In my last post I talked about trying to make lemonade out of my broken Amorphophallus atroviridis leaf. Last night I impatiently opened the container, checked the leaves, and then gently brushed aside the vermiculite to see if there was anything at the end of the leaf cutting.
I was ecstatic to find several roots growing there. I snapped a quick picture and returned the cutting to the container, gently pushing the media back in place. I didn’t want to disturb the two other cuttings. I have a feeling all three of them have rooted because none of the leaves have wilted. At this pace I imagine I will have some tubers forming in the next month and then maybe a new leaf will emerge from each of those tubers in a couple of months after that.
Last week my Amorphophallus atroviridis arose from its winter-long slumber and burst from the ground with the prettiest leaves you’ve ever seen in your life. I was taking photos of both surfaces of the leaves when the unthinkable happened. One moment the plant was fine; the next moment the petiole was broken off at the surface. That second moment was not a good moment.
So what did I do?
I cried. (I bet you thought I was going to say I made lemonade.)
What did I do next?
I cried some more.
But after that?
Are you kidding? I was still crying.
Eventually I got my life back together and decided to do something with the beautiful leaf that used to be a plant. I stuck it in a vase of water and sent an email to my friends, asking if they had tried rooting Amorphophallus from leaf cuttings before. I was pretty sure I had heard this was possible, and I had already successfully done this with Zamioculcuas, another tuberous aroid. Yes, some of them had! Their suggestions were along the lines of how I normally treat plant cuttings. Prepare a container with a good rooting media, thoroughly moisten the media, use a little rooting hormone (or crushed Advil) on the cut end of your stem, make a divet in your media, insert the cutting, pack media around the stem so it is stationary, seal the environment to maintain high humidity.
The media can be perlite, vermiculite, soil or other things. I used vermiculite because that is what I had on hand and because it has worked well for me for other types of cuttings.
Many people will put their cuttings in pots and then put the pot in a Ziplock bag. I like to use take-out containers.
With time and patience, the tip of the cutting will eventually form roots and a new tuber. The leaf will probably die back and new growth will emerge. That’s if all goes well. If all doesn’t go well, the leaves will perish, leaving no tuber or roots behind. Today I read an article on success rates of rooting different species of Amorphophallus from leaf cuttings. The success rate is very low for this particular species. I hope that I am lucky and get at least one tuber out of this experiment. If so, I will have made lemonade.
My friend Leland has sent me many wonderful plants over the last couple of years. In April I received some very large cuttings of Philodendron warscewiczii. The cuttings were about 12-15 inches long and 2-3 inches in diameter. Seriously, they were like logs. I wasn’t sure what the best method would be for getting new growth from the cuttings, so I tried putting one cutting in a vase of water and the other directly into a chunky, loose mix of soil, bark, and charcoal and kept it pretty well watered.
The cutting which was started in water was the first one out of the gate, sprouting leaves and roots from two growth points. After a couple of weeks of growth in water, I decided to go ahead and plant this cutting in soil as well. The cutting that was started in soil did not show any progress for several more weeks. Finally I noticed a root emerging from one of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot (see image above). At this point there were still not any leaves. A month or two down the road and my potted cutting began to sprout a new leaf from the tip. When the leaf finally unfurled I noticed this leaf was a mature warscewiczii leaf, while the leaves on my other cuttings were the juvenile form, with less divisions in the leaf. It seemed counter-intuitive, at first, that this cutting which had just produced it’s first leaf had a more mature leaf than my cutting which had two growth points with several leaves already.
The more I thought about this, I realized that my “late bloomer” cutting had a key difference that was most likely the reason for this difference. This cutting was a tip cutting and the leaf was emerging from the end, where new leaves were developing prior to the plant being dissected and sent across the ocean to me. The cutting which sprouted the two new growths and lots of leaves was, in a sense, starting from scratch, while this other cutting was continuing growth that had been going on for many years.
Now my slower cutting is about to unfurl a fourth leaf and my fast cutting has unfurled something like its 12th. Both are pretty plants, but the tip cutting has produced beautiful mature leaves that are much more appealing and more warscewiczii-ish than the many leaves of the other cutting.
If you ever visit Hawaii, you will see Plumeria, also known as Frangipani, all over the place. They are a succulent-like tree that can get to be 20 feet tall or more in a tropical setting. They will be covered in lightly colored blooms that are used to make the Hawaiian leis. For the last five years or so, I have been growing a couple of Plumeria from cane cuttings that were purchased in Hawaii as souvenirs. My largest plant is a single trunk that is about 40 inches tall now.
Last year Leslie sent me some Plumeria seedlings that she had grown from seed which she ordered from Thailand. Those plants have been growing steadily (see photo above) and I am anxious to see them bloom. I have them sitting in full sun and I am keeping them watered on a daily basis.
When I met up with Leslie in April, she gave me some more Plumeria seeds that she had ordered from Thailand. The seeds are similar to the little winged seeds of maple trees. I stuck the fattest part of the seeds into the soil, with the wings sticking out. In just a week or two the plants had begun to sprout. Now I have about 30 little Plumeria to add to the six I got from Leslie last year. And I still have lots of seeds I need to plant!
I am amazed at how easy it is to germinate these seeds and turn them into little plants in such a short period of time. I will soon have Plumeria growing out my ears. (On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t have stuck those seeds in my ears.)
Last year, Derek got some great photos of his Pinellia tripartita in bloom, including one photo which was featured in the International Aroid Society calendar. This plant is known to spread like crazy, since it offsets from the tubers, produces viable seed and also form bulbils at base of the petioles. He shared some of his bulb offsets with me and then later some seeds, too. I planted these in pots and kept them in my greenhouse over the winter. The seeds sproutedshortly after I got them and stayed about the same over the winter. The bulb offsets were dormant when I potted them up, but they have come up now and produced an inflorescence, which now has berries (infructescence).
I haven’t planted this one outside yet and it performed so well for me in the pot this year that I don’t know if I will. However, since I have so many seeds, it looks like I could easily have enough to plant some outdoors and keep some in pots, which would be nice.
At the IAS show in September I picked up a Pinellia pedatisecta, which Dr. Croat had pulled up from his own yard. I planted that one outside and it has also come up and produced an inflorescence, and has now set berries. Both of these plants are hardy in zones 5-10, so they shouldn’t have any trouble with the extreme heat or freezing temperatures of my zone.
At the Wichita orchid show I traded some plants with friends that I was meeting there. I got a nice clump of Pinellia ternata from Steve and have planted those beside the Pinellia pedatisecta beside the greenhouse. This plant also produces bulbils at the base of the petioles, so it spreads in a variety of methods.
I know this plant doesn’t look great right now, having just been transplanted, but it should perk up given a little time. Hopefully next year the clump is just as big and has a couple of blooms to go along with it. This little strip of garden along the back side of my greenhouse is becoming the hardy aroids area.