Houseplants forum: Plant mysteriously dies and turns to wood

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Junker1004
May 3, 2016 12:59 PM CST
Have had this guy for a few years, came home one day and it appears to die. Luckily the little growths become new stems, get hairy, vegetates, flowers, then the pattern repeats - turns to wood. Any info on why the stems die etc? Thank you :)
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Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
May 3, 2016 1:45 PM CST
Do you know what plant is is/was? I cannot ID it from your pictures. Gene

Junker1004
May 3, 2016 2:05 PM CST
Does this help? I am not entirely sure the name, some tropical plant - leaves turn redder at night.
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
May 4, 2016 4:54 AM CST
Hypoestes (polka dot plant.) It's normal for last years' stems to be discarded.
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Junker1004
May 4, 2016 9:08 AM CST
Got it! So am I safe cutting the dead woody stems? Never pinched before, but this thing is getting super long and leggy. Do you know how I can encourage more fullness and not leggyness? Thank you
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
Bulbs Foliage Fan Tropicals Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents
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purpleinopp
May 4, 2016 4:08 PM CST
Yes, the plant would look better without those old stems. If the new growth has excess distance between nodes, a bit more light will help. Kind of a gangly, leaning plant by nature. If it stays upright and blooms in the fall, it's happy. To encourage branching in general, for this or any branching plant, assuming it's not in insufficient light, removing the older leaves at the base of the stem will encouraging branching. Pinching the tip will usually cause the tip to bifurcate.
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