Monthly Archives: March 2017

How To Tell If A Plant Is Healthy

Plants are expensive and the last thing you want is for your beautiful new plant to keel over and die shortly after you bring it home. Even lush, full plants can develop problems fairly quickly, but knowing how to tell if a plant is healthy may prevent trouble down the road. Healthy Plant Selection Learning the signs of a healthy plant is the first step in ensuring its overall success. Choosing healthy plants involves looking closely at all parts of the plant, beginning with the most obvious part – the leaves.

Foliage growth – A healthy plant should have plenty of healthy new growth. With the exception of plants with bi-colored or variegated leaves, most plants should display green leaves with bright, even color. Don’t buy a plant if the leaves are pale. Avoid plants with yellowing or brown leaves, or if the leaves look brown and dry along the edges. Signs of a healthy plant include a full, bushy growth habit. Avoid long, leggy plants and, instead, choose compact, sturdy plants. Watch out for plants that look like they have been pruned; this may indicate that diseased or damaged stems have been removed to make the plant look healthier. Pests and disease – Look closely for signs of pests and disease. Check the undersides of the leaves and the joints where the stem attach to the leaves, as this is where common pests are often found such as: Aphids Spider mites Scale Mealybugs Roots – Healthy roots are signs of a healthy plant. Roots are difficult to see when a plant is in a pot, but you can definitely tell if the plant is rootbound. For example, pick up the plant and look at the drainage hole. If you notice roots growing through the hole, the plant has been in that pot too long. Another big sign that a plant is rootbound is roots growing on top of the potting mix. A rootbound plant isn’t always a bad thing if the plant is otherwise healthy because it demonstrates that the plant is actively growing. However, keep in mind that if you buy a rootbound plant, you will have to repot it soon.

Rules You Should Resolve to Break

Grandmas: They’re known for their baking skills, money-saving secrets, and their innate ability to keep us happy and healthy, but stylish shoes? Not always. Until now, that is.

Merrell Hambleton, a writer for The Strategist, New York magazine’s destination for online shopping expertise, swears she’s found the perfect pair of comfortable yet completely fashionable sandals and—get this—she calls them “grandma” shoes.

Hambleton spent years searching for sandals that would both support and flatter her flat feet. After failed attempts with Birkenstocks, Worishofer’s, and Salt-Water sandals, which she claims made her feet “spread out like small, undercooked pancakes,” she spotted a “particularly stylish friend” sporting the summer footwear of her dreams. Made of rubber and elastic, the wide-strap sandals had a short heel and “chunky, toothy soles” that gave them an “athletic edge.”

The company’s founder, Neely Woodson Powell, first met the fourth-generation cobbler she collaborated with to bring the shoes to the U.S. when she was a student visiting Mexico in 1996. According to, San Miguel de Allende is the “shoe capital” of Mexico; Powell quickly realized that the cobbler’s simple design had become a favorite among locals.

Here’s why, in Hambleton’s words, every woman needs a pair of grandma sandals for summer:

The broad, elastic straps cover just enough of your feet to make them look trim and minimize any “side squish.” Four of your five toes and just a hint of “toe cleavage” (this is a terrible term, but trust me, it’s desirable) peek out at the front. Walk in them. Run in them. Never take a cab again in them — they really do feel like sneakers.

Tips And Guidelines For Shipping Live Plants By Mail

Plant sharing is a big hobby on gardener’s forums and for collectors of specific species. Shipping plants by mail requires careful packaging and preparation of the plant. Mailing garden plants across the country is fairly easy to do, but the best way is to choose the fastest method for your plant to travel. Also, check to see if it is legal to ship to the jurisdiction you have in mind; some areas have laws and limitations. Knowing how to ship plants and the best way to box them up for a trading experience will enrich you and the receiver at the end of the line. Guidelines for Shipping Live Plants Sending plants through mail successfully depends upon careful packing as well as acclimating the plant and sending it with enough water to survive several days. Plants that get sent to hot regions or are shipped in winter will benefit from some insulation. You can use the U.S. Postal Service or any of the shipping companies that fit your needs. Either way, you can learn how to package them for best arrival and least breakage.

There are four basic guidelines for shipping live plants. Preparing the plant, packing the plant, labeling and choosing a shipping company and speed are the primary important aspects to shipping plants by mail. Preparing The Plant For Shipping Preparation starts with removing the plant from soil and shaking off the excess. But do not wash the roots as some residual soil will help provide familiar microbes from the plant’s native soil and will make the transition easier for the plant. Wrap the roots with several moist paper towels and put the bundle in a plastic bag. If the trip will be long, add a couple of teaspoons of polymer moisture crystals to water to make a slurry and apply this to the roots before the plastic bag. Stabilize any errant growth to prevent breakage with plant ties, rubber bands or twist ties. You can also just roll the plant in some newspaper to protect the tops and stems. Packing The Plant Choose a box sturdy enough to handle rough treatment when mailing garden plants. Boxes literally get kicked and thrown and dropped. You need your plant to arrive in one piece, so pick a box that can take a licking. Also, choose one just barely big enough for the plant to fit inside so it doesn’t have room to move around during handling. Extra cushioning is a good idea if there is any extra room inside the box. Use newspaper, shredded bills, or foam to fill any pockets. If you are worried about the handling of the box, reinforce the edges with strapping tape. Lastly, don’t forget to place a tag or label inside with the name of the plant. If you are sending plants through mail that are potted, use bubble wrap to protect the pot and the roots. A collar of cardboard over the soil and around the base of the plant, followed by a plastic bag closed around the base of the plant will help keep the soil in the container. Stand the plant upright if possible, making sure to mark “This End Up” on the box, and pack around it. Remember though, that shipping the container and soil will greatly increase the cost of shipping the plant. Labeling Put a label on the outside that says “Live Plant” and “Perishable” so they know to treat it with a modicum of gentleness. While it is no guarantee that this will prevent abuse to the box, it may win over a few package handlers to take extra care. Shipping guidelines today also require that you include a return address as well as the shipping address on the outside. If you are reusing a box that previously was used for shipping, make sure to remove or black out all old labels so that the package is not accidentally shipped to the wrong location.