houseplants I have a shocking confession to make… Believe it or not, I’m relatively new to growing houseplants.

Yep, it’s true.

As a horticulturist, I’ve focused my career almost solely on outdoor plants with only the occasional foray into growing a houseplant or two. To be honest, I was almost embarrassed to admit that I didn’t have a house filled with plants.

However, with my life being so altered with Covid-19 and spending a lot more time at home, I’ve decided to change a few things. For one, I’m cooking more, creating more online gardening classes, and adding some houseplants to the inside of my home.

You may have seen a lot more interest in houseplants lately. Honestly, they have exploded in popularity and with good reason. People like the idea of being a ‘plant parent’ while enjoying the beauty and air-cleaning benefits of growing plants indoors.

pink-moon-botanicals-houseplant-nursery

There are countless different types of plants suitable for growing indoors.

Quite frankly, I am ready to embark on a new gardening adventure and I’m going to share it with you. To help me with my ‘plant parent’ journey, I visited Lora at Pink Moon Botanicals, located in North Scottsdale, AZ. This boutique houseplant nursery is located within Lora’s hair salon.

The shelves are lined with a healthy variety of houseplants in different sizes suitable for variety of growing conditions. Lora, is simply wonderful and provided me with helpful tips as to how to raise my new plant. Philodendron 'Birkin' Lora chose a lovely Philodendron ‘Birkin’, which will thrive in the moderate light that hits my kitchen table.

It’s important to select a plant based on the light exposure available in your home – much like we do for outdoor plants. So, look at what areas you want to add a houseplant and see what type of light is available. There are low, moderate, and high light conditions within most interiors.

Low light

No bright light available.

Moderate light

Bright light, but no direct sun.

Sunny light

Area with direct sun for at least part of the day There are many houseplants able to do well within each different light situation. If you have a particularly dark space where you want a plant, look into adding artificial lighting.

*Note: As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Houseplant-Party-Lisa-Steinkopf To help me on my houseplant journey, I read the fabulous NEW book, “Houseplant Party” by Lisa Steinkopf. This book is available to pre-order, at the time of me writing this post. I received a free copy to review. Lisa breaks down how to grow houseplants into simple steps and lists her favorites.

She also shows how to create fun projects to highlight the houseplants in your home. One project I may do is to create wooden frames so I can hang houseplants on my walls. I enjoy exploring new things and am excited about gradually expanding my houseplant collection. However, I think I’m off to a great start with my Philodendron ‘Birkin’, don’t you? Do you have a favorite houseplant or have any tips you’d like to share? Share it with me on Instagram and tag me @az.plant.lady – I’d love to see them!

air plants on old plant roots

Old creosote roots with air plants

Air plants are both unique in their shapes as well as their relatively easy care. You have undoubtedly seen these fun plants in all sorts of places. I see them cropping up on home decorating sites, Pinterest, gift shops and much more. It’s easy to see why they are so popular as they add a fun design element to your indoor space.

Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support in this way.

small air plants

A variety of small air plants

I have a special fondness for air plants as they are easy to care for. I confess that I don’t always do well with houseplants (don’t tell anyone else). However, I am able to grow air plants with relative ease, which is why I was excited to review the book, Living With Air Plants.

book about air plants

This book is a one-stop resource for anyone who wants to delve into adding air plants to their own indoor space as it covers all of the information that you need including:

Propagation

Care

How to Display and Use

Easy Air Plants to Grow

 

arranged air plants on a shelf

Air plants arranged on a shelf

The distinct shapes of air plants create interest wherever they are added such as on a desk or a plant shelf.

Air plants attached to a piece of twine

Tiny air plants arranged along a string of twine

My favorite part of the book is all the different ways it shows you to arrange air plants. The authors have very creative ideas for incorporating air plants inside the home in tabletop arrangements, terrariums, hanging art and much more.

different-types-of-air-plants

Guidelines for the care of air plants is addressed in this book and yes, they really don’t need to be planted in the soil. Plus, they get what they need from being sprayed with water!

There are countless different varieties of air plants and easy to grow species are listed toward the end of the book to help ensure your enjoyment and success with growing these cool plants.

*I was provided a free copy of Living With Air Plants for my honest review.

It’s Day 3 of our garden gift ideas and today it’s all about books.

Gardening in the Southwest can be challenging because many of the traditional gardening rules and plants just don’t work here and traditional garden literature often ignores the unique opportunities and challenges that our arid climate presents. A good book that focuses on our distinct region can become an invaluable tool. As a garden writer, I know many garden authors and have been asked to review many books, and I include my top eight with you.

As a garden writer, I’ve been asked to review some garden books and know several of the authors personally and can attest to their expertise in gardening in the Southwest.

*This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). 

 

1. Southwest Fruit & Vegetable Gardening

Our dry climate is an ideal region for growing fruits and vegetables because we have fewer insect pests and disease than more temperate areas. From apples, peaches, to citrus – many types of fruit can be grown here. Vegetable gardening is a favorite pastime of mine, and due to our relatively mild winters, we can grow them throughout the entire year. Tucson native, Jacqueline Soule, teaches you how to create your own edible, southwestern garden. Click here to order. 

2. Gardening In The Deserts of Arizona

Mary Irish is one of my favorite authors and worked for years at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Her books are what I like to refer to as the ‘bible’ of growing ornamental plants in the Southwest. From lists of plants that grow well in our climate to how to maintain them each month, this book is a must-have for new (and old) desert gardeners. She has written several books, but this is a good one to start with as it breaks down how to care for your garden. I met her at a conference in California and found her utterly charming and down to earth. Click here to order. 

3. Lawn Gone

Austin, Texas resident, Pam Penick, is well known for her blog, Digging, as well as her frequent contributions to a variety of gardening magazines. Her approach is saving water in the garden by removing or minimizing lawn areas, with an emphasis on simple and creative design solutions. I am fortunate to call Pam my friend and have toured gardens with her in Arizona and California. I’ve owned this book for several years, and it still ranks as one of my favorites. Click here to order. 

4. Potted

Earlier this year, I was contacted by Annette and asked to review her book. She and Mary own a trendy garden shop in Los Angeles that focuses on outdoor accessories and design services. As its title suggests, this book focuses on instructing readers on how to create unique containers using everyday items. The results are eye-catching and add a welcome design element to garden spaces. This book is for those on your list who like to be on the cutting edge of gardening trends. Click here to order. 

5. Growing Vegetables in Drought, Desert, and Dry Times

If you or someone on your gift list like to grow vegetables, this is an invaluable book that speaks specifically to grow an edible garden in an arid climate. Tips for maximizing your harvest while managing water is an important skill to learn and the author draws upon her experience of living and gardening in the desert regions of California. Grouping this book along with packets of vegetable seeds and a raised bed kit, would be a much-appreciated gift for a beginning vegetable gardener. Click here to order. 

6. Homegrown Herb Garden

Herbs are very easy to grow and flourish in arid climates. I grow them in pots, in my vegetable garden, as well as indoors. One of the authors, Ann McCormick, also known as the ‘Herb n’ Cowgirl’ has a blog by the same name. This book provides helpful growing tips along with how to use them to flavor your favorite dishes making it a great choice for the gardener and cook on your list. Click here to order yours.

7. Trees and Shrubs for the Southwest

Many gardening books contain smaller lists of plants, but this Mary Irish book has comprehensive lists of shrubs and trees that flourish in the Southwest. It delves beyond the often repeated plant palette of bougainvillea, oleander, and Texas sage, and goes further into the impressive variety of plants that can grow here. This book is a thoughtful choice for those who want to learn more about the plants that can grow in our arid climate. Click here to order.

8. The Water-Saving Garden

This book holds a special place for me because of the author, Pam Penick, who made a journey to visit me in Arizona while researching her book. We spent an entire day together visiting gardens throughout the greater Phoenix area (including mine), covering over one-hundred-fifty miles. Many of the photos that she took that day are in the book, which as its title suggests, focuses on how to create lovely gardens that don’t need a lot of water. Click here to order. 

All of these books will serve to inspire and teach the gardener on your list, how to create a beautiful garden that will thrive in the arid Southwest climate.

Want more ideas? Check out Day 1 and Day 2 of my garden gift ideas. 

Tomorrow, I’ll share my picks for garden gifts for kids

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Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support in this way.

Do you have a container, or two, filled with flowers or maybe a succulent? Chances are you do. Many of us settle for the bland shades of brown or beige when choosing pots and miss out on an excellent opportunity to add interest and color to our outdoor spaces.

I am a strong proponent ditching boring neutrals in favor of colorful pots with unique shapes and textures in my ongoing attempt to encourage people to think of plant containers as outdoor decor. As a result, I was thrilled with I was contacted by Annette Gutierrez, one of the authors of Potted: Make Your Own Stylish Garden Containers and asked to review her book.

Innertube from an old tire converted into a planter at the Tucson Botanical Garden.

Within the pages of Potted, Annette and her co-author, Mary Gray, inspire as they show the reader how to create unique and unusual containers that create instant interest.

During my garden travels, I seek everyday items that are reimagined and converted into unorthodox planters such as a recycled tire innertube. 

Annette and Mary refer to themselves as decorators rather than gardeners and own a store in Los Angeles, aptly named Potted where they create innovative receptacles for plants using everyday items such as cinderblock, PVC pipe, and even old wood doors to name but a few. 

If you have ever shopped for colorful or unique containers, you’ve undoubtedly experienced sticker shock at the high prices and settled for a boring, but sturdy terra-cotta pot. Over twenty container ideas await the reader, each of which, meet the following criteria:

  • It must be affordable
  • Materials must be easy to find
  • A good DIY project for the average person

I must admit that after finishing the book, I was looking at ordinary items like paint cans and plastic garbage pails in a different light – decorated and filled with plants.

I can hardly wait to get started! How about you?

Disclosure: I received a copy of ‘Potted’ free of charge for my honest review.

As a garden writer and horticulturist, I am often asked to review new gardening books, which is one of my favorite things to do; especially if the books are about growing plants in the desert.

Years ago, there were precious few books that dealt with the unique challenges and solutions to creating a beautiful outdoor space in a hot, arid climate. Nowadays, there are several books that focus on desert gardening, but most just scratch the surface of how to do it. When I was contacted by The Desert Botanical Garden to see if I would review their new book, Desert Landscape School: A Guide to Desert Landscaping and Maintenance, I said yes.

The origins of the book arose from the Desert Landscape School at the gardens, which offers classes for individuals who are interested in specializing in certain aspects of desert landscaping. Graduates earn a certification in one or more areas, including desert plant palette, planting and maintenance, and desert design. A large group of experts was brought together in the creation of this book, including many that work in the garden.

Thumbing through my copy, I looked to see how the information was laid out and whether it addressed common landscape dilemmas that are unique to desert gardening. As you may expect, a book from this prestigious garden didn’t disappoint. I found myself reading through its pages and reliving my early days as a horticulturist learning not only the basics of arid gardening principles but also strategies and tips for growing plants that I didn’t learn until later.

This book is for those who want to learn the reasons why we garden the way we do in the desert to more fully understand it. There is also valuable information regarding plant selection, design, sustainability, installation guidelines, and how to properly maintain the landscape. 

I’ve always said that “gardening in the desert isn’t hard, it’s just different” and the book offers practical tips that make growing plants in an arid climate, easier. For example, connecting tree wells using swales and gravity to allow rain water to flow to where it’s needed instead of down the street.

For those of you who have read my blog for awhile, you won’t be surprised to learn that I was interested in the pruning and maintenance section, as I am passionate about teaching people correct pruning practices. One illustration that grabbed my attention was the right and wrong way to prune palm trees.

Badly pruned palm trees

I had taken this photo a couple of weeks ago of palm trees that had been pruned incorrectly with too many fronds removed. Overpruning weakens the tree and leaves it open to other stresses, which the book addresses.

The structure of the book is set up so that each section can be read on its own, so readers can focus on what they are interested in learning most. Of course, I recommend reading the entire book as it contains invaluable information which leaves the reader well-informed and confident in their ability to garden successfully in the desert southwest as well as other desert regions.

Desert Landscaping & Maintenance is truly a one-of-a-kind book that serves the role of several desert gardening books in one, and I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of this brand new desert gardening guide.

Right now, the book is available for purchase for visitors to The Desert Botanical Garden or you can buy it online.

*This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support in this way.

I love to can fruit, and so I was very excited when the publishers of The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes asked me to test a recipe from their book, free of charge, for my honest review. 

My love affair with canning began a few years ago when I made my first batch of jam, under the guidance of my mother and I have never looked back.

The inspiration for me wanting to learn how to can food came with the family farm, which had a mini-orchard filled with apple, peach, and plum trees.  Since then, I’ve made blackberry, peach, plum, and strawberry jams as well as applesauce.

In fact, I enjoyed canning so much, that I planted apple and peach trees in my garden.

I must admit that it took me a long time to decide what recipe to choose because all of them were so tempting.  Who wouldn’t want to make blueberry-lemon jam, grapefruit marmalade, raspberry-lemonade jam, or vanilla bean-citrus marmalade?

In addition to creative jam recipes, there are also many delicious recipes for preserving fruits and vegetables as well as savory selections.

In the end, I chose to make a variation of nectarine-sour cherry jam.  

For this recipe, you could use blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or even strawberries in place of the sour cherries.  Because my husband and kids love blueberries, that’s what I chose.

Isn’t the color combination beautiful?

As it cooked, the jam mixture began to turn a delicious shade of purple.

Once the jam was finished cooking, I poured it into sterilized mason jars and processed it in a boiling water canner.

Now, I have seven jars filled with delicious jam for my morning toast.

It’s important to note that the cookbook doesn’t have a beginners section for those learning how to can and preserve fruit and vegetables – its focus is more on creative, canning recipes.

The equipment needed for canning isn’t expensive or complicated to use.

Shop Ball® and Kerr® products at FreshPreserving.com

I blogged about my first canning lesson from my mom, when we made peach jam several years ago, that you can read here.

 I’ve also written about my experience at making applesauce and blackberry jam.

How about you?  Do you like to can?  What is your favorite fruit, meat or vegetable to preserve?

**I received the book, “Ball Brand, Can It Forward” for free.  However, my review and opinions are my own.**