My houseplants are too fecund.
September 2, 2018 10:44 AM   Subscribe

Nothing I grow will ever die. My houseplants all just make infinite babies. I don't like to kill starts, so I'm looking for a way to encourage my plants to just not reproduce in the first place. Without actually killing them.

My spider plant has well over a dozen plant-sized babies hanging off it, and no, I'm really not just going to compost them. I have a succulent who is taking over ALL my planters because every single leaf has a dozen-plus seedlings on it that fall off all the time. And they grow fast. Obviously I can't stop the existing new plants, but what can I do to stop those new plants from making plants?

I can only give away a small fraction of the starts all my plants are making, and I've run out of window sill space.
posted by aniola to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Why not just compost them, I ask, though I actually move volunteer seedlings around the garden instead of weeding because I don't have the heart. But back to nature is nothing to be ashamed about, you're not even throwing them away, just recycling the nutrients.

But seriously. Some plants reproduce when stressed. Some when very very happy. Keep the happy plants stressed and the stressed plants happy and you should have fewer offspring, ideally.
posted by lydhre at 11:12 AM on September 2, 2018

I am familiar with this problem, and it’s only got two solutions, generally speaking.

1) Understand the details of how and why it is propagating, and change its environment accordingly. For example, spider plants will not put out nearly as many spiderlings if they have ample leg room: so up-potting is a potential solution. But if it’s kept happy, it will fill the new pot, and now it’s putting out babies at twice rate! You can take it out and root prune it, or you can deprive it of light and water. All those will impact its aparent beauty and can be considerable effort if you have lots of pots (I have had about 100 at max capacity). Likewise, stress can bring about reproduction in some cases, but it does vary by plant clade, and while I love to think about this stuff and tinker, most of this involved keeping the plant sortbof unhappy.

2) Give away and compost. My mom likened it to getting a haircut or clipping a dog’s nails: you’re not usually to sad about the bits that go away.

2b) one good trick is to give away your nice good mature plants, and keep babies to raise. Far more people will accept an nice healthy specimen that looks great now, compared to those who want a tiny clone of your mother-of-millions that will take years to really shine.
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:29 AM on September 2, 2018 [10 favorites]

I am going to USE that trick! 2b saves the day!!! Thanks!
posted by aniola at 12:03 PM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

2b DOES sounds like a winner. If your recipient is anything like me, I couldn't keep a baby plant going for long but have a much better likelihood of maintaining a well established plant. Set your friends up for plant success! The worst that could happen is that they start trying to give you their baby plants.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:54 PM on September 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

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