Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Random plant event: Philodendron 'Autumn' branching?

I don't know what to do with my poor Philodendron 'Autumn' anymore. It declined for a long time after I first got it, which I eventually figured out was because I had been keeping it too wet. So then I moved it to a smaller pot, and watered less, and it seemed to improve there. For a while, it even looked like it was getting itself more solidly rooted.

But then in the last couple months, it's started to wobble again. What new leaves it bothers to produce are tiny. And then it does this.

For a while, it looked like the newest leaf was having difficulty unfurling, and I thought maybe the plant was branching out of frustration (i.e., "Something's blocking this growing tip, so maybe I should make another one"), but then the leaf did unfurl and seemed to be just fine, if microscopically small.

The only other Philodendrons like these that I've seen branch before have been a few 'Imperial Reds' at work that we had to cut back and re-root: I kept the stumps around just to see what they'd do, because I'd never gotten an answer about whether they could be propagated from cuttings or not, and they did resprout, though the resprouted plants were never pretty (and then we had a space crisis and had to dump them anyway). But still, they didn't decide to branch all on their own like this.

I'm thinking that maybe, if I still want to have an 'Autumn' (and I'm far from certain that I do), I should throw this one away and try starting over with one that's in good shape to begin with. Though I admit to a certain perverse curiosity about what new ways this one will find to look ugly. And also, where there are branches, there's (theoretically) the possibility of propagation. Maybe I could have even more hideous, misshapen Philodendrons around the house. Hmmm.


Kim said...

Can you root one of the growing tips?

mr_subjunctive said...

Well, that's really the question. Considering that I'm not positive that I've rooted the parent plant, rooting one of the new tips seems like a lot to hope for.

telipogon said...

i can't speak for this particular cultivar, but as self-heading Philodendrons go, they tolerate dry more than wet. I abandoned one for months and it STILL wouldn't dry. I would be inclined to treat it like an epiphyte; pot it in a compost you might use for an orchid or bromeliad and see what it does. You never know.

mr_subjunctive said...

That's been my experience with self-heading Philodendrons too, except in the case of 'Moonlight,' which never unfurls its leaves all the way if I let the plant get too dry at some critical point in their development. I've been told by someone -- can't recall whom -- at some point that 'Autumn' does seem to like it a little drier than 'Moonlight.'