Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Friday Agave, Part 2

There I am. Up to my forearms in muddy water and still with a root bound Agave on my hands, literally. The sprouts are still laying in wonky directions; bound to Mother plant by wound-around roots. I've got to start sacrificing roots to save these precious sprouts.

Never one to shrink [well, not for very long] from a difficult task, I begin teasing loose root ends away from the plant. I unwind and unwind, breaking as few connections as possible. Finally the largest of the sprouts is FREE! WHOOPEE!!! My first success.

Being the over-confident goober I am, that success is followed immediately by me breaking off the tip end of the second sprout in my haste to free it. I scoop the tip from the muddy water and shove it down in a small pot of dirt hoping it will survive. [Since the “dirt” is Cactus and Succulent Potting Soil and 10 days later the tip is, in fact, showing no signs of decay... I'm hopeful.]

The unwinding and occasional breaking of roots and the suckers they send out to attach to dirt, surround roots and other structures continues until all three sprouts are free. Then I free up a large enough hole in the wound-up roots to pass a thin transplanter spade through.
Now I can begin the REAL work. I start removing the tired out dirt spadeful by spadeful. I am from the school of thought that figures, once a plant has grown so much it's root-bound...the soil in that pot is depleted of any nutrients it once held. SO I just threw that dirt on the ground.

I had already prepared the new, larger pot with gravel in the bottom. YES, it has drainage holes. I'm cautious, sue me. I like a thin layer of gravel for ALL my plants. I detest soggy roots. Then I had put fresh succulent potting soil to a depth of about 3” on top of the gravel.

After I had all the old, trapped dirt removed and had a clear picture of what I was working with...how MUCH of a root system had survived, how much room they were going to need to be comfortable, how tall the sprouts were I had a better idea of how much “base” soil I needed. I added another inch.

Then I very carefully began to arrange the roots and loose handfuls of soil in the pot. All the while holding onto the Mother plant and sprouts with my right hand. That's not quite accurate. I actually had the sprouts gently draped over the nearest lower leaves of Mother plant. I just held onto the bottom of Mother. Still, those leaves ate my hand and wrist. But you know how agaves are...unless you get a deep puncture from the tip, you don't realize just how many bites the plant is taking until you look at your hand(s) later. Sort of like Death of a Thousand Cuts.

Finally, I get all the roots arranged and covered satisfactorily. I begin putting the sprouts in upright positions between adult leaves. One of them is too short to break the surface of the soil. But I know it will, eventually. I add some dirt to the edges of the pot, but I don't push it down. I know it will settle under its own movement and obeying the Law of Gravity.

I watered it with some of that muddy water from the ice chest left it outside for cleansing by the rain. It's looking good. It looks a LOT better than my right hand did for the first week. I really should have taken a pic of all the scratches on it.

When I get back home, I'll take a picture of it. This is one plant I can leave outside and not have to worry about the dogs messing with it. At least, not without immediate consequences.


Christina LMT said...

You have green thumbs! Lucky plants.
Mine always die, usually after a long, protracted period of suffering. So I've quit having live plants for now.

Kate said...

Will you come and take care of my plants?

CB Lainy said...

I can't wait to see the pics. I love plants and they do well for me. Good job, Holly. Great thinking!

phlegmfatale said...

It looks really good, too, Hols, but your arms were just shredded. It looked as though you'd been bathing kittens.

phlegmfatale said...

By the way, I've tagged you on a meme!

IceFire said...


Three words..."long sleeves", and "GLOVES". They will reduce the damage to your body. (Nice save on the plants, though!)