Of Plants, S&M, and The Truth About Cordyline Neglect

11 years ago

Earlier today, as I was engaging in the unheard-of activity of watering my indoor and overwintering plants before they fully croak (what, no research to do? no books or papers to read? no emails to answer? no film research or reviews to write? no cleaning or shopping or cooking? NO WEB POSTING ???!!! ), I realized the condition I have been seeking to name for awhile, regarding the abuse that plants will tolerate and sometimes even flourish by. As in root pruning a tree or hitting a wisteria with a baseball bat, to get both to flower. What I've come up with today is that plants, not just humans, can sometimes be seen to enjoy,and thus join as full-fledged members, the ranks of the S&M crowd. PLANTS are into S&M !!

Case in point, and what I really wanted to share w/ you, is the actual answer to my summer '09 question about scale and my red cordylines(phormium-looking tropicals). Last winter, for possibly the second year in a row, my 2 potted cordylines, growing ever larger(4 1/2 ' H now) developed severe infestations of scale while overwintering in the plant room. The scale was mostly in the crevice between leaf and trunk. I put the two outdoors in May(they flank the entrance to the gardens here) and asked, via a GW post, if the scale would go away on its own, the victim of hot sun or hungry insects or, well, just AIR. As you might expect. I received a resounding NO from a few helpful GWers. I was given the spraying formula of a 10% rubbing alcohol (or was it ammonia?) solution to diligently treat my sick adolescent cordylines (on their way to giantdom.)

As you might guess, given my complete non-motherly garden nature, I did nothing to the two. I really meant to.... but it never happened. I checked them once or twice during the summer ; the scale was still there, and I did remove the resulting dead foliage. Then in the fall,after a few very cold nights, I brought them in again for the winter. When I did, I observed that, much to my pure delight, there were no signs of scale. And so they are today. Scale-free.

Now I'm probably jinxing myself in posting this, but I thought some of you might benefit from my experience.Maybe the scale froze on those cold nights. Of course it is possible that MY particular cordylines, realizing that they were gonna get no help from THIS quarter, mustered a solution themselves. I can't honestly say. But there it is. Any other self-curing plant cases out there?



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