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A friend of mine recently sent me a photo of a lavender plant that he saw online. The lavender pictured is being sold for indoor growing at this time of year. My friend asked, “Will this live for us in our sunny window as a houseplant?”

One of my missions, whether I’m talking to a friend or someone I don’t know at all, is to tell them the truth as I know it when it comes to plants. My thinking is that I don’t want to encourage false expectations because these usually lead to disappointment. If someone is disillusioned about something they are less likely to want to try it again.

On the other hand I have no desire to discourage experimentation or adventure, and every time we get a new plant there is an element of exploration and discovery. This is worth every penny if you ask me. So I’m always trying to give the truth as I know it without discouraging a journey of garden/plant discovery.

I told my friend that lavender for indoors is a good spirit lifter. Given proper care it will last longer than cut flowers. But this plant really wants to be outdoors so it’s less likely to thrive indoors as long as the average houseplant. Some plants that are sold in greenhouses are for short-term spirit lifting, not long-term cultivating.

This makes me think that perhaps we should assign a “joy factor” just as we give some a hardiness zone rating. If you see a plant that’s rated for joy, you’d know that no matter how long it lives, it’s worth every penny.

Those topiaries may or may not last for years, but even as a short-term addition to the house or garden, they'll bring great pleasure.

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