More cool stuff in AG



Sure, we’re all thrilled about the article in American Gardener on blogging; it’s one of the most substantial pieces of recognition in the traditional media that we garden bloggers have received so far. But I have other reasons to want to continue getting the publication now that I have a copy.

This is a pretty good magazine! It seems to speak to the average gardener, the articles are generally well-written, and the topics are interesting. I glanced through the reports on Christmas tree politics, colony collapse disorder, and echinacea as a cold remedy (now they’re saying it DOES work) and skimmed the piece on winter shrubs (I do long for a witch hazel). But the article on fragrant houseplants sealed the deal. Keep in mind, I am the only ranter who—far from shunning houseplants—loves them, collects new ones every year (and kills many others, but I do that outside too), and is in the process of adapting an upstairs room for their improved comfort. So, thank you, Tovah Martin, for sharing my enthusiasm and turning me on to some plants I might not have considered otherwise.

Martin addresses the whole houseplants-are too-hard attitude thusly:

I generally avoid houseplants that make holy nuisances of themselves. As a matter of fact, my scented-leaved geraniums stand accused of “asking so little, but giving so much.” You need to be attuned to watering needs … You should fertilize during the plant’s growing season. And be prepared to provide the light preferences your fragrant plant prefers.

I agree that these are the basic requirements to keep a houseplant going and I honestly don’t see why they’re sooooo difficult, especially since most of us are jumping through a lot more hoops than that outside. I would add that I give all my plants a preventative spraying with a soap or something safe before I bring them in. Strike early and infestations are not such a problem. And don’t bring palms into the house (I love them outside as annuals) as they attract everything that crawls or flies.

Martin recommends osmanthus fragrans, several jasmines, hoyas, melianthus, and heliotrope, among many others. Several of the plants have lower light requirements. I have a few of these, but I had never considered heliotrope as a houseplant …. interesting. Martin, like me, maintains that the old-fashioned heliotrope cultivars are the best.

If a publication gets me excited about buying plants (my favorite occupation) then it passes an important test. Logees, here I come: clearly, I need to buy more fragrant houseplants.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Yes, everyone needs more houseplants. Absolutely. I’m tired of all the excuses of why so many gardeners don’t “do” houseplants! Try them, you’ll be surprised how it changes a room, for the better, to have living plants in it.

  2. Let me know if you are actually visiting Logees! I live fairly close and would love to shop there with like minded gardeners! They have incredible begonias!

  3. Oh, in addition to all the other good things you said about them, they ran a really good article about colchicums in the September/October issue. And if you join the American Horticultural Society you have access to all their back issues as pdfs.

  4. Indoor plants improve the air quality in your house, and for us Northerners who will have nothing but snow in the garden for the next 4 months at least (and certainly nothing growing – it’s forecast to go to -10C tonight), indoor plants are a life saver. Leaves patterned and coloured, exotic blooms like Amarylis and Christmas cacti, and even forced spring flowers make winter tolerable.

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