How do I fix this overgrown plant that won't sit upright?
May 14, 2013 8:03 AM   Subscribe

In my office, there's this crazy plant that become quite overgrown. There's a stem that I think should be sitting upright, but the leaves are so overgrown that it has become top-heavy and everything simply spills over the side. I tried staking the plant upright, but it fell over after a few days. Here's a photo of the plant.

I'm thinking the plant may need a larger pot if I want to stake it upright, but also wondering if 1) it needs to be staked at all, 2) if it's a lost cause altogether, or 3) there's some other solution I hadn't considered.
posted by scottso17 to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
Re-pot it and bury it deeper than it is. Yes, you should stake it. It will be quite lovely once you have fixed it up.
posted by myselfasme at 8:13 AM on May 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yes, re-pot it and bury it deeper, but also it looks to me like it is searching for the sun. I would move it so that it doesn't have to work so hard to find the light.
posted by jvilter at 8:19 AM on May 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Looks to me like an overgrown Dieffenbachia/dumb cane, or possibly a Colocasia/elephant ear? Can't tell if that's an inflorescence in the center there or just more leaves.

If it's a dumb cane, I would recommend trimming it back to encourage new growth at the base and/or repotting, albeit carefully as Dieffenbachia sap is poisonous/irritating to bare skin due to its high oxalic acid content. If it's a Colocasia, yeah, just replant in a larger pot, bury the 'cane'/stalk, and stake it up right away.

Also, definitely move the plant into a warmer/brighter spot if you can, and rotate it every once in a while so all sides of the plant get their turn in the sun; the reason the stalks are growing so long is because they're stretching toward the light.
posted by divined by radio at 8:46 AM on May 14, 2013

This is a Philodendron, possibly P. martianum.

Yes, it would probably benefit by a repot with some fresh potting medium, but Phils are generally tough as nails and can survive all manner of neglect. In the wild, they're usually ground growing and the "vining" effect of the leaves falling off the mature stem is totally normal.

To address your questions: It would be fine to stake but not necessary; it's probably not remotely a lost cause; see above. Remember that these tropical Aroids are understory plants and are thus good as indoor (out of the direct blazing sun) plants.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 9:44 AM on May 14, 2013

Yeah, it's a Philodendron. Many are twining/climbing plants. Here in the conservatory we give them some sort of support like a stake or tree fern pole if they are in a pot. That's more about keeping their center of gravity over the pot and making it possible to move them around. If they're in the ground they can sprawl or clamber up other things.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:05 AM on May 14, 2013

OT, but wow, I had no idea there were so many different types of Philodendron. NEAT. I'm a lifelong amateur botany enthusiast, but a pretty dumb one, so my brain always sees Philodendron and assumes Pothos. At least this is apparently a common error.
The more you know! :shooting star:

posted by divined by radio at 1:56 PM on May 14, 2013

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