We bought two Tesco Canariensis a good few years ago for a ridiculously good price. I’ve wanted one for some time. I like their strong architectural form and their exotic appearance that conjures up visions of holidays, hot weather and sultry mediterranean climes. They make a good specimen plant or a focal point at the back of a set of pot plants with their leaves arching over other plants underneath.
Unfortunately, we lost one of the two to crown rot after a very harsh winter a while back, despite it being protected in a temporary greenhouse. I think it was just too moist for it in there and so the cold and rot set in and there was no saving it.
So now we are down to one.
The surviving Canariensis came with us on our recent house move and has been somewhat battered around. It was knocked over a few times in strong winds and doesn’t get watered as often as it should. Furthermore it was gradually lifting itself out of its pot as its roots grew. With all this abuse, it wasn’t looking too well.
Fearing the loss of my second canariensis goaded me into action. My attention focussed onto it like a laser beam and a short while later, it was all sorted out.
The first job was to gingerly take the plant out of its pot and see how dire the root situation was, turns out it was pretty desperate:
The compost at the top was exhausted and the thick fleshy roots had grown down to try and find more to feed on but they only encountered the bottom of the pot. That didn’t stop them from growing down further though.
If you look closely, you might just be able to see small red terracotta chippings that used to be at the base of the pot, but which the roots had grown past and pushed up. The last several inches of roots had no soil in contact with them at all, the whole plant was standing on its own roots.
Hacking all of these roots off with a combination of secateurs, shears and a tree saw, I could finally extract the chippings. I decided this time that I wouldn’t replace them, it would be soil all the way to the bottom of the pot.
I left the plant with remaining rootball soaking in a trug of water so that it got a good drink while I went off to make up the compost mix. Repotting with compost, a little well rotted manure and garden soil with a good amount of bonemeal mixed in should keep the plant fed for a while longer – at least until I start noticing it lifting itself out of the pot again.
There, another job done. I also repositioned it to a place that stays sunnier for longer: Jersey – just kidding.
Hopefully, it has survived the great root hack of 2014 and will continue to grow – albeit rather slowly in this climate. The leaves are still spiny and sharp and will have a good go at drawing blood or skewering an eye if you get too close but beyond those discomforts, it remains one of my many prized plants.