Repotting Alocasia ‘Portora’ & Billbergia nutans

Alocasia ‘Portora’ waiting to be separated…

Hello everyone! I hope you had a great weekend. We have had several days of rain and seeing the sun was a welcome site. Even though we needed the rain and I am grateful for it, I didn’t get much done outside. Thursday and Saturday I went for a walk and took quite a few wildflower photos. I am still working on identifying a few so that post will be ready on… Well, I better not say when because it might not happen that day either. 🙂

After church, I decided it was a good day to separate the Alocasia ‘Portora’. I couldn’t think of anything else to keep me from it (as I hoped), so I put the pot on the potting table. Then I went to get the wheelbarrow to mix soil in. Since the new bag of potting soil was in the garage, I thought it would be a good time to air up the tire then use it to move the bag to the back porch. After the tire was aired up, I thought maybe I should go ahead and air up the front tire on the tractor. Well, I went ahead to the back porch.

 

Then I remembered I needed to water the chickens. It was such a nice day and the chickens had not been out for a long time. Since I was going to be on the back porch I decided it would be a good time to let them out for a while. Talk about happy chickens! They were so glad to get outside!

 

Once the big chickens went around the chicken house I let out the Old English Game Bantams. They were also very happy to get out. One of the hens wasted no time stretching out in the sun.

OK… What else can I do before I start on the Alocasia?

 

I couldn’t think of anything else so I went to the back porch. There were five pretty large plants that needed to be separated plus a couple of very small plants. The old bulb in the center finally went all the way dormant and part of it has rotted. Well, it is several years old… It “was” the Alocasia ‘Portora’ I chose to bring with me when I moved back here in 2013. It was removed from its mother’s pot in 2012, I think. Its mother was the original Alocasia ‘Portora’ I bought from Wellspring Gardens (in Florida) in 2009. She was so HUGE when I left Mississippi in February 2013 I decided to leave her with a friend. Little did I know then, I could have just cut the leaves off and brought it with me…

Then I had to get the pots Mrs. Wagler gave me a couple of weeks ago for the plants. She also gave me some “previously used” potting soil to mix with the new potting soil. Since they foliar feed, and since four of these plants will be going to Wagler’s, there wasn’t any point in putting 100% new potting soil with timed-release fertilizer in those pots.

 

When I started separating the pots I found a good-sized nest of ants in the bottom pot. I found one a few days earlier in a smaller pot, too. GEEZ! Every fall when I bring plants inside for the winter there is always one that has a nest of ants in it.

 

After I mixed the potting soil, I took the pot of Alocasia ‘Portora’ to the wheelbarrow and removed the plants from the pot.

 

There were a lot more roots, but you always lose a few when you separate the plants. They will grow more roots and be just fine. It is much easier to remove the plants when they are smaller, but I almost think they do better when they are larger. I have been doing this for almost 10 years and I have great success either way. Smaller plants have a tendency to go dormant in the winter and sometimes they don’t recover.

 

Most of the dormant bulb had rotted but the top part and part of the bottom are still solid.

 

Susie Q jumped on the table to see if she could help. She didn’t stay long, though and was content watching from the railing. You can see the yellow tom cat is curled up in a box sleeping in the bottom left corner of the photo. He likes getting inside of anything snug to sleep, even empty flower pots that are barely big enough for him to curl up in.

 

Alocasia doesn’t have a really extensive root system but they do need a large enough pot to hold them up. You can put them in larger pots right from the start, but I have found I like to “pot-up” as they grow larger. Once I get the plant in the position I want them, I will up the pot with soil then put three stakes in the pot and tie the plants to them. The stakes keep the plant in the center and standing upright until their new roots can hold them up.

 

I had filled several pots with the potting soil I mixed and when I went to get the second one there was a tree frog on one of the rims. We have LOTS of tree frogs and you are liable to see them in the strangest places during the day. One day there was one sleeping on top of the handle to the screen door. One even liked the doorknob on the garage door. Come to think of it, I have several photos of them on doorknobs and the door handle to the shed and chicken house.

 

I removed the top part of the tuber and put in its own pot as well as the smaller plants.

 

Well, the seven Alocasia ‘Portora’ and the top part of the tuber (bulb…) all have their own pots now. I will take the four bigger black pots to Wagler’s and keep the others. I also have a couple of other Alocasia ‘Portora’ besides these. Of course, there are still several pots of Alocasia gageana, ‘Calidora’, and ‘Mayan Mask’…

I could have stopped there and called it a day but SOMEONE is giving me the eye and tapping its foot…  Someone is actually not a single being, but many now, who have been patiently waiting for… Ummm… How long? I can hear them whispering among themselves. I heard one of them say, “Why did he put us on the back porch last month? Wasn’t it to remind him we needed new pots of our own?” I also hear, “No, maybe not. I think it was because of the Japanese Beetles. But he did say he was going to give us our own pots.”

 

Let me see now… How many times I have upgraded the Billbergia nutans (Queen’s Tears/Angel Tears) pot? I have only had a few bromeliads as companions and this one is by far the most AWESOME! I am grateful to Walley Morse, a good friend and fellow plant collector from Mississippi (who I have mentioned MANY times), for giving me the start of this plant. No doubt the original cluster is in the middle of this pot somewhere. It will NOT die. Billbergia nutans may be one the most indestructible Bromeliad in the history of mankind. (I have to butter it up because it has been waiting for so long).

I took it out of the pot a few years ago and put it back in… It was packed then and it just keeps on keeping on. What would it be like if I lived in a climate where it wouldn’t have to be in a pot. Well, just check online and you will find out. These plants are actually grown as a ground cover… To top that off, check out their page on the right by clicking on its name (above) and you will see their AWESOME flowers.

 

The reason I keep putting off doing anything with this plant is because I had no clue what to do. How do you separate such a mass of plants and roots? I mean, they are packed in this pot much tighter than sardines in a can! What if I kill it?

OK, so that is just an excuse, right? After all, I am The Belmont Rooster… 🙂 Walley called me his “gardening guru” on the answering machine so I guess I better live up to it, huh? What would he think if the plant he gave me is cramped in this pot? Oh, no! He may even read this post!

 

I heard something jump on the table and looked down to see the tree frog had made its way to the table. He found a pot to scoot under.

 

So, I removed the, ummm, plant from the pot. With all the rain we have been having, the roots were completely soaked. The last time I did this, maybe in 2015 or 2016, it was dry and the roots were white. It appeared the bottom half of this mass was mostly rotten. Hmmm… I wonder if the good roots are feeding off of the old rotting roots. I would like to say I never had a plant get this root bound before, but that wouldn’t be true. I will never forget the Parlor Palms… If you have a Parlor Palm and it has been in the same pot for a couple of years, it’s time for a larger pot… Trust me. 🙂

Anyway…..

Sometimes when you are unsure of what to do, just do it anyway. Making mistakes and learning is just part of life…

 

So, I went ahead and took a big butcher knife and removed the lower half of the roots. The last time I did that was with the Parlor Palms in Mississippi. I only removed a few inches from their roots, though, and they did NOT approve.

But the Billbergia nutans is a completely different type of plant than Parlor Palms. The butcher knife, even though dull, easily sliced through the mass of roots. Then I started slicing what was left in half. Now that was a different story… I did get it cut in half, then quarters, and so on. It appears this plant is all connected… but separate. 🙂 After all, they do spread by rhizomes…

 

Ummm……….. I think they expanded after I took them out of the pot! How did they all fit in the pot? The clay pot on the left is the original pot Walley gave me my start in back in 2012… The pot on the right is the one they just came from… It could have asily filled one twice that size by now.

 

I put the largest cluster in the pot I just took them from and the rest I will give away. They can easily be divided even more… They are much happier now and have some soil to sink their roots in. I will wait a while before I pass these on because I want to make sure they will be OK. (If you know what I mean. I have to whisper because I don’t want them to think I have any doubts).

After I finished repotting, I took a few photos around the house… It is 1:03 AM, so I think I will post them tomorrow… Oh, crap! I have to finish the wildflower walk first…

So, until then, be safe, stay positive and well, take care, be AWESOME and GET DIRTY!

 

10 comments on “Repotting Alocasia ‘Portora’ & Billbergia nutans

  1. Pixydeb says:

    Good job done repotting – I could hear that bromeliad heaving a huge sigh of relief over here in Surrey! Wiggling it’s roots & shoots in the open air
    Such a cute little frog 🐸- I have frogs & toads in the garden but they are warty like witches frogs – yours seem to be more glamorous!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Debbie! I know what you mean about the sign of relief. Now we will just have to wait and see how well they recover. I know getting the job done is a big relief for me as well and I won’t be looking at the pot knowing it needs to be done. I think you are so right about it wiggling its roots and shoots in the open air when I took it out of the pot. Kind of like taking off our shoes and socks after working outside in the heat. I usually see several toads here during the summer but I haven’t seen any this year. There are usually a lot of babies, too. I wonder what happened to them? The tree frogs are still very plentiful, though, and they are indeed very cute. Thanks for the comment!

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  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Now that is a lot of plants. I think I heard a sigh of relief from each and every one of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Lisa! Definitely a sign of relief for the Billbergia and for me as well. I didn’t exactly know what to do but I knew it had to be done. Normally I just put the whole clump in a larger pot but I didn’t want to do that this time even though I do have larger pots. I also wanted to share this plant with a few other people because I think the Billbergia nutans is a great plant. The flowers are so amazing! Thanks for the comment!

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  3. numseer says:

    Yes, I read your posts…and I have given away or they have died all my Queen’s Tears. Or as we garden people say..”I have moved on to more stuff”. Man have I had the stuff over the years. I wonder what happen to them all? Keep up the good work…and leave the dirt on your hands for a bit…its good for them… Wally

    Liked by 1 person

    • WALLEY! How are you doing! It’s amazing how many plants you gave me I still have. The Purple Heart has taken off the past couple of weeks and is blooming up a storm. The two succulents you sent along with the Purple Heart are also doing well. I think one is a species of Senecio and the other I still have no clue about. Like you, I have tried many plants in the flower beds that don’t return the following year. The ones that do either spread like wildfire or behave nicely with their neighbors. You just never know. Gardening can be a challenge sometimes, a lot of work, sometimes frustrating and disappointing. We get a picture in our mind of how we want the beds to look and have to work toward the end result. It’s a trial and error process and in the end, we may not get what we hoped for in the beginning. But, us gardeners and plant collectors keep on doing what we enjoy which is the great thing about life. Learning, loving, and enjoying life to its fullest. Even though we suffer loss, we have to continue to move forward. Our plants are a part of our family, too, and they need us just as our human loved ones do. We need them also. I hope you are doing well, my friend! Thanks for the comment and I am glad you read my posts. I would like to come for a visit someday and do a series of posts on you, your plants and yard. I met many great and awesome people in Mississippi and made a lot of friends. I am glad we met and I am glad to call you friend and brother.

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  4. Jim R says:

    Saturday I harvested my second batch of Basil and made lots of pesto sauce to freeze. We add it to various foods and use it as a topping for pizza instead of red sauce.

    A couple of years ago I had the front door open for a few minutes. Weeks later I noticed something sticking out from between the door and the jamb above a hinge. It was a flattened tree frog. I felt bad for the little guy.

    My African Violets are getting in need of repotting. They are getting long in the neck.

    I hope Susie Q got to do something helpful for you. Supervisor?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Jim! Your pesto sauce sounds delicious! I had a tree frog fall prey to my bedroom window in a similar way. It has crawled through a hole in the screen and was resting on the bottom of the window frame I suppose. I closed the window, unaware it was there and found it the next time I opened the window. I also felt bad about it and have since repaired the screen. I don’t know much about African Violets so I have no idea what you mean by them getting long in the neck. My mother used to raise a lot of them and on occasion, she would have to re-pot and divide them. Some she would start from leaf cuttings. Susie Q is a pretty good cat but sometimes she can be annoying… She has this habit of casually sneaking into the house hoping I don’t notice. She goes on patrol around the entire house before she is ready to go back out. Did you get rain this past week? I heard someone say we may have had around 6″ altogether. My rain gauge is full but only goes to 4″. Thanks for the comment!

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