deepak4you
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Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Hello people,

After trying out many things, I am finally resorting to some help on gardening fora.

My name is Deepak Tulsani and I'm from Pune, India. I recently setup a home garden on my apartment balcony with about 15 pots with various plants. Since I bought the plants from the nursery and put them into the pots, I've been seeing a peculiar problem with my plants. The leaves of the plants start to dry off starting from the edges and then eventually fall off. Almost all plants are showing this behaviour and I am not sure what might be causing them. I have sprayed Rogor and I have also sprayed Neem Oil. To the extent that I have also tried a local remedy where you make a concoction by boiling garlic and tobacco and use that as a spray for keeping insects and pests away.

I had sowed some seeds of spinach and green chilli, and even the seedlings showed the same behaviour and died eventually.

I have attached some pictures to help understand the problem. Can anybody help?
deepak_1.jpg
deepak_2.jpg
deepak_3.jpg
deepak_4.jpg
deepak_5.jpg
deepak_6.jpg
Thanks and regards,
Deepak

HoneyBerry
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

What kind of dirt did you use?
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deepak4you
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Its brown/red soil. Its not very sandy/drainy but lot better than the black cotton soil that we get in our region.

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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

The soil could be your problem.
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deepak4you
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Anything specific? Because we use this soil everywhere in home gardens and big ones as well. The garden supply guy told me that the soil could have fungus which is causing a problem to the plants. Wonder if that could actually be the reason?

deepak4you
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Looking up on fungal infections, I came across the pictures of Verticillium Wilt infected plants, and they look similar to what I observe here. Might be it indeed is a fungus in the soil that is causing this?

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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

My impression is that you do things differently in India than what I am used to. My soil looks different than yours. I live in a valley that has rich volcanic soil. It is very soft and great for gardening. I don't use this dirt for potted plants, however. I buy special pre-mixed potting soil for that purpose. I have found that plants in pots have different needs than plants in the ground. I prefer plants in the ground. There is more than one possibility in your case. It is hard to look at those pictures and say " I know what is wrong. " i will try to work on this some more with you tomorrow. It is late here. There are some really great people here to help you.
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applestar
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Pursuing BirdLover's original line of thought, it's very important that the aggregate mix of a container soil has both larger and smaller particles and not too much fine particles like clay and silt which can easily compact and clog up. Even if a soil works well on the open ground, a container has less surface in contact with the air, and roots need to breathe.

It's a good idea to mix things like perlite, volcanic pumice gravel, aquarium gravel, etc. I would say they should about the size of lentils or mung beans but sharp/jagged edged, not smooth and round like delta sand/gravel. This type of "sharp" well draining sand/gravel is often used in masonry and construction. I put even larger pieces of composted sticks and bark, commercial composted bark mulch, etc. (including undecomposed but frozen killed avocado pit and skin, eggshells, composted chunks of corn cobs, also seashells, lobster claws....) in large containers for container trees.

I realize composting is not really possible in an apartment, but you might consider looking into Bokashi fermentation "compost".

...while wilt and diseases are possible, many are specific to kinds of plants, and you seem to be showing similar symptoms across the board? So let's not assume the worst.
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deepak4you
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Thanks folks. I have an old man living in our apartment complex who has spent 35 years in agriculture and nursery. He has pretty much the same soil like I do and his plants are flourishing well as are with most other people (including my brother's) who I know have home gardens.

I was already thinking of changing the soil to make it more sandy/drainy (using river sand/coarse stone crush sand as applestar suggests) because I hear a lot about root rot as well. I will continue looking for more suggestions from other members while I plan for changing the soil once monsoons are over in October, to make it more sandy/drainy.

Regards,
Deepak

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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

If you have people like that around you, definitely go pick their brains and find out what they may or may not be doing different from what you are doing. Maybe it's how often you water or HOw you water. Maybe their plants are in different sun exposure.

Please keep us updated and let us know what you find out.

...October is far away... One thing you might do to improve the situation in the meanwhile is to make some holes in the sides of the containers if they are plastic. If you are using unglazed terracotta, that will help them breathe, but you just mentioned "monsoons" -- could they be getting overwatered that way?

Along the west coast mid California and north where they have constant rain during the winter, memebers have reported needing to put their container plants under overhang/roofed porch or even setting up little umbrellas for their plants.
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deepak4you
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Thanks applestar again, I can make some holes for sure since they are plastic pots. I am talking to people to see what I might be doing differently. As for monsoon and overwatering, I already put a shed above the plants to ensure that they are not drenched in water.

For now, I think I will try to water the plants as little as I can to see if I can "dry" kill any harmful fungus in the soil (assuming fungus is the root cause here) . I also read about solarisation of soil, but can't do that now since we have cloudy weather right now. Also I'm not sure if I can do solarisation while I have plants in the pots.

I'm keeping my eyes and ears open and will update on the forum once I get some direction or resolution.

Regards,
Deepak

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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Hi Deepak, this looks mostly like an soil caused.
I had similar issue with edge of leaves turning brown and then the whole plant dying off.
But it happened to only cool weather loving plants like Snow pea and French and Pole beans. I eventually found that it was due to sun scorch, the plants just died from leaving dying out from botton to top .

In your case, I reckon since you grow in balcony, you either have the morning sun or the evening? So its not sun scorch.

Red soil is good, we get the same here in Bangalore. but its important where we source it from, because most of them have fungal pathogens and plants are doomed as soon as they germinate in that soil.

As it was pointed out, check with the old man, where he gets his red soil from, ask him if he can help you with potting a fresh plant with his soil? Just a trial, he should be ok with that. Most gardeners are.

Dry kill will not work. they just go dormant waiting for water, while the plant dies off

I am growing veggies on terrace top and i am using a soil less media, Costs a little bit more than the free available soil, but it gives what the plant needs and you can reuse it with just mixing in newer compost. works like a charm for me.

I would recommend the same to you, as it may take the load off the concrete structure if you happen to expand on the balcony garden, once you get hold of growing plants.

Pune as i remember has some excellent nurseries, and you should be able to procure good Vermi compost, and Coco peat.
To start why don't you mix just the both of them 1:1 ration and try out a plant. As your confidence grows, you can diversify with new varieties of plants and then go for Compost, vermiculite/perlite and coco peat.

Neem oil is not effective against fungal diseases, but its a deterrent for existing/future pests like aphids and mealy bug.

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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Hi Deepak, I agree that you probably have soil issues. Looking at your pictures the soil actually looks dry - pulled away from the pot. Since you have a canopy to protect your plants from the monsoon what is your watering practice?

Keep us posted on the info you get from fellow gardeners in your area.

Good luck
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deepak4you
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Thanks a lot Krinix and Elizabeth.

I am being more and more convinced myself that its a soil issue. More so since I see these symptoms across almost all plants.

The soil looks dry from the top, but its still fairly damp from inside, also since its monsoon season. I'm watering the plants generally every third day but also checking for soil dryness on a daily basis.

@Krinix: I got the soil from a friend's farm where he himself is growing veggies and stuff. About soilless media, does it not affect plant growth? Or is it better that way? I had rosemary in one pot in which I mixed a bit of coco peat, but that one died too, so I wasn't sure if that would work. If you say its a good way out, then I will try it again. I was also thinking of using either crushed bricks or crush sand (made from locally available crushed basalt rock) and mixing it with vermicompost and coco peat. Wonder if that mix will work? As long as I am reasonably sure that soilless mix will work, I am ok with spending some money for it.

It is very difficult these days to find a good knowledgeable gardener. I will try to ask some good nurseries in the outskirts of the city to see if I can get some help.

Regards,
Deepak

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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Hello again,
Garden soil needs to be ammended for use in pots. The pot environment is a different environment for the plant than the ground. Straight garden soil doesn't have enough spaces for air, doesn't have enough organic matter to hold water and lacks some nutrients. Water tends to accumulate in the bottom of pots. Soil ammendments help improve the drainage. And there should be a drainage accessory layer in the bottom of the pot. Some people use gravel but there are other options. You can buy potting soil that is pre-mixed. This is what I do because it is easier than trying to mix it myself, even though I have great garden soil to start with. I prefer clay pots rather than plastic pots. Clay pots "breathe". I use plastic pots for temporary purposes only, for cuttings that will eventually be planted permanently in the ground. Even good garden soil needs to be ammended. You have good garden soil to start with (red-brown soil). You can mix your own potting soil if you do not want to buy pre-mixed potting soil. I found a good article for you about mixing your own potting soil. (see link below)
I looked up India red soil and found that it is rich in iron and low in phosphorous, nitrogen & light. Adding some soil ammendments will help with some of the deficiencies. Once you get the new soil in the pots, you can use liquid fertilizer drops in the water that you regularly water the plants with to add nutrient value. We know that you don't need to add iron.

https://www.finegardening.com/soil-conta ... e-good-mix

I wish you a wonderful gardening experience and hope that your plants perk up.
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deepak4you
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Thanks bird lover. The lowest layer in my pots is indeed a drainy one with coir and small pieces of brick to help drain the water out of the bottom. Might be I need to add more coir, peat and vermicompost to make it more "drainy". Also about the plastic pots, I might have to drill a few tiny holes in the pots. I had to go for plastic pots because these days its extremely difficult to find clay pots here in India. We only get cement/concrete pots, which I don't think are a good option.

As Krinix also mentioned, it might be good to try one pot with a soilless mix or a mix with little soil in it. Hope that works out well!

Regards,
Deepak

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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

I forgot to mention that pot size is also very important. If the pot is too small for the plant, it won't perform well. This is the main reason why I prefer ground gardening. Pots restrict the area that the roots have to grow in and many plants will eventually become root bound if grown in a pot. Large clay pots are nice but they are expensive and heavy to move. The dirt in the pots wiil eventually become stale and depleted and will need to be replaced once in a while to refresh it. So potted plants require maintenance. And they are more sensitive to freezing temperatures because they are above the ground. I have not had good experiences especially with small pots. Currently I have only 2 medium sized pots for decorative purposes. I plant petunias in them. They have small roots and do fine in the pots. I replace the potting soil and buy new petunias for these pots each spring.
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Soil-less media doesn't affect plant growth, as long as it has enough of nutrients like a rich compost. Infact my veggies like Cucumbers, peppers and Toms absolutely go crazy with this mix. Coco peat or vermicultie on their own have absolutely nothing to support a plant, but mixing it with compost or vermi compost will make it a good medium. The mix will be loose, it would never compact over many waterings, the water will drain easily.

https://www.youtube.com/user/CaliforniaGardening/videos

This guy grows most of his food from soilless media. Keep its simple with coco peat and Rich vermi compost in 1:1 ration.

Most of the west use soil-less media to grow in containers and even for raised bed. Look it up and youll know, what i am talking about. But its a trend that's catching up in India too.

And one important thing, gardening is a slow learning experience, not every gardener would have solutions to his or your issues. It comes with trying out a lot, be it with seeds, the media, the watering. When you care for your plants, like we all do, you will always find a way somehow, to make sure the plants are happy. loosing plants to diseases and pests can give us some sleepless nights. But you'll get better. I have been gardening for almost 10 years now, and yet take my torch out to inspect them at the dead of the night.

Have fun....

deepak4you
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Thanks guys. I'll plan for transplanting the plants into a soilless medium hoping that my problems go away. I will update this post as and when I do the same.

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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

If the plant has already been affected, then the media you are going to transplant it to, is going to inherit the fungal pathogen.

I would strongly recommend, to pot only strong and healthy looking plants.

As for the plants affected, try trimming down the leaves and hope for the best.

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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

I just want to give you some info about symptoms associated with pottasium deficiency and nitrogen deficiency, which are typical deficiencies for red doil.

This is from Wikipedia:
"Typical symptoms of potassium deficiency in plants include brown scorching and curling of leaf tips as well as chlorosis (yellowing) between leaf veins. Purple spots may also appear on the leaf undersides. Plant growth, root development, and seed and fruit development are usually reduced in potassium-deficient plants. Often, potassium deficiency symptoms first appear on older (lower) leaves because potassium is a mobile nutrient, meaning that a plant can allocate potassium to younger leaves when it is K deficient.[3] Deficient plants may be more prone to frost damage and disease, and their symptoms can often be confused with wind scorch or drought."

This is also from Wikipedia:
"The visual symptoms of nitrogen deficiency include poor plant growth, and leaves that are pale green or yellow because they are unable to make sufficient chlorophyll. Leaves in this state are said to be chlorotic."
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applestar
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

You are getting some good info. Sometimes conflicting, but that is typical when you ask a bunch of gardeners for advice. :wink:

I wonder if you are ready for my kind of random gardening mania? Image

...when trying anything different, I would only try it on a few but not all, and if I have more than one of a kind of a plant, try different techniques on different ones, using what I think would most likely work on the favorite, and least stressful on the most stressed (diseased, least infested, loosing leaves, etc.) -- strong fertilizer, pruning, and repotting (and full sun) are stressful.

In addition to what I've already mentioned regarding aggregate texture of the container soil, I believe in relying on healthy soilfoodweb even in containers and not so much on wiping out the living organisms. There are ALWAYS good organisms and bad. Even if you start with a clean slate, nature abhors vacuum, as they say.

I like using commercially available from reputable sources (manufacturers as well as sellers who will store them properly), but mostly I like to make my own using the commercial sources to add biodiversity and as inoculant. Bokashi fermenting and and vermicomposting are good substitute for backyard composting of kitchen scraps and yard waste.

I put earthworms and red wigglers in every container and they also freely move from the garden into and out of the containers since I put them on the ground and I DO NOT put rubble in the bottom of the containers "for drainage" which would hinder their migration. "Rubble in the bottom for drainage" is considered largely a myth, though I now believe there is a way to do this more effectively -- I think it was a technique used in a specific way that became misinformed. Also badly draining/easily compacting soilmix will still become compacted above the rubble and become clogged.

I'm convinced adding aerating side vent holes in plastic containers is effective and am starting to put this to practice with all of my containers. (See photos below)

I use AACT (actively aerated compost tea) -- occasionally following the clean equipment protocol, but mostly just adding ingredients and endlessly aerating the bucket. My bucket currently contains stinging nettles and willow leaves and chopped branches. I sometimes add a scoop of organic fertilizer to quick culture the fungal and bacterial microbes. I water with UCG (used coffee grounds) soaked in rain water and spray with milk and yogurt whey diluted 1:8 and water with spoiled milk diluted to 1:20 or so. While these plants are indoors for the winter, I water them with diluted leftover beverages like coffee, tea, juice, rinse water of finished beverage containers.

I also tend not to use any pesticides. But this is difficult indoors where there are no alternatives like specialized beneficial predators. I also don't use fungicides and I CAN use milk spray and reduce humidity better indoors.

I'll attach a collage -- random photos of some of my container plants I took this morning:
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deepak4you
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

That is a hell lot of info @Applestar! Having got some direction and few options to try out, I'll go check with the garden center if they have potash or other Potassium based fertiliser. To cover up for Nitrogen, I think a teaspoon of Urea in 5L of water should be good for all plants? I will also get a sack of peat and vermicompost each and try to repot one of the plants in a soilless mix. That should give me some results before the monsoon ends and I can take it from there.

Goodness me. I need to read all the replies again to soak in all the information that has been shared! :) Endless thanks for this help :)

Regards,
Deepak

krinix
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Stay away from Urea or any other chemical based Fertilizer, the soil dies a slow death with that. Try well dried cow dung of chicken poop for Nitrogen.

deepak4you
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Yes I will, but for now I'm trying to narrow down on the source of the problem - whether it is soil nutrient deficiency, soil disease or something else. I have tried extremely low amounts of the fertiliser (one spoon in 20 liters bucket) to see how the plants react. I'm searching for cow dung manure, but difficult to get in rainy season. As soon as I get the same, will try that too and update.

Regards,
Deepak

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ElizabethB
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

DITTO all.

Soil, soil, soil issues. Soil that works well in ground based gardens will not work in your containers. You really need an all purpose potting soil. If you do not have access to that then you need to make your own. 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat, 1/3 horticultural vermiculite.

Your pots are probably too small. Pot up.

Your pots MUST have good drainage. Since your plants are under cover for the monsoon season you have to water regularly and deeply. No pot saucers.

Most of your plants are green foliage ornamentals. Feed them with a high nitrogen, water soluble fertilizer every 2 or 3 months. Read and follow the label directions.

Your roses are another issue. You need a pot large enough to support your plant. You need to use a water soluble "Bloom Booster". High P in the NPK.

Do not randomly treat with pesticides. Give your plants larger pots, better soil and proper growing conditions. See what happens.

Good luck

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When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

deepak4you
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Hi,

Update from my side. Monsoon has officially been declared over and my plants have started to get some new life again. After having added very small quantities of urea and potash to my soil, I am now waiting for the new growth to grow bigger and see if the problem still exists. Will keep posted in the coming weeks.

Regards,
Deepak

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

depak, I read through this thread again and noticed this:

"The lowest layer in my pots is indeed a drainy one with coir and small pieces of brick to help drain the water out of the bottom. Might be I need to add more coir, peat and vermicompost to make it more "drainy". Also about the plastic pots, I might have to drill a few tiny holes in the pots."

To start with coir, peat, and worm castings are all things that HOLD water, and would make drainage worse.

Second, although for years people used to put pieces of broken clay pots, brick, rock, etc in the bottom of containers "to improve drainage," that was always a myth. Having soil then brick or whatever, creates a barrier that the water does not cross until the soil is completely saturated:
When water reaches the interface between two different types of soil – it stops moving. It is hard to believe, but in the above example, the water will accumulate in the soil and stay there. The gravel will be dry, and the soil will be saturated.

Let’s have a closer look at this. When water is added to the soil, it is absorbed by the soil particles. It fills the small holes between things like clay particles, and gets absorbed by the humus (organic mater) in the soil. As more water is added it starts filling the air spaces between soil particles. This water flows fairly freely to the bottom of the soil and then stops moving. Add more water and you reach a point where the soil can’t hold more water, but it still does not flow into the gravel. If more water is added the soil can’t hold any more and excess water runs into the gravel.

Plant roots need both air and water. The ideal soil has about 25% water and 25% air in it. If the air is replaced with water the roots of most plants die.

In addition to creating a soil with less air, the gravel will also reduce the amount of soil in the pot. That is not good for roots either.
https://www.gardenmyths.com/gravel-pot-drainage/

Just fill your pots with good potting soil.

And yes, pots should have LOTS of holes, not tiny. Plants DIE in pots without holes:

Image
https://www.glassblower.info/pot-melt-po ... ot-512.JPG

better is to have holes in the sides as well.
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deepak4you
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

So much knowledge and information out there! :) The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know. Thanks a ton!

An update from my side. Now that monsoons have pretty much ended and the Sun is out, some of my plants have revived. I have made holes in all the pots. I have given two very dilute doses of Urea and Potash to all my plants. Most of them are doing quite well.

The Jasmine (Mogra) has recovered quite well and I don't see any browning of leaves as yet. All the new leaves look to be green.

The roses seem to be recovering as well, but seem to be a bit slow. The new leaves seem to be ok, but they are still small and not sure if they will meet the same fate as before. So will keep an eye on them.

Basil, Passiflora are also doing fine.

Will post an update soon.

Regards,
Deepak

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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

Roses are heavy feeders and very susceptible to fungal disease and usually do require more regular fertilizer and preventive anti fungal sprays.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

I suggest you talk to the old gardener and ask for his help. Gardeners are usually more than happy to share their knowledge with people who appreciate it. He can probably tell you the best solution for your planting mix and he will know where to source the ingredients. He can probably also check to see if the problem is with watering or drainage issues. It may even be because of the location and the plants are burning from too much sun.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

deepak4you
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Re: Leaves of all pots drying and falling off

An update from my side. All my plants have recovered well. No leaves drying, no brown borders nothing any more. Here is what all I did:

1. "Ploughed" and aired the soil in the pots
2. Added compost (vermicompost and cow manure) to the pot soil
3. Made four holes on each pot on the sides

I've been watering the plants once every 3 days for now (since its winters and there is no direct sun on the pots) and it has been going very well.

Thanks a million to everybody for their inputs. Now my miniature garden looks really pretty and smells beautiful with the blossoms! :)

Regards,
Deepak

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