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Please say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our beloved Expert Dottie, who officially became a nonagenarian today.

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90 years old is an impressive feat. To do it with style and grace is extraordinary. Happy birthday Dottie! We love you!

(photos courtesy of Cindy Correll)

 

…certain plants in the garden, you should know their reproductive habits. Take Sage for example. Before you plant, you should find out how much Sage throws itself around the yard.

When I moved into this house, there was one Sage plant that a previous resident had planted. Since then, that one plant has multiplied. Quite a bit. Now that it is blooming, it’s easy to spot the babies.

Look at how many there are!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Sage is prolific

Here’s a Sage:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Sage is prolific

There’s a Sage:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Sage is prolific

Everywhere a Sage, Sage:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Sage is prolific

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Sage is prolific

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Sage is prolific

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Sage is prolific

I voted to pull them, my landlady voted to keep them. And so, this is one large family of Sage.

I guess I should be grateful it’s not Chamisa.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Sage galore

Do you have plants in your garden that are as prolific as my Sage? If you feel like sharing your experiences, please do so in the comments section.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be taking a break from the blog as I’m going to be traveling. I’ve taken some random photos around Albuquerque and I’ve scheduled to post one per day while I’m gone. Another blogcation. Feel free to comment on the photos – I’ll still be connected while I’m away from the Duke City. I’ll catch you on the flipside!

At the risk of making my readers on the East Coast unhappy, I’m going to show off photos from my recent trip to Puerto Rico. It was snowing in Albuquerque while I was on the island, so I understand if some of you want to punch me right now.

We started the trip in Old San Juan, exploring adorable streets like this one:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Buildings were colorful, the people very laid back.

Another typical street:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

We made our way to El Morro, an old fort on the tip of the island. There was a cool cemetery there.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

This is the view from the fort:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

And looking the other direction:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Strangely, this is the only photo I got of the actual fort:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

I guess you’ll just have to use your imagination.

After exploring San Juan for a day, we boarded a tiny plane for two days on Culebra Island. It was a 30 minute flight. The pilot flew along the shore so I could take photos.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

This is the island of Culebra:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Coming in for a landing!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

It was a little dicey there at the end, but overall I loved that little plane ride.

Our hotel:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

The view from the hotel was lovely, a nice little bay:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

I didn’t take a lot of photos those couple of days…mostly because we were doing island things, like snorkeling and swimming with sea turtles.

But on our last day there, before boarding our flight, we drove the golf cart all over (the island is only seven miles long), and I brought my camera along for that.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

This was my favorite beach, Zoni – it was so beautiful, and a sea turtle nesting site:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

This was a view from the golf cart as we were leaving Zoni Beach:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Check out this incredible Bougainvillea hedge:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

It went on forever:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Oh wait, I did get a photo of the fort, from the air on the way back to the main island:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

And now the plant portion of this blog post.

As you can imagine, there were lots of plants that I was unfamiliar with, and lots of plants that I recognized but couldn’t believe they were growing the way they were growing.

Like I’d never seen Fiddle Leaf Figs (Ficus lyrata) growing in the wild (I’ve only ever seen them as houseplants):

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

I saw lots of plants growing outdoors that I’d only previously seen as indoor plants. Like these Tradescantia plants:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

And this Dracaena marginata:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

Is this a Pothos (Epipremnum) growing outside?

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

So cool!

I wouldn’t have guessed these Dracaena reflexa ‘Song of India’ plants would be fine growing outdoors either, but there they were, happy as anything:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

And now, a few random island pics that I just found on my phone:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

And finally, before I go, a quick story. Before leaving the island of Culebra, we were eating lunch at Zaco’s Tacos. They had an upper patio, and a lower one – we were sitting on the upper patio. We were minding our own business, when suddenly we heard a big ruckus, followed by a waitress’s bloodcurdling scream.

Turned out, an iguana fell out of a tree, landed on the slanted roof, then slid off and landed with a thud on the lower patio, a couple of feet from the terrified waitress.

Lemme tell ya, nothing brings an entire restaurant together like an iguana falling from the sky.

He was quickly surrounded by cell phone cameras.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

He was unharmed, but no one could give him his dignity back.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, plant pride

I hereby decree Damianita daisy to be the Unconquerable Queen of All Downtrodden Places Forever and Always.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, silly flowers growing in a sidewalk

Your Honor, I salute you!

Here are the week’s top plant headlines:

Dean, one of the Synadenium grantii houseplants living on the east windowsill, has completed his lifelong goal of touching the ceiling:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

The cuttings for two varieties came from mr_subjunctive (of the Plants Are the Strangest People blog) a few years ago. Both plants would’ve reached their goal sooner, but I’ve propagated them a bunch of times.

There will be a potluck celebrating Dean’s achievement this Friday at noon. For more details or to RSVP, please contact Nel the Spider plant in the living room.

In other news, the Echeveria that’s been blooming for months on my kitchen windowsill suffered a tragic accident recently:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

His handpainted clay pot was totaled when he careened off the windowsill into the kitchen sink. The cause of the accident was under investigation. The lead investigator (me) believes the accident occurred before sunrise. There are no photos from the crime scene because I had to move the plant so I could make coffee. Nothing gets investigated before I get coffee.

Later, I moved the plant to a grower’s pot. Later still, I unceremoniously sold it. Investigators don’t expect any new leads in the case.

Moving on to outdoor plants, at least one of the Chayotes is starting the growing season off strong:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

Good job, little buddy! [Insert applause.]

And finally, an update to a story we brought you last week involving two foreign caterpillars.

As you may recall, the caterpillars were first noticed in the backdoor container garden oasis, feasting on the parsley there. They arrived with no luggage and no identification, but as they were believed to be future Swallowtail butterflies, they were welcomed.

Here’s one of them, working his way down toward more leaves:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

The caterpillar was on the move. After he ate his fill, he kept going down the container. Luckily, he was easy to spot. He just moved to the grass down below the parsley:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

I really, really hoped that he’d stay right there, and I’d have a front-row view of his chrysalis stage. Here’s a wider view of where he went:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

Can you see him between the two pots? Here’s a closer look:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

It wasn’t a bad spot to become a butterfly! He climbed down on Thursday morning and settled there.

Meanwhile, the other caterpillar wasn’t done eating.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

She continued eating on Thursday, and Friday morning.

I took the following photo on Friday morning – it’s a little hard to see, but both caterpillars are in the frame, one up top and the other down in the grass:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

When I got home from Santa Fe on Friday evening, there was only caterpillar poop left:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

At first, I hoped the second caterpillar settled on the grass below, too, but it turned out, they were both long gone.

The first one must’ve just been waiting for the other to finish eating, before they set off together to find a place for their next stage. I find that astonishing. And so sweet! (I suppose it’s possible they were plucked off by birds, but I choose not to believe that.)

I looked all over for them, thinking how far could two caterpillars get anyway? I knew there was only a short time that I’d be able to find them before they blended into the scenery.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

I checked around and behind the containers, along the fence, in the cane, over by the woodpile. There’s not a ton of vegetation in the driveway so I checked all of it for good caterpillar hiding spots.

I never did find them.

I’ll stay on the lookout for new butterflies in the area. In the meantime, I have parsley stems to remind me of my visitors’ brief stay:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

That’s the week’s plant news. I’ll be back tomorrow, I hope to see you back here.

Liza Math:

One Garden + Hopes + Freedoms = Gratitude x 100

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Liza's plants

Thanks to all those who sacrificed their lives to make mine possible. Thank you!

It’s patio season again!

Good To Grow, Horse and Angel Tavern, The Plant Lady Chronicles

That means it’s time to visit our friends over at Horse & Angel Tavern in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights (near Eubank and Juan Tabo in the Mountain Run Shopping Center) and spruce up their patio.

Good To Grow, Horse and Angel Tavern, The Plant Lady Chronicles

As in years past, I ordered flower baskets from Milton at McLain Greenhouses in Estancia, New Mexico. McLain’s is one of the few remaining wholesalers in the state, and the flowers Milton grows are beautiful. He offers big gorgeous hanging baskets that I like to order for the tavern.

This year’s flower order was not without its tribulations. I don’t want to get into the details but basically, the baskets I ordered were suddenly no longer available, and I had to make several adjustments on my end to account for that – like delaying the installation, choosing different baskets and changing the price. I wasn’t happy about how it all went down, but I rolled with it. And my clients at H&A have been great about accommodating the last-minute changes.

So they weren’t my first choice, but I’m still very happy with the flower baskets that I did get for the patio. Here’s a look at some of them:

Good To Grow, Horse and Angel Tavern, The Plant Lady Chronicles

There are fifteen baskets total. Five are Bougainvillea baskets, and 10 are mixtures with all sorts of flowers in them, including Petunias, Thunbergia, Osteospermum, and more. It’s hard to see from the photos, but those are primarily orange and purple flowered baskets, with lots of greenery, too, and the Bougs are all hot pink. The baskets aren’t as large as last year’s, but they are still big and beautiful.

Good To Grow, Horse and Angel Tavern, The Plant Lady Chronicles

When those vines take off, it should make for a lush patio setting.

Good To Grow, Horse and Angel Tavern, The Plant Lady Chronicles

One of the employees commented that it was nice that the patio wasn’t naked anymore. He was right that the flowers change the way the whole place looks.

Good To Grow, Horse and Angel Tavern, The Plant Lady Chronicles

I’m forcing the Bougainvilleas to grow up – by tying the branches to the poles – because we have to keep the sidewalk clear for pedestrians. We definitely don’t want someone getting a Boug thorn in the face!

Tying the flowers to the poles also helps reduce the possibility of theft…because we know that people with a few drinks in them think that taking flower baskets that don’t belong to them is a good idea.

Good To Grow, Horse and Angel Tavern, The Plant Lady Chronicles

Despite the rocky start, I think this patio will look amazing all summer long. It’s good to have it open again. Thanks to everyone at Horse & Angel for letting me decorate the patio. If you’re in Albuquerque and go to H&A, be sure to let me know how you think they look! Thanks!

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

————————–

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 flower 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 lizatheplantlady at gmail dot com. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Wednesday, I asked how you would’ve answered the following email that I got from someone with this question about a Norfolk Island Pine:

Emailer: “Hi I have a question! I cut a piece off my grandpas plant to try and re grow it? How do I get roots from it? Thank u so much!”

I personally couldn’t help questioning the logic of the emailer’s “cut first, ask questions later” strategy. But putting that aside, let’s see what your advice would’ve been:

mr_subjunctive from Plants Are the Strangest People wrote, “in a clear container that won’t let air in or out (like an upside-down vase, or a terrarium). Be prepared for failure.[1]

[1] (The advice “be prepared for failure” is applicable to everything, though.)”

Which prompted this back and forth between us:

Me: “That’s good advice, mr_subjunctive. I’m curious, though, has it ever worked for you with a Norfolk? How about damp vermiculite?

I haven’t had success rooting Norfolks in anything.”

mr_s: I’ve never tried; that’s just what the books say to do.

There are photos of NIP cuttings on Google, but none from a side branch — which is what I fear the letter-writer may have done, and which if successful supposedly leads to lopsided, weird growth — and not many of them are before and after photos, so I suspect the success rate is low regardless.

Though the rooting medium can make a big difference in some plants — I was never able to root Ficus until I tried perlite, and never able to root Schefflera until I tried vermiculite — so it’s possible that they need very specific conditions to start with but are otherwise easy. It’s the sort of thing that might be interesting to experiment with if one had a NIP one wanted to hack to pieces. But I don’t.”

Me: “I agree about the rooting medium. I’d never successfully rooted Schefflera until I saw that you used vermiculite and then tried it myself. I’ve tried NIP cuttings in soil and vermiculite but was unsuccessful in both, but I think that’s more because I was trying to root the branches (that somehow got broken off) and not the main stem. I could see the stem would have a better chance of rooting than a branch (just as a scheff branch roots easily but a leaf does not).

It’s that main stem that had me worried with this emailer. If the writer cut the main growing stem, that could damage the parent plant. (Talk about growing lopsided forever.) Most trees just have that one main stem, so it seems nuts to me to cut it. I remember looking through all my old plant advice books a few years ago and every one of them said to leave that main stem alone. The Internet pretty much echoes that.

I do think that if there’s any chance of success, the emailer should follow your advice about making a “greenhouse” of sorts. I did not recommend that to the person, but I should’ve.”

Then Joseph Brenner wrote, “My “best” advice is don’t, unless you are trying to save a tree that is already damaged(or, you don’t mind “freaks of nature”). Sometimes, the terminal shoot will root fairly easily in damp sphagnum, but this causes permanent changes in the growth of the original tree. It is so much easier to pick up a new tree from your local nursery.(B>{D>>”

Me: “Thanks, Joseph. That’s my advice books say, too. The success rate from cuttings must be so low that they just say don’t bother.

I shudder to think of how many perfectly good Norfolks are in landfills right now following the Christmas holiday. Didn’t sell? Now you’re trash. It’s heartbreaking.”

Joseph added, “Yeah, me too. I had it tough in my first couple of nursery/landscape jobs because I couldn’t let go. I even attempted to start my own “plant rescue” business from my boss’s discards. It amounted to a lot of free compost and pots. (B>{D>>”

Good advice, I think, from both mr_subjunctive and Joseph. I don’t think the emailer was a regular reader, but who knows, maybe they’ll see this post and learn from it.

I probably could’ve offered a little more helpful advice than I did. At the time, I was thinking of the Grandpa – did he know about the cutting, did he endorse it, or did he walk in one day to discover a cut tree? That happened to me once with a Norfolk that someone cut without my knowledge, and I had a slight heart attack when I found it.

Here’s what I wrote back:

>>>Hello there. I got your question about a Norfolk Island Pine. Would you be able to send me a photo so I can know that we are both talking about the same plant?

From what I’ve read in books and online, you’re not supposed to cut Norfolks. They don’t root well. They say that you’re supposed to pull the small plants away from the base of the bigger parent plant in order to propagate them, or just go out and buy a young plant. You can try rooting the stem in water or vermiculite, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up for success. I’ve tried a few different times and haven’t had any luck – you may fare better, you should experiment and see what happens.

If it was the growing stem you cut from your Grandpa’s plant, it’s ok, your Grandpa’s plant probably won’t die. But it will probably start growing lopsided. It’s not a big deal, except part of the beauty of a Norfolk is its symmetry. Growing a little crooked won’t hurt the plant.

If you find a good way to root that cutting, please let me know. I’d love to hear a success story.
Liza>>>

I was a little curt – I could’ve been a little softer in my response. I could’ve elaborated more on ways to try and grow roots on that cutting, but meh. In this day of googling, I don’t feel too bad. There weren’t many niceties on either end, so it’s hard to care a lot. I’ll never know what Grandpa thought.

I’m hoping for more of the “research first, act later” plant strategy in the future. Thanks to mr_s and Joseph for your advice – I appreciate it! Also, if anyone out there has successfully rooted a Norfolk Island Pine cutting, please let me know how! I really would like to hear about it.

————————-

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 lizatheplantlady at gmail dot com. Thank you for your consideration.

Let’s play another round of the “What would your advice be?” game! This is where I show you a houseplant question that someone emailed me, and then I ask what you would’ve said had the question come to you. Then we compare notes and we laugh and we laugh. It’s good wholesome fun – you’ll see.

Someone Else Asks, You Answer!

I got this question recently. I think the person must’ve stumbled across my blog on a google search – definitely not a regular reader. I think it should be fairly easy for those of you who do read this blog, as it’s not an unfamiliar topic – in the subject line was written “Norfolk Island Pine”:

Emailer: “Hi I have a question! I cut a piece off my grandpas plant to try and re grow it? How do I get roots from it? Thank u so much!”

Hmmm. Cut first, ask questions later. I’m guessing the writer is young. Readers, what do you think? How would you answer the question? Snarkily is ok.

I did reply, and I’ll share that with you next Wednesday. If you have advice, please leave it in the comments section.

Oh, if you don’t know what a Norfolk Island Pine looks like, here’s a photo of mine, Peach, wearing her Christmas bling last month:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, it's all festive up in here

I look forward to hearing your advice! *snickers*

—————————

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 lizatheplantlady at gmail dot com. Thank you for your consideration.

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About Me

Hi! My name is Liza. Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting! I'm a Midwestern gal now living in Arizona, after many years of living in and owning a plant care business in New Mexico.

Plants are living, breathing creatures, and if they're indoor plants, they are 100% dependent on human care. They cannot water themselves.

I can beautify your home, office, or patio with plants and flowers. I have 13 years of experience growing plants, and friendships.

Please let me know if you have questions or if you would like help with your plants or garden. You can reach me at lizatheplantlady (at) gmail (dot) com or follow me on Twitter, Lizawheeler7.

All photos are mine unless otherwise noted. All content is also entirely my hard work. If you'd like to use any content or photos, all you have to do is ask. If you take without asking, you are a thief. And thieves suck. So don't suck. We have a deal? Good.

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