Continuing the series where I present a houseplant question I’ve received over the years, then ask you what your advice would’ve been, today’s question has come up a lot.

I’ve written in the past about how florists hate plants. When they make gift baskets, they plant inappropriate plants together in containers that are too small, they use crappy soil, and they usually line the container in plastic with no drainage.

Worse, they don’t offer any instructions on what to do with the plants once the gift has been received. The plantings are supposed to be temporary, but they don’t tell anyone that.

So it’s very common for someone to write to me and ask me about a gift basket they received – usually for a funeral.

Funeral plants are tricky, because people associate those plants with the deceased loved one. They often worry that if those plants die, someone how the deceased person will be disappointed. Or that the living person will no longer have ties to that departed one. It can be a very emotional experience.

Which makes me even more annoyed that florists are so casual about their handling of plants.


Here’s one comment I received on my blog, followed by some back and forth dialogue we had via email (with the reader comments in italics, her name omitted for her privacy):

>>>>“I love this blog! And I’ve only read a few posts too. Coming from an accountant that doesn’t know much about plants, that’s saying something… :)

So, I have a gift basket of plants from my mother’s funeral… and surprisingly they seem to be doing well after being in my care for 4 months. (I credit my mother having something to do with that as she had a great love of plants, often being accused of loving them more than her children…) :)

I was removing some of the dead leaves and discovered that one of the plants seemed to come out a bit. It inspired me to re-pot all of them into their own pots, just today. I’ve looked online and discovered that I have a ficus, peace lily, syngonium, pothos, and bromeliad. Quite the combination from what I’ve found. I just hope that I’m not too late!

Thanks again for the information, hopefully my plant story ends well.”>>>>

She definitely is handling her grief better than other people, which is nice.

I wrote to her:

“Hi! I wasn’t sure if you’d go back to my blog to check for my response, so I wanted to email you. First, I’m sorry for your loss. But I bet your Mom would be proud of you for repotting those guys. How are they doing? Let me know if you need help or have questions. I recommend taking lots of photos so you can see how much they grow. Liza”

She wrote back:

>>>>“Thanks for the email! I’ve attached 3 pictures of my plants. The before (i wish i had one from a few months ago to show how much it’s grown since then), then one after I pulled the plastic liner out, showing the roots, and finally the end product. I just used some potting soil I picked up from Lowe’s for all but the bromeliad, which I used some cactus, palm, and citrus soil because I was told it needed to be fast-draining. So far they look good! Except on the pothos, there are a couple of leaves that are wilted, but they were like that right before the repotting anyways. Hopefully, they all survive! 🙂

Thanks again.”>>>>

Here’s the photo of how her plants looked after she took the time to repot them:


They look great! She did a great job. Cute pots, too.

We had a few other email exchanges, mostly about the Bromeliad.

Then, a few months later, I received this message from her:

>>>>“Remember me? 🙂

Well an update and then questions: All the plants are doing well. I need to take updated pictures to show the progress they’ve made. The bromeliad flower is all dried up, despite watering the vase, so I figure it’s just part of the life cycle (or perhaps I didn’t water it enough…) 🙂 Anyway, there are 2 pups growing so, it must still be doing well. 
Now I come to you because I have taken the plants that were my mom’s and am trying to find homes for them. Over the past months, there has been some inconsistent watering and quite a few are struggling. She has quite a few pothos with some really long vines, most of which the leaves have died off and its just a long empty vine. What is the best way to trim this? Since there are a few that are struggling, is it bad to combine some of the plants into one pot? There are also a few arrowhead plants. Same questions for those. Also with the arrowhead, some of the segments (for lack of a better term) have broken off. What is the best way to start the segments/shoots in their own pot? I’ve tried putting them in water to see if they started growing roots, but they have just died.
Finally, there is an aloe vera pot that has done the exact opposite and is a crazy mass now. What is the best way to separate these?
I’m hoping to repot most of these in the coming week. Any help is greatly appreciated. I’ve attached a picture of the mess i’m working with. Any tips on soil types to purchase?
Here’s the photo she attached:
Good To Grow, The Plant Lady Chronicles, reader photo
Thanks for the update, reader, if you’re still out there reading.
Everyone else, she had a lot of questions. What would you advise?
I’ll reveal your suggestions, along with my actual answer, tomorrow. Hope to see you back here.