Saturday, June 1, 2019


One: the article I mentioned writing last year for the Old Farmer's Almanac Garden Guide is out; print copies have been available on their website for a few months. I've also heard of print copies being available in actual stores, though I have yet to witness this in the wild.

Two: you've probably figured this out already, but I think I'm done writing the blog. Or at least I'm going to stop feeling bad about not writing posts, which probably amounts to the same thing in the long run. (It leaves the door open in case I later decide that there's something I just have to share with the world.)

There are multiple reasons for this, but the two biggest are 1) plant-writing burnout and 2) discovering that I am substantially happier when I spend less time on the internet.1 Despite 1), I am still going to have and grow way too many plants; despite 2), I am still going to approve comments2 and respond to e-mails and update photos and names in the seedling galleries (because sometimes I have found the galleries convenient for my own purposes). Blog-adjacent stuff will all probably happen much more slowly than it used to, though, and some of you know that I'm already wildly inconsistent when it comes to e-mail. If I manage to name the Schlumbergera seedlings from the 2018-19 season, I will probably post to let you know what those are, though I don't promise to explain the names.

It's also possible that a few older posts may be edited or deleted from time to time, as I'm increasingly uncomfortable with having so much personal stuff on here. (I know nothing ever goes away completely on the internet, but it seems like there'd be no down side to making some things more difficult to find.) Changes to the archives, if any, will likely be so minimal that you won't notice them,3 and to be honest, combing through it all and editing stuff feels like it would be a lot of work, so I'm not sure this is likely.

I wish I had other houseplant blogs to point you to, but I don't. I don't encounter very many to begin with; I can only remember seeing three actively-updated ones in the last two or three years. Of those, one is primarily interested in showing you Instagram-worthy photos of plants, without much actual information. The other two offered information, but it was the same information you could get by doing a search on-line: they weren't bringing personal experience or "here's what the books don't tell you:" or trivia about the plants. I mean, goodness knows it didn't always work, but I did try to throw in something that wasn't just "water when dry; bright indirect light; propagate by cuttings; watch for scale, mealybugs, and spider mites."

Though I suppose sometimes you just want to know when to water your Aloe, and digressions about artificial insemination of sheep and rants about the herbal supplement industry only get in the way.

If readers want to suggest some other houseplant blogs for other readers to look at, please, leave a link in the comments. I promise not to say if your blog is one of the ones I refused to endorse above.4 Though I also don't promise to publish your comment: see footnote 2.


1 This piece (probably NSFW) by Patricia Lockwood in the London Review of Books, which I strongly encourage you to read even if the internet seems fine to you, is the best description I have yet found of the way being on the internet has become unpleasant to me personally. (It won't necessarily help you understand what I mean; I just don't have anything better to point you to.)
2 (Though some of you will have noticed that I am getting a lot pickier about which blog comments I approve, in ways which probably feel arbitrary and ridiculous to you but make sense to me. Though they are actually probably just arbitrary and ridiculous. But perhaps adding an element of gambling to blog commenting will make it more exciting?)
3 (assuming you ever look at the archives anyway, which I doubt)
4 Oh, and -- if you have a houseplant blog and you know that I've looked at it in the last two or three years, you shouldn't feel offended that I've declined to endorse it. Choose whichever option makes you feel better:
A. Mr. Subjunctive looked at my blog and then forgot about it; he's declining to endorse other blogs, not mine. Probably blocked it from his mind because he was jealous of my brilliance.
B. I don't give a fuck about whether my blog meets Mr. Subjunctive's criteria for being a good houseplant blog, because it's mine, and the only person who has to be happy with it is me. Which I am.


Pattock said...

Your contribution to the internet has been sufficient, you can rest now.

I can honestly say that you have given me as much pleasure in non-fiction reading as anyone on the net. Thank you for everything. I am sorry that you are moving on, but glad that you realised it was necessary for your own sake.

Entertaining digressions, rants and ramblings are essential for any good article and you did them so well. It is a shame you did not read more books that you hated. Apparently I have been commenting on your posts for over nine years.

When you get a spectacularly novel and beautiful Anthurium or Schlumbergera it will now come as more of a surprise to everybody when we see it in shops.

My blog (at if you care to visit) seldom even mentions my houseplants. I have some outdoor plants on there. Lately I have been posting over-long, over-researched delvings into the history of various things - the Manchester and Salford Bee, the origins of "limey" as an insult (which proliferated like a Kalanchoe until it was three separate articles - the history of the citrus lime in English, the origins of the drink punch and the origins of the name cocktail) and the possibility that King Caradoc was the nucleus of the King Arthur myth. I did get quite in-depth on Clerodendrum trichotomum.

I tend to string the facts together with a few paragraphs but, once everything I found is recorded, I tend to move on before polishing the writing much. I am working on an article on dragon's blood but there are so many different species involved that I am only about half-way through the work. Another six months, perhaps.

I don't allow comments on my blog just because it would mean regular housekeeping. Luckily nobody reads it anyway. I don't do any social media - that is surely the most toxic stuff online. I am also very particular about where I get my news - the BBC and the Guardian tend not to upset me much beyond the unavoidably upsetting nature of the news itself.

Good luck with your new freedom. Have fun!

Jeane said...

Well I will miss reading your posts, but maybe it will spur me to look through your archives a bit and read all the stuff from before I found and followed your blog. I'm sure I'd learn quite a lot. You're the first garden blogger who actually made me laugh out loud! humor is a good thing. I'll keep yours in my feed so if you start writing again, I see it. My garden blog is more of a journal than anything else.

Stephen said...

I am a relative newbie to your site, but I'd like to think I have made up for that with the manic intensity with which I have devoured basically your entire archives since then.

I think I first discovered PATSP at the very earliest stages (circa summer 2016?) of my now full-blown houseplant obsession, but over the last three years, your writing has been, by far, my favorite to read, my most frequently consulted, and far-and-away my most useful reference for plant care. I have both immediately checked your blog after stumbling across an attractive plant find, as well as specifically bookmarked some of my favorite of your plant profiles as a guide to further plant acquisition.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your writing. It has brought me (and I expect will continue to bring me on re-read!) such intense joy: the almost-eerily-keyed-to-my-interests references to pop culture; the quick, erudite humor; the sensible, grounded, no-nonsense recommendations; the THRILLINGLY researched and annotated background information; and, probably most of all, the candid admissions of shortcomings and failures. To know someone as obviously expert as you has occasionally struggled with plant parenthood has been an incredible reassurance.

To read about your motivation for wanting to spend time on the internet: seriously, say no more. I can understand where you are coming from completely. Even if I am in reality a random stranger to you, I think of you as a cherished long-distance friend and I support anything that might make you substantially happier.

If you ever decide to publish a book, please post here to let your readers know: I will be the first in line to pre-order.

AntMan said...

Best of luck- the internet really does suck sometimes. You've added a lot of good stuff to it though, as the other comments have noted well.
If I'm honest I'm not a totally regular reader on this blog, and I only found it a little over a year ago, but I've had my fun looking through old posts.

Really though I'm here now because I'm going to run an experiment on my houseplants. Here's the basis:

I'm about to head into a sh*tstorm of a spider mite outbreak, as my syngonium has clear signs of the things, and I've been irresponsible with the task of keeping my mite-prone species away from each other. I'll blame it on lack of surface area.

My goal is to exterminate the existing population and prevent spread with a mixture of a few drops of dish soap, water, and enough mineral oil to constitute a 1-2% concentration in proportion to the water(I'll use the lower 1% concentration for more delicate foliage).

I picked this idea up from an orchid hobbyist on YouTube who for years was having problems with all sorts of pests, but most commonly the spider mite and red spider mite. She's very determined, and is very realistic about orchid care, and after plenty of experiments of her own she arrived at the above concoction.
In her experience with her orchid collection (a few hundred orchids of many varieties) this seems to do the trick to keep spider mites completely at bay (not to mention a few other pests that feed on foliage).
Her process involves spraying every 6 months to account for new growth; and after every spray she air dries her orchids to make crown/stem rot less likely. She sprays preventively, as she lives in a warm, breezy climate in Cyprus with lots of mites- and is generally just really protective over her collection.

Anyhow, my goal is to test out her solution on some of my orchids and non-orchid species. I picked up some mineral oil from the pharmacy (the kind used as a lubricant laxative... it's cheap by volume) and tomorrow I'm going to get started. I plan to first wash off my plants with a semi-gentle spray from the garden hose; let them dry off for a while(until completely dry); and apply the solution from a spray bottle on every surface as evenly and lightly as possible, to avoid applying too much oil.

I considered just washing my plants off and stopping there, but it doesn't seem like mites this aggressive will let pure force beat them. The idea behind the oil I think is to ensure that the mites physically cannot live and reproduce on the plants, due to the layer of oil.

This solution on the orchid collection (the grower's channel name being MissOrchidGirl) seems not to clog pores like thicker oils tend to(she went through plenty of experiments to get here) but still does the job. She's been using it for a little over two years now and it seems to be working great.

We'll see how it works on my own plants. I'll let you know in a comment here if it turns out alright in my case- but that might take quite a bit of time. I don't expect when I come back to share my results that you'll be very active on here if at all, but I'll share them just in case you are and might be interested in a spider mite remedy that works. Not often enough do I find things that work- especially budget-friendly solutions. So let's hope this one does.
If you try it out before I get my results back, I'd definitely love to hear your own experience, if it is important enough to come back to this blog and share.

Again, wish you the best of luck with life, hope it's all going alright; and I hope the collection is well.
1,464 is... many.

Link to MissOrchidGirl's video on the topic(don't be scared off by the manicured look- it's just her style. She generally stays pretty scientific compared to lots of other sources):

Izzi Gravedust said...

It would make sense that I finally take a photograph of an unusual Anthurium in the store I work and think "Goodness gracious!! I finally have a reason to reach out to respected plant blogger, Mr Subjunctive!" and then when I go to see if you had anywhere I could send a picture of it, I find you're shuttering the blog.

Anyway it has a branching spadix. It's not a fruit either, the plant also has a few fruits on another spadix but it's genuinely got a little secondary fork. I tried searching your blog for a precedent but blogger's algorithms are not great and you have a vast vast smorgasbord of Anthurium posts. I've no idea if this is extremely rare or not.

mr_subjunctive said...

Izzi Gravedust:

Well, I've looked at quite a few Anthurium inflorescences in my time, and I've never seen a split spadix. I did have a a double spadix once, on 'White Gemini' (since deceased), and somewhere in the world there is, or at least has been, an Anthurium hybrid genetically inclined to produce multiple spadices (called 'Satan,' and shown in a photo in the Anthurium-breeding book I got several years back. The text there says that it bloomed six times over the course of one year, and the number of spadices per bloom for those six times were: 4, 4, 4, 2, 3, 3.). And it's conceivable that I've seen another at some point and just forgotten about it. But yes, it's pretty unusual.

I think I remember seeing somewhere (probably in the book?) that usually multiple spadices are the result of damage during their development, which sort of explains the rarity (multispadix blooms would be likely to be removed before plants are sold) and sort of doesn't (shipping plants does sometimes damage them, and would be expected to cause more than whatever number of multispadix inflorescences would normally occur).

At least one of the Anthurium seedlings (0282 Dave Trading) had a habit of producing a tiny second spathe occasionally on its inflorescences; they were never much longer than 1/8 inch or so but were very definitely second spathes. (I feel like I remember another seedling doing this too, but I'm only certain about Dave.) Presumably under the right circumstances, the spadix might have branched. I don't know.

Unknown said...

I thought your lack of posting had reached a point where more immediate things (ie. RL) were taking up your time. You have taken us on a wonderful journey with your plants and it is great that your work will stay available to be re-read and recommended to people.

You have, after all, done a serious amount of actual work and you have invested an enormous part of your life in informing and entertaining us. I will think of you surrounded by your Anthuriums and Schlumbergias and I will check in from time to time to see your new pictures when you put them up.

By the way, spellcheck would have me change the plant names in that sentence to "Sanitariums and Lumberjacks" ... somehow that seems weirdly appropriate.

I remember from somewhere early in the blog (when you were still doing the plant difficulty levels) you said that one of the reasons you started doing the blog was to collect the plant information that people really need to grow plants well indoors, or something like that - I was looking for the exact quote bur I couldn't find it - I am probably mis-remembering it, but it was something like that. Anyway I wanted to say that you have certainly achieved that, and many other great things.

I have re-read your blog from the beginning three times now - I may well do it again soon. I have a huge appetite for reading - as an adolescent in school I used to read around three science fiction novels a day, admittedly, novels were smaller then, but even so I got through a lot of words, but I have always had a small core of writers to which I have returned again and again. You have made me very happy to include you in that group of valued friends.

Bye for now,
Kaelkitty AKA Jacq Felis.