This is Seriously Not Okay


On Friday I had a photo of my tropical hibiscus,  looking a little sad but otherwise healthy.

This cyclamen, however,  has an issue. What’s interesting is that I can’t see any visible problem.  That’s even worse.

Last summer it had aphids quite severely (the summer of 2016.) It hasn’t bloomed since then, although its leaves have been generally healthy.

Now this first flower in well over a year appears and it looks like this. Hmm.

I know that cyclamen are prone to mites but I would think that the leaves would be similarly stunted.

I will just have to watch the plant for more clues before I treat it.


Are My House Plants Okay?


It’s winter. And in winter, the glorious house plants you had over the summer suddenly start looking well–not so glorious anymore,  right? But how do you know what’s okay and what’s trouble?

Remember this hibiscus from a couple of weeks ago? It was loaded with pink flowers. Now? Nothing. Even the leaves look flat and dull.

All of that is okay because it’s December. It’s the darkest,  coldest time of year. What you want to watch for is what they call “stippling” on the leaves. That would indicate the presence of a sucking insect,  most likely spider mites, which are so tiny they’re almost impossible to see. Aphids can also cause this.

Honeydew, or a sap-like substance, also usually indicates insects.  It can mean scale (a brown coated creature) or aphids as well.

But just this general “malaise” means my very tropical hibiscus has the winter blues. Who doesn’t occasionally get that–especially if you’re a tropical plant?

House Plants in Winter


I suspect that some gardeners in temperate climates are grateful for a “winter break.” I know that others spend winter poring over seed and plant catalogs,  dreaming about next year’s garden.  Before they know it, seed starting time is here and gardening season has begun.

For me, gardening never ends. I just transition it indoors.  And with a couple of hundred house plants,  it really can feel like gardening year round–sometimes distressingly so if those plants have a plague of something.

But for the most part,  careful watching helps avoid that–and the plants are a joy, not a problem.


This year (for a change) I added to my “Christmas cactus” collection.  They now overflow two bay windows!  Next year I will likely have plants in bloom from October through February.  Now those are wonderful winter plants!


I will talk more about what to do–and how to keep your house plant collection interesting–over the next few weeks.  In the meantime,  enjoy some of my zygocacti photos.

Time for a Shower


What? I know some people who shower with pets to give them baths. But showering with plants?

Actually I have been known to take my air plants into the shower with me for a quick watering but that clearly is not what’s happening here.  And although it may be TMI, I didn’t shower with these plants.  They didn’t even shower together.  I brought them up and showered them off one at a time.  This photo just shows them drying.

So what’s going on? Well, this.


I first saw this–spider mites, I suspect–about a month ago. This is a pair of leaves from the plant that is the much larger of the two.

At that time, I just wiped all the leaves off and vowed to take a look again in a few weeks. Sure enough, they’re back.  And while they don’t look much like–or behave like–traditional spider mites, meaning that there are no telltale webs, this is very clearly an insect infestation.

So, once I decided that, I grabbed the other plant that had been near this plant when it was outside.  Sure enough,  same sort of little critter. That’s when I decided they both needed a shower to wash all these pests away.

Clearly I will need to watch these 2 plants–and all those around them–for reinfestation. But so long as I don’t mind giving the plants a shower, I think everything’s under control.

Like the Children’s Game: Are These The Same?



Perhaps you can tell just by placement on the table that these two plants are not the same.  But it goes beyond that.

These are two different  schlumbergeria cultivars. The top one is called ” Scarlet Dancer.” The bottom one is “Dark Marie.”

And there are obvious differences. Despite its name, Dark Marie has more white in its flower. It also has a very subtle fuchsia edge on its petals.


You can see the distinct fuchsia tinge on its buds ( no, that’s not a reflection from the house plant next to it–it really is fuchsia tinged).

This isn’t true for Scarlet Dancer.  Its buds are just plain red with a hint of fuchsia only at the base. 20171119_114551

Maybe this isn’t so much like the children’s game after all if you learn how to look at flowers and buds.