Comments 7

About Me and My Blog

Welcome to Gardenshapers, a blog by horticulturist,  Marie Stephens… who also happens to be an artist, inspired by gardens, nature, and the way animals and humans interact within it.

The purpose of this blog is to help you, the gardener, find inspiration and ideas about gardening, and to show you how you can positively shape and influence the lives of others just by playing in the dirt and doing something you love!
Marie’s Gardening Background
  • B.S in Horticulture from Iowa State University 1998
  • Longwood Gardens Conservatory Management & Display Intern: Kennet Square, PA 1997
  • Lyon Aroboretum Intern: Honolulu HI 1998
  • ISU Greenhouse Employee 1996
  • Reiman Gardens at ISU Employee 1997
  • Senior Horticulturist for Conservatories at Chicago Botanic Garden 1999-2001
  • Co-Owner/Floral Designer/Cut Flower Grower for Hazel’s Place Flower Farm in Mount Ayr, Iowa 2001-2007
  • Visitor Services Coordinator/Buyer/Store Manager for Vander Veer Botanical Park in Davenport, IA 2007 -2010.


  1. Do you have any advice on keeping venus flytraps alive as houseplants? What kind of conditions will make them grow their best?

  2. Hi there, Anonymous!Thanks for being the first brave soul to test out my new blog! Here's my answer to your Q about keeping your Venus Flytrap alive as a house plant.Light: Bright sunny windowWater: Only use distilled, or rain water as chlorinated or tap water will kill your flytrap!Watering Frequency: Always keep the peat moss your flytrap is planted in evenly moist. Since mine is in a terrarium with high humidity, I only need to water mine once a week. If yours is out in open air with no dome over it, you should have it sitting in a tray of distilled water at all times.Humidity: The higher the better. If you have an old aquarium or fish bowl, you could nest the flytrap pot inside there to keep the humidity levels up. I have mine inside a miniature terrarium along with my potted orchids. Everything is in its own pot. And then, to keep the humidity levels up, I have a few small unique vases filled with water. As the water evaporates, it fills the air, creating a nice greenhouse effect.Do I need to fertilize it? NoHow often can I feed it a fly? Once a month only. Over feeding can kill it.Can I feed it hamburger? No, it will rot and kill it….and stink:)How often can I touch the traps and make them close for fun? I would avoid doing this, unless you are actually going to feed it a fly. Making the traps close saps a lot of energy from the plant, which, could ultimately cause….yep you guessed it DEATH.What if I need to repot it? Always repot in peat moss or sphagnum peat. You can find it at your local garden center.My flytrap is dying back! Is it dead? Not necessarily. Sometimes, flytraps undergo a dormancy period during the winter months. To test if it's dead, feel below the soil. If the corm feels soft and squishy, it's probably rotten and dead. If the corm is still firm, IT'S ALIVE! WOOHOO! Just give it a rest for a few months and put it in your fridge. When March rolls around, bring it out and start watering again and place it in its usual sunny spot. New leaves should begin emerging within a few weeks.FLYTRAPS ARE FUN:) They are great plants for families looking for a way to get their kids excited about indoor gardening. And the great thing is, that you can find one to purchase just about anywhere nowadays. I recently saw a really nice one at Lowes a few weeks ago. It came in its own little cube shaped terrarium and looked very healthy. GET GOOD DEALS ON FLYTRAPS: I bet if you went to a Lowe's or Home Depot about now, you might find some flytraps that are on sale. They might be starting to go dormant. The general public might think they are just dead and not want to buy so the store managers might want to just, get rid of them. Just pop open the container, if the corm, the structure the leaves emerge from, still feels hard, buy it put the corm in the fridge, and pop it out in March!Hope this info was helpful!Marie Stephens

  3. I have potted ZZ plants at home that I have a few questions about.1. About two weeks ago one of the newer stalks seemed to break and started pointing out at a different angle. It was/is still firmly attached. Worried about it drying up and dying, I propped that stalk up against the wall in its original position. It seems to be doing ok w no signs of wilting. Why is it doing ok? Did the propping help and is it necessary? Or is the 'breaking' a normal process?2. What's the proper way to propagate this plant? I have not found good info on this. The easier, the better. Thanks.

  4. Hi Eliu,If the stalk on your plant did not break, then I would leave it on. If it is damaged, I would cut off that leaf stalk at the base of the plant. It may have started to grow towards the light. Many houseplants will do this. All you need to do is rotate the pot every few weeks for even growth. Also, the ZZ plant does not require a lot of water. If you were over watering it, the stalk may have started to grow too quickly and started to lean or get leggy. Because the storage organ the leaves emerge from is a tuber (like a potato), this plant can store a lot of water. This is good news for you. You don't need to water it often. Always allow the soil to dry completely before rewatering. When you do water it, take it over to your sink and shower the soil until water runs out of the bottom of the container and the soil is soaked. The key is water deeply and infrequently. This plant does not require much fertilizer either.To propagate, I believe that you can simply divide the tuber.

  5. Charmaine says

    Thank you for the video on curly willow rooting. I have now pruned my tree and am wondering if the branches I cut are too long or too thick to root. Each branch is about 3-4 ft long and 3/4 inch thick at bottom. Should I cut them into smaller pieces?
    Thank you!

    • Hey Charmaine! I think that mine may have been a little bit thinner at the bottom, maybe around half an inch or smaller. That being said, you could try an assortment of sizes as an experiment and see what happens! They are more likely to root on the more green twigs that are more flexible.

Leave a Reply