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Can This Yellowing, Umbrella Plant Recover?

Ask the Expert: Can this plant recover?

The plant shown in the picture is turning yellow; it was ok until recently. The soil is hard, and I can’t tell if I’m watering it too much or too little. Some parts seem healthy but others seem to be unhealthy. Please also let me know what the plant is. Thanks for any help you can offer. Paul

Cyperus alternifolius - Umbrella Plant Cyperus alternifolius - Umbrella Plant stems

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Help! Is My House Plant A Plant Or TREE??

Ask The Plant Expert:

I received this plant a few years ago.  It’s now twice as tall as it is in the picture (hitting my ceiling).  Can you please tell me what kind of plant/tree it is and if I can get a new start from it?  Thanks! -Shannon


Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:


It looks like a type of Dieffenbachia, most likely a Dieffenbachia picta or Dieffenbachia seguine. These types of dieffenbachia can grow to a height of 10ft.

They can be propagated several different ways:

  1. Root tip cuttings
  2. Stem cuttings
  3. Tip cuttings

I recommend stem cutting or tip cutting as your method of propagation. To do this you will need the following:

  1. Sharp knife
  2. Rooting hormone (I like the powder kind – you should be able to purchase it at your local garden center and nursery)
  3. Potting soil (you can simply stick the cutting in your current pot, but I like to place my cutting in a new pot with fresh potting soil.)

To take a tip cutting, go about three or four inches from the tip end and cut the plant right below a joint. Dip the cut end into the rooting hormone and place in the potting soil about an inch deep. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Roots should appear in the next couple of weeks. New shoots should also appear on the parent plant where the tip was removed.

As for stems cuttings, you will cut the stems in section 4 to 5 inches long and dip the bottom- end that has been cut in rooting hormone and place in potting soil and care for it the same way as a tip cutting.

Hope this information was helpful. Please let me know if I can help with anything else.

Help! What’s Wrong With My Droopy Schefflera

Ask The Plant Expert:

I have had my Schefflera for nearly 4 years.  I live in OH and this plant lives indoors next to our south-facing window from late-October through mid-May.  During the other months, the plant is kept on the outdoor porch which is just on the other side of the south-facing window in indirect light.

This plant has been transplanted once last Spring and seemed to be doing well.  However, after I brought the plant in from my outside porch last month, I noticed that there are branches curving downward and the plant is losing its attractive shape.

It doesn’t help that my cat likes to pounce on the curved branches she can reach. How do I fix this? – Heather

Droopy Schefflera

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:


You have a very nice schefflera. There are a couple things that you can do to help shape the plant. Prune out those branches that droop down, and with no regards to the basic shape of the plant. Then start a rotation schedule for the plant. Every week turn the plant 90 degrees; this will keep the foliage from unevenly bending towards the light. You can also prune flimsy and weak stems.

In fact, it looks like your plant has produced a lot of new growth in a short period of time. If this is true, and a result of you fertilizing the plant, cut back on the fertilizer by half. When plants rapidly produce new growth, that growth can be a little weak and flimsy. This new growth over time can strengthen, but if it is causing the plant to look mis-shapened it is better to trim it.

Hope this information was helpful. Please let me know if I can help with anything else.

Why Is My Ficus Dropping Leaves?

Ask The Plant Expert:

Me again. I also have a Ficus Benjamina which has shed most of its leaves since I bought it 4-5 months ago. It was in my porch which gets good light most of the day, but there is no new leaf growth. I’ve pruned the bare branches back some as I was advised by the garden center, but it remains bare, any suggestions to get it growing again, I realize it’s winter and its slowing down, but there should be some sign of growth. – Matthew

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:

Benjamin Fig - Ficus BenjaminaMatthew,

Ficus can be temperamental and will drop leaves for a variety of reasons.  I once had a Ficus I named Truman. I let it get too cold and it dropped all of its leaves. I up the heat, gave it the proper amount of water, (moist, but not soggy) and waited about 6 weeks. It finally put out new leaves.

So, it is important to know why the leaves dropped in the first place.

  • Loss of lower leaves is an indication that the plant needs to be pruned to allow light to reach the lower limbs.
  • Dry/shriveled leaves are a result of low relative humidity or too much sunlight.
  • Yellow leaves, or leaves that have red spot and drop off, are a result of too much water.
  • Green leaf drop can be a result of ethylene exposure or low light stress.

Correct the problem that caused the leaves to drop, and give it time to recover. To ensure that the plant energy is not wasted prune out any dead stems.

If you plant has been over watered, make sure the plant can drain off excess moisture.

  • If the air surrounding the plant has been too dry, misting the air every other day with lukewarm water.
  • If the plant is not receiving enough light move it into an area with more light.

Once you have corrected the problem, the plant should make a full recovery.

Hope This Helps.

How And When To Cut Blooms On A Gardenia

Ask The Plant Expert: I just bought a small gardenia plant, and it came with two buds on it already. One of them bloomed beautifully, but now, after about 6 days, looks like it is ready to go. My question is, do you cut it off? If so, how, and will it bloom again? I really hope that it does because it smells so beautiful. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply: Sheri, Yes, you can cut the old bloom off. If the conditions are right, gardenias bloom from late spring until fall. Gardenias bloom on new growth, so pruning is a essential.

Blooming depends on a lot of factors. In fact, gardenias are a little temperamental.

  • First, they like a humid environment. However, you should only mist the air surrounding the gardenia, and not the leaves of the plant. Misting the leaves can cause a fungal problem. You can use a humidifier to create the environment they like.
  • Soil moisture is the second contributing factor to blooming. Under-watering or over-watering can cause gardenia bud drop. Keep the soil of the plant uniformly moist, but not soggy.
  • The plant will need a full sun exposure in the house, and a slightly shady exposure outside. Really hot temperatures can inhibit blooming. Gardenias like temperatures around 65° to 70°.  They do not like sudden temperature changes. Keep them away from door or air vent drafts.
  • Fertilize your gardenia April through November. You can use a water soluble or granular balanced fertilizer.

I hope this information is helpful.

Help! My Gardenia’s Buds Keep Falling Off

Ask The Expert: Indoor gardenia care to prevent buds from falling off? – Rose

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply: Rose,

There a few things that cause bud drop in gardenias: an insect problem, low humidity, root damage and rapid temperature change.

Insect problems – Your gardenia may have a insect called, thrips. This insect can be found in the bud itself. Take a fallen bud and open it up, do you see tiny, little crawling things? If so, you have thrips and will need a systemic insectide to get rid of them. Your local garden center will have this product.

Low humidity – Gardenias prefer a climate with moist air. If you live in a dry climate, or the air in your house is dry, you will nee to moisten the air by misting it with luke warm water every day or every other day. This doesn’t take the place of watering, this will be in addition to watering.

Root damage – This problem can occur if your have nematodes, or if you have recently transplanted the gardenia.

Rapid Temperature Change – Gardenias do not like rapid temperature changes. Make sure the plant is not in the direct path of a doorway or an air vent. These cause an air path that allows for rapid temperature changes. Also if you are delivering the gardenia, make sure the delivery van is as close to your shop temperature as possible.

Hope this information helps. Please let me know if I can help with anything else.

What To Do After My Indoor Bromeliad Has Bloomed?

Indoor Bromeliad CareAsk The Expert: What to do after my indoor Bromeliad has bloomed? Do I snip off the dead bloom, and if so where? Will it the Bromeliad bloom again?

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply: Yes, you will need to snip off the bloom. Cut the stem off inside the cup. Bromeliads flower only once in a lifetime.

After the blooming cycle, the mother plant will have offspring sprouting from the base which, at the proper time, will bloom. The feeding in this period is stronger. Use the same fertilizer at the same strength but with every watering.

When the pups become big enough to separate from the mother, gently remove them, pot in their own container, and care for them just like you did the mother plant. If you lose roots, start misting daily for two weeks. The pup will eventually bloom and become a mother plant.

Hopefully this information helps. Please let me know if you need anything else.

Help! What’s Wrong With My Chocolate Soldier Plant?

Ask The Expert: I have the plant called Chocolate Soldier and have struggled for almost 2 years to keep it alive!! I have it in an east window and water it when it has completely dried out….yet it continues to drop leaves and no grow much?? What can I do for him??

Thank you, Trish

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply: Trish

Chocolate Soldier Plant From Logees GreeenhouseSince Chocolate Soldiers (Episcia or ‘Flame Violets’) prefer a shade to partial shade environment, your east exposure should be perfect. However, make sure the plant is not receiving any harsh noon day sun.

Chocolate soldiers also need a warm environment. Make sure that the plant is always in an area that stays above 65°. Although the plant needs a state of visual dryness between waterings, they require a humid environment. So mist the air surrounding the plant with lukewarm water. Try not to wet the leaves. Once a month use a water soluble fertilizer like peters or hi-yield or even an African Violet fertilizer.

Following this houseplant care instruction for the Chocolate Soldier should help to revive him. Please let me know if I can help you with anything else.

You can find more posts about Chocolate Soldier plants in these articles:

What is a Chocolate Solider Plant?
Drooping Chocolate Soldier
Propagating Chocolate Soldier

What Are These Plants In My Mother’s Dish Garden?

Ask The Expert: What kind of plant is this? I would like to know what kind of plant this is and how I should take care of it please. My mother got it as a gift when her mother died. So i would like to keep it alive as long as possible..

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply: Crystal,
It looks like a dish garden with multiple plants. The tallest plants seems to be a type of parlor palm. However, to identify the other plants I need a close up picture of each one. If you intend to keep all the plants together in the dish garden, I would place it in a medium light location and keep it moderately moist but not soggy.

If you send me pictures of the other plants and want to separate them into multiple containers, I will tell you how to take care of each one.

Ask The Expert: Thank you for your prompt reply and help. These are the best photos I think I’m going to get… Using a crappy laptop webcam, LOL. But I took several, so I hope that helps. And again, thank you so much for your knowledge! :-D Also, the last picture I’ve attached shows what I hope you can see as something eating the plant??? What could that be, at what should I do? Oh, my mom DID mention something about wanting to split the plants up so they can grow more. Thank you, oh Flower Swami. LOL. :-D [Read more…]

Separating Plants In A Dish Garden

Ask the Expert: How to divide a planter sent from a florist
I have a planter sent by a florist for my mother\’s funeral and I want to divide the plants up into more containers, leaving one or two in the original ceramic planter. There are six different plants in the planter. ONe is a diffenbacia?, pothos, peace lily ,etc. Any special advice would be appreciated, I have done this before and some of the plants didn’t survive, so I though maybe there was a special trick and care to use. Thank you. Beth KNuth

Dish GardenFlower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply: Dividing the plant should be easy. First gather everything together that you will need: a bag of houseplant soil, containers, a serrated knife, scissors and pebbles, broken clay or rocks.

Decide whether each plant will have it own container or if certain plants will be grouped together. If you are going to group plants together make sure that the plants are water and light compatible.

If you need to identify the houseplant go to the Flower Shop Network plant gallery – it has all types of houseplant pictures. Once you have identified the houseplant click on the picture. This will take you to a page that allows you to purchase that houseplant, but better yet gives you care instructions for that plant. This way you can group your plants by compatibility.

Now it is time to divide the plants.  Some florist create their own dish gardens. Since they select the plants and pot them based on your order, the plants have not had time to root together. Dividing these plants will be very easy. Remove the container and feel for each individual rootball. Then re-pot the plant into it’s new container. Remember to keep the level of the rootball top the same in the new container.  **Before you place the plant and soil in container, put a some rocks, pebbles or clay pieces in bottom of container first – this will help with drainage.**

If your florist buys pre-made dish garden, the plants and their roots may be intertwined. This may make division a little more involved. Remove the container. If the roots are one solid mass, you will need to cut the roots to separate the plants.  I would begin with the plants on the outside edge.  Make an imaginary line between the plants. Take your knife and cut from the bottom up along the imaginary line.  Continue this process until the plant is free from the rest.  I like to cut all plants away from each other before I re-pot any of them.

After plant are re-potted be sure to place the container in the right light condition and water all thoroughly. Make sure the container allow for good drainage, then follow the water requirements for each.

This plant care question was brought to you by local Sioux City Florists. Not in Sioux City IA? Use Flower Shop Network to find a local florist near you.