Good intentions = road to hell

Well, I’m up to my old tricks again. Plantkiller… yep. That’s still me.

So… the above is one of my formerly beautiful sweet potato vines that I lovingly brought inside a few months ago. It was the prettiest of the lot, really, with purple tinges on its dark green leaves. It did really well at first, in a medium-sized green antique pot, with no drainage (!). But then, the leaves started to wilt and yellow and my husband suggested it might be root-bound. It had been really big and healthy, generally-speaking, so it made sense that it needed a bigger home. So I transplanted it into one of my big outdoor planters. A few weeks ago, it looked like this…

But very quickly, it turned into this…

Yuck. I should have left it alone. No good deed goes unpunished, truly.

You can see in the top picture the vines have sort of spidery-like webs between them, which are crawling with tiny brown bugs. I didn’t notice them at first, but when I really inspected the carnage up-close, I could see them wriggling around. Even worse, I think these audacious insects were trying to spread their webby crap to other, nearby plants. (Eeek! Not my prize succulents!) So this buggy, tragic sweet potato vine was banished to the basement this weekend, lest it infect its neighbors.

I was about to get all clinical on these bugs, search around online, figure out what they area and how to kill them, determine whether this sad vine is salvageable. (And I still might do that, because the information will no doubt be useful. A good exercise.)

But then… a light bulb went on. I think I know why this plant died. And I am 99 percent sure it’s totally my fault.

This planter was previously populated with another bright green “Marguerite” sweet potato vine, a dusty miller and a coleus, none of which were/are doing too well. The sweet potato vine, in particular, looked like something had munched on it, and the tubers I found at the end of the vine had lots of buggy little holes in them. (Unlike those other fine specimens I found last month.) But, like an idiot, I just moved the plants out, repotting the coleus and dusty miller and tossing the icky sweet potato vine. I left the old dirt in the planter… did not clean it out… and then subjected my beautiful, flourishing purple-ish sweet potato vine to that infected soil.

I bet whatever was munching on that old vine was still in the planter and attacked my happy plant, taking it downhill fast.

Such a bummer.

I might still be able to take a cutting or vine from this fellow and save something… or maybe not. Guess I’ll just have to try.

I feel bad though. It was a really pretty plant. DUH!!!

In happier sweet potato news, those giant tubers I found at the end of my other (non-diseased) planter vine are doing pretty well in the jars of water on my kitchen windowsill. One of the original three is doing nothing, but one is going gangbusters (along with a random vine that I stuck in there) and another is sprouting a little leaf, after my husband turned it upside down to get an “eye” into the water. (Uh, oops.)

The one on the far right came from the diseased planter and has holes in it. No hope for that one, really. Think I will toss it.

Notice the coleus and succulent leaves are also growing roots in their glass bottles. (Unlike the ones in my basement lab, but that’s another tale.)

Sigh … grow some, kill some!


About plantkiller

Paysha Rhone is a wife, mother, former-journalist-turned-PR-maven and bad mamajama killing plants in the Victorian splendor of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
This entry was posted in Keep hope alive, Making do indoors, Mo' plants, mo' problems, Wallowing in death and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Good intentions = road to hell

  1. Heather Munkacsy says:

    Hmmm. I *think* after you initially plant the tuber in the ground/pot, potato plants (or any root veggies) don’t transplant well. Wonder if the same is true for the sweet potato vine?

    And crazy coincidence – I *just* got back from a long weekend in Delaware/NJ visiting parents and in-laws. My in-laws happened to be talking about sweet potato vines, and it was the first I’d ever heard about them. So they’re decorative plants and the tubers are inedible; right? Their condo complex had them in planters outside, and when it got cold they let residents take the tubers to grow their own sweet potato vines and my father-in-law took them up on that. You’d love him! He bought poinsettias at Home Depot after Christmas last year for one cent each, kept them alive as regular house plants during the year, then forced them to bloom just in time for the holidays by keeping them in a dark room for 8 hrs/day, then exposing them to light for 8 hours/day (not sure about the unaccounted for 8 hours!). Anyhoo, he now has gorgeous poinsettias that he got for a penny a piece!

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