Hi hearts, and happy Friday!

Welcome back to the Good To Grow site. Let’s jump right in and say hello to the Experts. Hello Experts!

“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

You guys are so cute with your sunflower heads! From left to right, that’s Tina, Thack, EZ, Dottie and Lewis. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

This week, in anticipation of Valentine’s Day, I asked my Experts what gifts they were planning. I personally love using Hyacinth bulbs for Valentine’s gifts, because who wouldn’t love fresh flowers indoors in February? Here’s what some of them look like:

If you haven’t thought yet about gifts for your sweetie, consider flower bulbs. Right now, they should be on sale at your local nursery, and they are easy to grow – they just need water and a little sunshine. They may not be blooming by Valentine’s Day, but that’s ok – part of the fun is watching them grow.

Hyacinth bulbs also make great gifts for kids, who will enjoy watching the flower emerge and will remember the wonderful fragrance.

With homemade gifts on the brain, here’s the question I asked the Experts:

Q. As you know, I like using Hyacinth bulbs for gifts. Are you planning any creative Valentine’s Day gifts?

Expert Tina, as usual, you’re up first. What’s your answer?

A. UHH no. No valentines gifts to make for me. I just don’t get into it with the craft thing too much. So BEEEEP wrong answer.

Hey, wait a second, I’m the moderator. You can’t call your own answer wrong – only I can do that!!

And I’m going to disagree – your answer’s not wrong. Crafts aren’t for everyone, there’s no shame in that. Just because I’m a big fan of handmade gifts doesn’t mean you have to be!

Even though you called yourself wrong, you’re a winner in my book. To show my appreciation for you, this week you’ve earned a spare heart the size of Texas, a dozen imaginary roses and unlimited candy hearts. Thanks as always, Tina, for being here.

Up next is Expert Tim Thackaberry. Thack, here’s the question to you:

Q. Are you planning any creative Valentine’s Day gifts?

A. The women in my life expect hardware, it’s jewelery or bust in my world. I wish I could get away with something creative (read: cheaper), but I know from painful experience that it won’t fly. What does this say about me and my taste in women?

*Hmmm, think Liza, think. Do I answer him honestly? No. Yes. No. Yes. No, you can’t! Don’t be judgmental – if he wants to surround himself with materialistic bitches, that’s his choice. Sssshhhhh, don’t say that out loud. Because, you know, it’s really judgmental. And mean-spirited. They may be perfectly nice women. Of course they’re nice women, he’s a nice guy so they have to be somewhat decent, right? Right. Ok then, play nice Wheeler.*

Um, Thack, you know what? Jewelry’s fine for a gift. I’m a big fan of jewelry. Not diamonds, you know, because of all the bloodshed and also I think they’re boring and about as uncreative as you can get. But overall, my view of jewelry is that I like accessorizing!

I’m going to ignore all questions about expectations and just say thanks for being here again this week. To show my gratitude, I’m going to award you a coupon good for love without money, love with no strings attached and fake jewelry that looks real. Enjoy! And thanks for being here.

Up next is EZ Ed Johnson. EZ, here’s the question to you:

Q. Are you planning any creative Valentine’s Day gifts?

A. Valentine’s Day can only bring trouble.

Oooh, sounds like someone’s a little jaded. I get it – Valentine’s isn’t the holiday for everyone, despite what Hallmark would have you believe.

To show my appreciation for you being one of my Experts, this week you win a trouble-free holiday, a February that’s robust and vibrant, and 50 heart-shaped extra credit points. Thanks again for being here!

Up next is the sweet and lovely Dottie Correll. Expert Dottie, here’s the question to you:

Q. Are you planning any creative Valentine’s Day gifts?

A. Ah! sweet Valentine’s day!  In view the extreme weather we have been enduring, I think a “Hot Tamale” Plant would be most appropriate.  However, having expressed that thought, I look back on days of  yore and remember that Preparing for Valentine’s Day was always a fun time at our house, although really chaotic with 6 children wielding scissors, glue and lacy stuff in the making of valentines for their friends and class mates.  I have always been of the opinion that a handmade “anything” demonstrated true care and concern for ones’ friends and cohorts. Valentines’ Day is not just for romantic lovers but for lovers of all man and woman kind plus our beloved animals.  Each year the children designed their favorite card.  One of my favorite’s they come up with was, “the Canoe.”  They designed a canoe out of construction paper, created a pattern and then proceeded to make their valentine wishes.    They cut out the canoe and then printed on the side of the canoe:  CAN- OE BE MY VALENTINE?  (pretty corny eh)  Then they attached a colored candy sucker on the side as the paddle for the canoe.  This was an instant hit with their scholastic friends –not so much for the design of love and good fellowship as the gift of “Candy”.  What could be ”sweeter” to a child?

Too bad our expectations become more jaded and harder to satisfy as we grow older!!!

Hahahahahaha, canoe you be my Valentine? Canoe? So corny, but so adorable! I love it!

Man, I’m easily amused.

Thanks Dottie, we all needed a good laugh. And it’s so great to have you back. I know you haven’t been feeling well, so it’s especially sweet of you to make time for us. For playing this week, you’ve earned a canoe full of bragging rights, my unending admiration and love, and the hearts of all our readers.

Expert Lewis is normally up next, but he’s very busy with Red Cross duties. New Mexico has been hit hard with winter weather and it’s good citizens like Lewis who come to the rescue by providing food and shelter to those in need.

Lewis, we’re going to admire your adorable sunflower head:

And thank you for your services – thanks!

Then we’ll call it a wrap. That does it for our Ask the Experts panel. The Experts will return in exactly one week.

Now on to last week’s plant puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Last week, I asked if these plants were real or fake:

Let’s see how you answered.

Ivynettle from Letters and Leaves wrote, “The pothos is definitely real, and the palm… uh. Can’t say for sure, but I’ll take a chance and say it’s real too. And actually there are three plants – there’s a smaller one I can’t identify because it’s too dark in the same pot as the palm.

And I can’t believe I forgot to post my answer for last week’s – I was gonna say there’d been full moon in between your visits and it’s been attacked by a were-dieffenbachia.”

Tom from Theatrumbotanicum wrote, “The pothos looks real enough… I’ve never seen a fake that bothers to have leaves that have reverted to green. I’m gonna guess that the palm is fake though. What I think to be the main stem just looks a little too chunky to be real. Plus it seems to have a plastic-y sheen.”

mr_subjunctive from Plants Are the Strangest People wrote, “I lean toward both real. I see what Tom means about the plasticy sheen, but I still think that’s natural.”

So what’s the answer? The Pothos (Scindapsus aureus, Epipremnum aureum) is in fact very much a living breathing plant. The Palm, not so much. Ivynettle was right about there being 3 plants total – there are two fake plants in one planter. I think the other one is supposed to be an Ivy.

This puzzler was harder than I thought it would be. But then, I see these plants once a week up close and in person. The plastic is hard to miss up close.

The big winner this week is Tom from Theatrumbotanicum. Thanks so much for playing. This week, you’ve earned glory, a coupon good for a life free from plastic plants, and 62 extra credit points. Congratulations!

Let’s move on to the new puzzler:

Name that Plant Problem!

What’s wrong with this Scindapsus aureus, Epipremnum aureum, Pothos plant?

See how some of the leaves are discolored? Why?

Think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section. You have until midnight next Thursday, February 10th, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner after next week’s panel of Experts.

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