Earlier in the summer, Danny, a Dieffenbachia, got so top-heavy that he was falling over, so I chopped him into little pieces. Each of those pieces sprouted roots and leaves, and the main stem also grew new roots.

Last week, I decided to plant them all together in one big container. I figured I’d bring you along on that journey with me.

It may be a little bit “Plants 101” for some of you regular readers. For that, I apologize. New people keep stumbling across this blog looking for houseplant advice, so I was thinking of them as I took photos of the repotting process.

Here’s what the Dannys together look like now:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Danny the Dieffenbachia

The main Danny is still a little bent, so I have the plant facing away from the light, in the hopes of making it grow back the other direction.

Overall, looking good!

My first step was to choose a container. I wanted a big grower’s pot, but not an enormous one (because I need to be able to lift it). I chose a 12″ pot (measured diagonally), which I later put inside a decorative pot.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Danny the Dieffenbachia

Because that’s a good sized container, and potting soil is expensive, I put empty plastic bottles in the bottom to take up space:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Danny the Dieffenbachia

People used to recommend putting pottery pieces or rocks in the bottom of containers, to create a barrier between any accumulated water and the plant’s roots. I think the idea was to give the roots more air to breathe, a space away from soggy soil.

Those days are over.

That’s largely because most containers today have drainage holes, so water won’t be able to accumulate (that’s why I like the grower’s pots). And also because we’ve moved to using more lightweight materials if we do need to give the roots some space.

Again, my motivation wasn’t avoiding root rot, it was using less soil.

I’ve said this a million times on this blog, high-quality potting soil is worth the extra cost. My current favorite is FoxFarm (I also really like Happy Frog):

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Danny the Dieffenbachia

Soil sold at most big box stores is left out in the rain and gets infected with fungus gnats. Gnats are no fun to have indoors – they fly around your face and are generally annoying. It seemed like every single bag of Miracle Gro soil I bought was infected, so I quit buying it.

I haven’t had any problems with gnats since I switched to better soils. I get the bags from local nurseries (like Rehm’s or Jericho), who are smart enough to keep them indoors.

Since I’m paying more for the soil, I want to use as little as I can.

Ok, now to the fun part – bringing out the Danny Boys!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Danny the Dieffenbachia

Since I like working on houseplants outside, where it doesn’t matter if I make a mess, I restrict the work to early morning hours so the plants won’t get sunburned. They’re spoiled indoor plants – even a little sun could harm them.

How could I hurt these leaves?

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Danny the Dieffenbachia

Action shot:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Danny the Dieffenbachia

(That gold stuff is vermiculite, which worked wonderfully to grow the new roots. That stuff is like magic.)

And ta-da!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Danny the Dieffenbachia

What a looker!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Danny the Dieffenbachia

It’s going to be fun to watch them grow. I’m hoping they thrive in their new home in the foyer. Given their enthusiasm for life, I’m optimistic.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Danny the Dieffenbachia

Meanwhile, I’m smitten all over again with those big pretty leaves.

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