Saturday, March 9, 2013

Saturday Morning Piffle: A Plant Story (Update the Second)

In the early days of my blog, I did a post about a plant. It is a plant with some history, and is doing very, very well. Here's the original post, with an update:

ORIGINAL POST (06/16/07):

When I was a little kid, somewhere around third or fourth grade, I won my Mom a plant at the school carnival cake walk. I remember that it was just a little Styrofoam cup (which undoubtedly still exists) with some potting soil, and a stem with maybe two leaves on it. I believe I also won some goldfish, but they have a much shorter story (ie. catfood). Mom cultivated the plant, and it was a fixture in our house from that day on.

The plant was just always around. At some point, some 20+ years later, my Mom gave the plant to my sister, who has also had it for several years. On my 40th birthday [April 2006], my sister cut off a three-leaf segment, puffed up a Zip-Loc baggie, and brought it with her for a 2,000 mile journey to my house.
It's been about 14 months since she brought it, and it is thriving. I managed to kill a 3-leaf segment that I tried to transplant, but that gave the rest of the plant a growth-spurt. It's been growing like crazy since its "birthday" in April, and has been growing shockingly fast for the last two months.

I know that a philodendron is probably the easiest plant in the universe to grow (a little plant food, a little water, some sun), but for a guy with a "black thumb," I think I've done pretty well with it!

UPDATE (05/16/10):

Since the time of the original post, the plant has had highs and lows. Every so often, I'd try to transplant a shoot, and about half the time it took.  But shortly after the original post, the plant got some sort of disease. Leaves would nearly vanish overnight, looking chewed and rotted. Sometimes the rot would begin at the center of a leaf, other times, from the end. But the deterioration was alarming and very fast.  I looked up what to do online, and found that dipping scissors into bleach water, and snipping portions of leaves away (each time dipping again) seemed to stop the disease--at least on the leaf I was working on.

This continued for some time, until I discovered the probable cause. One day while reading on the couch, I heard a "munch, munch" sound, accompanied by what smelled like cut grass.  I looked behind me, and there was Jinx the cat, happily munching on the plant!  That seems like the obvious answer, but doesn't explain the leaves affected that she couldn't have reached.  I think there must be some sort of bacteria in kitty saliva that can infect a plant. Sounds weird, but I have no other explanation.

Anyway, Jinx seems to have broken her philodendron habit, and the plant has been affected by this malady only occasionally in the last couple of years. The plant has also been hitting almost 100% with transplanted shoots. A few weeks ago, I cut five and they all took.  The plant has already been repotted once, but at the rate is growing, it may need to move to an even bigger pot. The cat is bigger too, but she's almost 10, so she's allowed to let herself go.

UPDATE 03/09/13:

Planty, the potted plant at 7 years old. Or 38?
Since the above revision, the plant has been repotted once more, and had a severe "haircut" to reduce the number of long shoots with missing leaves. It just looks odd to have this vine that would otherwise take root on the ground lazing around on the coffee table or mantle. So, The Other Half--who is much more the horticulturist than I am--pruned the hell out of it, taking it down to less than the previous update's photo. In the time since, the plant has had its healthiest run yet, and is full and lovely (as far as these things go). I haven't seen either leaf rot or kitty chew marks in ages, and only the occasional dead leaf. The next time we prune, I think I'll transplant new shoots into a new pot, and give this plant a sister. By far, though, the best part of this story is that I've managed to keep this plant alive for almost seven years now, something I've never done before.

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