Don’t Throw That Orchid Away, Get It to Rebloom

Talk about flower power! Orchids, especially Phalaenopsis or moth orchids, can bloom for months. Moth orchidsare easy to find, relatively inexpensive and one of the easiest orchids to grow. But, plant parents are asking themselves, how do I get them to rebloom? Paying attention to a few key factors will encourage them to bloom again and again.

Light:

Inadequate light is the number one reason orchids don’t rebloom. It’s important to find the sweet spot between too much sunlight and not enough. Orchids like bright, indirect light. They don’t care for hot, direct sun – the leaves can actually get sunburnt. If the foliage on your orchid is a healthy looking, deep green, the plant is getting enough light. Light green or yellow foliage is an indication that the plant is not getting enough light.  L

Temperature

Like many plants, orchids need a temperature differential to be encouraged to rebloom. In nature, that would be cool nights. A 10 degree Fahrenheit difference in daytime and nighttime is ideal. That can usually be accomplished when house temperatures go down at night. In addition to cooler evening temperatures, the shortening days of autumn can signal an orchid to form buds. 

Water and Feeding:

As with light, orchids want just the right amount of water. They don’t like being dry or standing in water.  Try watering them once a week with lukewarm water, making sure that all of the excess water has drained off. This is also the best time to feed your orchid. You can either feed them once a week or once a month. If you plan to feed them weekly, do it weakly. That means to use Espoma’s Orchid!organic liquid fertilizer at one-quarter strength. When feeding once a month you can use the full strength that is recommended on the package. 


Repotting

Depending on your orchids’ health, you may consider repotting every one to two years. When repotting, only choose a pot with plenty of drainage that is 1-2” wider and plant in an appropriate medium such as Espoma’s Organic Orchid Mix. It’s made with bark and other ingredients to ensure good air circulation. Re-pot right after they have dropped their spent blooms because repotting can cause them to refrain from blooming for a while. 

For more information on orchid care, watch this video from Garden Answer. https://youtu.be/k6S_OpW-pzA

Learn About 5 Orchids That Put on a Show.

Espoma Organic Orchid Mix

 

Feeding Citrus for the Most Fruit

Growing citrus trees in containers indoors is easier than you think. Plus, they’re beautiful are great accent pieces. Their white blossoms fill the whole house with their sweet scent. And, picking your own, organic, truly ripe lemon is a source of pride for every plant parent.

Dwarf citrus trees are especially well suited to growing indoors. They are regular fruit trees that have been grafted onto a smaller plant rootstock. It helps keep them a more manageable size. Citrus doesn’t like wet soil, but they don’t like to dry out either. Plant them in Espoma’s Cactus Mix  for best results. It is organic and will help the soil drain freely. Check the top few inches of soil every few days until you find the best watering schedule for your tree. Generally speaking, it should be about once a week.

Feeding you citrus trees is important to keep them healthy and give them the energy and nutrients to produce the best tasting fruit. Espoma has formulated an organic fertilizer especially for the specific needs of citrus plants. It comes in a liquid form that’s easy to pour and mix with water called Citrus! There is also a granular form called Citrus-Tone if you’re lucky enough to be able to grow citrus trees outdoors.

Plants in pots require regular feedings every 2 to 4 weeks because some of the nutrients are washed out with regular watering. Water well, ideally, water should flow through the container into a saucer underneath. It’s a good idea to set your container on feet or small blocks to hold it above the draining water.

Your citrus tree will require 8-12 hours of sunlight each day. Try to situate your tree near a south facing window or supplement with an indoor grow light. They like temperatures between 55 and 85 degrees and dislike sudden shifts in temperature. Try to avoid placing it near chilly drafts and space heaters.

Citrus can be vulnerable to spider mites, mealybugs and aphids. If you notice any of these pests, spray them with organic Insect Soap from Espoma, and that should be the end of them.

For more information about growing citrus, check out When Life Gives You Lemons, Grow Them Indoors.Or tryCitrus Trees Love Citrus-Tone from Espoma.

Products

Citrus-tone Plant Food

100 Reasons to Fall in Love with Peonies

Peonies have been a garden favorite for hundreds of years. The gorgeous flowers are delicate with silky petals and an irresistible fragrance. Imagine cutting a bouquet to grace your dinner table or to share with a special friend. Peonies are easy to grow and can live to be over 100 years old.

Three types of Peonies

There are three main types of peonies. Tree peonies, Itoh peonies and herbaceous peonies. In this Garden Answer video, Laura plants herbaceous peonies. They are small shrubs that grow to be about two to three feet tall and wide. They die back all the way to the ground in winter but reemerge in spring. They’ll grow happily in zones 3 to 7.

Flower Form and Fragrance

Herbaceous peonies are available as early, mid- and late season bloomers. By planting some from each category you can have peony flowers for months on end. They also have six different flower forms ranging from a single row of petals to exceedingly full ones called bombs. The fragrance level varies too, from a light perfume to an intoxicating mix of roses and lemon. Peony ‘Festiva Maxima’ and ‘Duchesse de Nemours’ are among the most fragrant.

Planting Herbaceous Peonies

Select a spot where peonies will get full sun and moist well-drained soil. Good air circulation is a must to prevent powdery mildew. Dig a hole wider than the nursery pot and mix in a handful of Bio-tone Starter Plus to help the plants get established. It’s also a good time to install a plant support to help hold the heavy blooms upright. Garden Answer uses a Grow Through Grid. They are very easy to use and highly effective.

Continuing Care

After the beautiful flowers have dropped their petals, it’s a good idea to dead head them. Cut off the flower and stem far enough down that it is covered by the foliage, a foot or so. When all of the flowers are spent, fertilize with Espoma’s organic Plant-tone. This will give them the energy they need to recuperate from blooming and keep a healthy root system. Peonies don’t need to be divided. In fact, they dislike being moved. However, you should cut the foliage down to the ground before winter.

Bare Root Peonies

It is also possible to buy what is called a bare root peony. That means that the plant hasn’t been potted in soil. It’s a thick bunch of roots that may have pinkish, new shoots. Bare root peonies are generally planted in the fall about 6 weeks before the frost. Select the best site, as described above and plant them so the top of the roots are one to two inches below the ground surface. If you plant them too deep, they may not emerge. It’s a good idea to add a handful of Bio-tone Starter Plus to the planting hole to help establish a healthy foundation.

Summer flowering plants for later

5 Reasons to Start A Cutting Garden

Hello Sunshine – Plants that Love the Sun

Espoma Products for Peonies

Garden Answer’s Mother’s Day Container

Mom is the best! For years, she’s showered you with love in so many ways, big and small.

Now, it’s your turn to remind her how much you truly appreciate her. Creating a beautiful container is something she’ll enjoy for months or even years to come. Watch as Laura from Garden Answer visits her family’s garden center to pick out a selection of plants, potting soil and fertilizer to make the cutest planter for her own mom.

Tips for Making a Flowery Container for Mom

First, start by selecting a container that’s her style. You’ll find lots of fun, colorful and patterned containers at your local garden center. Check to make sure your container has drainage holes in the bottom and will fit the plants you select at their mature size.

Next, choose plants that spill, thrill and fill! You want one plant that cascades, one that mounds and one that stands taller than the rest. Look for 3-5 varieties of flowering plants, grasses or greenery. Does Mom have a favorite flower or color? Try your best to incorporate those features into your creative design.

The options are endless. Have fun as you mix colors and textures for a winning combination. Check plant tags to make sure your plants like the same growing conditions, sun exposure and amount of water before checking out.

While you’re still shopping, grab a bag of the best organic potting soil mix and Espoma’s liquid Bloom! fertilizer. These Espoma products will help the plants adjust to their new home and grow healthy roots for bigger plants.

Now plant!

Fill the container 3/4 full with Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix.

Remove plants from their original containers and arrange them in the new planter. Play around a bit and move the plants around to see where each plant looks best. Remember to consider their mature size and give them ample room.

Once the plants look perfect to you, fill in any gaps in the container with more organic potting soil.

Water well.

Wait till you see you mom’s face when you arrive on Mother’s Day with a beautiful, homemade container garden!

Espoma Products for Flowery Containers

Bloom! Plant Food

Plant Parents: Moving Plants Outdoors

Houseplants aren’t limited to staying indoors year-round, in fact they love the feeling of sunshine on their leaves and breathing in some fresh air. However, when you take them outdoors, you need to do so appropriately, otherwise they may go into shock.

Acclimating houseplants to outdoor conditions will reduce shock and give them the best chance of thriving. Wait about four weeks from the last frost before you start to acclimate them to the outdoors.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Tips for Taking Plants Outdoors: Hang in the Shade
While this might seem counter-intuitive, direct sunlight can do more harm than good at first. Since the sunlight is filtered through windows inside, your houseplants aren’t used to the harshness of direct sun. Find shaded areas on your patio or under a tree for a few hours each day. Gradually move houseplants to an area with a little more sunshine daily, until they can be outside all day.  

It will only take a few weeks to adapt to the light and then plants can stay outside until the end of the summer. Once they have adapted to the sunshine, be sure to place them in light they will enjoy. Similar to being indoors, don’t place plants in direct light, if they prefer indirect.

Clip and Snip
Trim away any foliage that might have been damaged from the move or from being inside. Remove any brown tips and inspect them for signs of pests or diseases.

Photo courtesy of Garden Answer

Top it Off:

Revitalize soil by working in fresh Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix to each container. This will help to hold moisture and nutrients around plants’ roots.

Give Them a Drink
Power up plants by giving them a big drink of water enhanced with nutrients. Make it easy on yourself and use Espoma’s Grow! Liquid plant food.

Dump the water
Get in the habit of dumping the excess water after watering to avoid mosquitos and other unwanted pests..

Learn more about houseplant care with Garden Answer.

Products Needed:

Grow! Plant Food

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Grow a Garden Spa for Mother’s Day

Flowers for Mom on Mother’s Day are always appreciated. But, what if you could give her a gift that will lets her pamper herself all year? You can, with a spa-inspired collection of plants!

Having these naturally soothing elements on hand means mom can treat herself any day of the week. Help mom have her best garden yet by adding Espoma’s liquid Grow! to fertilize her herbs regularly.

When Life Give You Lemons

Let’s start with the all-star – lemon. They are a fabulous source of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and potassium—all antioxidants that improve the look and feel of hair, nails and skin. The essential oil in lemons are used to fight stress, fatigue and insomnia. It is also said to stimulate the immune system, alleviate pain and promote weight loss. Whether she adds them to water or tea or make them into a lemon sugar scrub for her skin, she’s going to feel more refreshed.

If she can grow citrus outside, she’s a lucky one. But, even if she can’t, she can still grow citrus in pots and bring them inside for the winter. She’ll be rewarded with the incredibly fragrant, white blossoms. Lemon trees in big terra cotta pots look very continental and will remind her of a trip she took to Italy or the one she’s been dreaming about. Espoma’s Organic Citrus-Tone should be added for larger and more flavorful fruits. Read more about growing lemon trees here: When Life Gives You Lemons.

Cool as a Cuke

Here’s one for the veggie lovers. When you think of a spa day it may conjures up images of fluffy bathrobes and slices of cucumbers covering eyes. Watery cucumbers hydrates the skin and reduce puffiness. Along with this anti-inflammatory effect, they have high levels of potassium, vitamin E and antioxidants to help prevent wrinkles. Cucumber infused water is extremely refreshing and cucumber infused, summer cocktails are delicious. Cucumber plants should be fed monthly with Garden-tone.

Eat, drink and be Rosemary

If you can’t fly her to Greece for a spa trip, she can get the feeling by growing the herbs that originated there like rosemary, mint and lavender. Rosemary will grow almost anywhere and will delight Mom with tiny blue flowers that bees and butterflies love. Rosemary naturally reduces stress and seems to have an astringent properties when used as a facial steam. It may also aid memory and concentration. Bio-tone Starter Plus is great for new plantings to give them their best start.

Mint to Be

Mint is a fast growing perennial that can spread vigorously. We recommend planting in pots to keep it corralled. Use Espoma’s Moisture Mix potting soil for best results. Mom can pinch off some fresh peppermint leaves and pour boiling water over them to make a mint tea. It aids digestion and contains antioxidants that can help boost the immune system. The fragrance of the tea itself is refreshing and is often used to calm the mind. Mojito-loving moms can also use it for their after-spa drinks.

Lavender Love

Lavender has long been valued for its anti-anxiety properties and helps with restlessness, nervousness and insomnia. It’s often used in sachets under pillows to promote sleep or in baths as an aid to relaxation. It can also be used in baking and to infuse drinks like lemonade and Prosecco.  Lavender should be used sparingly, as it has a strong taste in food and drinks.

If Mom doesn’t have a garden outdoors, you could create a spa in her bathroom.

Espoma products for Spa Garden

Citrus-tone Plant Food
Grow! Plant Food
Organic Moisure Mix

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Grow Your Own Popcorn

Everyone loves corn on the cob. It’s a staple of summer picnics and barbeques. Everyone loves popcorn too, but most people don’t realize you can grow your own. This is a fun and easy way to get kids involved in gardening. Seeds are relatively large and easy for kids to handle. It’s fast growing and making your own popcorn is a real treat.

You’ll Need Fertile Seed

No, you can’t open a bag of popcorn from the grocery store and plant it. Most store bought popcorn isn’t fertile because of the heating and sterilization processes it undergoes.  You’ll need to buy fertile popcorn from your local garden center and there are plenty to choose from on the internet. There are a few heirloom varieties that make great popcorn and are beautiful too, you’ll want to use them for fall decorating.

Photo courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds/ RareSeeds.com

Strawberry Popcorn?

One heritage variety named ‘Strawberry’ has short cobs, just 2-4 inches long with ruby red kernels. ‘Dakota Black’ has 6-8 inch long cobs with kernels so deep purple they look almost black. Think Halloween decorations! Perhaps the most beautiful is called ‘Glass Gem’. The kernels are yellow, orange, pink, purple, green and orange with a glossy, glass-like transparency. They are as beautiful to look at as they are to eat!

Choose a Bright, Sunny Spot

Plant corn in full sun, with well-draining soil. Mix in some of Espoma’s All-Purpose Garden Soil and Bio-tone Starter Plus to refresh  your soil. While these varieties of corn are somewhat smaller than eating corn, they still need plenty of room. Space the seeds, 2 per hole, eight to ten inches apart with 18-24 inches between rows.

They’re Thirsty

Popcorn is a thirsty plant. They will drink about 2 inches of water a week if it doesn’t rain.

Add a layer of mulch after planting to help hold moisture in the soil. Using soaker hoses is a very efficient way to water, very little evaporates and the water is taken up slowly and deeply. You should begin to taper off watering when you near the harvest time, about 100 days.

Photo Courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds/ RareSeeds.com

They’re Hungry!

Feeding your popcorn is just as important as watering it. All corn needs nitrogen. Using a product like Espoma’s Plant-Tone is a great choice. It’s an organic, long lasting, slow release fertilizer. It’s a good idea to feed popcorn when it’s about knee high, when the silk forms or if the leaves start turning yellow. Or, simply feed plants once a month.

Protect the Kernels

If you garden with kids, making a scarecrow is an absolute must! And, it may actually help to keep the birds away. If birds are overly interested in your sprouting corn, you could try using a chicken wire tunnel over each row.

Let the Corn Dry on the Stalks

In a dry autumn, leave the corn on the stalks until they are dry. The husks should be papery and dry and the kernels should feel hard. If it’s a wet fall, harvest the corncobs and bring them indoors to finish drying. Simply pull back the husks and spread them out on newspaper, out of direct sunlight. Popcorn is generally harvested in October, 85-120 days after planting depending on weather and when it was planted.

Photo Courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds/ RareSeeds.com

Pop Quiz

If you’re not sure if your popcorn is dry enough, do a pop test. Put a few kernels of corn into a hot pan with a little bit of oil. If it pops, it’s ready. If it sticks to the pan, it’s not ready and needs to be dried longer. You can either pop your corn the old fashion way, in a pan with oil or put one cob in a paper bag and pop it in the microwave. Keep a close eye on your microwave cooking time, until you know how long it takes for your popcorn to cook. Unpopped popcorn can be stored in an air tight container all winter.

For more gardening fun, check out this video on how to plant a vegetable garden.

Espoma Products for Popcorn