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

GB

Hoya Care Tips and Propagation

Hoya, commonly called wax plant or wax flower, are sought-after house plants because they are easy to grow, easy to propagate and have exotic, highly fragrant flowers. They are epiphytes, meaning that they grow on other plants and derive nutrients and moisture from the air. There are at least 300 to 400 different varieties, some even say 600 to 700.

Here are our care tips for some of the most common varieties.

Light

Many varieties of Hoya have waxy foliage resembling succulent plants. But, don’t be fooled. They’re not related to succulents and don’t care for the hot sun in south-facing windows. Try an east-facing window or a bright spot with indirect light.

Soil Mix

Because Hoyas grow on other plants, they need good air circulation and like their roots to dry out. Overly wet soil spells disaster. It’s easy to create the perfect soil mixture yourself. Simply mix equal parts of these three products; Espoma’s organic Cactus Mix, Espoma’s Orchid Mix and Espoma’s Perlite.  

Feeding and Watering

Water your Hoya when the soil mix feels almost completely dry. Water it until the water runs out of the bottom, then dump out the excess water. If leaves begin to drop, you may be watering too often, just let the soil dry out a bit more in between waterings. While not in bloom, feed your plant every 2-4 weeks with Indoor! Espoma’s liquid, fertilizer otherwise use Espoma’s organic, liquid Orchid! food. It has a little more phosphorus that will help the plant to produce lovely, long-lasting flowers. They are both organic, gentle on plants and come with a cap that premeasures the right amount for one quart of water.

Propagation

The best way to propagate Hoya is to take cuttings that have two nodes. A node is a place where the leaves emerge from the stem. Either place them in a vase with water or into a jar with moist sphagnum moss. Check on them every few weeks. When you have a good root system, pot them in the same soil mix described above.

In Homestead Brooklyn’s Hoya Care video Summer Rayne Oakes talks about the following Hoya varieties:

Hoya carnosa – It looks like a trailing plant, but will climb a trellis.

Hoya carnosa ‘Compacta Variegata’ – A variegated form with strongly curling foliage.

Hoya carnosa ‘Krimson’ – Has reddish stems and variegated foliage.

Hoya multiflora – This one doesn’t like to dry out. Add a larger percentage of cactus mix to the soil mix you make or water more frequently.

Hoya pubicalyx – This is a climbing variety.

Hoya bella – A trailing habit for a hanging basket.

Hoya cumingiana – This is similar to Hoya bella but prefers a more alkaline soil. Add crushed oyster shells or washed out, crushed eggshells to the top of the soil to lower the pH.

Hoya pachyclada – This one is mounted on wood with sphagnum moss. It’s a beautiful way to display the plant but it will dry out faster and need to be watered more often.  

Espoma Products

Espoma Organic Orchid Mix

Perlite vs. Vermiculite

Perlite or Vermiculite? How do you choose which one to use?

For Drainage and Aeration: Choose perlite
For Water Retention: Choose vermiculite

In this video, Laura from Garden Answer breaks down when to use which.

Perlite

  • Great for or Seed Starting or blending a custom potting mix
  • Helps loosen heavy soils and prevents compaction
  • White granular particles contain about 6% water
  • Neutral pH
  • Holds nutrients and 3-4 times it’s weight in water
  • Clean, odorless, sterile and non-toxic
  • Will not rot or mold
  • Lightweight substitute for sand
  • Can float to the top of potted plants due to its light weight

Vermiculite

  • Great for or Seed Starting or blending a custom potting mix
  • Helps loosen heavy soils and prevents compaction
  • Retains moisture and plant nutrients
  • Mixes well with soil
  • Clean, sterile, odorless, non-toxic

Parenting Advice for New Plant Parents

Plants can be just as baffling as children for those who’ve never cared for them before. New plant parents may find themselves wondering if their plant’s growth is normal or stunted. And questioning their abilities to give their plants what they need. Let’s look at some common growth questions so you can be the best plant parents ever.

Time for a New Pot

Your baby’s growing up and it’s time for a new pot. Generally speaking, you should give your plants a new pot and fresh soil every year. Choose a pot that’s one or two inches larger than the one it’s in. Make sure it has a drainage hole in the bottom and a saucer to put underneath the pot. You don’t want water marks to staining your furniture.

Photo courtesy of Homestead Brooklyn

A Solid Foundation

Fresh soil is really important, think of it like the foundation of a house. Your plants health depends on the nutrients and soil structure of your potting soil. Espoma’s Organic Moisture Mix is the best all-purpose soil. If you happen to be repotting cactus or succulents, orchids or African Violets you’ll want to buy a special blend of soil that’s been created specifically for their special needs.

Photo courtesy of Garden Answer

Make it Your Own

Gently remove your little one from the pot, loosen the roots and shake off some of the old soil. You’ll want to plant it so that the old surface and the new surface are at the same height.  Work in soil all around the sides so it feels solid and there aren’t any air bubbles. Some people like to top dress their plants with a decorative layer of moss or colored pebbles. Feel free to experiment and make it fit into your decor.

Photo courtesy of Garden Answer

Feeding Your Baby

Naturally, you’ll want to feed your babies the best food possible so, they’ll grow up big and strong. Feed them once a month with an all-purpose fertilizer like Organic Indoor! Houseplant Food. Always follow the directions, more isn’t better when it comes to plant food or people food for that matter. And, just like the soil some plants have special dietary needs like Cactus and succulents, orchids, and African Violets.

Photo courtesy of Garden Answer

Succulents Going Through Puberty?

Sometimes plants go through awkward stages. Their growth slows in winter and they may pout and look a bit lack luster. Summer light and warmer temperatures should cure that. Some plants get stretchy trying to reach out for the sun. Succulents that don’t get 4 to 6 hours of strong light per day are especially prone to this. Here is a video from Garden Answer to show you how to save your naughty succulent and propagate a bunch of new babies too.

Think it’s time to repot your own plant? Garden Answer shows you how! https://youtu.be/nPhNOi-LsAE

Where to Buy

Espoma Products for New Plant Parents

Potting Soil

Moisture Mix

Cactus mix

Orchid Mix

African Violet Mix

Indoor!

Cactus!

Orchid!

African Violet!

How to Dry Herbs

A simple, inexpensive way to enjoy your herbs beyond the growing season is to dry them!

When talking about herbs, we’re referring to the leaves of certain plants that are usually green in color. Spices, on the other hand, are the flowers, fruit, seeds, bark and roots of tropical plants and  are typically more pungent than herbs.

While the best flavors come from freshly picked herbs, however there is always an abundance that you cannot use in one season. Drying your herbs is the next best thing!

Dried herbs can be used for anything from flavoring recipes to making a fragrant fire starter.

When to Harvest:

We recommend growing organic herbs in Espoma Organic’s Potting Mix. To get the most flavor from herbs you need to harvest them at just the right time. The fullest flavor comes from herbs harvested before they flower. If you use a lot of freshly picked herbs, they may never flower. If that is the case, and you want to savor that flavor during the non-growing months, be sure to harvest them by the end of summer before the weather cools to get the most flavor out of them.

Focus on one type of herb at a time and remember to only cut back what you need. Try to avoid cutting back the entire plant, unless you are ready to replace it.

8 Steps to Harvesting and Drying Herbs:

  • Cut healthy branches from your herb plant.
  • Discard any damaged leaves as they have already lost their flavor. Yellowed leaves aren’t worth saving.
  • Gently shake the cut branches to remove insects and excess soil as you won’t be washing the stems.
  • Remove the bottom inch of the stem and the lower leaves to allow room for tying. Place the leaves aside – you can add them to the bag on their own.
  • Tie 5 or 6 stems together with either string or a rubber band. Make sure to check in on them as they dry as herbs shrink down and may slip out of the band.
  • Place herbs in a paper bag, stem side up. Tie the end of the bag closed, being sure not to squish herbs.
  • Poke a few holes in the bag for ventilation.
  • Hang the bag by the top in a warm, well ventilated room.

Once your herbs are dry enough to crumble, they are ready to be stored. Keep dried herbs in an air tight container, like a small canning jar or a zippered bag.

There you have it: freshly dried herbs to enjoy all year long!

Learn what to plant next with Laura from Garden Answer.

Products for Healthy Herbs

 

Are You Ready To Plant?

You’ve waited all winter, and spring is so close! It’s just about time to start sowing early spring crops.

You can sow cool season crops directly in the ground as soon as the soil temperature is at or above 40ºF. If the soil is wet and muddy, you’ll want to wait a few days until things dry out. Working wet soil can ruin its structure. Some people use polythene tunnels to warm the soil and give them an even bigger head start.

While you sow, don’t forget to feed your soil. Use Espoma Organic’s Garden-Tone, it is perfectly formulated for your vegetable garden.

Here are our top vegetables for early spring:

Spinach

Spinach sprouts fairly quickly and is remarkably frost resistant, especially when grown under cover. Plants like the morning sun and are happy to have some afternoon shade. Fresh baby spinach is tasty and loaded with vitamins and minerals. Try a springtime salad with spinach and strawberries or put them in your favorite breakfast smoothie.

Swiss Chard

This beet relative is another excellent early spring crop that is easy to grow from seed. Once the leaves are 6 inches tall, you can begin to harvest the outer leaves. Let inner leaves stand for a later harvest. Chard contains 3 times the recommended daily intake of vitamin K and 44 percent of the recommended amount of vitamin A. Eat it raw or cooked.

Lettuce

There are hundreds of different kinds of lettuce; they come in all colors, shapes and sizes. Harvesting baby greens is quick and easy. Look for varieties  you can cut back that will regrow. Many can be harvested in just 30 days. They won’t flourish during cold snaps, but they won’t die unless temperatures dip below 28ºF.

Radishes

Radishes are one of the fastest vegetables you can grow. They’re fun to grow with little ones because they come up before you know it. You can plant radishes alongside lettuce or other spring greens. As you harvest the radishes, the greens have more room to grow. Use them as an addition to salads and tacos or roast them for a delicious treat.

Kale

We all know kale is a super food — cooked kale delivers more iron than beef. Lucky for us it grows easily from seed. Harvest the outer leaves for baby kale and let the rest of the foliage grow to full size. It can produce a great deal of food with little effort. Sow kale early and protect from hard frosts.

Peas

Fresh grown peas are so sweet and delicious, even your kids will love them. And, the seeds are big enough for little hands to plant them. Plant them in the ground around St. Patrick’s Day or 4 to 6 weeks before that last frost free date. Some varieties will need a low trellis. Check the seed packet to see how tall they’ll grow. Grow sugar snaps or snow peas if you don’t want to do all the shelling regular peas require.

 Learn more about starting a kid friendly vegetable garden.

Products

Fern Care Guide

We all love ferns, they are a classic houseplant. Ferns come in all kinds of sizes, textures and colors. Yet as far as plants go, they can be fussy. Laura from Garden Answer has the scoop.

If your fern is happy and healthy, great job! You can probably skip some of the topics toward the end.

Now let’s take a look at your fern and double check it is living its best life.

Here are 10 things to keep in mind as you tend to your fern:

Light Exposure

Contrary to popular belief, ferns need quite a bit of light. Though, they don’t like to be in direct sunlight as their foliage will change to a lighter yellow color or burn. Keep them near a place that receives plenty of sunshine throughout the day.

Only few varieties can handle shade and moisture like most people think. Check your plant tag for the most accurate information for your fern.

Temperature

Ferns like their surroundings to be similar to what we like between 65 and 75°F, matching the temperatures in our home. They don’t like it too drafty so keep them away from doors that lead outside and away from air vents.

Humidity

This is the most important thing to be aware of for keeping your fern healthy, especially if you live in a dry climate. Placing your fern in a bathroom or kitchen near the water source can help, since they typically get more moisture in there naturally.

For a more decorative option, place pebbles in tray with some water and place your fern on top. The moisture will carry up to the foliage as it evaporates. Add water to the tray as needed.

Soil Type

Use Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix for your ferns. Organic potting mixes have the right kind of drainage, and will hold just enough water that is needed without drowning your fern.

Repotting

Typically, ferns need to be repotted every two years. Check its roots once a year. If the roots are starting to circle around the container, it is time to repot. If there is still soil around the edge of it, it should be fine for another year.

When it is time to repot your fern, only go up one size for your container. Be sure there is a drainage hole at the bottom of your container. Place a small layer of Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix in the bottom and fill around the sides as needed.

Watering

Ferns like to be consistently damp, but not wet and soggy like many people think. Each fern and home is a bit different, especially this time of year. Water your fern and keep an eye on it. If the soil at the top feels dry, water it again.

Fertilizing

Ferns like to be fed about once a month during their growing season. Each zone and climate will have a different growing season, which you can ask your local garden center about. Feed your fern with Espoma’s Organic’s Indoor! liquid plant food. Check the label for instructions on how to use.

Grooming

All houseplants should be groomed about once a month. Remove any foliage that looks damaged, unhealthy or is turning brown or yellow. Discard any leaves or debris that is  on top of the soil to keep insects and disease at bay.

Insects

The most common insects to watch out for are mealybugs, aphids, fungus mites, white fly and spider mites for just about any houseplant. If you are unsure of the insect you are dealing with, take a picture and take it to your local garden center. They will be able to offer suggestions on how to get rid of it.

Toxicity

Ferns are non-toxic, but it is still a smart idea to keep your pets and kids away from eating or playing with a fern. That might just cause a tummy ache or a mess in your home!

Drop any other questions below in the comments and we will help you out the best we can!

 

Your Plants are Trying to Tell You Something

Did you know houseplants can communicate? We talk to our house plants in hopes they can tell us what’s wrong. Thankfully, plants communicate with us all the time. If your plants’ leaves are wilting, they’re saying “Please water me.” Yellow leaves are saying “Hold off on the water. You’re killing me with kindness.” Let’s look at a few things your plants are trying to tell you.

Leaf and Flower Drop

No one likes stress, not even plants. A common sign your plant is stressed is if it’s dropping leaves and flowers. Stressors can include lack of water, over watering, temperature change, less light – you name it. If the problem isn’t too little or too much water, or something else easy to identify, have patience. The plant will likely adapt to its new situation.

Wilting

Wilting is usually a sign that your plant needs water. Some plants, like peace lilies, wilt so terribly you’d think it was dead. But don’t worry, it’s just being dramatic and will perk up after a good watering.

Stretching

We’re not talking about yoga here. In the plant world that means long and spindly stems. The plants are literally stretching themselves toward the light. Sometimes older leaves will fall off. Check on your plants requirements — chances are it just needs more light. It could also mean that your plant needs pinching. It’s not mean, it’s kind of like pruning. Pinching off the top inch of your plant’s stem will encourage it to grow laterally and become fuller and more beautiful. Pinching off spent flowers is a good idea that will help your plant save energy, too.

Salt Build Up

Have you noticed some white stuff on the side of your clay pots? As you water and fertilize your plants, salts and other minerals can build up. It may cause the foliage tips to turn yellow or brown. Watering your plants in the sink and allowing the water to run through a few a few times helps flush then out. You can use a scrubbing pad on the outside of the pot. Repot regularly.

Brown Leaf Tips

Leaves get brown tips because water isn’t reaching that far. Too little water or too much fertilizer is usually to blame. Make sure you’re watering consistently. Use Espoma’s Indoor! House Plant Food for its slow release formula to ensure your plant isn’t being overfed. Always follow the package directions as more is not better. Do you remember the last time you repotted it? If you can’t, maybe it’s time for fresh soil and bigger pot.

Think your houseplants need some extra space? Check out this video about repotting house plants.

Where to Buy

Products for Healthy Houseplants

Indoor Liquid

Potting Mix

Houseplants that bloom – 5 orchids that put on a show

Orchids are the perfect way to introduce a stunning houseplant into your home. They bloom for up to four months, which make them the perfect plant to add some color and flair to any home. They love indirect light, a little bit of water and to be away from any drafty windows, air vents or ducts.

Plus, they will continue to rebloom every year with a little love and patience and fertilizer.

An organic fertilizer, such as Espoma’s Orchid! liquid plant food, will help keep your blooms looking fresh and colorful year after year.

There is a HUGE variety to choose from, all in different sizes, colors and fragrances so you can find one that you absolutely love.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry; we’ve collected our favorite show stopping orchids for you.

 

Five Orchids That Put on a Show

Pansy Orchid

This flat-faced flower is one of the friendliest looking orchids you can choose. They bloom early in the spring and, in some varieties, will bloom again in the fall. Producing up to 10 flowers, each growing 4 inches across, this orchid will provide a stunning display. Mist weekly with water to give it the moisture it needs.

Sharry Baby Orchid

Growing best in filtered light, this orchid has small, but striking chocolate-colored petals. Unlike typical orchids, its flowering stalks will reach lengths up to four feet. Fertilizing regularly will encourage growth. Mist it lightly once a week to keep moderate humidity.

Image courtesy of Costa Farms

Moth Orchid

Its blooms look like butterflies and it’ll look great individually, but is stunning en masse. Gather a few different colors and textures and have every houseguest talking. They love bright, indirect sunlight, so near a window with a sheer curtain would make them happiest.

Lady’s Slipper Orchid

Coming in dozens of varieties, you can really play around with color combinations. Small enough to place anywhere in the home, we even recommend placing one a bathroom sink. It is beautiful from all angles, so mirrors can be beneficial. Plus, it enjoys low light with lots of humidity. After watering, be sure you allow it to drain completely.

Cattleya Orchid

This orchid thrives off a barky soil, so be sure to use Espoma Organic’s Orchid Mix, as it will wilt in regular potting soil. It is a light lover, so keep it near a window, but out of direct sun. It is happy in the same temperature as your home, around 65-75 degrees.

 

Laura from Garden Answer shows us the basics of caring for orchids.

 

 

 

Products for Happy Orchids:

Espoma Organic Orchid Mix