Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Random plant event: Philodendron gloriosum sprouts

My experience with Philodendron gloriosum indoors has been extremely mixed, so far, and the main problem has been repotting.

Philodendron gloriosum.

You see, P. gloriosum doesn't want to form a neat little rosette of leaves like 'Moonlight' or find a tree to climb like P. erubescens 'Red Emerald.' It doesn't form a self-supporting trunk, either, like P. bipinnatifidum. What gloriosum wants to do is crawl along the ground. Which is fine, except that it has thick, woody stems, and when the stems crawl to the edge of the pot, they make a right-angle turn straight down, over the rim, and won't bend to accommodate a wider pot.

I repotted my plant once when I first got it, but then it stayed in the same 8-inch pot for two years because I didn't know how to deal with the stems that were going over the rim. I don't know what I hoped to accomplish by putting it off, but it didn't work -- the plant didn't magically repot itself, and it didn't take the problem away from me by dying, so I had to do something.

So on July 19, I finally bit the bullet and cut the stems back so I could move the plant into a bigger pot. The plant has responded to the repotting by growing a huge new leaf1 from one of the stems I didn't have to cut, and the cut stems are sprouting new growing tips, though very slowly. But, I also had three pieces of stem left over. I cut most of them back, leaving just 3-4 inches (8-10 cm) of stem at the end, and tried rooting those in water. They didn't die, and one actually grew something that looked like maybe the beginnings of some roots --

-- but that died before it got anywhere (the potential roots died, not the cutting), so I eventually gave up, planted the cuttings in potting soil, and we'll see how that goes. It's not looking good so far.

But none of this is the point of my post! The point of my post is that, after I cut off the pieces so I could repot the plant, and then cut off all but the tips of those pieces to try to root them in water, I had some pieces of stem left over. Which I put in moist vermiculite, because vermiculite is magic, covered the container and put it on the back of a fluorescent light (for the bottom heat). It's taken forever to do anything visible, but two of the three canes have finally produced some sprouts:

So it may be propagatable after all, which pleases me, though it's a strange plant to have indoors, all the same. The stem producing the big leaves is twisting under its own weight, the plant never looks particularly full, it's mildly prone to spider mites (though that hasn't been a problem for a long time), and you have to hack it apart to repot it. On the other hand, the leaves are very pretty (a dark velvety green that doesn't photograph well, with reddish veins in strong light and white ones in less light), it seems to tolerate indoor conditions well, and it appears to be propagatable, if very slowly. I like mine, but I'm not sure I would recommend one to everybody. Does anybody else have experience with this plant? What would you say about it?


1 I tried to get pictures, but it was late, and the light wouldn't have been great as a result, and I didn't have a good place to set up the backdrop. I used to do this in the basement, but the basement is presently unusable for anything plant-related, because the husband has been waterproofing and insulating the walls down there since the basement flood three months ago. Also, setting up anywhere else in the house is sort of a problem because everything that got moved out of the basement wound up in the rest of the house, which means not as much room as there might be. I am assured that the basement will be usable again one day, and on my better days, I even believe this might be true.
In any case, the leaf truly is big: something on the order of 12-13 inches long (30-33 cm) by about 7-8 inches wide (18-20 cm).


Unknown said...

Sounds like it would make a rather nice hanging plant, what with its quest for mother earth, and all..

cconz said...

I thought it might do well in a large terrarium. Then it can ramble along the bottom. I thought about planting it out side in the summer, in a shady damp spot i have. Let it do what it wants.

JeffB said...

I've found this a persnickety plant to keep alive, but I've started with younger plants and not rooted/sprouted canes. It is pretty, in its unkempt sort of way.

Michael said...

A very wide shallow pot is best , you might use a large seive , seem plastic ones easily over a foot wide . Put 2 or 3 plants in a pot for thast full look . I grow a few different Philo. creepers .

cactus said...

When my gloriosum needed repotting, I placed a small group of cuttings in a nice container filled with rain water and placed it up on a shelf and in four months it is looking beautiful.