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The Sunday Snatch featuring Slipper Plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus)

The Sunday Snatch featuring Slipper Plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus)

 

Good afternoon!  I think you’re really going to dig this edition of The Snatch.

 

Anyone who knows me knows I love and preach the joys of this particular plant.  Here’s why:  it can grow in full sun or full shade, its form is very structural and ranges from totally vertical to twisty and  curly-Q’ed, it gets small red flowers (shaped like a lady’s slipper) that attract hummingbirds, it’s low water (I forget to water mine for weeks sometimes), it has zero thorns or pokey parts, and its flesh color ranges from bright green to rust/orange depending on the time of year, temperature, and exposure to the sun.  They look great as a focal plant or a mass-planting, and I bet you could even keep it as a stunning house plant.  It’s truly a magical unicorn plant, and I recommend getting your hands on some.

 

The kicker about this stuff is that you could spend a small fortune on a very minimal installation.  Last time I checked the nurseries were selling 1 gallon specimens, containing about 4 small sticks each, for a whopping $20.  So if you want to buy some and try to make an immediate impression you could easily buy $400 worth!  Granted, after a few years they’ll reproduce like crazy and you’ll end up with enough to give to friends (or start your own nursery), so it might be worth the money up front if it fits your budget.

 

SO.  The good news is that this plant has grown wildly in popularity in the last five years, meaning there’s plenty of opportunity for you to get some established for free. There’s a certain large academic institution in Tucson with a huge planting of them (I’m talking thousands of the sticks – you could take an armload and no one would know).  I also just noticed them at various In-N-Out drive-thrus.  I think you might have luck with this because A. those kids working there are super polite and probably won’t ask what you’re up to and B. like I’ve said before, you’ll notice that no one cares why or where you’re poking around with plants – they just don’t.  Once you’ve got this plant in your mind’s eye you’ll notice them all over, so you can scope out a spot that best fits your risk-taking abilities (maybe your friend’s house will do).

 

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Alright, so here’s the very easy nitty-gritty on starting your own batch.  You simply begin grabbing at individual sticks, give them a tug, and determine whether they are going to budge or not.  The new growth, anywhere up to two feet tall, usually releases from the soil pretty easily and you’ll have an entire root to work with.  Others you’ll test will be too solid to move.  Sometimes you will get an in-betweener that starts to pull up but then the root snaps.  I’ve never had luck planting the snapped specimens, but I always try it just to see what happens (they die).  I never bother with rooting hormone or any other fancy tactics – just pull them up, bunch them into a group, and plop them in a pot with decent soil.  I’ve seen them planted directly in the ground as well, but I recommend loosening up our desert soil with either some potting soil, perlite, sand, or anything else that doesn’t get so compacted. Ta-da, fantastic new addition to your yard.

 

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Have a deluxe afternoon.  See you tomorrow for more  on the Lookin’ Fly front.

2 Comments
  1. What makes this plant twisty as opposed to erect?

    • From what we’ve read thus far this evening in researching to “propagate” this beauty, if in full sun they grow fairly straight. In shade or partial shade, they have a tendancy to grow in a more curvaceous form! Ive owned one that was really nice and straight. Then when we moved 3 years ago, it was desired for a patio grouping of plants with only a few hours afternoon sun and its like the stems are reaching out sideways to touch the sun! We really enjoy this look of our healthy lady slipper and would like to add a few more containers to our collection! The writer of this original article is a hoot (!), but we will harvest from our own plant as it is abundantly healthy! Hope this helps!!!

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