Give Some Green for the Holidays

This holiday season choose gifts that help the earth and are sure to impress friends and family. I’ll give you a hint: Think green!

Whomever you are shopping for, green is sure to please. It doesn’t matter if it is someone new to gardening or the expert gardener in your family, there is something for everyone.

Providing “green” gifts allows loved ones to decorate their homes and enjoy the benefits of a healthy life.

Here are some great ideas for gardening gifts:

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.

Holiday Houseplants

Poinsettias, Christmas cactus, amaryllis, and cyclamen are just a handful of holiday houseplants that will wow any recipient. These everlasting gifts that will bloom again and again for years to come. Pick up houseplants at your local garden center. Don’t forget to pair your new houseplants with Espoma’s Indoor! liquid fertilizer.

Garden Starter Kit

This is one you can have fun with. Grab a few garden essentials and your recipient will be set and ready to get their hands in the dirt. Grab a bag of Espoma’s potting mix, a hand trowel, gardener gloves, various vegetable seeds, seed trays, and a few flower seed packets for the perfect starter kit for any gardener. Personalize it by adding their favorite flower seeds or including their favorite colored items.

Go Local

Are too many choices making the gift giving process overwhelming? Is that loveable gardener on the list too picky? Take the hassle out of shopping and buy a gift certificate to a local garden center. It’s an easy and thoughtful gift and also supports a local business.

Get Outdoors

What better way to enjoy gardening than to spend time in one? Give the gift of forest bathing this year and purchase a day pass or membership to a local arboretum or public garden. Spending time in nature reduces stress and improves concentration.

Get Creative

Be crafty and make these DIY succulent snow globes with Garden Answer’s tutorial. These little planters are sure to please even the toughest gift recipients. And you get bonus points for making them yourself.

 

Christmas Cactus Care

Laura from Garden Answer gives her best tips for caring for everyone’s favorite holiday plant – the Christmas cactus. These plants can live for year’s with the right care. Learn how to keep your Christmas Cactus blooming!

 

African Violet FAQs

We are big fans of African violets and know many of you are, too! These houseplants add color to any space in winter and their cheerful flowers make us smile.

Since African violets can be picky about where they want to be and how they want to be watered, we created a go-to guide for you.

Keep your plant happy and healthy with these African violet frequently asked questions.

The Basics

  • How do I pick the perfect plant?
    • Select a healthy African violet in your choice of color that has dark green, spot-free leaves.
    • Look for a plant with one growing center, known as a single crown, to get the most blooms.
  • What container should I use?
    • Keep in mind that the roots grow out, not down, so a shallow wide container works better than a narrow tall container.
  • What potting soil should I use?
  • How much light should my African violet get?
    • African violets need indirect sunlight, as direct sun can burn the leaves.
    • Choose a north- or east-facing window and keep plants away from cold glass.
    • Rotate the pot once a week so all leaves receive light.
    • Extend daylight by placing African violets under a grow light during winter months.
  • Do my African violets need to stay 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.
  • How do I water my plant so it is happy?
    • Only water your violet when the soil is dry to the touch.
    • Fill the pot’s saucer, and allow the roots absorb the amount of water they need. After an hour, dump any remaining water to avoid over watering.
  • When Should I fertilize?

Getting Leggy

  • What causes my African violet to get leggy?
    • Leggy is when new growth forms on a plant tip. This new growth takes most of the energy away from the bottom of the plant.
    • The three main reasons on why your plant is getting leggy are age, water and light. For more information on this, visit this blog.
  • What can I do to help my leggy plant?
    • The best (and easiest) way to help it is to repot your African violet. Allowing more room for roots and a better growing atmosphere, will help your plant succeed.

Repotting Plants

  • How often should I repot my African violet?
    • Once a year should be enough to keep your plant happy. It will provide new space for root growth and also prevent it from getting leggy.
  • Can I use the same size container?
    • You want to find a slightly bigger container than the one it is in now – never smaller. While African violets like to be root bound to bloom, you want to provide space for it to breathe and grow.
  • Can I reuse the soil?
    • It’s best to start fresh with an organic potting soil made specifically for African violets such as Espoma Organic African Violet Mix. Using the same soil can bring new infestations to your plant that may not be prevalent now.
  • How close to the top of the pot should the root ball be?
    • You want the root ball to be below the top of the container. Don’t forget to center your plant!
  • Do I need to compact the plant in the new pot?
    • It is best to tuck your plant in to the new pot gently. Pressing too hard can harm the leaves, but not tucking it can cause problems in growing.
    • Settle the plant by watering it from the saucer.

 

Start Propagating

  • Is it difficult to propagate African violets?
    • Not at all! It’s one of the easiest plants to propagate.
  • Where do I start?
    • Find a healthy leaf on one of your current plants. Be sure to have a clean cut on it before planting it in your soil. For full directions, see here.
  • How long does it take?
    • At about 3-4 weeks, roots should begin forming on the leaf.
    • In another 3-4 weeks, your new leaves will start to sprout.
    • When the sprouts get 2-3 leaves on them, which is around the 2-6 month mark, you will need to repot.

Have any more questions? Reach out to us on Facebook!

Big-Leaf Drama – Indoor plants with oversized foliage

There’s no such thing as too many houseplants – nor is there such a thing as too big of a houseplant. Dramatic leaves, oversized foliage and overhanging limbs make houseplants the center of attention in any household.

Depending on where big leaf plants are placed, they can help draw attention to a room or hide that patch in the wall that you don’t want anyone to see.

Our Favorite Oversized Foliage Houseplants

  1. Monstera

Known as the split leaf philodendron, the foliage on this plant is striking. Being a tropical variety, this plant can survive low light and higher humidity. It has large, lush, dark green foliage that stands out against a blank wall. Keep it near a window with indirect light and watch it grow. Don’t forget to share it on Instagram using the hashtag #monsteramonday.

  1. Bird of Paradise

This exotic plant draws attention in your home. Not only is the foliage large, it can grow up to 8 feet tall. The leaves are evergreen and arranged in a way that the leaves look like a bird’s head and beak. Keep it in front of a window that gets 4-5 hours of sunlight a day.

  1. Fiddle Leaf Fig

With its height and large leathery foliage, this houseplant can really change up a room. The glossy foliage will add flare wherever you need a little splash of dark color. Inside, it can grow up to 8 feet tall. It is aesthetically pleasing and can complement any room decor. Keep it in a well-lit spot, where it will get indirect sunlight all day long.

 

  1. White Snake Plant

This easy to care for plant will certainly make a statement. While the foliage isn’t as wide as the previously listed plants, it can grow up to three foot tall. A snake plant will survive anything. Low light loving and drought tolerant, so if you accidently forget about it for a few days, it will be just fine. Place in an area you want to add a little height for a dramatic appeal to your home.

 

  1. Rubber Tree

If you’re looking for a tree that gives the best of everything, a rubber tree is for you. It has large evergreen leaves, impressive height and cleans the air around you. It is easy to care for and can survive even after being neglected for a few days. It will eventually reach up to 8 feet tall. Keep it somewhere where you spend a lot of time, especially a home office or a children’s room, in order to really reap the air cleaning benefits.

 

Just because these houseplants are oversized, doesn’t mean they are too big of a job for Espoma’s Indoor liquid fertilizer. By feeding your houseplants as directed, you keep your attention grabbers happy and healthy.

 

Succulent Snow Globe DIY (Full Version)

Laura from Garden Answer shows you how to bring the outdoors in for the winter months. Make this easy potted plant snow globe using succulents and Espoma’s organic cactus mix. Ask kids to help make these tiny globes or make them yourself. They’re perfect for holiday decor or to give as gifts to the plant lover in your life.

 

Here are the basics:

  1. Gather your winter crafting materials, paint, potting soil, globe ornament, fairies, ribbons and succulents. Choose a small container such as a terracotta pot to serve as your base.
  2. Paint container and let dry.
  3. Fill with Espoma’s Cactus Mix
  4. Cut a large opening in clear ornament
  5. Drill a small hole in the ornament for air flow and to water succulents with an eye dropper
  6. Add a miniature toy, fairy and/or succulents
  7. Make it feel like the holidays by adding faux snow
  8. Tie a ribbon or string around the container and finish with a bow.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our YouTube page!

 

Quick Succulent Snow Globe DIY

Laura from Garden Answer shows you how to bring the outdoors in for the winter months. Make this easy potted plant snow globe using succulents and Espoma’s organic cactus mix. Ask kids to help make these tiny globes or make them yourself. They’re perfect for holiday decor or to give as gifts to the plant lover in your life.

 

Here are the basics:

  1. Gather your winter crafting materials, paint, potting soil, globe ornament, fairies, ribbons and succulents. Choose a small container such as a terracotta pot to serve as your base.
  2. Paint container and let dry.
  3. Fill with Espoma’s Cactus Mix
  4. Cut a large opening in clear ornament
  5. Drill a small hole in the ornament for air flow and to water succulents with an eye dropper
  6. Add a miniature toy, fairy and/or succulents
  7. Make it feel like the holidays by adding faux snow
  8. Tie a ribbon or string around the container and finish with a bow.

Want to see more? Check out our YouTube channel!

Grow Your Own Microgreens

Microgreens add fresh flavor and nutrients to salads, sandwiches, smoothies and stir-fries. These plants are harvested when they’re young, usually about two weeks after planting.

 

Plus, microgreens contain about five times more vitamins than if grown to mature vegetables, according to USDA researchers. Adding microgreens to smoothies will boost the nutritional content without adding strong flavors.

 

While you’re waiting to start seeds for the spring, try growing microgreens for a fun winter project. They’ll also be the perfect complement to your indoor herb garden.

6 Steps to Grow Winter Microgreens:

  1. Soak seeds in room temperature water for no more than eight hours before you plant them.
  2. Select a container that will hold an inch of soil. This can be a seed-starting tray, plastic take-out dish, disposable pie plate or even a clear salad box.
  3. Punch a few drainage holes in the bottom. Set container on a cookie sheet, plastic tray or container to prevent spillage.
  4. Add 1” of Espoma’s Seed Starter and sprinkle with seeds. Lightly cover seeds with soil and water lightly.
  5. Cover container with a damp paper towel or newspaper to keep the seeds from drying out. Lift the cover daily and spray lightly with water until sprouting begins.
  6. Remove the cover when sprouts appear and move microgreens to a sunny windowsill.
  7. Harvest microgreens by cutting the tops with scissors when they are 2” or taller. Rinse sprout tops in a strainer. Microgreens can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  8. Continue harvesting microgreens for up to three weeks.

Dreaming of the outdoors? Learn how to plant veggies in containers for next year!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVVyRRJDfSk&t=67s

Keeping Things Simple- Propagating African Violets

African Violets are one of the most loveable houseplants — packing lots of beauty in such a small plant. Gardeners love having them as a reminder of spring or summer indoors, while the seasons outside might be a little dreary. They seem to want more and more of them every year.

Save money and take your gardening skills to the next level by propagating them. It may sound intimidating to propagate an African Violet in the first place, but it is actually really simple – even beginning gardeners can do it.

Propagating African Violets from leaves

1. Choose a Leaf

Look for a leaf that is healthy and fresh, but has been established on the plant. You want to be sure the leaf is still full of life and not old and tough. Keep the petiole attached to the leaf.

Optional Step: With a sharp knife or razor, trim off the top of the leaf blade. This will encourage faster production of roots by sending all of the energy back into the soil and not into leaf growth.

2. Cut Leaf Petiole

Trim the petiole (the stem) to about ½ to 1 inch in length for best results. When trimming, be sure to cut it at a 45 degree angle to encourage root and plant growth.

3. Plant your Cutting

Find a small container and fill it with Espoma’s Organic African Violet Potting Mix. Make a shallow hole, using your finger or pencil. Place your leaf cutting in, stem side down, and firm the soil around it. Moisten the soil to lock in the cutting.

4. Give it Sunshine

Your cutting needs humidity and sunshine in order to grow. Place it in a clear covered container or put a clear plastic bag over it to provide humidity. Place this in a bright place without being in direct sun. Try to find a window that provides moderate temperature.

5. Plantlets Sprout

Patience is key here. At about 3-4 weeks, roots should begin forming on the petiole. In another 3-4 weeks, your new leaves will start to sprout. When the sprouts get 2-3 leaves on them, which is around the 2-6 month mark, you will need to repot.

Keep maintaining your sprouts and plantlets to nurse them into full grown African Violets. Keep your fully grown African Violets happy and healthy with Espoma’s Violet! liquid fertilizer.

How to Decorate for Thanksgiving With Plants

Plants are the perfect décor for any holiday occasion, especially Thanksgiving. Houseplants fit in perfectly with the magnificent fall colors and magical feel of autumn. Use plants to transform your holiday table this Thanksgiving into something truly beautiful. What’s even better is there’s a style for every personality!

Use these easy steps to get the perfect look.

1. Pick a Focal Point

Select a plant that will draw your eye and establish the look for your centerpiece. A popular choice in focal plants is the croton, due to its exceptional color and texture, which brings autumn to the table. Crotons come in bright yellow, rich gold, flaming orange, deep red, and burgundy purple which, paired with its height, will brighten the table. Any houseplant with a full autumn palate is perfect to be a focal point.  Keep the plant well-fed with our Indoor! liquid fertilizer to ensure your plant stays full of color all season long.

2. Dress it Up

To make a beautiful centerpiece really feel complete, find a fun container for your plant. If you are using this as a temporary focal point for Thanksgiving, any container will do. Otherwise, if you are looking for a more long term arrangement, be sure the container has proper drainage holes. Another option is to keep it in the original pot and wrap a seasonal cloth around the container to dress it up. Really stretch your creative mind and find a unique container, like a holiday turkey vase or a cornucopia to fill with a houseplant.

3. Accessorize

Be as creative as you’d like by adding supportive accents and characters to your table. Autumn themes accents like pinecones, colorful leaves or various gourds to compliment your focal point plant. Yellow and orange chrysanthemums placed in a smaller container will keep within the Thanksgiving vibe.

The thing to remember is to have fun with it and make something truly unique for the holidays.  Be sure to remember to monitor the light, water and to feed with Indoor! liquid fertilizer as directed for a long lasting beautiful plant.

Need more autumn inspiration? Check out Garden Answer’s make a fall succulent DIY!

 

Winter Garden Plants that Dazzle

Jack Frost is starting to nip at our noses and cold fronts are coming in. Summer and fall colors have come and gone and gardens are left with cut back perennials and the anticipation of spring blooms. But your garden doesn’t have look lack luster due to the cold! Some blooms thrive in the winter.

Plant these hardy, winter thriving plants and watch them dazzle even in the snow. They will add color even in the dreariest months of the year.

6 Dazzling Plants for Winter Months

Hellebore

This winter-loving plant will impress any holiday visitors. Also called Christmas Rose, Hellebore will show off beautiful blooms from mid-December through early spring. It grows tall enough for its blooms to poke out even after a good snowfall. The colors of the flower come in white, green, pink, purple, cream and even spotted. Hellebore grows well in zones 4-9 and in partial shade.

Witch Hazel

Keeping its fall color through the winter, witch hazel is bright and beautiful against the white snow. This shrub can be massive, growing more than 12 feet tall in some areas. Witch hazel puts out red and yellow clusters that look like little suns. It fits well in woodland gardens or can be used as a focal piece in a garden. Witch hazel grows well in zones 3-9 and in full to partial sun.

Winter Heath

Mounding, soft needle ground covers that provide color in the winter is a must-have in the garden. Winter heath brings dainty purple flowers that bloom in December and last through April. It only grows about a foot tall, but it will spread twice the height. Depending on the variety, winter heath grows well zones 4-8 and in full sun.

Camellia

With sturdy foliage and rose-like blooms, camellias are often found in the South. Some varieties will surprise you with their hardiness in the snow. These varieties come in colors from white to pink. They grow well in acidic soil, using Espoma’s Holly-Tone to fertilize will set them up for success. Camellia grows well in zones 6-9 and in partial sun.

Winterberry

Winterberry provides year-round interest with beautiful greenery in the summer and bright, lipstick-red berries in the winter. Mirroring the traditional holly, the bright berries make the shrub stand out in a winter holiday setting. Winterberry grows well in zones 3-9 and in full to partial sun.

China Blue Vine

This evergreen is hardy and dependable. In the spring, it produces lovely, fragrant bell shaped flowers in a variety of colors ranging from ivory to mauve. The foliage stands out year-round by being thick and shiny. It holds the foliage lower so it will not topple over in the snow.  China Blue Vines grow well in zone 7-9 and in full to partial sun.

Give winter plants their best chance by planting with Espoma’s Bio-Tone Starter Plus.

Need tips on how to prepare your garden for winter? Check out this blog!