Thursday, September 15, 2016

Unfinished business: Lenophyllum texanum

The reader may or may not recall that back in August 2014, I put up this post, in which I said that it had been twenty months since I was officially been growing Lenophyllum texanum in the house, that I'd thrown out the potted plants I had and marked it as officially deceased on the spreadsheets and everything, but I still technically had some.

L. texanum is terrible about dropping leaves any time it gets moved or bumped, and each leaf is capable of growing a whole new plant, which was the reason why I got rid of it in the first place -- I was sick of having to constantly pick leaves and plants out of pots. But, when I threw away the original pots, of course some of the leaves fell off, and some of those leaves landed in the tray the plants had been sitting in, and they were too big to get washed down the drainage holes, so twenty months later, I had whole L. texanum plants growing in the bottoms of the flats. Here's the picture from August 2014:

So the months went by, and plants came and went above them, but the Lenophyllum texanum plants formed a little mat and collected a little water every time I watered the official plants in their flat, and after a certain point I was like, okay, so let's see how long you can survive this way. This post is because I have concluded that Lenophyllum texanum can, in fact, survive indefinitely with no soil or pot and very little light, water or fertilizer. This is the same bunch of plants in June 2016, three and a half years after I was officially no longer growing this species:

A close up of the group on the left side of the previous photo.

Not looking quite as healthy, sure (I think that I'd pulled them up at some point to look at the roots, which is at least part of why they're floppy: I couldn't put the mat of plants back in exactly the same spot.), but obviously still alive and everything. So I was like, okay, guys, I'll let you have a pot and some soil, good job, you win. I didn't even try to plant them. I just got a pot, filled it with some moist potting mix, and set the little mats on top of the soil. And the change was almost instantaneous. The above photos were taken on the day that I put them into pots, 16 June 2016. Here are the exact same plants on 18 August 2016, a mere 63 days later:

I assume the color change was due to stress (a lot of succulents turn redder when stressed, though the usual reasons -- cold, excessive sun/UV -- wouldn't apply here), as they were always gray-green when they had soil before, and turned back to gray-green as soon as they had soil again.

So, I mean, I still don't especially like L. texanum as a houseplant: it's messy, and invasive, and not even particularly pretty at its most beautiful. But I feel obligated, after what I've put them through. All that, and they're fine.

Obviously they will never not be fine.


Diana said...

At least you don't have to worry about thrips with these guys. Maybe you should switch your passion over from Anthuriums! [joke: please don't]

mr_subjunctive said...

Diana at Garden on the Edge:

Actually, I think there's some thrips scarring on these, too, from after the pictures in this post were taken. :^(

Ivynettle said...

I kind of love succulents that survive like this. I think my favourite plants at work are the little Sedums that grow between the pavestones, not any of the ones we sell.