Easy, Breezy Houseplants that Cool Your Home

While everyone loves being indoors in air conditioning on hot summer days, indoor spaces sometimes could use a good pop of plant life. Plus, Mother Nature has her own way of cooling things down. Try cooling your house down the eco-friendly way with houseplants.

Not only do our favorite houseplants look good, they also have humidifier properties and  clean the air too. If you live in dry regions, having houseplants with humidifying effects will help beat the heat.

Photo courtesy of Garden Answer

 Aloe Vera

Not only will you be able to treat sunburns all summer, but Aloe leaves have a high water content which release cool moisture into the air. Aloe is also known to remove toxins from the air. The plant prefers a lot of sun and well-draining soil, such as Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix. Water approximately every three weeks to allow the soil to dry 1-2 inches between watering’s. Fertilize once per month with Espoma’s Cactus! Liquid fertilizer.

Bamboo Palm

The bamboo palm’s luscious leaves are excellent humidifiers and have air purifying qualities as well. The more mature the plant gets, the more moisture it releases. Bamboo Palms prefer well drained soil and pots. They are relatively low maintenance and only require watering when the soil surface feels dry. It is important not to over water Bamboo Palms. Set the pot in an area with bright, indirect light to get healthy growth.

Photo courtesy of Garden Answer

 Sansevieria

Sansevieria has a variety of names but is commonly known as “snake plant.” This snake-like plant has incredible air cooling and cleansing properties. Not to mention, it may be the easiest houseplant you can find. It only requires watering when the soil is completely dry. This can take up to six weeks depending on the size of the plant, humidity, light and temperature conditions in your home. They prefer indirect, medium-to-low light.

 Peace Lily

The Peace Lily is a home essential. Not only does it have stunning green foliage, but if given enough light, classic lily blooms will flower. They have air cleansing and cooling abilities making them perfect as part of your air-cooling house plant team. Peace lilies prefer medium to low light and well-drained soil. For quality potting soil and houseplant success, try Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. The biggest danger with Peace Lilies, and most plants, is over watering. It is best to check the soil once per week. If the plant starts to wilt or the top 1” of the soil is dry, it is time to water. They only require fertilizing once or twice per year.

Areca Palm Tree

Like the other heat-battling, air-cleansing plants on this list, the Areca Palm tree is an excellent air humidifier and also removes toxins from the air. It requires a little more attention than the other plants on this list and will not survive neglect. They prefer lightly moist soil so be sure to check on your plant frequently, especially in warmer temperatures. It is best to fertilize frequently in the spring. For a lush, healthy tree try Espoma’s Indoor! Liquid Fertilizer. They are light-loving plants so near a non-drafty window would be the perfect spot.

Espoma Products for Houseplants:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

 

 

Succulents with Flowers – Beauty Meets Simplicity

Succulents can be the most intricate houseplants out there. They are available in a variety of colors, styles, shapes and sizes, perfect to match any houseplant lover’s wants and needs.

It is a common misconception that only cacti can flower. But that’s not true! There are succulents with beautiful flowers. We have picked out some amazing and unusual flowering succulents to showcase for  your collection.

If you are just getting started with succulents, check out our tips for beginners. An important tip to remember is succulents need well-draining, dry soil to thrive. Espoma’s Cactus Mix will help keep your plants healthy and happy.

4 Flowering Succulents You Need for Your Home:

Kalanchoes

This stunning succulent comes in a variety of vibrant and cheerful colors that will brighten up any home. The blooms on this succulent last almost all year long. Kalanchoes prefer bright indirect light, with only being in direct light about 2 hours a day. Water every two weeks when the top inch has dried out. Trim off the dead flowers where it meets the foliage to keep it looking its best.

Jade

Also known as the luckiest houseplant, this succulent will bloom tiny white flowers, though it doesn’t happen very often. Jade needs to be in an environment similar to its native growing habits in order to bloom – cool nights, bright days, and lack of water. Don’t give up on this plant so quickly, as it needs to be fully matured before it will flower.

Euphorbia Milii

Commonly known as Crown of Thorns for the thick base and long thorns, the Euphorbia Milii’s flowers come in small clusters. The blooms are usually a light red, but can be found in vibrant yellows and deep reds as well. It is a common houseplant, preferring bright light and dry soil.

Donkey Tail Plant

These trailing succulents cascade over their containers. With their grey-green tear-drop shaped leaves, the “donkey tails” can grow up to two feet long. Flowers with small blossoms in red, yellow or white will emerge in late summer. Place these sun-loving succulents near a sunny window and water weekly during spring and summer.

Watch as Laura gives a few tips to get you started on succulent care.

 

Espoma products for flowering succulents:

 

Autumn Fairy Garden DIY (Extended Cut)

Cooler temperatures, changing leaves, crisp apples and pumpkin picking are all signs that fall is here. Make fall come to life in your very own fairy garden!

 

Fairy gardens do better when in an area protected from the elements. When thinking about where to create or place your fairy garden, think about the environmental factors like wind and rain that can ruin the garden. When Laura is done creating her fairy garden, she will place it on her covered porch where it will be protected!

Before we begin, there are a few things to note:

  • There is no drainage in this miniature garden, so water lightly and only when the plants need it. Laura suggests using a syringe to get the right amount of water exactly where it’s needed.
  • If using shapecrete, it may still be soft after 30 minutes of curing, so don’t put too much weight on it. It will continue to cure for 24 hours.
  • This is a seasonal project, so before winter comes find a new home for the plants, either in a greenhouse or indoors, in order to preserve them.

Watch Laura dive into this fun autumn fairy garden! Here is a list of supplies she uses.

Materials Used:
Old Suitcase
Heavy Black Plastic
Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix
Small Plants
Tree Figurines with LED lights
Shapecrete
Native soil
Putka Pods (Look like Miniature Pumpkins)
Autumn Themed Fairy Figurines and Décor
Mulch
Embellishments

Plants Laura Used:
Tiny Tim Euphorbia
Irish Moss
Straw Flower
Creeping Jenny
Sempervivums

How to Create an Autumn Fairy Garden:

  1. Line an old suitcase with heavy plastic in order to preserve it and keep the soil in one place.
  2. Fill with Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix and trim the excess plastic from the container to make it look clean and precise.
  3. Add plants. Remember to work from back to front adding height and texture to the miniature landscape. Use plants that will stay small, so they don’t outgrow your garden.
  4. Add tree figurines. If they light up, keep them near the sides so the cords don’t get wet.
  5. Create a road or pathway for your fairies. Cut photo paper to make a guide where you want the road to go. Mix water with shapecrete and pour between the photo paper. Let dry 30 minutes before removing the paper. It’ll continue to cure for 24 hours.
  6. Now is the time to set the autumn scene and add in your fairy garden figurines. Laura used putka pods, miniature straw bales, apples in a barrel, a Farmer’s Market stand, a worker and a truck full of pumpkins! Feel free to add some mulch and native soil to give it an authentic field feel.
  7. Decorate the lid of your suitcase with fall themed embellishments. Laura added a bunting banner in fall colors.

Enjoy your new fairy garden!

Use Espoma’s organic potting mix in your fairy garden.

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn Fairy Garden DIY

Cooler temperatures, changing leaves, crisp apples and pumpkin picking are all signs that fall is here. Make fall come to life in your very own fairy garden!

 

Fairy gardens do better when in an area protected from the elements. When thinking about where to create or place your fairy garden, think about the environmental factors like wind and rain that can ruin the garden. When Laura is done creating her fairy garden, she will place it on her covered porch where it will be protected!

Before we begin, there are a few things to note:

  • There is no drainage in this miniature garden, so water lightly and only when the plants need it. Laura suggests using a syringe to get the right amount of water exactly where it’s needed.
  • If using shapecrete, it may still be soft after 30 minutes of curing, so don’t put too much weight on it. It will continue to cure for 24 hours.
  • This is a seasonal project, so before winter comes find a new home for the plants, either in a greenhouse or indoors, in order to preserve them.

Watch Laura dive into this fun autumn fairy garden! Here is a list of supplies she uses.

Materials Used:
Old Suitcase
Heavy Black Plastic
Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix
Small Plants
Tree Figurines with LED lights
Shapecrete
Native soil
Putka Pods (Look like Miniature Pumpkins)
Autumn Themed Fairy Figurines and Décor
Mulch
Embellishments

Plants Laura Used:
Tiny Tim Euphorbia
Irish Moss
Straw Flower
Creeping Jenny
Sempervivums

How to Create an Autumn Fairy Garden:

  1. Line an old suitcase with heavy plastic in order to preserve it and keep the soil in one place.
  2. Fill with Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix and trim the excess plastic from the container to make it look clean and precise.
  3. Add plants. Remember to work from back to front adding height and texture to the miniature landscape. Use plants that will stay small, so they don’t outgrow your garden.
  4. Add tree figurines. If they light up, keep them near the sides so the cords don’t get wet.
  5. Create a road or pathway for your fairies. Cut photo paper to make a guide where you want the road to go. Mix water with shapecrete and pour between the photo paper. Let dry 30 minutes before removing the paper. It’ll continue to cure for 24 hours.
  6. Now is the time to set the autumn scene and add in your fairy garden figurines. Laura used putka pods, miniature straw bales, apples in a barrel, a Farmer’s Market stand, a worker and a truck full of pumpkins! Feel free to add some mulch and native soil to give it an authentic field feel.
  7. Decorate the lid of your suitcase with fall themed embellishments. Laura added a bunting banner in fall colors.

Enjoy your new fairy garden!

Use Espoma’s organic potting mix in your fairy garden.

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Feed Acid-Loving Plants with Holly-Tone

Holly-tone is an organic & natural fertilizer that’s not just for Hollies. It can be used for any acid-loving plants, such as blueberries, camellias, rhododendrons, evergreens, hydrangeas and more.

You will want to fertilize your plants twice a year – In early spring and late fall. When you apply the fertilizer in late fall, only use half of the recommended dosage.

How to Apply Holly-tone:

Before fertilizing your acid-loving trees, shrubs and plants with Holly-tone, be sure to take a look at the back of the bag. It lays out instructions for each type of plant to give it the best chance to grow.

Trees:

When fertilizing trees, first figure out the diameter of the tree trunk. This will help you determine how much fertilizer to use. Use one pound of fertilizer for each inch of your tree.

Drill holes every 2-3 feet around the drip line of the tree, in the video Laura demonstrates using a drill and hole auger. The drip line is basically where the canopy of the tree ends. Distribute the fertilizer evenly in each hole, backfill and water in.

Note: Arborvitae and boxwoods are not acid-loving evergreens, so use Plant-tone instead.

Shrubs:

Shrubs are a bit easier to fertilize than trees, since there is no digging required. Similar to trees, the amount of fertilizer used is based on how big the shrub is. Use one cup of fertilizer for every foot of branch diameter. Sprinkle it around the drip line of the plant, work it into the soil and water it in well.

Garden Beds:

Established garden beds are the simplest of the three to fertilize. Again, it’s all about the size of the beds you have in your garden. For every 100 square feet of your garden bed, use 5 pounds of fertilizer. Sprinkle it as evenly as possible where the plants are and water it in.

For new garden beds, use twice as much fertilizer to prepare the soil for new plants. For a 100 square foot garden bed, use 10 pounds of fertilizer. Sprinkle it on top of the soil and work it in the top 4 inches, to get it nice and prepped for the new plants.

Containers:

If you have plants like blueberries, in containers, you will want to use 1 teaspoon for every 3 inches of your pot diameter. Sprinkle it around the inside edge of the pot and water in.

Have non-acid-loving trees ready to be fertilized? Laura from Garden Answer shows how to fertilize with Tree-tone.

Product Featured in this Video

 

 

How to Plant Hydrangeas

In the video below, Laura from Garden Answer demonstrates how to plant hydrangeas using Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus and Holly-tone.

Can’t wait to learn more about hydrangeas?
Check out our Hydrangea Growing Guide

HYDRANGEA
Growing Guide

 


 

5 Deliciously Unique Fall Vegetables

Most avid gardeners have planted the veggie essentials in abundance, but what about the forgotten veggies and those varieties that look a little different from the usual choices?

There is a surprisingly long list of what are considered “unusual” veggies, but below are five of the strangest, most delicious ones that you’ll want in your garden.

Romanesco Broccoli

If you’re going for the “wow” factor in your veggie garden, then Romanesco broccoli is the plant for you. Its intense, bright green fractals of broccoli are stunning. It is similar to cauliflower in terms of care. For best results, be sure to keep the soil moist and plant in a spot with full sun. Keep romanesco broccoli fed with Espoma’s Garden-tone. You can eat this stunning broccoli in a number of ways: raw in a salad, steamed, or grilled. Hardy in Zones 3-10.

Kaleidoscope Carrots

Jewel-toned colors like yellow, purple and red make for a fun pop of color for this classic favorite veggie. Choose rainbow carrots to add a variety of color to salads, sides and stir-fries. Plant seeds in late summer for a harvest that can be enjoyed on autumn days and even for Thanksgiving dinner. Straight roots need light, loose soil so sow carrot seeds in deep, well-worked soil in full sun. Grow in any region.

Black Radishes

Radishes are quick and easy to grow. Heirloom varieties of black radishes take about two to three times long to grow than regular radishes and tend to be spicier. Their crisp black skin and snow white flesh will make them an intriguing addition to any veggie platter. If radishes are too pungent, remove the skin before eating. Black radishes do need plenty of sun, so choose a spot where they can get 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. Feed with Espoma’s liquid Grow! for bigger plants. Grow in any region.

Tree Onions (Egyptian Onions)

These onions set their bulbs at the top of the plants. They taste similar to shallots, but with a more intense flavor. Stalks fall over when they get too heavy, allowing the bulbs to “walk” and plant themselves in a new space. One walking onion can travel as far as 24 inches and create six new onions. Plant bulbs in late summer (before the first frost) to harvest next year. Hardy in Zones 3-10.

Blue Potatoes

The vivid bluish-purple hues of Adirondack potatoes make them a stunner for any dish — especially mashed potatoes. They taste like regular potatoes and get their unique coloring from anthocyanin. There are many varieties including some with a marbled blue and white interior. Plant potatoes in fall to get a head start on a spring harvest. Grow in any region.

Espoma products for Unusual Veggies:

Grow! Plant Food

If you’re looking for the basics, learn how to plant veggies in containers!

 

6 Beautiful and Deer Resistant Perennials

A beautiful garden that returns year after year and repels hungry deer sounds like a dream, but it can be real! Create an entire deer-resistant garden using plants these creatures strongly dislike.

Of course, a hungry deer will eat just about anything. These plants repel because they are fragrant, prickly or sap-filled. Utilize them strategically in your garden to keep deer away from favorites such as garden phlox or hosta.

Bee Balm

Bee balm repels deer with its minty scent, but pollinators can’t get enough. Bee Balm blooms in violet blue, red, pink or white from July through August and grows relatively tall, 2-3 feet. Boost your Bee Balm with Espoma’s Organic Flower-tone fertilizer for big, healthy flowers. Best suited for zones 4-8.

Lavender

Besides being a garden must-have, lavender deters both mosquitoes and deer. Its fuzzy and fragrant leaves just do not appeal to deer. Most varieties flower between June and August. Lavender prefers full sun with well-drained soil. Feed with Espoma’s Plant-tone throughout the growing season. Hardy in Zones 5 through 9.

Black-eyed Susans

Named for their dark brown centers peeking out of the gold or bronze petals, black-eyed susans thrive in the sun. Because its covered in course hair, deer and rabbits stay far away from it. These daisy-like blooms are perfect for a late summer or fall bouquet. They tend to grow to about 2 feet tall and handle high heat and drought conditions well. Grow in full sun in zones 3-9.

Yarrow

Yarrow is a vibrant yellow perennial with fuzzy foliage that deers hate. It has a lengthy flowering time from June through September. It is a relatively tall flower with an average growth height of 2.5-3 feet. Give your flowers a strong soil base to help them thrive with Espoma’s Organic Garden Soil. Best suited for Zones 3-8.

 

Foxglove

The colorful bell shaped flower with freckles on the inside is lovely addition to deer-resistant gardens. This plant earns its deer-resistant label because it’s poisonous to deer (and humans). Many foxgloves are a biennial, so flowers don’t show up until the second year in the ground. Newer hybrid varieties are perennial, though. They are self-sowers, so if you leave the stalks in, they will continue to bloom year after year. Use Espoma’s liquid Bloom! to keep the flowers coming. Grow in Zones 4-9.

 

Bleeding heart

Known as a classic cottage staple, bleeding heart has a sap that deer find disagreeable. Beautiful blooms develop quickly in late spring and will last throughout summer and foliage stays lovely into fall. It’s easy to see why their floral pendants, in shades of rose pink and white, will pack a punch. You can never go wrong with a bit of romance. Hardy in Zones 4-8.

 

 

 

 

Espoma products for Deer–resistant perennials:

 

 

If you’re looking for the basics, learn how to plant veggies in containers!

 

Garden Answer’s Top 5 Low Light Houseplants (Extended Version)

Sometimes the perfect place for a houseplant has little to no light. But that won’t  stop these low light houseplants from growing big and healthy. Laura from Garden Answer shows off her favorites and gives tips to keep them healthy.

Watch the quick version and see instructions here.

 

Products:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Low Light Houseplants

Houseplants are great for adding color, décor, texture or even a little bit of health to any space in your home. Sometimes the best place to put a houseplant isn’t the most ideal for the plant, but with these low light houseplants, they will thrive in even the darkest corners. Don’t forget, these plants can go anywhere indoors, like an office space that can use a little life.

Garden Answer’s Favorite Low-Light Plants

Peace Lily

Not many plants that tolerate low light areas have blooms, but this one does! It has interesting green or white flowers that are the same texture as the foliage, which is dark and glossy. The flowers bloom for long periods of time. Peace lilies can grow 18 to 36 inches tall and wide, depending on the container you have them in. Water every week or so, be sure not to overwater, and as a friendly reminder the foliage will droop if it needs more water.

Pothos

This houseplant thrives in places out of direct sunlight and is super low maintenance, so place them wherever you want to enjoy them. They can be planted in hanging baskets or on ledges to allow the foliage to drape over and trail down. Water every 10 to 14 days.

Sansevieria

Also known as a Mother-in-law’s tongue or a snake plant, this houseplant has striking foliage that grows upward. It is a very modern plant that comes in different shapes, sizes and colors, so it will truly work with any decor. It is very low maintenance — just keep an eye on the foliage for wilting and water about every two weeks when the soil is completely dry. In the winter, you may go a month between waterings. Add water away from the plant – never pour over the leaves.

Spider Plant

This is another interesting plant to add to any space. It is multigenerational, meaning it is easy to propagate and pass on to others (even kids and grandkids) to start their own. The name Spider Plant comes from the off shoots on the foliage. They look like little spiders hanging from a web. Pinch an off shoot (or spider) and plant it in a pot with fresh Espoma Potting Soil to start a new plant. Water once a week to keep them happy.

ZZ Plant

The dark green healthy foliage on this plant is worth noting, though it isn’t always that way. The foliage starts off bright green when it is freshly planted and will darken as time goes on. While other plants can get little burns from being indoors, the ZZ plant is hardy enough to withstand anything, even the darkest of corners. This is probably the toughest plant of this list.

Remember, low-light houseplants need time to absorb water, so allow them to dry out in between watering. The peace lily is the only exception, as they prefer it a bit moist. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the leaves every month or so. This will help keep your plants looking better as dust settles on them. Be sure to keep the cloth damp as they need humidity to survive too. In addition to the cloth, spray a mist over the foliage with distilled water to amp up the humidity around the plant.

Feed your houseplants regularly with Espoma’s Indoor! liquid plant food. It is an all-purpose houseplant food to help give them the nutrients they need. Lastly, be sure to check the roots every six months to see if you need to move your plants to a bigger pot.

 

Products:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix