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Temperate Growing

Robzi13

Kava Curious
Hey Guys,

Im a newbie here and a newbie to growing as well. Growing in a temperate area of Australia.
I received my first plant in early autumn and lost it within the first couple of weeks. I’m 99% sure the growing mix I had it in was too heavy causing rot below the rooted node.
I’ve received two new plants since and have planted them in an orchid mix with some added perlite. One seems to be doing ok, the other looking a bit sickly. Both have necrosis on the margins of the lower and middle leaves which is more soft than it is dry and crispy which is making me think it could be perhaps a fungal issue, maybe even a potassium or magnesium deficiency. I’ve resisted feeding them at any more than quarter strength as we’re heading into lower temps / light.
We have daytime temps here of high teens, up to low 20s (Celsius) at the moment, nights somewhere between 9 and 13 but heading into winter in a couple days time where night temps can get down to about 5 or 6 degrees, so I have brought them into my backroom for winter.
It is well lit for most of the day but they don’t receive much direct sun except for a small 20 minute period in the morning (they do look a bit leggy though).
I have an oil heater running around the clock it’s not super powerful but it’s keeping the temp in the low 20s and a humidifier running aswell. I also dry my clothes on a clothes horse in the back room.
Wondering if anybody has had experience overwintering in temperate climates and may be able to pass on any insight?
 

Alia

'Awa Grower/Collector
Hey Guys,

Im a newbie here and a newbie to growing as well. Growing in a temperate area of Australia.
I received my first plant in early autumn and lost it within the first couple of weeks. I’m 99% sure the growing mix I had it in was too heavy causing rot below the rooted node.
I’ve received two new plants since and have planted them in an orchid mix with some added perlite. One seems to be doing ok, the other looking a bit sickly. Both have necrosis on the margins of the lower and middle leaves which is more soft than it is dry and crispy which is making me think it could be perhaps a fungal issue, maybe even a potassium or magnesium deficiency. I’ve resisted feeding them at any more than quarter strength as we’re heading into lower temps / light.
We have daytime temps here of high teens, up to low 20s (Celsius) at the moment, nights somewhere between 9 and 13 but heading into winter in a couple days time where night temps can get down to about 5 or 6 degrees, so I have brought them into my backroom for winter.
It is well lit for most of the day but they don’t receive much direct sun except for a small 20 minute period in the morning (they do look a bit leggy though).
I have an oil heater running around the clock it’s not super powerful but it’s keeping the temp in the low 20s and a humidifier running aswell. I also dry my clothes on a clothes horse in the back room.
Wondering if anybody has had experience overwintering in temperate climates and may be able to pass on any insight?
Kava, 'awa here, likes well-drained slightly acidic soil and is a heavy feeder. Foliar feeding is good. Partial shade also.
There may be folks reading this who live in temperate zones and have some kava plants who could suggest ideas but
I do not know any and I live in the tropics. I know some kava was and maybe still is growing up Mossman way but that's
tropics, I guess. Are you certain you have kava plants and not another species of Piper? Can you search--
" Hawaiian 'Awa, Views of an Ethnobotanical Treasure " and take a look at Chapter 8.
 

sɥɐʞɐs

Avg. Dosage: 8 Tbsp. (58g)
Review Maestro
I've kept some alive over the winter in Southern California. SoCal and parts of Aus. are pretty similar climate-wise. I had mine in a small cheap green house, with a device that let's you plug in a heater and a fan and it controls when they turn off and on depending on the temp. Overnight the heater would kick on at around 55° F (12.5 C) and turn off at around 66° F (19 C)...the fan would kick on at around 85° F (29.5 C) on warm days. I also had a humidifier running in there. The winter didn't kill my plants with this method, it was the sweltering heat inside the green house on the hottest summer days that ended up destroying even my healthiest plant. Even with two fans, one exhaust and one to move air, plus a shade cloth and reflective material on half of the roof...it could not cool down enough. While I was at work, it got up to 110° F (43 C) in there sometimes and they couldn't handle it. I should have moved them into some cool shaded part of the yard for the summer.

Normally I'd ask you to provide pictures, so we can see if you actually have Piper Methysticum or if you got 'false kava'. But the difficulty you're having keeping them healthy and alive is pretty good evidence that they are the real thing. Even people that don't live in the right parts of Fiji have trouble keeping these things alive. I ran into just about every problem you could have with mine, slugs and other insects chomping down new growth as soon as it emerges, spider mite infestation, aphids, brown burnt tips of new emerging leaves and stems, full leaves turn brown around the edge (often consuming the whole leaf eventually), unhealthy pale discoloration of leaves etc... They also grow MUCH much slower than they would in their natural climate, even with me babying them and trying to make an environment more suitable for them. The slow growth leaves them more vulnerable to failure, my nearly 2 year old plant looked about as big a 3 month old plant in Hawai'i.

I've got 3 new young plants growing currently and right off the bat, most of the leaves started getting dry and falling off and leaves being chomped on. Luckily some new leaves have survived, but still, most new sprouts are turning brown soon after emerging...before they have the opportunity to grow into a leaf or stem.

I don't know what it is with these mxthxr fxckxrs!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Alia

'Awa Grower/Collector
I've kept some alive over the winter in Southern California. SoCal and parts of Aus. are pretty similar climate-wise. I had mine in a small cheap green house, with a device that let's you plug in a heater and a fan and it controls when they turn off and on depending on the temp. Overnight the heater would kick on at around 55° F (12.5 C) and turn off at around 66° F (19 C)...the fan would kick on at around 85° F (29.5 C) on warm days. I also had a humidifier running in there. The winter didn't kill my plants with this method, it was the sweltering heat inside the green house on the hottest summer days that ended up destroying even my healthiest plant. Even with two fans, one exhaust and one to move air, plus a shade cloth and reflective material on half of the roof...it could not cool down enough. While I was at work, it got up to 110° F (43 C) in there sometimes and they couldn't handle it. I should have moved them into some cool shaded part of the yard for the summer.

Normally I'd ask you to provide pictures, so we can see if you actually have Piper Methysticum or if you got 'false kava'. But the difficulty you're having keeping them healthy and alive is pretty good evidence that they are the real thing. Even people that don't live in the right parts of Fiji have trouble keeping these things alive. I ran into just about every problem you could have with mine, slugs and other insects chomping down new growth as soon as it emerges, spider mite infestation, aphids, brown burnt tips of new emerging leaves and stems, full leaves turn brown around the edge (often consuming the whole leaf eventually), unhealthy pale discoloration of leaves etc... They also grow MUCH much slower than they would in their natural climate, even with me babying them and trying to make an environment more suitable for them. The slow growth leaves them more vulnerable to failure, my nearly 2 year old plant looked about as big a 3 month old plant in Hawai'i.

I've got 3 new young plants growing currently and right off the bat, most of the leaves started getting dry and falling off and leaves being chomped on. Luckily some new leaves have survived, but still, most new sprouts are turning brown soon after emerging...before they have the opportunity to grow into a leaf or stem.

I don't know what it is with these mxthxr fxckxrs!!!!!!!!!!!!
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I hope I haven't asked before --but have you taken a magnifying glass to look under the leaf in "splotchy pale light green leaf" right side leaf?
Just wondering if Red Spider Mites?
 

sɥɐʞɐs

Avg. Dosage: 8 Tbsp. (58g)
Review Maestro
I hope I haven't asked before --but have you taken a magnifying glass to look under the leaf in "splotchy pale light green leaf" right side leaf?
Just wondering if Red Spider Mites?
All the undersides of the leaves look clean...except for the new leaf emerging from the plant in the felt bag on the right, this morning I noticed a few little red bugs about the size of a needle point on it, I recognize them from my last batch of plants. I'm pretty sure they're the red spider mite. These things don't seem to exist in my yard until I bring kava plants around. I guess I'm gonna have to mix up my bottle of spray oil already.
 
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Robzi13

Kava Curious
Thanks guys,

Appreciate the valued input. I thought I’d slip some pictures in here so you guys can see what I’m dealing with and compare. I found that article views of an enthobotanical treasure. But for some reason the one i found only provided pages up the the end of chapter 5.
It looks like we have the same issue with the splotchy pale green leaves and the necrosis, apart from that, roots and stems all appear healthy.
The larger one is the sicker looking one. It was in good health when it got here (although it did have some powdery mildew which I’ve been treating with a fungicide) but the leaf necrosis seems to be its main issue. As mentioned I haven’t been feeding it too heavy though due to lower light / temps incoming and so I was thinking it could be down to this and the plant might be a bit down on nutrients. But I’m guessing in the controlled environemnt with the higher temps, perhaps I may be erring a bit too far on the cautious side. I slipped a small amount of potassium granules on top of the soil last week. I have noticed a very small amount of growth since.
I was thinking air circulation could be an issue to, as I need to leave the windows closed up most of the time and the room can get a bit stuffy.
Haven’t had any contact with aphids since it’s been here but spider mites, possibly. I’ve never dealt with them before so I’m not certain of exactly what I’m looking for. But I heard they will refrain from humid areas and the room is quite humid, sometimes I feel possibly too humid. Definitely haven’t had any aphids around.
It seems winter is going to be the hard slog. I have some spots in the garden where I feel they would do great for around 8 months of the year, loose sandy solis amended with humus and pine bark and the garden is microclimatic. I’ve put plenty of porous rock in and the water that evaporated from it seems to make plants like ferns, banana and elephant ears thrive. It does wonders for the humidity levels. Even when we get temps in the high 30s that usually dry everything out. I just really want to get it through to that time alive . We can get some brutally hard, cold and dry winds in winter here. Sometimes we get hot dry ones in summer, but plants are easier to protect from those winds.
I’ve read if you lose all the leaves they often shoot again in better temps. But it’s never a nice feeling to watch a plant in decline.
 

Attachments

Robzi13

Kava Curious
Also, the damage to top lead on the larger one was my youngest son. Making the plant look sicker lol but yea, that one is t environmental damage
 

sɥɐʞɐs

Avg. Dosage: 8 Tbsp. (58g)
Review Maestro
Definitely looks like we've got similar problems...leaves turning brown around the edge, some completely...and leaves getting that pale discoloration.
When I've had this problem before @Alia suspected they might need calcium...so a gentle mist of foliar calcium spray, to what ever dilution the bottle says, might help. Just watch to see how it reacts to first spray, too much might burn.
Also, when I had a spider mite infestation in the past, they definitely sucked life outta the leaves. Had to make a Horticultural Oil spray to get those under control. But even with everything seemingly in control, the plants always seem to favor failure over flourishing.

One thing I've noticed, which may just be a coincidence, is that the one in the clay pot always seems to do better than the others. And this time around, I also noticed that the one in the clay pot is planted slightly up above the rest of the soil level...the others are planted exactly at the soil level, maybe even sinking into it very slightly. Might be making a difference, might not...but I'm taking note of it.
 

Robzi13

Kava Curious
Interesting observation on the clay pot. Maybe the porosity of the pot mimics the soil conditions better allowing more air flow etc. Does the clay pot require watering more often?
Does growth on yours tend to speed up more when Spring / summer rolls around? I imagine it would be that time of year for you now in Cali.
One thing I did read is that they suffer damage when temps drop below 18 degrees. I’ve never been to any of the pacific, never left Australia in fact, but people I know that have visited the islands have said that even in winter low 20s is the norm. Maybe the browning and discolouration could be temp related. I haven’t had them growing in a warmer season to observe yet haha
 

sɥɐʞɐs

Avg. Dosage: 8 Tbsp. (58g)
Review Maestro
Growth was slow all year round, but I guess spring, summer and early fall seemed slightly better. What I've found in my experimenting is that they seem to tolerate cooler temps a bit better than you'd think and conversely are intolerant of high temps...especially here where the air can get really dry sometimes, although the average is probably about 60% humidity we can have weeks where it dips down to only 12% too. My humidifier didn't do much to raise the humidity, especially when the weather is warm and the door has to be open and the fan has to be on. I eventually added a timer & hose splitter to mist them automatically 3 times a day too. I also had a wi-fi thermometer/humidity reader that I could check the stats on my phone.

Mine survived fine dipping into the 50s (11°+ C) nightly in the winter...fluctuating between 11° C and 18° C all night with the automated heater.
In the southern Vanuatu islands, like Tanna, the over night temps can dip down to like 14° C and they grow loads of kava there. It just seems to really perform best in a very small window of temperatures. I think it really wants to stay between 20° C and 30° C everyday, with high humidity and very fertile volcanic soil.

The soil in the clay pot might dry out a little bit sooner, but not drastically enough for me to have water it on a separate schedule.
 

Robzi13

Kava Curious
Yea ok, I’ll note that on the cooler temps. Thanks man. Nice part of the world your in would love to visit there one day haha
I may have brought them inside a touch earlier than needed. Because about 4 weeks back we were around 13-14 at night and low 20s in the day. Humidity is perfect for them here at the moment but temps are a bit below what your saying.
Have been pondering a clear tent to help with humidity, but circulation is the offset concern with that. Might have to invest in a humidity meter. I have bluetooth thermometer.
And yeah think your spot on with that window. I may need to repot and add some compost and volcanic cinder to the mix.
The mix they’re in at the moment is very loose and well drained, but the fertility is low. I held off on adding compost into the mix because I think I put too much in the mix that ended up killing off the first plant I bought.
The pots are quite small as opposed to what I’ve read about the root space they like too, so perhaps an upsize into clay.
Ever had any experience putting them in the ground? Or have you only ever pot grown?
Outlook of our next week
 

Attachments

sɥɐʞɐs

Avg. Dosage: 8 Tbsp. (58g)
Review Maestro
Yea ok, I’ll note that on the cooler temps. Thanks man. Nice part of the world your in would love to visit there one day haha
I may have brought them inside a touch earlier than needed. Because about 4 weeks back we were around 13-14 at night and low 20s in the day. Humidity is perfect for them here at the moment but temps are a bit below what your saying.
Have been pondering a clear tent to help with humidity, but circulation is the offset concern with that. Might have to invest in a humidity meter. I have bluetooth thermometer.
And yeah think your spot on with that window. I may need to repot and add some compost and volcanic cinder to the mix.
The mix they’re in at the moment is very loose and well drained, but the fertility is low. I held off on adding compost into the mix because I think I put too much in the mix that ended up killing off the first plant I bought.
The pots are quite small as opposed to what I’ve read about the root space they like too, so perhaps an upsize into clay.
Ever had any experience putting them in the ground? Or have you only ever pot grown?
Outlook of our next week
I've only ever used pots and fabric bags...they make those fabric pots in really large sizes too, large enough to grow a harvestable kava. If I ever had several large robust plants, I'd gladly experiment with putting one in the ground and see how it holds up to the winter. It would probably die pretty quick, cuz we can get freezing temps and frost advisories overnight here in Los Angeles during the winter.
 

Alia

'Awa Grower/Collector
L
Interesting observation on the clay pot. Maybe the porosity of the pot mimics the soil conditions better allowing more air flow etc. Does the clay pot require watering more often?
Does growth on yours tend to speed up more when Spring / summer rolls around? I imagine it would be that time of year for you now in Cali.
One thing I did read is that they suffer damage when temps drop below 18 degrees. I’ve never been to any of the pacific, never left Australia in fact, but people I know that have visited the islands have said that even in winter low 20s is the norm. Maybe the browning and discolouration could be temp related. I haven’t had them growing in a warmer season to observe yet haha
Likely the clay pot does aid drainage and aeration .
 

Alia

'Awa Grower/Collector
Thanks guys,

Appreciate the valued input. I thought I’d slip some pictures in here so you guys can see what I’m dealing with and compare. I found that article views of an enthobotanical treasure. But for some reason the one i found only provided pages up the the end of chapter 5.
It looks like we have the same issue with the splotchy pale green leaves and the necrosis, apart from that, roots and stems all appear healthy.
The larger one is the sicker looking one. It was in good health when it got here (although it did have some powdery mildew which I’ve been treating with a fungicide) but the leaf necrosis seems to be its main issue. As mentioned I haven’t been feeding it too heavy though due to lower light / temps incoming and so I was thinking it could be down to this and the plant might be a bit down on nutrients. But I’m guessing in the controlled environemnt with the higher temps, perhaps I may be erring a bit too far on the cautious side. I slipped a small amount of potassium granules on top of the soil last week. I have noticed a very small amount of growth since.
I was thinking air circulation could be an issue to, as I need to leave the windows closed up most of the time and the room can get a bit stuffy.
Haven’t had any contact with aphids since it’s been here but spider mites, possibly. I’ve never dealt with them before so I’m not certain of exactly what I’m looking for. But I heard they will refrain from humid areas and the room is quite humid, sometimes I feel possibly too humid. Definitely haven’t had any aphids around.
It seems winter is going to be the hard slog. I have some spots in the garden where I feel they would do great for around 8 months of the year, loose sandy solis amended with humus and pine bark and the garden is microclimatic. I’ve put plenty of porous rock in and the water that evaporated from it seems to make plants like ferns, banana and elephant ears thrive. It does wonders for the humidity levels. Even when we get temps in the high 30s that usually dry everything out. I just really want to get it through to that time alive . We can get some brutally hard, cold and dry winds in winter here. Sometimes we get hot dry ones in summer, but plants are easier to protect from those winds.
I’ve read if you lose all the leaves they often shoot again in better temps. But it’s never a nice feeling to watch a plant in decline.
After searching around I can only find part 2 of the Hawaiian 'Awa book link at gourmethawaiiankava website under "kava extras"
A bit hard to navigate but worth reading and seeing photos.
 

Robzi13

Kava Curious
Thanks shakas, appreciate hearing all your experience here man. All this in mind I think I’ll give the clay pot a run.
I’ll keep looking for the book to Alia. Hopefully can come across and give it a read.
Thinking after this winter if I get them through, I’ll experiment with putting one in the ground
 

sɥɐʞɐs

Avg. Dosage: 8 Tbsp. (58g)
Review Maestro
I found a guy that's been experimenting with growing kava in Australia, looks like he's near Brisbane, which is a better climate for it than Southern California. (Turns out Perth is about equal to Los Angeles' climate) Anyway, he found that soggy soil seemed to the main issue, causing trouble with the roots. It's well known that kava likes well draining soil with a lot of air in it, this is why we add so much perlite...and natives like to plant kava on slopes when they can. But, when you see the mix this guy is having success with, you'll see it's extremely loose and chunky.

Here's the mix: coconut husk chips (50%), large sized perlite (25%), pumice (15%) and fine coco peat (10%)

I'm not even sure if I'd still call that soil! It's mostly just chunks of fibrous wood and rocks. :D

 

neokava

Newbie
So i've been lurking on here for a while. I started growing kava a couple years back. I had it going really well for about a 1 year to 1.5 years until spider mites came out of nowhere and ravaged the plant. I ended up drinking it. I kept some of the nodes and started another one but it isn't doing as well. I've been using an electric toothbrush to clear off the mites every week which seems to work better than the other methods that I have tried.

Here is what i had going in 2018 which I ended up drinking after the spider mites killed it.
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So i basically started over from scratch and this is where it is at today. It was again eaten by spider mites which i think are now under control but still doesn't look at as healthy as the 2018 plant.

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Krunʞy

Chillin @ 40g
Admin
So i've been lurking on here for a while. I started growing kava a couple years back. I had it going really well for about a 1 year to 1.5 years until spider mites came out of nowhere and ravaged the plant. I ended up drinking it. I kept some of the nodes and started another one but it isn't doing as well. I've been using an electric toothbrush to clear off the mites every week which seems to work better than the other methods that I have tried.

Here is what i had going in 2018 which I ended up drinking after the spider mites killed it.
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So i basically started over from scratch and this is where it is at today. It was again eaten by spider mites which i think are now under control but still doesn't look at as healthy as the 2018 plant.

View attachment 10453
Welcome aboard & thanks for posting, there can never be enough kava plant pics.. :)
 

sɥɐʞɐs

Avg. Dosage: 8 Tbsp. (58g)
Review Maestro
@neokava where are you located? Does the plant stay indoors most of the time, or just the winter? What’s your care routine for it?
 
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