From:email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Peter Boyce
Sent: Wednesday, July 01, 20096:56 PM
To: 'Discussion of aroids'
Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Alocasias
It is my belief that even in the wild forest Alocasia often go through periods of boomand bust; with the plants reaching a peak of physical perfection and the often soon afterwards ‘crashing’; the cycle in the wild seems to beameliorated by the rejuvenation induced by regular leaf fall, but in pots thereis a real danger that the pieces of the disarticulated rhizome do not get thechance to rejuvenate before they run out of stored carbohydrate, and then seemto lose the ability (will?) to re-grow.
Another factor that is only now becoming clear isthat Alocasia, and many otherterrestrial aroids too, I suspect, have some mycrorrhizal association. I firstbegan to suspect this on finding super-vigorous specimens with infeasibly smallroot systems in the wild. Clearly the roots were too small to support thenutrient uptake that the plants needed, and yet the plants were thriving. Thepoint was reinforced by observations of litter-trapping Schismatoglottis, notably species in the S. barbata complex, where investigation ofthe leaf litter revealed copious fungal hyphae and significant composting ofthe oldest leaf litter, with the plants rooting from the stem and through theleaf bases into this composted material and the decomposing leaves above. Fromour experiments we have observed a beneficial fungal population developing inthe leaf litter within a couple of months, and a notable increase in plantvigour at this time. In fact, we no longer apply fertilizer to our plants (aconsiderable saving in time and money with ca 10,000 individual pots...) andthis despite the fact that the nursery receives 5+ m of rain per anuum, andthus the flow-through of nutrients from the pots must be considerable.
On the subject of watering, our plants get wateredevery day, either from our virtually daily torrential downpours, or, in‘dry’ periods from overhead sprinklers. Even in dry periodshumidity seldom drops below 70%. The key is well-drained media and making surethat the rhizome is not totally buried. The crucial thing is that the leaflitter layer should not become dry (leaves crispy). The leaf litter (topmostleaves) remain damp and the leaves flexible.
One note, once you get the fungal hyphae communityunderway, the leaf litter will decompose fairly quickly. We ‘topup’ the leaves regularly to ensure that there are always fresh leaves ontop of the decomposing and composted ones.
From:email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of STARSELL@aol.com
Sent: 30 June 2009 05:43
Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Alocasias
Thank you much forposting this! I have two that I just
re-planted per yourbelow Rx.
I knew they were alivebut I had not seen much improvement
using the method Idescribed, at least they were not continuing
I don't know whathappened to them. All of my other Alocasias
are thriving. One,a zebrina got knocked over and the stems
bent and would notstraighten; the other a cuprea just randomly
began to droop untilnothing was left but the tuber.
At least now I have somehope. The pots do look funny though;
all that leaflitter. But now I have real hope.
One question - aboutwatering this. Do you guess at it? Feel
the loam to see if it isdamp? Go by the weight of the pot?
I wondered about leavingthe loam only damp and moistening the
leaf litter on the top?
In a message dated6/29/2009 9:38:06 A.M. Central Daylight Time, email@example.com writes:
Hi Tsuh Yang,
Many Alocasia literally 'climb' through layers of leaf litter, rooting as
they go, with the older parts of the elongated rhizome gradually senescing
and eventually dying. After much experimentation, and not a few deaths, we
have settled pots half full of a mineral soil (locally produce red topsoil
mixed with river sand in 1:1 mix), with the rhizome at most half buried, and
the remained of the pot filled with leaf litter. The root growth at the leaf
litter/mineral soil interface is extraordinarily vigorous and with the loose
leaves the problem of bacterial rot is resolved. I would suggest that you
try planting our dormant rhizomes in this manner and see what happens.
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