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Recognizing Plant Ailments

Bonus content from the May 2010 REPTILES magazine article "Planting For Success."

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Plants are unnaturally tall, thin, spindly or lanky, with leaves spaced far apart. Not enough light provided to the vivarium; Substrate too wet. Provide more intense light; Provide better substrate drainage.
Plant base or stem soft or mushy; plant falls over at base. Substrate too wet and probably polluted; Possibly secondary fungal, viral or bacterial infection. Provide better substrate drainage – probably a good idea to replace with fresh vivarium substrate mix.
Sudden generalized leaf drop – many or most, not just a few here and there. Vivarium probably exposed to sudden temperature changes or drafts. Check to make sure vivarium not exposed to drafts from windows, air conditioning vents, etc.
Brown, dry or scorched-looking leaf tips and edges. Excessive salts or other toxins in substrate; Possibly excessively dry air. Replace substrate with proper vivarium substrate mix; Do not use synthetic fertilizers; Check humidity.
Leaves have brown, yellow or black spots or soft/mushy patches. Fungal, bacterial or viral infections indicating polluted environment; Possible contact with harmful chemical(s). Disinfect vivarium & use new vivarium substrate mix, plants and fixtures; Do not use glass cleaner or other chemicals on or near vivarium.
Wilting of entire plant, leaf curling and crisping. Substrate too dry; If substrate moist, probable root rot due to pollution. Moisten dry substrate; Replace polluted substrate.
Generalized leaf yellowing or paleness. Substrate pH imbalance and/or nutrient deficiency or toxicity; Vivarium air polluted or exposed to toxic gasses; Light too intense. Use proper vivarium substrate mix and organic fertilizer; Provide good air circulation; Check for toxic gas source in area; Check light intensity.

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