Get Real

Dear Crazy Neighbor with the Astroturf Lawn;

What?? Huh?!?



I Will Straight Up Cut You, Plant

The Nature Assassin guide to water-rooting your own cuttings. For specified indoor tropicals only; no grafting, no rhizome division. This is easy as hell. Plants that will root in water include but are not limited to:

Gynura aurantiaca (purple passion vine)
Tradescantia zebrina (wandering jew, inch plant)
Epipremnum aureum (pothos)
Hedix hedera (English ivy)
*Update: Peperomia

1) Pick your plant. Scindapsus pictus 'argyraeus,' I pikachoose you. This plant goes by many names, including satin pothos and silver philodendron. Whether it is a true philodendron, I don't know... I really doubt it is a true pothos. It looks remarkably similar to philodendron sodiroi, but is apparently not the same thing? Expert advice will hopefully follow. This plant was sick when I bought it and has never been particularly vigorous. Still, even when it was down to just a few sick stems, it wouldn't be killed. So I have managed to coax it slowly towards becoming the full, compact, well-colored plant that it was meant to be. Check out the amazing silver metallic sheen to this plant. It's even better in person... you can see literal glitter.

So we're ready for step...

2) Assemble your team.
3) Assemble your tools. You will need a clean vase filled with room temperature filtered water, a bottle of rooting hormone powder, and finally your cutting. Rooting hormone powder can be obtained cheaply from any garden store including major hardware chains. One bottle will last you forever.

Along the stem between two leaves/by merciless shanking. Use a clean knife, not scissors, and definitely not your fingers. Cutting the stem wounds the plant and the cutting, so it should be a sharp, clean cut rather than a messy tear. The cutting should be at least 5 inches long, though others may tell you that 3 inches will suffice. Leave the endmost leaves or terminal buds in place; remove all the other leaves along the stem. Make sure your cutting contains at least one adventitious root; it will look like a very small brownish protruding scab or bump. Without them, your cutting will not produce roots, and will eventually die. Now for step...

4) Dip the cutting in rooting hormone powder. Some people only do this if they are rooting a cutting in soil... I find most of the powder stays on and speeds the rate of root productions in water as well. From my understanding, rooting hormone powder functions like an antibacterial protectant, keeping the wounds and new roots from rotting. Therefore, I dip all of the cut sections in rooting hormone powder, as opposed to just the stem tip.

To prevent contaminating your entire bottle of rooting hormone powder, pour however much you will need into a smaller container and throw it away when you are finished. The cap, by the by, is from Two Hearted Ale by Bell's Brewery. So good or no good? Soooo good.

That's it! You're done! Put it someplace sunny (but not blindingly so; bright indirect light is perfect) and leave them alone. No humidity chamber, no nothing. Just change the water about once a week, more if it takes on a green tinge. If you notice sections of the stem getting soft, dark, or fuzzy, get rid of them; they are rotting. You can keep a few types cuttings in water permanently; I find them much more attractive than vases of blooms.

Newly assembled cuttings should start to make roots after about 2 weeks, depending on the type of plant you are using.
Other cuttings that I have going:

Sanseveria NOID, courtesy of a friend. I believe these will only root in water when a piece of the original root is included.
Neon Pothos (Epipremnum aureum "Neon")

Variegated Hedix hedera NOID- this one has taken a long time to root, but root it has!

Happy cutting!


"What's that green crap you're growing on the shower shelf?"

It's moss, honey! Don't be mad! In all likelihood, it contains no spider eggs.

Recently I began making small terrariums out of local mosses that I came upon in my walks through the northeast side. The mosses are indescribably beautiful, and I've currently got 4, possibly 5 different species going. I made a small, portable terrarium out of glass flour container with a sample of each species, and I'm hoping to find someone at a local university or the botanical gardens to help me ID each one.
As far as care goes, they have been kept barely moist in humid air. It's still much warmer and dryer inside than out, and I hope they aren't injured by the change. I am keeping a very close eye one each one for stowaway bugs, but I'm not worried since each one was thoroughly cleaned. I went through each section with a pair of tweezers and a magnifying glass after I rinsed them out in very warm water, so hopefully nothing giant and poisonous will emerge out of them and into my bathroom anytime soon.
I've decided - given that I have enough moss and recently came into possession of a veritable assload of terrariums - that terrariums are going to be my next art pieces. I don't have the space or supplies to be oil painting right now, and this will combine several of my loves. I've begun collecting items for each terrarium, and I think perhaps each one will represent a different neighborhood of the city, based on what I put inside. Or perhaps they will all contain different arrangements of the same thing; tiny replicas of garbage.

I'm also using my newer sections of moss that haven't had time to spread as tiny terrariums or simply tiny potted plants:

Earrings by Julia Wolf *

I'm going to hold on to them and make sure they are somewhat hardy before I put them on display/propose a show for them. Wouldn't that be embarrassing to assassinate an entire gallery of work?


Crocus = badass, pansy = pansy

I love Rogers Park, Chicago. Boasting the city's greatest cultural diversity, fairly low crime rates, and old architectural charm of this hood, as a bonus there is also plenty of interesting plant life going on. People don't manicure the shit out of their lawns here (except for the guy with the plastic lawn... see future posts for pictures of that clownery). The symbol of Rogers Park is a tree standing in front of flowing water, with the foliage of the tree being composed of many hands. As an enjoyer of both plants and people, this makes me feel very much "at home."

Don't get me wrong; Rogers Park is not a playground, and it's certainly not ok to be walking through most parts at 3am with a big ostentatious Vitton bag. But I don't do that anyway. No, I'm the girl trucking around in the morning with a paper bag, gloves, a rice paddle, and a camera, taking pictures and collecting sample of mosses and lichens. People probably leave me alone because they think I'm some kind of nutter, which works for me. 

What did I find? Volunteer species!


Wikipedia defines a botanical "volunteer" as such:
In gardening and botanical terminology, a volunteer is a plant that grows on its own, rather than being deliberately planted by a human farmer or gardener. Volunteers often grow from seeds that float in on the wind, are dropped by birds, or are inadvertently mixed into compost before it is used.
Unlike weeds, which are unwanted plants, a volunteer may be encouraged once it appears, being watered, fertilized, or otherwise cared for.
Volunteers that grow from the seeds of specific cultivars do not reliably "come true", and often differ significantly from the parent. Such open pollinated plants, if they show desirable characteristics, may be selected to become new cultivars.
Cited without permission. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volunteer_(botany)

Volunteer plants are super sexy. All the landscapers around the city are dying to get some colorful blooms out. Thus everywhere for the next few weeks you will see thin-skinned, indoor-cultivated pansies (as my mother would say, "pffff, pansies"), looking like they would rather be anywhere but out in a high wind. Even the tulips, with their waxy cuticles, don't last long in spring. The 'scapers put them out in adorable color patterns, they look like shit after a week, and they all get dug up and thrown away. Lame!

Volunteer plants are hardy, often native/noninvasive, and fucking beautiful. The croci are creeping out like unobtrusive, casual jewels that resist cultivation and even being picked (they don't last long in arrangements).  They are meant to be enjoyed in situ. And how enjoyable they are.

Crocus NOID

Crocus "tommasinianus"

Pink Croci NOID with matching dime-baggie (oh Rogers Park)

Crocus "pickwick"

A fallen "pickwick" petal. Apologies for the dirty fingernails.

A volunteer trillium, probably "recurvatum," a.k.a. "Bloody Butcher." My grandmother has these up the wazoo in her lawn/woods in Batavia, IL. Stay tuned for pictures of her volunteer spring beauties.