A Healthy and Happy New Year with Plants

With the start of a new year, we’ve got resolutions on our mind. Eat right, exercise more and add houseplants.

Yep, you read that right. Houseplants actually boost your wellbeing. In addition to bringing the outdoors in, some houseplants are proven to provide both physical and psychological benefits.

You know that plants produce the oxygen we breathe, but did you know that houseplants are also powerful natural air filters. Common products such as household cleaners, carpets, furniture and nail polish release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air.

Add just few plants to your home to improve air quality. Adding houseplants is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to make your home healthier for the New Year.

Winter houseplants aren’t just limited to holiday plants like poinsettias. The options are endless.

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The Best Plants for Your Home

  • African violets
  • Orchids
  • Peace lily
  • Chinese evergreen
  • Philodendron
  • ZZ plant
  • Dieffenbachia

he colorful blooms of African violets are extra special. They’ll instantly add color to any room.

Some houseplants even remove common toxins from indoor air, surely shooing away the winter blues.

Other scientific studies show houseplants can help us stay healthier in other ways, including reducing frequency of headaches, sore throats and stress levels.

Especially after spending so much time indoors for the winter, it’s nice to have a pop of nature. Dry skin and chapped lips are uncomfortable side effects of forced-air heating. A natural remedy is to add houseplants that act as humidifiers, releasing moisture as a part of their natural breathing.

Being around plants, especially in indoor environments, improves creativity, problem-solving skills, memory, and cognitive skills.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to keep houseplants healthy! The cold season can be challenging for houseplants, too. Help houseplants thrive by creating a happy home and they’ll continue brightening winter days. Feed with Espoma’s indoor liquid plant foods to give plants the natural proteins and beneficial microbes they need. And the innovative Easy Dose cap pours the perfect amount without any measuring or mess.

Houseplants give back year-round. Learn more about caring for houseplants here.

Help Houseplants Weather the Winter

Lush green plants filled with blooms aren’t only found in the garden. Even though you’ve put your outdoor garden to bed for the winter, you can still grow thriving houseplants inside.

Winter houseplants aren’t just limited to holiday plants like poinsettias. The options are endless — ranging from African violets to orchids. Some houseplants even remove common toxins from indoor air, surely shooing away the winter blues.

The cold season can be challenging for houseplants, however. Light is low, days are short and indoor humidity is terrible. Help houseplants thrive by creating a happy home and they’ll continue brightening winter days.

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Four tips to help houseplants thrive over winter:

  1. Keep leaves green. If leaf tips are brown, it means your houseplant isn’t getting enough moisture. The remedy is simple. Place a humidifier near multiple plants or place the plant on a tray of pebbles and water. But don’t let the roots sit in standing water.
  2. Don’t forget to water. This is a common issue for the forgetful gardener. Set up a watering schedule and give plants a drink when soil is dry to the touch, about every seven to 10 days.
  3. Let in the light. A houseplant will tell you it’s happy by maintaining healthy leaves. If there’s enough light for you to read by, there’s probably enough for a low-light houseplant. Don’t put plants near heat or air conditioning ducts, on TVs, or between curtains and chilly windows.
  4. Feed Organically. Fertilizing is easy with Espoma’s indoor liquid plant foods. Give plants the natural proteins and beneficial microbes they need to provide beautiful results. And the innovative Easy Dose cap pours the perfect amount without any measuring or mess.

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

How to decorate with succulents for the holidays

The brightest part of winter may just be decorating your home for the season. Your holiday decorating doesn’t have to be the same every year and holiday houseplants aren’t just limited to poinsettias. Switch it up by incorporating easy-care succulents and brightening up your living spaces for the holidays.

Check out our holiday succulent roundup for eight ideas to add natural festive touches to your décor. The possibilities are endless.

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8 Ways to Decorate with Succulents for Winter:

  1. Succulent centerpiece: Add succulents to your centerpiece and give your holiday party a farm-to-table look with this tablescape DIY.
  2. Succulent kissing ball: Update the traditional mistletoe with succulents.
  3. DIY Terrarium Ornaments: Go all out and add these mini landscapes to your tree. It’s easier than it looks and you can repurpose the plants when the season is over.
  4. Copper-dipped terrarium: Tap into the copper décor trend by adding the hue to your terrarium. Give as gifts or use in your home. A terrarium will hold up long after the ugly sweaters and ornaments have been hidden away.
  5. Holiday succulent arrangement: Use evergreen clippings from cedar and holly garden clippings to make this festive succulent arrangement. Use clippings in wreaths, outdoor planters and indoor arrangements while you’re at it.
  6. Recycled Succulent Tins: These recycled paint-dipped cans make perfect gifts for everyone from teachers to hostesses. This DIY is perfect for little hands and the finished project will last long beyond the holidays.
  7. A Magnolia Cone & Succulent Wreath: No glitter, sequins or shiny ornaments used here. This succulent wreath will surely please holiday guests.
  8. Make a living succulent tree: Make a living succulent tree using this quick DIY video. Bonus, it makes great décor beyond just the holidays.

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

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.

How to Replant African Violets

Even African violets need to be repotted once to twice a year to keep them growing. Laura from Garden Answer guides you through the steps of choosing a new container and replanting.

6 Tips For Caring for African Violets

Laura from Garden Answer shows you how to care for African violets. Once you get in a regular routine of taking care of African violets, you’ll find they grow very easily. All of their basic needs need to be met though, or they won’t bloom. Give them the right temperature, light and a good feeding, and you’ll be blooming in no time!

Top 4 Houseplants to Give and Get this Holiday Season

There’s so much to love about the holiday season — the cooking and baking, the time spent with family and friends, and the festive plants. Poinsettias or a blooming Christmas cactus are compact yet boast of holiday spirit. The more plants, the merrier!

With just a little care, holiday houseplants can continue to thrive throughout the year. Knowing how to care for them helps to keep them beautiful. Repot later if needed.

So whether you’re getting or giving holiday houseplants, use these tips to help keep them blooming.

How to Care for Holiday Favorites

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Poinsettia: No other plant quite marks the beginning of the holiday season like the poinsettia. With more than 100 varieties available today in colors of red, white, pink and more, this plant can be found just about everywhere during the holidays.

First things first, don’t let poinsettias get cold on the ride home from the store. Keep trips and exposure to cold as short as possible. Once home, these cheery plants thrive on six hours of indirect light a day away from cold drafts and need proper watering. When the plant needs water, remove the decorative foil and let soak in a few inches of water for an hour or so. Let excess drain and rewrap.

Tip: Take the poinsettia out of its foil and place it in a decorative container.

Norfolk Island pine: A mini Christmas tree, this festive plant looks lovely when adorned with mini lights and homemade ornaments or just plain on its own.

Give pines about six to eight hours of light per day. Any less and lower branches are likely to drop. Water when dry to the touch. Fertilize Norfolk Island pines bi-monthly with our new liquid houseplant fertilizer to keep them happy and healthy.

Tip: Pines can last for years and be decorated for other seasons as well!

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Christmas cactus: Though this cactus is known for blooming around Christmas, it’ll stay strong throughout the year and periodically rebloom. It’s ruffled flowers range in color from reds to pinks to oranges and creams.

Give this plant bright indirect light and place outdoors in a semi-shady spot during summer months. Allow plant to become slightly dry between waterings.  Keeps this holiday plant reblooming for years to come by giving it a rest during the fall and placining it in the dark for about six to eight weeks, encouraging new blooms.

Tip: No matter how diligent you are about care, bloom time may vary based on variety. Whether or not it blooms in time for the holidays, you’ll still have winter blooms to enjoy.

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Cyclamen: Cyclamen’s bright flowers in pink, white or red are great for adding a pop of color where you need it. With the right conditions, they can bloom for more than eight weeks.

Cyclamen likes light, but not super-bright light. Keep the temperature consistent and deadhead spent flowers and leaves. Pour water in a saucer and let the plant absorb it for 15 to 20 minutes.

Tip: During the summer, cyclamen’s foliage turns yellow and dies back. This is their dormant period when they’re storing energy for the next flowering season.

Any houseplant can grow with the proper care. Learn how here.

Five Reasons to be Thankful for Houseplants

While you’re counting your blessings and listing those things you’re grateful for this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to include houseplants. Indoor plants provide a pop of color and interesting texture to any space.

Houseplants are more than just a pretty face, though. They impact our everyday lives by cleaning the air and reducing stress. Give houseplants everything they need to grow and they’ll pay you back.

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Here are the Top Five Reasons to Be Thankful for Houseplants

1. Indoor Plants Purify the Air

Studies from the US Environmental Protection Agency have found that levels of indoor air pollution can be two to five times higher — and in some cases 10 times more polluted — than outdoor air. Houseplants such as bromeliads, spider plants and dracaena, remove the harmful compounds frequently found in homes and offices, produced by cleaning supplies, paint, furniture glue and nail polish remover.

2. Houseplants help us relax

Researchers have found that being around plants—especially indoors, can reduce stress and help us feel happier and more relaxed. You can never have too many houseplants so choose one, or 10 that work for you.

3. Plants Make Us Smarter

Having a plant around can enhance learning abilities by improving our concentration, focus and problem-solving skills. Make sure to place houseplant in home offices, studying spaces and at work.

4. They Improve Our Physical Health

Plants offer physical benefits, too. One study found that adding plants to office spaces reduces headaches, coughs and sore throats. And employees typically use fewer sick days.

Know someone in the hospital? Bring them a plant. A Kansas State University studied found that patients in rooms with plants request less pain medication, have lower heart rates and blood pressure, experience less fatigue and anxiety and are discharged sooner.

5. They’re easy to care for

Seniors feel better and more fulfilled when they take care of houseplants (or pets). Keeping plants healthy, helps make us more socially connected and happy. There’s a perfect plant out there for anyone, and certain plants, such as sansevieria and zz plant, are surprisingly low maintenance .

Show gratitude for your favorite plants by giving them proper care. Learn how here.

How to Care for Succulents and Cacti in Winter

Succulents and cacti are great low-maintenance plants that brighten up the indoors, even during winter’s darkest days. Their unusual shapes and textures add visual interest to any table or windowsill, and with the right care, they’ll stay just fine throughout the long, cold season.

Succulents and cacti make for good houseplants year-round. In winter, plants only need a little light and occasional watering to keep them going. Most cacti and succulents go dormant by the time fall comes around, meaning they will stop growing when temperatures and daylight drop.

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5 Ways to Care for Cacti and Succulents during Winter:

1. Make your cacti or succulent happy by placing the dormant plant in an area where it will thrive. Succulents need less light during the winter and will survive when given indirect light, too. For the best results, make sure your plant receives at least three to four hours of bright light a day. Place are happiest near a south or east facing window.

2. Succulents typically grow in sandy, well-drained soil. Use Espoma’s cacti and succulent mix to give your plant what it needs. Succulents can’t stand overly moist soil, so make sure containers have drainage holes to allow excess water to exit.

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3. Control the temperature. Succulents won’t mind temperatures as low as 50 to 55 degrees, but few will tolerate colder.

4. Succulents need deep watering, but will not use as much water as when they’re experiencing active growth. Water sparingly and from the top, allowing water to trickle through to the bottom. Do not let plants sit in water for a long time. Make sure to keep water off the body of the cactus, it can contribute to rot.

5. Check for pests. Look at leaves monthly for aphids and mealy bugs. If found, move the infested plant away from others and mist with a mixture of 3 parts rubbing alcohol to 1 part water.

 

No green thumb? No worries? Learn more about caring for cacti and succulents.

6 Steps to Keep African Violets Blooming

The colorful blooms of African violets are extra special. They’ll instantly add color to any room.

They’re known to bloom continuously, even throughout the darker months of winter. Place them throughout the house to enjoy their colors and velvety texture throughout the year.

Once you get in a regular routine of taking care of African violets, you’ll find they grow very easily. All of their basic needs need to be met though, or they won’t bloom. Give them the right temperature, light and a good feeding, and you’ll be blooming in no time!

he colorful blooms of African violets are extra special. They’ll instantly add color to any room.

Choosing and Caring for African Violets:

1. Start off healthy. Choose a plant with bright emerald leaves and the flower color that you want. Make sure the pot has drainage holes.

2. The right light. The most common reason African violets don’t bloom is because they aren’t getting enough light. African violets need indirect sunlight, direct can burn the leaves. Choose a north- or east- facing window for best results. Keep plants away from cold glass and rotate the pot once a week so all leaves receive light. Extend daylight by placing African violets under a grow light during winter months.

3. Keep warm. African violets prefer the same temperatures most people find comfortable: between 70-80°F during the day, and around 65–70°F at night.

4. Water from below. Fill the saucer using room temperature water. Let sit for about an hour and then pour excess water out. Allow the plant to dry out between waterings.

5. Fertilize with Espoma’s new liquid Violet! Indoor houseplant food every 2-4 weeks in spring, summer and fall.

6. Think before replanting. African violets only bloom when they’re root bound. When it is time to repot, be sure to use an organic potting soil made specifically for African violets, such as Espoma’s African Violet Mix. They flower best in small pots — choose one that’s about a third of the diameter of their leaf spread.

Now that you’re African violet is off to a great start, it’s time to care for your other houseplants!