Keeping Hope alive: a philodendron story

  When I came to Lehigh in 1998 there was a sad, sprawling, frankly ugly plant under the stairwell by the printers. With almost no natural light and soil that always looked bone-dry,  it produced dinner plate-sized leaves on leggy, light-seeking stems.  I suppose it was watered sometime — maybe I did once or twice.  As you might have guessed it’s a philodendron — specifically a   Philodendron bipinnatifidum ‘Hope.’ And the cultivar ‘Hope’ could not be more apt as it’s pretty much what this plant lived on for twenty years.

Finally, this spring, it looked like ‘Hope’ was finally throwing in the towel. Its leaves started to yellow at the edges, and now it was not just unsightly — it was sickly. I overheard someone talking about removing it.

I felt suddenly, weirdly protective. In advance of its death-by-dumpster, I took a cutting of three leaves and part of a woody bulb and planted it in a spare pot. Its prospects seemed dim. Two of the big leaves yellowed and I removed them, waiting for the third and last leaf to follow suit. I watered and fertilized and moved it closer to the window.

A week or so ago, it sprouted two new leaves!  Now I’m looking for a larger pot to anchor it and hopefully do it justice. Jes doin’ my part to keep Hope alive ;-).