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.

For millions of years, this planet did well without agricultural chemicals. For roughly a single century (unfortunately, this one) we have done a lot of damage interfering with the natural processes. Nonetheless, in 1982, when Keeping Them Alive was published, the idea on tending to house plants without using chemicals was a novel idea.

The last 100 copies of this pioneering classic (now in its second printing) are being offered directly by the author and publisher. Years ahead of its time, Keeping Them Alive introduced thousands of readers around the globe to caring for houseplants without the use of chemicals. This may be your last opportunity to own a Canadian classic. Keeping Them Alive will not be reprinted!

Randall Prue, Plant Doctor,
Author of Keeping Them Alive
Service by Appointment: 514-984-4385

About Keeping Them Alive

From Canadian Garden News

Reviewer: Larry Hodgson
"The author has had a great deal of experience with interiorscaping... and much of the material is therefore based on first-hand experience with foliage plants in an indoor environment... By far the most interesting and original aspect of this book is the author's effort to always point out "natural" treatments for ailing houseplants... one of the few Canadian gardening books that doesn't read like it was completely lifted from an American or British publication. Rating: ***"

From Victoria Times-Colonist
Reviewer: Helen Chesnut
"... most comprehensive and congenial houseplant manual... This author strongly advocates a houseplant care program that is simple, reliable and safe... down-to-earth and entertaining style... clearly and pleasantly laid out."

A 106-page guide to the care of houseplants without the use of chemicals!

Upon request, this pioneering classic (now in its second printing) can be inscribed by the author. Please specify name and inscription request.

Years ahead of its time, Keeping Them Alive introduced thousands of Canadians to caring for houseplants without the use of chemicals. This may be your last opportunity to own a Canadian classic. Keeping Them Alive will not be reprinted!

Excerpt: From the Introduction

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.

I hope your plant care program is not what I've just described. My plant care program is much simpler, extremely reliable, and it is safe. Before you do anything to your plants, you must know why you are doing it and what effect it will have. Some of the items mentioned above are beneficial, if properly applied, at the right time. Of the hundreds of products available for plant care, there are only a handful that I would use on my plants or yours. Many of them are harmful to the plants, to you, to your children or to your pets.

My first goal is to give you an understanding of the vital functions of plant growth.

Excerpt: Prayer Plant

Maranta leuconeura kerchoveana (rabbit-track plant) and Maranta leuconeura massangeana (fishbone plant)
are both from tropical America. Rabbit-track has red spots which resemble rabbit paw marks, and fishbone has a definite pattern of fish bones.

As if these were not enough to make the plant unusual, it folds its leaves at night, resembling hands in prayer.

It grows under other plants in its natural habitat in moist rich soil and is therefore best kept in warm moist air (18 - 24 degrees Celsius [around 72 degrees Fahrenheit]), in moist soil and in partial shade. Bright light will produce very nice growth, but full sun will burn its leaves.

This is an excellent plant for a terrarium, because it remains small and likes a close atmosphere. Outside a terrarium it is prone to dry brown leaf tips. I use Prayer plants in arrangements and on low tables where their colourful foliage is most visible. They grow very slowly and never become tall. After some time, a Prayer plant will spread and hang. New plants spring up from the roots, making the pot fuller.

Repotting into PHILODENDRON SOIL in a larger pot will give it room to continue producing more plants. It can be divided and stem cuttings can be rooted. A Prayer plant can be cut back to soil level if it has become leggy or unattractive. It will produce new growth from its roots. I once discarded a Prayer plant that had died. I emptied the pot into a plastic bag to add to a compost pile the following spring. I found it months later, growing. The growth was white, resembling an onion shot. I had forgotten what it was, but potted it to see what it would do. A few weeks later I was surprised by a nice little Prayer plant.

Frequent misting is very good for Prayer plants which are not in terrariums. Before the soil is dry it should be watered. Experts recommend that in winter (November to February) a Prayer plant should be allowed to dry a little more. They are susceptible to mites, mealybugs and scale.

More Reviews

From Charles Scribner's Sons, Publishers
Reviewer: Maron L. Waxman, Executive Editor
"It was good to meet you... at the Garden Writer's conference...
This is surely a sound and well-organized book, with easily accessible information."

From Owen Sound Sun Times
Reviewer: Jack Hinde
"...very interesting book! It is written for Canadians... contains no foreign or technical terminology... answers, in layman's terms, the questions that are most often asked of Randall... shares his knowledge and experiences... deals with the specific needs of the most common houseplants, including the solutions to the most common problems."

From Safer Agro-Chem Ltd.
inventors of Safer's Insecticidal Soap
Reviewer: S.F. Condrashoff, Technical Director
"Congratulations on creating a practical, easy-to-read manual on care of interior plants!"

The Royal Botanical Gardens, New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, highly educated horticultural and literary experts and readers from around the globe have purchased my book. What are you waiting for?

Click here to buy it now.