Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Random plant event: Pedilanthus 'Jurassic Park 2'

I've had this stupid plant since June of 2008. I paid an average of $26.70 each for five plants from the now-defunct Asiatica Nursery, only one of which (Dracaena 'Indonesian Tracker') was remotely worth that. (Three of the other four are still alive; they're just not meeting expectations.) Which might have something to do with why Asiatica is now defunct.

Anyway. It's stayed alive well, I guess, and all the leaves that were covered in crusty gray stuff dropped off a long time ago, so it's a little shinier than it used to be, but it's only branched once since it arrived, and has been looking more and more like three sticks with a tuft of leaves at the top.

Until now.

It's possible that this is something the plant would have done anyway, just because it's spring, but I'm sort of inclined to credit the fertilizer again, since this didn't happen last spring, or the spring before. (I'm not getting paid by Miracle Gro, if you'd wondered. And I still hate their potting soil, which is part of why I don't expect to be getting paid by Miracle Gro anytime soon. But the fertilizer does appear to be useful, all the same.)

The plant is still, of course, going to look like crap: it'll take a lot more than a branch every three years to make this presentable. (I should probably try cutting it back and propagating some new plants.) But it's progress.


Anonymous said...

Could this be a type of plant that prefers to have crowded roots? That is what this photo looks like to me.
I think I had one like this years ago, and found out through neglect and conversing with the local Extension Agency, that indeed, many plants require smaller pots, and shouldn't be re-potted very often.

Sentient Meat said...

"[M]ore like three sticks with a tuft of leaves..."

You say that like it's a BAD thing. I'm kinda fond of the whole spectrum of "dead stick" plants--Cynanchum spp., various euphorbs...

But yeah, if ATTRACTIVENESS is what you want from this pedilanthus, I'd take a crown cutting a little above that new growth, let it callus, and plant in well-drained succulent mix.

mr_subjunctive said...


Well, it hasn't been repotted in two, two and a half years, and it was badly rootbound when it arrived.

The "prefers to be rootbound" advice bothers me. No plant could naturally prefer to be in too small of a pot, because no plant naturally grows in pots. So if it's true of some species that they do better rootbound than normally-potted, that's got to be because of some other thing, like they like to dry out faster (which a rootbound plant will) or something.

Sentient Meat:

I don't mind so much if that's what they're supposed to do, but this plant had leaves up and down the length of the stem when it arrived. So I don't think that it's supposed to look like a tufted stick.

Also, "crown cutting?" Is that the same as a stem cutting?

Sentient Meat said...

Yup, by "crown cutting", I meant a stem cutting that includes the top or crown of the plant. Often the crown is the most attractive or balanced portion of the plant. I'm sure you can probably root mid-stem ("cane"?) cuttings too, but the advantage of crown cuttings is that they start off looking attractive from day 1. With good luck, sometimes they stay that way.

I'm sure you're right that this Pedilanthus had leaves up and down the stem... I just think of the genus as mostly curiosity plants -- weird zigzags with occasional leaves -- rather than being pretty or classically proportioned houseplants. And that's speaking as a (lukewarm) fan. I grow a few Pedilanthus NOIDs.

Maybe this plant was grown in higher humidity before you adopted it?

Sentient Meat said...

Preferring to be rootbound... could be plants that normally grow in crevices or other shallow, rocky soil with sharp drainage. Or just plants that naturally get leggy with normal houseplant care, where being rootbound keeps them slightly stunted and better proportioned.

I prefer to grow Kalanchoe prolifera this way. It's naturally a sloppy, haphazard, leggy grower. My plants never look whatcha-call-good for long, but I still like them.

Harry Ochoa said...

Wow! I love plants's a nice plant though but quiet unusual..So how long did it branch after purchasing that plant?

mr_subjunctive said...

Harry Ochoa:

I don't remember exactly, but it was fairly soon after it arrived, maybe three months, six months, something like that. Then nothing for two years, just the branches getting longer.