snake plant: how to nuture a young shoot that lost its root?

Camlu337July 9, 2014

Hi green thumbs.

I've got a young shoot of snake plant that I really want to see take root and thrive again.

Just four days ago, it seemed to be thriving (new tiny shoots and whatnot), but in my ignorance I overwatered it and it succumbed to rot.

The picture I've attached was taken after I trimmed the over-watered, rotted base.

So... what does this wee shoot need to root and thrive? This plant means a lot to me.

Thanks much.

EDIT: For now, I've got the shoot in potting soil next to the window, but no direct sunlight.

This post was edited by Camlu337 on Wed, Jul 9, 14 at 21:51

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From what you say, it sounds like less water would do it if it had previously grew.
Just ignore it...forget it, leave it alone more. Don't even look at it :) It won't get offended...

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 9:54PM
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That sounds like some good news right there. thx very much.

So... if I leave that shoot in non-direct light and sitting in basic potting soil, it can reroot and grow? Or should I do more things?

From my assorted desperate googling, I've learned to water it only after the top layer of soil dries. Does that apply in this situation as well?

thx again.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 10:09PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Pls calm down, one can only try.

Cutting the base off makes it basically that you're rooting it from a leaf (since the base is where it grew from). This can take some time, like months. One needs to pls. leave it alone & not fiddle w/ it.

Potting soil isn't good for these plants, perlite would help, like 50%. But I'd hate for you to buy perlite for 'just' this little thing.

Most importantly, pls. do not water. It can't take up any water since it has no roots.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 12:17AM
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Yes, remember, this is a succulent, and if it were growing fully, I probably wouldn't water a WELL ESTABLISHED pot more than once a month. That doesn't mean pouring a cup of liquid on the soil, it means drenching it and then letting it progress to fully dry before watering it again. As long as the soil is drained, amount of water is irrelevant, the amount of time it takes to dry out again is what is important. So...have it in a VERY small pot too to facilitate drying.

If it were me, I'd put it in a well drained potting soil (if you have or can make one), and water it once to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Now, put the plant down and walk away from it...don't touch it.

In two months, you can very gently wiggle it to confirm if it has rooted, though be very careful as you don't want to simply break the new roots off.

At this stage, if new roots have formed, you can probably drench the soil once....then leave it alone for a month or two.

Give it very bright direct unless early morning or late evening until it roots.
You can start gradually increasing the sun after it roots, but be careful of you'll sunburn it.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 1:01PM
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Stush2049 Pitts. PA, zone 6

All very good advise given. I would add, you might have to mist the top part to keep hydraded. No roots no water but the top may need just a little bit. Placing a plastic bag over the top may keep it from drying out but it just may add to it's rotting problem.
Can't tell from the picture, what kind is it. You may just want to replace it.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 2:33PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Pls don't bag it, that's advice for houseplants, not succulents, it will definitely cause it to rot.

Sorry, but I disagree about watering it when first potted up, that too will rot it.

To settle the mix & remove air pockets w/out watering, just bang the pot down hard against the table you're working on, several times that should do it.

I do this all the time, I never water them in nor do I mist.

I also don't tug at the rooting leaves, no matter HOW gently, as it disrupts the process (breaking the tiny roots one's been trying to grow).

For proof of some of my results, see my nearby post entitled something like "Nice Surprise Today, 2 Tiny Pups".

Good luck w/ it!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 4:01PM
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I'm hugely appreciative of all this advice. Thank you to each of you. I'm reading and re-reading each of your posts. So much to learn.

I'm curious about honey as a root hormone with regards to rooting this wee young shoot. If anybody has any experience or comments about that, by all means, please post about it.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 3:40PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

You're welcome Camlu, happy to help.

I have never heard that before, I'm on GW more than 12 yrs. & I've even given a talk on Sans (supported from here by a VERY experienced Sans. grower).

These plants don't need rooting hormone, just time (& the gardener's patience).

Given that you're trying to root such a small remnant of this one leaf, I wouldn't try anything w/ such huge potential to invite both rot & insects (the sugars in the honey).

Sorry, but there's no quick fix for this.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 8:18PM
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Really is nice to have some clarity now. Here's my plan:

I'm gonna scare up a small amount of perlite, make a 50/50 mix with potting soil, bang it on the counter a few times to settle, set the shoot in so it's stable and stay hands-off the shoot for months.

As for watering, I guess I'll take the no-water until *well* established approach.

As for light, I give it some bright and indirect light or occasional, brief morning sun.

No-quick-fix is no problem at all, now that yall helped me fix my ignorance.

Does this all sound about right?

Also, are there any substitutes for perlite that would work as well?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:50PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Yes, pls. get some perlite, you might as well.

Other substitute I use is pumice, but that can be hard to find in some parts of the USA. I can't tell where you are geographically from your Page. It needs to be fast draining mix, that's key for Sans, no getting around it.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:32PM
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Thx again for your expertise pirate_girl.

Ok, so this morning, I saw that my wee shoot (exactly as pictured above) had a rotten tip, even though the soil I put it in -- while I was learning what to do next -- was very dry.

So I took it to a neighborhood plant master and got some pumice and more advice. So here's my current tactics:

It's a hot sunny day here, so I'm drying out a pumice/potting soil mix on a baking tray in the sun.

I trimmed off the tiny rotten tip and cut the rest of the shoot into thirds. Each of the new pieces has far more base surface area than the tip pictured in my original shoot. I'm keeping track of which way is "up" for these cuttings.

I've made three small, high-drainage mini-pots out of plastic rubbermaid cups I had around. The drainage holes are for the future. I won't be watering them for quite some time.

I intend to put the three shoot cuttings into the dried-out pumice/potting mix and leave them be. I sure hope the sun-baking and increased root surface area is enough to prevent rot. I don't know what else I could do to prevent rot.

So that's my plan for now. Any comments are welcome and appreciated.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 6:15PM
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