Prepare the Perfect Hanging Baskets

Summer is here, but it’s not too late to put together the hanging basket of your dreams! If you’ve ever struggled to create a hanging basket that lasts all season long, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for five tips to achieve the perfect hanging basket that will make all your neighbors jealous.

1. Choosing the Right Basket

While this may seem like simply a stylistic choice, choosing the right size and type of basket is crucial to your hanging basket’s success. Your basket should be at least 14’’ to 16” so that your plants’ roots aren’t taking up all of the space in the pot by early summer.

It’s also important to consider the look you want to achieve. If you want to keep it simple, regular hanging pots will do the trick. If you’re feeling a bit more advanced, and want to aspire towards a “flower globe” look with plants pouring out of the basket from all directions, try a wire basket with a fiber liner.

2. Picking the Perfect Flowers

Here’s where you can really get creative! You can make a statement by committing to a single color, or you can mix it up by choosing a variety of colors and textures. It really depends on whether you want your hanging basket to be a subtle addition to your yard, or if you want it to be bolder, immediately drawing the eye. If you need some inspiration, check out Laura from Garden Answer’s 2022 arrangements.

It’s also important to consider whether your basket will hang in the sun or shade, and what type of weather conditions the plants will be exposed to. Choose blooms that will grow well where you choose to hang your basket so that it lasts all the way through the end of the summer.

3. Watering

Consistency is key! Be sure to regularly water your plants at the same time each day, as irregular watering may add unneeded stress to your basket. Since hanging baskets aren’t rooted in the soil, they are dried out much more easily by the sun and wind, and a regular watering routine is especially important.

It’s also helpful to get in the habit of watering your plants early in the morning. The water will be less likely to evaporate and your plants will be well-equipped to handle the afternoon heat.

4. Choosing the Appropriate Soil and Fertilizer

It’s important to choose a high-quality potting mix to keep your blooms bright and beautiful all summer long. Try some of our organic potting soils, like our Moisture Mix, or Potting Mix, which are both perfect for use on all container plants.

Remember, to make your baskets last long, it’s important to make sure the plants aren’t outgrown by early summer. Apply fertilizer slowly and steadily, rather than in heavy doses. Liquid fertilizers are a great way to achieve this. Check out our organic Bloom! liquid fertilizer, which can be mixed with water and used every 2 to 4 weeks to feed your hanging plants the microbes they need to thrive.

5. Perfect Pruning

If there are dying blooms in your basket, it’s time to cut them off! Not only do they distract from the beauty of your healthy blooms, but they also use up vital resources in your soil. This is as simple as pinching where the flower meets the stem. Regularly removing dead bulbs ensures that the nutrients in your soil are going towards creating new blooms to keep your hanging plant flourishing.

With these tips, you’re sure to have a beautiful hanging basket that will last you through the summer. Happy planting!

 

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5 Orchids That Will Brighten Your Space

Orchids are a bright and stunning addition to any home, and plant parents love how easy it is to take care of them! They bloom for about four months out of the year. But if you’re a seasoned gardener, you know that love, patience, and our organic fertilizers can go a long way during this time. Add some indirect sunlight, a little bit of water, and you’re good to go! Plus, there are so many varieties that you’re sure to find one that matches your garden’s aesthetic. Read on to learn about 5 of our favorites.

1. Pansy Orchid 

This flat-faced flower is one of the most popular orchids because of its bright colors and designs. They bloom early in the spring and, in some varieties, will bloom again in the fall — so don’t give up if you see your Orchid resting! To keep your pansy orchid happy and healthy, be sure to keep it in a relatively humid area of your home. In a good season, this orchid can produce up to 10 flowers with each of them growing 4 inches across!

2. Moth Orchid 

This is another popular orchid that’s revered for its beauty. In fact, moth orchid blooms have been compared to fluttering butterflies! They come in many different colors and textures, but we especially love the brightness an all white moth orchid brings to indoor gardens. They like to live in bright, indirect sunlight, so a spot near a window with a sheer curtain would make a great home for them.

3. Sharry Baby Orchid 

Unlike typical orchids, a sharry baby’s flowering stalk can reach lengths up to four feet — so this flower takes dedication! Fertilizing regularly is a great way to encourage this growth. They tend to thrive when kept in a moderately humid area and given filtered light.

4. Cattleya Orchid 

Cattleya orchids thrive off of a barky base, so be sure to incorporate a soil like our Organic Orchid Mix, as it can wilt in regular potting soil. This orchid has a long history in America, and is seen by many as a vintage orchid. It sets itself apart from others in that it prefers a bit more light. Keep this flower happy on a sunny windowsill but in comfortable room temperature (65-75 degrees).

5. Lady’s Slipper Orchid 

Gardeners love lady’s slippers because they come in so many different varieties and colors, making beautiful arrangements! These plants are small enough to place anywhere in the home to make a decorative statement, like a bathroom sink. Plus, lady slipper’s orchids enjoy low light with lots of humidity.

Have you decided which type of orchid to add to your indoor garden yet? With so many different types and colors, you can mix and match as many as you’d like! Just be sure to familiarize yourself with their water, light, and temperature preferences as many of them vary.

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4 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Poinsettias

‘Tis the season of poinsettias! These jolly red plants are a classic holiday gift and household decoration all across the country during the winter months. Unfortunately, for many people, the leaves quickly turn lackluster and the plant dies soon afterward. But you can avoid this outcome with proper care and maintenance! Here are 4 ways yours can thrive this holiday season, as told by Garden Answer.

1. Get a healthy start

Did you know poinsettias are actually tropical plants? These festive spurges have somehow become a staple during the colder months, but they very much still appreciate their native climate! That means you should try to avoid the ones that are placed near the entrance of your local grocery store, since the draft from outside and the dry heat from inside are already harming the plants’ health. If you find them elsewhere, be sure to check that the foliage has solid colors and is not showing any green as this could mean they’re finished flowering for the season.

2. Give them a loving home

Since poinsettias appreciate that tropical climate, be sure to place them somewhere with lots of light that’s away from cold glass. As mentioned before, keep them away from any drafts — warm or cold. Be sure to check their soil moisture regularly as heated homes often lack moisture in the air. You can water them when the top layer of soil feels dry. As a finishing touch, feel free to mist them regularly and use Espoma Bloom! to give them a boost.

3. Stay safe this holiday season

A widely believed myth is that poinsettias are incredibly toxic to pets and humans. But the truth is that you would have to ingest an exorbitant amount of it for it to actually be dangerous! You should still err on the side of caution since the white sap that’s produced when the stems break can be a skin irritant, and it’s best to set them somewhere pets and kids can’t reach as with all houseplants.

4. Start anew next year

No matter how devoted you are to your beloved poinsettias, you should still think of them as annual plants that need to be replaced each year. It can be very difficult to get them to bloom again a year later and it involves much stricter care than the tips listed above. 

Now that you have all the necessary knowledge, go find the biggest and brightest poinsettias you can locally buy — and rest assured that they’ll last much longer than last year’s!

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Best Indoor and Outdoor Plants for Halloween Decor

Halloween is on our heels and we can’t wait! The spooky season is a great time to go all out decorating your home, and here at Espoma, we believe in adding so much more to your decor than just pumpkins. Get in the holiday spirit by throwing these plants into the mix!

 

1. Red Spider Lily

 

Red in color with spider-like flowers, this plant is perfect for your spooky yard! One of the best parts of it is that it’s virtually pest and disease-free. It’s great for late summer and early fall and needs well-draining soil to grow.

2. Bat Flower

This flower personifies the spookiness of Halloween perfectly and will make your house one to look out for! While the flower barely resembles a bat, the black color makes it look like it belongs to the Addams family. Keep this flower indoors to match your outside decor — and make sure to keep it in indirect sunlight or partial shade.

3. Indian Pipe/Ghost Plant

This plant grows white instead of green because it has no chlorophyll and is a parasite that takes from nearby trees. (Anyone else spooked just from that description?) From afar it looks like melting candles or finger bones sticking out from the ground — it doesn’t get scarier than that! As if it knows where it belongs, the plant prefers dark, damp places to grow, so make sure you plant it accordingly. Even though it doesn’t require sunlight, it’s best to plant it outside. But don’t forget to give nearby plants lots of nutrients so the ghost plant can take from them without depleting their food!

4. Corpse Flower

The corpse flower can take years or even decades before it blooms for the first time. This flower earned its name from the odorous smell it emits that has been compared to body odor or sweaty socks. This smell is meant to attract insects to spread the flower’s pollen to start new blooms. If the smell doesn’t scare you, maybe the size will. The corpse flower can grow to a height of 8 feet!

5. Devil’s Claw

This plant grows out curved with pointed ends, making it look like the devil’s claw, hence the name. You might think it’s another poisonous plant that you have to stay away from, but on the contrary, this plant is a popular medicine for back pain arthritis. 

Mixing and matching these plants with your other Halloween decorations is sure to make your house look like the most haunted on the block. Which ones made it onto your shopping list? Don’t forget, as many of these plants are quite uncommon, they may require some extra upkeep. So be sure to take care of them accordingly!

 

Dig Canna, Dahlia and Caladium

Some of our favorite summer show-stoppers like Cannas, Dahlias and Caladiums, need to be dug up in the fall for overwintering. It isn’t a difficult job and you’ll be rewarded with larger and larger plants every year. You’ll also get more of them. That’s how these plants spread.  Besides, it feels good to be outside on a crisp fall day wearing that faded out sweatshirt you love. Let someone else rake the leaves while you divide and conquer.   

Canna

Cannas are amazing planted in the ground. And, rising three to five feet tall, they can really elevate large container combinations. Their rhizomes are modified roots that store the plant’s energy for the next year. The rhizomes of a happy canna can easily double in size after one growing season. Just imagine how showy they’ll be next year.

Digging

In late fall, when the stems and leaves have died back or been killed by the first hard frost, is the perfect time to lift them. Make sure to do it before the ground freezes. First, cut stems back to two inches. Then, use your shovel to cut a circle at least two feet in diameter around the plant’s rhizomes, and gently lift the clump. Using your hands, shake off all the excess soil. If the soil is sticking to the rhizomes, rinse them with the hose until they’re fairly clean.

Drying and Storing

Pick a spot in your garage, basement or someplace dark with good ventilation. It should be at least 70 degrees F. Spread them out on several layers of newspaper. Let them dry for at least a week, it helps to discourage mold. Now they are ready to store. Use paper grocery bags or crates, something that allows airflow to put them in. Look for a cool (but not freezing) dark place to store them like a basement or a garage. Check them now and again to make sure none are shriveled or mushy, discard those as soon as possible.

Planting

Plant the following spring after the threat of frost has passed and the soil has begun to warm. Always add Espoma’s organic Bulb-tone when planting to give them the specialized nutrients they’ll need to flourish.

Dahlias

Dahlias come in hundreds of shapes, heights, sizes and colors. Besides being superstars in the garden they make excellent cut flowers. Some flowers are dinner plate sized and many reach four to five feet in height. They enjoy full fun in moderate climates. Prepare to be wowed!

Lifting

After the first frost, cut the dahlias back to four inches and dig the clumps just like you would have for cannas. The tubers are breakable so, go slow and gently shake off extra soil. No need to rinse them. Let the clumps air dry for several days in a dark place with good ventilation.

Storing

You can pack dahlia tubers several ways. Planting them in large nursery pots with damp soil is one way. Storing them in cardboard boxes, filled partially with damp potting soil, peat moss or vermiculite will also work. It’s also possible to store several clumps in large black plastic bags. Gather the top of the bags loosely so there is still some air circulation. Store in a cool dark place that does not freeze. A frozen tuber is a dead tuber. Check on them now and then, go easy on the water since you don’t want them to be too moist. If they are dry, you can mist them or add some damp organic potting mix.

Planting

In the spring, divide the clump into several with some of last year’s stem. Plant outdoors after the threat of frost has passed and add Bio-tone Starter Plus to help them get a good start.

Caladium

Caladiums are popular for their large foliage in shades of white, red and pink, often in wild mosaic patterns. They like shade to part sun, making them perfect for displaying in less than sunny spots in the garden. There are now a few varieties that are sun tolerant. It will say so on the plant tag. While they do thrive in sun, regular, perhaps even daily watering will be needed.

Lifting

When temperatures begin to fall below 60 degrees F, dig up tubers and leave stems attached. You don’t need to remove all of the soil just yet. Leave them to dry in a cool, dark space for two to three weeks.

Storing

After the tubers have cured, brush off the remaining soil and cut back the withered stems. Store them in a cool dark space. Packing them in sawdust or sand will help keep them from drying out too much.

Planting

You can plant them outside after the threat of frost has passed and the ground has warmed up. They can also be started early indoors. Just pot them up on a good quality potting soil like Espoma’s organic potting mix and give them some Bulb-tone to give them the best possible start.

Here are links to some of our other blogs we hope you will enjoy.

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Tulip Time

It’s still summer — time for picnics, backyard barbeques and going to the beach. Kids get to stay up late to chase fireflies and make s’mores.  While these sunny days conjure images of suntan lotion, lemonade, this is the best time of year to plan for a colorful spring.

Photo courtesy of flowerbulbs.com

Order Early and Save

When the afternoon sun hits its zenith, grab your bulb catalogs or iPad and head for the air conditioning. Choosing now could save you money. You’ll also have the opportunity to get the best and newest varieties before they run out. You’ll thank yourself next spring.

Photo courtesy of flowerbulbs.com

The Easiest Way to Plant

Ask your local garden center when they expect to have the bulbs you’re looking to plant and then mark it on your calendar. Planting bulbs is easy, especially if you have an auger for your cordless drill. When spring hits, the first flowering bulbs will brighten your spirits immeasurably. No plane tickets to Holland required.

Photo courtesy of flowerbulbs.com

Is Your Style Contemporary or Traditional?

Flowerbulbs.com is a great website for all things related to growing bulbs. They don’t sell bulbs, you’ll want to go to your local garden center for those, the site is all about inspiration. They have information about deer resistant bulbs, fun combination recipes and great information on every kind of bulb. When you do plant this fall, don’t forget to grab a bag of Espoma’s organic Bulb-tone to make sure they are off to the best start.

Photo courtesy of flowerbulbs.com

Lasagna Planting

‘Lasagna Planting’ is a special way to plant spring flowering bulbs in large pots, in layers. The bulbs that flower the latest, like tulips are planted near the bottom of the pot. The bulbs that will flower first, like crocus are planted near the top. By planting several varieties, you’ll have flowers blooming for several months. Bulbs need good drainage and a quality potting soil like Espoma’s organic Potting Mix.

We hope you will enjoy this video and blog with more information on spring flowering bulbs.

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