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!

 

Trying Out A New Potting Area, Etc.

Abandon plant and potting area behind the shed.

Hello folks! I hope this post finds you well and enjoying our nice weather. I have to say nice even though it is plenty hot here. I have to keep it positive, you know. It could be worse and be -40 with 3 feet of snow.

The Japanese Beetle invasion left me a little bewildered for a while. I am normally very positive and enjoy life as it comes. I don’t worry even though I could, and maybe should sometimes. I think it is called avoidant personality disorder. Well, the mental health folks had to come up with a disorder to describe people who are positive minded, don’t worry, and realize most everything will work out just fine without getting worried or pissed off. We accept everyone has a right to their own opinion and find plenty of common ground. (Even though we know we know we are always right, we don’t rub it in. 🙂 )

Where was I? Oh yeah. I think I have said “What the hell!” more times in the past two weeks than ever before. If I had a psychiatrist they would tell me I am making progress. I had one of those moments today. NO! I had two! One this afternoon and one at about 12:30 AM. Oh, Crap! It is now 1:02 AM and I am just starting this post. It is already tomorrow! Oh well, that just means it is another day already and I don’t have to wait until I get up to start.

 

Alocasia ‘Portora’ on the potting table.

My sister and niece came down so I asked her if she could help me do something. She said, “Sure” without even knowing what I wanted. Then she asked. I told her I needed help moving the potting table and she asked where I was going to put it. I told her I didn’t know but had a couple of ideas. I went outside and looked at the options AGAIN (!). There were no good ones but I knew I didn’t want to leave the table where it was behind the shed. I would have too many of those “WHAT THE HELL” moments with no shade and all the dead leaves on the ground and constantly falling.

I decided the best place was on the back deck. I had to remove all the pots from the shelf and sweep all the dead leaves and beetle poop off the table. Then I stood the table on its end and then on its top and drug it to the back porch. I didn’t want my sister carrying it all that way.

After they left, I decided to try the new spot out. There are several plants that need to be re-potted, but I thought I better start with the pot that needed working on the most. A few days earlier I had gone to Wagler’s Greenhouse to see if they had some good sized pots for several Alocasia plants because I had run out of bigger pots. After all, I was going to take the plants to them anyway. Unfortunately, the pots I brought home weren’t big enough… I used to have plenty of pots! Where did they all go? Oh, yeah… I put plants in them and gave them away.

 

So, this afternoon, or yesterday afternoon since it is tomorrow already, I decided to put a few empty pots on the table and bring up a few other plants that needed attention. The Callisia fragrans (center pot), Agave univittata, two pots with four smaller Alocasia ‘Mayan Mask’, and a pot with a few smaller Alocasia gageana. I also brought the Aloe juvenna to the table after the above photo was taken.

 

One of the larger “plantlets”, or whatever you call them, of the Callisia fragrans had sprouted flowers. Very interesting, huh?

 

A week or so ago I removed one of Callisia fragrans kids and put it in a pot to see what would happen. Since it is doing just fine, decided to remove all the stems and cut the plantlets off. Some of them were not in very good shape, though. Normally, I would have put them all in pots but I decided to just save the better ones. I also cut the top off the main stem so it would regrow.

 

Now, there are 11! Make that 12 since the other one is on the front porch. PLUS the old stem in the bigger pot which I kept to see what it will do. I hate throwing a plant away! Once they start rooting I will give them away. Probably take them to Wagler’s since she gave me the start in the first place and she knows what they will do. Sometimes it is hard to give plants away if you tell them they multiply. A Spider Plant multiplies like this, so what’s the difference?

 

The Aloe juvenna (Tiger Tooth Aloe) was getting a little cramped up in its pot, so I put it in a 6 1/2″ diameter x 5 1/2″ tall pot. Now it can send up some new pups and fill the pot.

 

The Agave univittata (Syn. Agave univittata var. lophantha)(Center Stripe Agave) has been telling me its feet were needing more room. So, I checked and sure enough, it needed a bigger pot.

 

Now it has been upgraded to a 9″ diameter x 6″ tall pot.

 

The new potting area is officially broke in. I made this table when i was in Mississippi from boards that were stacked in the old covered patio behind the mansion. The neighbor told me that they were from an old board fence that used to be around the backyard. I made a lot of plant tables for two of the sunrooms out of those boards.

After I finished re-potting, I went out to get a photo of the Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ because its flowers are now open. On the way, I had my first “what the hell” moment of the day…

 

The Vitex agnus-castus ‘Shoal Creek’ is flowering up a storm and really looks AWESOME. At first, I thought it was LOADED with bumblebees because they were flying around the flowers. Then, I saw the Japanese Beetles! “WHAT THE HELL?” First the Chinese Elm trees, chewing the leaves of the Amorphophallus and Calla, the flowers on the roses, and now the Chaste Tree! Oh, they are on a few other trees down by the hay lot, too.

 

Then I walked over to the shade bed and took a couple of photos of the AWESOME Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ with its first flowers. The stem is 34″ tall!

 

AWESOME!

 

Alocasia ‘Portora’ is patiently waiting…

 

At 12:45 AM I walked by the sliding door on the way to the kitchen. I looked out the door and said, “WHAT THE HELL?” A mother Racoon with FOUR babies! The mother is a smaller Racoon and she isn’t all that wild. She may be one of the babies I took the videos of last summer. There have been several times I have sat on the back porch and she continued to eat cat food. Tonight, I couldn’t get a good photo, so I opened the door and turned on the light. She walked toward the steps then came back.

That’s it for this post! Until next time, stay well, positive, be safe and GET DIRTY!