Natalie McMurdy of College Park writes:
1. My Syngonium leaves are turning yellow and dying one by one. How can I save it?
2. My spider plant has four babies in the same pot; the mother plant gives off runners regularly but it has brown tips. Will the mother plant perk up if I cut off the new runners? I use water that has stood two or three days; will that help the brown tips?
3. The leaves of my Glacier ivy are turning reddish; what's wrong?
4. The leaves on a ribbon plant in an open terrarium are turning brown. Should I take it out and plant it elsewhere?
1. Cut off the Syngonium at a joint and root it in water to start a new plant.Tour plant is evidently tired of the conditions under which you have been growing it. If in water, it undoubtedly needs fresh water with a few grains of charcoal added. If it is in a pot, it needs repotting because the qualify of the soil has deteriorated. I prefer starting a new plant at this time of year.
2. Cutting off the runners will not resuscitate the old spider plant. Fluorine in the water is generally the cause of brown tips on spider plant, but part of the problem may be that the plant needs repotting in fresh soil. The old soil may hold an accumulation of unused fertilizer which can burn the roots.
Water that has stood in a container over night will have lost some of the toxic properties of chlorine and fluorine, but it will not correct the damage already done. Rain water may be collected and safely used on houseplants.
3. What have you done to, or for, the ivy? Soil for ivy needs to be constantly moist. Spider mites may be causing the leaves to change color. If spider mites are present, give the plant a thorough spraying at the kitchen sink with tepid water. Repeat several days in a row. Or dip the plant in soapy water (using mild soap such as Ivory Flakes). Let it dry, then rinse with clear water.
4. I agree that you should take the ribbon plant out of the terrarium and plant it elsewhere. It is apparently too wet in the terrarium.
Kiki Gregorie, of Alexandria, Va., writes:
1. Can a too tall Crossandra be cut back?
A. Ideally the Crossandra should be kept pruned as it grows even though you hate to cut off potential flowering branches. I suggest reducing the size of the overgrown plant gradually, a snip here and a snip there.
2. My ti plant, about 28 inches with two branches, is looking scrawny. It is constantly putting out new leaves. Is it possible to top it and root the tops and have the remaining stalks branch out?
A. Hawaiian ti (Cordyline terminalis) can be propagated from pieces of the main stem at any season of the year. According to Dr. Donald P. Watson, professor emeritus, University of Hawaii, "A terminal cluster of leaves with 6 inches of stem will root quickly and make well shaped plant in 6 months."
After removing the top you can cut the remaining woody stem into pieces one or more inches long to start new plants. Place the cuttings, either vertically or horizontally, in a rooting medium. The rooting medium may be sponge rock, vermiculite, or a mixture of soil, sand and peat. Kept moist and shaded, the cuttings will produce roots and leaves in a few months.
Anne Dayer, of Washington asks:
Where can I find rosary vine (Ceropegia woodii)?
A. Locally, try Bittersweet Hill Nurseries, Davidsonville, Md. (301) 798-0231, or American Plant Food, River Road, Washington. By mail order, Kartuz Greenhouses, 92 Chestnut St., Willmington, MA 01887.
Mr. Kim Paffenroth, of Sterling, Va., writes:
A. My radishes are out of hand. This is my fourth planting and they are doing the same things again. They grow tall then fall over. What is causing this?
A. You do not say whether your radishes are growing indoors or outdoors. Radishes are a cool weather crop, usually planted directly in the garden early in the spring. If you are trying to grow them indoors in pots, you have apparently given them too much water, too much warmth and not enough light.
Indoor gardening questions can be addressed to Jane Steffey at The Weekly, The Washington Post, 1150 15th ST. NW. Washington, D.C., 20071.