Patience Can Pay Off with a Nice Surprise
I was excited to see a side shoot developing on my Color Guard Yucca plant that acts as a focal point for the carport entrance drive. I had the perfect spot for the new baby plant, so in February, I carefully lifted the mother and sliced off the shoot for transplant. Things didn’t go as well as planned. Almost none of the original root system transferred to the new shoot, and the removal peeled away one side of the main stem. I thought I might have killed the original Yucca. I transplanted the new shoot anyway, with illogical optimism. The new division slowly began to deteriorate, and the stems eventually turned an unhealthy gray before rotting away.
I was excited to find a forgotten Fig tree growing in a shady area of the lower yard. It must have been sunny in that area long ago, but a nearby Holly shrub had grown twenty-five feet tall since then and the tree was struggling to survive. In November, I transplanted what was left of it to a nice, sunny area and gave it some lime, because Figs love lime in the soil. In the spring, after all the other shrubs put out new leaves, the little Fig had nothing but a few, bare stems.
And then, I waited. With experience, I knew how important it was to hold on to hope until the magic month of June. Just as we are deceived every year into thinking it is safe to plant tender annuals during the first warm weeks of spring, only to lose them to a late frost, we are deceived into thinking if we don’t see growth on a plant after all danger of frost is gone, a plant is dead. Not true! Well, not true some of the time. It is most definitely worth it to wait an extra month or two to see if a tiny sliver of hope and spark of a supernatural will-to-live is left in your lost-cause plants.
The mother Yucca recovered and the side shoot used all its available reserve resources in the stem, modified the cell characteristics to transform them from stem to root cells, and started feeding nutrients into a fresh leaf sprout. The frost-bitten Fig transplant gathered all the remaining energy left in its roots, in spite of the dead branches above ground, and sent out new leaves to manufacture new energy for new branches.
It’s such a nice surprise to see your patience rewarded. The surviving plant may not be a looker, but the satisfaction of seeing new life sprout from nothing is pretty amazing! Don’t give up on a plant until mid-June. If you haven’t seen evidence of life after that, you can move on and replace it.