En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Wednesday - August 13, 2008

From: Amory , MS
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Container Gardens, Watering
Title: Failure to thrive of closet plant
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a closet plant that is old and was doing fine and then started having droopy leaves. It needed to be in a larger pot so I transplanted into a larger pot with new potting soil. It continues to droop and I don't know what else to do to try and save it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Oh, it gets light by the window and I turn it as needed.

ANSWER:

The "closet plant" is also known as the Peace Lily, and its scientific name is Spathyphyllum. As are most indoor plants, the spathyphyllum is non-native to North America, but instead of the tropical Americas and southeastern Asia. It is not, therefore, within our usual range of expertise since the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center focuses on plants native to North America. However, we are always glad to find some websites with the kind of plant care information you need. The most comprehensive one we found on house plants in general, with information about Spathiphyllum as well, is this one from Texas A&M Extension on Indoor Gardening. You may already know that all parts of the plant are toxic, and should not be where children or pets can get to them. If you trim away leaves or divide for propagation, it is recommended that you wear rubber gloves and possibly even goggles and certainly dispose of the cuttings very carefully.

The first fact that we found addressing your problem is that the leaves will droop when the plant needs water. You are probably right that it needed repotting, as it had perhaps pretty well become root bound in the old pot. When you moved it to the new pot, the new soil needed to be thoroughly moistened. A good procedure when repotting is to set the new pot, with the plant and new dirt in it, in a basin of water. Leave it until you can feel moisture on the top of the dirt. After that initial wetting, the soil will accept watering without all the water running out through the drain hole. Another thing this plant likes is to be lightly misted with water a couple times a week. And dust it, you'd be surprised how much dust will accumulate on broad leaves like this, and cut off the light. Take a light cloth, dampen it and wipe the leaves. This plant can be susceptible to poor water quality. If your water is heavily chlorinated, you might consider bottled water. It cannot tolerate direct sunshine, and should be 4 to 6 feet away from a sunny window. On top of all the other reason for droopy leaves, the plant will often droop late in the afternoon, probably from the heat, but it doesn't need water at that point.

Our final thought is your comment that it was an old plant, which could very well mean it has reached the end of its normal lifespan. We have no idea what that lifespan might be, but you might consider dividing the plant and creating some new ones to carry on.

 

More Watering Questions

Topmost leaves on yucca are brown
June 08, 2009 - I live in the Lansing, Michigan area, in the lower peninsula and have a couple yuccas whose topmost leaves are brown emerging from winter. Do I prune those, or has the plant died? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Water eroding corner in Austin
October 25, 2011 - I live close to the Wildflower Center. My yard slopes - as do my neighbors' yards to one corner in my yard. The result is constant moisture in one corner. The rest of the yard is caliche, rocks (m...
view the full question and answer

Care in planting native Shumard oaks
April 16, 2008 - I am going to plant 3 shumard red oaks on the west side of my property. The land is basically rocky. What should I put in the holes to help the tree grow?
view the full question and answer

Overwatering and fertilization of whiteleaf manzanita
July 27, 2007 - Hi, I have an Arctostaphylos Dr. Hurd, southern California coast, several years old, 10 feet, that has a few large branches with yellowing and spotted leaves... also dropping many. causes? remedy? sh...
view the full question and answer

Difference between soil moisture and water use from Austin
February 20, 2012 - In the native plant data base "growing conditions" can you explain the difference between water use and soil moisture?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center