Hello pepperonis, and happy Friday!

Welcome back to the Good To Grow site. We have a brand new edition of Ask the Experts for you today.

Let’s meet the experts straight away, ok? Hi experts!

“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

Ohmigosh, you guys are so cute! From left to right, that’s Tina, Thack, EZ, Dottie and Lewis. While they’re all amazing people and wild characters, they’re not necessarily experts on plants. More like experts on life in general. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

So, I don’t know where you live, but brrrrr! It’s cold in Albuquerque. A storm came in a couple of days ago and erased any remaining traces of summer.

I grew up in icy, snowy Indiana, so you’d think I’d be used to the cold. The opposite is true – now that I’m a desert dweller, the moment the weather turns, I become a big whiny baby. If you hear me complaining about cold in the coming months, that’s why – I’m spoiled by the warm sun.

Our question for the experts happens to be timely. Here it is:

Q. How do houseplants help you get through the dreary days of winter?

Expert Tina, you’re up first as usual.

A. “They help to soften the feel of the dreary cloudy days. All my houseplants are thriving and producing oxygen and looking plush and green. Keeping them safe from the frost so they do not lose their leaves or freeze is how they help me get through. Knowing outside in the cold shorter days have made for the trees and shrubs to drop their leaves. I always said I would rather be a lizard on a rock than a bear in a cave. BBBRRRRRRRR!”

Hahahaha – a lizard on a rock rather than a bear in a cave! That’s hilarious. I’ve never heard that before – it’s obvious you grew up in the desert, Tina. I’m totally stealing that line!

Great job once again this week, Tina. For playing this week, you’ve earned an imaginary vacation from the cold, seven sleighs of extra credit points and always, my eternal gratitude for being here. Thanks girl!

Expert Tim Thackaberry, here’s the question to you:

Q. How do houseplants help you get through the dreary days of winter?

A. “Ah Winter, the season of the cycle where life becomes death, to be reborn in the glorious re-awakening of Spring.

So naturally, I spend most of the winter meditating on the nature of death, of change, of transformation, a process in which houseplants play a critical role. Since this a column of plant “experts,” I will not say that watching my houseplants die in the winter abets my meditation; rather, the fact that they could die if I’m not attentive to them focuses my mind as I ponder the fragile, cyclical nature of existence throughout the long, gray season.

And I talk to them when I’m home alone, which is in no way weird.”

You are a strange little bird, aren’t you, Thack? I got this image of you mid-January, curled into a ball in the corner of your living room, rocking back and forth and crying, “I don’t wanna die, I don’t wanna die.” And you’re worried about whether talking to plants is the weird part?

You’re not going to spend the whole winter contemplating your mortality? Right, RIGHT? Hmm, maybe I’ll schedule some unannounced visits to your casa every few weeks just to be on the safe side.

Haha, I like to tease Thack. Thanks for playing once again this week. For your efforts, you’ve earned a coupon good for one future lifetime in which you come back as a dog so you don’t have to question your existence, you just exist. You’ve also earned two coffins full of glory and 10,000 extra credit points. Congratulations!

Expert EZ Ed Johnson, here’s the question to you:

Q. How do houseplants help you get through the dreary days of winter?

A. “I like buying plants with dark green leaves and a colorful blossom. Then I try to coax them through the winter. I actually have two plants alive at this moment.”

Really, you have two houseplants? I’m so proud of you! I think when we started this experts panel, you maybe had one cactus that was barely alive. And now you have two houseplants? Aw, you’re growing – that’s so cute!

Dark green leaves and a colorful blossom, I wonder if they are Anthuriums. I have one with bubble-gum colored blossoms. You should send me photos! And tell me what you named them!

Nicely played again this week. I’m going to award you an honorary green thumb, eight paper bags full of bragging rights and an apartment full of love. Thanks for playing, EZ!

Ok, brace yourself everyone – you know what’s coming. Yup, that’s right, everyone’s favorite expert, Dottie, is unavailable again this week because she is the busiest retired person on the planet. Honestly woman, slow down! Aren’t you supposed to be spending the majority of your time, I don’t know, knitting or something? Sheesh – you are making all other retired people look like chumps!

You know we miss you terribly, and will wait until the end of time for your return if need be. For now, we’ll just admire your adorableness:

And move on to Lewis. Lewis, here’s the question to you fine sir:

Q. How do houseplants help you get through the dreary days of winter?

A. “I could say that my most favorite winter plant is the agave cactus, why is it such a good plant to have is because it brings back memories of good times and good people I have met. Plants provide us with a melange  of wondrous and terrific products. Agave cactus provides an elixir of great power that has the reknown ability  to cause major characteristic changes.

Tequila, oh glorious tequila, so if I am feeling the winter blues, I look to my old friend agave for inspiration and if that is not enough I wander down to my nearest establishment of self-destruction and purchase an adequate supply of Tequila. I could say that but I won’t, it is not true, in my past booze did rule and I did not need the dreary days of winter to drink.

But I decided death by bottle was not for me.

Now if I feel dreary I just drop kick a houseplant across the room, makes me feel so much better.

Just kidding, I like winter just not crazy about cold. Now I have to go apologize to my plant guest so we can continue to have a happy house.
Everybody confused? Good I try hard to please.”

Haha, you better be kidding about drop kicking a plant! You had me worried there for a minute. Nah, not really – I know you are a kind and gentle soul and wouldn’t intentionally drop kick anything, much less a plant.

I’m gonna go ahead and call that a win once again this week, congratulations Lewis! For your efforts, you’ve won a keg full of Ambrosia, the elixir of the Gods, a continuous fountain of bragging rights and as many silver stars as you can stuff in your pockets. Congratulations, and thanks again for playing!

That does it for this week’s edition of Ask the Experts. The experts will be back next Friday. Now, let’s get to last week’s plant puzzler.

Name that Plant Problem!

I asked if you could identify which group of leaves was over-watered, and which was under-watered:

Let’s see how you guessed:

The internationally famous NY Times houseplant expert, mr_subjunctive from Plants Are the Strangest People guessed:“I’m not sure it’s as clear-cut as that, but I’ll play anyway: Left/under; Right/over.”

Interesting guess, mr_s. Too bad it’s wrong – you got it opposite. The ones on the left have been over-watered, and the ones on the right, under-watered.

Here are my reasons why I’m certain that the variation in these leaves is caused by over- or under-watering: 1) Scindapsus (Pothos Vine) plants almost always send very clear and distinct messages about their needs, and 2) these leaves came from plants that happen to be in a temperature-controlled office with no windows, meaning they all get the same amount of light – from the fluorescents above. Water’s the only variable. I was being sneaky by not revealing all of that beforehand – haha, my trick worked! Once anyway.

Plantmaster guessed, “Left, over h2o, bone dry, lol.”

Bingo, girl! Good job!

gray.com guessed, “On the left, overwatered. On the right, left to wilt, then watered, then died.”

I didn’t feed Mom the answer, she just knew. Congrats again this week!

Claude from Random Rants and Prickly Plants guessed, “left over… right under…

I thought you’d come up with something more challenging…”

Ouch, Claude, that really hurts! And whatever – just because you used to have my same job doesn’t mean it was easy for everyone. It couldn’t have been that easy or mr_s would’ve nailed it. Haha, sorry, I can’t resist the teasing!

Martha, formerly of Water Roots but now of Plowing Through Life guessed, “Well, here’s my two cents worth for this week:
Leaf on the left (yellow mixed with green): overwatered.
Leaf on the right (yellow): underwatered.”

Another correct guess. That means everyone guessed correctly except, um, gosh, how do I say this without rubbing it in? Everyone wins except the internationally famous NY Times expert mr_s.

Hahaha, to be fair, mr_s, I knew you lost last week, before you appeared in the Times, it’s not like the fame got to you or anything. If anything, I think you’re too cerebral for my plant puzzlers. Take your giant brain down several notches and you’ll start getting closer to mine.

There are no prizes or anything fancy like that, but I do appreciate all of you. So for participating, you each have earned a pretend plant of your choice, 35 gold stars, bragging rights until the end of time, and as always, my gratitude for playing. Thanks everyone!

Now, to this week’s puzzler:

Name that Plant Problem!

Once I show you the photo, I want you to shout out every single problem you see, as fast as you can and as loudly as you can.

Got it?

Ready?

Wait for it.

Wait for it.

Ok, on your marks, get set, GOOOOOOOOO!

Oh dear. So many problems! You don’t really have to shout the problems – write them out in the comments section. There are so many. Thankfully, the Peace Lily in the center of the cabinets was from a funeral so no one’s really attached to it. Which is good because I tossed it. The chances of it recovering from its injuries is very slim, and frankly, not worth the effort (this was the second week in a row the plant looked like that – if it didn’t recover the first time, it sure wasn’t going to the second).

Think you know more of the problems than anyone else? Leave your best guesses in the comments section. You have until next Thursday, November 18th at midnight, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer next Friday.

Thanks everyone for being here! I hope to see you back manana!

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