Growth hack for vining plants with bare stems
Got a vining plant with bare patches? (I'm looking at you Miss Marble Queen). Put down those snips! This growth hack is stolen from the world of orchids and works a treat on all sorts of vining plants, including Pothos, Hoya, Philodendron, Scindapsus and more. It’s worked on my Cane Begonia, Monstera and Ficus too (speaking of Ficus, here are 4 ways to get your Ficus to branch out and be bushier). And you bet my balding Marble Queen is up next...
This stolen magic potion is called Crazy Keiki. It's available here in New Zealand but since it's originally from the USA, my international plant buddies should have no trouble finding it locally, eg: you can get it here on Amazon.
Crazy Keiki gets is name from a keiki, Hawaiian for child, and the name for an exact baby clone produced by a mother orchid plant. But it turns out Crazy Keiki is not just for orchids.
How do you use it?
Just dab a pea sized amount on to nodes along those bare stems and watch it work its magic. Yes, it's that simple, but I do have tips from some multiple trial and a little error, using my indoor jungle as my guinea pig.
Start with 2 to 3 nodes per plant
My first tip is not to overdo it. This stuff is really good. I find it's best applied to 3 nodes maximum at a time per plant. Otherwise I’ve found it zaps too much energy from your plant and you can end up with lots of smaller leaves that might not reach full size.
Considering a plant normally fuels growth of a small number of leaves at a time, and you push it to double or triple that growth all at once, there's only so much fuel to go around. For best results, start with 3 nodes max (less on a smaller plant), and let those activate and get a little size first, before dabbing it on more nodes.
Apply opposite the aerial root
I also find best results when applying the Crazy Keiki to the side opposite to where the aerial root is on the node (I added a little plant bits 101 for you below). For woodier stems and older growth, which can be harder to activate (like Ficus), you can also score the stem first. Cloning paste also tends to activate growth above and below the node where it’s applied, so a little goes a long way, but that you also means on longer stems you only need to apply it to every 2nd to 3rd node.
Remember to feed!
There's no point using Crazy Keiki (or any growth booster), to put your foot down on the growth accelerator if the fuel tank's on empty. Fertiliser fuels growth. If you use a growth booster without also fertilising, you'll soon end up with growth slowing down or stopping, or stunted, small growth due to deficiencies.
When you want to fuel leaf growth, you want a foliage fertiliser. Those are the ones higher in nitrogen. Two of my favourites are Plant Runner and GT Foliage Focus (those links are for my NZ plant buddies, but overseas you can get GT Foliage Focus on Amazon too).
Don't forget calcium
Nitrogen gets the most attention when it comes to growing foliage, but keep in mind there are 11 other essential nutrients plants need for growth. Calcium often gets forgotten but is essential too, especially for forming the structure of new growth.
Yet most fertilisers don't include calcium! If yours doesn't, you can supplement with calcium. But don't bother with eggshells or milk. Other than attracting bugs, they also don't break down fast enough or provide high enough calcium when they do eventually break down. Either switch to a truly complete fertiliser than includes calcium, or boost calcium levels with a sprinkle of dolomite lime instead.
I use the Yates Dolomite Lime but you'll find it doesn't tell you how much to use on indoor plants as gardeners normally buy it for outdoor plants. I mix 1 tablespoon per 5 litres of potting mix before potting up, or for an already potted plant, I sprinkle 1 teaspoon evenly across the surface, use a fork to gently mix it in to the top soil, then water through. It will keep releasing calcium for 2 to 3 months so if you fertiliser doesn't include calcium, reapply dolomite lime once a season. I use one teaspoon for pots up to around 14cms, and 1.5 to 2 teaspoons for pots 15cm+
This stolen growth hack makes me feel like Mother Nature with all the new growth you can create. Superb for your baldies with lots of lush growth only on the ends and bare stems up top. I hope you enjoy experimenting with this growth hack as much as I have :)