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.

Ivynettle said...

I have kept this open for weeks now, trying to figure out what I want to write, and I still don't really know.

It doesn't really come as a surprise, seeing you say goodbye, but it still makes me sad. Your blog has been a big part of my life for many years, after all. Though not so much in the last few years, to tell the truth, with real life making more demands on my time, and my mental health making it difficult to focus on longer texts.
But yeah. I've learned a lot from your blog, and laughed a lot, and there are some posts I still sometimes quote to friends. So thanks for all your writing! (And thanks for your comments on my blog, too.)

I wish I could say I'd try to keep in touch per e-mail, but yeah, between time issues, and forgetting, and always feeling like I'm being too demanding/annoying when I reach out to people... it's probably not going to happen.

I do want to tell you one thing, though, since you've been a part of my own blogging journey since the very beginning (and, well, the main motivation to start my own blog) and since I've still not gotten around to blogging about that one thing - the little plant nursery where I started working right around the time I started my blog? And where I've worked ever since? I run that place now!
(The previous owners retired, and their kids did not want to take over the business, so I'm renting it from them, with the option to buy it in a few years.)

StaceyC said...

Ditto to the sentiments above. I have really enjoyed reading your blog - far and away the most useful plant care site on the internet, and also made me laugh out loud many times. Job well done.

Blue Jay said...

Well. I, quite literally, JUST found this blog last night. I was doing a google search for a 'red leaf anthurium' and came across... this.... blog of wonderfulness.

I purchased an anthurium last week ONLY because the new leaves have a beautiful red/bronze color. Once they're a bit older, they fade to plain-jane green. Which is fine and all, but I ask myself - would I have purchased this plant if it wasn't for the bronze leaves? Firm no. I already have an anthurium and didn't really have space for another. But those leaves..... I still don't know what variety I have but that's ok.

Anyway, I started nosing around and realized that this is a houseplant blog like no other I've seen. I really appreciate the information, the humor, the occasional swearing. I have set a bookmark for future reference, there's no way I can sit and read til I've read it all because, let's be honest, who the hell has that kind of time? Sigh, I do. I have that kind of time. But my butt hurts when I sit on it for too long.

Thank you for all the great information, I will be back.

Unknown said...

Dear Mr. Subjunctive,

Your blog has been a real authentic source of information when it comes about taking care, fertilization, propagation of plants. Not to mention the stories and other information which can be related to a certain type of plant. You can be sure that even the archive articles will be read in the future.
I wish you all the best and healthy and colorful plants! :-)

Best regards,

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed your blog for years. Your blog is a treasure trove of useful, interesting and entertaining info about a topic that not everyone understands what it is like to be passionate about. I hope you do leave the blog posts up. I hope that if you ever do decide you want to update us on how you are doing, that you come back here even if it is not very often. However, I don't blame you for wanting to focus on other aspects of life. All the best to you! Thanks for your contributions to the world!

Anonymous said...

I've never commented, and I'm late to the party, but I've been quietly reading your blog for years now. I really can't thank you enough, because honestly, most of the things I know about plants comes from binge reading your plant rating posts. Heck, it's still my go-to source when I get a new houseplant. There's a thousand and one different blogs and sources of information for plant care on the internet, but yours is the only one I've come across that wasn't purely informational, you took a dry subject and made it interesting. The satirical voice you use lends some soul to the writing, and it is very much appreciated. I think your blog is truly unique, and it'll be sorely missed. I wish you only the best for the future! Thank you very much for all the quality writing!

anonymous said...

Dear Mr Subjunctive,
I adore your blog! The knowledge, the style are profound enjoyment. I will continue reading and re-reading it in days of future enthusiasm or depressions.
I wish you all the best, and thank you!

Cj said...

I am the person looking for that, “personal experience or "here's what the books don't tell you:" or trivia about the plants. “.
Also the one perusing for real life humor on the insanity of seeing my self doing the same growing as you. HA

Miss ya...

Sonya said...

I just discovered your wealth of knowledge and humor today. I was finally able to ID the schefflera from my Grandma's funeral, and maybe now I can save it from whatever is getting the best of it (it's not been very happy for months). Thank you for delivering exactly what the rest of my Google searches could never deliver--real information from a real person with real photos of their actual plants. Enjoy being away from the Almighty Oracle. Lord knows it's making everything and everyone increasingly weird. Not in a good way. Peace to you.

Anonymous said...

Like one of the silent majority, I've been reading and re-reading your blog for at least 5 years now, and the research you put into your posts still amazes me--especially when it degrades into a rant (or several). If I had wanted to read all of those books sans sidetracks and personality, I most certainly wouldn't have consulted the internet. You've helped me keep alive some very old inherited plants that would have undoubtedly turned to dust... and now that I've moved to a much colder climate, I look forward to poking around your archives with fresh eyes to figure out WTF is going on with my potted pets when it starts a-snowin' outside. I do hope you keep the archive up! and I know you will very much enjoy a milder technological life.

Pattock said...

I have been dipping into a blog by Summer Rayne Oakes at . She also has a youtube channel. Quite an impressive number of houseplants. Well-written and clearly knows her stuff.

Joseph_gr said...

It must have been in early 2015, I was looking up "Sansevieria" and I remember enjoying your humorous article. Since then I always remembered the title of your blog and revisited to check if you were saying anything about a species that I was catching my interest. Another among the very rare sites on botany/gardening that I somehow remember is Wayne’s World ( I am passionate about plants and I tremendously enjoyed the sympathy and closeness to plants in your writings. Starting with Sansevieria cuttings (from S. Mason’s Congo species I found in… Congo) that eventually didn’t survive in my small courtyard downtown Athens in Greece, to Anthuriums that are on the contrary thriving there, your blog was always on my agenda; and I imagine when you stop an active blog, you turn it into a website like any other, and that doesn’t necessarily reduce its quality. Thanks for all. Bless you.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm late to the party, but I'd very much like to wish you well. I've loved reading your blog and learning about all the plants you've profiled.
Thanks for the time you've taken to write them all up.
If you do continue to keep posting your seedlings, I'll keep coming back just to scroll though the gallery of them

Anonymous said...

I would probably be aging myself if I said how long I’ve come to read about plants on your blog, so I won’t say. :D

Thanks for all the work you’ve done over the years, I’m sure you’ve helped more people than you will ever know.

Live long and prosper!

Xerographica said...

I'll miss your posts. Personally I post to my plant blog a lot less frequently. Instead I post to my local plant group on Facebook. I love it. Way more educational and interactive than traditional plant societies that meet once a month.

A few traditional societies have adapted. I'm in the International Aroid Society's Facebook group. Dr. Croat is also a member. How cool is that.

Are you a member of any Facebook plant groups?

mr_subjunctive said...


I am not.

Anonymous said...

I have read and re-read your blog countless times over the last several years. You were my go to read for houseplants.

Thank you for creating such an informative and engaging blog. We'll miss reading your plant updates.

Stay safe and I wish you all the best.

"Daffodil Planter" Charlotte Germane said...

Glad you have left your excellent content up for us to read. You are still one of the wittiest writers in the garden world!

MaggieB said...

Well, dang. I finally stumble on a plant blog with wit and wisdom, humbleness and Solid information, as well as humor out the wazoo… and it’s done. So glad your archives (edited or otherwise) remain available. I am learning a lot and laughing plenty, as well. The real world info we all need, with charm and personality. Thank you. My plants thank you as well.
Much joy to you!

Joe Amaral said...

I wish you well, and hope your are still going strong on staying away from the internet. No one has ever experienced burnout gardening. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to thank you for everything you put into this blog over the years. I really enjoyed reading all of it. It was a great part of my early house plant journey. Now that it's gone I, respect that and I hope that you are doing well and enjoying life. Happy gardening to you and anyone else who reads this post.