The plant is dead. Long live the plant.
October 3, 2021 7:14 PM   Subscribe

I had a potted plant (pothos) and left it outside, at which point it got sunburned/too hot and lost all of its leaves. I brought it inside and it continued to grow, sprouting leaves from the end, but no regrowth where the dead leaves had been. This was about 8 months ago. Last week I repotted it into a larger pot (it was very rootbound) and - almost overnight - new leaves are sprouting from the spots in the stem where the leaves had died 8 months ago! What happened?!

Can anyone explain what was actually happening in my plant? Why did it just now decide to sprout new leaves where the old leaves had been? I had taken it to the plant store and an employee there had confidently informed me that leaves would NEVER regrow where they had fallen off.
posted by rogerroger to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Perhaps the leaves won't grow from the exact same former locations of leaves but they can forge small new growth from areas previously rendered inert from conditions. When trees are significantly stressed they will put out tons of new growth on old limbs to compensate; see any tree dying of emerald ash borer. The main difference is that pothos are extremely hardy and with proper treatment can come back compared to a stressed tree.
posted by Ferreous at 7:42 PM on October 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The leaves are almost certainly emerging from the leaf axil, extremely close to the leaf stalk. Aah Ferreous has it covered.
posted by unearthed at 1:24 AM on October 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: What happened?!

You put it in new soil, providing it with nutrients the old soil had deprived it of for for months.

Why did it just now decide to sprout new leaves where the old leaves had been?

It didn't "decide". It only just became capable due to finally getting the nutrients it needed.

It wasn't stubborn, it was hindered.
posted by dobbs at 4:41 AM on October 4, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Being rootbound was probably what made it not regrow from those original spots sooner. From your description, the damage made it "leggy" on accident - and the rootbound-ed-ness (yes, I'm making up words) kept it that way.
posted by stormyteal at 10:37 AM on October 4, 2021

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