Help!! My Plant is Healthy!

That’s not a phrase I usually cry in despair and self-loathing, but it was today. I’ve been side-eyeballing my potted ficus on the front lawn in a very un-trusting manner for that last few months. Shiny leaves with a lush and deep green happy vigor and an ever expanding crown reaching towards the heavens are usually a really good sign. But this tree is in a pot that’s way too small for such growth.


There is a very good reason for such a limiting pot. It’s not because I hate this tree or wish to see it stunted or sad. It’s because the location I chose for this ficus is directly over my sewer lines going out into the street. As illustrated in this high-tech 3D rendering of the “brown line express” (oh, how crass!).

The poop evacuation route. Well, the second evacuation route actually.

As a homeowner, you can imagine how costly it would be to have some root invasion for this essential poop escape highway! Like several grand to replace these pipes. And the last thing I want is any backing up or flooding in the house to let me know that I have made a grave error! Gross and costly are not my favorite combinations! Gross and cheap is okay in a pinch. Continue reading “Help!! My Plant is Healthy!”

Deflowering the Beast

Sometimes mans dominion over nature sounds absolutely terrifying and short-sighted to me. The great hubris that has caused so much destruction is not a sentiment I often tout. This is until we begin discussing the deadly Sago Palm (or cycad, more accurately). Then my inner lumberjack kicks in and I sharpen machetes and gas up chainsaws.

You may recall last year when I posted about the serious level of pruning I do to my beautiful, yet deadly, Sago. If you don’t, take a gander at this surgical operation…

The Sago Palm: Ancient, Beautiful and Actively Trying to Kill Your Family.

Well, it’s beginning to be that time once again. As you can see in the featured image above (from this morning), she is pushing out another giant flower which will be jam packed with massive seeds. They look so much like the king palm nuts that my dog loves to chew on that I am forced to dispatch with these seeds as soon as this flower opens up.

But, at least I’m not alone in this forced dominion, the Chicago Botanic Garden has recently had to force a pollination on their Titan Arum, or corpse flower. You know, that massive flower that smells like a stinking rotten corpse mixed with old baby diapers? Yeah, that one.

All of the botany folks on the Interwebs and countless visitors of the garden have been waiting with anticipation for this flower to open up. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be as the titan has refused to open and the botanists had to step in and help it along with a surgical procedure so that they could self-pollinate. Check out the process!

This has helped to bolster my resolve to once again don my hazmat suit and katana in preparation for the painful deflowering of the beast. Wish me luck!

The Sago Palm: Ancient, Beautiful and Actively Trying to Kill Your Family.

Cycas revoluta (Via)
Cycas revoluta (Via)

Cycas Revoluta, or the Sago Palm, has a deceiving name. It is not a palm at all, but a cycad. Cycads have been around for millions of years. Ever since the Mesozoic Era. That means that Tyrannosaurus Rex may have used them as butt scratchers 200 million years ago. And they would have already been around for 50 million years just waiting for some sweet T. Rex butt scratchin’.

Let that sink in for a minute. The vastness of that time span. This is truly an ancient species and one that has recently become very popular as an ornamental plant. I see them all over Southern California, but they can grow almost anywhere in the US. They are very cold hardy for such a tropical species. All of the box stores carry them, all of the nurseries. However, in all my nursery and Home Depot trips, I have yet to see a single warning label about the high levels of toxins in every part of this plant. Not a one.

Any animal that eats any part of this plant is in serious trouble. Even humans. To a cat, or a dog, Sago seeds are a yummy treat. They can’t help but enjoy the crunchy nutty flavor. The thing is, after only 12 hours of ingestion, they have a 50-75% chance that they will be dead by the end of the day. Now, let that sink in. Continue reading “The Sago Palm: Ancient, Beautiful and Actively Trying to Kill Your Family.”