My Uncle Frank

My family began this New Year with a suicide.

On January 1st, 2021, my Uncle Frank (Francis Xavier Burns, Jr.) took his own life. He had been dealing with years of loneliness which had damaged his mental health.

I am aware that this is a departure from our normal blog content here at LG Gardening, but I think that so many people in this pandemic are suffering from terrible, crippling loneliness, that we should all pause and reflect. And then take action.

Could a phone call have prevented my Uncle’s suicide? Maybe I’ll never know. It’s been on my mind for the last week almost constantly, as I’m sure you can imagine.

I want to share with you, dear reader, that I wish to devote my 2021 to serving others who are suffering under the tyranny of loneliness. And I’ll ask you to join me in this task.

My brother, Dan, gave the most moving eulogy for our Uncle. It was, in my opinion, perfect in every particular. So, get ready to laugh and weep, my friends. I wanted to share it here, with you, as an honor to our Uncle Frank.

Eulogy for Francis Xavier Burns, Jr. – written by: Daniel Sestina

Francis Xavier Burns, Jr. Frank. Uncle Frank. Frank Junior. Frank the Tank. The Frankage. So many names, nicknames, memories, times, anecdotes and stories. So many people; friends, family members, random people have reached out to me with stories of laughter, fondness and condolences, shock and sadness.

I was fortunate to have spent so much time with my family and my extended family. I have so many memories. Being together with him. Our always lively Thanksgiving Day football matches, Easter Sunday running around at my Grandparents’ house looking for eggs and old Christmas music playing on records during the Holiday Season. I loved the Burns family reunions that we had almost every single August for years. I loved the stories that they told of our family history. I loved all the hard work that we did to prepare for the reunions. I remember Frank mowing the grass listening to music while he worked, either on his huge boombox or on his Walkman.

I remember looking up to him and all of my family members who were an inspiration to me in joining the military. He was always someone that I could level with especially as I got older, in my teens and my young adult life. I suppose we were so much alike in a lot of ways. Both very rebellious, stubborn, adventurous; both of us forged from the fires of our youth. We saw eye-to-eye on many things; long hair, grunge-style clothes; we probably looked as if we were in a band from Seattle. I remember him and my family coming to my soccer games. Even though he did not entirely understand the game, he cheered as if he was at the World Cup. Many hours were spent sitting on the porch and talking, listening to music in the cool summer evenings. All the stories of my Aunts and Uncles when they still lived in Cleveland, times that I only heard and never experienced firsthand. Stories where Frank once remarked after being punished by his father, “When I get big and you get little, I’m going to spank you!”

This year has been a mixed bag of unbelievably bad and very strange. From the onset of the pandemic, civil unrest and things we seldom see. Strange things like the Columbus Crew winning the MLS Championship, the Buckeyes headed to the College Football National Championship, and dare I say, the Browns in a Wild Card Playoff?!? Strange indeed. Coupled with a desperate world looking for a glimpse of Light at the end of the tunnel. All these things and more, Frank would have been ready to talk about, debate and ponder.

Frank’s hunger for knowledge led him to read an untold number of books…probably in the thousands. His ability to retain said knowledge was equally uncanny. The poor fella could barely walk and chew bubble gum, but his brain stored information like a hard drive. Now, anyone who knew Frank also knew that he was a rebel rouser. He loved to debate. About anything. Even if you were not interested in it. Chances were you were going to be wrangled into some sort of de facto discussion that had extreme undertones of an argument. Frank was a very smart guy, and often, incorrigible. There was a high probability that if he walked into a room, he was easily one of the smartest people there. He had all the hallmarks of intelligence too; often forgetting basic needs except for caffeine and nicotine. Contrary as he might be, he loved his family very deeply. His fondest memories were of times spent with loved ones. We often talked of those times and how we could not wait until we met again. Where we could once again sit and talk, face to face. He felt marooned in California. Far removed from what he cherished. He longed for his own Exodus, five years in the making. He was weary. And now, he is not. He has finally been led out of exile.

Frank was never short on humor or his ability to be entertaining. As avid fans of music, we went to concerts regularly. One time in particular, we were going to Columbus, Ohio for a live music outdoor festival. The drive to the concert was fraught with danger. Frank was attempting to read maps and navigate Interstate 71 simultaneously. Other motorists were expressing their displeasure with us. Hand gestures, yelling, horns, the whole nine yards.

“Frank, semi-truck!”

“Frank, semi-truck!!!”

“Whoops,” is all he replied.

Frank took in the atmosphere quite differently as well. At one point, the crowd was whipped to just short of a frenzy. A high energy song was announced next by the band. Our friends, Sean, and I readied for the chaos. But not Frank. He watched on as if he had heard nothing. We formed a make-shift shield wall like a Roman legion and suddenly the entire venue erupted into a swirling mass of fans. We braced for impact, but Frank was fully unaware of the now massive maelstrom swirling about. In about ten seconds flat…he became keenly aware. For about two minutes and forty-nine seconds, Frank appeared to be doing a new, bizarre form of burpees in twisted union with the other patrons…albeit inadvertently. He would grab his glasses and cup, struggle to his feet, leap up and then fall back down. We looked on helplessly from our strongpoint, like a herd of buffalos watching one of their own dancing with a pack of hyenas. When it was all over, Frank finally fixed his disheveled glasses peering down at his, now empty, grossly overpriced beer. He rather poignantly remarked, “I only had one sip of that beer. And I haven’t had grass stain on my knees since I was in the third grade.” The rest of the evening, he would only remark, “Oh, dear. Oh, dear.”

Bob Dylan was one of Frank’s favorites. “Blowin in the Wind” really stands out to me. The refrain, “The answer is blowing in the wind.” It seems that our struggles leave us weak and the solutions something ethereal, intangible, swirling around us. Unable to be acertained.

Do not believe it. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. Breathing new life into our lungs, the power to move us, even if It is not seen. Sometimes we feel like it’s hopeless. Well…that depends. What were you hoping in?

God’s grace and mercy and love is enough.

C.S. Lewis remarked, in his book, The Problem of Pain, “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but more common and harder to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken.'”

C.S. Lewis also said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” Frank finally got to satiate his appetite for knowledge. He got to quench his thirst for justice. And he got to rest his weary heart in the Lord.

I will no longer be able to talk music, or sports or current events with Frank. By comparison all those things seem downright trite now. I would trade every song, every Championship, every Super Bowl, every World Series, every empty win, for one more day with him.

A book I started reading had this prayer in it, “Lord, I’m weary. I’m weary and tired. I’m discouraged. I don’t know how I’m going to do this again tomorrow. But I believe Your mercies are going to make this new when I wake up. I believe that I will never run out of Your steadfast love. I’m trusting that You have enough grace for me for what I face. I can rest now because I’m hoping in You.”

Frank, he had a lot to say. Sometimes, he had a lot of nothing to say.

And we’re going to miss him.

I’m going to miss you.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.

Houseplant Wishlist 2021

Have you made a houseplant wish for 2021? I just made mine and it was harder than I would have thought. My house is at maximum capacity for plants at this point so any new plants that I buy come at the cost of getting rid of one of my other plants. There’s just no room left. So my list for this year is a short one, only six plants, but I think they’re pretty exciting.

#6 Wish list plant – Hoya deykeae

Isn’t she beautiful? This Hoya has leaves that almost have a heart shape and are oh so pretty. They have that lovely veining and if that isn’t enough, they have white splashes on the leaves as well. This Hoya is a looker. I wish that I could include photos at this point, but I don’t own these plants and I don’t really want to post photos that I don’t own the rights to so…sorry. If you type the plant name into Google, you’ll see loads of lovely photos.

#5 Wish list plant – Hoya gunung gading

This plant is one that I desire to own because of the colors it is capable of displaying. It can literally look like a rainbow. The leaves, under sun-stress conditions, will have red, purple, orange, brown and yellow colors as well as their beautiful jungle green (non-sun-stressed) color. Like the Hoya deykeae, this plant has strong dark veining and rather large paddle-shaped leaves.

#4 Wish list plant – Rhaphidophora decursiva

The only plant on my 2021 wish list that isn’t a Hoya is this one, the Rhaphidophora decursiva. If you Google this one for photos, make sure that you look up both the juvenile form and the mature leaf forms of this plant because they are different. Both are beautiful and both give me that lovely “jungle” feeling which is why I’m thinking that I must own one of these plants.

#3 Wish list plant – Hoya carnosa argentea ‘Princess’

This Hoya has beautiful variegated leaves with a silver sheen. The silver sheen is actually caused by the leaf cuticle which has a grayish cast. A few months ago, I didn’t even know that this Hoya existed. Now all I know is that I must own one. They’re highly sought after and impossibly expensive if you can even glimpse one for sale. I have literally no hopes of ever owning this plant. But that’s why they call it a “wish” list. Right?

#2 Wish list plant – Hoya ‘Larisa’

Larisa is a beauty that is similar to wish list plants #1 and #2. Her leaves are even larger though and this isn’t a Hoya that I will be trying to sun stress. I love the colors and markings on her leaves without any of the extras. Larisa’s leaves can vary from a deep dark green to a more lime green in color and have strong, dark veining. But it’s the big white splotches on top of the leaves that really draw me to this plant. I’m like a moth to a flame with this one.

#1 Wish list plant – Hoya carnosa ‘Nova Ghost’

Nova Ghost has leaves that are completely silver. She’s a true treat for the eyeballs. The leaves are fairly small and the silver leaf coloring on this Hoya is caused by a grayish colored cuticle, just as with the H. carnosa argentea ‘Princess’. Again, this rare Hoya is so sought after that I do not have any hope or expectations of owning it. Just get ready, my friend, because if you look this one up on Google, you’ll be adding it to your 2021 wish list too. Ha.

This has been terribly fun, but now I must go teach my sixth grader. Because that’s what I do now. Stay at home and teach sixth grade Math and Language Arts. Please…someone send chocolate!

Take care of yourselves and remember to give yourself goodness and kindness. We all can benefit from a little bit of mercy right now.

If you would like to see this blog in video form, check out my YouTube video 2021 Houseplants Wish List

Also, please don’t forget to like any of these blogs that have helped you (because that helps me). Also make sure that you have subscribed to this website so that you don’t miss any new content. Simply head to the bottom of the Home page of this website, click the Subscribe button and type in your email address. You don’t want to miss out, right?

Products I use and (therefore) recommend:

Planty friends – Feel free to use these links to the products that I use for my houseplants.  I receive a small percentage of any sales through these links, so feel free not to use them if that bothers you. Like I said, I use all of these products, most of them daily which is why I feel like I can recommend them to you.

Full disclosure – the last three product links will be much cheaper if you can find them in your local garden center.  I’ve put them here so that you can see what they are called and what they look like, but I’d advise that you buy from these links only as a last resort.

Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.

Grow Lights For Winter (or All Year Long)

I get asked about grow lights at least every other planty conversation I engage in. These days, it seems that almost all my conversations are plant-related. But that may be because I steer every conversation in the direction of my plants.

I’m not sorry.

My houseplants make me happy.

For those of you who just want links to products, those are at the end of this blog. Some or all of the links in this blog may be affiliate links.

My Hoya vitellina ‘Splash’ has taken on beautiful purple coloring under these grow lights.

If you are new to grow lights, I’m sure it seems like a daunting proposition. There are so many different styles of lights out there. I am writing this article about the grow lights that I use. It is not a comparison of all the options out there. But if that type of a blog interests you, make sure to comment below so that I know and can put that on the schedule for this coming year’s articles.

I have been using these lights for over a year and I am very pleased with the way my plants have grown under them. I do want to state that this grow light company is not sponsoring this blog in any way. I actually did reach out to them to ask if they would be interested in sponsoring this article or a YouTube video. I received no answer. Oh well…Let me tell you about the design advantages of these lights and the types of plants that I have been growing under them.

I have used different types of grow lights over the course of many years as a houseplants seller. As you can imagine, they all have pros and cons, but I am writing this blog to tell you about the lights that work the best for me. Those lights are called the Monios-L grow lights. They are LED chip lights and so are extremely energy efficient (24 watts to be exact). Despite being energy efficient, I have found them to put out a very bright light that keeps my plants actively growing and happy. One of the design elements that I really appreciate about these lights is that the LED chips are mounted in a V-shape. (Photo below.) This feature allows the light to be cast outward and not just straight down below the light fixture. Now maybe this doesn’t sound innovative to you, but I assure you, that has been one of my biggest complaints about grow lights for years. With the other lights I’ve used, I could only fit a very few plants beneath them and any other plants nearby would just start stretching to reach for the light and end up deformed and unsellable. Not good. The Monios-L lights are great because their design allows them to light twice as many plants compared to my other grow lights.

Another great advantage of these grow lights is that there are many different ways to set them up. They come with aluminum shades to direct the light into a certain direction. I don’t even attach these because, as I stated in the previous paragraph, I want the light to go everywhere. They can be mounted in different ways as well and come with mounting brackets and screws, double-sided sticky tape and zip ties to give you some options.

The last great advantage with these lights is that they come in a package of 6 two-foot lights. They come with connectors that can link the lights directly together. Two different types of cords are also included. The first type of cord is a 48″ cord that can connect the lights if you need space between them (for example: connecting a light on an upper shelf to a light on a lower shelf). And then there are 59″ cords that connect the lights to the power source. These cords are where the on/off switches are located. Photos of the cords and connector piece are below.

I should probably show you what plants I have growing under these lights, right? The majority of the plants I keep under these grow lights are Philodendrons and Hoyas. I also grow Rhipsalis and Epiphyllum, Ceropegia (String of Hearts), Chlorophytum (Spider plants), Calathea, Pothos, Epipremnum and some Peperomias under the same type of grow lights. Oh, and I’ve forgotten to add that I grow all of my succulents under these same grow lights also. Those include Haworthia, Albuca, Agave, Echeveria, Sempervivum, Aloe, Kalanchoe, Senecio, Lithops, Titanopsis and I’m sure there are others that I just can’t think of at the moment.

If it seems puzzling that I can keep Calatheas under the same grow lights as I keep my succulent plants, please let me explain. I do place my plants under grow lights very intentionally. If I have a plant like a Philodendron that wants bright light, but not light quite as bright as these lights put out, I simply place them near, but not directly under these Monios lights. Or if I have plant shelves that allow light to shine through, I can place the plants that need lower light a whole shelf below the grow light. That way the ambient light that filters through from the shelf above is just the right amount of light (Begonias love this trick). Or, I can simply raise the grow light higher above my plants to decrease the light intensity.

Conversely, with some plants like my Hoyas, I can lower the lights so that they are closer to the plants to bring out that beautiful sun-stressed (grow light-stressed) look that I love. My Hoya ‘Rebecca’ is a great example. See the photo below.

The Monios-L grow light is the only type of grow light that I use on my plants…with one exception. I do have one GE balanced spectrum grow light bulb in a desk lamp on top of one of my plant shelves. I have about five plants growing under it and it has done a great job. If you have a lamp or light fixture already and just need a grow light bulb, I highly recommend this one. Photo below.

L-R – Hoya matilde, Hoya rotundiflora, Philodendron ‘Silver Sword’, Hoya linearis and Philodendron ‘Rio’.

Because the GE bulb is a single light bulb, it obviously casts a smaller amount of light compared to my Monios lights (you can see one of them attached to the bottom of the shelf in this photo). But it has been taking care of the plants on this shelf for a year and they have all put on new growth and the Hoya matilde even gave me blooms. That’s basically the highest praise I can give a grow light.

I hope this blog has answered some plant lighting questions for you. If you have additional questions, I’d love to hear them. Please ask them in the comments below. Make sure to check out our other houseplants content on our A-Z list of blog articles. If you’d like to see this in a video form, here is our YouTube video Grow Lights for Winter (or All Year Long).

Also, please don’t forget to like any of these blogs that have helped you (because that helps me). Also make sure that you have subscribed to this website so that you don’t miss any new content. Simply head to the bottom of the Home page of this website, click the Subscribe button and type in your email address. You don’t want to miss out, right?

Take care, everyone!

Products I use and (therefore) recommend:

Planty friends – Feel free to use these links to the products that I use for my houseplants.  I receive a small percentage of any sales through these links, so feel free not to use them if that bothers you. Like I said, I use all of these products, most of them daily which is why I feel like I can recommend them to you.

Full disclosure – the last three product links will be much cheaper if you can find them in your local garden center.  I’ve put them here so that you can see what they are called and what they look like, but I’d advise that you buy from these links only as a last resort.

Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.

I Tried to Buy a Hoya Lisa – Ebay Failure

How many times must I purchase a Hoya on eBay before I learn my lesson? That is the question. The answer (apparently) is 2,459 times. Let me explain.

It’s simple, really. I saw some crappy pictures of a plant that I wanted and I pressed a button that says “Buy it now”. What I should have done was move on to a different listing. Or, when I saw that the photos of the plant made it difficult to see exactly what I was purchasing, I should have asked the seller for additional photos. Instead, I went against my better judgement and bought the plant.

I thought I was purchasing a Hoya australis ‘Lisa’, but I had some serious doubts when it arrived. Let me show you the plant I purchased compared to an actual Hoya australis ‘Lisa’.

The eBay Hoya is on the left, on the right is Hoya australis ‘Lisa’

Fortunately, I have an actual Hoya australis ‘Lisa’ that we can compare to the eBay plant. (You may be wondering why I was purchasing H. ‘Lisa’ if I already had one. I say to you, “Mind your own business!” Ha. But actually, I was hoping to plant the two together to make the two puny plants into a more respectable looking H. australis ‘Lisa’. Now you know.)

On the left in the photo, you’ll notice that the leaves have no shine. They are almost textured feeling and very thick like cardboard. On the right, the leaves of H. ‘Lisa’ are smooth, thin and almost rubbery feeling. Hmmmm…it’s not looking good so far.

Next, there is the obvious lack of pink coloration on the eBay plant. The H. ‘Lisa’ has bright pink colored new growth. I initially credited the lack of pink coloring to the fact that there is no new growth on the eBay plant.

Another rather obvious difference is leaf shape. The ‘Lisa’ has leaves that come to a point. The eBay plant has rounded leaves that come to a small, almost unnoticeable point.

The final clear identifier for the eBay plant is the white splashes that are sprinkled across the leaves. They look a bit like freckles. These are commonly found on a Hoya obovata. Along with the thick, rounded leaves that feel rather like cardboard and a complete lack of sheen on the leaf surface. It turns out, my eBay plant is a Hoya obovata variegata.

Although I really did want a Hoya australis ‘Lisa’, I came out way ahead financially on this mistake. The variegated version of a Hoya obovata is currently selling for at least twice as much as I paid for my eBay plant which was listed as Hoya ‘Lisa’. I have been wanting a variegated Hoya obovata since I very first laid eyes on one more than a year ago. So I am very pleased. But I did want to caution you, dear reader, about searching for your most desired houseplants online.

Purchasing plants online is a tricky business in the best of times. You must consider weather, the hardiness of the species of plant you are purchasing, and if you are on a marketplace website (for example, eBay or Etsy) it is an absolute must to pay close attention to the reviews of that shop/vendor. Do they package plants well? Are their plants generally healthy? Do the plants arrive as described or are there discrepancies from the listing information? And then there is the question of photos.

Frankly, I have found that navigating the photos of a plant listed on Etsy or eBay to be nightmarish. Many times a listing will have several photos of a full beautiful plant in a huge planter with foliage spilling all over the sides of its planter, then I read the description and it is for a one or two leaf cutting. Hmmmm… Many times the word “cutting” isn’t even included in the title of the listing. It is legal? Yes. Is that seller being ethical? It’s certainly a gray area, but I’m just gonna say it. No, it’s not ethical. On the listings in my own Etsy shop (Matilda & Clementine) I make sure that if I am selling a cutting, the featured photos are of cuttings. Not a whole plant. I usually put one or maybe two photos of the whole plant at the end of the photos, just so a buyer can see what their cuttings can become, but I don’t put those photos anywhere near the beginning of the photo carousel. Additionally, I believe that using the word “cutting” in the title of the listing is just as important to your buyers.

As a buyer, it is your right to request additional information or photos from a seller if a listing is confusing or unclear. Remember to give the seller a reasonable amount of time to respond to your message. Many sellers will respond almost immediately, but I think a day or two is a reasonable amount of time to wait. If the seller does not respond to your requests, you really should not purchase from him/her. The chances of a bad buying experience are very high if a seller is not willing to communicate with you.

I hope the take-away from this experience will be that we all proceed carefully when we buy plants online. My goal isn’t to scare you, only to give you some caution as you move forward. *I’m speaking to myself especially.* May the Force be with you.

I hope you enjoyed this blog. Make sure to check out our other Hoya content on our A-Z list of blog articles. If you’d like to see this in a video form, here is our YouTube video My Ebay Shopping Error. Also, make sure that you are subscribed to this blog so that you don’t miss any new content. Simply head to the bottom of the Home page of this website, click the Subscribe button and type in your email address.

I hope you are doing well.

Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.

A Tale of Two Rhaphis (Rhaphidophora tetrasperma)

This blog is a comparison of my two Rhaphidophora tetrasperma plants – one is a tissue culture Rhaphi and the other began its life as a stem cutting.

If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while you may remember an article I posted a year ago, questioning if I’d paid (a very handsome sum) for a Rhaphidophora but received a different plant. I had thought this because I had purchased a Rhaphi from a different vendor and the two plants just did not look very similar. (Here’s a link to that blog Rhaphidophora or Cebu Blue Pothos???).

It turned out that I did have two Rhaphis, but most of the plant world had not yet discovered the existence of “tissue culture Rhaphidophoras”. Here is a photo from October 2019 of the two plants next to each other.

On the left is TC Rhaphidophora and on the right is the stem cutting Rhaphidophora in October of 2019.

It’s fun to look back almost exactly a year. They were so little! Now it’s almost impossible to get a decent photo of either of these plants because I can’t get them in frame.

But let’s get back on track. A year after this photo was taken, the saga continues. My Rhaphis are continuing to act very differently from one another most especially in the way they are growing.

The tissue culture Rhaphidophora is massive, reaching up higher with each passing month. It has already outgrown the bamboo poles (in a tripod shape) I gave it when repotting a few months back. They are 4 foot poles and I guess I’m going to have to trade them in for some 6 foot poles. The leaves are still rather small but most of them have some fenestrations. See photo below.

The tissue culture Rhaphidophora – one year later.

In an attempt to make this plant look fuller, I have taken two stem cuttings and added them back in to the planter where they rooted and have begun growing.

My stem cutting Rhaphidophora has been rather a different story altogether. It is still barely reaching my waist and sits on a plant stand. So, no crazy growth story here. But…let me show you the size of the leaves it has been growing recently…

My rather large man-hand is looking small compared to these huge new leaves.

Oddly, they have been given almost identical growing conditions. Both are growing in Lechuza pon (a semi-hydro growing medium) and both are planted in Lechuza self-watering pots. They are in the same room, receiving very similar light. The only difference in light is that the stem cutting Rhaphi is fairly close to my Milsbo greenhouse cabinet and is probably enjoying some supplemental light from the grow lights in the cabinet. Here’s a photo of the full plant.

Not many leaves at all…but the ones she has are aaaahhhmazing!

I suppose the Rhaphidophora Rule in my household is, “Grow many small leaves or just a few massive ones. But not both.”

My planty friend, Michele Jones, pointed out to me that many plants grow very differently under the same growing conditions. Even some that are “sibling” plants taken from the same parent plants. And she’s absolutely correct. The differences I am observing in my house may have nothing at all to do with whether these plants began their lives as tissue culture or stem cutting plants. What do you think? (I’d love to hear your opinions, so be sure to comment under this article.)

And that’s all folks. I hope you enjoyed this follow up blog. Make sure to check out our other Rhaphidophora content on our A-Z list of blog articles. Also, if you’d like to see this in a video form, here is our YouTube video Comparing Tissue Culture Rhaphidophora to Stem Cutting Rhaphidophora.

P.S. If any of you want to send me a Rhaphidophora decursiva, you know…just to see if I can grow it, you just feel free to do so. Teehee.

Take care everyone!

Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.

The Trailing Jade Tragedy

Here is my Trailing Jade plant. Isn’t it gorgeous?

My pretty Trailing Jade plant

Last week, my husband accidentally knocked it off of the piano where it was sitting. For the record, it was an accident, but no one bothered to tell me about it. I discovered my plant in a pile of sad broken pieces while going around the house watering my plants.

One of the broken pieces of my poor plant.

Don’t worry, friends, we are still married. Ha. We didn’t even have an argument actually (but there may have been some strong words about trying to hide the disaster from me.) You see, this really isn’t a difficult fix for my plant.

Unfortunately, my plant isn’t going to be a glorious Rapunzel beauty for at least another couple of years. (Sigh.)

As a matter of fact, I don’t know how old this plant is. I do know that it made the move with us from our former house and so it is, at minimum, three years old. (We moved at the beginning of the 2018 growing season and it is currently the end of the 2020 growing season.) It’s possible that I’ve had it even a year or two longer than that, but I can’t be sure.

Let’s just get out the scissors. Because that’s how we’re going to fix this issue.

Make sure to cut between nodes, as that is where the new roots will grow.

I am not using just any old scissors here, these are actually bonsai scissors that I use when I’m cutting up plants that have a small internodal space. If you look carefully at the photo above, you can see that I have removed a leaf just to the left of where I am cutting. It just looks like a green bump. I am carefully cutting below that “node” and right above a leaf. So each of my new cuttings will have three leaves and a node (where there had been a leaf, but I snapped it off. So that roots could grow from it.) Does that make sense to you? I hope so! It’s terribly simple really. Succulent plants are just so easy to propagate.

To answer your question, no, not all of the stems of my plant were broken. But I am going to cut back all of the super long stems so that my plant doesn’t look awkward or unbalanced. Also, I figure that since I’m going to be making new baby Trailing Jade plants, I may as well make several new baby Trailing Jade plants.

Here is what the original plant looks like now.

Such a sad day 😦

I have placed my cuttings directly in a succulent potting mix. I did not use any rooting hormone or cinnamon on the cut ends. I also did not wait for the ends to callous over first. Because I’m a mom. And I have things to do. But you can use those things if you’d like. I’ve been doing this for years and truly, they really don’t make a whole lot of difference. I’d tell you if they did, I promise I would!

My new little plants will root in pretty quickly and before you know it, I’ll have loads of new baby plants. So here are the pieces of my plant that I started with…

And here are all the new baby plants that I’ve made from those pieces…

They already look pretty good. Once they begin growing and filling out? They’re gonna look amazing. I can’t wait. If you follow me on Instagram (here’s my Instagram page) I’ll post in my stories when these babies are for sale. Here’s the link to my Etsy store (Matilda and Clementine) if you’d like to see what planty goodies I currently have listed for sale.

If you’d be interested, I could write a blog about how to care for a Trailing Jade plant. If that sounds like content that you’d enjoy, make sure to comment below this blog.

Also, please don’t forget to like any of these blogs that have helped you (because that helps me). Also make sure that you have subscribed to this website so that you don’t miss any new content. Simply head to the bottom of the Home page of this website, click the Subscribe button and type in your email address. You don’t want to miss out, right?

Thanks so much for reading. And lastly, take care of each other. And take care of yourselves too.

Some or all of the links in this article may be affiliate.

Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.

I’m President of the Yellow Leaf Club

Are you one of our members? I hope not because it means you may be feeling sad and most likely inadequate too. But if you are one of our sad members, maybe this blog will offer you some hope. And help.

Let me be honest…writing this blog has left me feeling super vulnerable. Because when I say I’m president of the yellow leaf club, it’s no exaggeration, my friends. I have yellow leaves popping up All. Over. My. House.

It’s happening to different genera of plants in all different locations in my house. Without checking any of them too closely yet, it looks like a few of them are not too serious and a couple of them…well…(insert wailing and screaming.)

It’s 100% my fault because I’ve been completely neglecting my houseplants recently. Every year during harvest, I become an absentee [fill in the blank] wife, mom, friend, dog mom & plant parent. This year the added distress of sending my teacher hubby and two children into a school while COVID-19 runs rampant through our country has me losing sleep. The result has been a flagrant neglect of my poor houseplant babies.

The two plants that I’m most concerned about are my Philodendron Birkin and my Hoya callistophylla. I’m pretty sure that we’re dealing with root rot. Ugh. Let me show you what I’m dealing with here.

My desperately sad looking Philodendron Birkin

To check the root system of this P. birkin, I took it to my potting bench and gently teased the potting mix away from the roots. Thankfully, the roots were all healthy looking so I repotted with fresh potting mix and removed all of the dead and dying leaves.

One possibility for this sudden and extreme leaf drop could have been the plant having a bit of a hissy fit because of its recent move to a new location. This is my best guess. One other possibility is that some of the leaves could have been burnt by the sun coming through the window next to the cabinet. But I think that burn damage would have been more patchy; damaging only parts of the leaf instead of the whole.

It’s been three or so weeks since I repotted and no more yellow leaves. I’m hopeful that the damage was just the plant demonstrating its displeasure at being moved. I’ll keep you updated either way.

My Hoya callistophylla may be in some serious trouble, let me show you…

Hoya callistophylla looking like a doomed plant.

My Hoya callistophylla went from just fine to almost completely dead in matter of a few days. As the leaves began to yellow, it became obvious that I was dealing with a fungal infection. As I looked even closer, I realized that this Hoya’s leaves had been directly in the path of the humidifier which sits right next to this shelf.

I did a process similar to the P. birkin, repotting after checking the roots for rot (there was none) and removing the dead and dying leaves. I did also spray down the few remaining leaves with a hydrogen peroxide and water solution to discourage any further fungus growth. I also moved this plant to a new spot away from the path of my humidifier.

Three weeks later, I did lose one more leaf leaving only four leaves on the poor plant. I feel like maybe we’ve turned the corner now and I’m hoping that she’ll be willing and able to put out an additional leaf or two before the winter temperatures put a stop to all Hoya growth.

Here are a few of my other yellow leaf club members.

The photos above are just a few of many, many yellow leaves that popped up around my home.

These random yellow leaves are nothing to worry about, my friends. If you have plants that are shedding a few leaves as we transition from summer heat into cooler temps, that is a completely normal behavior for your plant. Do not panic. Just allow your plant to take any energy left in the leaf and as soon as it can be removed easily, put it on your compost pile.

Now that I’ve revealed to you the results of my plant neglect, I hope you all still love me. And remember to love yourselves too. Especially if you have a few yellow leaves on your plants too.

Also remember to follow me on YouTube (Liquidambar Girl Gardening) and on Instagram @liquidambar_girl. All of your follows and likes really help me keep providing y’all with planty information. It’d also be great if you’d take a second and follow this blog by subscribing and liking this post. I really appreciate it!

If you’d like to see this blog in a video format, check out my YouTube video about all of my yellow leaves.

Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.

Night Blooming Cereus – How to Care for Epiphyllum oxypetalum

Epiphyllum are known as some of the easiest houseplants you could ever dream of growing. But maybe you are new in your plant parenthood journey or just new to the genus and have some questions. Hopefully, this article will give you some guidance. We will discuss; watering, light, best location in the house, temperature, fertilizer, humidity, flowers, insects, diseases, pruning, propagation and toxicity.

The blooms on orchid cacti are a real attraction for plant collectors. They are large and showy and many of them are deliciously scented as a bonus. It can be difficult to bring epiphyllum into bloom which (I think) offers plant parents the attraction of a challenge and adds an allure to owning this type of houseplant. Let’s face it, if you have epiphyllum blooms to show off on your Instagram, well, that’s a serious “flex” on your plant parenting skills.

This plant has many synonyms including Orchid Cactus, Queen of the Night, Princess of the Night, Christ in the Manger, Epiphytic Cactus and others. For now I will refer to this plant as Night Blooming Cereus or even just NBC.

The name Night Blooming Cereus is used for several genera of plants that are all very similar in physical structure, bloom type and fruit type. The most common ones are Epiphyllum oxypetalum, Hylocereus undatus (Dragon fruit), Peniocereus greggii and Selenicereus grandiflorus. Soooooo…that’s a bit confusing. I personally try to not purchase any plant marked as NBC unless it also has a botanical name included. But that’s just me and my weird hang-ups, you can purchase any NBC that you like.

Since there are different genera represented under the umbrella title of Night Blooming Cereus, it isn’t surprising to know that the plants do differ from each other slightly. For example, the blooms on an NBC can be creamy white, yellowish white, pinkish white or a pure snowy white. Unfortunately, you won’t know right away what color of blooms your plant will produce for a few years unless you have seen the parent plant or if you have purchased from a reputable seller.

Night Blooming Cereus has a rather unorthodox growth pattern that can give it an untidy appearance.

Let’s talk about how to care for this plant.

Watering – Water deeply but only once the soil has dried out in the pot. Using a finger to check the moisture level is a must. I make sure that the potting mix is dried out down several inches before I even consider watering. Also, a drainage hole in the planter is a must. Make sure to provide it a fast-draining potting mix and let all excess water drain out of the pot after watering.

Once you have a plant that is 3-5 years old or older, you can encourage blooms by totally restricting water from November through March. This should also coincide with the lowered winter temperatures (see Temperature requirements). Once you can see flower buds forming on your NBC, resume regular watering.

Light requirements – Bright light is a must for this plant. Too much direct sun can burn those big, beautiful leaves though, so only a few hours of direct sunlight is best.

Best Location in the House – Place your Night Blooming Cereus directly in an East or West facing window and it will love you forever.

Temperature requirements – Like most houseplants, the Night Blooming Cereus will live happily in the same temperatures that we humans like to live in. It can tolerate cold temperatures, but I don’t advise leaving it out in any temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperatures also play a very important role in encouraging blooms for this type of Epiphyllum. Night Blooming Cereus will generally refuse to bloom without a “winter chill period”. To recreate this “chill period” in our homes, we must give this plant night time temperatures that fall in somewhere between 35 and 60 degrees (Fahrenheit) for the winter months (preferably from November to March).

Fertilizer – Dilute fertilizer by half. Apply fertilizer during Spring and Summer and straight into Fall as a general guideline. In the Winter, watering should slow or stop completely (depending on the age of your NBC) so no fertilizer throughout the Winter.

Humidity – Normal household humidity levels are completely appropriate. Night Blooming Cereus is also very tolerant of lower humidity levels, so it’s a great choice for plant parents who don’t keep a humidifier in the house.

Flowers – The Night Blooming Cereus has some of the largest and most dramatic flowers in the houseplant world. Think cactus flowers except even bigger. They are several inches across (some describe them as dinner plate sized), open only at night and have a wonderfully intoxicating scent. That being said, they aren’t terribly easy to bring into bloom especially if you aren’t an experienced plant parent.

Night blooming cereus will not bloom as new plants, they most likely will bloom for the first time somewhere between the ages of 3 and 5 years old. Once you have a plant that is aged 3-5 years, you can modify your watering and temperatures in the winter to encourage your plant to give you those fantastic blooms. (See the Watering and Temperature requirements sections of this article.)

You may have noticed that there is no picture of NBC blooms here. I haven’t put up any pictures of blooms because my plants haven’t given me any blooms yet. My oldest NBC plant is four years old this year and so could potentially give me blooms. It almost certainly won’t because I didn’t really give it low enough temps over the past winter and so I don’t expect to see any blooms this year. When I get blooms, I’ll certainly do a blog and I’ll update this post with a photo too. And I’ll most likely do an Instagram “flex” post too. Teehee.

Insects – Mealy bugs appear to be the most common insect complaint for this plant. Aphids, scale and mites are also a potential threat. I have not had pests on any of my Epiphyllum plants (I’m knocking on wood right now!) which leads me to believe that they are not terribly insect prone.

Diseases – In general, Epiphyllum don’t seem to suffer from many diseases. Soil that holds too much water will be the cause of the diseases you may encounter about 90% of the time. Most commonly those diseases are root rot or fungal leaf spot (see photo below) which can be dangerous to your plant’s overall health.

I’ve been dealing with a bit of Fungal Leaf Spot on one of my NBC plants.

Pruning – The NBC can have crazy and sometimes awkward looking growth patterns. If your plant is growing in an unattractive habit, simply cut away any weird growth. It won’t bother your plant at all. Do take into consideration that the oldest leaves on your plant will be the first ones to bloom. You may not want to cut those more mature stems if blooms are one of your goals.

Propagation – Night blooming Cereus is really easy to propagate, which is lovely. I simply take cuttings. You could also use water to propagate cuttings, or even LECA if that’s your jam. I use soil. I recommend that you do whatever works for you. I’ve never lost a single NBC cutting using soil, so that’s the method I’ll continue using. But again, use whatever method works best for you.

Toxicity – According to the ASPCA, the NBC is non-toxic to cats and dogs. I’ll include a link to the ASPCA site if you’d like to look for yourself. I would also like to caution you that if you have a young child or pet that is interested in touching or chewing on your plants, the NBC can still be a choking hazard just due to the tough texture of its leaves/stems. So if you have a curious pet or child in the home, it’s best to keep your NBC out of their reach.

Link to my Etsy shop, Matilda and Clementine which often (but not always) has rooted Night Blooming Cereus cuttings available.

If this article was helpful to you, make sure to follow this blog. Simply head to the bottom of the Home page of this website, click the Subscribe button and type in your email address. Sharing and liking these articles is also very helpful to us. Thanks for reading!

Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.

Reference for this article:

“Logees” https://www.logees.com 2020. https://www.logees.com/night-blooming-cereus-epiphyllum-oxypetalum.htmlhttps://www.logees.com/night-blooming-cereus-epiphyllum-oxypetalum.html

How to Care For Haworthia tesselata

Haworthias are one of my favorite genus of houseplants. I appreciate that the charms of Haworthias aren’t obvious or flashy like some other succulent houseplants, the Echeverias for example. These are simple plants that are difficult to kill which makes them perfect for new plant parents.

If you are new to Haworthias or have struggled with caring for this plant in the past, this article should give you some guidance. We will discuss; watering, light, best location in the house, temperature, fertilizer, humidity, flowers, insects, diseases, pruning, propagation and toxicity.

Haworthia tessellata has several synomyns including Haworthiopsis venosa ssp. tesselata, Haworthia venosa ssp. tessellata, Haworthiopsis tesselata, Alligator Plant, and Veined Haworthia.

Haworthia venosa ssp. tessellata

Many Haworthias have actually been reclassified as Haworthiopsis including the Haworthia tessellata. So it’s new officially correct name is Haworthiopsis venosa ssp. tessellata. To me the genus name, Haworthiopsis, is completely awkward and confusing. But no one asked for my opinion on the matter. So…

Watering – Water deeply but only once the soil has dried out in the pot. Using a finger to check the moisture level is a must. I make sure that the potting mix is dried out down several inches before I even consider watering. Also, a drainage hole in the planter is a must. Make sure to provide it a fast-draining potting mix and let all excess water drain out of the pot after watering.

It is important to slow down watering this plant during the hottest parts of summer. Haworthias will slow or stop growing during the summer and therefore do not require much water. Be sure to slow or stop watering during this time to prevent root rot.

Light requirements – Medium light is all that is needed for this plant. Direct sun will burn a Haworthia’s leaves. You will know the appropriateness of your light levels just based on the coloration of the leaves. H. tesselata will be green in low/medium light and brown/red in medium/bright light. Direct sunlight is not recommended.

Best Location in the House – Place H. tessellata directly in a North facing window and it will love you forever. If you don’t have a North window in your home, place it a few feet back from an East or West facing window (3-4 feet should be appropriate).

Temperature requirements – Like most houseplants, this Haworthia will live happily in the same temperatures that we humans like to live in. It is natural for Haworthias to “shut down”, so to speak, in the heat of summer. During this shut down they slow down or completely stop growing which helps them endure the oppressive heat of South Africa in summer.

Fertilizer – Dilute fertilizer by half. Apply fertilizer beginning in March as a general guideline. I personally use fertilizer in Spring and Fall, taking a rest from fertilizer in the Summer.

Humidity – Normal household humidity levels are completely appropriate. However, if you own other houseplants that require higher humidity (like I do) and have humidifiers running in your house for those other plants, I would not personally recommend keeping your H. tessellata too close to the humidifier. The more humid its environment, the slower its potting mix will dry out – which can cause root rot.

Flowers – This Haworthia can flower when it’s happy. You will know blooms are coming if you see extremely long stems shoot up from the center of the plant in the Summer. The flowers are just like other Haworthia plants, tiny cylindrical white and green flowers on top of extremely long stems.

Insects – I’ve kept Haworthias for many years now and I’ve never, not once, had pest issues with any of them. I don’t think this is luck because I’ve had many pest issues with other succulent plants. The insects just don’t find Haworthia plants attractive, which makes these basically the perfect houseplants (in my very humble opinion.)

Diseases – The Haworthia genus doesn’t seem to suffer many diseases. If you have lost a Haworthia, it is almost certainly because of root rot.

Pruning – I do not advise pruning your Haworthia. If your Haworthia has a leaf that has died, simply wait for the leaf to dry out completely and pull if off with just your hand. No other pruning is necessary.

Propagation – Haworthia plants do the propagating for us, so that’s nice and easy. They produce offsets or pups which will eventually grow into full sized plants. I prefer to allow Haworthia pups to grow to a decent size before separating them from the parent plant, but that’s a personal preference. Really the only requirement for separating is to make sure that the offset has some roots so that it can survive on its own.

Toxicity – Haworthia plants are non toxic for your dogs, cats and for humans. Animals in Namibia and South Africa search for Haworthia plants which they eat. But they aren’t really eating them for food. They use these plants as a source of water. I love that. Also, that is why many of the Haworthias (including Haworthia tessellata) have those famous “windows” on the tops of their leaves. They have to hide down in the soil to protect themselves from thirsty elephants.

I do want to point out that just because the plant parts of Haworthias are not poisonous for children or animals, they could still potentially be a choking hazard. So if you have a curious child or an animal that enjoys chewing on your houseplants living with you, you should still keep this plant out of reach.

Link to my Etsy shop, Matilda and Clementine which often (but not always) has Haworthia tessellata plants available.

If this article was helpful to you, make sure to follow this blog. Simply head to the bottom of the Home page of this website, click the Subscribe button and type in your email address. Sharing and liking these articles is also very helpful to us. Thanks for reading!

Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.

Products I use and (therefore) recommend:

Planty friends – Feel free to use these links to the products that I use for my houseplants.  I receive a small percentage of any sales through these links, so feel free not to use them if that bothers you.

Horticultural 1/4” pumice – https://amzn.to/2KfcNPT

Horticultural perlite – https://amzn.to/3f9wwvE

Coco coir – https://amzn.to/2UBBiZF

Orchid Bark – Extra small chips – https://amzn.to/38OXWWJ

Orchid Bark – Small chips – https://amzn.to/3kA8HOU

Earthworm castings – https://amzn.to/38TRkGw

Coco Loco potting mix – https://amzn.to/2UHV3OY

GE Balanced Spectrum grow light bulb – https://amzn.to/3fdeAAu

Monios L LED grow lights – 2 ft. – https://amzn.to/391NmeS

Heat Mat (for propagating) – https://amzn.to/2MSezbk

Heat Mat w/ Thermostat – https://amzn.to/2PIjCwc

Bonsai scissors – https://amzn.to/33a6F29

Hygrometer (humidity monitor) – https://amzn.to/32WtiqO

Moisture meter sticks – https://amzn.to/35FR7Vk

Horticultural charcoal – https://amzn.to/2UKOv25

Organic houseplant fertilizer liquid – https://amzn.to/3pIb7ij

Insecticide/Miticide – (many bug sprays don’t kill spider mites, this one does) – https://amzn.to/3pHKREw

Systemic houseplant insecticide – https://amzn.to/36MuoX8

Espoma Rose Tone (fertilizer for roses and flowering perennials) – https://amzn.to/3m8OGkU

Full disclosure – the last four product links will be much cheaper if you can find them in your local garden center.  I’ve put them here so that you can see what they are called and what they look like, but I’d advise that you buy from these links only as a last resort.

References for this article:

“Haworthia venosa subsp. tessellata” http://www.worldofsucculents.com 2013-2020. https://worldofsucculents.com/haworthia-venosa-tessellata-veined-haworthia/

“Haworthia venosa ssp. tessellata” http://www.mountaincrestgardens.com 2020. https://mountaincrestgardens.com/haworthia-venosa-ssp-tessellata/

My Current Favorite Planters

I have been on a bit of a planter buying kick recently. I keep seeing all these amazing handmade pots on Plantstagram and I want one of each. After all, we spend so much time and money growing beautiful plants, it makes sense that we want to display those plants in beautiful pots. I have a few new planters that I’m excited to show you.

Let’s begin with this beauty made by Helen Levi.

I keep my huge Hoya pubicalyx in this planter, but it’s such a crazy grower I had to take it out so that you could see the pot.

Helen throws these planters and many other pottery products in her studio in Brooklyn, New York. Here is a link to her website.

This next artist brings joy and whimsy to your plant collection. Her name is Michelle Allen and I can’t get enough of her planters.

A tiny Syngonium ‘Confetti’ in my Piggy planter

I want to let you know that these planters are Michelle Allen’s designs, but are made from resin. She then hand paints them before shipping them to you. I like the resin planters. They are much more lightweight than heavy ceramics or terra cotta. I really appreciate that Michelle sends each planter with a plastic stopper in the drain hole so that you can choose to plant your houseplant directly in the planter or as I generally do, you can keep your plant in its plastic nursery pot inside another (decorative) cache pot. Here is a link to Michelle Allen’s website.

The next planters that I’m currently loving are not handmade or ceramic. Instead they are the plastic planters made by the Lechuza company.

I’ll just say it, I’m all in with the Lechuza self-watering planters. They are keeping my houseplants really happy. As you may already know, I wanted to start using these planters just for my more “thirsty” plants so that I could keep them alive. (I freely admit to being an inconsistent plant waterer.) But the self-watering planters have been so successful that I’ve branched out and begun using them for plants that I hadn’t originally planned to use. Like my beloved Hoyas, for instance. Besides the wonderful growing results these planters have given me, they are also have many different styles and designs so that you can easily find some that fit in with your aesthetic. Here is a link to the Cube planter by Lechuza. If you are interested in the Playmobil head planters (called “Ojo”) here is a link to the Lechuza website.

The last planters on my list are not new at all. Lately, I’ve been searching Ebay for planters made by the McCoy company. This little succulent planter is most likely from the 1950’s.

The McCoy company had its factory just a few miles from where I live in Ohio. When I discovered a few years ago that this company made many different planter designs including small animal planters, I was delighted. The animal planters they produced are mostly small and surprisingly detailed. They’re perfect for my succulent plants. Sadly, I cannot give you a link for the McCoy company because they have been out of business for decades. But if you like to shop for antiques you could likely find some of these pretty pots. Also I shop on Ebay if I’m looking for a particular size or style of pot by the McCoy pottery company.

I hope you are all doing well! Take care and love each other.

If you enjoyed this blog, make sure to subscribe to our website. Simply go to the Homepage, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the subscribe button.

If you’d like to watch a video showing my newest Lechuza planters in more detail, watch our YouTube video New Lechuza Planters.

If you’d like to see me planting Zigzag Cactus (Epiphyllum anguliger) in my newest Lechuza planter, you can watch my story highlights on Instagram – liquidambar_girl.

Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.