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How To Tame
Two-Headed Monsters
by Jillene Dolister

One day I noticed Gillian had stopped blooming and she looked like her "feathers were ruffled."

On closer inspection, I found that she had developed a double crown. These crowns were the same size and were connected like Siamese twins.

This was a mature plant in a four-inch pot. Why did it suddenly develop two heads? I had no clue, but the only solution was to divide it down the center. I couldn't pluck out one of the crowns without leaving a gaping hole.

Note: The plant should not be "freshly" watered but allowed to dry for a few days to make the leaves more pliable. They are not as likely to break while your working with them.

First, make sure it is a double crown and not a large sucker.

Suckers grow at the leaf axis and you will easily see their point of origin between the leaf and the stalk. Suckers can easily be popped out with a sucker plucker or dull pencil and planted.

To make the division easier there are two things that can be done.

First, remove the lower leaves. This allows a more accurate identification of the two crowns.

Second, slicing off the root ball makes makes it easier to handle when your making your dividing cut.

Gently untangle the leaves to identify the dividing line of the two crowns.

With that done, carefully slice down the center using a very sharp knife.

This produces two separated crowns.

From here on they are given the same treatment as any crown. Scrape off the outer brown layer on the stalk, then set it aside to give it a few minutes to "heal" and prepare the two pots.

Some believe that removing the scaling allows the plant to develop roots faster. Dusting the stalks with a rooting hormone is optional.

Be sure to label each pot with the name, the fact that these were crowns, and the date.

Fill the pots with your regular potting mix, make a hole in each pot with your finger and insert the crowns into their pots.

At this point they should be watered lightly and domed or bagged until new growth appears.

There will be many leaves left over and although it never hurts to put a leaf or two down for insurance, it probably won't be necessary. This procedure works well on two-headed monsters.

So the next time your collection is invaded with a two-headed monster, remember the steps used in order to exorcise it.

  • Identify it
  • Find the dividing line
  • Slice it into two crowns
  • Pot it and dome it
When it was all over, the monster had been exorcised and I had two well behaved plants of Gillian sitting on my shelf. And the only difficult part was throwing all those leftover leaves away!!