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SOMEONE'S HAVING A BABY

All plants have a reproductive strategy in order to carry on their species.  From simply dropping seeds to the ground beneath their flowers, to sending out long, underground rhizomes that pop up here and there, to hitching a ride with birds or squirrels that obligingly disperse seeds wherever they “poop” (pardon my French.)  However, some houseplants make it soooo easy for us by popping out lots of miniature versions on their own.

A prime example is the Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum).  This easy houseplant produces tiny spider plants at the nodes or ends of arching stems (stolons), like an umbilical cord, that can be pinned to a nearby pot of soil until they produce enough roots, or be cut free when well-rooted and potted up on their own.  A well-rooted, mature spider plant can supply you with dozens of babies.

Another easily propagated houseplant is the Aloe Vera, sometimes called “Medicine Plant”.  A very freely suckering species, new plants spring up cheek by jowl around the base of the parent plant, and can be left to support the stem on the heavy mature aloe, or separated and potted up individually into small clay pots.

The Mother Fern (Asplenium bulbiferum) holds its babies on its leaves.  Instead of going through the normal fern reproductive method by spores, this plant produces adventitious buds on its fronds that develop plantlets that drop to the ground when large enough.  The mother fern has a “fluffy” appearance when carrying these plantlets on its fronds.

Another “mother” plant, “Mother of Thousands” (Kalanchoe daigremontiana) also produces new plantlets on its leaves.  In a greenhouse, this plant becomes an invasive pest as it drops hundreds of these new plants on the ground or in other pots where they root easily and begin to take over.  This plant is also called “Mexican Hat Plant” because the tiny plantlets look like ball-fringe decorating the edges of the leaves.

Popular bromeliads like Guzmania and Neoregelia produce suckers or new plants around the base of the parent plant, eventually replacing the original plant as it slowly dies off.  A pot of multiple flowering bromeliads is a beautiful sight, although most people like to remove and pot up the suckers as soon as they are ready to be cut free.

Two popular orchids, the Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid) and the Dendrobium will frequently produce a new plant up on the flower stem called a keiki (Hawaiian for “baby”.)  This plantlet forms when there is an accumulation of growth hormones at one of the stem nodes.  The keiki can be removed and potted up once it has produced a few leaves and a couple of roots about two inches in length.  The new plant will be a duplicate of the mother plant.

There are other examples, but it has just occurred to me that I should have saved this blog for Mother’s Day! 
Posted: 10/23/2014 by Margot | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: MargotGunn, TheGreatIndoors
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