Sooo, you rotated your houseplant...The alarm has sounded!!!

Discussion in 'Houseplants' started by Jerry Sullivan, Nov 8, 2013.

  1. Jerry Sullivan

    Jerry Sullivan Garden Experimenter Plants Contributor

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    Up and down the plant stalk the alarms were sounding, calling the work crews to action. Supervisors were looking at data screens to see just what the alarms were as the crews assembled for new instructions. "YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE", the murmurs of the workers were soon silent as the the supervisor's spoke into the PA system. "We have a phototropism alarm indication". "The entire plant has been re-oriented". Large screens were displaying new work instructions. Assembly crews were checking drawings to assure that the correct new microtubules were requisitioned. Cutting crews were moving quickly along the cytoskeleton to sever old microtubules at the proper junctions. Assembly workers attached new microtubules so that the plant could again bend in the direction of the light source. Supervisors checked the new connections and angle as the plant changed. Soon the alarms were cleared. A work crew carried fresh nutrients by the resting microtubule workers as regular work details again went about their business of assembly and growth. The sun was shining and life inside the plant was returning back to normal.


    An easy explanation: Plants have an internal structure called a cytoskeleton which supports the various parts of the plant. When you rotate a plant a process called phototropism swings into action. Parts of the plant supported by the cytoskeleton called microtubules are severed at various junction points and new microtubules are joined to aid the plant in re-orienting itself toward the strongest light.


    When was the last time you rotated your plant? :)


    Jerry
     
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  3. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    Mine tend to get rotated almost every day when I dust Jerry. I think I'll give them a break though and leave the dusting for a few days. (Any excuse is a good one!!)
     
  4. Frank

    Frank GardenStew Founder Staff Member Administrator

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    This was highly entertaining Jerry and a great way to teach new terms. I could only imagine the work crew panicking as the plant was placed on a constantly spinning record player.
     
  5. Jerry Sullivan

    Jerry Sullivan Garden Experimenter Plants Contributor

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    I might try a few more. The list of words and terms and people in biology and botany is endless.

    Jerry
     
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  6. purpleinopp

    purpleinopp Young Pine Plants Contributor

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    That was fun, and well written! I used to be obsessed with symmetry until companionizing/hodge-potting almost all of my plants. Now they have a high/low side, and/or a shady/sunny side. (Something had to be done about the number of individual pots.) For something like a tree though, it's necessary!
     
  7. theficuswrangler

    theficuswrangler New Seed

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    Jerry, that was great. I love to see biological processes of plants explained in such a way that people can relate and understand plants as fellow living beings. I learned many years ago to turn my plants 1/4 turn clockwise when I water and dust - usually once a week. Keeps the maintenance systems from getting into a panic, when they have a schedule they can get used to.
     
  8. Jerry Sullivan

    Jerry Sullivan Garden Experimenter Plants Contributor

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    Thank you. :) The plants look so much better if they are rotated. More explanations are on the way.

    Jerry
     
  9. Ronni

    Ronni Hardy Maple

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    What a fun way to explain a phenomena that I've been observing ever since I started keeping house plants!

    Wow! I had no idea that I was engaging the micro-whatevers to get the cytoskeleton doohicky thing all excited so that it could do that photo-tropy-what you said........I thought I was just moving my plant. ;)

    Seriously, while I had no idea the specific phenomena that was occurring, I love to watch my plants react when I rotate them. They remind my of greyhounds. And if you've ever been up close and personal with a greyhound, you know that they lean.

    And that's just what my plants do when they're rotated....they will tend to lean towards the closest light source. I find it fascinating to watch a plant whose stems and leaves are all oriented towards the light, then you rotate it so that the leaves are all facing away, and then it's just like magic! Because in very short order those leaves which were all going the other way since its rotation are now, once again, orienting to and learning towards the light!

    It makes me very happy to see that! :stew1:
     
  10. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    Hey.... I think I finally figured out why I don't do well with houseplants. I hate dusting and thus they don't get rotated nearly enough! :D
     
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  11. purpleinopp

    purpleinopp Young Pine Plants Contributor

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    Cheryl, my fav frige magnet says, "dust testing in progress. Please do not disturb the samples."

    Putting a towel or more decorative fabric cover can eliminates dusting. When it gets funky, give it a wash.

    I don't really pay much attention to it on plants while they're inside for winter. In the spring when they all go back outside, there's usually an obliging shower soon after to do the cleaning.

    Remember the lazy Susans every kitchen table had a few decades ago? Where did those go? Why aren't more plants on those? Why aren't those available to buy in plant stores? This discussion reminds me of those.

    It's also made me realize that in most spots my plants fit together like a puzzle and the few times I've tried to rotate one, it's been a bit of a delicate operation. Some of the lop-sided-ness that I liked outside is becoming too pronounced inside where the light really is coming from only 1 direction in most locations. There's no other way to prevent them from quickly looking ridiculous but to turn them, at least until they go back outside, whether symmetry is at issue or not. I did not realize (admit to myself?) it would happen so quickly until a week or so ago, when everything had surely rearranged itself to the new light situations.

    Look forward to your next installment, Jerry!
     

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