Hello everyone and welcome back to our very special Friday edition of Ask the Experts!

Our Ask the Experts panel may not be the only panel of experts on the web, but it’s the only one with these fabulous high-end graphics and a silliness guarantee (we’ll make you smile, or give you your money back).

My name is Liza and I’m the moderator of this panel and the author of this blog. Thank you for being here. Every Friday, I gather my top-notch panel of experts and ask them a plant-related question. Then I cross my fingers and hope they can answer it. See, they’re all knowledgeable folks, just not necessarily about plants. That’s what makes it so fun! I ask the question, but never know just how they might answer.

Friday is also the day when I present a plant puzzler for all you goofy plant caretakers out there in internet land. Last week, I asked you what was wrong with this Aglaonema:

In a little while, I’ll reveal the answer and present a new puzzler for you.

But first, let’s meet the panel of experts!

That’s Tina, EZ, Dottie and Lewis. Don’t they look smashing in their sunflower heads? If you would like to know more about them, please click here.

I love these guys. Week after week, they indulge me by submitting their answer to my question, and they each come through in their own individual way. Without their help, the Friday edition of Good to Grow would just be a whole lot of me talking and talking – and let’s face it, no one wants that!

If you have a plant question, please leave it in the comments section or email it to me. In the meantime, I’ll keep making up questions for our experts.

Let’s get right to this week’s question, shall we? (I see nodding heads.)

Ok, this week’s question is:

Q. I miss the sun. Is there a fragrant plant that can cheer me up?

Up first is expert Tina. Tina, what do you think?

A. It’s been a tough week, my brain is fried and I’m tired. But I found this article that seems appropriate:

By Dennis Hinkamp. Most homes have at least one house plant. Possibly the most popular is the low-maintenance cactus. House plants serve to soften the hard interior and create interest by inviting nature into the home. Other benefits from house plants include higher humidity, added color and healthier air.

Aromatic plants bring into a room or house an often overlooked benefit. Not all house plants are fragrant, but some have a pleasant scent and thrive indoors. The long winter months, when only the smell of cooking fills the indoor air, is a good time to introduce some new fragrances that can help bring a glimpse of spring into the home, says Jerry Goodspeed, Utah State University Extension horticulturist.

“Fragrant plants can help mask cooking and other odors, eliminating the need for air fresheners,” Goodspeed says. “It’s preferable to have a nice plant emitting a fragrant aroma than have the smell of burnt toast masked with the smell of ‘tree in a can.'”

He says scented geraniums are probably the most popular fragrant house plant. They do not thrive indoors, but will stay healthy if placed in a well lit location, plus there is a wide assortment of aromas. Among the most popular are lemon, almond, pine trees, peppermint, orange, pineapple and even chocolate.

However, one of the drawbacks with some scented geraniums is their scent is weak, Goodspeed explains. Some require that you rub the leaves to get a strong whiff of their fragrance. This would be fine, but most plants can only stand so much rubbing before they die.

“It’s the foliage of scented geraniums that carries the pleasant aroma,” he says. “These geraniums need to dry out between watering, and be fertilized only about once a month during the winter. In the summer they can be moved outdoors and allowed to bloom.”

Goodspeed says another blooming aromatic house plant is the gardenia. Lack of light is the biggest problem with getting a gardenia to grow and bloom indoors. They require a sun room, and do best in indirect light. In the winter they need to stay cool at night (55 to 60 degrees), and can be a high maintenance plant.

He suggests other flowering plants that may be easier to grow in the house: pink jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum), string of beads (Senecio rowleyanus), wax flower (Stephanotis floribunda), and wax plant (Hoya). These plant all require some special care and bloom better in indirect light in a sun room or other well-lit location. They all should be allowed to slow down and rest during the winter, by reducing the fertilization and keeping them somewhat cooler.

Goodspeed says the Hoya, string of beads and wax flower are all vining plants and can be trained up a wire or trellis, or planted in a hanging basket. The flowers have a sweet fragrance that can be smelled throughout a small greenhouse or large room.

“The common hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) can be planted in a pot and forced to bloom indoors during the winter months,” he says. “It also has a very sweet aroma that can fill a room. After they have bloomed and the foliage has died back, they can be planted outdoors and enjoyed for many springs to come. Buy new bulbs each year for forcing indoors.”

Ok Tina, that was super informative, thanks so much! As many of you know, I’m a big fan of Hyacinth bulbs – I have some blooming in my house right now, which just makes February better.

Ok EZ Ed Johnson, the question goes to you next.

Q. I miss the sun. Is there a fragrant plant that can cheer me up?

A. Maybe some kind of plant that grows quickly, like a Chia Pet. Just watching something grow in the middle of winter has got to help.

You’re right about that – every little bit helps to get us through the gloomy winter. A splash of green or a divine scent can chase the winter blues away.

Say, EZ, you work in the sports department of our local newspaper. Do you think you could use your contacts to get University of New Mexico’s head basketball coach Steve Alford to be a guest expert one day on Ask the Experts? He’s from Indiana, I’m from Indiana. I would be soooo hospitable and make it really easy for him. I could even let him make up his own question if he wanted. And I would serve him snacks if he wanted, like cheese or maybe some pepperoni. What do you think?

A. He might, but I don’t think yelling at plants will have the same effect on them as it does on basketball players and referees.

Fair enough. I know the houseplants under my care would wilt if a college basketball coach screamed at them the way he screams at his players. Plants are sensitive and not tough-skinned like college kids. Still, it’s a nice dream to think of Steve Alford being a guest expert – I would ask him to wear his little short shorts that players used to wear back in the day. So cute! A gal can dream.

Ok, Dottie, my lovely little sunflower, here’s the question to you.

Q. I miss the sun. Is there a fragrant plant that can cheer me up?

A. “GOT NO SUNSHINE?”  Turn on the Sun Lamp and think warm thoughts!! What is warm, fuzzy,has a defining FRAGRANCE that brings back SUNNY childhood memories???

ANSWER:  THE “CIRCUS” !!!!

You can create your own colorful and entertaining ‘THREE RING PLANT CIRCUS”, That will warm the cockles of your heart and bring the sun back into your life.

Commence the show by bringing out the fabulous Ring Master:

“BUFFALO BILL” (rose) wielding his “SPANISH BAYONET”, astride his equally infamous “ELEPHANT” (ears),( Colocasia Esculenta.)

RING ONE:  Features the infamous DOG(wood), GIANT, (Cornus Controvrsa and his “Shady tricks”).

RING TWO:  The mysterious, AMARANTHUS,”MAGIC FOUNTAIN” starring:  “THE FALSE SOLOMON’S SEAL”, (Sukaciacina race mosa)

RING THREE: The spellbinding, exciting, dangerous and exotic Dandy”LIONS” and “TIGER” lilies!

SIDE-SHOWS features:

“DOWNY RATTLESNAKE”(plantain)

(Goodyeara pubescens)

VIPER’S BUGLOS (echium vulgar)

“THE GREEN DRAGON”

(Arisaema draconitum)

The Voracious:  “VENUS FLYTRAP/MEADOW CLAMS”

(dionaea muscipula)

“BABOON” antics, (babina flowers)

Last but not least: “FORTUNE TELLER, ROSE”

(Rosa ‘JACheir’)

FLYING OVERHEAD ON THE HIGH WIRE:

“WINGED ELM” (ulmus-alata) with partner:

“WINGED EUONYMUS” (enonymus alatus)

Also starring:  “DYNASTIC CAREFREE WONDER ROSE”

with her partner:  “FIRST FLIGHT ROSE” (Rosa ‘PER’flight)

Adding to the color and delight is the renowned CIRCUS BAND

featuring the following prominent players:

“ALL THAT JAZZ, ROSE”

“ANGEL’S TRUMPET”,

“CORAL BELLS”,Heuchera sanguinea

“BLUE BELLS”

“GOLDEN TRUMPET” Allamanda cathartica

For those desirous of a more cultured offering;

a brief appearance will be made by the:

“DOUCE SYMPHONIC ROSE”

(Rosa ‘melbarke’)

Libations and Tidbits to tittle your tongue and warm your cockels, available at the

“CUP AND SAUCER” VINE

(cobaena scandens)

Menu Features:  “TABLETOP SCOTCH” (elm)

(ulmus galbra ‘horizontalis’)

“GINGER SNAP ROSE”

(Rosa ‘AROsnap’)

“GOURMET POPCORN” ROSE

(Rosa ‘WEOpop’)

All of the above and much more, graciously served by lovely:

“DAIRY MAID, ROSE”

and “DAISY AND ASTER”

Concluding the phenomenal “CIRCUS ” performances, enjoy the electrifying and dramatic display by the:

“FIRECRACKER” VINE

(Mina lobata: ipomoea lobata)

Hahahahahaha! Holy cow! A circus indoors in February – that’s simply fabulous!

Ok, next up is our expert Lewis Casey. Lewis, here’s the question to you!

Q. I miss the sun. Is there a fragrant plant that can cheer me up?

A. Ah the sun, for many, the sun seems to be a distant memory in this cold winter as you stare out your window at snow covered grounds, for us who live in the Land of Enchantment we are blessed with a abundance of life giving sunshine. We have cold and we have snow but we also have glorious sunshine.

For those of much snow and little sun there are many plants that have been graced by the sun that hold fragrances that reminds us of the goodness of the earth. If you can gather a few branches from a pine tree, almost any will do. Take a few of the needle and rub them together releasing the odor of the forest in spring, find a rosemary or sage hardy herbs and do the same. They have a great scent and add a great taste to potatoes, stew or even green split pea soup, mmmmm. Take a orange, lemon or lime make a zest (scrape the peel) breath deep the aroma throw the zest into your oatmeal. Boil a few cinnamon (canela) sticks not teabags sticks, makes a dark reddish brown tea which fills your kitchen with a rich deep earthy smell that you will never get from a teabag. Pour yourself a large glass, add honey and enjoy a flavor of the earth. Another fragrant plant I have been told about is this great green plant that spelled something like this m#*+@=na – people say it does wonders for changing your attitude and bringing good cheer.
Be safe, Be careful, Lewis.

Hahahahahaha! Is that a marijuana reference Lewis? This is a family website – just say no kids! We love plants on this site, but certain plants are not allowed.

Ok, everyone, if you’re still reading, thanks so much. That concludes our Friday edition of Ask the Experts. I hope you enjoyed our silly experts. If you didn’t, let me know and I’ll refund your hard-earned bucks.

Name that Plant Problem!

Last week, I asked you what was wrong with this Aglaonema:

I said there were several correct answers. Sadly, there were no correct guesses from our readers. So no glory for anyone this week – wanh, wanh, waaaaanh.

So what’s the answer? Maybe this photo will help:

First, the employees at this television station started using the plant for a doorstop. That’s just wrong – plants are not meant to be doorstops, or they would be called doorstops not plants. So every week, I move it to a safer place, only to come in the next week and find it back where it was.

The harsh marks on the edges of the leaves are bruises, from people walking by and brushing up against the plant. Ouch! Yes, plants bruise, people, and the bruises are not good. This particular plant also shows signs of being thirsty – see the yellowing leaf to the bottom right? That means the plant got thirsty. My bad! It’s fine now, and yes, it’s still being used as a doorstop (grrrr!).

Plant Stumper!

Ok all my sugar snap peas out there in internet land. What’s wrong with this plant?

This is a Palm tree with some issues. Here’s a closer look at those damaged fronds:

Think you know what’s wrong with this plant? Leave your best guess in the comments section. Remember, there are no prizes for guessing correctly, but there is glory and my gratitude for playing.

That does it for this special Friday edition of Good to Grow. I hope you enjoyed yourself. I’ll be back on Monday. Until then, happy indoor gardening everyone!