Elephant Ear Philodendron
Mandy McDevitt wrote:
My name is Mandy and I have a question regarding a 15 year old Philodendron
("elephant ear") that I've potted and repotted five times over that
stretch. I'm at the point now where I can't separate the babes from
the original, so I have about 9 good sized plants in one 2' x 3' pot.
It goes out on the deck from spring to fall and stays in during the
winter. It's so healthy! But I'd like to separate it . . . if just to
give the parts of it a rest! But also to separate out some of the babies
and put them in other places around the house. Of course we don't have
any room for this but we make do! (smile) How do I separate these fused
babies; I mean the whole thing comes out of the pot in a clump - hardly
any divisions can be seen. Five or six years ago I split it with a hatchet
(yes, and I'm ashamed) but managed only to cut a wedge out of the bottom.
I put the clump back in a bigger pot, covered it over and it's thrived
(and given birth) ever since. Should I take a saw to it now? I apologize
if this is making you shudder. Just throwing out thoughts.
Good luck with this. I'll be very interested in what you might suggest.
and thanks. . .
Well, Mandy sometimes you just have to do what ya gotta do! The Elephant Ear
Philodendron or Selloum Philodendron, (Philodendron selloum)
very tough, so it can take a lot of abuse, and end up looking better in
the end. I only hope that when you took the hatchet to it, you didn't have
some sort of evil, crazed smile on your face.
If I were taking on your project, (and I have done it many
I'd go about it this way.....Try to think of yourself as a surgeon, use clean,
First I would slide the whole thing out of the pot, and lay it on its side
on a bench, or the kitchen table. Usually, with a little patience you can
find one or two of the pups which you can remove from the parent plant.
If you do, just try to follow the roots into the ball, untangling as you
go. If you happen to break a root or two, just clip them to a nice clean
cut. The soil in the root mass is more than likely old and tired, so clean
as much of it away as possible. Then I would use a sharp serrated knife,
or hand saw to cut through the root ball, and then separating the plant
portion as much as possible. I wouldn't cut the root ball into any more
than quarters, myself....Make sure that all of the cut roots have been
cleanly cut, and then dust the cuts with a rooting hormone such as Roottone.
the roots to remain exposed for a couple hours to allow the cuts to callous
over before repotting with a good commercial potting soil. Don't water
at all the first day, but then water very well, using the force of the
water to wash down additional dirt down into the root zone. You will have
to add more potting soil to replace what you have removed.
Your new plants will go through quite a bit of shock in this procedure, so
it'll take a while before they're looking great again. Hold off feeding
until the plant has started to show signs of new growth.