My kitchen is being renovated, so a bunch of stuff from the kitchen/living room moved in with my warm plants temporarily the other day. Or so I thought... the project is taking much longer than expected, and I just noticed that they'd been in there for over two weeks.
Last night around midnight I was stepping over the big jumble of pots when I noticed something looked off with my Jatropha podagrica. I felt it - soft to the touch! ^@&$%#!!! Then it hit me - most of those plants had been outside as little as two weeks before being moved in with my lowlanders. I violated a basic tenant of succulent culture taking them from cold to warm so fast, and also stomped all over "the rules" in general by aggressively watering shortly before the move.
So, I took it back into a cooler room to get it into easier conditions. I immediately spotted an earthworm when I brought it under a lamp. My blood pressure started rising at that point. I got some spare kitty litter trays and carefully tipped the pot out; there were a few pillbugs and baby earthworms, and probably a bunch of smaller stuff I didn't see, but not as bad as I had worried. But I noticed a few problems; the media was compressed and there isn't nearly as much aggregate as I remember adding. There's enough LFS mixed with the cactus soil that most of it was loose, but there was a clump of peat and sand around the rootball. Aaaah! Stupid nursery! (Actually, stupid me for not removing that when I repotted.) Can't catch a break. The roots don't look unhealthy to me, but I don't know what they should look like in general. They don't seem to have multiplied the way I'd hoped when I put them into that big pot, but they're long at least.
My solution was to remove all of the media. Not knowing what else to do, I tossed as much as I could remove with my hands, sprayed the roots clean with sink and then RO water and used a blow dryer (alternating low and no heat) to remove as much moisture as possible. I then put it in a bowl next to one of my light racks on dry paper towels and covered it lightly to do what I could to prevent temperature shock without holding too much moisture in.
What else should I do? I love this plant dearly - I care much for all of my plants but this one is closer to a pet or maybe even a child (maybe not my favorite child, haha.) I have a seedling from it but the stem cutting I took may have failed; I let the bottom go mushy on that one too! :/ The seedling probably needs another 10 years before it will look like it's mama. I think I caught this early but I'll take whatever actions necessary to try and save it. I don't want to leave things to chance. I was thinking about moving it into APS and peat, but uncertain. I want to use a larger form of ceramic aggregate that I found, but it needs washing before use so it will be somewhat wet if I try to repot immediately. I've used APS unwashed before but I don't like to in general. Jatropha podagrica's natural distribution overlaps with many Mexican Pinguicula, but it seems to be more moisture-tolerant from reports I've seen. I think my combination of cold and moisture from having it on the porch this fall may have exhausted its tolerance, though.
Any help would be great - thanks guys.
PS - Cut the stem... things don't look good. I got some fresh-looking material from the very top, but based on the rest of it I don't have much hope at this point. Miracle cures would be handy, if anyone has some.