Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

The Little Cutting That Could

21050229AI accidentally put a dieffenbachia cutting through quite an ordeal… and it came out in fine shape. Here’s the story:

On April 9, 2015, I taped a TV show on taking cuttings for a French-language TV network I work with. You can actually watch it here, if you don’t mind being bombarded by French. To get to the part that concerns this story, you don’t need to listen to the whole show, just the part called “Bouturage 2”, under the heading “Segments d’émission”, just below the image of the video.

During this particular show, I pretty much chopped a dieffenbachia into pieces, taking a tip cutting from the top, then a stem cutting from further down. I placed the loglike stem section on its side in a pot of moist soil so it could take root. After the show, I packed all my material into a cardboard box to take home and left it on a shelf in my basement… for 3 months. And that included the forgotten stem cutting.

It was only on July 3rd of the same year, nearly 3 months later, when I was trying to figure out what I had done with my bottle of rooting hormone, that I remembered the box. When I opened it, I found not only the missing hormone, but tools, pots, potting soil… and at the bottom of the box, the poor cutting. Its soil was completely dried out and had actually shrunk enough so that the cutting was now lying on top of the mix, not settled into it. It hadn’t rooted at all: it just looked like a thick green log.

In spite of everything, the cutting was still dark green and showed no signs of having dried out over its 3-month ordeal, so I replanted it, watered it well and put in a well-lit, warm spot under my grow lights.

About 3 weeks ago, barely a month after I started watering it, I noticed a green sprout popping up beside the cutting. And today, its first leaf is about to unfold. I expect it to make a full recovery… and become a nice big dieffenbachia that will soon decorate my living room! (As if I need one more big plant.)

So there you go. Forget about TLC: this cutting got 3 months of darkness and drought before receiving a modicum of care, but when given a second chance, it took it.

Isn’t nature amazing?

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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