The New House Plant Pet Rock?


Remember this photo from Wednesday? Did you recognize it as a marimo moss ball?

Depending on your point of view, these are some of the coolest things going, or they are the house plant equivalent of the “pet rock” from a few decades back.

I have the one above on my desk at home. It’s actually kind of nice to look at. There are surprising variations in it, and little air bubbles form–it’s not quite as static as one would believe.


These are some others. You can see that they come in various sizes. You can get them from plant companies or aquarium suppliers. That’s where these came from. I thought that I would try them with my fish but no. All she does is make a mess of her tank with them. So they are now my plant pet rocks,

These balls of moss are harvested from different lakes in northern parts of the world. Try to find a supplier that claims yours is sustainably harvested because–with this suddenly becoming a “thing”–these moss balls are declining.

They are slow growing–the smaller ones that you see are supposedly 6-8 years old, so you can see why sustainability might become an issue.

And like most moss, they do not want to be in direct sunlight. Bright indirect light only for these guys.

If, however, you want a plant that has proven harder than an air plant to kill, (at least for me) this might be right for you.

The Great House Plant Migration

It’s that time of year again. Night time temperatures have dropped into the 50s (farenheit) so it’s time for any house plants (and at my house, that’s a good number of them) to return indoors for the long winter’s nap, so to speak.

Whenever I lecture on house plants, I get the question about bringing “things” in with my plants. For those of you who have been following this blog for long time, you may remember the time that I brought a bird in inside a very dense hanging basket!

That’s the only “thing” that’s ever come in that was unwanted–and thank goodness, it cooperated by remaining in the basket while I took it back outside!

So, with that out of the way, what do I do to bring in the plants? Generally, I wash off the pots–and sometimes the plants, if I have had an issue with insects when the plants went outside–then I will set their saucers or trays in place and bring them in.


What that means is that windows that once looked open and airy all summer now look like this. And I can no longer water with a hose. Ah well. Only 9 months until they can go back outside.

Is It or Isn’t It?

This post actually ties together 2 things I have been thinking about: patterns in foliage and misidentification of plants online.

Lately I have been seeing so many plants being misidentified online. It seems to be happening when folks use stock photos. There’s nothing wrong with stock photos–they are significantly better than mine!

In certain instances, it might indicate carelessness on the part of the writer, or lack of knowledge. So be careful: writers need to know their plants–please!

And we all get tired on occasion. I perpetually confuse hyacinth and hydrangea when I am speaking. I can be looking right at the shrub “hydrangea” and call it the bulb “hyacinth” or vice versa. It’s my own personal issue.

Online, one of real confusions I see is between pothos and philodendron–and plants that are neither. So here we go.


This is philodendron ‘Brasil’. It is a true heart-leaf philodendron. You can actually see the heart shaped leaves in the photo.


This is a pothos. I believe the cultivar is Marble Queen, but don’t quote me. Botanically it is epipremnum aureum ‘Marble Queen.’ You’ll notice that the leaves are also heart shaped but both they, and the stems are thicker.


You may see this plant referred to as either neon pothos or neon philodendron. Technically, botanically, it is epipremnum aureum, which would make it a pothos.


While we’re confusing things, here is a plant sold as a pothos, satin pothos. This isn’t a pothos and it’s not an epipremnum. Confused yet? It is scindapsus pictus hybrid.

So when I call for clarity in plant names–and using the correct photos–it’s only in an attempt help folks learn what they’re growing so that they can do it well.

Patterns in Foliage


Indoors or out, I am a huge fan of “patterns” on my leaves. You may remember my maranta montage for Wordless Wednesday just 2 days ago. I showed 4 different versions of the same patterned leaf plant–except that all the patterns were different, of course.

Marantas and calatheas are plants that are having a bit of a moment right now despite the fact that they can be a little difficult. They prefer warmer temperatures, need more humidity than a lot of our house plants, and some of them have an annoying habit of losing almost all their leaves at times before refoliating. As if that isn’t enough, they’re prone to mites. But if you know all that, you can watch for their tendencies and stop problems before they start.

I am a firm believer that plants need to look interesting in most seasons. Marantas and calatheas manage to do that if you can keep them healthy. They’re worth the effort.

What’s Wrong with This Picture?


Remember this plant from Wednesday? It’s a “lobby” plant from a small commercial office building where I go to get my hair cut. Colloquially known as ZZ plant, this plant regularly makes lists of “world’s easiest house plants.”


Really? Okay, here’s my version of the same plant. As I always say, here’s where you know that I am an organic gardener because the plant isn’t overly fertilized or watered. In other words, no excessive inputs.

I have had the plant probably 3 years. And while it is still living, I surely wouldn’t say it is one of my prettiest plants, one of my hardier ones or even one of the easier care. The thing falls over out of its pot several times a year–at best, an annoying trait. I can’t say it’s my favorite plant.

Maybe if my plant looked more like the “lobby” plant, I would like it a lot more.