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Why Does Over-Watering Kill Plants?

Why Does Over Watering Kill Plants?Ask The Plant Expert:

In the past, I have always started my cuttings in a glass of water, and once they got roots, tried to put them in dirt.  This sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t.

I broke a big chunk off one of my plants when trying to get it to grow the way I wanted it to. So I broke off all the stems, stuck them in some dirt, and have kept the dirt saturated with water. When I say saturated, I mean nearly liquid, there is standing water on top of the soil.

I think, after a week or so, I will start backing off on the water, and I will have a plant.

What I really don’t understand is if plants can grow as cuttings in a glass of water, why does over watering kill plants?  If it is impossible for water to kill a plant, and apparently it is, then there is some other mechanism at work when you over water. – Pete

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Help! What Is This Plant & How Do I Propogate It?

Ask the Plant Expert: What kind of plant is this? It was given as a gift, and has really grown. I wanted to know what kind of plant it is and how to take starts off of it. -Katy

Pothos House Plant

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:

Although it looks like a type of philodendron, it is actually a plant that goes by the common names: Pothos, Devil’s Ivy, Golden Pothos, Silver Pothos.  The botanical name for it can be either Scindapsus or Epipremnum.

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Pollinating Avocados

Pollination Ask The Plant Expert:

Hi, I have an avocado tree that so far, has not yet produced avocados. I have no idea what kind of avocado tree it is.  I have heard that sometime you need another to pollinate, but others say, avocados will grow with only one, but that a second helps you produce more.  It is 10ft. tall, in a large, industrial 20″ x 20″ container.  I live in Vallejo, California. Thank you, Kimberly

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:


As far as I know Avocados are not self-pollinating. In fact, the pollination of avocados is tricky.  Besides needing two plants, you need two different kind of plants. On top of that you need to make sure you have a good bee population to more the pollen from one plant to another.

Here are a couple of really good articles on Avocado pollination and culture:

A Planting Plan for Avocados & Avocado Flowering Basics

Can I Grow A New Elephant Foot Plant From It’s Offshoot?

Ask The Plant Expert:

I have an elephant foot plant and I was wondering, can you snip off the leaves growing out the sides of the trunk to grow new plants? Mine is about 4ft. tall. I did slice one off, put it in water, the leaves grew well, but no roots or signs of a trunk developing. Should I just plant it? Thank you for speaking with me, Diane

Elephant Foot Plant

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:

The Elephant foot plant (Beaucarnea recurvata, also know as ponytail plant) can be started from an offshoot of the plant. However, a leaf by itself will not form roots. What you need is a true sucker from the plant. These will have a thicker base attached to the trunk of the plant. You can snap these off at the trunk and stick the sucker in soil to root. A rooting hormone, found at any garden center or nursery, can be used to help start your sucker roots. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. If the soil is too wet the sucker will rot and not form roots.

Image credit


How To Propagate An Aquatic Lily From Seeds

Ask The Plant Expert:

My Cahaba lilies have so many seed pods. I would like to use the seeds properly to grow more lilies. Can anyone tell me the best way to go about it? Thank you

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:

Cahaba Lily PhotoTerry

The Cahaba lily (Hymenocallis coronaria) is a little tricky when it comes to propagation. In nature this plant drops it’s seed in the water where the plant is growing. These seeds then wash up on the banks of the river or water way. On the bank, they germinate and grow into new plants. Captive propagation has a very low success rate, but since the seeds are free I would give it a try.  I recommend:

  • Soak the seeds for 24 to 48 hrs.
  • Place them on top of a moist sandy-loam mixture.  I would try to emulate the soil on a river bank where the lilies are native. I am assuming this is more mucky than sandy. So try a 1/3 sandy, 1/3 top soil and 1/3 organic matter. (This is a estimation on my part since I have not actually propagated these seeds my self.)
  • Keep the seeds very moist until the seeds sprout.
  • Once the seeds have sprouted you can transplant them into the area where they will live permanently.

Good luck and please let me know how it turns out. Hope this information was helpful.

Should I Divide Or Plant Seeds For Globe Thistle Propagation?

Ask The Plant Expert: I seem to have a mystery plant which I think is a Globe Thistle, but I did not plant it.  It is turning into a clump and has tall lavender flowers.  Sorry, I don’t have a photo.  Can I divide this free stranger or plant seeds from the dried flower head? -Nancy

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply: From what you describe, propagating by seeds would be your best option. It takes 14 to 21 days for Globe Thistle seed to germinate. You can sow your seeds directly in the ground or in germination cells packs or flats. If you are going to sow directly into your flower beds, make sure the temperatures are at least 65 to 70  degrees. Sow the seeds directly on the ground and do not coil with soil. I recommend planting the seeds in the spring since they normally bloom July through September.

Hope this information was helpful.

Help! How Do I Care For My Dish Garden?

Ask The Expert: I just got the attached plant as a gift. It’s already starting to turn brown both at the edges and in the center of some of the leaves. I have several questions and concerns:

1) I have to keep my plants high up and away from the windows because of my pets, will this plant fare ok?
2) How often should I water it?
3) Should I remove the moss that it’s top soil came covered in?
4) It’s in a ceramic pot with no hole at the bottom, should I replant it?
5) It’s got several small, hard green balls under the moss. Picture of one is attached. Do you think those are time-released fertilizer pellets?
6) What kind(s) of plant is this?
7) Any other words of advice or suggestions?


Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:

I received your question and picture of your dish garden. I will try my best to answer all of your questions in the order listed.

1) Will the plants still receive light? If they will still receive a fair amount of light, then the plants should do well. However, if the plants are too close to a light fixture this may become a problem. The light may scorch the plants.

2) Since this is a dish garden and the various plants may need different water requirements, keep the soil moist but not soggy.  This will require a physical check of the soil and not a “water every so often” requirement. If your air is dry you can also mist the air around the plants every few days.

3) The moss isn’t hurting anything. You can keep it if you like or remove it if you don’t.

4) It is always best to keep houseplant in a container that has ample drainage. For the best heath of the plants I would recommend repotting.

5) It does appear to be a slow release fertilizer.

6) Since this is what we call a dish garden, there are several types of plants in the container. I can easily recognize the parlour palm and the diffenbachia. The other plants are hidden and I can not make an identification.

7) When repotting you can keep the plants together or separate them into different containers.

If you send me pictures of the other plants I will try to identify them for you. Flower Shop Network has care instruction for many of the houseplants florists use in dish gardens or deliver separately.  Once we identify all the plants in your dish garden, you can go to our houseplant gallery and find the individual care instructions for each plant.

Hope this information helps.

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Can I Grow A Plant From A Limb of Mature Plant?

Ask The Expert: I’ve got I believe is a dragon tree that has grown a baby from its trunk. I would like to know if I can cut that baby and grow it as a separate tree and how, please, thank you. -Tito

How To Propagate A Large Cutting From Plant How To Propagate A Large Cutting From Plant

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply: Yes, this plant should be easily propagated by cutting off the shoot at the trunk. Remove about 6 inches of leaves at the base, and place the cutting in well-drained potting mix, preferably cactus/succulent mix.  It will probably take 4-6 months to start rooting.  Due to the size of the cutting I would recommend an 8″ pot minimum.  It will be a year before the plant can be transplanted.

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Propagating Chocolate Soldier Plant

Ask the Expert: How do you propagate a chocolate soldier plant? I have tried water. Dolores

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert:

Chocolate Soldier is the common name for Episcia cupreata. It can be propagated in the following ways:

1. From Seed
2. By Division
3. By Rooting Stem Cuttings
4. Layering

My favorite form of propagation is rooting stem cuttings. To propagate stem cuttings you will need:

1. Sharpe Knife
2. Rooting Hormone
3. Peat Based soil

I like tip cuttings the best. Find a nice side shoot and from the top of the shoot go down about 3″. Cut the plant at an angle and dip into the rooting hormone. Immediately stick the cutting in the soil. Keep the soil moist. In a few weeks the plant should start to form roots. Once the plant has formed roots, you will take care of it the same way you took care of the parent plant.

Can Lucky Bamboo Go From Yellow To Green?

Ask the Expert: About my lucky bamboo
If the thick stem of my lucky bamboo has turned yellow is there any way to get it green again?  The plant is about 2 1/2 feet in height.  Thanks you. Patsy

Plant Expert Reply:

Once a lucky bamboo stalk turns yellow it will not turn back to green. If the stalk is staying firm, you can leave it be.  However, I usually remove the yellowing stalks from a container holding healthy green stalks.  You can propagate new stalks from the yellow one if it still has green parts.  Our blog post We are not always lucky with lucky bamboo details the process of propagating lucky bamboo.