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I had a piece of Sheila‘s Columnea (she called it her Dolphin plant) that broke off during the move from her house to my client’s, so I stuck it in a glass of water a few months ago.

Rooting cuttings in water is, depending on how you look at it, a lazy approach to propagation, or a convenient way to watch the roots grow.

For me, it’s almost pure laziness. I’ve found that when a piece of a houseplant gets broken off, I have a hard time throwing it away. It contains life – that’s the best part of caring for plants! Usually what I do is the minimum required to bring forth said life – stick it in a glass of water.

If it grows roots, great. If not, at least I “tried.”

I don’t know much about Columneas or whether it’s even worth trying to propagate one. But I know it was Sheila’s favorite plant – she loved the blossoms.

And you know me with flowers, right? Craaaazzzzzyyyyyy about them.

It did grow roots, albeit pretty mushy ones:

A closer look:

They don’t look very sturdy, but it shouldn’t matter. Once I plant the rest of the cutting, it will form stronger roots in the soil.

I filled the container 3/4ths of the way with a porous soil mixture:

Then filled the top few inches with FoxFarm potting soil:

Maybe you’ve had this problem before: You go to plant a stem or a cuttings, and you want to somehow secure it in the soil but you don’t know how. My answer for you, my friend, is bobby pins.

They work like little anchors:

You just have to bend them out of shape a little, then push them down on the cutting:

Voilà! No popping out of the pot or hovering above the soil.

Seriously, there’s no end to the usefulness of bobby pins. Big fan.

I’ll be back manana with an all new Ask the Experts panel. It promises to be great fun, hope to see you here.

Hi pies, and happy Wednesday.

Did you know that florists hate plants? It’s true, they do. Otherwise, they would never plant a basket like this:

Plants with wildly different needs thrown in together, with no care instructions. And they couldn’t even be bothered to use a proper liner so water doesn’t leak out:

I don’t know if florists are the ones putting together gift baskets like this one, but I can’t imagine a nursery employee picking such random plants. I suppose there’s a possibility that a nursery employee would plant a basket like that in order to make the florists look bad. But that’s a lot of scheming. And anger toward a group of people who, other than a tendency to be uppity about their cut flowers, are still decent people.

In one tiny basket, someone managed to squeeze six plants: a Dracaena marginata, an Aglaonema, a Kalanchoe of some sort, a Hoya carnosa, a Syngonium podophyllum and a Saintpaulia, African Violet. Seriously.

Gift baskets were not designed to be permanent houses for the plants, but the florists don’t bother to explain that. I see baskets like this one all the time in offices around town. This one came from Sheila’s funeral, so I inherited its care. That’s better than the ones in offices, because trying to convince employees to take the basket home and repot each plant is not easy.

There are many reasons that baskets aren’t good for the long term. It’s too small of a space, the plants would crowd each other out in no time, but mainly the plants have different long-term needs. Dracaenas like evenly moist soil, African Violets want to be watered from the bottom, Hoyas and Kalanchoes drink less water than the others. The Syngonium, or Arrowhead, is a vine that will want way more light than the Dracaena. The list goes on.

These are six individual living breathing creatures – they each need their own home. But first, they need to get cleaned. You can see the Hoya didn’t enjoy its time in the basket:

It’s important to pick off the dead and dying leaves. They won’t return to green. In the case of the Hoya, that meant not many were left:

Same with the Kalanchoe, it was very unhappy:

Another reason to remove the dead leaves is for aesthetics. Also, so you can spot new problems as they arise.

Here are all the plants lined up, ready for their new pots:

Notice the pots are small. Little plants need little apartments – not a mansion.

The exception was the Syngonium, because it was already so large. Also, it makes a great hanging houseplant, so I used an 8″ growers’ pot:

All of the plants were returned in their individual pots to my client’s (Sheila’s brother) house. Hopefully they’ll go on to live productive lives…

…to flower when they can, to have babies, move to bigger houses, grow old.

I’ll be back manana, hope to see you here!

I’m amazed by our technology. I really am. I find it fascinating that you can google anything and bam! There’s your answer.

Sortof, that is. When trying to identify houseplants, then figure out the correct care, well, google ain’t all that. It means well – it’s trying to connect you to the right people. But instead it connects you to everyone.

Luckily, I have all of you to help me. This is one of Sheila’s plants that recently moved to my client’s house:

Her Mom said she called it her Dolphin plant. When I first looked at it, it reminded me of a lipstick plant, an Aeschynanthus radicans, I had when I lived in DC. I remember almost nothing about it, except I liked the red blooms, and someone must’ve given it to me because I can’t see buying it for myself (back then, now I’m intrigued).

I probably gave it away when I moved to New Mexico – I gave almost all of my houseplants away rather than subject them to a winter drive across the country.

I googled Dolphin plant first, and found all these crazy photos of plants with blooms that really do look like dolphins. I also found out that people will name pretty much anything after dolphins.

It has fuzzy leaves, so I’m leaning more toward calling it a Columnea¹ than Aeschynanthus. There’s lots of new growth on the plant, and those leaves are shiny, not fuzzy.

Asking Sheila about how she cared for the plant is not an option. Now that it’s under my care, I’d like to do right by it.

But what is it?

When it first came to the house, it had a bloom that looked like this:

I wish I could say it blossomed into a dolphin shaped beauty, but the truth is, I have no idea. It had fallen off by the time I came back after the move.

As of last week, no new blooms. It sits in a fairly dark corner of an overall very bright house.

Think you know the answer and what kind of care it wants, smartyplants? I hope so! Help a gal out by leaving your best guess in the comments section. Thanks!

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¹ Technically, I don’t care what the plant’s name is. If it were up to me, I’d just name her Lucy and be done with it. The problem with that is that there are so many variations in the care requirements of these plants, combined with erroneous information circulating. I thought the prudent route would be to ask my regular readers – you’re way more reliable than google searches.

Hey duckies, and happy Thursday!

I could use your help with a houseplant ID. I’ve never seen one of these before – is it a Rhoicissus of some sort? Here’s the first photo of it:

Rhoicissus is a Grape Ivy…and I’ll admit, I like how various Ivies look and how they trail, but I learned a long time ago that spider mites LOVE them, so I pretty much ignore Ivies altogether. Pest-prone plants are my least favorites.

Here’s another photo, taken with my little Sony Coolpix, which is handy, but leaves a lot to be desired, clarity-wise:

I’ve got another photo to show you, but I want to give you some background on this plant, because the subject’s going to be coming up fairly often in the coming months on this site.

One of my client’s (John) sister (Sheila) recently passed away. I knew Sheila, I helped her landscape her garden years ago. She was beautiful woman and one of the nicest people I’ve met in Albuquerque. She left behind a lot of grieving hearts and a house full of plants. John asked me to move them to his house, which I did. I already care for the plants at John’s house, so now all of Sheila’s plants will be under my care as well. It would helpful (although not critical) if I knew what they were. There is one more that I’ll ask for help identifying in a future post.

Sheila had a great green thumb – I remember complimenting her on her houseplants. They were vibrant and enthusiastic, and she had a diverse and interesting collection. Over the course of the last year, however, she wasn’t able to give her plants the attention they deserved.

As I moved her plants from one house to another, I cleaned them up the best I could, but there is much more work to be done. In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be dusting, pruning, cleaning, and repotting her plants. In addition, I’ll be dealing with the plants from the funeral.¹ I’ll also be finding permanent locations in the house for them – John, bless his heart, distributed them all over the house, but most of them are in his dark plant-inappropriate kitchen², on top of cabinets or like this one, on top of the fridge. They’ll be fine there for a few weeks, but they’re going to want more light eventually.

What I’d like to do is bring you along as I do the work on each of the plants. It’s a great opportunity to show people how to revive their ailing houseplants. I think Sheila would be happy to know I want to use her plants to help teach others.

Here’s a closer look at the plant’s leaves (sorry for the photo quality):

The leaves are papery thin and fragile. It’s obviously a vine of some sort. When I first saw it, I thought it was maybe intended to be an outdoor plant that she brought into her home. But that’s probably just because I don’t have a lot of experience with Ivy plants.

So what do you say, can you help a gal out with the ID? If we can’t figure out the exact species, it’s ok – my own green thumb is good enough to overcome the lack of that piece of the puzzle. But I’d like to do right by all her plants, not just the ones with which I’m already familiar.

If you know what type of plant this is, please leave a comment for me in the comments section. Thanks in advance for your help. I’ll post an update if we get an answer (check back if you want to know what type of plant it is, too).

I’ll be back manana with an all-new Ask the Experts panel and a new plant puzzler. Hope to see you here.

UPDATE: mr._subjunctive at Plants Are the Strangest People says it’s a grape ivy of some sort. And since he’s famous and all, I believe him!

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¹ Most funeral plants come from florists, and florists have little interest in the long-term health of the plants. They usually cram five or six wildly different types of plants into an inappropriate container. It’s supposed to be a temporary situation, but often, people don’t realize that. Recently, mr_s at Plants Are the Strangest People did a fabulous post about funeral plants – I highly recommend you read it. Lots of people sent these types of baskets to Sheila’s funeral, and now it’ll be up to me to do all the repotting. It’s time-consuming, but that’s ok – it’s a learning opportunity, and again, I think that would make Sheila happy.

² Look for one unfortunate plant in tomorrow’s plant puzzler, Name That Plant Problem! Thankfully, it was a funeral plant on not one of Sheila’s beloved plants – that made it easier for me to um, er, *wants to say* chuck it in the trash, *should say* allow it to move on to plant heaven.

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About Me

Hi! My name is Liza. Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting! I'm a Midwestern gal now living in the beautiful Land of Enchantment, Albuquerque, New Mexico. I have a plant care business here in town called Good To Grow. I can beautify your home, office, or patio with plants and flowers. I have 13 years of experience growing plants, and friendships.

Plants are living, breathing creatures, and if they're indoor plants, they are 100% dependent on human care. They cannot water themselves.

Please let me know if you have questions or if you would like help with your plants or garden. You can reach me at lizatheplantlady (at) gmail (dot) com or follow me on Twitter, Lizawheeler7.

All photos are mine unless otherwise noted. All content is also entirely my hard work. If you'd like to use any content or photos, all you have to do is ask. If you take without asking, you are a thief. And thieves suck. So don't suck. We have a deal? Good.

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