Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Random plant event: Polyscias fruticosa

I don't remember how long ago it was, but at some point within the last year or two, I realized that the Polyscias fruticosa I'd purchased in February 2009 had officially become Too Big for the house, and something would have to be done. So I took a piece off the top of it, stuck it in vermiculite, and when it had started to root fairly well, I moved it into its own pot. (It's always good to have a spare of plants that you really like anyway, in case of pest attack or whatever. As in computing, so in horticulture: always back up your plants.)

But anyway. So both that cutting and the original plant are blooming now.1

We've seen Polyscias blooms before, and, frankly, they haven't gotten any prettier since 2008.

I figure this is still noteworthy, if only for the fact that it happened indoors (the cutting is even being grown entirely under artificial light, if you can believe it), and I have a (slightly) better camera now than I did in 2008 so I can manage (slightly) better photos.

What dandelions?

It's also a little weird, I think, that both plants bloomed simultaneously. The original plant and the cutting get different day lengths (the cutting is on a timer and gets the same amount of light every day; the original is in a window and so gets seasonally-varying light), the temperature in both cases should be more or less steady,2 watering has been the same. Even though I don't know what it could be, this still indicates that there's some kind of time-related trigger, maybe having to do with the age of the plant,3 or the time of year.4

I don't know whether Polyscias is self-fertile or not, so I don't know whether I'm going to see fruit from this. I've made sort of a half-assed attempt at self-pollination, just kind of waving a couple flowers around close to one another, and I guess we'll see what happens. (Like I need more seeds.) The plant at the ex-job did produce berries, but nothing happened when I tried to germinate them. Of course, I may have gotten better at germinating seeds since then. Whether it works to produce new plants or doesn't, I can be pleased about the blooming. It's nice when plants show they can do things you didn't expect them to do.5


1 (Though I did not get photos of the original plant because it's unpleasant to move around. Watering it is bad enough.)
2 Though all the lights in the basement mean that it does get warmer down there during the day, and cooler during the night. I've never tried to measure how much of a swing in temperatures this is, but it's certainly noticeable when one goes up and down the stairs a lot. The upstairs keeps a steadier temperature, though some rooms still fluctuate perceptibly.
3 Though the cutting has only been around in its present form for a year or two, sometimes cuttings seem to "think" they're as old as the original plant, or at least they'll act more mature when potted up than a seed-grown plant will -- Schlumbergera cuttings will bloom earlier than those grown from seeds, for example, even if you take cuttings and start seeds on the same day.
4 Though the cutting in the basement wouldn't have day-length cues to know what season it is, some plants seem to be able to keep track of the time of year regardless of their lighting. Probably by making tally marks on the inside surface of the pot. Marking days off on a very, very small calendar. Something like that.
5 There's actually an even better example of this coming up soon, from another plant which is neither an Anthurium nor a Schlumbergera. Yes: more than one non-Anthurium/Schlumbergera doing something -- at the same time! Doesn't seem possible, right?


Liza said...

Very small calendars!

Paul said...

That reminds me, I really need to consider cutting down the one you gave me. It's gotten rather tall and after an unexpected "dry" period dropped a bunch of leaves resulting in a lot of naked stem. Any tips on the best way to root the cuttings?

mr_subjunctive said...


The only way it's ever worked for me was to stick the cutting in a closed clear container with maybe 2 or 3 inches of damp vermiculite at the bottom and leaving it in a warm spot. Doing it that way worked for P. fruticosa and P. f. 'Elegans' both, but not the variegated version of 'Elegans' (possibly 'Snowflake?'), and usually there were new roots within about 3 weeks.

Paul said...

Thanks! Years back, I had tried water rooting with zero success. Sounds like high humidity is very important.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it has to do with the tides/position of the moon/sun? That's how it is for a certain mullosks. Relocate them to a different geographical area and one of theit natural clocks reset to match the area.