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just curious

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2004
by Wildpup on February 18, 2004 07:38 AM
So, since this forum has been so helpful answering my desperate cries for help with my philodendron, I thought I'd ask a question just out of curiousity.

If a plant loses its leaves, but its roots are still healthy, can it survive? From my rudimentary knowledge gained from highschool biology, I know that leaves are involved in photosynthesis and whatnot. But if, say, you cut all the leaves off a plant, [shocked] could it grow new ones or does it die because it can't photosynthesize?

I guess I'm mainly thinking of my philodendron with this question, but I'm really wondering about any kind of plant.

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by Wildpup on February 18, 2004 08:04 AM
Okay wait! I feel a little dumb...

Hey Wildpup, remember that season between summer and winter called *Fall*? You know, the one in which trees lose their leaves.... all of their leaves??? They don't die, do they?!?

Okay, so, I've just answered part of my own question. But I guess what I'm wondering is two-fold. How do trees stay alive through winter without the photosynthesis of its leaves? and Can this idea be applied to other plants such as a philodendron (i.e. just cuz trees can lose their leaves, can other plants)?

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by gardengal on February 18, 2004 05:33 PM
Hi Wildpup [wayey] (great name by the way). I don't have a very scientific answer being that I am not a biologist (but my sister is!) but many plants and trees have a dormant period. So although it may look dead with no leaves its actually just sleeping. [sleepy]

Here in Ca. I have to force my roses to go to sleep because we really don't get all that cold, so I trim them back in Jan. and they just look like dead thorny sticks, but in reality I'm helping the plant by giving it a chance to rest and gather strength for spring. Or at least that's how I think of it. [grin] I'll ask my sister for the scientific reasoning next time I talk to her.

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Women and cats will do as they please. Men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
by papito on February 18, 2004 05:58 PM
Plants have a period of active growth alternating with a period of rest or dormancy. The dormant period varies, sometimes, it needs low temperature to break dormancy before it starts active period.

While the plant is in dormant stage and presuming that there is no photosynthesis (manufacture of sugar from carbon dioxide and water with chlorophyll); the plant uses stored energy to support life until dormancy is broken and begins active growth again.

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Amor est vitae essentia.
Love is the essence of life.
by Will Creed on February 21, 2004 11:54 PM
Deciduous trees do, of course, lose their leaves during cold weather as they go into dormancy to survive. These trees are mostly from temperate zones where sub-freezing temps are the norm. This can also happen in areas that suffer extreme droughts during the year. These plants have adapted over the eons to survive temperature and moisture extremes.

Most houseplants are tropical in origin where freezing temps and droughts are not the norm. Such plants do not go into dormancy because they have no need to. The growth rate of these plants does slow a bit in northern winters when the hours of daylight are reduced. However, this not dormancy.

To answer your question, yes, some tropical houseplants can survive complete loss of their leaves as long as the roots are intact. Ficus trees can be completely denuded of their leaves and they will produce a whole set of new leaves in due time. Other plants that have only one growing tip, such as African violets, will usually die if the growing tip is damaged. A vining Philodendron could survive the loss of all its leaves as long as the roots remained healthy and some stem nodes remained intact.
by Bonsai Beginner on February 22, 2004 03:50 AM
I know tree's are dormant when they lose their leaves as for other plants I'm not sure but once caterpillers ate my whole plant, not just the leaves but the stalk too! Evil things, a couple weeks later it came back. It was an outdoor plant and I don't know why but it did. I also know that if you leave the roots of a weed in your garden it won't die. There are also some vines that you cut back because the next year they just start new shoots from the roots, the old stuff doesn't grow again.

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