Saturday, February 9, 2008

Coffea tragica: the thrilling non-conclusion

(If you're just now finding the story, click here for the first part.)

Well folks, it would appear that I got every single point wrong, and we have something of a genuine mystery on our hands. The customer's version of the story is that he only bought it a week ago, on a day when the temperature outside was around 60F / 16C. Plausible? Well, yeah, kinda. I don't think we've had any days that were quite that warm, and I didn't record anything to that effect in the journal, but I remember there being a substantial warm-up not too long ago. So more or less plausible, at least to within ten degrees.

He said that when he got it, there were many yellowing leaves on it, like about half of the plant was yellow. He answered the obvious question (So why'd you buy it anyway?) by noting that it's uncommon to find a coffee plant around here in the first place, and even more rare to find one that's as big as that one was. He's right on both counts. I question whether or not the plant could have been half yellow, though: it never got to that point as far as I ever saw, and although I've been somewhat distracted lately by other stuff (we're starting to get seeds going for the spring, plus plugs -- basically small seedlings with some roots on them -- are coming in and need to be transplanted, and then Valentine's Day is a whole new layer of craziness on top of that, though Valentine's hasn't affected me much so far), I still think I would have noticed a half-yellow coffee tree.

The real clincher, though, is that he said he had several other Coffea plants in the spot where he put this one (prompting one of the non-Wonderful co-workers to ask me later on what kind of weirdo collects coffee trees; I was like, well, you know, they're nice enough plants when they're not dead: don't judge.), and this one was the only plant to act like this. The room these plants are in does have central heat and air, but he said the vents were far enough away from the plants that their impact is negligible.

In the end, the deal that was arranged was, we agreed to cut the plant back, keep it for observation in the greenhouse, and either try to rehabilitate it for as long as we can spare the space (probably about 2 weeks) or until we figure out what was going on with it. In the event that it dies on us while we're keeping it in the greenhouse, I'm not sure what happens -- the store owner approved giving him store credit for half the amount of the plant, which would be enough to get one in a 4-inch pot for free and have some credit left over, but this was before I'd heard the customer's story, too. If the plant actually croaks on us, I'd be inclined to push her to replace it, and for the time being we do have another plant in a 6-inch pot we could replace it with (it's not as tall or as full, but still, it's the biggest other one we've got), so it's an option.

The customer, of course, might still not know what he's talking about, or might be lying, or misremembering, and I still can't think of much that would cause such a drastic decline in such a short amount of time: it still looks like temperature, to me. Maybe we'll still find out what's going on, maybe we won't.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

I think it would be fun for the people I "blog" with to tell others what they find are the most important objects . I believe we could all learn some pretty neat things.

I am going to tag a couple people and hope they return to my blog to share with me and others what they use the most when it comes to your houseplant hobby.

You can either post in the reply section of the post or answer on your blog. Have fun everyone!!