Monday, 30 December 2013

The fight of a lifetime

Many of us gardeners think we can make unruly plants behave in our gardens.
"We've got it under control," we tell ourselves.
Really, who are we trying to fool?
Me for instance, a few years ago decided I was going to "control" a cardboard palm   (Zamia furfuracea) in a pot.
Crazy......I know that now.
Recently, I had noticed a slight hairline crack in the pot, and knew that the time had come to tackle the palm removal process.
Cardboard palm in my beautiful fish scale clay pot.
 To begin the Battle Royale, I gathered my artillery of choice......

.......and let out a cry. "Let's get ready to rumble!!"
And so it started.  The biggest fight of my gardening lifetime.  Even when I fought with the removal of some ficus and pittosporum shrubs it was not like this.

This was on the first evening.  I watered the plant thoroughly in the pot until it almost overflowed.
After the water had flowed out of the pot, I trimmed a few leaves off. The leaves have sharp spines that can stick you very hard if you're not careful.

Tied the leaves together as best as I could, and then got to work at removing the plant.

This plant was having none of it.  It resisted and fought back with a vengeance.

It was slow going.  I was removing soil and rocking the palm from side to side and it was giving a little (probably teasing me), and when I thought I could try tugging it refused to budge.
It was hanging on for dear life and not letting go of its comfy home.
I spent the rest of the evening removing soil from the pot and avoiding the sharp spines.
It was getting late and I knew I had to call it a day....I was not pleased....being outwitted by my opponent did not go down well with me.

Early the following morning after a good night's rest, I was at it again.
By Round Four, I was sweaty and weary.
The huge trunk had grown almost to the bottom of the pot, and it was necessary to use a very sharp knife to sever the last stronghold.
Wielding the knife and driving it straight down into the trunk root, it held on for dear life while I sliced and sliced until that monstrosity came loose at last.
 DING!!!  DING!!!  DING!!!  DING!!
The final opponent TKO'ed.

I decided to plant a lovely little button fern in its place. However, I would first place it inside a plastic pot, and then insert it into the clay pot.

This way I would be able to control it better.  I have no idea why I didn't do this in the first place, since all my other clay pots have plastic pot inserts where the plants are placed.

The newbie in my fish scale clay should be happy there.

I ended up with a large pot of soil, which will be mixed with fertilizer to fill around the roots of the crotons later.
 Guess who was keeping an eye on the proceedings from the shade of the patio?

He doesn't look too pleased...I was spending a long time fighting with a plant when I could have been spending time with him.  
Don't worry, I made it up to him afterwards.


  1. I like the idea of sticking a pot in a pot. I've thought of doing that before, too. I'm glad the palm didn't win!

    1. The plastic pot inserts are the best way to go when using beautiful clay/cement pots that you don't want damaged.
      The palm was a strong opponent but I'm glad I won that fight too.
      I did think of you when I was fighting with the palm.

  2. Yes plastic pot inserts are the only way forward when dealing with ceramic pots that shape otherwise getting the plants out at some future daye can be well nigh impossible. You really did well.

  3. I still can't figure out why I used plastic pot inserts with all my other clay pots except that one...I must have been quite absent-minded that day when I potted the palm.


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