Boost African Violets by Repotting

African violets need to be repotted about once a year to keep them growing big and beautiful. It is best to inspect them first to see if their leaves and roots are healthy.

If your African violet is happy and healthy, but needs room to grow or is fresh from the garden center and needs to come out of the plastic pot, transferring it, adding fresh soil and Espoma’s Violet! liquid fertilizer will keep it healthy and prevent it from getting leggy. Plus it will give you an opportunity to really interact with your new (or old) plants and give them some love.

houseplant care, potting soil, indoor plants

Steps to Repotting Your African Violets:

  1. Find the right container for your African violet. Keep in mind that the roots grow more out, not down – a shallow wide container will work better than a narrow tall container. Also, you want to find a slightly bigger container than the one it is now – never smaller.
  2. Fill the new pot with enough of Espoma’s Organic African Violet Potting Mix so the root ball will sit just under the lip. This will allow your plant to have the correct drainage, pH level and nutrients that it needs. African violets don’t like sitting in water, so keeping them in well drained soils will prevent root-rot.
  3. Take your African violet out of the previous pot by gently wrapping your hand around the plant and slowly removing it. Give the pot a squeeze or a small shake if the plant needs help coming out.
  4. Place your African violet centered in the new container. You want the root ball to be below the top of the container.
  5. Fill the container the rest of the way with soil and tuck it in the sides as needed. Be gentle as the leaves will break off if they are handled roughly.
  6. Water to settle the plant. The best way to do that is to soak the bottom of the pot in two inches of water and allow the roots to soak it up. Empty any remaining water after 5 minutes. African violets don’t like water to touch their leaves, so if you can’t soak it, be sure to water under their leaves and only the soil. Remember, the recommended amount  of our Violet! liquid fertilizer to the water to give it a boost.

Repotting or freshly potting your African violets will increase growth and beauty!

To see this done in action, watch Laura replant her African violets!

 

 

Why Do African Violets Get Leggy?

African violets are gorgeous flowering houseplants. They bring bright colors and joy indoors. Beginning and advanced gardeners can be successful at growing one.

They can be a little needy, as they have specific watering and light requirements. Because of this, African violets can sometimes 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.

 Reasons African Violets Get Leggy

Light

African violets require bright, indirect light, which can be achieved through grow lights or placing it near a thin curtained window. Gardeners sometimes think that indirect light means low light. Depriving your plant from light will cause longer stems as they reach for light to grow.

Water

Leaves of African violets don’t like to be wet.  The soil in your pot should be a well-draining soil to allow it to dry in between waterings. Be sure to water the soil, not the plant, in order to keep it happy. If leaves stay wet, they are more susceptible to mold, rot, and fungus growth. The flowers will try to get away from the mold or fungus and become leggy.

Age

African violets’ bottom leaves will turn yellow and eventually fall off the plant, leaving other stems bare.  This is a natural part of plant aging, plants lose the rosette of leaves at the base. This too can give the plant a leggy look.

The best way to combat leggy African violets is to repot to give it a fresh space and fertilize with Espoma’s Violet! liquid plant food. This will help keep your plant growing new leaves to help keep it from becoming leggy and will enhance the colors of your flowers.

 

Get six quick tips for caring for African violets from Garden Answer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VCudo90K5I

 

Hauntingly Good Plants for Halloween

The spookiest holiday of the year is just around the corner and trick-or-treaters are getting ready for the big night. This year, decorate your house with creepy, living decorations that will add an eerie twist to your night.

With their creepy names, weird colors and devilish shapes, these plants will be the center of every fun, spooky story you tell. Better yet, these plants can stick around all year with the right light, water and feeding directions.

Top 5 Spookiest Houseplants

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Spider Plant

This creepy plant is fun to decorate with due to its long spider-like legs that grow little “spiderlings” on the ends. Transfer it into a hanging plant basket and wrap synthetic web around the outside of basket. Cover with plastic spiders to give it extra creep. Make it kid friendly, by painting a container black and adding spider eyes to the front to making it look like one big spider. Spider plants are known for being low-maintenance so it will grow in almost any spot.

Dracula Orchid

The Dracula orchid is not an ordinary orchid. Aptly named, as it blooms, the center of the plant looks like it could bite you with its vampire-like mouth. Wrap your container in a cape and paint it red down the sides to decorate this plant into a creepy vampire.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Devil’s Backbone

Devil’s Backbone gets its name from the interesting zigzagging formation of the leaves resembling a creepy spine as it grows. Invite this devilish plant to your home and hang ghouls and ghosts from it to add a spooky charm. Though it may be called the Devil’s Backbone, it works hard to purify the air from toxins.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Earth Star

With spiky edges and elongated “fingers”, the earth star plant is a creepy addition to your Halloween décor. Transfer into a spooky container and let it spread and it will look like something is crawling toward you. Keep in bright light to encourage growth.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Rope Plant

The rope plant’s foliage that twists and turns looks like something right out of a witch’s lair. Put a spell on your home with the shadows this plant gives off. The rope plant will flower and last up to a month.

Fun and spooky houseplants are the best way to bring live Halloween décor to your home. Feed as directed with Espoma’s Indoor! plant food.

6 Cool Weather Growing Tips

As evenings become cooler and crisper and the daylight gets shorter and shorter, it’s a signal that frost is not too far away. The change in temperature and season can leave gardeners longing for the warm summer air, instead of prepping for winter.

There’s still plenty of gardening to be done this time of year. Get the most out of your fall harvest and set your garden up for spring success by jumping on these garden tasks now.

6 Tips for Fall Gardening

Plant Trees

It’s no secret that the best time to plant a tree or shrub is in the fall. Before you plant, evaluate the landscape to assess the amount of sunlight, ground vegetation, proximity to permanent structures, and hazards, such as overhead wires or underground pipes. Choose a site where the tree will be able to grow to its mature height. Then, dig a hole twice as wide and the same depth as the root ball. Place the tree in the hole at the same depth it was growing before and fill half the hole with compost or Espoma’s All Purpose Garden Soil. Mix in an organic fertilizer such as Bio-tone Starter Plus with the soil. Backfill the hole, give it a nice drink of water and watch your tree grow.

Get Bulbs in the Ground

Spring-blooming bulbs can generally be planted any time before the soil begins to freeze. Give bulbs their best shot by planting a few weeks before the ground is frozen to help them establish roots. Be sure to add in a scoop of Bulb-tone to each planting hole.

Improve the Soil

While fall is for planting, it’s also the perfect time for prepping for next season. Healthy soil is the backbone of every successful garden. Test soil now for pH and nutrient levels and amend accordingly. Dig 4” deep with a stainless steel trowel and either use a DIY soil test or send your soil sample to the county extension office.

To adjust the PH level of your soil, use Espoma’s Organic Garden Lime to raise the pH of very acidic soil. Poke holes in the soil’s surface and scatter on the lime. Rake lightly into the top inch of soil. Or, apply Espoma’s Soil Acidifier to lower the pH of extremely alkaline soil.

 Create Compost

All of those colorful leaves that are falling make for perfect additions to your compost pile. If you don’t have a compost pile already, start one! The best compost contains about 25 times more carbon-rich materials than nitrogen-rich materials. Think of these as brown and green materials. Brown materials include paper, straw or dried leaves. Green materials include garden and food scraps. Add Espoma’s Compost Starter to help speed the composting process, for rich, fertile compost.

 Top with Mulch

Add a thick blanket of mulch to reduce evaporation and control weeds.

Choose organic mulch that will improve the soil as it decomposes. Lay 2 – 3” of mulch around established plants.

When mulching trees, the mulch should extend away from the plant to just beyond the drip line covering a bit of the roots. Keep 2 – 3” away from the stems of woody plants and 6 – 12” away from buildings to avoid pests.

Prep and harvest fall crops

If it looks like frost will arrive earlier than expected, protect your crops and extend your growing season by covering with a sheet, blanket or tarp. Use stakes to keep the cover from touching the plants.

 

Looking for an indoor project? Check out this low-light succulent planter from Garden Answer.

Fall Succulent DIY

Get ready for fall by creating this seasonal planter filled with low light succulents, pumpkins and owls. Laura from Garden Answer explains how to create and care for a stunning low light succulent container! Be sure to use Espoma’s Cactus Mix and Cactus! liquid fertilizer.

Want to see the full tutorial? Check out our YouTube Channel!

Low Light Succulent Arrangement (Extended DIY)

Get ready for fall by creating this seasonal planter filled with low light succulents, pumpkins and owls. Laura from Garden Answer explains how to create and care for a stunning low light succulent container! Be sure to use Espoma’s Cactus Mix and Cactus! liquid fertilizer.

Watch the quick version here!

Top Trees for Fantastic Fall Color

The changing color of leaves is one of the best performances of fall. Trees all over are shedding their summer greens and bringing in their vibrant reds, oranges and yellows. With it comes the magic of fall, the lower temperatures and cool-weather festivities for everyone to share.

Fall is the perfect time to get trees in the ground, so what are you waiting for? Add some fall color to your garden to keep the vibrancy radiating throughout the season. There are hundreds of trees that produce amazing fall color, but these five are known for their incredible transformations.

5 Fantastic Fall Trees

Red Maple

This fall classic brings the right amount of fall color to any landscape in every season. Throughout the year, this tree has a touch of red on it. During the fall, it opens with vibrant reds and wonderful yellows. Red maples are a fall favorite, which everyone seems to enjoy. Plant in zones 3-9 and watch this tree grow.

Japanese Maple

The variety you choose will determine the variety of colors. Some Japanese maples stay red year-round, while others transition with each season. With those varieties you could see green in the summer, intense reds in the spring and yellows and orange in the fall. Plant in zones 6-8 for your trees to thrive.

Sugar Maple

Finishing off the maples strong, the leaves of this fall standout can form a complete color wheel throughout the seasons. The foliage will change various shades of green in the summer, then to shades of yellows and oranges, to eventually land on bright red in the fall. Watching this tree complete the cycle is well worth planting it in the yard. Plant anywhere in zones 2-10 and enjoy this tree every season.

Sassafras

Known for making root beer from its roots, sassafras is more than just sweet. Sassafras will exceed your expectations for fall colors with its gorgeous display of purples, reds, oranges and yellows. Better yet, you will enjoy the sweet scents that emit from the limbs year-round. Plant this hardy tree in zones 4-9 and welcome fall to the yard.

Black Gum Tree

One branch of this tree can contain many shades of fall color, which makes it a contender for our fall favorites. You will find shades of orange, yellow, purple, bright red and scarlet foliage decorating this tree. The variety that will provide the best fall coloring is ‘Autumn Cascades’. It is a weeping variety, which makes it all the better for that perfect fall look. Plant in zones 4-9 and watch your tree grow to 30 to 50 feet high.

Make sure you keep the fall colors vibrant and full with Espoma’s Tree-Tone.

DIY Bird Cage Succulents with Garden Answer

Laura from Garden Answer makes a frighteningly good succulent bird cage to add to her Halloween decor. Follow along as she adds brightly colored succulents and Espoma’s Organic Cactus Soil Potting Mix to this spooky bird cage for an easy to create spooky look.

Head over to our YouTube page for more fun DIY ideas.

 

 

Help Local Pollinators Survive the Winter

October has arrived and with it comes fall flavors. Pumpkin spice pops up practically wherever you go. And there’s nothing like a freshly picked apple or glass of apple cider.

Pollinators know it‘s fall too and they could use some help from your garden. This time of year is known as nectar flow, where many major nectar sources are blooming. They want their own fall fixes as they prepare to hibernate or migrate.

You’ve probably added perennials and trees to your garden for pollinators, now add fall flowers to bring pollinators to your garden.

6 Fall Blooming Plants for Pollinators

Aster

All kinds of pollinators are attracted to this fall-blooming plant — bees, butterflies, native birds and other insects. This double duty plant will bring vibrant colors to your garden while providing nectar from summer into late fall. Asters are appealing to pollinators due to their friendly flower structure. They grow 2-3 feet tall in zones 4-9 and are happy in both sun and partial shade.

Goldenrod

The fall color scape isn’t complete without the goldenrod’s vibrant color. This easy-to-grow plant brings butterflies and bees to your garden. Being a native to North America, it will adapt to the climate it is set in. They grow 2-3 feet tall in zones 4-9 and are happy in sun or partial shade. Pollinator Tip: Goldenrods do well when paired with Asters.

Purpletop Vervain

Bring the fall colors to your garden with this deep purple plant. The flowers cluster at the top of a long slender stem, which butterflies and bees adore. Purpletop Vervain responds better to late fall sowing as it likes cold temperatures. They grow 2-4 feet tall in zones 7-11 and are happy in full sun.

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed is perfect for gardeners looking to add some height. It may be called a weed, but it brings the classic fall mauve to play with large dinner plate-sized blooms. They are loved by butterflies and will bloom late summer into the fall. They can grow up to 5 feet tall in zones 4-9 and are happy in full sun.

Autumn Joy Sedum

If you know the classic sedum for the large pink blooms, you will be in for a surprise with Autumn Joy. This variety offers burnt red blossoms on top of tall gray-green stalks. The vibrant fall color complements your garden this season. Butterflies are a frequent visitor to this plant. It will last through the fall, until the flowers dry in the winter. They grow 2 feet tall in zones 3-9 and are happy in full sun.

Bugbane

Known for being a dramatic addition to any garden, Bugbane is popular among gardeners.  Bugbane is a host plant and source of nectar for butterflies. On top of long stalks, wispy white flower spikes bring sweet smells. Other fall colors are offered in various varieties of this plant. They grow up to 6 feet tall with 12-18 inch spikes of color in zones 3-9 and are happy with partial sun to full shade.

Be sure to keep fall blooms big and vibrant with Espoma’s Grow! Liquid Plant Food.

Winter is Coming – Frost Preparedness

It may still be warm outside, but that doesn’t mean winter is not going to come bite us in the bud. Frost is coming and it will hit your garden hard if you aren’t prepared.

Be sure to find your first frost date and prep your garden for winter.

What is Frost?

Frost is when the dew you see on your garden turns into ice crystals. This happens when the temperature drops down to 32° F or lower.

Even a light frost can end your garden for the season. This happens when temperatures are between 29-32°. When frost hits a garden that hasn’t been properly prepared, you can say goodbye to heat-loving plants.Winter can be hard on any garden, but many plants can be protected from a light frost and continue to grow until your first hard freeze.

Find your Frost Date.

The easiest way to find your frost date is to type in your zip code into this frost date calculator.

This calculator gives you an idea on when frost will hit first and when you can expect temperatures above freezing in the spring. The percentages on top of the chart explain that you have that much of a chance of having frost for that date. For example, in the Fall 32° row, if you have the date Oct 14 under the 50 percent column, you have a 50 percent chance of 32° on October 14th.

What does this mean for your garden?

Once you know your frost date, it’s time to prepare your garden to preserve what you can.

Prepare. Often times, first frosts are light and followed by some sunshiny days before everything freezes over for good. Cover crops with a blanket or cloth material to keep them warm during this period. Try to avoid plastic as it can freeze and crack. You can also try to hose off your garden first thing in the morning to get any of the excess ice crystals off and warm your plants back up.

Harvest. Remember to harvest as your vegetables continue to ripen. You don’t have to make a mad dash to get all of your vegetables inside, but keep an eye on them. If they stop producing or if a harsh frost is coming, harvest any vegetables on your plants and let them ripen inside. Frost will damage the delicate tissue of fruits and veggies like tomatoes.

Wait. For winter vegetables, such as some squash, pumpkins, and cabbage families, you can wait until after the frost. In fact, some root crops actually have improved flavor after the frost. Check your seed packet or with your local garden center to check which vegetables you can keep outside during a frost.

Feed. Lawns will stop growing when it gets colder. This is great news for you – no more mowing! Give them a fresh dose of Espoma’s Fall Winterizer Lawn Fertilizer to help it withstand the winter’s harsh cold.

When the hard frosts are on the way, it is time to put your garden to bed for the winter.