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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.”

Um.

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.

Anyway.

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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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!”

Or,

“Plant it and ignore it.”

Really?

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.

A few months ago on the Internet, I read about using toilet paper rolls for vegetable seedlings. The idea was that when they were ready to plant, you could stick the whole unit in the ground, as the cardboard would decompose.

Sounded handy, so I gave it a shot. This was the beginning of the experiment, transferring from the mini “greenhouse” (a plastic apple container from Costco) to the rolls:

The tomato and basil seedlings handled the transition well. Aren’t they cute?

The toilet paper rolls did not handle being watered very well:

They broke apart immediately. In my case, it didn’t really matter because I had already put them in plastic saucers which held the seedlings in place.

But over time, they got pretty disgusting. Here is what they looked like after I took the seedlings out of them:

I thought I had better photos of the damage – they got a little fungus-y due to the moisture. Super gross.

I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone.

The plants didn’t seem to mind, however. I don’t think they were in the rolls long enough to become damaged. Here’s how they looked shortly after planting:

The moral of this story is that lots of things sound good on the Internet but don’t necessarily translate well into real life. Or I buy really cheap toilet paper. Or both.

I’ll be back manana with an all-new Ask the Experts panel. I’ll also have a new plant puzzler, as well as an answer to last week’s puzzler in which I asked if this plant was real or fake:

If you haven’t yet submitted your guess, you have until midnight tonight MST (that’s 2am EST) to do so. Leave me a comment or write on my facebook wall with your answer. There are lots of imaginary prizes at stake. Oh, and glory. Lots and lots of glory for those who play.

Hope to see you back here.

Have an old container but you don’t know what to plant in it?

If so, consider turning it into an herb garden.

Why herbs? Because fresh herbs for your food is one of life’s great treasures. That’s why.

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

Hey kittens, happy Thursday!

Today’s lesson is in basic plant communication. Because plants can’t speak English, we can have a tendency to believe that they can’t “talk.” But plants really can communicate. And sometimes it’s really easy to interpret what they want you to know.

I’ll give you an example.

This is Nel, my Chloropytum comosum, ‘Spider Plant’:

See how she has a shoot that’s reaching for the window? That’s her way of asking for more sunshine. Politely, I might add.

Anytime you see a houseplant leaning toward a window, reaching for a window, becoming straggly and stretched looking, the plant wants more light.

See what I mean about plants being easy to read? They can’t bark like dogs, but they can still tell you what they need, so long as you’re paying attention.

Even though Nel’s asking politely, she’s going to stay put. I don’t have a better spot for her – sunshine property is limited this time of year. But she’s getting a lot more light than this time last year, when she was on the north side of the foyer. So I’m ok with denying her request. For now.

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I’ll be back manana with an all-new Ask the Experts panel. And instead of our usual “Real or Fake” plant puzzler, I’m also going to debut a new type of puzzler for you, called “Name That Plant Oddity.” It should be good times, hope to see you back here.

Houseplants can communicate with you, if you know how to understand how to decode their “language.”

One of the easiest signs to read is when a plant is asking for more light. For example, here’s my Bougainvillea telling me she would like more sunshine please:

Spindly growth like that is an obvious plea from the plant. (I moved her to a better spot and pruned her back.)

When you see a plant reaching or stretching, chances are that it’s trying to reach a window. Here’s Gloria the Gardenia that Dottie gave me, asking for more light:

I read her loud and clear.

As seasons change, so does the lighting in my southwest-facing foyer, meaning I rearrange the plants about four times a year to maximize the sunshine the plants receive.

Of the plants that remain in the same spot, like the hanging ones, they get turned to give them optimal light. Here’s Sue, a Chlorophytum ‘Spider Plant’ telling me she’s ready to be turned around:

See? Easy peasy.

Plants can tell you what they need, so long as you’re willing to pay a little attention.

I’ll back manana with an all-new panel of Experts, as well as a new puzzler and the answer to last week’s puzzler. If you haven’t yet submitted your best guess, you have until midnight tonight MST (that’s 2am EST) to do so. Remember, there are imaginary prizes at stake, so guess recklessly!

Remember the Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) bulb my favorite cousin Bill sent me for the holidays? I posted about it here.

After Christmas and New Year’s passed, the flowers began to look like this (taken January 24th):

That was the point that I stopped watering (even though I’d watered very minimally from the beginning). After a few days, I cut off the dead petals but I left the green stalks to die off naturally. The bulbs need to absorb the energy the stalks provide for growth in future seasons.

Once the petals were gone, I left the bulb right where it had been all along, on a south-facing windowsill, and largely ignored it. A little later, the green stalks turned brown, so I cut them. Then I noticed three small green leaves sprouting, hidden by the ones that turned brown. I splashed the bulb with a little water, and a week later, one of the sprouts looked like this (taken on February 15):

We’ve got a r-r-r-rebloom! That bulb must be high on life.

Since then, the bulb went a little wild. Here it is on February 19th:

February 25th:

March 1st:

March 2nd:

March 3rd:

March 5th:

In a couple of those shots, you may have noticed the bulb is already sending up another stalk. Crazy! I guess that means you should expect several thousand more Amaryllis bulb photos in the future.

I know a lot of people toss their Hippeastrums in the trash after the holidays. What a shame. At the least, the bulbs can be stored until next year. At the most, they may provide a showy display throughout the winter months.

I’m glad I was in no rush to do anything with mine (and I’m glad I noticed that green new growth). What a treat. Thanks, Bill! Mmmwwahhh! (You can add 200 points to your Fox family total, and I’m adding another 100 to the Wheelers for this win.)

I’ll be back with an all-new Experts panel manana, as well as a lot of puzzler action. Hope to see you back here.

Creating a thoughtful gift for someone doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. For example, to make this Zebrina houseplant gift for my friend Kim was so simple, I don’t even need to spell out the instructions for you. You can just look at the photos to see how easy it was.

(Kim, if you’re reading this, I’m just kidding – your plant took hours and hours of careful planning and arrangement. The photos here are of the simulation gift I made in seconds, not yours, haha.)

So shiny!

VoilĂ ! No muss, no fuss. Wandering Jew cuttings don’t need to root before you can plant them – they can go straight into the soil. That, to me, is a hallmark of a great houseplant. Plus, they are so pretty!

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

Hi! Happy Thursday, ya’ll!

When I first started writing this blog a couple of years ago, I thought I’d be writing for plant novices and black thumbs. Turns out, most of my readers are super intelligent about plants. Which is cool.

They’ve helped me realize I don’t want to talk to the black thumbs anyway – they’re indifferent to plants.

Anyone can learn how to care for plants – it’s not brain surgery, afterall – but continued black thumbs don’t want to learn.

And they don’t have to – I’m not trying to shove houseplants down anyone’s throat. I stopped talking to the black thumbs a long time ago.

Novices, however, I still like to talk to from time to time, because they do want to learn and are open.

Like the young lady I met last week at one of my client’s offices, she asked me about houseplants. She said she was 23, renting her first apartment. She said she wanted to use plants as decorations in the apartment, but she didn’t know anything about them.

We talked for a little while and I gave her some advice, along with my business card (with this blog’s address).

I wrote this post with her in mind. I think there are certain things all novices should know before bringing plants indoors, basic stuff. You should have a fair picture of what you’re getting into, right?

I’m going to use my plants for examples.

Before You Buy a Houseplant

First, ask yourself why you want a houseplant. If your answer is “for decoration,” that’s great – I think plants make homes look cozy and warm.

That said, it’s important to realize that bringing a potted plant into your home means you are expanding your family, not just decorating a space. Plants are living, breathing creatures, and if you in invite one into your home, it’s 100% dependent on you for its well-being. If you ignore a plant, like you would a knick-knack, it’ll die.

Not ready to expand your family? Then don’t adopt a houseplant.

I want you to look at bringing a plant into the house as the same as beginning a new relationship. Because that’s what it is. Relationships are fun when they are new, but they also carry responsibility. They require participation on both sides. You can’t enter one not willing to lift a finger, that’s not fair.

I don’t want to scare you away from houseplants, but I don’t want to bullshit you either.

The truth about houseplants is, if you want the rewards…

…you have to be willing to do the work.

If you want flowers in your home…

…you have to accept spent blooms on your floor.

If your personality is one where you can’t handle messes, I’m not sure I would recommend houseplants.

There are certain houseplants, like Aloes or Jades for example, that will be less messy than others, like a Ficus tree.

But even then, you can find ways to make them messy, like when I water Rosa and the soil spills over the edge of the pot onto the windowsill:

There will always be messes with houseplants. If you’re a neat freak like me, you’ll be cleaning up after them all the time.

Knowing there will be messes means knowing you’re going to have to be the one to clean them up.

That’s a good thing, because from the messes, you can learn to communicate with your houseplants.

For example, here’s my Bougainvillea telling me she’s thirsty:

Here’s Miss Mimosa also telling me she’s thirsty:

Once you realize that your houseplants can communicate with you, well, then, the sky’s the limit!

Trust me, if you’re smart enough to handle kids and/or pets, you’ll be fine with your houseplants. They’re not nearrrrrrrrly as work-intensive.

I would suggest that you start by going to a greenhouse and looking at the plants available. See what colors you like. Look for flowers or pretty foliage. Look at prices, ask questions of employees. If you want, you can write down the names of plants you like, then research them later to see if they can handle the lighting and temperatures available in your home.

Here in Albuquerque, Osuna Nursery has a big greenhouse. High Country Gardens sells houseplants, so does Jericho Nursery, at both locations, and Rehm’s Nursery on Lomas east of San Mateo.

Six Tips for Healthy Houseplants

Here are six basic things I do to have my own healthy houseplants. These tips apply whether you have one houseplant or ten.

1. I give all the plants weekly checkups. Sunday is the plant day in my casa. Each Sunday before football I take my watering can and visit each plant. I set the can down and look at the plant. Give it a once-over before sticking my finger in the soil. If it’s dry, I water. If it’s wet, I don’t. Then I move on to the next plant and repeat the process.

Plants in smaller containers require more check-ins, so I keep the smallest pots on my kitchen windowsill since I’m always at the sink there.

2. During the once-over, looking at the plant, I’m looking for anything different from the week before. A new leaf emerging. A flower bud forming. A mealy bug or a spider mite. This is where the relationship with houseplants exists. When it’s a new leaf, you can cheer it on. (Or like me, photograph it.) When it’s a pest, you have to step in and defend the plant.

3. I have all the plants in well-draining soil with saucers or trays underneath to catch water run-off. I make sure to glance around the day after watering to make sure none of the plants are standing in water. I only use high-quality potting soil, like the ones sold at the above nurseries, because the soil available at Lowe’s and Home Depot is always infected with fungus gnats. Ew.

4. I fertilize regularly. There are lots of products out there, I’m forever trying new ones. If the thought of fertilizing intimidates you (or even if it doesn’t), start with Miracle Gro, it works fine. They sell blue granules you add to your watering can. Make sure you follow the directions, your plants will thank you for it. With any fertilizer, follow the directions on the label.

5. I turn my plants often, so they grow sturdy and aren’t leaning toward the sun. Also, I’m constantly moving the plants around depending on where the sun is. This time of year, all the sunshine is in the foyer, so that’s where most of my plants are.

A general rule of thumb is that the darker the leaves, the less sunlight a plant needs. That means a plant with dark green leaves will be fine in a corner or on a bookshelf. But even plants with dark leaves like to have some light, so it’s nice to rotate plants around, to share whatever limited light there is in a home.

6. I prune often. When plants are little, I pinch back new growth to encourage more new growth. Because I fertilize regularly and give the plants maximum sun, most of the houseplants grow fast, which means more pruning, which leads to creating new plants. Which explains why one houseplant can quickly become many.

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Like I said, these are basic tips for houseplants. I do a lot more for them, like treating them if they do get pests, playing music for them, repotting them.

What I have found is most people who start with the basics, soon learn more and more about how to care for the plants. They add layers of complexity over time. They engage with the plants.

What starts as a learning opportunity often leads to a love affair with Nature. Hopefully one that’s passed along to kids.

As a novice, you don’t have to think about any of that yet. For now, just be open.

You’re always welcome to ask me if you have questions or need advice. I’m sure my regular readers can offer advice that extends on what I’ve started here.

I’ll be back manana with an all-new Ask the Experts panel, as well as a new plant puzzler. Hope to see you 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.

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