About

Name: Zach DuFran
Occupation: Meteorologist/Software Developer
Location: central Oklahoma, USDA zone 7a
Favorite plant family: Aroids

I am a plant enthusiast.  I am interested in tropical houseplants (primarily Aroids) and aquatic plants for my fish tanks.  I guess you could call me a “foliage junky.” 🙂 I enjoy learning about plant taxonomy and reading books about plants.  This site is for me to journal my encounters with Kingdom Plantae, review plant books, show off some of my plants, give advice when I have any to give, and generally talk about plants.

My tropical plant hobby really grew out of my aquatic plant hobby, which grew out of an obsession with tropical freshwater aquariums.  It all started not long ago (2004) when I decided that I would like to set up a “real” aquarium.  By real I mean that I wanted to have an aquarium larger than 10 gallons and with something other than a gold fish.  I got a 29 gallon aquarium for Christmas and promptly filled it with colorful fish that were more or less compatible.  After a couple of months with my aquarium set up, I noticed there were some aquatic plants that you could grow underwater in your aquariums.  Not only were these superior replacements for my plastic plants, they were also really interesting and made great contributions to the little ecosystem encapsulated in the aquarium.  I found myself spending more and more time researching different aquatic plant species – specifically those from the Anubias and Cryptocoryne genera.

I had always been a “plant” person in the way that many people are “cat” people or “dog” people.  I have known at least the common names of nearly any plant that my parents or grandparents have grown, simply by paying attention to my mom and grandmothers whenever they talked about their plants.  But I found myself wanting to grow new things – Orchids and other tropicals – that my family had not grown before.  I became particularly interested in the Aglaonema genus of Aroids.  And that led me to some other Aroids.  After receiving an email from an Aroid collector in Florida, I found myself swimming in a pretty decent size collection of small Aglaonema plants.  And there has been no turning back.  I spend a lot of my time and money now looking for new and exciting Aroids to add to my collection.  And I have built a small greenhouse to house them and keep them happy.  So far, so good.  They seem to really love their new home.

Back to my blog…  I have a couple of common topics:

  • Plant Find – I show pictures and talk about a plant I recently purchased and added to my collection.
  • Trip Report – I report on places that I have been which are of interest to plant enthusiasts – local greenhouses, tropical islands, you name it!  I will post at least once in this category each month.
  • Photo Album – from time to time (approximately monthly) I will upload a photo album of pictures of plants.
  • Book Review – this is just what it sounds like – a review of a book that I have read that deals with plants.  I will post at least once in this category each month.
  • Projects – sometimes this can be an ambitious task, like building a garden waterfall – other times it might be about my plant journal.  I will post at least once in this category each month.

I hope you can find something useful or entertaining here.

To read where this blog got its name, check out this post:
Why “The Variegated Thumb?”

24 thoughts on “About”

  1. Hi Zach,

    I am a plant – more specifically an orchid enthusiast. This morning I was trying to id one of my flowering
    Tolumnias and it led me to your site. Just love all your stuff. I got so involved that in an hour I had read most of your back issues. You are doing a great job. Keep it up Zach. I live in the city of Bangalore in India. God bless.

    Suresh Kalyanpur

  2. I really love your blog. I have been into house plants for over 25 years, and always looking for a rare find. It seems all the stores and garden centers have the samething. You have some great plants I have not yet found the variegated split leaf or the pink prince.

  3. Hello to both,

    Just to reiterate that this is a great blog.

    The first I have come across that has actually a good story telling style, is organized and hosts some great photos. The last couple of years I have started caring more for plants in my flat and from time to time, especially when propagating wander through sites trying to find useful informational. I love my Calatheas and and smiled when I saw yours.Kind regards,
    Marina, a Greek living in the UK.

  4. Zach, you’d fall in love with brugmansia…I know I have.
    Otherwise known as ‘Angel’s trumpets,’ the pendulous bell flowers hang upside down, inviting sphinx moths…and where you live, hummingbirds as well.
    And if you’ve built yourself a greenhouse as you mentioned, you may well accomplish them, even in OK. I have several friends who do well with them in Texas. Some even place them in ground, then cut back to ground come winter, and heavily mulch the still rooted base. The cut ‘small tree’ will easily root if one has a green thumb, so come spring you’ll have the rooted piece you overwintered, plus the base will come back from ground. They are entrancing, heavily perfumed, exotic small trees that have intrigued me for some time. If you want to start a collection, do some research on them and then let me know. ‘Ibrugs.com’ is technical, but friendly group forum if you like the scientific side of things. Otherwise, try gardenweb’s brug forum (if you can handle the horrendous amount of pop-up ads) for other knowledgeable people.
    The lovely lady in the photograph would most likely fall in love with them too, invite her in to smell the blooms just as night falls; this is when the fragrance intensifies. 🙂

  5. Hello dear Zach,
    and I too would compliment you too on your lovely blog,
    and henceforth your excellent webpages. And I did fell
    in love completely with your marvellous Cercestis mirabilis. We too had a sim.item called Callopsis volkensii and do hope have spelled it correctly. But alaaas have killed this beautifully specimen,from originally accesion date 1972. Any help from any aroidellers out there. Please see our URL and do sign the
    webpages against closure of our coll.in Amsterdam.
    http://www.actievuhortus.com
    kind regards hans

  6. Dear Zach,
    I’ve been delighted by your very interesting blog. Besides the plant passion, I realized you also like aquarium and tropical fishes – like me.
    I live in Brazil, and I’ve been involved since 28 years ago in both fish and plant exploring.
    I would like to invite you to visit my blog, http://e-jardim.blogspot.com, and see our activities. In spite of being written in Portuguese, you can easily change into English with Google Translate.
    I would like to receive a private e-mail message from you.
    Best, Ed.

  7. Hi Zach & Christie,

    I hope you’re having an awesome week! I thought you might like this infographic I helped build about the health, mental, and financial benefits of gardening (http://blog.lochnesswatergardens.com/how-gardening-benefit/).

    If you think your readers would like it too, please feel free to use it on The variegated Thumb blog. There’s code at the bottom of our post that makes it super easy to post on your blog. It’s all free (of course). If you have any questions about posting it, let me know and I’ll try to help.

    I don’t know where else to contact you so I just posted a comment here. 🙂

    Thanks!

    ~ Janey
    janealvarado83@gmail.com

  8. Hi, Zach. I couldn’t find a way to contact you other than through here. But, we are a Gladney family and you guessed the correct referral day on our Blog! You had the age wrong but the day was right so I’ll give you a prize. I will send you one of my Africa ornaments I sell. Just email me your address and I’ll mail it Monday. I know you have been waiting so long for your referral. Praying it comes soon.

    Debi Jenkins

  9. hi jach,
    i want to mail you image of yellow flower and black seeds of the datura/btugmansia suaveolens plant having puple branches. what i hv sceen in your collection is a bit different.can you kindly help me to find where i can get such plant, and i need 1000 such flowers.i wl be sending photo to the mail id wherefrom you sent my registration.

  10. I was looking for a particular plant, that is so gorgeous
    calathea brule marxii ice blue
    Your name came up but not this particular plant
    Very interesting blog this is.
    I enjoyed a look at Jakarta as I have a cousin living and working there.

    I am a retired person , a Canadian, but have for the past 13 years, a winter home in Ft Myers Florida. I now get to garden year round, but am at times getting a little weary of all the work. Lots of ideas but the body is slower. Do have some nice gardens here in Florida though and of course at home in Canada.

  11. Dear Sir,
    Introduced my,
    My name is Alin Sanjaya, I’m indonesian people, I’d like to join Aroid.
    Becouse I like to farm amorphophallus in my little Garden in Jember-East Java Indonesia and seed it. And I want more informations of all species of amorphophallus.
    please help me to register in International Aroid Society.
    Thank You Very Much.
    Best Regards,
    Alin Sanjaya
    http://www.atcprovider.id1945.com
    Facebook: bioGARDEN.
    Cell. (+62)85236006671.

  12. Dear Zach,

    I hope you can help, I spent $20.00 on an amorphophallus konjac from a mail order company last year. The foliage didn’t emerge this Spring. I recently thought OK; maybe something ate it or it rotted. My two young daughters think we have boomers commonly called mountain beavers in our area.

    We live in the Seattle area with glacial till and heavy wet clay soil.

    I recently dug up the area where this tuber was and lo and behold I found it. It has what looks like little pink buds. Could it be delayed? Can I plant it in a container and see what it can do or is it too late in the season?

    I would like to live to see it flower, I understand the flower is spectacular.

    Hope to hear from you.

    Best,

    Valentina

  13. I’ve just read through several of your anthurium postings and have bookmarked you for more in-depth reading when I’m not cooking dinner! 🙂
    I also may be sending you a pic for identification help!
    Great blog all around!

  14. Just stumbled on your blog. You are an entertaining writer. Specie orchids are what rock my world and rare palms. Growing them in Florida and Costa Rica. Keep up the good work. And spreading the word.

  15. Hi Zach!
    I am an 18 yr old newly found plant enthusiast! I stumbled upon your blog and read that you know someone that sends you cuttings of plants, I was wondering if you could help me with that. Where did you find them on the web? I am specifically looking for any tropical plants but I am currently IN LOVE with Monstera Deliciosa. If you can help me at all, it would be much appreciated! Thanks!

  16. Hi, I am in Dallas Texas. I have to thank you profusely for helping me identify a plant I have had for years and no one could assist me. I actually snitched one bulb of it from the front of an antique shop in Tyler Texas has to be 20 years ago. It has of course multiplied and I have given babies away. You identified it for me as scilla/ledebouria sociallis, mine is the Dark Squill. I have called it Leopard lily for lack of any other name. Someone at a powwow had one they called a pregnant onion, which I said hmmm, doubtfully.. I am so grateful to find you when I searched for pregnant onion plant. You had the only squill that I came across in my search. Oh,,,, mine looks identical to the photo you have on the Dark Squill.
    Thanks again…
    Berry Chastain.

  17. I have been a plant lover all of my life. My grandmothers (paternal and maternal) maintained house plants and I learned their various names during my childhood. My and aunt and uncle were members of the Cox Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio. I moved from Las Vegas, Nevada for the simple reason of my plants (indoor and outdoors) dying on me. At one time, I have had over 100 plants growing in my living room and dining room. Since I moved to Dallas, TX, I have a new passion and now have 10 flourishing plants. My new passions are bromeliad, rex begonias, philodendrons and rubber plants. Cannot wait to purchase a jungle philodendron and other tropical plants. Very grateful for your website.

  18. I have been a plant lover all of my life. My grandmothers (paternal and maternal) maintained house plants and I learned their various names during my childhood. My aunt and uncle were members of the Cox Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio. I moved from Las Vegas, Nevada for the simple reason of my plants (indoor and outdoors) dying on me. At one time, I have had over 100 plants growing in my living room and dining room. Since I moved to Dallas, TX, I have a new passion and now have 10 flourishing plants. My new passions are bromeliad, rex begonias, philodendrons and rubber plants. Cannot wait to purchase a jungle philodendron and other tropical plants. Very grateful for your website.

  19. the leaves of my ZZ plant is getting yellow , please let me know how can i stop it and what is the problem with my zz plant

  20. Hi Zach

    I am the editor of the Central Oklahoma Cactus and Succulent Society newsletter. I was looking for some pictures of a Euphorbia I want to identify and I found your blog. It is very nice and you did a great job talking about what you saw at our Show&Sale in 2012. I just wanted to let you know that our Show&Sale will take place this weekend May 16 and 17, 2015 at the Will Rogers gardens in OKC.
    Our program next month will be about epiphytic cacti of the rain forest. You can see more info at our webpage. “Google COCSS” and see our newsletters for details of the month’s programs.
    Rosario

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