Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Second round Spiranthes

After I found a Spiranthes growing in my front yard, my mother-in-law was determined to find some of her own.  She found a group of several on a hill on their property.  As an experiment, she dug up all but one of these plants carefully and placed the clumps of soil in four different pots.  She gave two pots to me and kept two for herself.  She also marked the one left in the ground by placing a couple of pieces of scrap wood around it.  In addition, I had potted one Spiranthes I found growing in my neighborhood.

I placed the three pots in my greenhouse and enjoyed the little time left they had of their dainty white blooms.  Then they turned brown and have just sat there.  I've wondered whether bringing them into a year-round warm environment would mess up their natural cycle of seasons they would have otherwise experienced in the ground outdoors.  Recently my two pots from my mother-in-law of dead stalks started to change - green leaves began to emerge from the soil, right next to each deceased stem.  At first I wasn't sure that it had anything to do with the Spiranthes, thinking maybe it was just something else in the soil (maybe even a grass) that was  coming up.  But I realized that the leaves were directly associated with each of my old Spiranthes stems.  And then about a week later a couple of leaves broke through the soil surface in the potted Spiranthes from my neighborhood.

New leaves emerging from my Spiranthes tubers
Now there is a rosette of 3 or 4 small leaves surrounding each deceased stem and they are coming up from more than one location, making me think the Spiranthes tubers have produced offsets under the soil.  I checked to see if the marked Spiranthes still in the ground at my in-laws house was also producing these leaves and it is not.  Right now my theory is that the potted Spiranthes are taking advantage of what they must consider a warmer than normal Fall and going for another round.  They may or may not send up another flower stem.  They might just be putting up leaves to produce chlorophyll and energy which can be transferred to the tubers as stored energy for next year's growth.  Either way, it's an interesting experiment.  Since Spiranthes are so wide spread in the United States, I'm not at all worried about experimenting with these volunteers that came up in our yards.  Hopefully I'll have something exciting to report in a couple of weeks time.

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