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Sectioning Hydnophytines for Display

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Since the intricate interior architecture of caudexed ant plants is one of their many attractive features, I thought that I'd share the results of some experiments I have made over the past 18 months on removing stem sections from both healthy and damaged plants of different sizes to make them suitable for display.

The first point to note is that it is mostly a waste of effort to section these plants when the are young and actively growing, since a healthy smaller plant will scar quite rapidly and grow over the wounded tissue in fairly short order. I have found that it is best to wait until the caudex is more or less of full adult size, which may require some patience and/or acquisition of a six to 10 year-old specimen. With a very sharp, sterile knife in hand, begin by slicing off just enough stem to reveal a representative view - on a flat plane - of the tunnels and chambers. Leaving most of the stem intact will allow for subsequent slices to be made as a "refresh" every couple of years to keep the chambers fully exposed, while leaving more than half of the original stem intact throughout the process

After slicing the caudex, usually on a vertical plane, I dust the wounded surfaces with either Captan fungicide or powdered charcoal and place the plant in a bright, well-ventilated space until the wound is completely dried and healed (usually 60-90 days). I suggest that extra care be taken when watering the plant during this period, since even fungicide dressed plants can rot if the wound is sprayed with any frequency. Small areas of rot can be addressed by some careful cuts with a sterile, sharp blade to completely clean tissue, then rinsed with dilute hydrogen peroxide.

The final product usually attracts a lot of positive commentary from visitors to the collection. This is an eight year-old Myrmecodia tuberosa var. papuana planted in a 25 cm/10" basket that has been sliced horizontally through its "shoulders" to deal with a persistent, cold-induced terminal rot. The plant is about 60 days since the cut was made, and the exposed tissue is dry and hard to the touch. Whitish color is residual Captan powder that has not been washed off during the healing period. In this particular case, the plant is sprouting new growths on the upper edge of the wound, so it will ultimately end up with a basket of stems above the cross-sectioned stem.






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very interesting method JAY  , and really the plant is sprouting new growths on the upper edge of the wound ?

you use this method on a  healthy plant or a damaged plant.

I tried that too on a plant that began to rot, I had removed all the damaged part with a cutter blade until reaching the healthy part ,Then I sprouted with charcoal powder,Unfortunately the result had not been convincing.

may be  ventilation was not sufficient ?

have you try leaf or stem cuttings ?



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Yes, the plant is vigorously sprouting on the upper edge of the cut, as they invariably do when they are healthy and survive.

I have used this technique on both healthy and plants with localized apical and basal rots. You should be aware that it is extremely difficult to salvage hydnophytines infected with systemic rots. I have the advantage of being able to access and use a wide variety of agri-chem that would not be available to a home grower in the EU, and even then it is very difficult to save plants that are fully infected. Powdered charcoal is certainly not my preferred choice for treating wounds, it's just that this is something that anyone around the world can get they're hands on easily...it is certainly better than applying nothing at all. Flushing freshly-cleaned wounds on stems and caudexes with dilute hydrogen peroxide is a very useful trick if you haven't tried it already, and would try that prior to dusting cut surfaces with charcoal powder.

These plants all require excellent ventilation when older. Seedlings can be in drenched terraria and so forth for quite some time.

Yes, I have rooted stem cuttings of a number of genera. From my perspective, only useful for breeding.


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  • 2 years later...

Two years and a half years after the cross-section above was made, I came across the same plant today when I was looking for larger candidates in need of repotting.

My experience is that the attractive visuals of sectioned hydnophytine caudexes are largely obliterated within 12-18 months from cuts so some thought should be invested in whether and where to make stem cuts for display purposes.

Note that I tried to select an image with the same scale and orientation for comparative purposes. As unlikely as this sounds, I think you could end up with a fairly normal looking plant within four years of a major, very traumatic cross-section like what was shown in 2017. There a branches emerging all over the calloused tissue that has covered the exposed hollow caudex, as well as from the edge of the old cut.




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