New growth question

a1pha_fema1e(4)July 4, 2013

Hi! I am happy to say my diffenbachia stem has two new growths! But they are at the very top of the ~12 inches long stem and that part is parallel to the ground.... Do I cut it in half so the new growth is oriented properly or will that just stop the new growth all together? Or should I try to find a pot big enough to lay the whole thing on its side?

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And a close up of the new growth :D

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 9:20PM
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I should let it be.

In an ideal world the new shoots would be closer to the soil, but it seems cruel to the plant to l;et it start sprouting and then cut the top off!

The new growth will sort its own direction out in the end.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 4:00AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

And I'm on the side of those that would cut this stem back to just above the third node. I would then cut the remaining stem into two segments (between the nodes) and lay them on their side in small containers. You could also cover the containers with some plastic temporarily.

Those two leaf buds could continue to develop as long as there is a happy combination between moisture and oxygen in that potting medium. I don't much like the looks of it....from the picture, it looks like pure peat or a very fine peaty seed starting mix or soil from your garden.

The nodes (in case you aren't sure, but I'll bet that you already know) are those brown rings around the stem from which the buds emerge.

The reason I suggest this is that I'm not sure that you will be happy with that bent stem and the fact that more buds, farther down the stem, are not likely to appear. HOWEVER! If you like it the way it is....yay! You might not feel like 'pushing your luck '. I do reject the notion of cruelty, though. ;-)

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 4:37AM
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Is that stem an established plant, or just a cutting? In low light conditions (indoors) there's less chance of the lower parts filling in with foliage. If it's already established I'd cut it back so new growth is from closer to the bottom and you end up with a fuller looking plant. As Rhizo said, the top can be used as cutting for extra plants. You could even put them in the same pot for a bushier effect.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 6:11AM
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Thanks! The stem is established, but it was grown at a time where I was barely able to care for the plant. Yes the soil is Miracle Grow, and now even though I know better I can't afford to get new soil so I'll just have to make sure I don't water too often. I was thinking about cutting it into segments this weekend but then noticed the new growth

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 7:22AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Another option would be to re-orient it, so it is more upright overall. You've got it coming straight up where it breaks free of the soil, which is causing the top to be more leaned than it could be if it was shifted a bit so it comes out of the soil at an angle, so the top is directly above the bottom. When the foliage starts to come in, it's going to get top-heavy, so that would keep it from wanting to fall over as easily while maintaining the height if you think it may need to recover some strength before trimming again. Whatever you think is more fun.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 9:46AM
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dellis326 (Danny)

As it is, once the plant gets some size to it that bend won't support the weight of what is growing above it.

Another option you have is to air layer the top two or three nodes down from the new buds and once there are new roots started, than snip it off and plunk that down in the soil and leave the original stem to continue growing.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 10:00AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Yes, I said it would be for stability while regaining strength.

"... if you think it may need to recover some strength before trimming again..."

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 10:05AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Do what you think is best. Pruning the plant back closer to the soil will only result in a short delay while chemical messengers help the plant reorganize and focus its growth efforts at meristematic (growth) areas other than those you will have severed from the plant. Meanwhile, you can cut the part you pruned into 2 or 3 pieces and start those as well - if you like. You can insert them into a fast draining soil (best) or a damp (never wet or soggy) MG soil like you're using, or just let them lie flat, on top of a damp soil where they will root and sprout if they retain enough energy to push new growth and conditions are favorable.

My thought is, I'd go for pruning it back, if only because I think compact and full plants have more eye appeal. Also, I think the appearance of your plants is a partial representation of where you are in your journey toward proficiency. I say partial because the other half of that representation is diligence.

One tip - if you're going to use a water-retentive soil, it's a good idea to include a regular thorough flushing of that soil in your care program. Because the flushing can cause problems related to water retention when using soils like MG, I'll link you to a thread that specifically addresses how to deal with excess water retention. You'll find tips that will help you avoid issues inherent in heavy soils.

PS - using a very sharp tool (like a fresh single-edged razor blade or utility knife blade) will significantly increase the odds that any cuttings you take will root. The tiny pieces of tissue around the cut sites made by dull tools and tools like scissors and pruners are t5he first place rot sets in. When propagating from cuttings, you're in a race to see if roots can make a vascular connection with the rest of the plant before it's trumped by rot organisms.


Huh! I just realized they added automatic spell check to anything we type in the text box - cool!

Here is a link that might be useful: Click me & I'll take you to the thread.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 10:58AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi All,

Isn't the Spell Check great? I noticed it at Sans. forum several days ago. I already wrote a thank you note to GW about it.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 12:51PM
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Thanks everyone! It is straight up on the bottom cause that was how the stem originally was. Then I got sick (long story...) and barely took care of it so the stem got weak and drooped over. Then when I got better and started to take care of it again it started to grow back but there was still that weak spot in the stem. I propped the plant up. The stem turned into a U... So I put it in a huge pot and let the bottom of the U in the soil. It developed roots so a few weeks ago I cut the plant off the original stem, put it in a smaller pot, and then took the stem and put it in a smaller pot too. Then I was planning on cutting it into a few pieces this weekend but saw that it had growth.

I don't have anything to lay it in to reorient it so I think I'll try air layering? and then cut the rest up once it develops roots?

Thanks for the link about water retentive soil! I won't be able to afford more soil til tax time likely so that will help in the meantime. I've been using MG forever but have never really liked it. But I'm cheap so I kept getting it. But I suppose I won't have to buy as much soil if I get quality soil so I'm getting use to the idea.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 8:28PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Unless you're attempting the air layer only for the sake of the attempt - to see if you can do it - for the experience - air-layering a plant that comes so easily from cuttings would be a lot of extra effort to arrive at the same end as if you focused on cuttings.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 10:14AM
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I haven't done air layering yet, but I think what happened with the U part of the original stem forming roots was similar to air layering?

I'd like to attempt air layering because while I've been successful rooting the top of the plant when I've done it that way, cutting up the rest of the stem has never been successful. I don't want to kill this new growth. What if I take like a 2 liter bottle so only the top few inches is out of dirt and see if the roots grow close enough to it to chop the rest of the stem off? If that makes sense?

Thanks so much for your help!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 11:08AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

It sounds like your primary goal is to have one healthy plant, with any extra being a bonus. With that in mind, I suggested leaving it alone until it's had a chance to recover from the previous trauma, and gain back its' strength, which no plant can do while it has no leaves for photosynthesis. If that's your goal, separate the top as a cutting once it's got some decent foliage, which will also give strength to the roots, to be able to form foliage again when you remove the top, again. At that point, you'd decide how much of a stump to leave, and be able to position the new cutting so you have an upright plant, possibly with a chunk of leftover stem to play with.

As said, removing the growing tip of a plant requires it to do a lot of extra stuff with its' energy instead of just growing.

Planting it deeper would be an interesting experiment, but further trauma at this point.

If playing with propagation is your goal, you'd just choose the most interesting option, that fits with your schedule and available space.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 11:56AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Most of the monocots (like dracaena) are able to carry on efficient photosynthesis in green stem tissues. Some dicots, like schefflera are similar in that regard. Perhaps that's part of the reason that green branch segments of these plants laid on the soil's surface come so easily, even when lacking foliage.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 12:53PM
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You all are truly incredible, I've gained so much information in my few weeks here so far! And yet still so many questions...

Why would burying the whole stem cause more trauma?

Correct me if I'm wrong, if I let it grow as is for a bit, then the leaves will go straight up (and this guy produces some big leaves even right away) so when I finally cut it and correctly orient the stem then won't the leaves be parallel to the ground instead of the stem?

About the nodes, each ring is a node or only the rings that have little root nubs by them? I do see a root nub or two only a few rings down. Does that increase my chances of it rooting fast? Or am I misinterpreting what I see? They look similar to the root nubs of my spiders and pothos...

I'm not trying to argue any points anyone has made, just making sure I have all the information I can :)


    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 9:10PM
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Here's a link to where I posted the plant I cut off of this stem, to show you how big the leaves are. And these are small actually, in its prime they get twice the size. I feel bad for treating it so poorly when I got "sick", but it is recovering nicely.

Here is a link that might be useful: Here is the plant

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 9:30PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Aha, I thought that looked familiar. If this little stump sprouts leaves that big, they might hang below the soil line if they droop down at all, which the oldest leaves usually do.

"Why would burying the whole stem cause more trauma?" Any time you mess with a plant, it has to adjust. Your plant sounds like it's had a lot of adjustments already lately, but certainly just my opinion of the situation.

A node is where a leaf attaches to the stem. It's possible you are seeing root nubs. Hard to say w/o a pic of that. Would you like to add one? (You can add one pic per post in any discussion with the GW upload facility.)

Al, fascinating, thanks!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 8:53AM
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This is as close as I can get without being blurry. I labeled what I understand to be the nodes and what I think is a root nub.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 9:43AM
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