Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Random plant event: Chlorophytum 'Charlotte' seed pod

Although I've seen seed pods on Chlorophytum comosum a few times, and Chlorophytum x 'Fire Flash' does it pretty reliably every January, this is the first time I've seen formation of seeds on C. 'Charlotte,' the variety I bought a long time ago (June 2008) from Asiatica Nursery. This is a long time to wait, so it's kind of exciting news.

However, I'm not sure whether this means much, in terms of me being able to get more plants out of it. C. x 'Fire Flash' seeds are almost too viable: if your plant flowers once, you can have a couple hundred baby plants, if you do everything right. On the other hand, I don't know if C. comosum seeds are ever viable at all; I've never been able to collect any and try to sprout them. I never saw any popping up under the tables at work, the way we saw with some other self-seeders (e.g. Impatiens), so there must be some obstacle to germination there.

Even if 'Charlotte' seeds are viable, I don't know that I'd wind up with 'Charlotte' seedlings, since the plant is likely a hybrid of some kind. (Of course, I believe 'Fire Flash' is a hybrid too, and the seedlings are true to the parent, so I'm not ruling anything out.) It'll be interesting to find out.

I'm also left wondering what happened to get this particular flower pollinated, since I'm pretty sure I didn't try to do it. There's actually a second pod forming on this same stalk, that I discovered after getting the above picture. So whom do I have to thank? Houseflies? Fungus gnats? Neither one of those seems terribly likely. And if the plant can pollinate itself without help, then it should have been doing so for the last two years; it didn't take long (three months) for my plant to flower once I got it.


Paul said...

It isn't necessarily that the flowers were NOT pollinated previously. Seed just did not set from possible previous pollinations.

Sometimes neighboring plants induce hormonal changes that could lend itself to seed production. Or the plant itself decided it was big and healthy enough to expend energy on seed production (I bet it has extra-fat tuberous roots now) w/minimal risk. I'd go with the last one. It's flattering to the caretaker since it means you did a good job rearing the plant.

Liza said...

Haha, it's like a plant orgy at your house!

mr_subjunctive said...


The big-and-healthy theory sounds plausible, I guess. The plant's never been particularly big above the soil line, but I did top-dress and feed it a few months ago, and I'd hope that by now the roots are substantial, though it's not feeling rootbound when I squeeze the pot yet.


Well, the Abutilons might count as an orgy, I suppose, since they all get cross-pollinated, but with the Chlorophytums and Ardisia, it's more like a masturbation orgy; they'll form seeds on their own without help from me or other plants.

If I can ever get some coordinated blooming from the Episcias or Schlumbergeras, I'm definitely going to try crossing those, too. I've tried to cross Hibiscus, Spathiphyllum, and Anthurium,* without success.


*I have Anthurium seedlings, but the pollination had already happened when I bought the plant; I've never been able to get them to do anything here, even when I had several flowers open at once. I wish I knew how Anthurium breeders do it, 'cause I would love to come up with my own Anthurium crosses.

Anonymous said...

mr_subjunctive said...


The previous comment looks like spam, but it's not.

Rameen said...

I was wondering if you ever managed to procure anything viable. I've been finding these plants, and taking cuttings of the plantlets that grow from stems shooting out out from between leaf crotches. One of the offshoots I found had another offshoot (imagine the possibilities!)And another of the offshoots had a stem and flowered that night and for just one day. Auspiciously, my potted comosum had a stem which, on that day, also flowered. I performed to the best of my abilities what I think is "pollination." I think the offshoot is kind of embarassed as it is turning a little brown.
Anyway, I'm interested in harvesting seeds from either of them if possible. I'm not sure how well the cutting with a flower stem will bear, as it only has one stem in water.

Do you have any clue how these plants might connect to their offshoots and stems? I assumed if I put the cut stem, with the offshoot on the end, in water, it would be okay for a while.

I know that moisture will cause them to root right away, but I'm wondering if it's possible to maybe keep the plant in nutritive water via stem, and never have it root.

mr_subjunctive said...


So far, the pods (two total) are still attached to the plant. I'm waiting for them to decide to dry/open on their own before I attempt to plant them.

I'm a little confused about the rest of your comment: you're saying that you have a 'Charlotte'-like plant that forms runners? 'Cause so far for me, 'Charlotte' has only ever formed suckers (usually forming one only when the main plant is about to die; the sucker then becomes the main plant and carries on until it's about to die, at which point it produces a sucker).

Rameen said...

They didn't seem like suckers. The mother I received them from was nowhere near any soil, but had a few stolons rooting in water.
I found that some of the mother plant's runners, with plantlets on the ends,(and no roots) had produced its own stolon with another plant on the end. So, Stolons on stolons.

Similar behavior found here:

I haven't planted any of them, but hopefully the one with a flower stalk will keep its seeds

mr_subjunctive said...

I don't really know how the stolons connect to the plantlets exactly, no, though the connection weakens over time, as the plant ages, so there does come a moment where the plantlet either needs to find soil or die.

You can root the plantlets in water directly, without bothering with the stolon. I don't know whether the stolon could keep the plantlet going for very long: as far as I know they won't root, and if the stolon is separated from the original plant, I don't think it's likely to stay alive for very long. Not as long as the plantlet will, in any case.

In the plantlet-that's-growing-a-plantlet situation, you could, I'm pretty sure, get away with rooting the daughter in water (or soil, obviously) and letting the granddaughter live off of the daughter. C. comosum can live in water more or less indefinitely so long as the water is changed often.