Cactus and Tender Succulents forum: Re potting a Pachypodium Rutenbergianum (Madagascar Palm)

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Punta Gorda Florida (Zone 10a)
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jhon
Jan 23, 2017 3:46 PM CST
I have a Pachypodium Rutenbergianum (Madagascar Palm) that was given to me about 6 or 7 years ago by a friend’s wife after he died. (I had always liked it) Last summer, I moved from New Jersey to Florida. In New Jersey, I would keep it outside in the summer and wheel it back in in the fall and the leaves would fall off. I would tuck it away in a corner near a window for the winter.
When I moved to Florida, I thought the leaves would stay on all year and I kept the plant outside, but in November we had a few cool days and nights it started to shed. So I wheeled it back in.
In the short period since moving to Florida, the plant has really grown and has never been healthier. I want to repot it but I just don’t know the best time. Should I repot the plant now or wait until it is active again in the spring or summer? I had repotted it once in the past, but I cannot remember what time of year I did it.

Thanks for your help.

John (jhon)

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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jan 23, 2017 5:42 PM CST
Personally, I would wait for active growth before I repotted.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
Jan 24, 2017 10:44 AM CST
If you are sure it does need repotting, I'd do it now. Gene
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jan 24, 2017 11:05 AM CST

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If the picture is current, the plant is in active growth.

You can repot any time the plant is leafy and growing. Spring would be the default when in doubt.
Punta Gorda Florida (Zone 10a)
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jhon
Jan 24, 2017 11:51 AM CST
That picture was taken before the leaves fell off. It is almost naked now. (two leaves are hanging on)
So I got a two to one that I should repot it when it starts growing again.

Thanks.

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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jan 24, 2017 1:15 PM CST

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I think there are different definitions of "repotting". For me repotting usually means moving a plant up a pot size... just lift, drop and fill. Pretty basic. Minimum invasion of the root zone. Some people understand the term to mean total soil replacement, which of course means root wrangling. If that's how you want to do it, you really should wait until the plant is no longer dormant. Root injury will not be as quick to recover when these plants are asleep, regardless of the climate. It is at that point when they are most susceptible to rot caused by (over)watering.

My preference for leafiness at the time of repotting (I grow other Pachypodiums but not that species) has to do with water management more than anything else. These plants have different water requirements depending on their state of growth, and they use/need the least water when they are fully dormant. If you repot at this time and water deeply, they will sit on top of a cushion of wet soil where the roots have not yet penetrated. For a while, because the bigger the pot (esp. in depth), the longer it will take to dry out. More opportunities for things to go wrong down there, in my mind.

I would think you could repot a dormant plant whenever you want, provided you're very careful with the water afterwards until it perks up again.

Whatever you decide to do, that's an awesome, beautiful plant (any chance you can put it in the ground?) and the care you're providing must be excellent. How are the flowers? For this next step I would recommend not too deep a pot, and a good amount of rock in the mix (pumice, lava rock, perlite, gravel) for proper drainage.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jan 24, 2017 3:02 PM CST
Baja has given you great advice. If it were any other type of plant (not succulents or cactus), I repot just before they wake up. But, as Baja points out, the chance of injury to roots (even with the most careful potting) and the very real concern of the plant sitting in wet soil while not in active growth is enough reason for me to wait. Both of those conditions will make your beautiful plant rot in an instant.

But why are you considering repotting? Did I miss that? I wouldn't until the plant gets too big and the pot starts tipping over. Than I would go with a wider than deep unglazed terra cotta pot with a lot of added rock mixed into the soil.

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Punta Gorda Florida (Zone 10a)
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jhon
Jan 24, 2017 5:54 PM CST
Thanks for all the advise.
Daisyl, I worry that the pot is getting too small. And I need a heavier one. Last year it blew over and I don't want that to happen again. Also, if I go away for a few days, and it doesn't get watered, the more soil the longer to dry out. In the summer I water it almost every other day when it is outside. In the winter, I water it every week or two when the soil looks real dry.

Baja, When I repot, I hope to keep as much of the dirt around the root ball as I can, but I always have issues with this and it falls out. If it was a clay pot, I would put it in the dirt and crack it and take it out in pieces, but it is a plastic one. I have thought of planting it in the ground as I am in a good zone for it. I just worry we get one of those freak weeks and I damage or kill it. I have thought of building a cover for it if it does get cold.
As far as the flower, I had my first one this past summer. A single white flower. I hope this summer to get more.
I had no clue what this plant was and I came across the garden web and put a picture on it and found my answer. Since I have done a lot of research on it. I had been taking care of it the right way. Luck I guess.
Name: Karen
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plantmanager
Jan 24, 2017 6:47 PM CST
Don't end up planting it in the ground. I did that once in Arizona. It grew beautifully for about 5 years, and then we had a hard freeze when I wasn't around to baby it and cover it. I lost it, and it never came back from the root like I hoped.
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Punta Gorda Florida (Zone 10a)
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jhon
Jan 25, 2017 4:37 PM CST
plantmanager said:Don't end up planting it in the ground. I did that once in Arizona. It grew beautifully for about 5 years, and then we had a hard freeze when I wasn't around to baby it and cover it. I lost it, and it never came back from the root like I hoped.




Thanks, That is my fear

Name: Tim
Ruskin, FL (Zone 9b)
Region: Florida
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Palmeria
Apr 2, 2017 4:01 PM CST
I would put it in the ground. Mine did get hit hard but lived through the 2010 freeze I am north of you. It will be fine. This year I actually have a huge seed pod. First one to not fall off with black tip.
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Name: Tim
Ruskin, FL (Zone 9b)
Region: Florida
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Palmeria
Apr 2, 2017 4:08 PM CST
My first Pachypodium rutenbergianum seed pod
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Name: Reine
Porter, Texas (Zone 9a)
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Reine
Apr 2, 2017 4:13 PM CST
I agree with Baja, also, he gives good advice. Smiling

@Palmeria Welcome!

nice plants, both of you. Smiling
Name: Tim
Ruskin, FL (Zone 9b)
Region: Florida
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Palmeria
Apr 2, 2017 5:12 PM CST
Thank You!
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Apr 2, 2017 5:14 PM CST

Moderator

Oooh Tim, beautiful Pachypodium, flowers & fruit. Welcome!
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Critters Allowed Region: Arizona Xeriscape Greenhouse Annuals
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plantmanager
Apr 2, 2017 5:17 PM CST
I agree I may have to try another one. I had some that died when I left them outside during a hard freeze. Yours is beautiful!
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Name: Tim
Ruskin, FL (Zone 9b)
Region: Florida
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Palmeria
Apr 2, 2017 6:31 PM CST
Quote :
When I moved to Florida, I thought the leaves would stay on all year and I kept the plant outside, but in November we had a few cool days and nights it started to shed. So I wheeled it back in.


Mine only blooms when the leaves fall off around nov-Jan it has never bloomed with leaves on it. Pics of seed pod from today, flower pics was on Jan 6 2017 usually a cold snap shuts the flowers down, but luckily this year a lot of flowers. Had over 100 seed pods only to be left with one. I guess it's hard to get a seed pod, been 10+ years without any
[Last edited by Palmeria - Apr 2, 2017 6:53 PM (+)]
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Name: Tim
Ruskin, FL (Zone 9b)
Region: Florida
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Palmeria
May 30, 2017 8:14 PM CST
Seed pods opened on a windy day of course, but I was able to save most of them Hurray!
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Name: Bob
The Kau Desert, Hawaii (Zone 12a)
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OrchidBob
Jun 4, 2017 2:37 PM CST
That pot is definitely too small for the size of your Pachypodium.
The advise given by Baja ids right on.
I always use plastic pots.
You can place the plastic pot inside a heavy clay pot for stability.
Best would be to put it in the ground if you do not plan on moving.
I saw dozens of Pachypodiyms at Fairchild Gardens in Miami.
They were all very happy.
Trees like this would like to be free and pots are only for our convenience.

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