So, after chugging along happily for three years, after growing from a little baby plant to a massive green monster that overflowed with pitchers, my cephalotus decided to kick it.
I had not watered the plant for some time. I usually let the ceph dry out very thoroughly before I water again. But one day, I came back to find the outer rosette browning and getting crispy. I thought, "oh shoot, I'd better water it" and promptly did so. But instead of returning from its still-healthy green center, the plant just continued dying, until eventually the whole thing was a brown crisp.
After I was pretty sure the plant was dead, I ran an autopsy. In other words, I yanked the thing out of its pot, checked if any roots were still alive, and looked for gross things. I found that all of the roots were dead (brown on the inside and the outside) and there was a bit of white material on the main rhizome at the center. Root rot, anyone? The inside of the main rhizome was still light brown - I don't know if this is just rhizome-dead or a sign of life, but I potted up a section of it anyway. Am I wasting my time?
So, after days of not being watered, my cephalotus gets crispy. I water it, and it dies of root rot. What the hell?
I just read in Mcpherson's latest work that cephalotus lives in very wet soils, and I was a bit confused. Doesn't everybody say to let cephalotus dry out between waterings? It does live in well-drained environments, so I'd imagine that prevents root rot. But in cultivation, getting that balance between "wet" and "well-drained" isn't so easy...
Has anybody tried cutting a pot so that the growing surface is slanted, packing the soil tightly, and growing cephalotus on a slope? All the pictures I've seen of the plant in the wild show them growing like this, so why not try it? I guess, theoretically, the water would flow "downhill," past the roots, and into some kind of water reservoir that the plant sits in? Like, maybe somebody could take a drained pot and use gravel to elevate the pot with a slanted growing surface? Then, plant with tightly packed peat moss/sand mix, maybe top-layered with live sphagnum to hold it together? If the roots grow straight down, then, they should make a better angle with the growing surface for root aeriation, since some air will enter through the slanted surface.
Let me know if this is a good/bad idea. And any ideas of why my plant would suddenly drop dead like that would be helpful, too.