Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Pruning Pachypodium Succulentum

Around this part of the world we have something called 'the ice saints', basically these are the name days of a couple of christian saints that in folklore herald the time to plant out your tender plants seeing as it is very unlikely there will be any night frosts after these dates (May 11/14). To celebrate there is a plant market in Haarlem lasting the whole night. Though filled with a lot of your usual tender bedding plants there are usually a couple of stalls that carry more interesting fare. It is here that I bought my Pachypodium succulentum, which to be honest has been really easy to take care of. In summer it spend it's days outside getting a regular splash of water (it is planted in pumice). In late summer it even flowered with rather charming flowers. It overwintered the same way as the adenium, quite dry and on the heat). It did not go fully dormant keeping a couple of leaves before starting to grow again when the days got longer.

I don't think it is necessary to repot (or simply lift it a bit) yet so this year I have two goals. One is that I want to ensure the caudex gets as big as possible so I will be giving this plenty of water when it is hot and sunny. Secondly I am quite aware the new branches are rather leggy due to lack of sun. The severity of that situation is obvious when you compare it to the photo here (a great site for information as well). To get it to grow more compact I will need a lot of sun. So in the future I will probably be giving this quite the haircut in spring and hope the new growth is nice and grows compact in the summer sun. 
As a bit of a prelude to this I trimmed three of the branches just to see what would happen. Days after the pruning you could see the new buds swelling and now you can see that for each cut branch one or two new ones are going to take it's place. This year we can see whether the new growth will grow compact after a spring pruning and also whether the new growth will flower.


About two months after these pictures above the Pachypodium succulentum  is doing rather well outside in the sun.

The pruned branches have branched nicely but as you can see there is also some spontaneous branching.

The sunshine means that the leaves are growing nice and closely together. Next spring a radical haircut should provide a good compact habit of the new branches.

There was a bit of a scary moment when the top of the caudex felt soft and mushy. I rubbed off all this rotted tissue and then let the plant thoroughly dry for about a week on top of the radiator inside. It is now all nice and calloused over and the plant does not seem to suffer.

Update this year I pruned it really hard

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