Since 2001, I’ve owned a small plant care business in Albuquerque called Good To Grow. Since 2009, I’ve maintained this indoor and outdoor gardening blog.

Each Wednesday, I’ve been posting emails from readers who had questions about their houseplants. Most of the letters came from people who are not regular readers, but who stumbled across this blog because they had a specific houseplant question. When I could, I wrote them back with advice tailored to their specific question. I saved all these emails in a file.

Since my regular readers are so sophisticated with their houseplant knowledge, and because everyone has their own take on caring for plants, I wanted to turn the emails over to them and see what their advice would’ve been had the email come to them. On Wednesdays, I’ll post the original question, and on Thursdays, I’ll reveal the advice from the regulars, as well as my response, so we can see how we match up. It’s been an interesting experiment so far, I hope you enjoy. If you have advice, please leave it in the comment section or on my facebook wall.

Here’s an exchange I had with a lady who had an ailing Pothos (Epipremnum):

READER:

>>>>HELP!!! I reported my pothos (the one I got from my mom’s funeral) and now the leaves are turning black and soggy and dieing…. I have to save it! I used regular potting soil and a little compost mix that I bought. Did I poison it? Or????>>>>

ME:

Hi (name deleted for privacy)! Hey, I’m sorry that your plant isn’t doing well. I’m sure you didn’t poison it. It’s probably too much water. Try cutting off the leaves that have turned black. Hopefully the ones that remain will regenerate new leaves. Can you send me a photo?

I know you have a strong sentimental value with this plant, but I hate to see you beat yourself up over a plant. Growing plants has a learning curve, and if you’re inexperienced, plants will die. I’ve killed many in my lifetime, most by accident but some on purpose. That’s just the nature of plants and people. Please, try not to be too hard on yourself. It sounds like you’ve gone through some tough times. Focus on you more than the plant. It’s more important for you to be healthy and happy than to have a healthy plant, even one that ties you to your Mom.

Please let me know if there’s anything I can help you with, ok? Take care,
Liza

[Ugh, reading that makes me cringe. One, I didn’t even say sorry for her loss. Two, she didn’t ask me to counsel her – “focus more on you than the plant.” Who am I, Dr. Phil? I wrote that a few years ago, I would’ve approached her differently today.]

READER:

>>>>Hi. Thank you for answering me. I’ve attached a couple photos of the plant that I don’t think will make it. I repotted two at the same time. My moms is doing much better. They were both kept out of direct sunlight, until I put them in their new pots. Actually the one in the pix was just kept in a jar of water since last Christmas. Then I watered them generously but left them outside for awhile. I usually don’t have a black thumb, (its much closer to yellow) but maybe I need to pay more attention to keeping me healthy before I can keep anything else healthy. Thank you for your advice and fast response!>>>>

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Oh dear. Those do not look good.

Readers, what do you think happened? What would you tell her? One hint – she gave an important clue in her message.

I’ll reveal your advice and my original response to her in tomorrow’s post.

Also, I’m thinking that this Wednesday column on reader questions is going to have to end. I’ve been looking through my file and the vast majority of the questions are the same – what do I do with my Dracaena. I have some Norfolk Island Pine questions, some Euphorbia questions, and a handful of other plants. But most are the same question over and over. I did a corn plant post early on in my blogging life, and it turned out to be very popular over the years. Almost all the houseplant questions I’ve gotten were generated from that post.

My question to you is, what do you think about that? Some of you have been very enthusiastic about these posts. Would that continue if I had a Dracaena question week after week? I’m guessing not, but you should let me know your thoughts. Or start sending me questions about other houseplants so I don’t run out of material!

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