Pachypodium salvage

joscienceAugust 30, 2008

A house down the street put up a sign indicating it was under permit review for demolition. It is a pretty old house, and had been landscaped with some succulents a long time ago. Always after a bargain, I sent the owner a letter, asking if I could purchase the two large Pachypodiums. It took him a couple months, but he finally gave me a call today. He agreed to an awesome price, and I was so excited, I dug the smaller one up right away. I'm still debating when and how to take out the larger one. I may wait until Febuary, when they will actually demolish the house. That way I can just take out the wall around the plant, to preserve more of the root ball.

The larger of the two. It is a little over 5 feet tall.

Lovely flowers with a faint, but pleasant smell.

A rather photogenic bud.

The smaller plant is just about 3 feet tall. It must have been larger at some point, but the larger stem rotted off.

My wife giving me a hand in excavating it!

Had to hack through plenty of roots, but eventually it came out! I need to wait at least a week now to let them all callus over.

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elsier(z6 KY)

What nice looking plants. You did a good thing in rescuing them .

Elsie

    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 9:46AM
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stanofh

Lucky,Lucky, dawg to have found such beauty.The plants are nice too.
I dont know about soucal,but here in the bay area those front porch planters I have found,are home to some of the largest(non tree) subtropical plants we grow. The list of plants that thrive in them and rot elsewhere..Sansevieria,Poinsettiea,Pineapple,even the tropical vines like Mandevallia and Stephanotis. And those plants that do grow fine here do best and largest in those planters-like near 6' Jade plants.Protected from heavy rain and of course,great drainage they are the one place tropicals will survive the non gardener owners.
The pastor of the wife's church has in his planter one of the largest,densest,Christmas cacti..when in bloom it's awesome. He just last year hedged them back!-too big.
Yep, when i see those 50's era homes.Thats the place to look.
If i had those planters,that's also the place to plant a coconut...

    Bookmark   August 31, 2008 at 11:14AM
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reiver(DFW)

Wow you did really good and like stanofh I think the plants are great too. The flowers are beautiful and a treat to see.
The city of Dallas (or was it Arlington) recently invited people to help themselves to plants around homes to be destroyed for a highway. Did not get to check it out. Wonder if there were C&S to be found.

Mike

    Bookmark   August 31, 2008 at 1:38PM
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joscience

Stan: "Lucky" is really what sums it up. Also, the willingness to just ask, which can be surprisingly hard. Got any photos of that Christmas cactus hedge? That is a crazy thing to even imagine!

Mike: I really wish municipalities would do that kind of stuff more often. The benefits of salvaging from native habitats is a whole other rant of mine, but there is a massive amount of useful plants in developed areas as well. Without all the red-tape of salvaging from the wild, there is absolutely no reason not to do it. So did you go get anything? I can just imagine a land rush like atmosphere, everyone lining up then racing out to find the best claims!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 2:28PM
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reiver(DFW)

jo,
I did not get to go to the plant grab as I was working at the time. Will keep my ears open though because there is a lot of that sort of thing happening in this area.
There is a nursery near my house that is a side line for a company that provides plants for malls and office buildings. When they replace the plants in the buildings they take the old ones out and sell them at the nursery real cheap. Not a lot of C&S, if any, but I have got very large houseplants for a buck or two there. Always some bromeliads available. I seldom can drive by without stopping to see if they have any treasures available.

Mike

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 8:46PM
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joscience

Got the smaller guy up in its pot today. My wife helped again so it went rather smoothly. The plant stands a handsome 4½ feet tall including its 16½ inch pot.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 7:12PM
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caudex1

Looks in pretty good condition considering the ordeal it's gone through.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 11:43PM
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stanofh

Have you dug up the big one?..no way I could wait.Too many things could go wrong.Somebody else might take it,Winter...and finally, I couldn't resist knowing how MUCH better it would look in my yard-lol.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 5:18PM
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joscience

Stan: I'm dying to go get it! Of all my fears, someone else digging it up is definitely my biggest. Especially now that the other one is missing. I might just do it this weekend since our weather is just perfect for it. I'll see if I can talk my wife into doing some manual labor...

I still wish I had some more info about transplanting these big ones while in flower, but I guess this is one way to find out. Anyway, what good is a hobby if there isn't a little risk?

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 5:28PM
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caudex1

A big one's no different than the small, it's just your more devastated if the big one bites it.

Just get to it! When you pot it use moist soil and don't water again for a 2-4 weeks and protect it from hot sun. You could remove some of the foliage and flowers to conserve water.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 7:26PM
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stanofh

I would hurry Josh. I'm having visions of the residents knocking off the top half of that plant moving out the "Mama's Family sofa" out the front door!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2008 at 12:08PM
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joscience

The deed is done. It put up a valiant fight, but in the end, it was no match for my determination. I approached it the same way as I did the first. I dug out the planter to the side of it, then separated the root ball from the wall, and finally levered it out to the side. It had one massive 2" root, wrapped into the corner of the stairs and the porch, which had completely wedged it into the planter. I tried to keep it intact, but it wouldn't even budge the slightest bit. In the end, I had to hack through that root, which was a gut wrenching experience. Once that was done, it basically popped right out of its hole, with a bunch of help from me and my wife of course.

This one was a lot heavier than the smaller one. These haven't had a drop of water since last winter, and they still full of (heavy) water. Such cool plants!

I got it back to my apartment, and went through pruning all the roots that I hacked through so they were nice even cuts. I applied cinnamon to each of the cut roots, and will just let the poor thing sit where it is until next weekend. I'm not sure the biggest root will have callused by then, so it may be another two weeks before it makes it into a pot.


After digging the hole.


I tried to preserve as much of the root ball as possible. In the end though, it was reduced from even what is in this shot. I sort of dug out beneath it, when I was still trying to figure out how it was so tightly wedged.


Once I found the big root in the corner, the plant jumped right out! It looks so big on the ground! You can really see the bend from it being planted beneath an awning.


Finally back at my apartment. I wonder what my neighbors think?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2008 at 4:44PM
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joscience

I came across this picture while looking through the photos I took on Saturday. I really like the contrast between the younger and older stem swollen with water. I also really like the deep, dark-green skin on the older trunk. I talked to some neighbors while digging it up, and everyone seems to think this is the original landscaping, circa the 1950's. So, depending on how old they were when first planted, these guys must be at least 60 or 70 years old!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 12:41PM
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stanofh

The green Josh,is from the part shade. What I have noticed on my old Pachypodiums,Adnineums,Plumeria, is that they all develop golden trunks as they get size in full sun. More so here in California i think because of lower than natural growing temperatures. It's sort of a healthy stress reaction.More or less.
And your photos of the plants show that they sucker alot more than i ever thought.Most groupings I thought,were of multiple plants grown together. Something to look forward too, as I have two lameri about 3' and a bit shorter geayi.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 2:12PM
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joscience

Finally got the bigger plant potted up! It is great finally having it in my "garden," standing up on its own. Now that it's in a pot and not a planter, it seems *much* bigger. Between the big ol' 18" pot, and having tilted it up, it now reaches an awesome 7 feet off the ground! As you can see, I'm pretty happy about the project so far. Now all I can do is wait and watch!


Not the best light today, but I was eager to get some photos up...


The first one I salvaged looks kind of small next to the big one!

From Pachypodium Salvage The hunter and his quarry...

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 11:03PM
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caudex1

Nice save Jo! Looks much bigger with you next to it.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 7:52AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Nice!

Josh

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 9:28AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Great find...you lucky people that live in CA...I lived there many years ago, unfortunately I wasn't into Jades/succulents then, *sigh*, Se La Vie...

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 10:38AM
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stanofh

I just bought a P.lameri that is a dead ringer for the smaller offshoot with one pup. A steal at $26 from Lowes.I know that's less than half what a nursery would charge. Extrapolate that for the rest of that monster from Mars you got to dig up.
I have a really big Jade plant-lol.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 10:44AM
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reiver(DFW)

Nice to see young people involved in this hobby! You did good on your mission of mercy.
(Hobby is too mild of a word - more like way of life, obsession, or maybe even cult.) :-)

Mike

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 6:51PM
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dcook-20007

i am new at growing pachy cactus i have one thats 2 years old how do get seeds or a cutting from these

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 11:54AM
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joscience

Seeds are a long, long ways off for that plant. P. lamerei won't flower until it is at least 4-5 feet tall. For an average plant, that is something like 20-30 years old. Even with enough size, they are finicky bloomers, and unless given lots and lots of sun and warmth, they still won't flower.

Given that, most P. lamerei are propagated by removing offsets and rooting them. However, since your plant is so young, it probably doesn't have any offsets yet. If you are determined to propagate from your plant, the first thing you'll have to do is remove the growing point to induce branching. Wait until spring, then lop the top off your plant, or take a drill bit and totally destroy the growing point. You can let the cutting callus, then plant it in dry soil, and it should eventually root. The now decapitated plant will start to branch or make offsets in the next year or two. Once you have some sizable offsets (a couple inches) you can remove them, in spring, and plant them up.

As you can see, it will be a risky, long, slow process, that will certainly spoil the look of your current plant. Depending on why you want to propagate, you may be better off just buying some more plants instead of going through all this trouble!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 12:24PM
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dcook-20007

i planted P.Lamerei that i got from homedepot it was 3 inches tall at that time. that was two and a half years ago. its now 6 feet with 5 arms two arms have flowers, i dont known how send the pictures.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 1:53PM
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joscience

From 3" to 6 feet in only two years? Where and how are you growing it? I suppose if it was in the ground with a really warm climate, it could grow that fast, but still, that is pretty incredible...

Are there any offsets or "suckers" near the base. Those are the best candidates for propagation as they'll root quickly and removing them won't spoil the look of the mother plant. You can try to fertilize the flowers using a fine piece of fishing line or horsehair, transferring the pollen from one flower to another. I've read conflicting reports about whether these are self-fertile or not, maybe some who knows for sure will chime in.

If you have some pictures of it, you can email them to me and I'll post them for you. I'd love to see it!

joscience (at) gmail (dot) com

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 2:10PM
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joscience

dcook sent me these photos of his nice, big Pachys. As you can see, he grows them in the ground, in warm, warm Florida, which helps explain their fast growth. Even so, I'm still surprised by just how fast they grow. Incidentaly, I suspect the one that still hasn't branched is Pachypodium geayi, not P. lamerei.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 2:59PM
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joscience

As far as propagating, your best bet is still to take a cutting. Since I don't see any offsets at the base of the plant, you would have to cut off one of the branches, and root that. Obviously that will carry some risk to the mother plant, and certainly to the branch. Does your plant ever go dormant? Does it ever drop its leaves? If so, you would be well advised to wait until it started growing new leaves again to try and take any cuttings.

Fertilizing flowers is also still an option, but I have yet to find any info on P. lamerei being self fertile, although I haven't really tried that hard...

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 3:03PM
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stanofh

Hmm. Any chance they could cross Pachypodium with Plumeria to get Pachypodium with colored flowers?
I am not a botanist.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 3:45PM
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stanofh

Well,time fly's. 6 years????! Any updates Josh? The $26 plant I spoke of thrived until...I moved it. It was badly frosted in the new location. I wonder if its' alive?. A second that I did NOT move has done fine..only drops its leaves. about 3' now..half that or less 6 years ago. A third has reached 4' and in a pot its a close to 5'. I never thought it would resemble Josh's. Such great plants that the bay area really has no idea will do well here with some protection in winter.
6 years? wow.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 1:55PM
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