Extending the Life of Victoria
By Kit Knotts
Click images to enlarge

In cool climates, the supposition that Victoria is an annual is a moot point, since the growing season is short. The longer the season our climate allows, the more we want to perpetuate our Victorias not just late into the season but into second seasons and more. Under just the right conditions this has been possible.

Because Victoria grows in an upward spiral, it tends to grow out of the soil over a long season. New roots, the feeders, grow from the base of leaf stems. Older roots provide anchoring for the plant. When new roots are visible above the soil it's time to take action to keep the plant healthy.

A measure than can be taken at installation is to plant the young Victoria as deep as possible in the container with only enough soil to be level with soil of the transplant. As the season progresses and the plant grows upwards, soil can be dumped through the water into the container to keep new roots covered. In natural bottom ponds, the youngster can be planted in a deep depression with soil added, even mounded, through the season.

Plant the youngster deep in the container
and add soil as the crown grows in its
upward spiral

In natural bottom, plant in a deep depression
and add soil as needed

Overgrowing, roots above soil and cavity beneath crown

Overgrown. Repot, turn or chop and drop.

Eventually the base of the pineapple-like rhizome begins to rot, creating a cavity under the crown. Keeping the plant pushed down in the soil, "burping" the gases in the cavity out, can lengthen its life.

Victoria rhizomes at the
death of the plant

Rot at the base of a
Victoria crown

A root loops the rotten base
of the crown

An actively growing plant in a container can be "chopped and dropped". It is taken out of the container, old roots and rhizome base cut off and replanted more deeply in the same container. This can be a difficult operation if the plant is large. See Step by Step Repotting.

A chopped and dropped plant

A turned plant

The other possibility is to "turn" a declining plant. This is only possible when root growth has slowed allowing the crown to be gradually pushed sideways, getting the rotten base out from under it. The actual growing point will reorient itself to vertical and, if it is level with the soil, continue on in favorable weather conditions.

 Step by Step Repotting

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