Botanical bad smell problem.

Duncan Adams duncan at
Tue Dec 3 04:54:40 EST 2002

Thanks for all the help, people.  We've now found the problem.  It was a
spider plant that was very high up in the conservatory, and which the wife
had been watering with a lance.  She could never actually see the soil.  It
turned out to be completely waterlogged and when I tried to get it down from
the shelf it spilled on me.  Instant un-scheduled bath time.  It's quite
unbelievable the stench it made.

Thanks again for all the input.

Duncan Adams.

"Duncan Adams" <duncan at> wrote in message
news:1038501225.25853.0 at
> Hi experts,
> May I bounce a problem off you?  My wife I live in the UK, and we have a
> largish conservatory that is heavily stocked with a wide variety of
> This conservatory is an important part of our lives - we eat breakfast in
> there in a morning, and I read in there at night.
> In the conservatory is a large (and very heavy) ornamental stone fountain.
> We don't use it as a fountain - it makes a superb planter for our cacti
> succulents.  In fact, it has 'pride of place'.  By the side of the
> is a manhole cover, and beneath that is access to our drains.  Naturally,
> the manhole is kept air-tight so that drain smells do not enter the
> conservatory.
> Several days ago, I noticed a smell, exactly like drains.  It was
> in the vicinity of the manhole and the 'fountain' - naturally, I suspected
> the manhole, and I did some work on it to make absolutely sure it was
> airtight.  If it wasn't before (and I believe it was), then it definitely
> now.  But the smell persists.  I am completely sure it isn't my drains.
> we have suspected the plants.
> We have tried removing all of the plants, except for the fountain of cacti
> and succulents (which is immovable), but that hasn't helped.  So, by
> elimination, it has to be in the fountain.  But we can't pinpoint the
> culprit (pointing one's nose amongst cacti is hazardous, to say the
> I should add that being a fountain, the bowls we have planted have no
> drainage in them, so we are sparing with the water.  We have excavated
> down to the bottom of the bowls, between cacti, and there is no trace of
> excess water, and the soil smells as it should.
> It is also significant (I think) that the smell is almost completely
> first thing in the morning (just before sunrise), and it is at its most
> intense later in the day.  I know that plants metabolise differently
> the day and night cycles, so I now suspect this cyclicity of the smell is
> further evidence of a botanical source.
> Can anyone shed any light on this please?  Perhaps point me at a likely
> culprit amongst the cacti and succulents (we have many varieties)?
> Duncan Adams

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