Monday, 18 March 2013

How To Prune Pachypodium Succulentum

Last year I did a post on pruning Pachypodium Succulentum. However that was just a very mild prune just to see how the plant would react to a bit of a chop. It turned out that Pachypodium and indeed pruning it is quite high on my search term list. This year I am doing a very thorough prune including trying to propagate the plant via root cuttings. As you can see the top growth really has been getting thoroughly out of control. Realistically it is always going to be a bit lanky because there just isn't that much sunshine in the Netherlands.

Snap! With a very sharp and very clean pair of cutters I pruned back every single branch. As you can see I left a couple of centimetres on each branch (at least a couple of thorn pairs). From my previous pruning experiment I learned that it the new branches will sprout from these thorny bits and leaving a couple on means I have a bigger chance of a lot of new branches.

In this pic you can see a cut from last year and a fresh cut. I have dabbed all cuts with cinnamon to prevent any fungus problems.

Next up I took the whole plant out of the pot. The plant is from Ariane Cactus nurseries (their caudiciform plants are marketed as 'South African Pride' just like my Euphorbia Bupleurifolia and comes in the same gravely, pumice mix. The mix had hardened a lot and was quite difficult to get out of the pot. As you can see there was still a substantial bit of caudex underground and surprisingly few roots.

I feel quite confident in the regenerative abilities of this plant so I cut of a substantial piece of the tap root to experiment with some root cutting propagation. Again the cuts were covered in a bit of cinnamon.

This part is quite speculative but I the root in 7 portions. 1 is not pictured and substantially larger than these bits. These bits I dried for about a week (just like the whole plant which I just lay down on my plant table). The other bit I tried to root in water but I was getting worried about rot and I just pushed it into the soil of my plumeria.

I hope the bits of root did not dry out to much but I planted them up again in some barely moist substrate.

I thoroughly washed the substrate to leech out any harmful salts and added a good amount of pumice to lighten the mix up a bit. As you can see I raised the plant up substantially because I liked the look of the bifurcated caudex. At first I as afraid this would make the plant look too tall and skinny but I actually think the balance is a bit better now.  Because there are so few roots holding it in place I am using a little pot to add some support until the roots have regrown properly.


LT Expanded said...

Interesting. Update on progress, I have 3 with big caudex, so the progress is real interest to me.

Anonymous said...

Hi there!

Are you going to try to root the stem cuttings?

Realy glad I saw this blog because I have a little but expanding collection of pachypodiums and the one I like the most is succulentum (i have 4 seedlings of these) - nice to know it's ok to raise the caudex like it's an adenium.

Greetings from Croatia!

Tessa Leonie said...

Hey Anonymous ;)

I decided against trying to root the stem cuttings because I have read it is in fact quite hard to do. Besides that I imagine root cuttings would be much faster aquiring their own little caudex. Good luck with your seedlings!

Anonymous said...


Are the pieces of root showing signs of growth?

Tessa Leonie said...

Unfortunately I think I let the smaller pieces dry out too much. I probably should have used bigger pieces and only let them callous over for a day or two (instead of a week). There was one big piece of root that I pushed in alongside a Plumeria that still looks good and plumb, I think that one has a good chance of working though there is no visible growth yet. If it ends up sprouting I'll be sure to make a new post!

Brian Thorson said...

Hi. I have a very large P. succulentum that I have never pruned. I came across your blog in a Google search for others' experiences in pruning theirs. I have have rooted 3 P. succulentum cuttings so far. I've only ever tried three and they all rooted successfully. They were each about 6" long. You should give it a try. They are now starting to develop a caudex (after about 5 years. I didn't think they would develop a caudex from cuttings but they eventually do. If you get a chance, it would be nice to see how your pruning experiment worked out (or didn't). Have fun!