Since 1970, the ultimate in natural plant care. Caring for your plants by appointment.

2010 marks the 40th anniversary of the now-famous Plant Doctor "house call".

All-natural, always has been, always will be. I blend long-lasting, slow-release, natural fertilizers (based on your plants' needs). This service is available only to my house-call customers.

Gaia Green

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Magenta Christmas Cactus

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Introduction: Keeping Them Alive

Keeping Them Alive Title PageTitle Page. Click to enlarge.

If you followed the advice of friends, florists, authors and package labels, your plant care program would be something like this:

  • Your plants would all be potted in 50% soil and 50% cat litter. You would then add peat moss, vermiculite and perlite, whether the soil needed it or not. Half of each pot would be taken up with stones, clay shards, moss and charcoal.

  • You'd be feeding your plants gelatin, egg shells, tea leaves, coffee grinds, dish soap, dead leaves, aspirin, beer and maybe some instant fertilizer drops, containing mostly water. You'd be greasing the leaves with mayonnaise, milk, margarine, baby oil or plant-shine containing silicone.

  • If, in spite of all this attention, a leaf turned yellow or developed a brown spot, you would buy a can of something pre-mixed, toxic and easy-to-use, and spray the plant with it. You would periodically perform a "preventive" insecticide spray.
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Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) from India, Africa

Bird's Nest Sansevieria in Decorative ContainerConsidered to be "plain", the use of a colorful pot has made this bird's nest (Sansevieria 'Hahnii') highly decorative. Photo by Randall Prue.Also known as mother-in-law's tongue, and also available in a compact rosette form (shown here) commonly known as bird's nest!

This article is based on the topic (Sansevieria) in Keeping Them Alive, but contains additional "bonus" material not available in 1982. The photo at left is a bird's nest (Hahnii) sansevieria that I have grown for many years (it was once a tiny thing with only a few leaves in a single rosette). Recently I decided to put the multi-colored decorative cache-pot to use, and the sansevieria happened to fit. I find that they go very well together.

Succulent Sansevieria is one of the most common house plants, one that you would have seen decades ago at a time when only a handful of green plants were found in the average home (at a time when outdoor greenery was more common, and the need for indoor greenery was less important than it is today).

Many varieties are cultivated or indoor use (over 130 according to the International Sansevieria Society), largely because of their different patterns and colors, which can be very striking. ranging from white-edged to deep green (like the one shown here), passing through various pale greens and yellows. The "snake" variety (not shown here) grows straight up until it falls from its own weight (at about 1 metre, just over 3 feet). All varieties have fleshy leaves (think succulent/cactus), which allows them to stand straight and tall.

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