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Hello ginger roots, and happy Friday! Welcome back to the Good To Grow site. I’m happy to have you join us.

Friday of course, is everyone’s favorite day. You get to slack off at work, you have the weekend to look forward to AND you get to read another edition of Ask the Experts. Lucky you!

What? You’re new here? Well, where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you. I’ll quickly bring you up to speed: Each Friday I gather my group of world-renowned experts (i.e., my friends) and ask them a plant-related question. Then I cross my fingers and hope they can answer it. See, they’re not necessarily experts on plants – they’re more like experts in life in general. That’s what makes this such high-quality entertainment.

Who am I? Oh yeah, I haven’t introduced myself yet. Duh.

Hi! My name is Liza and I’m the moderator of the panel and the author of this blog. I own a small plant care business (Good to Grow) here in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I adore Nature and am obsessed with all living things – plants, flowers, trees, insects, animals, humans, mountains, oceans, stars and planets. This may sound sappy, but I love them all. Well, not all humans, but most of them. Well, maybe not most of them, but there are lots and lots of good people in this world. I’ll leave it at that.

I like trying to trick people, hence the weekly plant puzzler. So far, I’ve been failing miserably at tricking anyone. My handful of adorable readers are each so smart – they keep guessing correctly. That doesn’t stop me from trying.

Last week, I asked what was wrong with this plant:

The Sansavieria (Snake plant) is falling over. Why? I’ll reveal the answer after our panel of experts.

Would you like to meet them? Let’s say hi.

Hi experts!

“Hiiiiiiii Liza!”

You guys are so cute! Tina, Thack, EZ, Dottie and Lewis. My regular readers are probably sick of how often I repeat myself for you newcomers, so newbies, do the work and learn more about the experts by clicking here.

Ok, so all week I’ve been celebrating all the great plant creations that humans (the ones I like) are making. From vertical gardens, to succulent art, to entire buildings covered in plants, we’ve seen it all this past week. It’s been breathtaking.

In the spirit of the week, I thought it would be fun to ask the panel about plant projects they may have done as kids, or now as parents with their kids. A way to get to know a little more about them and maybe generate some ideas on you and your family can create on your own.

Let’s get right to it. Tina, you’re first – here’s the question to you.

Q. Do you do “plant crafts” with your kids, like make terrariums or container gardens, or do you remember doing any when you were a kid yourself?

A. I have tried several times to grow a avocado tree from a avocado pit……As a child and until this day. It did not work out so well. I tried many times. Got one to root in water and even grown a stem and a few leafs. I should’ve transplanted it at that point but I left it in the tiny glass of water. I forgot to water it several times as it stressed out lost leaves and eventually died. Then I said ok, lets try it again as I was making some guacamole with fresh veggies from the garden. No the avocados were not from my garden, lol, still working on growing a tree!!!! Anyways…. I put a pit in a small glasss and did what I always did. Poke toothpicks in it and suspended it in the water in the glass. I always feel bad as I press in the tooth picks into the pit. I do it again hoping waiting and watching day in and day out……..waiting waiting….And then after about a month a root has emerged from the bottom of the pit and it split in the middle with a tiny little bud just waiting to emerge woohooo. I then decide to place it in a pot with soil. What could go wrong, right? So far, so good. I left it in a southern bright window, left it there all winter long and is still there. It has grown a two foot stem and has 8 leaves on it and growing another shoot from the base. So maybe this is it!!!! I hope so. I am going to move it outside under my back porch once the wind goes away and it stops threatening to freeze!!! It’s MAY already, geeze.

I love this, Tina. First of all, brrr – you’re right, it snowed in Albuquerque four or five days ago. Thanks Spring, for the winds, and now it’s summer. Seriously, it went from snowing to 85 degrees in just a few days. Why did I used to think we actually had four seasons in New Mexico? I must’ve been remembering the olden days.

So tell me, Tina, you said you feel bad when you poke toothpicks into the avocado pit. Why is that? Are you worried that it hurts the pit, or it was the pain of trying so many times and not succeeding?

A. Yes because I felt it was hurting the pit………

Aw, so cute! See? That’s exactly why I love your answer. When I prune plants, I find myself saying softly under my breath, “I know it hurts, I’m sorry, it’s for your own good, I promise, I promise.” Hahaha!

You’re a plant lover, you understand that plants are living, breathing creatures. But you also have a healthy view on their life cycles – sometimes they live, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes you’re in a place where you remember to nurture them, sometimes you’re not.

I say this all the time – if you bring a plant or piece of nature into your house where it lives in a container, you are 100% responsible for its care. If you don’t take care of it, it will die. Just like kids and animals – they need you. But sometimes, life is such, that we get so busy and we just can’t do it. Kids and animals are vocal – lucky them. Plants, not so much.

Tina, I’m sure those dead avocado pit sprouts would forgive you. At least you tried, and that’s what gardening (i.e., life) is all about – trial and error. Learning lessons.

You’re one of the most knowledgeable plant people I know, so it’s heartening to hear you have failures as well. I can’t even count how many plants I’ve killed. None of us are perfect, we all have learning curves. Personally, I think that’s what makes life so interesting.

Thanks, Tina! I’m rooting for those sprouts!

Up next is my good friend Mr. Tim Thackaberry, or Thack for short. Thack, here’s the question to you:

Q. Do you do “plant crafts” with your kids, like make terrariums or container gardens, or do you remember doing any when you were a kid yourself?

A. My brother and I never did plant crafts as kids, we were too busy destroying the house. My daughter and I, however, have tried a couple of different plant crafts, with absolutely zero positive outcome to date. I try really, really hard to follow all the instructions, and do it the way it says to do it, but nothing ever seems to come off.  We have a 100% failure rate in our efforts to grow any kind of plant-related craft.

My ex-wife, however, has managed to plant (successfully) an entire vegetable garden with my daughter. It doesn’t take a genius to see that the failure of my daughter and I to grow anything is clearly entirely on me. I mean, my daughter is the only common denominator between the 2 projects, and their project succeeds where ours fails.

I hadn’t given this a lot of thought until this question, but now I’m worried this whole thing is a metaphor for our respective abilities as parents. Wow, now I’m really bummed out…

Oh, geez. Um, hey, do we have any therapists on the panel? No? Drat. Then I guess it’s up to me. What to say? What to say? Well, try, try again? Hang in there? I could get you one of those motivational posters with a cat hanging upside down in a tree. Haha!

All jokes aside, Thack, gardening takes patience. Plants require a relationship. You can’t just become good at it overnight – you have to practice. You and your daughter together.

Keep trying, just like Tina. You’ll get there. I have faith in you!

Up next is EZ Ed Johnson, my good friend. Here’s the question to you:

Q. Do you do “plant crafts” with your kids, like make terrariums or container gardens, or do you remember doing any when you were a kid yourself?

A. No terrariums as a kid, but we did have a garden on a tenth of an acre. It had a layer of fruit trees — apricot, crab apple and peach. Another layer offered corn, and still another layer produced vegetables — carrots, peas, radishes. On Mondays in the summer, it was my job to divert water from the acequia and irrigate. There was a sense of power for that boy in that little garden of Eden. It was also humbling, watching the plants and trees blossom, grow, produce, then fade. Now and again a thunderstorm would come  and shake the garden to its soul.

So poetic! I love your answers, EZ. You grew up in the Jemez Mountains, those spectacular red mountains. I can picture you, as a boy, watching the water rush from the acequia. Oh, for you non-New Mexicans, an acequia is a water ditch, a canal, a vessel for transporting water. It’s the tool people have used for farming here for centuries – they divert water from the Rio Grande, into the acequias, and then release the water from the acequias into their own land. It’s actually quite wonderful – the farmers share.

Good job, EZ, thanks for being here.

Up next is everyone’s darling, 83-year-old Dottie Correll, a great friend and a true humanitarian. Dottie, here’s the question to you:

Q. Do you do “plant crafts” with your kids, like make terrariums or container gardens, or do you remember doing any when you were a kid yourself?

A. What a delightful subject!  I do have a wild  tale to tell!  Although I’m Irish to the core, T’is a true happening, without a bit of Blarney!

My husband, Ted, being an Architect of national note, designed  a 10 story office building in Lakewood, Ohio.  It was one of the first edifices to incorporate energy conservation in the design.  The developer wanted the penthouse suite, on the 10th floor, designed specifically for his  company.  The entrance was to be welcoming and emphasize the “GREENING” efforts of the Owner.  What better then, than a huge TERRARIUM, towering to a height of ten feet, offering a vision of lovely live plants on either side of the door,  greeting  clients as they approached the entrance?  Ted, working with a landscape Architect, managed to create a Terrarium Garden of breathtaking beauty.  The Owner was overwhelmed and  most complimentary with the results.  However, Ted and I felt something was missing.  It needed a little more “LIFE “

We collaborated with the General Contractor, who was returning from a vacation in Florida. We asked that he bring some  “LIFE” back with him;  namely several dozen  “Tree Frogs.”

My husband, Ted, being the project Architect, had master keys to the building which allowed us to steal in at midnight and place the frogs in their new home.  Then we waited and waited, for someone to notice the new addition of “LIFE.” Finally, three days later the Owner called Ted in a panic!  e said he needed to see him at the building pronto. People were complaining that they were seeing “things:” – that there appeared to be more than the live plants and flowers in the Terrarium:– that the Terrarium had apparently spawned creatures!!!

The time of truth had come!  We had to “fess up” to our “the devil made us do it” prank.  However, it all turned out well. The little creatures reveled and blossomed in their glass “Taj Mahal.”  As the great BARD said, “ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL” (and you don’t get sued)!

Hahahahahaha. Breath. Hahahahahaha. Breath. Hahahahaha. Wipe tears of laughter. Hahahahahaha. Hahahahahaha.

God, I love you, Dottie! You are such a rascal! Tricking those folks. It’s like we were separated at birth. I love it, great job!

Let’s move on to the venerable Mr. Lewis Casey. Lewis, here’s the question to you:

Q. Do you do “plant crafts” with your kids, like make terrariums or container gardens, or do you remember doing any when you were a kid yourself?

A. Bonsai: The art of chopping, snipping, bending, twisting, tying and torturing young plants, trees and shrubs to imitate the the brute forces natures visits upon the same. Now there many masters of this art who create works that are most beautiful in shape, form and size that bring pleasure to the eye and joy to the heart. Now my son’s and myself attempted our hands at this art, we twisted stems, bent branch, chopped roots, tying and torturing small helpless plant under the guise of bonsai. Though we put forth much good heart effort to create masterpieces, all we seemed to grow was misshapen, scrawny, struggling plants, yearning to be free of our meddling. Many were chosen but few made it beyond the trials of our errors. Even a broken clock is right twice a day and luck was with a few of the tortured plant spirits and they grew into fine specimens. Lopsided, bent, twisted and looking forsaken, just like as if they had grown on rocky wind swept cliffs, enduring the wrath that nature can impose on those strong enough to triumph.

Some of us have grown in happy gardens and some of us grew on rocky soil, what we have made of our lives rest mostly upon the strength of our character. Have you grown as a tall straight pine or are you a bonsai bent and twisted, it matters little for there is beauty in both.

There is beauty, pleasure and honor in writing these words and a little bit of wit and have read great word of wisdom from the other masters and learned much. I have enjoyed writing these tales for maybe it brings a little joy and amusement to a weary soul if only for a moment. Peace.

Oh! My! Lewis, we enjoy your elegant tales so much! Thank you for sharing. Most of my readers know that I’m rarely speechless, but I am right now. I think I’ll just let Lewis’s words sink in and keep my mouth shut.


Did they sink in yet? I’m not very good at keeping my mouth shut!

Ok, ok, I think this has been our best Ask the Experts panel yet. Thank you all for being here. Up next is the plant puzzler.

Name that Plant Problem!

Here it is again, last week’s puzzler:

I asked why that Snake plant was falling over like that. Let’s see the guesses.

Mr_Subjunctive over at Plants are the Strangest People guessed: “Usually with Sansevierias that are falling over, I assume the problem is light. I mean, they’ll stay alive with very little, but to grow large, sturdy, upright leaves, they need to be in fairly bright light. And it doesn’t look like they have a lot in that particular situation — I mean, I don’t see any windows. So that’s my guess.”

Ivynettle guessed: “Lack of light might be a factor, maybe also too much water – during my apprenticeship, we occasionally went to offices to repot/replace plants there, and we had quite a few Sansevierias whose roots had pretty much rotted away and which were only held in their pots by sticks and lots of string.”

Villager guessed: “I think the Sansevieria is reaching for light and has gotten top heavy. If it’s in a planter with all those other plants, I am also guessing the root structure might be competing with the other plants, and losing. My snake plants seem to do better potted up on their own.”

Who’s correct? Well, all of them, sorta. Each of those plants are in their own individual containers – there are four plants in the planters. They get zero natural light – they only have fluorescents. The Snake plants got top heavy by reaching for those lights.

But here’s the real story. So, these planters are in an office. Everyone clamors to have plants by their desks, but when push comes to shove, and I show up to water, sometimes those employees aren’t willing to let me in their cubicle long enough to provide the care those plants deserve. I’m not making excuses, well, maybe I am. The employee who sits there won’t get up and let me set up my ladder and do my work. I get it, she’s busy. But really?

Anyway, because of this situation, I take my water bucket, squeeze in behind her without the ladder, and water the plants by holding the bucket above my head. I do this as fast as possible, because my mere presence seems to annoy her.

The Snake plants fell over because I don’t water them as much as I should. They dry out quickly in those tiny 6″ pots and I neglected them.

I pulled them out and put them in a bigger pot. They can adapt without much light – plants are amazingly resilient. Here’s what the planter looks like now:

The Sansevieria are in a new home and all is well with them. Everyone’s a winner – remember, there are no prizes for guessing correctly. Only glory, bragging rights and my gratitude for playing. Thanks you guys!

Name That Plant Problem!

So this week, we’re going to do things a little differently. Instead of trying to trick you, I’m going to be straight up with you. I know, I know, it’s so unlike me!

See the holes in this leaf? I have no earthly idea what caused them. It’s an Anthurium, and it’s an inherited plant. Someone in this office got it as a gift, then abandoned it in the lobby (it’s a mortgage company). I felt bad so I started caring for it. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed the holes and thought, what the hell? They scarred over and now the leaf looks like this.

Is it overwatering? Underwatering? Some snot-nosed kid screwing around in the lobby?

I don’t know what the answer is, but I would love to hear your guesses. Please leave them in the comments section.

That does it for this Friday edition of Ask the Experts. Thank you all for being here. I’ll be back tomorrow with a post about Mom’s birthday present. Oh yeah, Happy Birthday Mom!

Be sure to come back – I post Monday through Friday. Next week, for the Plant Lady Chronicles on Wednesday, I’ll tell  you the story of how my bus came to look like this:

You wouldn’t believe how great it smelled as I drove along. I’ll tell you all about it next week. Until then, happy gardening!

Hello, blueberries, and happy Wednesday! Thanks for visiting the Good To Grow blog.

All week I’ve been celebrating Living Art Week! By living art, I mean creating something beautiful using nature to your advantage. Vertical gardens, succulent walls, hanging vegetable gardens. Living art can be for decoration, or for practical uses or both.

People are being so creative – I just love it! Today for my Living Art Week!, I’m going to take you on a tour of interesting gardens I’ve culled from various websites. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and prepare to be inspired.

Amazing Gardens, Fascinating Plant Projects

I’ve been perusing the web to see what people are up to these days, in terms of creating vertical gardens. Here’s some of the best of what I found:

I’m entranced by Gavin’s website over at Today he’s showcasing an aquaponic vertical garden from Inka Biospheric Systems. It’s incredible – look!

Gavin writes:

“Perhaps the most interesting, however, is the completely closed-loop urban food growing system – the Inka Sun Curve. The fish in the tank need oxygenated, clean water. The water from the tank is pumped up through the system and the roots of the plants act as a biofilter to help clean the water. As it drips through the system and back into the tank, it puts more oxygen into the water for the fish.

With aquaponics, the fish poop acts like fertilizer for the plants so the plants naturally get the nutrients they need. While fish naturally produce ammonia which isn’t something plants can use, by putting certain microorganisms into the grow media, the ammonia is turned into nutrients the plants love.


I found these gardens at a website called Rowdy Kittens. I’d never visited the site before, but it’s adorable! And these vertical gardens are gorgeous.

I’m smitten with the gardens being created by the creative folks over at Green Over Grey. Their plant creations are so beautiful!

Breathtaking! This is also from Green Over Grey.

Another one from Gavin’s site, He said Susan Cohan took this photo of a floating garden at the Philadelphia Flower show. What a beautiful display!

This is the Zurich airport. I got the photo from

Check out this fabulous creation by the folks over at TerraScreen. It’s so inviting and lush – I would totally hang out on that bench.

I love the Apartment Therapy site. They showcase so many interesting creations. Hanging plants like these are perfect for small spaces. Here’s another one from their site:

How simple and how genius is that? I love it! It came from the Instructables site via Apartment Therapy.

Now these next two photos, I have to apologize upfront. I cannot remember from what site I took them. I have to go to work now, but I promise to do more homework this afternoon so I can give credit where credit is due. They’re so pretty, I just had to include them!

I’ve been told by GardenBeet that the above is actually from

Ahhhhh. So many inspiring ideas. I hope you enjoyed the show.

I’ll be back tomorrow with another edition of Living Art Week! on the Good To Grow blog. Thanks again for being here. Until tomorrow, happy gardening!

Update: I’m a moron. If I’d simply looked at the title of the image, I would’ve seen where I got them. The bottom photo says, Greenworks, here is a link to their site. Sorry!

Ok, ok, this was supposed to be Albuquerque Week!, because I love this city and want very much to share that with everyone!¹ Plus I’ve been upset about the cuts in funding for social services and depressed about homeless people and people in crisis in general. But if that’s what I really want, I can start another blog dedicated to those ideas. This is a plant blog, and from now on, there shall be plant talk!²  Please, feel free to take a collective sigh of relief.

Hi, nature lovers, my name is Liza. Happy Wednesday! Thanks for being here. I mean, really, thank you. It’s been depressing around here lately in regards to humanity! It’s so therapeutic to be thinking about plants again.

Do you guys read the posts by the ladies over at Garden Rant? I really like that site – they don’t really rant so much as provide important information in an easy-to-read style. There are tons of good sites out there. (I’ve been slowly updating my “Plant and Garden Blogs” blogroll to include even more favorites – I hope you check them out, and check back as I’m adding more. People are so creative!) Many of them touch on gardening or plant themes that affect us all.

One debate I keep hearing is the question of buying plants at the big box stores versus the local nurseries. I think every single one of us wants to buy from a local nursery, but oftentimes, that’s hard. As Benjamin over at The Deep Middle said, he wanted to buy a tree from a local nursery, but they charge a gasp-inducing $75 just to deliver it. Many people have talked of this subject. I’ve discussed the topic a few times myself, featuring my favorite local nursery (High Country Gardens) and ranting against the pest-infected soil you buy at Home Depot or Lowe’s.³

I have a small plant care business here in ‘burque, so I’m constantly checking out places that sell plants – wholesale, retail, big box. I would love to have one convenient place to do all my plant shopping, but I don’t see how that’s possible. And I’m ok with that because I’m bouncing around town anyway – how hard is it for me to pop into this place or that? Albuquerque’s small, but there are plant sellers everywhere. There are a ton of Home Depots and Lowe’s, and they are certainly useful for a lot of things. I think it’s important to spread money around – buy a succulent at the local nursery, or a cactus from the guy by the side of the road, or buy soil for outdoor containers at the big box place. It’s all ok, as long as we’re not ignoring the little guys.

For the last several weeks, I’ve been on the prowl for a particular type of plant. I need something tall. Now, you would think that would be sooooo easy. Just go pick out a big ol’ Ficus (like Samantha the Ficus tree) or go buy a Corn plant at my local nursery. Here’s the deal though – it’s for one of my clients, his office has no windows. A Ficus tree would hate that!

Here’s the general rule of thumb for indoor houseplants – the darker the leaves of a plant, the less light they need. So a plant with yellow leaves, variegated leaves, light green leaves, they really relish the sunshine, a bright sunny window. But a plant with really dark green leaves will be totally happy in a dark office, or a corner of your living room that doesn’t get much light. It’s not a foolproof rule, but I’ve found it works really well. I’ve also found that you can sortof force it to work – plants are amazingly resilient, and most of them will just put up with whatever conditions you provide. That’s why my Pothos plants do so well in offices with no natural sunlight – they’re plantastic. They’ve learned to love fluorescent lighting. They still clean the air while they’re being so deprived of their natural surroundings. Isn’t that adorable?

Ok, so back to my dilemma – why is it so hard to find a tall nice plant for a dark office in Albuquerque? As Dottie would say, “Oy vey!” So many reasons! Please, bear with me! I can explain them!

My first stop is always my little mom-n-pop nursery, Corrales Road Greenhouses. They’re wholesalers. They’re the ones I want to buy the most plants from, they’re the ones I want to reward for their incredibly difficult work. Ann runs the place, she’s the sweetest lady, and Chris and everyone else work their asses off – they have five huge greenhouses, growing everything from Poinsettias (you can see pictures of Points here, if you really want to – I personally, do not) to Salvias to Petunias, well, everything. When I first started my plant business and started going there, I was absolutely enchanted that they played classical music from speakers in their greenhouses. They are the reason that I leave the radio on and tuned in to our community radio station even when I’m not home.¹ So, you get that I love these guys, right?

Well, back in 2003, 2004, these guys were doing pretty well. They had more employees, and were growing more plants than they are today. Then there was a hurricane in Florida, where most tropical plants are grown (I apologize, I don’t remember which hurricane, the date, or the specific sequence of events, nor do I have the time or desire to research that knowledge, but this is how I remember Ann explaining things to me), and that hurricane wiped out a big swath of nurseries. Not long after, fuel prices began to soar.  It seemed like alluvasudden, there were fewer plants on the market, and Ann couldn’t afford to pay someone to drive from Florida to New Mexico anyway. For awhile, they would just gather customers’ orders, and when they had enough to fill a truck, they’d place the order.

It didn’t take long before truck deliveries became a rare occurrence. Months would pass. I know Ann would order anything I needed for me in a heartbeat, but who knows when I would get it?

[I don’t want to get off the track of my quest for the perfect tall office plant, but I do want to quickly say that I’m hoping to interview Ann and get more specifics from her, and I’ll post that here. I went there last week, and almost cried. Their biggest greenhouse, well, the roof was just gone from the spring winds. Blown right off. I wanted to buy succulents, which they have recently started selling, and they were covered with spider webs. They’ve lost so much revenue in the last few years, they are just clinging to hope at this point, and clinging to holidays, like Christmas and Easter. Oh wait, those have already passed. What’s the next big seller? Oh, it’s Poinsettias at Christmas. Yeah, you see the face of this? It’s so sad, but I think it’s important to discuss.]

For now, back to my quest. If the wholesalers in town aren’t bringing in the tall plants, who is? Certainly not my favorite locals, who all rely (I think) on big trucks carting in plants to the desert from Florida and California. So High Country Gardens is out, Jericho is out, Osuna has some stuff but they’re so pricey it bugs me. I’ve been checking out other nurseries but most concentrate on outdoor plants. I’ve been looking and looking, but none of them had the plant for which I’m searching. That leaves Home Depot and Lowe’s. They have the resources to bring tropical plants to the desert.

Sadly for me, I need a decent plant that can handle an office with no windows. Most of those are tropicalish – Palms, Corn plants, Sansevieria (I say tropicalish as opposed to desert-loving plants, like cactus and succulents). Many Corn plants have variegated leaves, meaning they would like some sunlight, but I am looking for one with dark leaves for the dark office.

There’s one Home Depot near my house, and I know that their plant delivery days are Thursdays and Saturdays. Yesterday, though, Tuesday, I finished with a client in Rio Rancho and decided to check out the plants at the Home Depot by Cottonwood Mall. I don’t know their delivery schedule. What I saw was almost worse than the feeling I get when I think about Steve the homeless guy. I didn’t have my fancy camera, but my little Coolpix worked ok. (The pictures were largely disappointing, as I was in a hurry not to get shots without being noticed.)

Before I show you the horrifying photos, here’s what I would like to say to the CEO (or anyone) of Home Depot²:

Dear sir, ma’am, anyone, anyone at all at Home Depot,

I hope today finds you well. I am writing to tell you of a way that you can save your organization millions of dollars each year.  I know an organization as huge as Home Depot has many leaders, many departments, many “chefs” as it were. When I refer to “you,”  I mean the organization. No offense, but I didn’t even research a specific person to address. This is not a personal attack on any one person – my goal here is to point out a solution to some organizational problems.

Hi! My name is Liza and I’m trying to help local Albuquerque companies thrive, mine included. I have a small plant care business in the Duke City. I frequently look at the plants at Home Depot in hopes of finding ones worthy of purchasing. I can’t remember the last time I found one that wasn’t infected with bugs, or half dead. To me, that’s like plant murder. Your employees have no idea what they are doing. I have never said – or would say –  anything antagonistic to anyone working for Home Depot, because I think they are trying, but they are not properly trained. (Not that many people strive to do a crappy job.) I actually make lots of purchases at your stores. But not plants. And definitely not potting soil. You guys (Again, I mean, your employees – as CEO, I’m sure you don’t drive the forklift to put the potting soil three stories up), leave those thin plastic bags, which always get holes, out in the elements, which invites *&^%# fungus gnats, which is my worst nightmare, as a person who puts potting soil in people’s offices. “I had clients in today, and we all kept swatting at gnats.” Super.

So what can I tell Home Depot that will save you millions? It’s this: Stop. Just stop. Cut out your houseplant department if you’re only going to do it half-assed. I sorta kinda like the attention you pay to your outdoor plant selections – you do offer some things that grow well in this climate, but you’re not great at it. Your indoor houseplant department is a mess. Wouldn’t it be lovely if you used your giant resources and big trucks to send those tall houseplants that need special attention to our dying mom-n-pops, who can generate the resources to employ people to care for those fragile plants (can you imagine, from a plant’s perspective, how terrifying a drive would be from Florida to New Mexico? “Aaaaahhhhhh,” they would scream if they could talk!) and offer people like me affordable plants?

What, you ask? Who are you to tell me how to run my company? I apologize, I’m not here to upset anyone. I only want to do good and stop the murder of living, breathing plants. I’m no one special, just a small business owner, a plant lover and a self-appointed Ambassador to Nature. That’s why it makes me so sad to post this proof that you’re squandering money.

Sincerely, and most respectfully, Liza

p.s. If you make changes and would like to thank me, I’ll take my thanks as a percentage of your profits – thanks!

Ah, if only I had their ear! And now, the parade of almost dead plants. This is my evidence that big box stores need to engage the local community. And hire professionals.

Here’s a Corn plant that suffers greatly – the brown crunchy lower leaves indicate underwatering (it’s natural on my plants for the lower leaves to become crunchy and fall off, but it’s also a sign that the plant is thirsty), and the brown tips on the other leaves indicated too much water. Whoever has been “caring” for these plants since they arrived at Home Depot is doing a crappy job.

I was so astonished – there wasn’t one single plant that I would’ve bought from this store. They were ALL in the throes of death. Plant murder, grrrr!

What a waste of money! And who would buy this? I was very proud of myself – there were several other shoppers who were checking out plants. I successfully avoided shouting things like, “Run now,” or “Don’t buy any of these plants!”

Even the new stuff on the carts are dying. Wasteful, shameful!

See all the brown crunchy leaves that have fallen off? These Crotons were starved for water. I can tell just by a glance. You would think the employees in charge of these precious fellows would’ve been able to tell as well.

I have more, mostly blurry, photos of all the dead plants, but I think we’ve all had enough. And hopefully someone from Home Depot has everything they need to make changes in his company. I think it’s probably pretty damn idealistic for me to think that someone might listen to me, but I have to hope, right? RIGHT? Seriously, it’s all we have as humans.

Ok, dandelions, that does it for this Wednesday edition of the Good to Grow blog. Thank you again for being here. I apologize if you’re now depressed over the plant genocide. I’ll be back tomorrow with something more cheerful. Until then, happy gardening everyone!


¹ This is my blog – I can write about anything I damn well please. While I like showing you my Duke city, I don’t need to be wailing about the sadness of it all. If I want to show you a cool plant nursery in Albuquerque, or interview Albuquerque farmers, so be it. But you’ll be spared from the social services part of my personality from now on. Mostly anyway. Some of it just oozes out of my pores, so you’ll just have to deal.

² Thanks Justin, for the reminder and the focus!

³ I’m not referring to Target stores when I reference big box stores. I love Target, for many reasons. I know they sell plants in some stores, but not the ones in Albuquerque – the garden centers here are pretty much a few pretty pots and some herbs you can start in a container. Great, but not what I mean when I’m comparing stores for buying plants specifically.

4 Huh, this is supposed to be my fourth footnote, but it looks to me like WordPress only allows you three. So I started over again at 1. I feel like there should be at least a small “a” or “b” option like in an outline. But that’s just me. Oh gosh, I almost forgot what the footnote was for – I just want to clarify, there are two community stations in ‘burque – and I like to leave one or the other on for the plants to listen to.

5 I didn’t research who runs Home Depot. I lost interest after I didn’t get to see Tony Stewart as much. But I am hoping to catch the eye of some member of the marketing department, and will definitely research that sometime when I’m not, well, you know, working.

Hello, quince blossoms, and happy Monday to you. Welcome to the Good to Grow blog, thanks for being here! I hope you all had a relaxing weekend with friends and family.

Over the weekend, Albuquerque celebrated its 304th birthday. Not as old as Santa Fe, but still. A few weeks ago, I featured a new theme, Albuquerque Week!, and posted about some of the reasons I love this city. I decided I still had lots more to say about it, so I’m starting another Albuquerque Week! today.

The city celebrated Founder’s Day on Saturday April 24th. The Fiesta was held in Old Town Albuquerque.

I live just a few blocks away, so I grabbed my camera and walked over to the plaza. The usual jewelry vendors were there.

There was tons of entertainment – dancers, live music, mariachi bands, activities for the kids.

It was a very sweet Fiesta. Lots of people, lots of food.

These kids jumped rope for hours. Very cute.

I tend to be a little shy about asking people to pose for me. I was just about to ask these Native American girls to stop and pose, but I chickened out and just took this photo. The girl in blue looks pissed, doesn’t she?

I wondered why. She’s a little young…I know some older Natives dispute that Albuquerque is 304 years old. According to them, people have been here much, much longer.

On one of the local community radio stations, KUNM, there’s a show called Native America Calling. A couple months ago, they had a whole hour dedicated to how they felt about birthday celebrations. In particular, they were talking about Santa Fe, which is celebrating 400 years this year. Some Native Americans, whose ancestors lived here more than 400 years ago, approached the party planners up in Santa Fe and asked to be included in the festivities. They were told no, and were upset about it. I don’t blame them, from what I gathered from listening to the show, they were rudely dismissed, as if their ancestry wasn’t important.

Of course their ancestry matters, as does mine, as does yours. We humans are here today because of those humans who were here before us.

I have a theory about humanity…

Tell me what you think: I believe that every single human being is born onto this planet wanting to help other people. That’s why so many kids want to grow up to be firemen and doctors – they want to help people.

They also want attention. We all do – we crave it, in fact. It’s a fact that should unite us. We can evidence it by facebook, and our collective blogs. We’re all saying in our own way, “Hey, look at me, like me, let me help you in some way.”

We want to be known. We want to know that we matter. That’s humans 101.

In Albuquerque, there are so many different types of people – there are lots of Native Americans, Hispanics, white folks, and so on. They don’t always jive well but we’re always evolving and growing.

The city’s website says this about the Founder’s Day Fiesta:

“Come dressed in a costume that represents one of the five eras:

Native American Era, Spanish Era, Mexican Era, Territorial Era, or Statehood Era.

Costume judging will begin at 2:00 pm, and prizes will be awarded.

Highlights include the 3rd Annual Outdoor Market, Founders Day Parade, Live music and dance performances, and an assortment of activities for the kids.”

I like that as part of the Fiesta, people were encouraged to dress in the era of their choice. It seemed to me like the city’s way of saying that we’re all in this together, we’ve all been here a long time.

There’s a lot of fear in the world these days, particularly here in the United States. I know I don’t feel like we’re very united.

I think that I feel united when I peruse other garden blogs, or learn about other plant lovers. I felt united in the Old Town plaza with other locals enjoying the festivities. But when I think of the country as a whole, I’m sad. There are still so many racists in this country.

Why do people fear a black president? I don’t understand this – he’s human first.

The vast, vast majority of humans – whether they be black, white, brown, purple, whatever – are nice. Look at this couple – can’t you just see that by looking at them? So I don’t understand why, as a country, we are gripped by fear of other humans. What’s to fear? Skin color? That’s just dumb. Sexual orientation? Why would anyone care what someone else does in the bedroom? It’s crazy!

I got better as the day progressed about asking people if I could photograph them. To this lady, I said, “Would you strike a pose for me?” Her (lack of) pose totally cracked me up. There’s something about her I just automatically liked.

Of course there are some dangerous people in the world. Sure, there are always going to be those people who don’t grow up to be decent, kind humans. I believe they are in the minority.

I believe the people who scream and jump and get mad at what other people are doing, are the ones who are the most fearful. They’re paralyzed by fear and so they set about trying to control others, or manipulate others to their advantage.

It doesn’t work, that whole attempt at controlling others. God bless free will. I really wish, as a species, we would collectively let go of our fears of “bad humans” and just work on loving ourselves. I matter. You matter. We can disagree, but our opinions, our ideals, they matter.

I also believe that each human being is born onto this planet with some personal gift to offer the rest of humanity. Giving, healing, caring – these are all gifts. Whether or not we grow up to use those gifts is an entirely personal matter.

Passing on knowledge, this too is a gift of humanity. Those ancestors of ours had it tough – they didn’t have the medicines or the technology that we have today.

Every time I do laundry, I think to myself, this is the best thing ever. My ancestors had to take their clothes down to the creek and pound them with rocks. Which, I should admit, has always confused me – were they pounding out the dirt? Because it seems like there were better ways. Anyway, my point is, we’ve got it easy in this day and age.

So why are we still so fearful? Because the world is a dangerous place. This planet can erupt, it can boil, it can toss you aside like a piece of trash. But people? They’re not so scary once you realize they just want a little attention.

Thanks again for being here. I’ll be back tomorrow with another edition of the Good to Grow blog. Until then, happy gardening, everyone!

I’ve been having so much fun coming up with ideas for this blog. Not only can I make obscure references to Conner Prairie, which was pretty much the only place we ever got to go for field trips (except the occasional visit to James Whitcomb Riley’s house – yipee) growing up in a small Indiana town, but it has re-ignited my love of plants.

Dad used to get soooo mad at me when I was in high school. I’d moved my bedroom into the sunroom, and therefore was supposed to take care of the plants he had in there. I viewed them as pieces of furniture. He would come storming in and scream, “Can’t you see how thirsty they are?” I remember blinking and being like, “What?”

Thirsty Pothos

Thirsty Pothos

Thirsty? In need of attention? Whatever, I was 15. After college, however, living on my own with a teeny paycheck, I realized plants were great cheap decorations for my 1st apartment. That’s when the love affair was born. Back then, I never would’ve predicted that I’d end up running my own small plant care business one day in Albuquerque.

My point in telling you this is that if I can learn, you can learn. Houseplants are living breathing magical creatures that are 100% dependent on your care. If it’s in a pot and in your house, treat it like a pet – it can’t fend for itself.

Here are some basic plant care tips that will put you on the road to happy indoor gardening:

1. Pick one day a week to check on your plants. Make say, Sunday, your Plant day. If the pot is 6″ in diameter or bigger, you should be able to manage once a week watering. If the plant is in one of those tiny little pots on your kitchen window sill who require, as my friend Molly said “a teaspoon of water” every few days, this once a week rule obviously does not apply.

2. Baby leaves should be perfect. If they’re not (if they have marks on them, turn black or turn crunchy) then something’s wrong, it’s most likely too much water.

3. Pruning is essential. It’s the equivalent of a haircut. Get comfortable with scissors and pruners.

Pruning is essential, here's an example of pruning a Schefflera

Pruning is essential, here's an example of pruning a Schefflera

Worried you don’t know where to make the cut when pruning? Think aesthetics. If you trim close to the base, or close to where a leaf sticks out, it’ll be neater. If you trim just under a leaf, you have a big empty stem that looks awkward. Pick the prettier option!

4. Speaking of aesthetics, when leaves die, either from overwatering, underwatering, old age or suicide, remove them right away. I like to remove them when I can see they are dying, so the plant doesn’t expel any more energy trying to save them. The reason I recommend doing this isn’t only for beauty, it’s so you can easily spot new problems when they arise.

5. Go easy on yourself. If I can go from clueless teen to a plant care business owner, then you, too, can turn your black thumb green. It starts with the most simple advice – pay attention to your houseplants.

You may just be rewarded with a Christmas Cactus that blooms for Halloween.

Easter the Christmas Cactus blooming for Halloween

Easter the Christmas Cactus blooming for Halloween

I hope you continue to share this plant blog journey with me. Tomorrow is the debut edition of Friday’s Ask the Experts. I’ve assembled a panel of experts to answer your plant questions, and I promise the answers will be very funny, and sometimes even helpful. You have questions about plants? Fire away!


If you’ve been following along my new plant blog journey, you know I like low maintenance plants. I especially like plants that don’t need to root before you can plant their cuttings.

Last week I showed how to prune Jade Plants, also known as Money Trees, and then how you can simply stick the cuttings in dirt (after they’ve scarred over a couple of days). You can even stick Jade leaves in dirt and they’ll grow.

Jade (Money Tree) leaves are easy to propagate

Jade (Money Tree) leaves are easy to propagate

Jades have lots of company when it comes to easy propagation. Many varieties in the Dracaena family are the same way. Dracaena Marginatas, or Dragon Trees, for example, are super easy to propagate.

This Dragon Tree lives at a mortgage company in Albuquerque.

Dracaena Marginata

Dracaena Marginata

I cut the really wide-reaching one on the left, trimmed the stalk to the height I wanted, then stuck it in the dirt.

Dracaena Marginata cuttings don't need to root before planting

Dracaena Marginata cuttings don't need to root before planting

I did the same with another big stalk. The result is some good new growth down low to make up for the wild older stalks.

Dracaena Marginata

Dracaena Marginata

When I was watering the plants at the cereal factory, I pruned a Dracaena Warneckii.

Warneckii cutting

Warneckii cutting

Then planted the cuttings in one of their atriums. I hope they grow strong and tall!

Newly planted Warneckii cuttings at the cereal factory

Newly planted Warneckii cuttings at the cereal factory

I love that cereal factory. It always smells delicious and everyone who works there is sugary sweet.

Sansevieria, also know as Snake plants or Mother-in-law-tongues (because they’re difficult to kill), are another family of plants that don’t need to root before you can plant the cuttings.

Snake plant cutting doesn't need to root

Snake plant cutting doesn't need to root

Another favorite of mine is Wandering Jews.

Wandering Jew

Wandering Jew

I frequently forget to water mine, so it doesn’t look great. When it gets thirsty, the stems die off and look like this.

Half-dead Wandering Jew stem

Half-dead Wandering Jew stem

If you have a Wandering Jew, just clean off the dead leaves so you have a healthy stem, then put it right back in the pot.

Wandering Jew cutting ready to be put in soil

Wandering Jew cutting ready to be put in soil

Caring for houseplants doesn’t have to be a burdensome task. Most plants are waaaay easier than you can imagine.

I’d like to give a special shout out to James at James and the Giant Corn for the link even though I’m a newbie. Also to Mr. Subjunctive at Plants are the Strangest People, thanks for your posts, they’re great.

James, I think you’re right, horticulture is an intimidating word to many people. Plus, I’m not a horticulturist (as evidenced by the aforementioned thirsty Wandering Jew). Not crazy about planties (as in foodies) though – how about Plant Lovers?

Easter my Christmas Cactus bloomed for Halloween.

Easter the Christmas Cactus

Easter the Christmas Cactus

There’s no educational value in this post. I just like how pretty she is.

Easter the Christmas Cactus blooming at Halloween

Easter the Christmas Cactus blooming at Halloween

As promised, I took an adorable baby Jade plant with me to Savers thrift store yesterday and took lots of photos.

The little guy was a trooper. Here’s what he looks like with his cheap plastic saucer.

Baby Jade plant with saucer

Baby Jade plant with saucer

If you have a saucer to catch water, you can use virtually anything as a decorative container.

Here’s what I found at Savers.

Baby Jade plant in a candle holder

Baby Jade plant in a candle holder

There were lots and lots of great candle holders, most of them would make a nice gift.

Jade plant in a coffee pot

Jade plant in a coffee pot

I will fill the rest of the coffee pot with colorful marbles or stones. Maybe even just Spanish Moss.

Decorative plant container idea

Decorative plant container idea

Kitchen items make really great plant containers. You can use styrofoam to secure the plant inside the bigger container, then cover it all with Spanish Moss. Would be a fun centerpiece, too.

Aww, kid's moccasin as a decorative plant container

Aww, kid's moccasin as a decorative plant container

That’s sweet. I told you that baby Jade was a trooper!

Just in time for the World Series

Just in time for the World Series

By the way, I just want to say that it was packed at Savers yesterday. Probably because it’s Halloween. I don’t think a single person noticed me taking pictures.

Yes, you can even use a stuffed animal as a decorative plant pot

Yes, you can even use a stuffed animal as a decorative plant pot

You could safety pin the legs together, and that is one cute gift.

Jade plant in kid's cowboy boot

Jade plant in kid's cowboy boot


Ok, I suppose I’ve proven my point here. I hope you have fun decorating your plant pots (and of course, watching the babies grow).

In honor of Halloween, here’s one more. The Jade didn’t quite fit, but the shelf was awesome.

Halloween container for Jade plant

Halloween container for Jade plant

I hope you have a safe and fun Halloween!

Oh, and check out this site, Rare Bird Finds. I love the creepy mortar and pestle, and also the handy plant hanger.

Yesterday, I showed you how to prune a Jade. Now, let’s plant the cuttings.

Jades are wonderful because you don’t have to root the stems before they can go in the ground. I actually pruned Rosa on Wednesday, so the cuttings have had a couple of days to scar. Here’s what they look like now:

Jade cuttings

Jade cuttings

They would’ve been fine sittng out for another couple of days. I would say let them scar anywhere from 2 days to 5 days – after 5 days you’re really killing the cuttings or leaves.

It’s cold in Albuquerque today (it snowed yesterday like crazy!), so I’m doing these transplants in the house with newspapers rather than outside where cleanup is so much easier.

I generally save all containers and reuse them. Sometimes over and over, especially in the case of little ones.

Recycled containers for Jade cuttings

You can’t have a container without a saucer to catch the water. Saucers are musts always. But you don’t have to use the clear ones like I am here. You can use a plate or a tray. Be imaginative!

See this cup? This is what I used to scoop the soil from the bag.

Average plastic cup/dirt scoop

Now it’s a saucer.

Plastic cup turned saucer

Plastic cup turned saucer

In the plant industry, saucers are really called liners. It doesn’t matter what you call them, the point is you need to make sure it holds water. You want don’t want to spill water all over the shelf every time you water the plant there.

Besides lowering the spillability possibilities, a good saucer/pot combo means you can dress it up like practically anything.

Saucer/pot combo is a must!

Saucer/pot combo is a must!

Knowing it won’t spill opens up a world of possibilities for exterior containers. These small grower pots are handy, and that plastic cup sure is effective, but neither of them are cute. In the plant business, we always put grower pots and saucers inside pretty containers.

I looked around my house for containers.

Cute baby Jade

Cute baby Jade

That’s adorable. Think what it would look like when it’s 2 inches taller, so cute. But I actually use that cup to hold my scouring pad and brushes, so I’m not going to keep the plant in it. Besides, I’m not keeping the plant. I’m going to wait until all of them get a little stronger, then use them as gifts.

I’ll bet that if you look around your house with fresh eyes, you’ll see lots of ways to decorate your plant pots.

Really, you can make almost anything work. Like a bandana, for example.

A bandana for decoration

A bandana for decoration

I had this nice ribbon.

Using ribbon as decoration

Using ribbon as decoration

Heck, even tissue paper would work to make a nice gift for someone.

Tissue paper can turn an ugly growers pot into a cute gift

Tissue paper can turn an ugly growers pot into a cute gift

Check back tomorrow. I took this little Jade plant with me to Savers (a thrift store in Albuquerque) today to prove that you can use almost anything as a decorative pot. I’ll post the photos tomorrow. I have him posing in everything from a cowboy boot to a baseball glove.

Here’s a look at the other finished transplants from Rosa the Jade cuttings. I have high hopes for the one consisting entirely of leaves – I think it’ll grow a strong healthy base. We’ll see, eh?

Jade cuttings in their new pots

Jade cuttings in their new pots

Caring for houseplants is a continuous experimentation!

Meet my adorable Jade Rosa. She’s a sweetheart but I haven’t been pinching her back. The result is that she’s tall and top-heavy. Here, take a look:

Rosa the Jade

Rosa the Jade

So I’m going to prune her back now. Jade is another one of those fantastic houseplants that don’t need to root before you can plant them.

My clippers are pretty cheap, but they work well. Here’s where I made the first cut, as close to the base as I could get.

How to prune a Jade

Of course, I’m not going to throw away the piece I just cut. I’ll plant it and use it for a gift.

Here’s what Rosa looks like after her first cut:

How to prune a Jade

How to prune a Jade

I’ll make another cut, like so:

How to prune a Jade

How to prune a Jade

I trimmed off another little bit after that, then pinched off some baby leaves, and that was it. Took less than 5 minutes.

Look how much better she looks:

Newly pruned Rosa the Jade

Newly pruned Rosa the Jade

I’m going to use all the cuttings, and the leaves, to make new plants. Jades are great. You don’t have to root them at all. You just let the fresh wound scar over, which takes a couple of days, then you put the stem or leaf in the dirt. That’s it!

Freshly pruned bits of Jade

Freshly pruned bits of Jade

See how the cut is fresh right now? You need to give the Jade a couple of days to scar that over, just like a strawberry on your knee develops a scab, then you can plant it in dirt.

I’ll go hunting for cute containers for the cuttings, and post what I find here on Saturday. Jade plants are considered good luck in finances, so who wouldn’t want a baby money tree plant as a gift? The holidays are nearly upon us, afterall.

Look at the bounty I got from one quick prune. Rosa’s going to be so much happier now!

Rosa the Jade plant and her cuttings

Rosa the Jade plant and her cuttings

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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.