Aroids make me happy

The growing season for my aroids is in full swing. I brought all my Alocasia outside this week. Over winter they always accumulate spectacular levels of spider mites, citrus mealy bugs – and since this year, aphids and thrips, the latter coming from an infestation that happened at work I suppose! Honestly, it’s a miracle these plants survive it. Outside, natural enemies of these herbivores will do their thing and keep levels at bay. Unfortunately, they can only be outside May to September. That short time is generally enough to suppress the herbivores, have the plants develop three or four fresh leaves, and prepare them for a winter inside. A winter during which they will – again – be slowly devoured. Herbivores will always find a way to hide, and they are prolific. I refuse to use chemicals to treat my plants. My entomologist heart doesn’t allow me. So the cycle will continue.

Interestingly, not all my plants are eaten by herbivores. They won’t touch my Monstera. Neither do they come near some of my other aroids. In this house, the herbivores are very choosy. Alocasia are their favorites. Although the situation is not very favorable for the Alocasia, they seem to function well as insect trapping plants. This is pretty cool for the others, and I’m happy that the rest is left alone as a result.

The other plants are in their absolute peak now. My Raphidophora tetrasperma are popping out new leaves every week. All cuttings I took last year are thriving, and waiting for me to offer them a climbing stick. These plants seem to be at their best when offered a little ladder up.

These were five single-leaf cuttings last summer. Boom! Note all the unrolled spikes, which will be unrolled in the next week or so..

One Philodendron, I think it may be Philodendron tripartitum, is doing particularly well. I bought a young plant years ago, and this grew amazing in my bright former home in the Netherlands. It was sold as a hanging plant, and that’s how I kept it. It started deteriorating, like most of my plants, when I moved to Bavaria. I’m not blaming Bavaria, but rather a flat tire on the moving truck that forced us to leave it on the side of the freezing November road near Würzburg. Many of my plants took more than a year to recover from it. This Philodendron was particularly bad, and dropped many leaves, leaving me with ugly empty vines. I did the unthinkable last spring, and cut them off at the base. The vines I cut into shorter pieces, which I just stuck in the soil, hoping for some roots. It turned out to be easy to propagate. The original mother plant still lives, but is currently recovering outside next toy Alocasia. The cuttings are doing amazing. Like my Raphidophora, I have decided to give them a support to climb up, instead of letting them hang. It worked like a miracle. The result is visible below. These (two) cuttings are last year’s, and are only now starting to pick up on this year’s growth season (see the lighter, less-lobed leaves). I cut their final two leaves last fall, so I would have some extra cuttings, and these are also doing great. This is an amazing plant species, and I’m wondering what it will look like at the end of summer.

I bought the mother of this Philodendron years ago as Philodendron sp. I’m not sure about the species, it could be Philodendron tripartitum.

My lovely variegated Monstera is developing a second leaf this week. I think she will have a great season with me!

Peek-a-boo! My Monstera deliciosa ‘variegata’ developing her second leaf of the season, only two weeks after fully unrolling her first. She’s not super high in white tissue, so I guess this gives her the energy to grow!

Published by Robin Heinen

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

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