Dormant plants you thought were dead

Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)May 30, 2012

Have you thrown away a plant in the past because you thought it was dead but have since learned it was probably just dormant? I probably did kill some of them by watering them to death during dormancy (combined with using terrible 'soil') but am confident I could succeed knowing what I know now (although most of these are perennials where I live now.) Seems it's usually bulbs/tubers...

Bougainvillea and mandevilla (what are they calling this today?) vines


purple-leaf Oxalis

Calla lilies



...and probably others that aren't in my thoughts right now. What would you add to this list?

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Our new puppy was playing with a dead-looking tree in a pot in March; I put it up high because I was afraid the branches would stick in her neck. A few weeks later I noticed it coming into leaf, and realised it was a missing dwarf pomegranate which disappeared over a year ago. It seems that the wind must have blown it under a shed and she found it when she was in there scavenging for something to play with. When I was pruning an olive tree a little while ago I found my missing apricot tree, two years old. I had potted it with the olive and forgotten. I suppose they both came to life in a different way.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 12:24PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Well I've had a couple of these:

Alocasia amazonica (at least 2x)

Plectranthus ernstii (2x)

Adenium 'snowflake' (a gorgeous plant which never came back from dormancy?)

Fess up everybody! It can't be just these few of us, come on now :>)

Oh right, Calla Lillies (Zantedeschia) (from Secretary's Day 10 yrs. ago) I Lost 2 of those too!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 8:03PM
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Wait what causes Plectrantrhus ernstii to go dormant? Mine just started blowing leaves again for no apparent reason.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 8:30PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Sorry AMC, I don't know, I'd be happy to tell ya if I did. What reading on this I found wasn't helpful, nor was the person who gave it to me.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 9:41PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Is that Plec the fuzzy one that smells so good? Add that to my list!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 9:30AM
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HelloPandaNF(Zone Five)

I almost threw away my oxalis, before I realized it wasn't overwatered but just going dormant!

On a similar note, I have thrown away quite a few cuttings (including a pachira cutting, of which the mother tree is dying...) before I knew the "white fungus" on the ends were roots! Always thought they were brown... Lol.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 3:33PM
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Not recently, but in the past I tossed Alocasia Amazonica, Alocasia 'Stingray,' a few Marantas/Calatheas, and Gingers.

Dormant Plant Tossed

In the late 80's, I received a free Voodoo Lily, Sauromatum Venosum, with an outdoor garden order.
I followed instructions, but it never bloomed. Every spring up came foliage, but NO flower.
A couple weeks ago, I decided to toss it. Too boring. Toni

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 3:55PM
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jessiec777(Washington State 5)

I just almost tossed my gasteraloe "white wings". For the last couple months it had been brown and very stiff. I figured I had let ti dry out too much and killed it. I decided to give it one more good water and the thing turned bright green on me and the leaves plumped up :-)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 5:59PM
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I actually came close last year with this Trichodiadema I have. No leaves, caudex deflated, stem flopped over.

Then it firmed up and leafed out basically over night. This is something I notice with nearly every mesemb I've tried to grow and I don't understand it.

The fact that I've never really thrown out a dormant plant is actually more embarrassing and speaks to my lack of attention and general laziness. If a plant dies, it's going to be a very, very long time before I throw it out. I freely admit to being a slob.

Somewhat related, I get the impression most people throw Hippeastrums out after they go dormant, which is a shame because they seem to make pretty good houseplants.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 11:17PM
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Amccour, besides Hippeastrums, people toss Azaleas, Hydrangeas, and other flowering plants.

Many don't know if Easter Lily is planted outside, even in cold climates, it will return the following year.

Same goes for Hyacinth and Daffs.

They're bought as gift plants, then tossed after flowers die. Too sad. Toni

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 4:46PM
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Alocasia polly. and giant philodendron. They come back every year and they are kept the the same big pot inside my home!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 6:10PM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

persian shield
Daffodil bulbs 5 times
Tuberose(huuuuuuge blunder)
Armaryllis(such a gorgeous plant)two times

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 11:06AM
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stonesriver(6B Tennessee)

Believe it or not, a China Doll. Thought it was dead so left it out all winter on the front porch. Ten-inch pot had snow in it several times.

Come spring and voila! Lots of leaves on every branch and a wonderful specimen. Gave it to a friend when we moved.

Who'd a thunk it?


    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 11:36PM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

i dint know china doll was hardy in tennesee

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 2:44PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

It's not, at least according to the handful of sources I checked. But if she means this past winter, 6b was probably more like 8a and with a little microclimate (brick porch?) effect, the plant felt 9a, it's supposed lowest hardy zone. A lot of the success of zone-pushing or oddities seems to be reliant on drainage, which would be at its' max in a pot on a porch, as far as locations go.

This is a good example of how an experience with too much cold can put a plant that would never normally go dormant when kept as a house plant into dormancy. It's always worth giving those plants a 2nd chance to see if the entire life was snuffed out or just the foliage.

Also, regarding zones and perennials in the ground, one can often have a plant survive, even for a few years in "the wrong zone" before it is truly frozen one year, but most plants in this unique condition never perform as well as they could in a more proper location. They struggle harder than they're supposed to. Zone guidelines are used for reasonable expectations based on years of experience, not unique or temporary occurrences.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 3:16PM
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stonesriver(6B Tennessee)

China Dolls are not hardy in my zone. One planted in a 10" pot, *should* have died (which is why I started with "Believe it or not"). I forgot to say I thought it was dead because it had been left out in a hard freeze.

Trust me, that China Doll was never left out again. :-)


    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 5:13PM
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I'd had my Cissus Discolor for years. It was showing No Signs of life this year. I ordered another. The day I got the new one I saw a Spark of life in My Old friend! I felt bad for Not having enough Faith in it!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 7:52PM
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