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Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
by pumpie on December 01, 2006 07:28 AM
I guess this is a general plant care question. I have a plant that needs to be trimmed because it is too leggy. I recently identified this plant as persian shield, and the care instructions recommend cutting it back.

My question is how can trim it best? I should pinch off a bit from the ends, where the new growth is. How much? and should it be at each end? I think i'm just nervous about taking away the new growth. it's only been healthy recently.


pstrobilanthes dyerianus aka persian shield
by margaret e. pell on December 05, 2006 03:07 AM
Sorry, I don't really know, I just hate to see a question with no answer. Do you know if you can root the cuttings? Maybe just nip the growth point off with your fingernail and see how it responds.

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may God bless the WHOLE world!
by joclyn on December 05, 2006 07:57 AM
oh, oh, oh! i got one of those this summer and no one watered it when i was away for a long weekend [tears] it was all shriveled up when i got home.

absolutely GORGEOUS plant!!!

i agree with margaret, instead of just pinching it back - try to root some cuttings...then, once rooted, you can plant them around the base of the main plant and cover up those leggy stems a bit.

you'll want to do the cutting right under the node and then insert it in some type of moist potting medium and then tent it so the humidity level stays constant (shouldn't have to water it too often as the tent will keep the moisture in) and the starts should be kept in a spot that's fairly warm & sunny (or use fluorescent lights).

NODE - The point on a stem where a leaf or bud is attached; the place for which propagation is used.

NODE ANCHORING - Node anchoring or node cuttings are when you take a cutting of a stem right below a node. This is a better method of getting success than taking a cut just anywhere on the stem. It is mentioned for the Persian Shield because the success rate for stem cuttings for the Persian Shield is not that great and cutting right below the node gives it a better chance.

if it's starting to flower, don't take cuttings (they tend not to root well). either wait until the flowers are done or nip them off and wait a week or so and then take the cuttings.

you can root in water - seems to take an awfully long time for roots to start up tho. also, at this time of year (low growth time) they can take longer to root-out, so, don't be surprised if they take a bit.

good luck!!
by pumpie on December 07, 2006 06:21 AM
Thanks! I'll try my best to take a cutting and make it work. There really aren't too many leaves right now - 3 stems, each with 3-4 sets of leaves, and some new ones peeking out. We'll see . . .

by Star Dancer on December 07, 2006 08:38 PM

New leaves won't fill in your leggy Persian shield without intervention. Pinching back is effective for getting new growth to branch out but does nothing to replace bare lower growth.

Go ahead and take 5-6" green tip cuttings to start new plants. As someone advised, start the cuttings in moistened well draining peat based soil, and tent until rooted. The tent retains moisture so the cuttings likely won't need watering until rooted. Watch for condensation within the tent. If the walls of the plastic condense, open the tent to allow excess moisture to escape, then reseal.

However, if you want your current plant to fill in and regain its beauty, best to prune the leggy branches by at least a third, more if desired to a couple inches above the soil line (it wont' hurt or harm the plant). Make cuts 1/4" above nodes where new leaves form. Be forewarned the plant will look terrible for a few months until new leaves grow in. If you choose to prune at this time of year, know that growth is slow in the reduced light of winter.

Rapid growers,Persian shields are prone to legginess, especially they are grown in insufficient light. To prevent legginess in the future, provide the Persian Shield with as much light as possible when you're keeping it indoors. Direct sunlight is best (outdoors, keep sheltered from the sun on the hottest summer days as leaves bleach out, or worse, burn.

Best of luck with reviving your Persian Shield!

by pumpie on December 08, 2006 10:52 AM
I would wait until summer before I try any serious pruning. One clarification - if I cut even 5cm off the 3 branches, the plant would have no leaves left. I'm assuming that I couldn't cut off that much - I can't leave the plant with no leaves. I might cut one branch, but even that seems harsh. Is this right?

by joclyn on December 09, 2006 02:42 AM
if there are nodes left on the bottom of the stalks (below where you trim off) they you should get growth - it will take a while though as they don't do a lot of growing this time of year.

i contacted a local garden center (ott's as some others in the area have mentioned) to see if they had any because i wanted to replace the one i lost in the summer.

they have some - they aren't ready for selling at the moment because they got leggy. i was told to call in about 6 weeks to see if they're ready...that's on top of the other comment made by the first person i talked to - she knew they had them - said they'd been moved out of the main store area about 3 weeks ago, or so.

so, putting all the info together, trimming off the tops and rooting them will take about 2 months before new plants are ready to go.

if you're nervous about cutting too much back...just do one stem/stalk as a severe cutting - leave the others to continue growing (maybe just keep pinching the topmost growth back for a bit to try to promote growth on the lower bare area).

root the one piece and see if you get new growth on the lower portion of th existing plants...if you do, then you can trim off another top piece and root it, too. if not, then just trim off the top pieces that have leaves and root (and discard the original plants that got leggy).

good luck! and keep us updated! i'm curious to see how you do - might need the info in the future!! [Smile]

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