When the green multiplies

Roughly eight months per year, I’m just waiting. It’s dark outside, so it’s even darker inside. I’m waiting for the first rays of spring sunlight, for the days to become longer, for my plants to enter beast mode. Spring is the time of growth, and those four precious months where something finally happens are amazing.

Most of my random house plants seem to do just fine in southern Germany, although it’s pretty dark and often foggy here. Most start growing from February or March, and continue this until October or so. It’s a bit different for my Monstera. I don’t know why. They seem to grow less, and certainly for a shorter period, than they used to in the Netherlands. It can’t be the nutrients or the watering. I figure it must be the sun. When it’s there it’s BAM! and when it isn’t there, it’s gloomy. And often, it just isn’t there.

My Monstera are my favorite plants. I absolutely love it when they grow, the way the new leaves poke out from the old leaves, the way they unroll, the absolute magnificence of their appearance. As I’m writing about them now, I’m even thinking that they should make an awesome tattoo, so I might have to dust off my gear.

I have a big Monstera deliciosa that I’ve had since it was a tiny three-leaf sprout. When I moved here, I thought I was going to lose her. She looked horrible, was infested with thrips, and was dying. My last try to save her was a firm pruning. Miraculously, she recovered from almost dead to one of the finest plants I have. She’s pumping out new leaves like crazy this year. I think I’m at eight or so new leaves now, but there should be plenty more ahead.

My Monsteras (and some other aroid that I don’t know the species of, but is awesome and does pretty well with me). Check all the new leaves and rolled leaves poking out.

Aside from my big girl, I got a variegated Monstera for my birthday last year. A wonderful present from my wife. I selected a plant that I found pretty cool looking, and had over 50% white on all leaves. This is tricky, as the more white they have, the less green they have. Makes sense, doesn’t it. Doh. The point is, it’s the green in plants that contains their powerhouses – chloroplasts – in which photosynthesis occurs. Without green, the leaf looks beautiful, but is less efficient for the plant. My wonderful plant – a tiny cutting – churned out one new leaf last year. The leaf was completely white. Growth stagnated, and the leaf wouldn’t even fully expand. It was always still partly covered by the old leaf sheath. I was worried it was going to end there for this little one, as I wasn’t sure that a white meristem could still produce green leaves. It turned out last week that it could. A new leaf is poking out, and it has some decent greens in it. This plant does by no means look pretty, but this year may save it!

The old leaves on this cutting have gone brown over time, probably a result of transport and maintaining the energy budget. It doesn’t happen with my other Monstera. The important thing is that there’s new growth developing. I’m hoping for two or three leaves this year!

Shortly after the white leaf, I was shopping in the local garden center, and they had a shipment of three variegated Monstera. Because I was worried about my birthday gift dying, I figured that the biggest and prettiest one was going home with me. It had a new leaf last year, and last week unfolded a new one. I have the feeling that this one likes it here, and might pop out another two or three this year. Wouldn’t that be great?

Not as variegated as the other one – just different. But I like it. This is going to be a big one in a couple of years.

I also had another Monstera-like plant – I think it’s Raphidophora tetrasperma – that has been suffering for a long time. I kept it as a hanging plant, and it didn’t seem to ever be happy. It grew, but the leaves were small, and growth was going all over the place. It never looked healthy. Last year, I decided to cut up the two vines, and produce some cuttings. The vines grew back pretty fast, and I have sinced tried giving them a stem to grow up against. The result was an upward trend (yes, pun intended). This year, it has already formed three leaves, and is growing rapidly. The cuttings are doing amazing, and I think they’ll get some sticks too.

The original leaves of the first bit of main vine are seen on the bottom. Fairly tiny. Each new leaf is bigger than the last.
The cuttings. Lush is all I can say about them. Many leaves in the making under the leaves in the picture.

I love this time of the year, when green multiplies!

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

2 thoughts on “When the green multiplies

    1. Well, I’ve worked professionally with plants for 23 years, so by now you might expect some skill. Despite that, I still kill plants too often. Most often because I live in the most poorly lit apartment that I’ve ever seen. Natural light in my apartment is good for plants in one room only. In most others I’m in constant battle with citrus mealy bugs, aphids, and thrips. As an entomologist, it’s hard to hate these , too.

      Liked by 1 person

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