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gabro14

Bewildered....

17 years ago

Hi all,

I recently bought a gorgeous large Multiflora, and in terms of foliage growth and health, it has exceeded any of my hoyas. It has put on tons of new growth in such a short period of time.

However, I'm having a lot of difficulty with keeping the buds alive. Now I know this is a tricky hoya in terms of watering, as its needs are different than most hoyas. I've read that some people use self-watering pots, some water daily, some use wicks, and some water more infrequently.

When I first got the plant, it had large buds which opened up and had beautiful blooms. Since then, I have seen 5 new peduncles develop before my eyes (and most of the existing ones had fallen off, as expected). Of these 5 peduncles, 3 became large enough to bud up. Eventually, the buds on 2 peduncles started to turn yellow. Here is one umbel:

{{gwi:945507}}

The buds on the other remained green, but then started to slowly turn yellow. Well, I have ended up with all the blooms falling off except for 7 (these are on 1 peduncle). These buds are still green (for now).

Here are the yellow buds that have fallen off:

{{gwi:945508}}

What has me bewildered is that the leaves are so healthy, so why are the buds dying on me? I've been watering this plant a lot (about every two days). It has very fast draining soil, so the top seems to dry out quickly (and the root area dries out relatively quickly as well). Am I possibly watering too much/too little? I recently started a wick, hoping that would help the plant's water requirements...should I still be watering in addition to this? I know wicking works both ways, so I don't see why continuing to water would be a problem. Here's a pic of how I set up the wick:

{{gwi:945509}}

Here's some other care information so maybe you guys can help me find the problem...

I was told by the seller that the soil mix is a mixure of peat moss, perlite, and cinder, and this batch of soil has been in the pot approximately 6 months. Can the mix be the potential problem?

The plant is in a 6" plastic pot (it's 20" tall from soil line to top of plant, and the foliage spans about 20" wide) and the plastic pot is in a outer glazed clay cache pot. The cache pot is on a tray that is constantly filled up with water for extra humidity (I don't use pebbles because the cache pot doesn't have drainage holes that the water can go up). Should I maybe get rid of the cache pot and just leave the plastic pot in the water-filled tray so that it's constantly getting bottom-watered? If so, wick or no wick?

The plant is right in the corner of an East-facing window, so it only gets a few hours of direct morning sun (all my hoyas get the same sun and I have no problems with them). I fertilize with VF-11 and mist with the same about once or twice a week.

Sorry this post was so long, but I didn't want to leave any of my care info out since that seems pertinent to understanding what could possibly be wrong.

Any suggestions?? ANY advice/opinions/tips are welcome from ANYBODY. I'm just clueless at this point.

Here is a picture of the full plant:

{{gwi:945511}}

Thanks in advance,

Gabi

Comments (19)

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I just recieved a multiflora recently, so this will be very educational. I have mine in a self watering pot and it is under lights (looks like it will be coming out after a while). So far it is putting out new growth and looks good. One thing I want to add, I wick water a couple of my hoyas and most of my African violets and Streps, I put the wick in from the bottom. If you don't want to repot, get some yarn (synthetic, not cotton, because the cotton will rot, I think the wick you have is too big (just my opinion), and take a toothpick and shove it up a hole in the bottom about half way up the pot. I use Ziploc containers, with a hole cut in the top, to set the pot on. When the water is just about gone(don't let the wick dry out) put some more water in. I use peroxide in my water to control the algae and I believe it helps the roots also.

    Anyways, I know this wasn't the reason for the post(sorry), just thought I would add my 2 cents. I will be keeping an eye so I can hopefully not have this happen to mine.

    Sandi

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The only thing I can think of is a pest, like a thrip. Thrips do that to orchid blooms. They look fine then one day just kinda up and fall off. Inspect this plant VERY CAREFULLY. Thrips are very small mobile insects, and they are VERY FAST. They can jump, too. They are sapsuckers and have chewing mouthparts. I can't see any overt damage to your leaves from your photos. Check for mealiebugs too (fluffy white things that are nasty)

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  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    In my experience, yellowing penducles are a sign of OVER watering.

    I would reduce your watering frequency, and maybe get rid of that tray of water. If the penducles just plain drop off (without turning yellow or orange first), you'll know you waited 1 or 2 days too long to water!

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks for your quick advice. I guess I don't have much to lose by decreasing my watering schedule. I think I'll still keep the wick in there unless you all think it's a bad idea?

    I did check for thrips and mealies, and no sign of them. I looked pretty thoroughly. Also, I see no leaf damage (not that there always is, at least not in the early stages). I'll keep looking though. I think overwatering might be the problem...but it just makes me wonder why others have no problem with daily watering or using self-watering pots! Hmmmmm....

    Torajima,
    Do you really think removing the "humidity tray" would help? My apartment is very dry and I'm afraid to take away the humidity. Also, the pot isn't sitting in the tray...only the cache pot is.

    When I remove the plastic pot, I do see some beads of moisture on the bottom 1/3rd of the pot. I was assuming that was a good thing because it adds moisture and humidity to a water loving hoya. Buy maybe not? An option would be to take the plastic pot out of the cache pot and put it on a "regular" humidity tray with pebbles. What do you all think of that? Aesthetically, I wouldn't be happy, but I'd do anything at this point to keep my hoya healthy and see some FLOWERS!

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I know a lot of folks pamper their multifloras and use pebble trays and spray and water them constantly, but that isn't what worked for me.

    I pretty much leave mine alone. I have it sitting in front of a sunny window and water it when it tells me it's thirsty... the pot gets lighter, the leaves start to look a little less perky, or old flowers start to drop in mass. If unopened penducles drop, I know I waited too long to water. I'm currently watering once per week... which is twice the frequency of my other hoyas. But it's not that I'm keeping the Multiflora a lot moister than the others, it's that the Multiflora simply drinks more.

    Though I will probably keep it wetter as we head into summer and it starts putting on new growth.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Wow Tora, a lovely monster you've got there!

    Hi Gabi,

    I can't really address the bud blast, but I think it's uneven/confused watering. If I may correct you pls. abt wicking, I think you're doing it wrong. As PlantAddict suggested, the wick needs to go up thru the BOTTOM of the pot (I use a crochet hook to 1st push the wick up thru the bottom hole & then pull it up into the mix, enough for there to be a couple of inches of wick looped around in the mix & also a couple of inches hanging down below into the water reservoir). This is how folks who wick AVs do it.

    Your wick looks bone dry on top, I think that's what's wrong, THE WICK NEEDS TO BE WET TO START OUT or this won't work right (a dry wick can't conduct water which is the whole point here). I agree it also looks too thick.

    I know I'm still working on my Multiflora technique, but I have gotten several rounds of blooms on earlier plants. If it were mine to say, I'd lose the cache pot altogether, I doubt its helping & I'd say the heck w/ aesthetics right now. I'd switch to a thinner wick (I use synthetic yarn like you'd use to knit a baby sweater, just one ply or strand).

    Currently, my muti-stemmed Mutiflora (see my post above on interesting Multiflora development) is in a 3" plastic pot w/ a single strand of yarn sticking out the bottom. The pot itself is sitting in a tapered clear lucite cup w/ 1" of pebbles on the bottom & some water in that (instead of a pebble tray), I water to overflow so that water drips down into the pebbles.

    I water just enough now to leave some water above the level of the pebbles but BELOW the level of the pot. The idea of wicking like this is to let the plant suck up the water at its own pace, not the pace I may determine. Pls. don't water additonally, as the mix will then become too saturated to suck up anything & will suffocate the roots (for lack of air). I do let the mix dry out a bit for a day or 2 but the wick is still moist, just the cup's water mostly finishes.

    Sorry to be so long but I'm trying to be as clear as possible & you know I am trying to help. Currently, I'm only watering mine w/ VF-11 water & not misting it, since it's drinking all it wants. Pls. LMK what you think. Good luck w/ it.

    PS. this happens to a lot of folks, it can take some time to get it just right. A couple of Multifloras ago I had one which came to me w/ a spur at each single node all the way up the stem (7 in all), 1 by 1 they all yellowed & aborted, so frustrating ... so I DO understand.

    Karen

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thank you Torajima and Karen.

    Now here's the thing...
    I only started the wick on Sunday. The yellowing and falling off of the buds has been going on well before Sunday. So the wick actually has nothing to do with "this" issue.

    Now, as for the wick method I'm using, I actually bought a small package of these (like 5 wicks for 99cents), and I followed the directions on the package (which also had a diagram..I like those!). The directions said to insert the plastic end of the string (picture a piece of white sneaker shoelace) into the soil midway (through the top of the soil), and put the other end into a cup of water that's lower than the soil level. It also said to water the string thoroughly first, which I did (I drenched it).

    Now, I know in the picture it looks bone dry, but it's actually drenched! I haven't done anything to it since Sunday, and it's stayed wet since then. Not only that, but I had to refill the cup of water yesterday, because it already drank about half of it. So it's definitely drinking.

    Karen, you're wicking system seems like a great system, but mine is in a 6" pot and I think I may have some trouble finding something that would hold it up like your cup holds your pot...maybe a tupperware? But if my way is working (I hope the description I gave cleared things up), do you think it makes a difference if I go from bottom or top?

    So either way, we know the wicking isn't the problem (since this started before I used the wick). So it seems like the problem is that I've been overwatering. Is that the consensus?

    Thanks again,
    Gabi

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Just read Plantaddict's message again (thanks), and I see how it would be possible for me to use a tupperware to bottom wick.

    I'd be able to do that if I had to. I'd love to find out if "scientifically" it makes a difference whether you bottom wick or top wick....wouldn't that be similar to bottom watering or top watering? I may be WAY out of my league here! Honestly, I just don't like the look of a plastic pot sitting on top of a tupperware in my dining room! Yes, asthetics matter to me...plants in general should be pleasing to the eye, no? Maybe I should just go back to regular watering :)

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I don't like the look of the tupperware water reservoir either. In fact I hate it, tends to be why I find other ways to do this. But seems like it might work for you, given the 6" pot, perhaps you could find a nice cachepot & concel the tupperware inside that, sitting the pot on top (of the lid of the tupperware container). BTW, for the lid of the tupperware, you need to pls. make 2 holes, 1 in mostly center into which you dangle the wick, the other a larger 1 nearest the outer edge of the lid into which you water.

    It does make a difference as to top or bottom wicking, thru the bottom, the whole mass of mix gets wet, I'm not so sure abt thru the top. What exactly are these wicks w/ instructions & diagrams you've found? What product do they say they're for? I suspect the thickness of this wick is causing it to absorb too much too quickly. I have also seen AV growers discuss how thick a wick to use or how many separate strands to use in proportion to the size of the pot.

    I might not have said it this way & I certainly mean no disrespect, but since you voluntered it, I think you may be somewhat out of your depth here. AV growers have done this for a long time, I would never presume to reinvent a wheel which they have perfected so very well.

    If memory serves, search for a site called Rachel's Reflections, it's a primer on growing AVs & I'm pretty sure it discusses this type of wicking. (Should you see anything abt Texas wicking or Texas watering, kindly disregard it).

    Whatever you do, I'd stop any additional watering for fear of drowning the plant altogether. Best of luck w/ it!

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Gabi,
    If you decide to do the bottom wick, there are bigger ziploc containers you can use that would be cheap and you don't have to ruin your tupperware. You can find a deeper pretty pot to put the 6" pot in on top of the wick container then you won't be able to see it.
    Make sure you have alot of perlite in your soil or make sure the wick is really thin so as not to make the soil to wet.
    Let us know what you decide to do.
    Sandi

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks both of you for replying.

    Karen, to answer your question, the wicks I bought are for general houseplants. They are meant to make watering easier (so that you don't have to worry about it, or if you go on vacation). I don't remember the brand, but I found a picture of one online that is the exact same thing. I will post the link at the bottom. You'll notice the diagram on the product (same diagram that was on mine), and you'll also notice a plant in the background using the same method I'm using. I still don't see why there would be a difference in bottom and top watering, because I would think the whole mass would get wet either way (the wick is in the same spot it would be in if I had put it in through the bottom). The only difference is the direction of capillary action (one way has water going straight up and the other has water going up and to the side and then down)....but maybe that can be the difference, now I just need to find out if it matters!

    Thanks both of you for the cache idea...great thinking. Unfortunately, the plant is on a small plant stand and I have no more room for larger floor plants!

    Plantaddict,
    You wanted me to let you know what I decide to do. Well, I'm not sure yet, but for now I'm just going to take the pot out of the cache pot and try using the wick system. If that doesn't help, I'm going to just stop using the wick altogether and water it regularly but less frequently.

    As for determining if bottom wicking is better than top wicking, I asked Al ("Tapla"), because he's been discussing it in a recent post. I'll let you know what he says.

    Karen,
    Regarding what you said about being out of my depth...I take no offense. I see what you're saying. However, I'm just trying another watering method because I'm not used to having such a water loving plant. We'll see how it goes....I just like the idea of not having to guess how often to water this plant.

    Thanks again for all your help.

    Gabi

    Here is a link that might be useful: {{gwi:4342}}

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    OK, I have a tendency to miss things the first time I read them :-)

    Plantaddict,
    You mentioned either having a thinner wick or using a lot of perlite. Now that you brought it to my attention, I think I'll be ok with the thicker wick because the soil that this hoya is in is VERY fast draining (more fast draining than my most coarse succulent soil mixes).

    Karen,
    Now I see what you meant about "reinventing the wheel" (I think!). I would never try and change an age-old method or try to get others to do so. I'm just using a product I bought in a store, and I'm using it as directed. But thanks for the advice and instructions on bottom wicking. If all else fails I'll try it!

    Wow, this Multiflora is quite the toughy.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ok...so as promised, here is Al Tapla's reply to my question on whether it matters if I bottom-water or top-water with water-wicking (I explained the whole method and gave him a link to the diagram I posted above):

    "Gabi - I don't think it matters, as long as both/either method(s) are getting the entire volume of soil moistened. I think there would be more evaporative loss if you wick from the top, so salts would build up, particularly in the upper part of the container, faster. Make sure that you regularly flush the container when wick-watering. Water well & allow salts to go into solution - then water again - copiously. This will carry salts out the drainage hole."

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    So...I guess I "reinvented the wheel"....there's not only one way to do things. This top-wicking has been working out great. It turns out that I'm not doing it "wrong", just different. I actually have to fill my cup again soon, so my Multiflora is just drinking away! Not only that, but the 7 or so buds that did not turn yellow are looking like they are going to open soon! And I have about 3 more new peduncles that are started to bud up.

    Plantaddict, I know you recently got a Multi...so I hope this whole post helped you a little. I think you're doing the right thing by wicking...it's just so hard to tell if you're watering enough or too much with these hoyas! Wicking seems to make it so much easier. I was definitely overwatering it before.

    I'll post pics as soon as they open!

    Gabi

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ok, so here's my Multiflora update. I ended up taking the wick out because I just wasn't comfortable with not watering a plant! I have been watering the Multiflora just like I water my other hoyas (maybe a little more often). I don't use a humidity tray anymore, and I didn't remove it from the cache pot like I said I would.

    So here's what's going on:
    The buds that didn't fall off opened (there were some buds left on just one peduncle), and 3 new peduncles are budding up nicely. So I guess the trick (for me at least) is to treat is similarly to my other hoyas.

    Here are some pics of the blooms and of one set of buds (if anyone cares to see some nice blooms, I just put pics of my current blooms up in the gallery under Leon's 2007 gallery thread):

    Current blooms from half-way blasted umbel:

    {{gwi:925560}}

    One of the 3 budding peduncles (can't wait to see them bloom all together!). I know they look yellowish...it's just the lighting. And the "white" spots on the leaves are just water marks...they need some cleaning!:

    {{gwi:945514}}

    Thanks for everyone's help!
    Gabi

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Your plant looks GREAT! Good growing!

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks Bihai :)

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Gabi, I'm glad you got it figured out. Mine is still growing good in the self waterer but no sign's of buds yet, it is a small plant though.
    I'll go ck out you other pics.

    Sandi

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks Sandi. I hope you get buds soon...I'm sure you will since you mentioned it's putting out new growth.
    Good luck :-)

    Gabi

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