Rejuvinating by Slicing Basal Plate

mariava7December 17, 2009

Before anything else, I would like to say that I am starting this post to show you all what I have been advicing members of slicing the bulb's basal plate to rejuvinate the bulb. Not propagate. The HD bulbs with sliced basal plates has caused a lot of different reactions. I am just presenting this post so as you might view this situation in a different perspective and know the pros and cons of sliced basal plates. Here goes...

Have you receievd bulbs looking like this?

Or like this?

Or have a non-performing bulb that would not leaf out good inspite of everything you try to do with it? Like this Snow White of mine that would leaf out some, then leaves would turn yellow and dry out. Bulb stays firm but just won't give out any new decent growth for months. Unpotting it, this non-performing Snow White looked like this. Very thick and hard/tough basal plate and NO ROOTS!!! An old and spent bulb!

The thick and tough basal plate prevents your Hippie bulbs from producing new roots. Slicing the basal plate would expose the fresher /softer part of your bulb's basal plate.

You can leave like 1/2 an inch of basal plate.

Or even just a thin one if that's all that's left after cleaning off the rot or thick/rough part from your bulb's basal plate. With the tough part removed, new roots can now easily push out and grow from the softer basal plate. The younger cells(?) are more capable of producing new growth.

As long as there is a piece of that basal plate, your bulb has a chance for life or better performance. This slicing of basal plates are done in commercial nurseries to "rejuvinate" old hippies so that they'd perform like they used to. Grow back to be a healthy plant and be productive again...give out flower scapes for cut-flower production.

Now this is the most important part. This cut needs to be dried good with fungicide applied to seal the wound before planting. If not, you will end up with a dead bulb.

Snow White blooming the next season after I cut off it's basal plate. White double in bottom of pic.

A beauty I would have never seen from that old bulb, had I not rejuvinated it. It would have just dried itself to death not being able to grow new roots from that thick/hard basal plate.

My thoughts about the HD bulbs:

If the bulb is rooting, with some basal plate intact, then the process of cutting it's basal plate was not done wrong or for a bad purpose. As a very reliable source confirmed to me, that is how they do it in Holland...slice the basal plate so as the bulb would give better performance. Fresher/younger basal plates gives out more new roots than hard thick ones.

It being marketed as a "Finished product" is totally misleading. The Hippie can be grown and let to bloom in this method BUT will need to be planted in soil eventually for it to flourish and grow to be a healthy plant.

This method will work IF the buyer would follow the watering instructions. NOT all buyers or recipients of such kits are gardeners with enough knowledge unfortunately. OVERWATERING and stale water will lead to these bulbs eventually rotting in this system.

Hippeastrums WILL NEVER be an indoor plant forever unless you have a decent (correct watts/growing area) grow light to use or window space that will give it enough sunlight it needs. Years of marketing Hippies as "indoor plants" has led to it's downfall as a plant that gardeners would regard with horticultural value. They have clearly stated that, this bulb kit is a "flower" growing system. This is very sad.

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allstarsgymnast7(7, Southeast TN)

Ooh, very interesting illustrations Maria! I was on my way to research more about basal plate cutting in the forum and up popped your post. I'm really quite excited.

A bulb I recently bought my brother (because he felt sorry for it, and I told him I'd babysit) has a huge basal plate like the one above. It only has healthy roots growing from one side of the plate. I don't want to do anything until after it flowers, but now I feel like this must be done.

It just makes sense really. As your post says, the older the bulb, the bigger the plate. The bigger the plate, the less room for root growth. Most of the bulbs in HD, obvious by their size, are pretty darn old.

Thanks so much for saving me what would have probably been hours of searching! This is really great!

I think the initial shock of seeing these poor things has worn off for me. It's not so much now "AAAHHH! Poor babies!" as much as it is, "Okay. So why are they doing this? Does it actually help something?"


    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 1:57AM
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Hi Kate! You are most welcome!

I personally do this to some of my old bulbs for the main reason of "rejuvinating" them when I see that their performance is going down. If I see a Hippie that is not leafing out like it used to (leaves getting smaller and or paler) inspite of being repotted and fertilized, I would check the roots and basal plate. A happily growing Hippie would have LOTS of fresh white roots. No or very minimal white roots means something is wrong. Either the bulb is sick and weak OR it cannot or is having a hard time growing new roots due to basal plate problems. Most of the time it is due to basal plate rot or old/thick basal plates.

This is what Paul of Royal Colors said about this slicing of basal plate when I asked him about the topic. Paul or Royal Colors is in no way connected with the suppliers of these HD bulb kits.

"This is absolutely not harmful for the bulb. It is even better to this, because the bulb MUST now make new roots and the bulb WILL do this.
All professional growers do this with older bulbs to make them younger and more vital. After 3-4 growing seasons the basal plate is thick, old and will hardly make new roots. By cutting of the complete basal plate, and 1 new growing season, the bulb will have a beautiful new, vital root system. Also will the bulbs grow better with their new roots!!"

It does look very drastic at first. But after I saw my Snow White improve, leaf out good and flower for the first time since I acquired it, I knew I did the RIGHT thing for it. It was not too hard to do with the other Hippie bulbs after the first time specially knowing that you are actually helping your bulb prolong it's life.

Anybody grows Afrian Violets here??? This is almost the same process of what is done with AVs with long necks. Cut off the neck, scrape the hard skin around the neck attached to the plant, apply fungicide, dry out and plant. The AV would then produce new roots and become "rejuvinated".

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 3:38AM
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Great information. My 68-year-old brain is going into overload. Thank you, thank you, Maria.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 11:49AM
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Thanks for posting this. I remember something about doing this in a post here that I subsequently couldn't find, so you have cleared this up. I have done this to African violets, and can say I know that for them it works, and is sometimes better than starting over with a leaf. I'm not sure if I've had any bulbs long enough to need to do this, but I've just started really. Thanks.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 12:47PM
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Noni Morrison

SO the question then is whether they sliced off ALL the basal plate or only enough to rejuvanate it. That would be fine with me and from the photos it looked like there might be nubbins of new roots coming. It is the thought of them not leaving ANY basal plate thus killing the bulb that is so repugnant. I have actually thinned the basal plates on a number of my older bulbs this year, but kept no records so so do not know which ones or which will make it. They were often in pretty bad shape to began with so it was a last ditch effort to save them. TIme will tell. Thanks for checking with Paul on this, MAria, and passing the answer to us!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 12:48PM
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e36yellowm3(7 Raleigh, NC)

Good documentation of the technique, Maria. Looks perfect for fixing those bulbs that have their basal plates pretty dried out. I'm going to give it a try as that problem has happened to me on some of the new bulbs I've received, and I'm sure I'll also experience it in the future as some of my bulbs mature. Thanks for the pointers!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 1:25PM
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allstarsgymnast7(7, Southeast TN)

So,for future reference, how long do you let the fungicide dry out the cut before potting again? (Obviously until it has dried, but I didn't know if there was a time either...)

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 1:45PM
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purpleclover(CA Sunset 18)

Maria, thanks for the info. Some of the bulbs I ordered this year are pretty large with thick plates.

Some have popped up spikes, a couple have developed roots (a light tug doesn't move them), and some are just sitting in an indentation of medium in the pot without putting out leaves, flower spikes or roots, even though the bulb is firm and appears healthy.

If they don't wake by spring, I'll take another look at the bulb.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 2:23PM
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ryan820(z5b Denver, Colorado, USA)

Excellent information to have. And frankly, I often wondered what to do with bulbs with enormous basal plates, especially when it was apparent much of plate was doing nothing for the plant.

I would like to mention, though, that although I agree with Maria concerning the rocks and the glass container, I have been successfully growing hippis in hydroponics. You just have to make sure to give the bulb what it needs in terms of nutrients.

allstargymnast-- a few days of drying should do it.

Maria thank you so much for this great info!!!!


    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 2:58PM
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anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)

Two questions:
1 - what do you slice the basal plate with?
2 - Is sulfur powder a fungicidal? (we have no Captan here in Canada)

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 3:59PM
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Excellent information, Maria, especially the step-by-step process and reasons. Thank you.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 4:25PM
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To slice the basal plate, I would use a clean, sterile, very sharp knife to obtain a nice even cut.

Sulphur is an anti-fungal, but I'm not that knowledgeable about it. I use Captan powder, myself.

I would think that a few days of drying time would be necessary for the newly cut basal plate area to form a callous. Variables would include the humidity where the bulb is placed to dry, etc...

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 7:42PM
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Maria, Thank you so much for experimenting with this and passing on this info! I too have had bulbs with thick plates and had wondered what could be done. Thanks!!!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 8:28PM
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Thank you so much Maria for the valuable information regarding basal plates!! My question is does the thickening of the plate only occur in container grown hippies.....or does this also occur in bulbs that are left to grow undisturbed in the ground for many years? Is it a natural process for the plate to thicken over the years if the roots are not disturbed? Is this something that also occurs with narcissis bulbs? Thanks,


    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 9:16PM
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Thanks so much Maria. I'm going to try it on a bulb that I found last year for 1.00 at the local Goodwill store. It looks to have been in hibernation for years as it looked healthy but, rather dry. I planted it but, it's scape came out and fell off. It produced two leaves but, they yellowed and withered. Upon closer inspection it only produced one root all summer last year.

This helps so much to be working with these plants (the cheapies) so that I can get experience to eventually get the good stuff and know what to do.

I'll see how this works out.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2009 at 6:55PM
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Thickening of the basal plate happens in container grown bulbs as well as those grown in the ground.

The following photo is of a mother and daughter bulb that I separated because they had outgrown their pot.

Notice the bulb on the left, the mother bulb... her basal plate is quite a bit thicker than her daughter's...

So, yes... basal plates gain thickness with age whether container grown or garden grown.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 12:42PM
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rebecca47(USA Zone 5)

Anna in Quebec -

If you can get any of the Rooting Powders (Rootone) they have a fungicide in them along with hormones to aid in root development. Be sure to get the powder form though and if the label reads "Rooting Hormone", even better. Once potted you can water the "rejuvenate bulb" with "root stimulator" (Schultz puts out both products).

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 1:01PM
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I have one that I cut the basal plate off while it was dormant. I applied powdered sulphur and let it heal for two days. I potted it up after applying rooting hormone. My question is about watering. Shouldn't I wait until I see new growth?

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 1:50PM
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Great information, Maria. Thank you! I've got a few bulbs that I will need to do this to before replanting them in the spring.

Phoenix Ryan

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 1:52PM
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Gail, I would assume the bulb will need a bit of moisture to help stimulate root growth... I would water it in lightly.

After I pot up anything, my usual course of action is to lightly water... to make sure there's a bit of moisture, and that the bulb or existing roots make good contact with the medium.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 9:08PM
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Time to revisit this very useful technique for hippies and some other true bulbs.
What do you do with the section of basal plate you cut off.
how about scraping the tough bottom; soaking in chamomille tea[or captan]; and planting it with some charcoal dust and peat moss added to whatever you are using now? Traub mentions in his AMARYLLIS MANUAL one of the early Florida growers slicing the basal plates of bulbs in horizontal layers and planting each one not to regrow as a bulb but to produce bulblets around the rim of the plate sections as a technique for reproduction by cuttage. Floris Barnhoorn mentions that Hadeco uses basal plates not only horizontally sliced, but also then cut and cross cut into tiny vertical slivers and grown in very aseptic tissue culture like conditions as opposed to standard(?) tissue culture technique.
So you sre rejuvenating the original bulb and if it is a rare or hard to find, or a new hybrid you bred or aquired;
multiply your holdings. If you are interested in my slivering technique for vegetative cloning without destruction of the original bulb, send me an email

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 2:44PM
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brigarif Khan

Thank you Maria, Why not do it to all when replanting. Any way all slow growing ones will get this treatment.
regards Arif

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 11:12PM
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