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Thread: Root rot? Drying out? What?

  1. #1
    Nepenthesian Nepfreak's Avatar
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    Question Root rot? Drying out? What?

    So, after chugging along happily for three years, after growing from a little baby plant to a massive green monster that overflowed with pitchers, my cephalotus decided to kick it.

    I had not watered the plant for some time. I usually let the ceph dry out very thoroughly before I water again. But one day, I came back to find the outer rosette browning and getting crispy. I thought, "oh shoot, I'd better water it" and promptly did so. But instead of returning from its still-healthy green center, the plant just continued dying, until eventually the whole thing was a brown crisp.

    After I was pretty sure the plant was dead, I ran an autopsy. In other words, I yanked the thing out of its pot, checked if any roots were still alive, and looked for gross things. I found that all of the roots were dead (brown on the inside and the outside) and there was a bit of white material on the main rhizome at the center. Root rot, anyone? The inside of the main rhizome was still light brown - I don't know if this is just rhizome-dead or a sign of life, but I potted up a section of it anyway. Am I wasting my time?

    So, after days of not being watered, my cephalotus gets crispy. I water it, and it dies of root rot. What the hell?

    I just read in Mcpherson's latest work that cephalotus lives in very wet soils, and I was a bit confused. Doesn't everybody say to let cephalotus dry out between waterings? It does live in well-drained environments, so I'd imagine that prevents root rot. But in cultivation, getting that balance between "wet" and "well-drained" isn't so easy...

    Has anybody tried cutting a pot so that the growing surface is slanted, packing the soil tightly, and growing cephalotus on a slope? All the pictures I've seen of the plant in the wild show them growing like this, so why not try it? I guess, theoretically, the water would flow "downhill," past the roots, and into some kind of water reservoir that the plant sits in? Like, maybe somebody could take a drained pot and use gravel to elevate the pot with a slanted growing surface? Then, plant with tightly packed peat moss/sand mix, maybe top-layered with live sphagnum to hold it together? If the roots grow straight down, then, they should make a better angle with the growing surface for root aeriation, since some air will enter through the slanted surface.

    Let me know if this is a good/bad idea. And any ideas of why my plant would suddenly drop dead like that would be helpful, too.

    Insanity is a sane response to an insane world.

  2. #2
    i dont do pots. amphirion's Avatar
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    i've never been, but i think cephalotus habitats stand close to moving water...not bogs. if this is true, we can hopefully expect that this moving water is well oxygenated and so root rot is not a problem for them. however, no one has a well oxygenated river running through their growspace which is why we opt for not keeping them in anoxic tray conditions.

    your plant could have died due to temperature issues as well. my ceph gets a nice drop every night. perhaps warm temps cooked your roots?

    as a far as sloped goes, RSS has done something similar to that effect:
    " You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." -Inigo Montoya
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  3. #3
    Hello, I must be going... Not a Number's Avatar
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    Well a few people think that the Cephalotus Sudden Death Syndrome is caused by insufficient watering. Having been scared by endless admonitions of these plants not liking wet conditions they err on the dry side. It seems to me this is the case.

    These are not desert plants. In fact it rains quite a bit in the areas of Western Australia these plants growing. The climate of Western Australia has been described as "the same as California with twice the rain.". The average annual rainfall for Albany, WA is 929.9 mm (36.6 inches). For San Francisco: 565.9mm (22.3 inches). For Los Angeles 380.5mm (15 inches).

    As for the white stuff inside the main root it may have been living tissue. The living tissue in Sarracenia rhizomes is white. I never autopsy a plant that has massive roots or a rhizome until at least a year, sometimes two. You'd be amazed how many plants you thought were gone come back.
    Grand Hotel... always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.

  4. #4
    Not Growing Up! GrowinOld's Avatar
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    I don't let my Ceph growing media dry out, but I do allow it to get to the point of being damp
    before watering it again.
    However I do vary what I do based on the media I have it growing in (I have a few in different conditions).
    I water less often when the plant is in a more "organic/peaty/water holding" media,
    and more often when in a better draining mixture.
    That is where the real wisdom that growing experience provides, is in understanding the dynamics of the variables of your environment. It is not about doing one exact thing to guarantee success!
    We all have differences in our growing environments, and we can't avoid that... so we need to learn to observe and understand what our environment is providing and what we need to do to create the right balance.... (more water, less water, etc.)

    One thing most people agree on, is to not keep the crown of the plant wet, let it encourage rot. (Like watering an African Violet with cold water and getting water on the leaves, it encourages rot and death.)
    I also use Trichoderma on a regular basis and have had less problems since I have.
    Good luck.
    Experience is the best teacher. At least it used to be.
    But then, common sense isn't so common anymore, is it.

  5. #5
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    Do you have any pictures?

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