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 the following Wednesday, 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 a recent email exchange I had with a reader:


Hi Liza

I recently bought some house plants but I don’t have a clue how to take care of them.  One is a bougainvillea and I have noticed recently there are a couple of tiny black flies around it.  It has also started to lose its flowers. We have had it only a week and it was re potted by the garden centre when we bought it.

Any advice seems to say just water regularly which isn’t that helpful as I don’t know if I’m watering it too much or too little.

I would really appreciate your advice.

Many thanks

I asked for photos, then she added:


Hi Liza

Thanks for your reply.  I live in the UK.  We have gerbera daisies which seem to need watering more than we thought they would every second day at the moment or the flowers start to droop.  I have put potato on the soil of the bougainvillea as I heard that will draw out the larvae from the flies.  I’ve removed all the dead flowers. The leaves still look healthy.  I know they lose flowers eventually but it is still quite warm here mid twenties at the moment.  

I have attached some pictures.  The third plant we don’t know what it is as it didn’t come with a label maybe you know?!

Many thanks




So you regular readers won’t have any trouble with the plant ID, it’s pretty easy. But what would you tell her about caring for the plants?

I had a lot to say to this person about the plants she chose. Not necessarily what she wanted to hear, but I felt it was important.

When someone with no plant experience writes to me, my hope is to help them develop a love of houseplants. The last thing I want to do is to turn them off of plants forever. Sometimes, though, it can’t be helped.

What do you think I told her?

Leave your best guess/advice/opinions in the comments section. I’ll reveal your answers next Wednesday, along with my response to her. I look forward to hearing what you have to say!


Good To Grow is an Albuquerque-based interior and exterior landscaping service. We use plants and flowers to decorate offices, homes and patios around the city. We also offer memorial garden services, meaning that when a loved one passes, we can plant a customized garden in his or her honor. If the person who passed was an avid cook, we can plant an herb garden to honor that person’s memory. If a Veteran dies, we can plant a red, white, and blue perennial garden. If you lost a beloved pet, we can plant a garden around the burial site.

If you’d like to know more about the landscaping or memorial garden services offered, please send an email to Thank you for your consideration.