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After the recent U.S. Presidential election, I vented about my sadness (which still hasn’t faded to this day) and promised to share more advice from our beloved Expert Dottie Correll. Because she’s awesome. And she’s 90 – she’s lived through a lot of shit.

I started this blog in 2009, so it was already after Barack Obama won his historic first-term. It was before I started the “Ask the Experts” column every Friday, so I don’t have written evidence of any of their opinions.

But I did ask them what they thought after the 2012 re-election of President Obama. I enjoyed Dottie’s answer quite a bit – it reflects her passion for this country.

(For the full Experts panel, with each of their unique takes on the question, you can access the the original post here.)

Here’s how it went down with Dottie.

I asked:

Q. Everyone’s minds are on the Presidential election next week. Would you please share with us what you’d like to see in America’s future?

Dottie’s response:


A. In my 87 years of traveling around this fascinating globe of ours, I’ve witnessed ups and downs, recessions and repressions and I’ve never found another country finer, more able to meet and cope with the challenges or ultimately more agreeable than the good old USA.  In spite of all the “ugly warts” and “hogknobs”, the USA always comes through!  When asked about the future of our country, what you see here is an eternal optimist and positive thinker.  An example I heard today:  Governor Christie and President Obama together discussed and put into action the help appropriate for the state of New Jersey to commence a speedy recovery from the devastation of “Hurricane Sandy”!  That’s a big beginning of the kind of cooperation we need to get this country back on the right track.

I saw it in action, when I have been a part of the recovery of many disasters the past 40+ years as a volunteer disaster casework supervisor with the American Red Cross—most especially in NEW YORK at “9/11”.

I spent a large part of my childhood growing up in the worst depression the country has ever known.

When the chips are down, and push comes to shove, Americans pull together and get the job done!  Check the history – We may make many goofs along the way, but we hang in there until we get it right!

I see a tough road ahead, but one the USA can travel with grit and determination and succeed.

That’s America!   The American way!  God Bless the USA!

Thanks Dottie! I needed that.



Hello Augustibles, and happy Friday!

Welcome back to the Good To Grow site, and thanks for being here.

Yay for Friday. Here in Albuquerque, it’s beginning to feel like fall, with the rains and the smell of green chiles in the air. The State Fair is just around the corner. There’s nothing quite like fall in New Mexico, it’s magical.

But enough about NM. You came here for Experts and puzzlers. Let’s get our Friday Festivities started by saying hi to the Experts. Hi everyone!


“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

You’re so cute! From left to right, that’s Andy Williams, Tim Thackaberry, EZ Ed Johnson, Dottie Correll and Lewis Casey. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

In our continued quest to get to know the Experts a little better, here’s this week’s question:

Q. Please tell us about one (or more) of your favorite family members. (It can be anyone, past or present.)

Expert Andy, you’re up first as usual:

A. I’ve written various stories in this blog about my dad, mom and grandfather.  But I have neglected to mention my sister much, and that has been an unintentional theme in my life.  

My sister Chrissy is 9 years younger than I less 13 days.  Throughout her life she couldn’t have been more different than I.  Part of that, I’m certain, was growing up in a small town behind me.  She had the burden of several of my same teachers all the way through her education.  When she was about 16 one of them, Mr. Eugene Hopkins, told her “If you are 1/2 as good as your brother was you’ll be just fine in my class.”  I think she was pretty tired of that baloney by then.  Chrissy didn’t care much about school, the cleanliness of her room, making money, going to college or having a plan.  Like I said, she couldn’t have been more different.  I didn’t have much time for her when I was growing up in the same house, for by the time I was 17 and had graduated high school she was 8.  So we never really bonded too much along the way.  Then I went off to college and moved to Arizona when she was just leaving junior high.  I likely was a bit overbearing on her as well by projecting my own “plan of life” onto her and telling her to do everything my way.  I’m sure that didn’t help much at all.  But through the years, and thankfully, we’ve grown closer and closer, largely because of the different parental plights.
She also got married when she was 18 or 19, well before I did.  She was blessed with a beautiful daughter Ashlynn who I just adore and preach much of the same “get good grades” mantra too every chance I get.  Overall, my so-called plans have been dealt some heavy blows especially recently.  Chrissy continues to pursue life by rolling with the perpetual punches day by day.  I’ve come to realize that she’s onto something that I need to embrace and make my own life less stressful and more rewarding.  And part of that has helped me to align with her more and more, and make her and Ashlynn more a part of my life.  For in reality, we have no animosity at all, just differences in how we navigate our gifts of life.  We do get to do more things together now, like go to Carb Day before the Indy 500, the race itself and other fun things that the great state of Indiana has to offer.
If there is a lesson or method in all of the above madness I suppose it is to embrace your family despite your differences and beyond your surface-level disagreements.

A. Members of my family read this, so it would be highly impolitic for me to answer this question in any manner other than this:

All of my family members are great, I love them all equally and with no preferential treatment towards any of them! Hi everyone, love you and talk to you soon!

A. I have been thinking about my cousin Roberta lately. I think about her in the summer. That is when she would come to visit us. She was a teenager in the 60s when the world was alive and uncertain, much like she was. She taught me about the mysteries of the Beatles, about the seismic shifts that were taking place just beyond the mountain village I called home. She has had a difficult life, lots of dark days. But when I think of her, I think of the light of summer.

A. Fortunately for me, I have been blessed with so many wonderful family, friends and teachers throughout my life that it is difficult to pick just one.

I do believe I have written about my amazing English Grandfather Dutton, that hailed from the beautiful walled city built by the Romans, of Chester, England. He was my life guide, as I had lost my father in my life at the tender age of 6 months. My Grandfather imbued within me the highest morals and dedication to goals and unstoppable curiosity (Not that I didn’t stray once in awhile).

Then there was my 7th grade English teacher, Miss Snyder, who brought me out of my shyness, instilled confidence and ignited my passion for writing .

My 10th grade Biology teacher headed me in the direction of my life’s work: Science; primarily Chemistry.

My minister, Reverend Mapes, sparked my passion for working with and aiding people in need by helping me found the Tri -Community Social Service Council. He was an amazing leader –down to earth, approachable and over flowing with love and compassion for all.

One of my first employers, while I was a student at Ohio State University, the owner of the Columbus Water and Testing Company, helped me along the way and ignited my pursuit of a career as a Chemist. He made me be accurate and accountable for my work ethics.

Countless friends whose love and guidance all helped to make me the person I was, am and hopefully will be. One outstanding in my memory is Betty Long. She is responsible for my 50+ volunteer years as a Volunteer Case Work Supervisor with the American Red Cross.

Last but perhaps the best, my children. My children have given me so much knowledge, and taught me understanding, tolerance, compassion and a myriad of other attributes.   There is no way to measure how they have enriched my life.

So here I am today, ready to celebrate my 88th birthday next week. A complex somebody or a simple nobody but surely a “person” evolved because of my association with so many interesting and fabulous life guides.

Bless you One and All!

A. Now I really have not ever spoken of him before, but he was my imaginary little brother for we were born on the same day and same year. I in the morning, he in the afternoon, we weren’t real family but we were brothers and could have been good friends. we talked a lot as we were growing up, telling each other our dreams of what we wanted out of life. I always a man of the earth a grower, a hoer, a mower, a hands on persons fix it or break it I could do both, a thinker outside the box, a marcher of my own tune.

Little Brother was always telling jokes, tales that cracking people up, making people smile, laugh or cry with his crazy antics’, a marcher of his own tune, far beyond the box. Little brother, I told him,  “Your wit is outstanding in the rain, You are funny, crazy and full of myth.   You want to be a funny guy go to the place where funny guys go. So he went to Georgia, why I don’t know.

Eventually he got noticed, when you make enough people pee their pants from laughing you get noticed and then they pay you to act like an idiot / court jester. I had told Little Brother one time  about this dream I had about this silly lost outer space alien who lived in an apartment in some big city, but nothing ever come of it I guess.

Time and time and time comes and goes, we learn, we laugh, we live, we die

Some day in the future we will look back on this time and say

“We sure did a lousy, reprehensible and shameful job of caring for each other”

We have many good credits and acts of faith that we have been done on our collective souls

There has been done much goodwill for the benefit of humanity

Organization, societies, agencies, groups, clubs and individuals have performed vast blessings upon the less fortunate

But alas there have been many holes in our cast net and large numbers of humble/poor/deprived , sad/disheartened/depressed, lost/lonely, mad/crazy/confused

The mentally ill no net can catch

Becoming the homeless, the street walkers, the druggies, the alcoholics,  the thieves, the victims, the prey and the predator

Murdered in their sleep, murderers not old enough to shave,

PTSD rages across our land, we sent young people to fight a greedy oil man’s war and lost a whole generation that died there or here at their own hand suicide, or suicide by cop either way their dead

And enough guns to cover the planet ten feet deep add that to the mix, Yea

We build vast temples of gold to our gods of finance, transportation, sports, movie and war

Glory be heaped upon those who reap from the public’s trough, thanks for nothing Washington

We have built fine facilities to lock up the crazy’s, many good hospitals grace our land to house and hold our outcast

We name them and shame them, crazy, nutts, psychopaths, loonies, the MENTALLY ILL names they can wear with such pride

Just give them a bigger dose, new chemicals that will calm and stupefy them, well that didn’t work, throw them out and get another

In the past we use to just chain them to their bed until they got better which was never

If you and most of us do, have or know a person with a mental illness tread lightly, speak softly, love mostly

WE must make a serious effort to understand, compassionately treat and change our method and thinking about what we can do to help

Little Brother Robin Williams you made me laugh

Little Brother Robin Williams now you made me cry

Good by little brother

Wow, wonderful! Everyone, I loved your answers this week. From the diplomatic, to the heartfelt, I enjoyed reading all of them! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

Each one of you Experts is special, and near to my heart. Thank you again for being here, I appreciate it.

If anyone wants to take a moment to wish Dottie a Happy Birthday, I’d be happy to pass those wishes on to her.

That will wrap up this week’s Panel of Experts. The Experts will return next Friday. They hope to see you back here.

Up next, the answer to the current puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Last week, I asked if this plant was real or fake:

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

Let’s see how you answered:

mr_subjunctive from the Plants Are the Strangest People blog wrote, “Pretty sure the plant is fake.”

Martha from the Plowing Through Life blog wrote, “I’m grateful for modern times. Indoor plumbing, hot water tanks, heating (sure gets cold up here!), modern medicine, and on and on. I wouldn’t mind stepping into a time travel machine and visiting certain periods in the past. But I’d never choose to live there!

Oh, and the plant looks fake to me.”

–Thanks, Martha, I enjoyed reading your thoughts on modern life!

Claude from the Random Rants and Prickly Plants blog wrote, “Theres some leaf scarring. Im gonna say real. Just to be contrary.”

Joseph Brenner from Texas wrote, “Not just a fake. Ugly fake.(B>{D}”

Liz from Jemez wrote, “Fake”

Dan from the Cast Iron Dan blog wrote, “My guess is real…”

That’s four votes fake, two votes real.

What’s the correct answer? Let’s take a wider view to find out:

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

Fake! And ugly! I can give the manufacturer a teeny bit of credit for trying to get the markings right, or to at least make it looked flawed like a real plant would. But only a teeny bit of credit because it’s still pretty ugly. Fake plants are always uglier than real ones!

I can see how it would be tricky to tell the difference sometimes though.

I’m going to declare everyone a winner. Good job! To show my appreciation for you playing, I’d like you each to have the following prizes: A mid-August evening, your own personal waterfall, a crown made of wildflowers, 14 1/2 extra credit points, one game show appearance, 43 more glory days, a paperweight, yellow, a grip of sea urchins, zero selfies, four hugs, a new living room couch, the title of “Best Plant Puzzler Winner Ever” for the weekend, a spare elbow, 12 lentils, two gallons of exterior paint, Trujillo Canyon, one coupon good for two vouchers, a bouquet of Echeverias, cheese enchiladas, one major jackpot, five gold stars, 11 bonus points, a stylish wristwatch, three new dance moves, milk, two seeds of change, 12 1/3 cotton balls, an A+, wind beneath your wings, six blue ribbons, one bottle of wine, extra love, two shooting stars, and seven morning glories. Congratulations, and thanks so much for playing!

Up next, a new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Is this plant real or fake (the one in the foreground)?

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

Think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section. You have until midnight MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) next Thursday, August 21st, to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) after next week’s panel of Experts. The prizes may be imaginary but the link to your site and the glory of winning are oh-so-real. 

Hello peaches, let’s look at what’s blooming in your garden this February (instead of mine).

Nancy Mumpton of Phoenix sent me photos of her gorgeous flowers.

Says Nancy, “Our weather has been so much warmer than normal so many plants are responding!”









Responding, indeed! They’re beautiful, Nancy!

Most of the country is snowed in, so it’s nice to see your flowers from Arizona. Thanks so much for sharing them with us!

We’ll do this again next month, so if you have flowers blooming that you’d like to show us but you don’t have a blog, send your photos to me and I’ll post them for you. That’s indoor and outdoor blooms.

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

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

Leave your best guess in the comments section. The deadline is tonight at midnight MST (that’s 2am EST). I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) tomorrow. Imaginary prizes will abound for all who play.

Hope to see you here.



My, oh my, that view!

I love the all white decor – it’s clean, it’s modern. But I would probably add splashes of color if this were my place. Maybe a bright tablecloth or colorful placemats. A plant or two. Still, it’s stunning.

I got the image from Pinterest. It was sourced from There are more photos of this villa in Greece (they do have a plant or two) on their site so follow that link. Thank you to whoever created such a beautiful space – I love your look!

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

Hello hotmamacitas, and happy Friday!

Welcome back to the Good To Grow site, and thanks for being here.

It’s our Friday funday around here, and after a much needed break, all of my Experts are back. They are fired up, too, so watch out!

Let’s say hi, shall we? Hi Experts!

“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

You guys are super cute! From left to right, that’s Tina, Thack, EZ, Dottie and Lewis. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

This week’s panel starts now.

The question today is a simple one. Here it is:

Q. Talk to us about Mother’s Day.

Expert Tina Quintana, you’re up first as usual.

A. Mother’s Day is very special for me. I cherish and love my mom so much. She did everything she could for us. It was a rough road but she should loved me and took care of me and taught me many many things I needed to know to become the person who I am today! She is the most kind, loving, and caring person I know. And she is like that to ALL UNCONDITIONAL! She is truly a blessing in anyone’s life she has known! I will go up to spend time with her and take her to lunch. I also will be planting some flowers in her patio so she can enjoy this season. I have a special surprise for her this year……SHHHHHH I am going to put up a hummingbird feeder for her. She always talks about how she loves them and that they flutter around. She always calls them the name in spanish… priceless! ❤

Colibrí? Is that what she used to call the hummingbirds? I love watching those mean little birds, too, so I’m a big fan of your gift for your Mom. That’s really sweet, Tina!

I’m definitely going to call that a win for you again this week, Expert Tina. Nicely played! I’ll have imaginary prizes for you at the end of the panel.

Expert Tim Thackaberry, here’s the question to you:

Q. Talk to us about Mother’s Day.

A. What to say about Mother’s Day? It’s a Hallmark holiday, the notion that you pick just one day a year to honor your mom is crazy.

On a related note, sorry, mom, there are no flowers this year. That’s my bad…

I have to admit, you’re right. Mothers should be honored every day. So should fathers. That’s a good point, Thack.

Of course, I’m gonna have to call that another win for you. Congratulations!

Expert EZ Ed Johnson, our resident poet, here’s the question coming your way:

Q. Talk to us about Mother’s Day.

A. The earliest memory I own is being in my mother’s arms as my father drove us along a winding mountain road. The shadows of the tall pines swept over us. Even as the memory drifts farther into time, I am closer to understanding, closer to greater appreciation of the bond that is unique to a mother and a son.

Aaaaand that’s why he’s our resident poet. EZ, you just took all of us on a little journey through a winding mountain road – that was awesome, thank you!

That’s for sure another win for you this week. Congrats, and thanks for playing.

The ever charming Expert Dottie Correll is up next. Dottie, here’s your question, sweet lady:

Q. Talk to us about Mother’s Day.

A. Last year I wrote a nostalgic, loving bit about my remarkable mother — as we all have — a one in a million Lady!  This year I thought I would relate a funny mother’s Day incident, starring who else? Moi!  I wanted to do something really special for my Mom and as I was only 7, my funds were limited.  Also the economy was not great.  Everyone was trying to climb out of the depression era.  My Mom had a very special and almost addictive appetite for chocolate.  So I decided to “secretly” bake her a chocolate cake.  How hard could that be?   I had helped her in the kitchen many times.  In my naivete, I decided it had to be a two layer cake!  Everything went well.   I even managed the two layers and it turned out beautifully.  I was so proud.  My mother was frankly astounded — that is until she took her first bite.  — The look on her face terrifed me!  She gagged and choked and was very red in the face.  I thought she was going to pass out.  As soon as she recovered, she asked to see the recipe I used.  She said something was wrong with the ingredients.  I showed her, her own recipe which was tried and true and always marvelous.  She was puzzled.  She then asked me to go through my process of creating this marvel.  When we got to the measurements — all was revealed.  The recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon of salt — I couldn’t find a 1/2 teaspoon measurement so guess what?  In my 7 year old child’s mind, a half was a half.  I could find a 1/2 cup — so I used that and put in a 1/2 cup of salt.!  I was crushed — my beautiful tribute to my fabulous Mother trashed and thrown out —NOT EVEN THE BIRDS WOULD TOUCH IT!

Hahahahahahaha! A half a cup of salt. There’s a mistake you only make once in life.

Dottie, I’ll bet your Mom had a hoot telling her friends that story. They probably giggled like mad. How funny.

Another easy win for your W column, Dottie. Thanks so much for sharing your funny story! And welcome back!

Expert Lewis Casey, here’s the question to you, fine sir:

Q. Talk to us about Mother’s Day.


Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, a spark of your spirit, a tiny flame, a bundle of joy

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, a teetering step, a babble of words, comforting arms, wet pants

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, a love of learning, how to use a stick to make words on paper

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, fun I liked the 3rd grade so much I took it twice, Thanks you Sister Mary Hardass

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, a bird flying from a swing, a tadpole in the pond, a lightning bug in the palm of your hand

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, a knock on the head, a switch to the rear, a pulled ear, for wild horses must learn the saddle

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, the center of the world with the death of Daddy

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, an adventure for you said “My Lucie have no fear, death has no sway for we all shall die”

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, thinking outside the box, trusting without pause, sharing all, loving without question

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, friendship, loyalty, honor, service before self

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, dedicated to cause, my loving wife, life safety & fire prevention, American Red Cross

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, where I hold my head high, though I occasionally have to recheck my hat size

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, a teller of tales, a purveyor of bulls&*#, a bringer of smiles, a granter of wishes

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, a full house of family, friends, love of others, a holder of truth, a lover of plants, animals and small children

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, saddened on the day the angels came for you,

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, abounded with great ideas, wanderlust for what’s beyond the next hill, belief in self

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, a pursuit of growing good things from the Earth, appreciation of green thumbs and the dirt on them                                          

Oh Mother dear, because of you my life became, blessed and overflowing with love and joy from your spark, your spirit

The road is long, adventures await  


Awesome, Lewis. Awesome tribute to your Mama. I loved it. Readers? Didn’t you love it, too?

Excellent job again this week, Lewis, that’s definitely a win for you.

Thanks so much to all of you for playing this week, it was great to have you back. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about your Moms, that was cool.

For playing, I’d like to award each of you the following prizes: a Mom-sized hug, an honorable breaded fish, three rolls of the dice, 13 extra credit points, one inverted cartwheel, two fairy umbrellas and a row of lollipops that spell CONGRATULATIONS. And we mean that, too: CONGRATULATIONS!

As a special Mother’s Day gift, I’d also like to award each of you use of the following epithet for the weekend: The Mother of Invention, Creativity, Licorice Lemonade and Plastic Shoes You Wear on Your Elbows. So for example, Tina if you’re at church this weekend and you meet someone new, you should introduce yourself as Tina Quintana the Mother of Invention, Creativity, Licorice Lemonade and Plastic Shoes You Wear on Your Elbows. I’m sure that won’t be weird at all.

Congrats to you all, and thanks again for being here.

The Experts will return in exactly one week.

Up next, the answer to last week’s puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Last week, I asked if this plant was real or fake:

Let’s see how you answered:

Nancy Popp Mumpton of Arizona wrote, “Oh, goodness, is that fake or what!
Sorry I got confused about what was going on last week with the puzzler!”

Lauren from The Beauty Is in the Dirt wrote, “Fake-ity fake fake!”

Martha from Plowing Through Life wrote, “Fake…fake…fake… Fake-a-rooni! That is the fakest plant I’ve ever seen!”

Terrence from Dynamic Gardening wrote, “This is a fake english ivy that looks kind of dated a bit.”

mr_subjunctive from Plants Are the Strangest People wrote, “Fake.

You don’t have to stick to the real-or-fakes in the future. I would have guessed on the phalaenopsis, but wasn’t clear what the question was even asking.”

Steph from Indianapolis wrote, “Puh-lease. That’s just offensive. I won’t dignify it with an answer.

PS. remember the “Invasion of the Weird Trees” site I sent you….that’s where I learned about the natural “grafting” phenomenon. I friggin love this blog! I learn something every day!”

Then she added, “PSS…osculation also means “kissing”. How cute is that? If you were here I would hug and osculate you!”

Tom from Theatrum Botanicum wrote, “Fake!”

Dave from Our Happy Acres wrote, “This plant could be in the dictionary – as an example of the word FAKE!”

That’s eight votes fake, zero votes real.

Let’s see how the facebookers answered:

Heather Hjortnaes wrote, “I am going to say real because the leaves are turning toward the sun!”

Michael Plunkett wrote,”well i will say FAKE!!! since it is in a restaurant, and watering this in the basket would leak water everywhere!!!”

Carol Kiser wrote, “Fake with cloth leaves”

Lori Walker Bottoms wrote, “Fake!”

Frank Marshalek wrote, “Definately fake!”

Sam Johnson wrote, “fake”

That’s another five votes fake and one vote for real.

What’s the correct answer? Maybe a closer look will help:


Ok, maybe that’s an exaggerated reaction, but that is one ugly fake plant. Dusty, too. Gross! What a waste of money!

Congratulations to all of you who guessed correctly and to all of you who played. Nancy, you were first with the correct answer which makes you numero uno headhoncho Mamacita champion of the houseplant blog universe and a smidgeon beyond. That means you can multiply all the prizes by three silver tumbleweeds. Congrats!

For everyone who played, I’d like to say thank you by awarding you the following prizes: Four fuzzy toes, a Mommy card, a knuckle panini, six minutes, 17 Mom-shaped bragging rights, a soothing ointment, a baker’s dozen and one imaginary sea creature. Congratulations to you all!

Up next, the new puzzler:

???Real or Fake???

Is this Palm real or fake?

Think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section. You have until midnight next Thursday, May 17th, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) after next week’s panel of Experts. Remember, the prizes may be imaginary but the link to your site and the glory of winning are oh-so-real.

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

Hello bachelor buttons and bachelorette buttons, and happy Friday!

Welcome back to the Good To Grow site, and thanks for being here.

I like to give my Experts a break every now and then, and today is one of those times. They are on holiday. Let’s admire their adorableness:

And move on to last week’s plant puzzler.

!!!Name That Plant Oddity!!!

Last week, I asked what was weird about Mom’s Orchid:

Let’s see how you answered:

Mary wrote, “I’d say there is nothing “wrong”. But maybe it should have been staked as it grew.”

Steph from Indianapolis wrote, “Inosculation. I’ve seen it in trees. Guess it happens in orchids too. That’s all I could get from 5 minutes worth of Google searching. Now I know what inosculation means. (one less thing to lose sleep over, huh?)”

Nancy Popp Mumpton of Arizona wrote, “Very real! I love orchids … if I could just get them to rebloom!”

Only three guesses this week, and one of them was for a puzzler I didn’t post, haha. That’s funny. I didn’t post it on facebook, not sure why though.

Stephanie, you are correct-o-mondo! Has everyone googled osculation yet? Need more time? *Pauses.*

Mom showed me the Orchid and said she’d never seen anything like it, the stems grew into a circle. They were blocking one of the buds, so she slipped it through the stems, then I took this photo:

I think this puzzler scared a lot of people off, but I thought it was cool. And Steph, I’m proud of you – nailed it!

Since you were first with the correct answer, you are the foremost, premier, superstar champion of the houseplant blog cosmos and three-quarters of a mile beyond. That means this week you can multiply all the prizes by one Cinco de Mayo. Congratulations, and well played!

Mary, Nancy, I appreciate your guesses, too, so this week I’d like everyone who played to have the following prizes: a moony weekend, one misbegotten chipmunk, a pretend shot of tequila to honor the Mexican holiday, salutations, 14 bragging rights, three more moments, two thumbs up, and a candlelight parade in your honor.

Great job everyone! Thanks for playing.

Next up, the new puzzler.

???Real or Fake???

I’ll stick with the Real or Fake puzzlers from now on.

Like this one, is this plant real or fake:

Think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section or on my facebook wall. You have until midnight next Thursday, May 10th, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner(s) after next week’s panel of Experts. Remember, the prizes may be imaginary but the link to your site and the glory of winning are oh-so-real.

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

Hey-ho puppydoes, welcome back to the Good To Grow site, and thanks for being here.

Recently someone sent me a link to an article listing plants that kids should avoid. The article rubbed me the wrong way because I don’t think there are any plants that kids should avoid. The article struck me as fearmongering.

Do I want a child impaling his eye with a thorn from a cactus? Of course not. Do I want kids chomping on Jimsonweed leaves? Not at all.

What I want is for parents to teach kids that there are differences among plants – some are more dangerous than others. But don’t teach them to be afraid, they need to learn to live side by side with thorns and poisons. The world’s a dangerous place, kids need help navigating through it, not standing on the sidelines trying to avoid contact.

Parents shouldn’t avoid having a cactus as a houseplant just because there are kids in the house. That would be a missed opportunity to teach.

I believe kids are born with an inherent curiosity about the natural world. So please, can we teach them not to avoid certain plants, but instead teach them how to live with them?

And can we also please stop exaggerating the toxicity of Poinsettias? Year after year, Poinsettias get such a bad rap. Your kid would have to ingest a LOT of Poinsettia sap before it was anything more than irritating to him (and no kid would want to ingest sap, not after the first taste anyway). I’d like to see more stories about how the sap will stain your clothes not about how the sap will kill your kids.


Thank you for letting me go on this mini-rant. I appreciate your patience! I’ll be back manana, sans my Experts, but with lots of puzzler action. Hope to see you back here.

Hello poppies, and happy Friday!

Welcome back to the Good To Grow site, thanks for being here.

Aaahhhh, you can almost smell the weekend in the air. Hello holiday, how are ya? Happy Early Birthday, America.

Today’s question for my Experts is holiday themed. Can’t pass up an opportunity to let our patriotic colors shine, right? Let’s say hi to the Experts before we get to this week’s question. Hi guys!

“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Liza!”

My goodness, you are adorable! From left to right, that’s Tina, Thack, EZ, Dottie and Lewis. If you’d like to know more about them, please click here.

Here’s this week’s question:

Q. Last year for our Fourth of July panel, I asked you if there was a plant you thought to be particularly patriotic. This year, I’d like to ask if there’s a fruit or vegetable that strikes you as more patriotic than the others.

Expert Tina, what’s your answer? 

A. patriotic fruit or vegetable…..hmmmmmm well I would say a watermelon comes to mind. Usually they are in season and at many parties they usually have them! Now some people will do things to watermelon like put vodka in them or rum….. let them soak overnight. then you can eat it up and catch a buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. so Happy Fourth of July! Thank you for fighting for our freedom. drink responsibly please.

You’re welcome, but I haven’t really been fighting…oh wait. You were thanking our service men and women, weren’t you? Duh! My bad.

That’s a good idea, so I’ll thank all those who are serving our country, too. Thank you! I’d also like to thank the fire crews working so hard here in New Mexico to fight our fires. Thank you all.

Tina, I think watermelons seem patriotic, too, so I’m gonna go ahead and call that a correct answer. Woohoo! For playing this week, you’ve earned stars and stripes, a hot dog themed weekend and glory. Congratulations!

Expert Thack, here’s the question to you:

Q. Is there a fruit or vegetable that strikes you as more patriotic than the others?

A. Fruits and vegetables are notoriously unpatriotic as standalone foods, everyone knows that. Fruits and vegetables only become patriotic when eaten in conjunction with some form of grilled meat; their patriotism is derivative rather than inherent.

For example, a tomato by itself (or on a salad) is a socialist food, eaten only by evildoers who hate America. Put that same tomato on a burger, however, and it becomes as American as the burger itself.

The only exception to this well-known, heavily-researched and extensively-documented “fact” is the watermelon. Watermelon may be eaten by itself without making the diner a member of the radical, left-wing, elitist, Hollywood, gay-marriage-loving, Volvo-driving, America-bashing, egghead liberal crowd.

So you’re saying a watermelon is more patriotic than a tomato on a hamburger? Ok, ok, I can see that. I can call that a correct answer, sure.

Good job again this week, Thack. For playing, you’ve earned the National Anthem, an imaginary backyard BBQ and 15 goldenlike coupons. Thanks for being here!

Expert EZ Ed Johnson, here’s the question to you:

Q. Is there a fruit or vegetable that strikes you as more patriotic than the others?

A. Apples, as in “American as apple pie.”

It would be hard to argue with an apple as the most patriotic fruit in the country. From the apple’s point of view, it’s been hugely successful with all its entrepreneurial endeavors. It inserted itself into our lore, it got Johnny Appleseed to do its bidding. We love apples, apple cider, apple bottom jeans, apple pie, candy apples, applesauce, apple computers.

Yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and call that a win, EZ. A big fat apple-shaped win. For playing this week, you’ve earned The Star Spangled Banner, 13 pretend sparklers and a swimming pool’s worth of bragging rights. Congrats!

Up next is the ever charming Dottie Correll. Dottie, what’s your answer?

Q. Is there a fruit or vegetable that strikes you as more patriotic than the others?

A. What is more representative of the American spirit than the expressive “BEAN”?  Beans come in all sizes, colors and flavors!  There are green, yellow, black, brown , refried, boiled, baked, blanched and ranched beans.  The “BEAN” is  one of the most versatile and flexible vegetables.  There is a bean suitable to any palate.  They may be eaten raw, boiled, baked, fried, micro-waved or sauteed; minced, diced, baked or flaked.  There is also an Ode to the Bean.  An Ode that I payed a “dear price” for passing in a note to a friend in the 6th grade.  I was caught and sent to the principal’s office and asked to repeat out loud the Ode for the Principal’s hearing, the following:


Beans, beans, the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot.
The more you toot, the better you feel,
So let’s have beans for every meal!

Three cheers for the best American Vegetable — The Bean!!!!

Oh dear lord! Thank you for using the clean version of that song. That could’ve gotten ugly, fast. We like to keep it pretty wholesomeish in this site.

Sounds like you were quite the rascal back in your day, passing notes in class, making trouble. Who knew you were such a wild one? Can you believe it’s been seven decades since you were in sixth grade? That strikes me as inherently patriotic.

Thanks for being here as always, Dottie. For playing this week, you’ve earned a National Place in Everyone’s Heart, 17 bean-shaped extra credit points and a coupon good for a Monday holiday. Congratulations sweet lady!

Normally Expert Lewis is up next. Let’s admire his cuteness:

Lewis can’t be with us today because he’s too busy helping families who’ve been displaced by our wildfires. Here’s a photo of him working one of the shelters that the American Red Cross opened:

Since most of you don’t know him personally, let me tell you, Lewis is one stand-out citizen. He works full-time, and when he’s not working, he volunteers his time and energy to the Red Cross. Not just during a crisis like a wildfire, but throughout the year. He’s a Disaster Action Team Captain, which means he gets the call in the middle of the night when someone’s house is burning down. He doesn’t make excuses – he just goes and gets done what needs to be done. And he does it in a way that’s compassionate, caring and genuine.

His passion for being an Expert on this silly blog means he hates missing a week. But something had to give. I told him my readers would understand because I knew you would.

Lewis asked that I tell you to be safe out there this weekend. And if you live in New Mexico, please don’t light any fireworks. He said the risk isn’t worth it and I agree. He’s seen first-hand how devastating fires are for communities, he’s seeing it right now. So again, stay safe.

Lewis, you’ve earned our National Respect. Thanks for all you do.

That does it for our Ask the Experts panel on this fine Friday. Thanks to everyone for being here.

Let’s get to last week’s puzzler.

???Real or Fake???

Last week, I asked if this Alocasia plant was real or fake:

Let’s see how you answered.

mr_subjunctive from Plants Are the Strangest People wrote, “Looks pretty real to me.”

And that’s because it is real, mr_s. Congrats, you’re the first winner and therefore can multiply your imaginary prizes by ten.

Here’s a wider view:

Very real.

Steph from Indianapolis wrote, “Oh I gotta go with Lewis and vote (in caps) TOMATO! The smell of a garden full of hot tomato plants IS summer.

Liza, I’m voting real on the puzzler, just too much depth in that leaf to be manufactured. Happy Summer Weekend!”

Why, thank you. And thanks for reminding me – I was soliciting readers votes for which plant would make the best Ambassador to Summer. Ok, that’s one vote for tomato.

Ivynettle from Letters and Leaves wrote, “It’s too pretty to be fake.

Totally have to agree with the tomatoes (mine are just starting – mmm! Very early this year) and the cherries (got two buckets from our neighbour at work – again, mmmm!). For flowers, I’d go with zinnias. Not only are they one of the plants we grow to sell over the summer, but they’re so cheerful! I think I’ll actually have to buy a few for the balcony, even though I said I’d only get edible plants any more!”

That’s two votes tomatoes, one vote zinnias. And another win for Ivynettle.

Tom from Theatrum Botanicum wrote, “Real! Alocasia amazonica perhaps?”

It looks like it to me, Tom, but they weren’t labelled at the nursery. You win either way!

Martha from Plowing Through Life wrote, “I’m going with real this time. Looks like a shiny new Alocasia leaf.”

That’s exactly right, Martha, it is a shiny new Alocasia leaf. You’re wracking up wins left and right!

goofy from Philadelphia wrote, “This leaf is, I think, (based on fact the veins don’t protrude at all from rest of leaf) a fake. But IT DOES LOOK REAL. Either nature has devised some v clever (non-protruding veins) ways to survive, or the artificial plant people keep getting better and better. (Probably both). I hope to see the answer soon if devastating wildfires are not continuing. But if they are, (as I know you will) forget the blog, jump on the nearest fire engine and use the emergency preparedness training I know you have GTG to go help out.”

Awkward! We’ve already established that it’s real. And I think it’s pretty obvious that my preparedness skills are being put to use in this blog rather than out in the field, actually helping people. But I do appreciate your concern for our fire-ravaged state.

So even though you were wrong on the puzzler, you’re still a winner in life, goofy! And you know I love you!

Everyone’s a winner this week. You’ve each earned 23 red, white and blue points, an imaginary roman candle, 2 pretend hamburgers and a star-studded holiday weekend (not redeemable during overcast nights). Congratulations, and thanks for playing!

Now the new puzzler:

Name that Plant Problem!

What’s wrong with this plant (the Philodendron bipinnatifidum)?

Think you know the answer, smartyplants? Leave your best guess in the comments section. You have until midnight next Thursday, July 7th, MST (that’s 2a.m. EST) to cast your vote. I’ll reveal the answer and the winner after next week’s panel of Experts.

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

When I’m checking on plants in offices and homes around the city, I get asked a lot of questions. From employees, homeowners, random strangers. The most common questions are about repotting houseplants, or transplanting them (I use the words interchangeably¹). Questions like:

“Something’s wrong with my plant, should I repot it?”

“I just got a new plant, should I repot it?”

“When’s the best time to repot a houseplant?”

“My houseplant is dying. Do you think it’s because I didn’t repot it?”

They’re valid questions – when you have houseplants, the question of when or why to repot is going to come up sooner or later. Sometimes, though, people are surprised by how often repotting is not the answer.

Since there seems to be so much confusion out there about the subject, hopefully I can help simplify the matter. We’ll start with reasons why you would want to repot a houseplant, followed by reasons why not to repot your plants.

Reasons to Repot Your Houseplant

1. You want your houseplant to grow. Maybe it’s a teeny tiny plant that you want to grow bigger. If that’s the case, putting a plant into a bigger container should encourage new growth. But don’t repot a plant that’s been in a tiny pot into a giant pot – you want the pots to be incrementally bigger, not leaps and bounds bigger.

2. Your houseplant has gotten too big for its pot. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to repot the whole plant – you may just want to remove the pups or divide the babies and plant them elsewhere.

3. Several different types of plants are in the same container. This happens often in gift baskets. Florists will typically put several plants in an inappropriate container, then drop the gift off with no instructions for what to do with the plants. I wrote about what to do in this post here.

4. The roots are busting through the bottom of the pot. This is a sign that your houseplant is ready for a bigger home.

5. The roots are busting through the top of the pot. If you notice that there are more roots in the container than soil, it’s time for a new, bigger pot for your plant. Houseplants will “eat” their potting media over time. When that happens, it’s time for new dirt and new digs.

6. The current pot has been broken. Just like lamps and vases, sometimes plant pots get knocked over and break. That’s one good reason to use a plastic growers’ pot tucked inside a decorative container – it can limit the damage.

7. Pests have attacked the houseplant. Sometimes during infestations, it’s smart to replace all the soil with new soil, maybe even a new pot. If you take this route, you’ll still need to spray the plant and its roots with Neem oil or some sort of pesticide.

8. Mineral build-up has lead to white, crusty topsoil. Ew! Dump the soil out, clean the plant, put it in a new pot with new soil, and then don’t let it happen again.

9. The potting soil has become moldy, fungusy, putridy, or cementy. Also, if it turns colors, that’s not a good sign. Start over.

10. You want to repot for aesthetics. Houseplants, like animals and kids, are going to be messy. Part of their growing is cleaning them as they go. That means pruning from time to time, and new containers as they age.

Here’s an example – this Janet Craig (Dracaena deremensis) had been neglected for several years. It slowly leaned, leaned, leaned into the light:

Well, the main stalk did anyway. It’s not aesthetically pleasing.

But with a little rearranging and some new soil to help support all the stalks, it looks much better:


I don’t recall ever wanting to have a sidebar on this blog before, but if this was a print medium, I’d have a little box on the side that showed this picture:

See those little newly cut stalks? Janet Craigs, like many Dracaenas, don’t need to root before you put them in soil. New sprouts will shoot from just below the top cut.


And now, reasons not to repot:

Don’t Repot Your Houseplant…

* …Just because it’s new. A lot of people’s first instinct is to repot a plant as soon as they get it home from the nursery. This isn’t always a good idea. Consider from the plant’s perspective – it’s stressed out from the truck ride to the nursery, from the car ride to your house. It’s stressed from its unfamiliar surroundings, and it may also be thirsty or waterlogged. Repotting will only further stress it. Give it a little time. Also, research whether or not it needs repotting for a year or two. Some plants have very shallow roots and don’t need a bigger container for long periods of time. You want to make sure a houseplant is ready for a new home before you automatically give it one.

* …If you spot discolored leaves or stems. I don’t want to say that repotting should be the last resort when it comes to plant problems, but it definitely shouldn’t be first. Or in the top five. Start by investigating other causes of the plant’s unhappiness. Most likely it’s a water issue.

* …If you don’t want your houseplant to get bigger. Say you have a tree that’s almost touching the ceiling. Putting it in a bigger pot will almost certainly ensure that it does reach the ceiling. You’re the human, you decide how big you want your plants to get. You can make a decision to never give that tree a bigger pot – you’ll just have to replenish the soil as needed and prune often.

If you have more questions about when to repot a houseplant, you can leave them in the comments section and I’ll do my best to help you. If you have questions about how to repot a houseplant, I’ve blogged about that a million times – you can see the archives to the left.

I’ll be back manana, hope to see you here. I’ll also be back on Friday with a new Ask the Experts panel. The Experts will be taking an extended break starting at the end of the month, so show them some love by returning.


¹ Before anyone gets all grammary on me, according to, I’m allowed:

Repot: “to transfer (a plant) to another, especially larger, pot.”

Transplant: “to remove (a plant) from one place and plant it in another.”

It’s like tomato, tomahto. Sorta.

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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.