I have a 6 1/2 ft, indoor white Bird of Paradise. Big pot, re potted about 3 years ago. I rescued it since it was 2 ft tall in terrible condition on sale for 2.99. 20 years ago. There are 2 plants in the pot, 9 leaves and 7 leaves. My question is that I do have a moisture meter, it always seems read moist. It has had the curling leaves, which is supposed to mean that it's too dry or wet. The moisture meter says most, but there is moist soil on the probe, the soil seems dry and comes right off my finger. I thought the meter could be incorrect, but I have three and they all read the same. I just cut off two yellow leaves. It gets good light in a floor to ceiling window facing south, it gets light all day. Also have a grow lite in the ceiling for dark days. Read that bone meal would help promote growth. But of course bone meal will not mix with water. I do like to water from the bottom, I have always added water until it accepts no more. Am I doing the right thing? What kind of nourishment would you suggest. I have access to natural. Such as manure water. What do you think? I live in Michigan. Linda
Bird of Paridise
First, if you've had this plant for 20 years, whatever you've been doing must be right or close to right. Second, it is natural for the lower leaves of a Bird of Paradise to turn yellow, dry up, and be shed. That being said, I do not recommend watering from the bottom for two reasons: 1) If there are roots at the bottom of the pot, they are always submerged. This can lead to root rot. 2) If you have hard water or you add soluble fertilizer to your water, the dissolved chemicals tend to build up. These chemical salts aren't as bad for your plant as table salt (aka. sea salt, sodium chloride salt) but as they build up, they can change the pH (acidity, alkalinity) of your potting mix or choke the roots. If the top of your potting mix is crusty you likely have a buildup problem. (You ARE using potting mix and not natural dirt, right?) When I water my indoor plants, I water thoroughly from the top. What I mean by thoroughly is plenty of excess water is flowing out the bottom. This tends to wash away chemical salts rather than let them build up. Once the water stops flowing out of the bottom of the container, I dump the excess water. If you have a build-up of crusty stuff in your potting mix, the best cure I know is to re-pot the plant. While supporting the plant so as not to break it, dump the plant out of its container. Gently knock or shake the old potting mix off the roots. If you see any roots that are squishy or obviously dead, now's the time to remove them. If you are thinking about dividing the two plants, now's the time to do that, too. It's OK to lose or even prune a few roots, but try not to cut off any more than 1/3 of them unless absolutely necessary. Re-pot the plant using fresh potting mix. It's OK to add a little bone meal into the potting mix; just make sure it is thoroughly blended. If you are using a bagged potting mix, you probably don't need it. Many of these mixes come with fertilizer built in and generally nitrogen (N) is the only component that needs to be replenished over time. Fill the pot 1/2 to 2/3 full with mix, add the plant, add more mix up to the crown of the plant (where the leaves meet the roots), and firm the mix around the roots. Make sure the crown of the plant is an inch or two below the top lip of the container. Water until water comes out the bottom. After you water, the potting mix may settle. If it does, just add more mix to fill to the previous level. I hope this helps.