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2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show Highlights with Garden Answer

The Espoma Company and Laura from Garden Answer visit the 2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, “Holland: Flowering the World.” Bridges, windmills, canals and water gardens explore the architectural aspects of Holland. While a sea of 30,000 flowers reflects the traditionally grown bulbs. The natural and sustainable approach of the Dutch New Wave Movement is evident throughout the garden displays. And a not to miss light display illuminates the beautiful landscapes.

 

Want more? Check out the full version of our Philadelphia Flower Show tour with Garden Answer.

5 Reasons to Give Orchids This Valentine’s Day

There is more to a beautiful bouquet of flowers than what meets the eye. For centuries, flowers have been used as a means of expressing romantic sentiments and are symbolic of a beautiful, lasting relationship between two people.

Luckily, for this day dedicated to expressing your devotion and admiration there is a better option than cut flowers, choose orchids that will last all year! Delicate and graceful, orchids are a symbol of luxury, love, strength and beauty. Here are 5 reasons you should give orchids a chance this Valentines’ Day.

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Five Reasons Orchids are The Best

  1. They’re Long-Lasting: An orchid’s blooms serve as a daily reminder that someone is thinking of you long past February 14th. When cared for properly, this exotic flower can last for several months and will continue to bloom year after year.
  2. Orchids are Easy to Care For: Your valentine does not need to be an expert gardener to keep an orchid alive. Even in the winter months, orchids are low-maintenance. For more blooms and better health, you can your plant feed bi-weekly with our liquid orchid fertilizer. Your orchid will need to be repotted each year after flowering, and Espoma’s Organic Orchid Mix will give them the nutrients they need to grow. Who knows, your gift of an orchid could inspire someone to take up gardening as a hobby!
  3. The colors are stunning: Orchids come in a variety of spectacular colors and unique shapes. They have a dramatic presence whether they are a solid color, or have splashes and speckles. Coming in everything from white and light pink, to vibrant reds, oranges, and purples, you will be able to find the perfect orchid to match your valentine’s personality.
  4. Orchids have exotic flair: Coming from far off places such as Hawaii and South America, orchids are said to be reminiscent of the tropics. Their exotic nature sets them apart from the traditional rose and will send a special message to your significant other.
  5. They perk up your home: An orchid’s lifespan combined with its beauty makes it a great way to add an affordable splash of color to any room without spending significant time and money on redecorating efforts

This Valentine’s Day, tell your significant other how valued they are by giving the gift of an orchid.

Help orchids stay beautiful year-round. Watch this video to find out how!

Common Orchid Problems and How to Fix Them

It’s a myth that orchids are difficult to grow. In fact, they are highly adaptable and fairly low- maintenance plants. The hardest part might be choosing an orchid. There many types of orchids to choose from, and while some are more temperamental, plenty will thrive in in your home.

With that being said, they are susceptible to problems like any other houseplant. Take a look at these common orchid questions and find out what you can do to fix them.

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Why is my orchid’s foliage changing colors?

Orchids are especially sensitive to environmental changes. The problem in this case is likely due to the lighting conditions. If orchids receive too much light, the tissues to yellow. If they don’t receive enough light, they develop dark spots. It can help to gradually expose your orchid to more light over time and to keep it by a window that is shaded by a sheer curtain.

Help! My orchid’s buds are drying up without any sign of pests or disease!

This is a common problem with orchids and again, a good indication of an environmental problem. Bud Blast is a condition where buds dry up and die. This is typically caused by an environment that is not humid or bright enough, but could also be a result of incorrect watering. Orchids should be watered about once per week, allowing the soil to dry out in between. Dropping your home’s temperature by about 10 degrees at night can help initiate flower buds.

My orchid has a sticky substance on its surface, is it harmful?

If you see small white ovals along with the sticky substance, then it is harmful. The sticky substance is left behind by scale pests, which can be treated with an organic insecticide soap. If white ovals aren’t visible, it is harmless and simply due to a drop in temperature.

The leaves of my orchid are turning to mush and the roots look like they are rotting. What am I doing wrong?

Due to the high humidity levels that orchids need to survive, they are at a higher risk for fungal and bacterial diseases. This can lead to conditions like root rot and spots on flowers and leaves. Remove severely damaged leaves using sterile tools and treat plants with a copper based spray.

The orchid’s roots are growing above the soil; does it need to be repotted?

These are called “air roots” and are normal for orchids. Air roots can actually be helpful. Orchids generally need to be re-potted once a year. It’s time to re-pot when you see: yellow foliage, lack of growth or dead or damage roots, or the plant starts growing over the edge of the pot. The best time to re-pot is just after flowering, or when new growth appears. Use Espoma’s Organic Orchid Mix for best results.

Many orchid issues are not as serious as they seem. What may appear as a problem can sometimes be helpful in determining what set of conditions your orchid prefers to grow in.

Ready to know more? Learn what orchids need. 

Picking and Caring for Orchids

With showy flowers that stay in bloom for months, orchids have a flair for the dramatic.

While these plants are show-stoppers with blooms that last for months, orchids are surprisingly easy.

There are so many benefits to having houseplants, why not add an orchid to your collection?

The hardest part of orchids is choosing which type since they are available in a wide range of spectacular colors and exotic shapes. Choose an orchid in a single color such as white, pink, fuchsia or yellow for a pop of color. Or for a more captivating look, choose one with expressive splashes of color.

Keep orchids happy and blooming for months with these simple tips.

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Picking Your Orchid:

  1. Bloom power. A plant loaded with flower buds with only a few flowers fully opened will provide the most reward. The rest of the buds will open at home.
  2. Healthy glow. Look for a plant with firm, bright green leaves. Check that roots that are not brown or shriveled.
  3. The right temperature. A few minutes of too hot or too cold temperatures can impact new blooms. Help your new orchid to transition easily by not leaving it in the car for too long.

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Caring for Your New Orchid:

  1. A New Home. Orchids like bright light, but not direct sun. Avoid cold, drafty spots.
  2. Water right. Allow water to flow through drainage holes then drain excess water completely. This is best done in the sink. Water again only when soil is completely dry or the pot feels light.
  3. Just right nutrients. Feed with our liquid orchid fertilizer for more blooms and a healthy plant.
  4. Wait for more blooms. Once all the orchid flowers have withered, cut back stem halfway. If the stem has turned brown or died, cut back to the base of the plant.
  5. Repot when needed. Orchids generally need to be re-potted once a year. It’s time to re-pot when you see: yellow foliage, lack of growth or dead or damage roots, or the plant starts growing over the edge of the pot. The best time to re-pot is just after flowering, or when new growth appears. Use Espoma’s Organic Orchid Mix for best results.

Brown thumbs can easily turn green. Learn more about caring for houseplants here.

Plant A Fall Container

Laura from Garden Answer shows you how to plant a fall container that will add beauty to your landscape all season long.

 

 

Container Garden Tip: Extend Summer Color

Fabulous and fun, containers filled with bright blooms are easy to maintain and thrive with the right care. They’re great additions to any patio, yards or landscape.

Before summer’s heat and dry conditions get the best of them, give them what they need. Keep containers in tip top shape with these easy tips.

Here’s how to extend the life of containers for a summer of color.

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Deadhead. Use pruners or shears to snip off dead or dying flowers, stems and foliage. This is called deadheading. Don’t be afraid to clip stems back a little to encourage new growth. This not only makes the plant look better, it helps encourage more blooms.

Want even less work? You can always opt for plants that do the deadheading on their own, like Million Bells.

Feed. Feed established containers with Bloom! liquid fertilizer to promote & prolong flowering. Simply flip, fill and feed. Or, sprinkle granular Plant-tone on the soil surface and gently work in.

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Water. Containers need to be drenched – generally every day – and make sure to get the roots. Water until it pours from the drainage holes. Be sure to empty saucers to keep roots from getting waterlogged.

Replace. If all else fails, simply replace the leggy or tired plants in your container garden with late-season bloomers, like ornamental cabbage, coneflowers or sedum.

Now that your containers are taken care of, sit back and enjoy the heat of summer!

Prune Hydrangeas a Cut Above the Rest

Hydrangea care, specifically pruning, doesn’t have to be complicated. Honest. Even those who have been gardening for years still have questions about how to prune hydrangeas.

Discover our secrets to pruning hydrangeas.

Hold Up! How to Prune Hydrangeas

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Hone in on Hydrangeas. Before you prune hydrangeas, you need to know which type you have. If you planted a hydrangea from our Hydrangea Guide, your answer is just a click away.

Take the quiz below to find out what type of hydrangea you have and when to prune.

Does your hydrangea bloom most of the season?

  • Yes? You have a new variety of hydrangea, such as an Endless Summer. If you’re planning on re-shaping, prune in fall after the final blooms. However, you can prune these at any time.

 Does your hydrangea have blooms in early summer that fade away by mid-summer?

  • Yes? You have a bigleaf, modheap, lacecap or oakleaf hydrangea that blooms on old wood. Prune these right as their flowers begin to fade to maximize next year’s blooms. Whatever you do, don’t prune in the late fall, or you’ll remove next year’s flower buds.
  • Pruning Old Wood Hydrangeas. Cut off any dead, diseased or deformed canes. Also, remove any branches that rub. Cut canes off close to the ground. If the hydrangea is older and has smaller blooms, remove up to 1/3 of the oldest canes. If the hydrangea is too tall, cut off the tallest canes.

 hydrangea care, hydrangea color, growing hydrangasDoes your hydrangea start to bloom in mid-to-late summer and flower until the first frost?

  • If yes, you’re the proud owner of a panicle or smooth hydrangea that blooms on new wood. Prune in winter or early spring before they start growing.
  • Pruning New Wood Hydrangeas. For the biggest flowers, prune shrubs to the ground. Over time, this pruning method weakens the plant. If you want to keep hydrangea’s long-term health in mind, cut back canes to 18-24”. Also, prune canes to 18-24” if you’ve noticed your hydrangea flops to the ground due to heavy blooms.

Do you have a climbing hydrangea that grows upward?

  • If yes, prune in late spring or early summer. Skip pruning during their first year, though.
  • Pruning Climbing Hydrangeas. When pruning, remove any dead, diseased or rubbing branches.

 P.S. You can still can deadhead hydrangeas at any point.

There you have it! Now you know how to prune hydrangeas. Impress your friends with this knowledge or by teaching them how to change hydrangea color!

Learn all of our hydrangea secrets in our hydrangea growing guide.

Plain as Day – Find Your Perfect Hydrangea

Who can resist color-changing blooms as huge as snowballs?!

No one! That’s why no garden is complete until it has at least one hydrangea. With their picturesque foliage and magical blooms, these flower shrubs are a constant delight. Plus, hydrangeas are easy to care for — as long as you pick the right variety for your space.

Before choosing what hydrangea to grow, answer these questions. Then check out our hydrangea varieties guide to pick the best for your garden.

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Couldn’t Ask for More! Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Hydrangea

Growing hydrangeas is easy! Simply answer these questions to find a hydrangea variety that will thrive in your garden.

1. How much sun do hydrangeas need? Most hydrangea varieties like a blast of full sun in the morning followed by a nap in the afternoon shade. Though, be sure to check since there are a few hydrangeas that thrive in full sun.

2. What hydrangea color do you want? While color of hydrangeas may seem important, it’s actually not! You can turn blue hydrangeas pink and vice versa. Hydrangea color and saturation all depend on the soil acidity. The only exception? White hydrangeas don’t change color.

3. What size hydrangea would you like? Hydrangeas come in small, medium or large-size. Larger varieties can grow up to 20’ tall and 18’ wide while dwarf hydrangeas are only 3-5’ tall and wide. No matter the size of your garden, you can find a hydrangea that works — even in container gardens.

4. What type of hydrangea to grow? Depending on what type of hydrangea you grow, it needs to be pruned at different times. Make note of what type of hydrangea you have to make pruning easy later on. Here are a few of the most common hydrangeas: bigleaf, oakleaf, panicle and smooth.

5. Is the hydrangea evergreen or deciduous? Evergreen hydrangeas, as their name implies, stay green all year. Most hydrangeas are deciduous shrubs, so they shed their leaves annually.

From hydrangea care to hydrangea fertilization, we’ll be here to help each step of the way as you’re growing hydrangeas. Learn more about growing great blossoms in our Hydrangea Growing Guide.

Easy Does It: Best Hydrangeas for Beginners to Grow

Hydrangeas are versatile and easy to grow. They are not at all particular about where they’re planted. All they need is well-drained soil, some water and a little bit of shade during hot summer days.

Oakleaf varieties are the easiest type of hydrangeas for beginners to grow.

Why are oakleaf hydrangeas so easy? They aren’t picky! Oakleaf hydrangeas can tolerate colder weather, handle more sun, withstand drought, are more disease/pest resistant and grow in sandy soil better than other hydrangeas.

The catch? All oakleaf hydrangea varieties are white.

Here are the best hydrangeas for beginners to grow.

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Photo courtesy of Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

Alice Hydrangea – Big, strong and beautiful! Alice was dubbed the most robust and trouble-free hydrangea by the University of Georgia. Be warned, Alice is a big gal and can grow to be 15’ tall with a 15’ spread.

 Hydrangea Type: Oakleaf

Shrub Type: Deciduous

Light: Full-partial sun

Size: 5-15’ H x 5-15’ W

Zone: 5-9

Blooms: June-July. Giant, cone-shaped blooms that smell great and fade to pink

Features:

  • Native
  • Beautiful burgundy and bronze fall foliage
  • Somewhat deer resistant.

Soil: Not picky about soil type or soil pH

hydrangea care, hydrangea color, growing hydrangas

Photo courtesy of Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

Snowflake Hydrangea – Enjoy the beauty of snowflakes in the middle of summer. Snowflake hydrangeas have the longest bloom time of any oakleaf hydrangea. Plus, its double blossoms make it really stand out! It’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular hydrangeas.

Hydrangea Type: Oakleaf

Shrub Type: Deciduous

Light: Partial sun. Can adapt to full-sun if watered often

Size: 5-10’ H x 5-10’ W

Zone: 5-9

Blooms: June-late summer. Stark white, double blossom blooms that look like snowflakes and fade to pink then brown

Features:

  • Fast growing
  • Native
  • Double blossom
  • Intense maroon fall foliage

Soil: Rich, moist soil

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Photo courtesy of Monrovia

Ruby Slippers Hydrangea – Tiny but mighty! Growing no taller than 4’, this compact hydrangea explodes with 9” flower blooms. And those blooms can last up to two months. If you think you don’t have room for a hydrangea, think again. Ruby Slippers will fit in even the smallest garden!

Hydrangea Type: Oakleaf

Shrub Type: Deciduous

Light: Full-part sun

Size: 3-5’ H x 4-5’ W

Zone: 5-9

Blooms: Early-mid-summer. Gigantic white blooms that quickly transform into a rosy color

Features:

  • Compact
  • Long-lasting, pink blooms
  • Thrives in heat, drought and poor soil
  • Striking crimson fall foliage that stays on through early winter

Soil: Well-drained soil

Once established, fertilize your oakleaf hydrangea with Espoma’s Plant-tone every spring.

Find out which hydrangeas grow in full sun. Learn about hydrangeas that bloom all summer. Find out even more about hydrangea care in our Ultimate Hydrangea Guide

Make Like a Garden and Grow

This year, let’s grow your best garden yet! All you need is a sturdy pencil, a blank notebook and a vivid imagination. You’ll almost be able to smell wild lavender and delicate roses.

With a detailed garden plan, your organic garden blooms right off the page.

 Grow On! How to Plan Your Dream Garden

1. Reflect to Perfect. Think about last year’s garden. Jot down all your flowers, edibles and shrubs. Mark your favorite and most used plants. Cross off those that didn’t produce, succeed or required too much effort. What plants do you wish you had? What edibles did you spend too much on at the store? Add those to your plant list.

2. Wise Size. Sketch your current garden space. Should you expand or cut back? Consider if and where you’d like to place new garden beds, raised beds, containers or another vegetable garden. If this is your first garden, plan for 50-75 square feet.

garden plan, garden design3. Site for Light. With your garden design sketched, it’s time to color coordinate! Fill in each area with a different color based on how sunny or shady it is.

4. Single or Mingle. Tweak the list of plants you want to add, keep or remove. Then decide which plants you’ll cluster and which to keep separate. Pair plants with similar water, light and soil needs. Plan where to plant them, and circle the plants you’ll start from seed.

start seeds, plan garden5. Pick to Mix. Scrutinize your list to make sure you have a good mix of: plant types, scents, bloom times, beneficial plants, texture, sizes and color. Do the Safe Paws check to make sure all plants are safe for your pets.

Step back and admire your handiwork! In just a few short months, your hands will be in the soil making your garden plan spring to life.