Friday, November 4, 2011

Assorted random plant events: Vriesea, Anthurium, Musa, Aeschynanthus

Just kind of throwing a bunch of stuff out there to see if anybody finds any of it interesting; I had intended a different post for today and then realized fairly late that I wasn't going to be able to finish it in time to post.

The Vriesea splendens started to bloom back in March, and it was one of those deals where I really meant to get a decent picture of it in bloom but never actually did. So I don't have very good documentation. But I do at least have documentation that it's going to let me try again; a new rosette is beginning to form. As I explained in the profile, it's normal for plants to produce a single pup to replace the dying original, and this is a gradual enough process that you wouldn't notice that the original plant is dying if you weren't paying close attention.

I have successfully sprouted quite a lot of the Anthurium seeds I started in July (and none of the Schlumbergera ones, which means that I did it wrong: I think there's supposed to be a step in there where one lets the seeds dry out briefly before planting them); these are them in August. I've added more to the container since this, which have also germinated pretty well, and the original Anthurium seedlings from September 2009 are still doing okay too, more or less -- two of the four that survived long enough to transplant choked out the other two, but it's looking more or less like an Anthurium now. The Anthurium seedlings are another case where I've meant to get more and better pictures; there's quite a bit more green in the tray than shows up in the above photo.

This is more of a question for the hive mind. The last time I posted about this plant, it was to say that it was re-suckering and growing more normally-spaced leaves now, after a long period of being obviously unhappy about something or another. As you can see in the above photo, the leaves are still pretty close together, but they look close together in the way they were when I first got the plant, not all wadded up at the top. However, what I've got now is a weird, bulbous thing a few inches up from the soil line. I assume this is related to the earlier problems, and I'm not exactly worried about it, but I'm wondering if there's anything I can do to make it less strange, or if I just have to wait until the stalk in question dies and is replaced by the suckers. It's a nice problem to have, since I didn't expect this plant to last half as long as it has (since May 2010); many bad experiences with Musa at work.

Finally, the Aeschynanthus longicaulis has been blooming nicely this year. The flowers are still not pretty, but even so, it's nice that there are so many of them. (Also: the plant itself has tripled in size since last year.) It's nice to feel like I'm doing something right.


Anonymous said...

I'd think about re-potting it deeper, with the bottom of the "bulb" just below soil level. But I suspect this isn't the right time of year for that.

Let me confess that I haven't grown bananas as house plants. We did grow a lot of full-sized bananas this season outdoors both in pots and in the ground. We overwinter them by cutting all the leaves off at first frost, digging them up, shaking the soil off the roots, and sealing them in contractor's plastic bags. Then they go into the basement till late May---this is in Massachusetts.

Found out the hard way that if you store them on their sides they wind up J-shaped in the spring, which isn't exactly convenient for planting.

In the spring, on opening the bags, a lot of the cut petioles had turned to stinky slime. But after stripping the rot off, there's always sound tissue underneath. We had no disease problems with plants treated this way.

Planted in the ground outside, it's amazing just how fast they increase in size. And digging them up this week, I was amazed at just how small the root mass is for the size of the plant.

I've heard a lot about how bananas are magnets for spider mites when grown indoors in the winter. Has this been a problem for you?

BTW, that "bulb" looks to me like the base of the "stem"---actually the plant structure reminds me most of a head of Napa cabbage, where the petioles all join together at soil level, and the bundle of petioles looks like the trunk of a tree, or in this case a "bulb".


Andrea said...

Hi Mr subjunctive? I wonder if the Musa or banana has bunchy top virus!

nycguy said...

Your banana is trying to tell you where the soil line should be. Those wormy things at the base of the bulb are roots looking for some nice soil to dig into, and getting discouraged when all they find is air.

northerntropics said...

Your musa will be just fine if you cut off the main plant at ground level and repot it. Then the pup (smaller plant sprout) will grow faster, and the top main part will reroot. If you notice,it is already showing roots at the base and above the soil level. They tend to do that if you leave them in the same pot for a long time.

mr_subjunctive said...


We had basically never-ending problems with spider mites on bananas back at the ex-job, but although I was braced for them all winter last year, I never saw any. This doesn't necessarily mean anything -- I didn't have mite problems last winter on an Aspidistra elatior either, but boy howdy I sure do now -- but it at least hasn't been an issue yet.

The problem with trying to plant the Musa deeper is that I'd have to bury the suckers in order to do so. (They've grown wider a lot faster than they've grown taller.) That might or might not be a bad thing -- obviously they grow through the soil when they're first emerging -- but I've been a little afraid to try.


I think it's supposed to be like that, at least partly. It looks now more or less the way it did when I bought it, except for the weird bulb thing on the trunk, and it's a dwarf variety that's only supposed to be 2 or 3 feet (0.6-0.9 m) at maturity anyway. Bunchy top virus was one of my worries when it first started being weird, but fertilizer appears to have fixed that.

nycguy / northerntropics:

If I cut it off and try to root the top, is the time of year a concern? I mean, would it be better to wait until spring for this? The temperatures in the house overall tend to stay about the same throughout the year, because we try to maintain a temperature of about 72F/22C year-round (colder and some of the plants complain; hotter and I do), but the day length is getting shorter rapidly, and the humidity is already dropping, according to my sinuses, so it wouldn't be the ideal rooting environment.

Also, if I do cut it off and root it now, do I need to try to cover it with plastic while it roots? Do I use the smallest pot I can fit it into, or can I use a 6-inch pot that's going to stay wet for a long time? How much effort do I need to be making to avoid rot? Etc.

Jean Campbell said...

Thank you for showing the Vriesea. Now I know what to watch for, except I put it high in the 'Epi tree' in the greenhouse and have to climb up to look. The old bloom is fading now.

Jenn said...

Aeschynanthus longicaulis - nice looking leaves on that plant.

Andrea said...

hi again, i am challenged by the comments here and your replies to us. When you said it is dwarf, then it looks normal except for the absence of long roots. I don't think cutting and discarding the bottom is right, the more wound you inflict on it the more it will succumb to rotting. I think leaving the trunk intact but cutting just the older leaves will do. Your 22C is okay, just water or mist it when humidity decrease. The bulging bottom of the trunk is normal for a dwarf. By the way banana doesn't have a bulb, it is called a corm and the trunk is actually a pseudostem composed of leaf sheaths.

In another style of doing it, Don's comments i think are reliable and he surely did it himself. You told nycguy you will cut it and root the top!!! No, the top will not root at all. He just means you burry it a little more so more space for rooting.

Good luck, keep us posted!

mr_subjunctive said...


I misread what northerntropics said ("cut off the main plant at ground level and repot it").

sandy0225 said...

The top part already has roots showing above the ground. You can cut the top off right below those roots, plant it in a small pot 6" or 1 gallon- and it will root in fully. Then bump it into another larger pot.
The pups from that stub of the plant will then take over and grow faster and they can be divided in the spring.
Will this top regrow faster in the spring? Yes, musas always grow faster during warm weather. Will it need to be covered or tented with plastic? no. Just keep it in a bright place but out of really hot sun.
If you want to wait until warmer weather and cut the top off then,that's not a bad idea either.
That being said, I just cut off a dwarf ladyfinger and rooted in the top like that and it did fine. I sat the newly cut off top on a heat propagation mat and it rooted into a one gallon pot in about 6 weeks.

sandy0225 said...

I'm not sure if this thing signed me in as northerntropics or sandy 0225, either way it's the same person.
I forgot to tell you, the dwarf ladyfinger that I cut off and repotted the top of, it did really well, as a matter of fact I shipped it out yesterday when I sold it.
I grow musas professionally. My greenhouse is called Northern Tropics and we're in Muncie, IN. Normally, you can't chop off a top of a musa and root it, but when they grow up above the ground and have a bulbous looking bulge to them like that and have small roots already, they root in just fine. So don't cut off musa tops and try to root them unless they look like the picture you've posted. Then you will have two plants, the one you cut off and the base of the plant with the pups. When the pups grow more, then they also can also be separated, spring is best for this and you want them to be a decent size, at least 8-12" tall.

sandy0225 said...

When I chop them off like that, and replant the top, I call it a "chop and drop"!