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Thinking of bringing home a plant for the first time? Here are some things you should know.

Plants are not like knickknacks that just sit there.

For one thing, they’re messy. I’ll illustrate my point by using my own houseplants. Here’s what happens after my Aeschynanthus (named Lady Evermore)  blooms:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Plants 101 - Maintenance

The spent blooms oozed a gunky sticky sap:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Plants 101 - Maintenance

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Plants 101 - Maintenance

If you can’t tolerate leaves on your floor, or wads of goo stuck to furniture, then don’t get plants.

I mean, look what they did to my foyer!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Plants 101 - Maintenance

Haha, juuuuust kidding – it was mostly my fault. Overwatering, underwatering, that’s on me. Spent blossoms on the floor, totally on them.

Anyway, for me, the whole point of having houseplants is to connect with Nature, it’s about having a relationship with Nature inside your home.

From that perspective, you should want to do nice things for them.

With my own plants, I take them on a field trip to the front yard twice a year:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Plants 101 - Maintenance

There are no concession stands or rides, but they love it.

It’s like a morning at a spa for them – they get showered, they get their soil flushed.

They get all happy looking, like this:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Plants 101 - Maintenance

Aw. So cute!

>>>>Quick Houseplant Tip>>>>

Don’t leave houseplants out in the sun for long – their leaves can burn very easily. Even the sun on a fall morning can be too hot. Remember, they’ve never been out in the sun in their lives (other than the brief moments between greenhouse and truck, and store and car). Error on the side of caution and bring them back in the house as fast as you can.

>>>>End of Houseplant Tip>>>>

Anyway. Before inviting a plant into your home, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. They may not be able to bark like dogs or cry like babies, but they are living breathing creatures.

>>>>Quick Holiday Tip>>>>

One plant that didn’t go outside one the field trip was one of the Schlumbergeras, or Christmas Cactus. That’s because when Schlums are budding up, like she was:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Plants 101 - Maintenance

…they are very fragile.

So many people buy Christmas Cactuses that are blooming or full of buds, only to take them home and all the blooms fall off. They are sensitive, you have to be very careful. I took mine to the kitchen sink for a gentle shower.

>>>> End of holiday tip >>>>

It’s important to get to know your plants once you’ve brought them into your home. A lot of that mess plants make is them trying to communicate with you. Some leaves naturally get old and fall off, but usually leaves that turn brown are getting too little water, or too much. The plant is trying to tell you which…it’s up to you to figure it out. Looking for the perfect balance, the exact right amount of care will continue as long as you own the plants – that’s the aforementioned relationship.

It’s important to learn how to prune your plants. It’s important to learn how to fertilize your plants. It’s important to look for pests. It’s important to flush their soil once in awhile. I’ve talked about all these topics on this blog before – there is a ton of guidance out there to support you.

Bottom line, don’t be a jerk to your plants.

They’re 100% dependent on your care once they are inside your home.

Their life literally depends on you.

Do a good job, and they reward you. Like mine do:

Before you invite plants into your home, you should be prepared. They are living, breathing creatures and are 100% dependent on your care once they are inside your home. My regular readers have heard me say that a million times, but in case there are plant newbies, or potential plant newbies, out there reading this, be informed! Their life literally depends on you.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Plants 101 - Maintenance

Abundant rewards make the work worthwhile.


I’ll be back tomorrow with an all-new Ask the Experts panel, and a new puzzler. Hope to see you back here.

Yesterday, I posted this email from a reader:

I hope you don’t mind a random email asking for your advice.  You had helped me earlier with my corn plants – several are sprouting new stalks!
I have a Norfolk pine in a fairly small pot that is now about 8 feet high.  During the warm months in Virginia, I put it outside on the back deck.
Soon it will be too tall to bring inside.
Question – I was told that cutting off the top will kill it.  But I don’t have an alternative if it doesn’t fit in the house, other than giving it away and I’ve had no takers so far.
Any ideas?

Many thanks,>>>>

Then I asked how you would’ve responded.

I also told a story about how someone snapped the grow stem off a ten-foot-tall Norfolk at one of my client’s office. Sad day. More about that in a minute.

Let’s see what you had to say:

Steph from Indianapolis wrote, “dun dun dah….I’m setting the DVR right now.”

Martha from Plowing Through Life wrote, “That’s a terrible story! How could someone chop off the top of this lovely plant?!! They do not like being pruned this way. That’s the main growing stem, and once that’s broken, the tree won’t grow from that point. It will start growing sideways and end up looking awkward.I’ve never had to bring this tree down to size (haven’t been that fortunate!), and I’m not entirely sure what needs to be done, but I believe that air layering might be the way to go.Also, I would try to limit the growth by limiting the pot size. Don’t give it too much space, so it doesn’t create more roots and keep on growing! Perhaps some root pruning to discourage it from growing more, as well. Not sure about that last part because I don’t remember if this plant has a sensitive root system. I’ll let you decide if that’s a good idea or not, Liza!

Cass McCain wrote, “It will not kill your Norfolk to prune it back. It may, however, lead to a less symmetrical appearance as the tree forms new leaders. Personally, when I’ve been forced to prune these, I’ve pruned down below eye level to minimize the loss of symmetry. You may be able to root the cutting, but they don’t propagate well this way.”

Ginny Burton, of Burton Optician in DC, wrote, “I don’t suppose you ever found the culprit. Probably not, or you would have wound up in jail for assault. What a perfectly horrid thing to do.

As for the question you were sent, I agree with Martha that keeping it pot bound is the best idea. And maybe keep it inside in the summer to discourage its getting taller. Otherwise, donate it to a nursing home where some patient will love to be in charge of taking care of it. I definitely would not prune it.”

Joseph Brenner wrote, “A friend lopped his a few years back. The tree survived, but attempted to produce several main shoots in place of the one.

I now fully understand the meaning of the word lopsided.

Wow, you guys take my breath away! You’re so good at this!

Here’s my actual response to her:

>>>>Cutting off the top won’t necessarily kill the plant, but it could. Usually, cutting the growing stem distorts the beautiful symmetry of a Norfolk – it will forever grow crookedly after that.
It’s a problem when houseplants get too big for the house. There isn’t much that can be done. You can try cutting it back and hope for the best. Or you can donate it to a church, because more often than not, they have the room and the personnel to care for it. Then you can start over with a small tree and do the whole thing over again.Is that helpful?
Then the reader wrote back,
>>>>”The idea of giving it to a church is a really good one – I’ll start visiting some and asking! thanks so much,>>>>
To which I responded

>>>>Churches are great because they are so big. Make sure they know that if they put the tree in a bigger pot, then it will grow bigger. It seems obvious, but a lot of people don’t anticipate the growth that transplanting brings. It can stay in its current pot as long as they keep adding soil (plants eat their soil over time). Good luck!>>>>

So Martha, we agree on the lopsidedness, we both advised keeping the tree in its current pot. (Their root system isn’t the sturdiest I’ve ever seen.) That’s so cool how you nailed it. And you suggested air layering, which is another great idea.

Cass, I’m so impressed with you as well. I’ve never pruned a Norfolk before, but I will keep your advice in mind when that day happens. Thank you for that!

Ginny, I love how you suggested a nursing home like I suggested a church. I will totally add nursing home to my list when people ask about tall plants, that’s a great idea.

Thanks to you, too, Joseph for your first-hand account of what happens to Norfolks when the growing stem is cut.

Steph, hopefully it was worth the wait.

So what happened to the Norfolk at my client’s office? I was so scared that she would die, but she didn’t. She did exactly what you guys thought she would – she started growing lopsided. She’s still alive today, and healthy, she grew another grow stem out to the side of the damaged stem.

I don’t know who broke the growing stem, and I’m sure I’ll never find out. But I have wondered from time to time if they got it to root. Norfolks tend to be slow growers. There are no easy ways to propagate them, or least none that I’ve heard of or tried. Most experts recommend just starting over with a new plant rather than trying to root a branch or try the air layering that Martha suggested.

I don’t think I’ve ever tried to propagate a Norfolk, but if I were going to make an attempt, it would be the stem in damp vermiculite. I’ve read that it’s not a reliable method – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. One thing that made me so mad about the broken stem was knowing that whoever took it probably wouldn’t have luck rooting it, so it was for naught. Which I would’ve told the culprit if he had asked for a cutting instead of just taking something that did not belong to him. Rude!


I do love me some Norfolks. Here’s Peach in the foyer, a few days after her field trip to the front yard, where she got a spring shower:
Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Peach a Norfolk Island Pine

I’ll try to remember to get a photo of the other Norfolk, the super tall one.

Again, you guys blow my mind with your sophisticated houseplant knowledge. Kudos to you!
I’ll be back tomorrow with an all-new Ask the Experts panel, and a new puzzler. Hope to see you back here.

Yesterday, I showed you an email question I got from someone who stumbled upon my blog. Here it is:

>>>>Hi Liza,

I came across your blog and instantly felt at home! Thank you so much for sharing your green thumb wisdom and artistry with the rest of the world.

I’m a very new green bud and live in Canada (British Columbia), the province that has an upside of warmer winters yet the downside of rather soggy, rainy weather….. What a difference with the place where you’re writing from  – desert!

Anyway, every week I’ve been going through cravings for different plants as like these were different food flavours….. And recently it became succulents. I see lots of pictures of succulents being plunked literally in everything, from the ceramic mug to the coca cola can. However, I have a burning question – don’t these containers need a hole and a good drainage??? How is it possible to grow such a gorgeous plant in something that looks completely out of place for a container or is it done for commercial purposes?

I would appreciate your advice and tips very much!

LOVE your vertical frames!!

Sincerely, [name withheld for privacy]>>>>

Here are some examples (from Pinterest) of what she means, about succulents and herbs being planted in practically anything:






Cute, sure. But are they practical?

I asked what your answer would’ve been.

Let’s see what you had to say:

Claude from Random Rants and Prickly Plants wrote, “Well, with careful watering, it’s quite possible. drainage holes make it easier though. Some containers, like coffee cans or such, a nail and hammer takes care of that rather quickly. Other containers, placing gravel, broken pretty, even Styrofoam packing peanuts in the bottom of the container to keep the roads off of standing water.”

Ginny Burton from Burton Optician in Washington DC wrote, “I know nothing about succulents, but I think Claude is right. Anything that keeps the roots from soaking in water should work. They don’t need much water, do they? Could you just mist them heavily?”

Martha from Plowing Through Life wrote, “I think it’s best that plants have drainage holes in their containers, especially cacti and succulents that will rot easily from too much dampness. But if it’s a container that is not transparent that you have your eye on, you can plant the succulent in a pot with drainage and then place that pot inside the decorative container…like a coffee can or ceramic mug or glazed vase. Remove the plant and its pot when it’s time to water it, allow it to drain and then place it back inside the decorative pot. And because these plants don’t need watering very often, it’s easy to maintain.”

Carmen wrote, “There are lots of people that also buy special drill bits that can drill holes in different types of pots that dont have drainage holes. I hear it’s difficult to learn how to do this (lots of breaking pots), but with lots of practice, you can drill holes in just about everything. Succuleants also need very good draining soil with the pots as they rot so easily. But if you really wanna use a container that has no holes and dont wanna bother with making holes in it, then like ‘plowing through life’ says, use the container as a decorative pot and just plant the succulents/cacti in a pot with drainage holes that fits in the decorative pot so you can easily pull it out for watering.”

You guys are awesome. Here’s my actual response to her:


>>>>Hi! Thanks for writing. I’m glad you like the blog. As far as succulents are concerned, they definitely prefer to have good drainage. They will be happier, and you’ll reduce your chances of root rot (succulents can rot very quickly). That said, if you are a careful waterer, you can plant them in practically any container. Most of the ones you see out there are just good photo opps, and not for long-term planting. They can live in a container with no drainage, but you have to be very, very careful on your watering so they don’t rot.

I adore succulents. They’re beautiful, they’re easy, and they’re interesting. Good luck with them! If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

It’s almost certain that all of the above photos were taken moments after the containers were planted. Which is fine – I do that often, too. But because Pinterest doesn’t necessarily allow for instructions, there’s no chance to explain that the plants’ health could be in peril from overwatering due to lack of drainage.

You all nailed it. Claude, I’m impressed, but not one bit surprised. Ginny, they need a little more than heavy misting, but you still have the right idea. Martha, I wish I had thought to tell her about the old trick of putting a growers’ pot inside a decorative pot – that’s an excellent idea. I do that all the time in my plant business but I didn’t think to mention it to her at the time. Carmen, thank you as well for your input – tiny holes make all the difference in the world.

Well done all of you! I knew you’d get it!

I’ll be back tomorrow with an all-new Ask the Experts panel. The Experts have been on break, so we welcome their return. You still have time to guess the plant puzzler – the deadline is tonight at midnight, MST (that’s 2am EST). Leave your best guess in the comments section or on my facebook wall.

I hope to see you back here tomorrow.

Dimorphotheca is formerly known as Osteospermum. Or perhaps they exist side by side these days. There’s some confusion over whether one is an annual and one is a perennial, if they’re both the same now, or if everyone just prefers the name Dimorphotheca over Osteospermum. No one seems to like the latter name.

Since I’m trying to turn my annual flowers into perennials by bringing them into the house over the winter, it’s possible we need a new name, like Osteotheca, or Dimorphspermum.

In doing some research on the various types of hybrid flowers out there, I found this description of the Osteospermum hybrid ‘Lemon Symphony’ on the Proven Winners own site:

“Osteeospurm-m-mum. Sheesh. I wonder who came up with that one. Osteo or African Daisy is much more me. In case you didnt know, Symphony Osteos are among the most popular Proven Winners in the world. Its easy to spot a Symphony. Were the ones with the amazing sapphire blue eyes (centers). Just like that actress whats-her-name. Lets see. I bloom nonstop from early spring through fall, and my new flowers quickly cover old ones so you never have to deadhead. Im Annual except in zones 9 11, and do best in full to part sun (heat doesnt bother me a bit). Since I grow between 8 and 12 inches tall, theres room for me even in small spaces.

Besides me, there are four other colors: Melon, Orange, Peach and Vanilla. But Lemon is best. My petals are a clear, soft yellow without the slightest bit of brassiness. Im a spiller, too. I spill over the sides of hanging baskets, window boxes, etc. It drove my mother plant crazy.”


I had to read that more than once.

Lack of apostrophes aside, I find the excerpt curious. It’s like they wrote it to appeal to children. Which, of course, makes me wonder who they think their target audience is.

As far as I could tell, that was the only description written from the point of view of the flower. The rest were more straightforward, listing the features and characteristics of each plant.


I just thought it was weird.

But it’s unrelated to how to collect the seeds of the flowers.

How To Collect Dimorphotheca Seeds

Here’s what my flowers looked like:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, How To Collect Osteospermum Seeds

Obviously not Lemon Symphony, but some sort of Osteospermum hybrid. Purple symphony doesn’t seem to be likely.

Whatever the name, they sure are cheerful flowers.

The method of seed collecting is the same as practically all other flowers.

Step one, wait for the flowers to be spent.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, How To Collect Osteospermum Seeds

Step two, remove the seeds from the spent bloom. You can do this by holding a paper bag underneath the bloom and snipping it off with scissors. Or you can gently crush the bloom with your fingers so the seeds fall into your container below.

I removed one of the blooms so you could see where the seeds are hiding:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, How To Collect Osteospermum Seeds

Right in the center:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, How To Collect Osteospermum Seeds

I generally keep seeds in an envelope, in a container in my refrigerator. But I think everyone has their own methods of seed saving – some people repurpose old Altoid tins, some people use Ziploc bags or paper bags.

It doesn’t really matter (unless there is moisture or pests associated with the seeds) as long as the seeds themselves get sown back outside for more color splashes in the landscape.

Please let me know if you have questions about these flowers, or how to collect flower seeds. You can leave a comment for me, or shoot me an email.


I’ll be back with an all-new Ask the Experts panel tomorrow, and a new puzzler. You still have time to guess the current puzzler, in which I asked if this Poinsettia was real or fake:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, real or fake plant puzzler

The deadline is tonight at midnight MST (that’s 2am EST). Leave your best guess in the comment section or on my facebook wall. The prizes may be imaginary but the link back to your site and the glory of winning are oh-so-real.

Hope to see you back here.

There’s not a lot of variance when it comes to collecting flower seeds. The seeds may look wildly different, but the method of collecting them is essentially the same.

Which is, look for the flower that is now brown and faded, then figure out the best way to get the seeds out of it.

So I’m not really writing posts like this one as “how to’s” but to show you what different flower seeds look like.

Because once you know what to look for, I’m confident you can find seeds on your own.

As I’ve said many times before, collecting seeds is easy. It’s not rocket science.

Especially when you know what to look for.

Today, the spotlight is on beautiful Portulaca flowers.

My own Portulaca flowers are past their prime, after giving me a summer’s worth of outstanding blooms. Here’s what the container looked like a few weeks ago:

They are prolific bloomers. I don’t bother to deadhead them, because they bloom like crazy without any interference from me.

Portulacas not only come in an array of dazzling colors, but they also can get by on minimal water and attention.

Those are big plusses in my book.

So how do you collect the seeds?

I picked off one of the brown flowers from my own container to show you:

Doesn’t look like much is there, but if you use your fingers to “crush” the brown casing, you’ll see the seeds inside, like these:

The seeds are so, so tiny!

And there are so many of them!

It’s easiest to store them in an envelope or paper bag.

In the center of the photo below, you can see the seeds naturally coming out of an opened pod:

Again, they are tiny seeds, and lots of ’em.

It looks like not only will I have a basil forest in the back yard, but a Portulaca forest, too.

Unless anyone out there would like to take some seeds off my hands. Anyone? Anyone?


You still have time to guess last week’s puzzler, in which I asked if these flowers were real or fake:

You can leave your best guess in the comments section or on my facebook wall. The deadline is tonight at midnight MST (that’s 2am EST).

I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) after an all-new Ask the Experts post tomorrow. Hope to see you back here.

Oh sweet wonderful basil, how I love you so!  I love you in salads with tomatoes and mozzarella, and I love you with pasta and on pizza.

At the beginning of summer, I decided I wanted to perfect making basil oil. Not just shoving some basil leaves in with olive oil, but infusing basil leaves into the olive oil.

I asked a good chef friend of mine for a recipe. She told me to boil two quarts of water with two tablespoons of salt (that’s a lot, I’m not sure that’s necessary but she’s the expert), add a bunch of basil leaves, then after a few minutes, remove the basil with tongs, put them into a blender with two cups of olive oil. Blend until it’s a rich brilliant green.

The hard part came next. She wanted me to strain the concoction into a container, then pour that into a container that I could then squeeze over pasta or a salad or whatever. She liked to use plastic condiment containers so she could squeeze the oil over plates for a dramatic effect.

At first, I tried pouring the mix into a jar, then I covered the jar with a coffee filter and wrapped a rubber band around the jar. That worked great until the rubber band broke. Dang.

Further experiments had me using coffee filters and tape, and sieves, anything to keep the oil in a container to filter the basil oil into another container that I could then transfer to a plastic bottle from which I could spray or squeeze it onto food. Cheese cloth was way too porous – coffee filters worked way better.

Every method I tried was time-consuming. Straining takes time.

Everytime I hacked the plant, it responded by growing bigger and bigger. I eventually figured out how to effectively strain the basil bits (lots of coffee filters and tape), and had some delicious pasta meals.

That’s how the basil plant by my back door became so enormous. The more I hacked away at it, the more it doubled and tripled in size.

Then in mid-August, it started flowering and then going to seed.

After seeing it flower so fluently, I decided to collect the inevitable seeds.

I wanted to share with you how I collected those seeds.

Collecting basil seeds is easy, especially when you know what to look for.

My enormous Genovese basil plant is the perfect instructor for how to collect seeds.

See how it’s flowering like crazy?

Each individual flower should produce seeds.

If you look closely, you can see that seed production on my plant is well underway:

See the brown seed “pods”? These can be called carpels, or casings, or pods. I’ll use the word pods, for simplicity’s sake (this is a Plants 101 post).

Here’s another look:

Each of the brown seed pods will contain the magical seeds.

You can see the seeds by breaking one of the pods open, like I did here:

The easiest way to collect the seeds is to run your finger down the spike, into a container like a paper bag or a sieve (so you can separate the seeds from the chaff).

Note, it’s not necessary to break the seeds out of their casings, because that will happen naturally anyway. But it’s nice to do so if you plan on giving the seeds away.

I got four seeds from each individual pod. Um, there are a lot of pods per spike:

There are six pods in each cluster, and 19 clusters on the above spike.

That gives us a total of 456 basil seeds from just one spike.


Yes, nearly 500 seeds from one spike.

And I’ve got, I dunno, a couple hundred spikes?

If there are only 100 spikes, that’s over 45,000 seeds from one plant.

But I have way more than 100 spikes.

Which begs the question, anyone want some basil seeds?

Seriously, help me out here before a basil forest grows in the back yard.

Hopefully this helps you learn how to collect basil seeds on your own. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Happy Harvesting!


You still have time to guess in last week’s puzzler, in which I asked if these flowers were real or fake:

You can leave your best guess in the comments section, or on my facebook wall. The deadline is tonight at midnight MST (that’s 2am EST).

I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) tomorrow after an all-new Ask the Experts panel.

The Experts return manana, and I’ve asked them to talk about Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, and to share their memories of the deceased who matter to them. I hope to see you back here.

Again, happy harvesting, and happy Halloween!

You still have time to guess the current puzzler, in which I asked if these Orchids are real or fake:

It’s a tricky puzzler this week. For one, the flash on my point-n-shoot camera distorted the color of the flowers. The real color looked more like this:

Blue? Blue. It’s a pretty blue, I’ll give them that.

So, are they real or fake? Leave your best guess in the comments section or on my facebook wall. The deadline is tonight at midnight MST (that’s 2am EST).

I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) tomorrow after an All-New Ask the Experts panel. Imaginary prizes will abound.

We hope to see you back here.

When houseplants lack luster, or they don’t grow as fast as they should, one reason may be that they’re not getting the fertilizer they need.

I think the word fertilizer intimidates a lot of people when it comes to houseplants. Really, it’s just food for plants.

Houseplants need the major elements, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (these are represented by the numbers on a box or bottle of fertilizer, like 10-30-20) in order to thrive. Most plant foods also provide minor and trace elements, as well, which the plants gobble up.

Imagine if you were stuck in the same pot, day after day, with only the occasional water to sustain you. You may be happy to be alive, but it’s not much of a life, is it? Plants can survive on water and no food, but like you might guess, they sure do appreciate food when they get it.

Fertilizer comes in many shapes and sizes, but I prefer using the water soluble blue granules. Today’s modern fertilizers make it harder to burn or overdose the houseplants, but it can still happen, easily, so you have to be careful with the directions. Side with caution, less is more.

(If you overdo it, flush the plant in the shower to get the minerals out of the soil. Don’t fertilize a baby plant or a weak plant – a recently transplanted plant, for example. Give them a little breathing room to grow on their own before you help them.)

I recommend using waaaaay less than what the directions on the box recommend, because the manufacturers want you to buy more product. If they say 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water, I’ll add a smidgeon to my two-gallon bucket. And instead of using the product every time I water, like the directions recommend, I use it for two-three weeks in a row in the spring, then two-three weeks in a row again in the summer, a teeny bit in the fall, ease off in the winter, start fresh again in the spring.

(If you’ve never used fertilizer on your established houseplants, they would appreciate the jolt of food no matter what time of year it is.)

Once houseplants get used to being fertilized, you’ll see the difference.

As an example, here’s a photo I took with my phone of an Epipremnum ‘Pothos’ plant that I inherited recently when someone moved:

The plant had good soil and good drainage, but the leaves lacked the color I knew they should’ve had.

So I started fertilizing it.

(There are gazillion fertilizer and plant food products out there at your local greenhouses. Talk to a professional and ask for recommendations. I like to try one after another to see which the plants like best. They seem to like them all. Right now, I’m using one called Jack’s Classic, a simple 20-20-20, the plants love it.)

The leaves in the photo above stayed green, but the plant began producing more vibrant leaves right away:

If the Pothos was a flowering plant, the plant would be blooming like crazy. If it was a vegetable plant growing in your garden, it would produce more fruit.

This particular houseplant responds to fertilizer with bright variegation of the leaves. Not all houseplants will do that, but in my experience, they all respond well to “a little juice.”


I’ll be back manana with an all-new Ask the Experts panel. Check in to see how the new guy fares when I ask which houseplant is deserving of an Olympic medal. I’ll also have a new plant puzzler for you, and an answer to last week’s puzzler. Imaginary prizes will abound. Hope to see you back here.

I’ve seen some websites that pitch terrariums as no-maintenance items.

They go like this:

“Like Nature? But don’t want to lift a finger to have it in your home? Try a terrarium!”


“Plant it and ignore it.”


Plant it and ignore it? What’s the point then?

Let’s set the record straight.

Terrariums are low maintenance.

They require water and pruning. And a little love.

They are comprised of living, breathing creatures – why would anyone want to ignore them?

Besides, they make it kinda hard to ignore them. I couldn’t even get the lid back on mine.

Terrariums are great for teaching kids about plants and ecosystems. Great for brown thumbs. And great for plant lovers across the board.

Because they’re interesting.

Because they require your attention.

I’ll be back manana with an all-new plant puzzler, as well as the answer to last week’s puzzler. Hope to see you back here.

Vases don’t just have to be for flowers. Look at this creative use of vases at Hey Jhonny, an awesome gift shop here in Albuquerque:

Croton leaves! That’s one way (hopefully) to avoid spider mites on your Croton houseplants! Nice work, fellas!


In other news:

I’m not sure how many of you are interested in New Mexico’s fire situation, but in case you are, I thought I’d give you a brief update.

Romero Fire: Yesterday afternoon, Albuquerque’s skies filled with smoke as a fire started in the bosque (the area on either side of the Rio Grande) in Corrales. For those of you not familiar, Corrales is a sleepy artist/farming community immediately north of the city. We were told that 150 homes were threatened on the west side of the river, as well as structures on the east side on the Sandia Pueblo (the fire jumped the river). As far as I know, they haven’t determined a cause of the blaze, but since yesterday it’s swelled to about 300 acres due to fierce overnight winds.

The thing about bosque fires is that the river flows through our communities here, so fires have the potential to be utterly devastating (as opposed to the Whitewater-Baldy complex fire in the Gila, which mostly burned wilderness areas). There was a fire along the bosque in the South Valley over the weekend, and now this in the far North Valley.

For being a rural community, Corrales is still connected to a big urban area. I can assure you, living in downtown Albuquerque, it’s terrifying to see so much smoke in the sky. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for Corrales residents.

Fortunately for us citizens, our emergency responders, firefighters and officials are top-notch pros. They are well-trained and fast-acting. Hundreds of firefighters have been attacking the Romero blaze overnight and protecting homes. They have some crews only protecting Corrales homes, while others fight the flames and others build containment lines. You absolutely couldn’t ask for more professional folks. We are lucky to have so many dedicated individuals working for us.

You may think that the areas along the river would be green and lush, but what happens is that the brush overgrows during the spring, then dries out as the months pass. The dried out extra growth becomes fuel for fire. Firefighters also have to contend with the cotton that’s accumulated in the growth – it’s highly combustible and makes their work that much more difficult.

Whitewater-Baldy complex fire: Burned more than 296,000 acres (the largest in state history) and is now 87% contained. 12 structures (vacation cabins) burned.

Little Bear fire: This is the fire in Ruidoso that burned more than 250 structures including primary and vacation homes and businesses. It burned more than 40,000 acres and is 60% contained.

Blanco fire: This was started by an illegal campfire, burned five homes and 352 acres, near Bloomfield, NM.

I think there’s a fire burning near Espanola and maybe in the Santa Fe National Forest, too. And of course, our neighbors to the north in Colorado are also dealing with huge fires. Our prayers are with them.

In lighter news:

I’ll be back manana with an all-new Ask the Experts panel, and a new plant puzzler. If you haven’t done so already, you still have time to guess last week’s puzzler, in which I asked if this plant was real or fake:

Should be a no-brainer!

The deadline is tonight at midnight MST (that’s 2am EST). Leave your best guess in the comments section or on my facebook wall. The prizes may be imaginary, but the link to your site is oh-so-real.

Hope to see you back here!

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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.