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Plantrama - plants, landscapes, & bringing nature indoors


Ellen Zachos and C.L. Fornari help you discover the amazing world of plants: in the garden, in the wild, and on your plate. They show you how to grow plants successfully, how to enjoy your natural surroundings, and how to make the most of your harvest, whether it's cultivated or foraged. (Spoiler alert: they don't always agree!) You'll find three different topics in each episode, plus email questions from listeners.


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Ellen Zachos and C.L. Fornari help you discover the amazing world of plants: in the garden, in the wild, and on your plate. They show you how to grow plants successfully, how to enjoy your natural surroundings, and how to make the most of your harvest, whether it's cultivated or foraged. (Spoiler alert: they don't always agree!) You'll find three different topics in each episode, plus email questions from listeners.




Seed Planning, Catching Up, and See You In Seattle

Ellen and C.L. talk about three interesting edibles from the True Leaf Market catalog, explain what they’re working on and catch up with some listener emails. They end by talking about seven seed starting tips offered by our friends at Gardeners Supply Company, and invite listeners to join them at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle. :30 What’s For Dinner: Our top picks from the True Leaf Market catalog 7:23 Eat/Drink/Grow: What's new with the Plantrama team. 19:46 Insider Information: 7 tips for seed starting


Tasty meals, New Plant Discoveries and a Dormant Period

We’re talking about garlic and crabapples, plants that are new to our hearts, and some interesting research on bulbs done at Cornell University. Plus some words of appreciation for all of our listeners…Plantrama people are the best! See the bulb research information here. :27 What’s For Dinner: What C.L.and Ellen love for tasty meals. 5:14 Eat/Drink/Grow: New Plants…new to us, that is. 15:21 Insider Information: Bulb research from Cornell University 23:03 Love Letters and Questions: We’re entering a dormant period, but here’s our shout out to all of our listeners.


Rusty Nails For Blue Hydrangeas, Queen Anne_s Lace, and Too Many Plants

Learn about turning Hydrangea flowers blue, how to tell if you’re looking at Queen Anne’s lace or the poison hemlock, and not enough room for all these plants! Plus C.L. loves listening to the Audible version of Michael Pollen’s book, This is Your Mind on Plants. :29 True or False: To turn Hydrangeas blue, place rusty nails in the ground 3:48 Eat/Drink/Grow: Queen Anne’s Lace and Poisonous Look-Alikes 15:04 Check This Out: Michael Pollen’s book “This is Your Mind on Plants” 20:30 Love Letters and Questions: Candace writes: “There isn’t room in my house for all of these plants…not if I want to say married. Help!”


Peppers, Dry Summers, and a Clover Lawn

In this episode Ellen and C.L. discuss some favorite peppers, and answer common listener questions about drought-damaged plants and helping their gardens recover from a hot, dry summer. We share an exciting new plant from Proven Winners, and answer a listener’s question about clover lawns. :36 What’s For Dinner: Peppers! 10:39 Eat/Drink/Grow: Recovering From A Hot, Dry Summer 19:45 Insider Information: Excited about Queen Tut Papyrus 21:35 Love Letters and Questions: Sandy writes: “Do you like clover lawns?” Link to Queen Tut on the Proven Winners Website:


Encore Snacks, Outdoor Office and Entertaining

In this Encore presentation from 2017, Ellen and C.L. start the end-of-summer party off with suggestions for snacks and garden hors d’oeuvres. The second segment offers ways that you benefit from an outdoor office, and no, it’s not the low rent. Our main segment suggests ways you can spruce up (horticultural pun intended) your yard and gardens for summer gatherings. Whether you’re holding a simple barbecue, birthday celebration, rehearsal dinner, cocktail party or other event, here are ideas for hiding eyesores, improving what you’ve got and adding color. Our fourth segment addresses a plant noob’s question: “Will this plant will come back to life or is it dead?” We end with an email from a listener who asks about end-of-year bargain plants.


Encore of Yellow Leaves, Fall Vegetables and Bringing Houseplants Inside

In this end-of-August episode, C.L. and Ellen discuss how to tell why the leaves on your plant are turning yellow. They explain that noticing which leaves are yellowing, and where they are, can help explain why this is happening. Next the Plantrama team explains some botanic terms, and discusses what to forage for or plant in your vegetable garden right now. The episode ends with advice to Sandy about when to bring her houseplants back inside after they have spent the summer out of doors. :38 Plant Noob: Yellow Leaves – how to know what causes this? 9:42 Insider Information: Angiosperm and Gymnosperm – what do these terms mean? 11:26 Eat/Drink/Grow: Fall Planting and Foraging 22:23 Love Letters and Questions: Sandy wonders “when does houseplant summer camp end?”


Encore Mulch, Nitrogen and Smart Weeds

Ellen and C.L. discuss whether the use of mulch robs the soil of nitrogen, and we take a dive into the Polygonaceae family…smart weeds and knotweeds. We give you the scoop on two informative webinars for anyone interested in growing hydrangeas, and answer a question about the odd, jelly-like forms that a listener has found on some junipers. 1:42 True or False: Mulch robs the soil of nitrogen. 6:21 Eat/Drink/Grow: Is your weed smart or knot? 12:31 Insider Information: Hydrangea webinars given by C.L. 16:33 Love Letters and Questions: Aliens in the juniper! Thanks to our sponsors at Dramm Rainwands!


Encore of End of Summer Flavors, Taking Cuttings, Transplantation

In this encore episode, Ellen explains what to make with under-ripe wild grapes and C.L. persuades listeners to combine some creamy brie cheese with those homegrown tomatoes. Next we explain that the end of the summer is the ideal time to propagate everything from woody ornamentals to annuals and perennials. Now that cooler weather is on the horizon, we discuss what can be transplanted in the fall, and answer a listener’s concern about importing bugs into the house when she brings potted houseplants back in for the winter. :32 What’s for dinner: End of Summer Flavors! Partially ripe wild grapes and home grown tomatoes with creamy brie and fresh basil. 5:48 Eat/Drink/Grow: taking cuttings. If you want to propagate a favorite shrub, perennial or tree, now is the time for making cuttings. 21:22 Did You Know? Fall transplanting. Which plants can be moved early in the fall? 28:02 Love Letters and Questions: bring your houseplants indoors but leave the bugs outside.


Pickles, Small Trees, and Dealing with Bare Spots

What can you pickle this summer? Should you buy a tree that’s tiny? Ellen and C.L. discuss these topics, plus what to do with bare or just unattractive spots in the garden, and whether summer planting makes sense in July. :29 What’s for dinner: Pickles. 7:12 Insider Information: Don’t be afraid to start with small shrubs and trees! 12:30 Eat/Drink/Grow: Dealing with bare areas where plants have died or construction had to happen. 22.52 Love Letters and Questions: Bailey wrote about moving to a new property in the heat of the summer. Brought to you by our friends at


Mulch killing weeds, Citrus from Seeds, and a Robot Weeder

Have you wondered how, or if, mulch kills weeds? Have you tried to grow a citrus plant from a seed? Ellen and C.L. discuss these topics, and answer Dianna’s question about her kousa dogwood that isn’t doing well. Plus C.L. tells Ellen and our listeners about a robot that weeds in gardens. :28 Plant Noob: Does mulch kill weeds? 6:47 Eat/Drink/Grow: Some considerations when growing citrus from Seed. 14:02 Check THIS Out!: Tertill: a solar-powered, robot weeder. 18:13 Love Letters and Questions From Dianna: “I purchased a kousa dogwood from a landscaper and they installed it for me.”


Foliar Feeding, Forks in the Garden and Auto-Flowering Cannabis

Have you seen the photo of plastic forks, tines up, in the garden? Wondering about spraying fertilizer on the leaves of plants to give them added nutrients? And how about that auto-flowering type of Cannabis…should you be harvesting in July? :36 True or False: Plastic forks in the garden? 7:21 Eat/Drink/Grow: Foliar feeding. 18:20 Love Letters and Questions: Manny asks about Cannabis


Raspberries, Rock Walls, and Perennial Bloom

Ellen and C.L. talk about the difference between raspberries and blackberries, give suggestions for plants that grow well in the tiny spaces in rock walls, and discuss whether you should panic when you see bugs on a plant. We end with a listener’s question about a perennial garden filled with early-summer bloomers. :30 What’s For Dinner: Raspberries 6:32 Eat/Drink/Grow: Plants to grow in Rock Walls 18:19 Plant Noob: What to assume when you see an insect? 22:24 Love Letters and Questions: Leddy wonders if the perennials she bought in May can be brought into flower again.


Edible Flower Petals, Tap Roots and Crop Rotation

C.L. and Ellen have suggestions for edible flower petals, whether you want to use them for visual or taste appeal. Hear a discussion about taproots - what are they and what they mean for you – and hear if you need to be concerned about crop rotation. :38 What’s For Dinner: Flowers petals! 5:53 Eat/Drink/Grow: Tap roots. 20:18 Love Letters and Questions: Amanda asks: “Can you recommend any books or reliable resources for crop rotation?


Mint, Harvesting Garlic, and Plant Supports

Ellen and C.L. discuss ways to use the mint you grow, the basics of harvesting garlic, and ways of supporting vegetables and newly planted trees. Plus we answer a listener’s question about spraying fertilizer directly onto foliage. :33 What’s for dinner: Mint beyond mojitos 4:12 Insider Information: Harvesting Garlic 17:46 Eat/Drink/Grow: Plant supports. 26:40 Love Letters and Questions: Karen asks about spring fertilizer directly on plants.


Flea Beetles, a Book Review and Houseplants at Summer Camp

Ellen and C.L. talk about a common insect that causes damage in many vegetable gardens: flea beetles. Next they address questions and issues that arise when houseplants have been put outside for the summer, review an inspiring new book, and answer Ryan’s question about possible ground cover crops for weed suppression in flower farms. :28 Plant Noob: Flea beetles 7:37 Eat/Drink/Grow: So your houseplants are out for Summer Camp 18:12 Book Review: The Urban Garden 22:12 Love Letters and Questions: From Ryan about weed control in a flower farm.


Dead Trees, Early Flowering Perennials, and What NOW?

C.L. and Ellen discuss what to do if your tree dies, and what actions to take when something has already happened and you need to respond or do your best to fix it. :30 True or False: You should remove dead trees from your property 6:24 Eat/Drink/Grow: After the fact. Or, I’ve already done it! Now What??? 22:00 Love Letters and Questions: Sandi asks: “When early flowering perennials such as blue salvia, peonies, or penstemon stop blooming, what do I do with them?


Dill, Planting in June and What Alliums Do

:38 What’s For Dinner: Dill. 8:59 Eat/Drink/Grow: “Is it too late to plant?” 20:14 Insider Information: What alliums do. 22:42 Love Letters and Questions: Donna re: miniature lemon cypress tree In this first of five June episodes, C.L. and Ellen talk about growing dill, planting in the summer, and what allium foliage does when these bulbs come into bloom. Plus we answer a listener’s question about growing lemon cypress trees indoors…was she given bad advice?


Lettuce Wraps, Garden Diversity and Mediterranean Gardening

In this end-of-May episode Ellen and C.L. discuss using lettuce to wrap tasty fillings, for a meal or snack. We explain what a botanist does, the importance of several types of diversity in our yards and gardens, and answer Pete’s question about applying Mediterranean style to a Minnesota garden. :28 What’s for dinner: Lettuce Wraps 3:22 Insider Information: What is a botanist? 7:33 Eat/Drink/Grow: Garden Diversity 21:58 Love Letters and Questions: From Pete about “Mediterranean Gardening”


How to Fill Raised Beds, Hugelkulure and Garden Mentors

The Plantrama team discusses the best way to fill a raised bed, why the practice called hugelkulture is getting so much buzz, a podcast recommendation, and finding a garden mentor. :30 Plant Noob: Why you shouldn’t fill a raised bed with only compost. 5:24 Eat/Drink/Grow: Hugelkultur 16:29 Check THIS Out!: a plant podcast that C.L. loves. 18:48 Love Letters and Questions Morgan in Michigan writes about finding garden mentors.


Seed Info, Gardening in Clay and Potting Media

Have you ever bought an envelope of seeds that had no instructions on it? Do you have clay soils where you garden? Ellen and C.L. start the program with these topics, then move onto invasive plants in the landscape, and the differences between different types of potting media. :30 True or False: It’s okay to send out seeds without any germination information. 5:12 Eat/Drink/Grow: Gardening in Clay 21:18 Insider Information: Inspired by Carol invasives in the landscape 25:16 Love Letters and Questions: From Adriana any difference between potting soil and seeding-starting mix? Brought to you by our friends at