrum, sunlight or bright light. As it runs its course it eventually turns the entire leaf yellow, and will in time infect and destroy the whole plant.
To treat this disease, remove the infected leaves and clean the remaining leaves with mild soapy water. If the entire plant is already infected, remove it and replace soil with pathogen-free potting soil.
This is identified by parts of leaves, petals and stems of plants, usually the central parts of leaves, turning dark grey, black and brown. Wounded plant tissue develop rot. This can be treated by removing and disposing of infects parts of the pant and applying a fungicide to the remainder of the plant.
This is caused by prolonged humidity and occurs frequently with overhead irrigation systems. It is identified by dark brow circles and ovals on leaves that typically have a target appearance with concentric circles.
Downey Mildew is cause by prolong exposure to damp or wet conditions. It is identified by white mildew on the underside of leaves, but when advanced is noticeable on the top side as well. This is treated by removing infected plant and spacing plants away from other plants and objects for increase air circulation. Treatment is enhanced with fans to circulate air more forcefully.
Mealy Bugs are attracted to high nitrogen moist soil and grow and thrive when these conditions remain constant. They are identified when white fluffy-looking tiny coating appear on the back side of leaves and in the joins of petiole-stem unions. They can be eliminated by manually cleaning each leaf with soapy water or diluted rubbing alcohol.
Is a disease caused by consistently moist soil in warm areas. Rhizoctonia is identified by stem rot at the soil line with reddish-brown lesions. To treat remove infected plants and apply a fungicide.
These mites are attracted to, grow and thrive in warm interior spaces. They are identified by tiny webbing that is first seen at the tips of new growth on plants and fine webbing on the bottom side of leaves. It’s best to quarantine the plant and treat by cleaning with soapy water or diluted rubbing alcohol.