Three Secrets to Cactus Success

Cacti make the perfect houseplant. Their water-saving properties make them very low-maintenance. They’re trending in the design world, too, making them very stylish additions to any interior.

Growing cacti indoors adds a beautiful touch to any home. And although they can survive with very little care, they won’t necessarily thrive. In order to keep your cacti alive and well, follow these simple care instructions.

Soil

As you probably already know, cacti love desert-like conditions. Think dry, well-drained soil. When planting cacti indoors, be sure to use Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix. The all natural potting soil provides optimum aeration and drainage to create the best growing conditions. Choose a stylish pot with a drainage hole to match your décor.

Water

One of the biggest causes of death to houseplants is over-watering. When it comes to watering your cactus, less is more. Water sparingly when soil is dry and let the water trickle through. Don’t allow cacti to sit in a pool of water, as this will lead to rotting roots and other complications.

Use your best judgement to decide whether or not your cactus needs some water. Hint – if it looks shriveled, it might mean that it’s dipping into its water reserves. This is when you should give your cactus a little bit of water to replenish it.

Light & Temperature

Keep your cacti happy by placing it on a windowsill or another sunny spot. About 3-4 hours of sunlight every day is ideal for cacti, but they will survive with indirect sunlight, too. We suggest a south or east facing window.

Cacti are also great houseplants because they can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. They can survive in temperatures as low as 50°F and as high as 85°F, making the temperate in your home the perfect environment.

Nutrients

Give your plant a boost by fertilizing as needed with Espoma’s new Cactus! Succulent plant food. This provides plants with the nutrients they need instantly.

Ready to try more desert-like plants? Learn how to care and create a succulent planter.

Spring Houseplant Care Tips

After months spent overwintering or dormant, your houseplants are ready to welcome spring with open arms and begin their active growing period. Houseplants are easy to care for but they still need some TLC.

The warmer weather calls for some extra attention! Gear up for repotting, feeding, sunning and scheduling.

Make a happy home for plants with the following tips. Here’s how you do it!

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Four Tips for Spring Houseplant Care

  1. Rehome and Repot: When repotting plants, we recommend using a new container that’s a little bigger than your plant’s current home. If you choose to use a previously used container, clean it with soap and water first to rid of any diseases or houseplant pests that could be hiding inside. Once your container is ready, fill it about halfway with Espoma’s potting mix or appropriate soil for your plant type. If any of the roots have grown tightly bound in a circular pattern, gently loosen them to stimulate new growth. Then, place the plant in the center of the new pot and fill with soil to within 1-3” of the rim. Water well and allow the soil to settle. Add more potting soil if necessary.
  2. Give Houseplants a Spring feeding: There’s no doubt that your plants are hungry after a long winter nap! Feed bi-weekly with Espoma’s indoor liquid houseplant food. This gives plants the natural proteins and beneficial microbes they need to provide beautiful results.
  3. Bring Plants Outside: Give plants some fresh air once in a while. As it warms up, set your plants outside during the day to soak up some rays. When the temperatures begin to drop in the evening, it’s time to bring them back inside.
  4. Create a schedule: Houseplants thrive with regular care. Add water if the soil is dry to the touch. But be careful not to water too much or too frequently. Overwatering is the number one cause of houseplant death. So if the is not dry to the touch, check it again in a few days. In order to protect your plants from not getting the right about of water, create a schedule of watering times and days to help you remember when your plants need your attention.

Plants need water, light and nutrients to thrive indoors. So, determine what kind of houseplant you have and it’s specific needs. With the proper care, your plant will let you know it’s happy by maintaining healthy leaves.

Ready to learn more? Find out how to Make a Happy Home for Plants!

6 Tips for Stunning Succulent Containers

The options for succulents are endless. You can spend an entire afternoon at your favorite garden center picking out succulents in all shapes, sizes and colors. And once you have one succulent plant, you can grow even more plants from it!

While planting succulents is a pretty straightforward process, there are a few tricks to ensuring they stay healthy in their new homes.

6 Tips for Creating a Succulent Container

  1. Choose a container. Almost any container can be used for succulent gardening if it has proper drainage. Terra cotta, glazed pottery and wooden boxes are some traditional choices. If you’re feeling crafty, check out our Garden Answer tutorial and create your own.
  2. Don’t let water pool. When placing the plant in the container, the succulent needs to sit above the rim of the pot. If your soil is low and your container has poor drainage, water can pool on top and damage the plant. Don’t let your succulent rot! Make sure to use Espoma’s Cactus Mix when filling your container.
  3. Add Plants. It’s up to you to choose how many plants to put in your container. Succulents that are crowded and planted close together often grow more slowly; and these plants are slow growers to begin with! More space between plants means it’s easier to water and there will be better air flow.
  4. Thriller, filler and spiller. This classic gardening concept can be applied to succulents, too. Add some oomph to your container by choosing a “thriller,” a tall plant that will add a vertical element such as aloe. Next, place a medium succulent such as echevarias. For spillers, look for trailing succulents that will “spill” over the edge such as sedum or string of pearls.
  5. The final touch. For a finished look, top off your container with decorative stones or dried moss.
  6. Feed ‘em. Give your succulents a boost by fertilizing as needed with Espoma’s newCactus! Succulent plant food.

Now that your container is complete, find out what succulents need to keep growing!

Give Succulents Some Light

Succulents make the perfect houseplants. They come in a variety of sizes and styles ranging from leafy to spiky and even fuzzy. They’re pretty low-maintenance, and only need sunlight, water and nutrients from time to time. Somehow, things can still go wrong.

The number one sign your succulent isn’t growing as well as it should? It’s looking stretched. While you might think your succulents are growing, they’re actually stretching out for more light.

Succulents stretch when they aren’t getting enough sunlight, which actually causes the plant to grow faster. First, the plant will bend toward the sunlight it is receiving, and then you’ll notice it continuing to grow taller, leaving more space between the leaves.

If your succulents are stretched, they won’t go back to the way they were before. You can continue to grow them as is, just move them to a spot where they’ll get more indirect light. You can also start propagating to grow new succulents. Unless plants are placed where they will get enough light, the new cuttings will eventually stretch out, too.

4 Tips to Make Sure Succulents are getting the right light

  1. Succulents love sun. These desert plants thrive in hot climates with plenty of sunlight. A dimly lit apartment or shady part of your home just isn’t going to cut it. Place succulents near windows that let in lots of natural light throughout the day.
  2. Keep succulents close to windows. They’ll soak up the sun for hours when given indirect light. Don’t lean succulents right up against the window or they may get sunburned.
  3. Add a grow light. If you can’t count on natural light to keep plants healthy, consider investing in a grow light. This will keep your plants happy and give you the option of moving them to dimmer areas in your home.
  4. Try out different kinds of succulents. They’re not all alike. Some will thrive in indoor conditions that others might not like.

Next time you notice your succulents leaning or stretching, go ahead and start some new ones and try again with better lighting.

Now that you know how to give succulents the best light, learn how to have success with succulents

Three signs your orchid needs to be repotted

Orchids make the perfect houseplants — they’re stylish, long-lasting and easy to care for. They’ll continue to bloom for years with minimal effort.

After years of living in the same space, things might get cramped. And the same can be said for your moth orchid. Refresh your orchid – and let it spread its roots – by giving it a new home and repotting it.

Orchids generally need to be repotted once a year. The best time to repot is just after flowering, or when new growth appears.

You’ll know it’s time to repot if any of these reasons apply to you:

  1. Your orchid has tightly tangled roots. It’s normal for Phalaenopsis orchids to have loosely tangled roots. This is a surefire sign your orchid needs to be repotted. Give plants breathing room by placing it in a larger pot every year or two with fresh potting soil.
  2. It’s been a while since you’ve repotted. Orchids need fresh potting mix every year or so.
    This continues to provide plants with the best nutrients and encourages proper air circulation. Soil that is not replaced can retain more water, leading to root rot and leaving your orchid vulnerable to fungal diseases.
  3. Your orchid’s roots are soft and brown. If you truly waited too long to repot, you’ll notice that your orchid is holding too much water. The roots will appear brown and feel soft to the touch. Fresh orchid potting mix will provide your plant with the environment it needs to stay happy and healthy.

Think it’s time to repot? Follow the steps below to give your orchid the space and soil it needs to keep growing happy and healthy.

How to repot orchids:

  1. Choose the right medium. We suggest using Espoma Organic Orchid Mix. For best results, pre-soak orchid mix for 24 hours and allow water to drain.
  2. Remove orchid from current container and trim dead roots from the plant.
  3. Fill container to one third full with orchid mix.
  4. Position single stem plants in the center of the new pot. Position multi-stem plants against the pot wall. Staking may be required until the plants are fully established.
  5. Gently cover roots with additional mix and fill pot to 1/2 inch below rim.
  6. Water thoroughly. Add more mix if setting occurs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Is your orchid telling you it needs to be repotted? Watch this video to learn how!

Top 4 Houseplants to Give and Get this Holiday Season

There’s so much to love about the holiday season — the cooking and baking, the time spent with family and friends, and the festive plants. Poinsettias or a blooming Christmas cactus are compact yet boast of holiday spirit. The more plants, the merrier!

With just a little care, holiday houseplants can continue to thrive throughout the year. Knowing how to care for them helps to keep them beautiful. Repot later if needed.

So whether you’re getting or giving holiday houseplants, use these tips to help keep them blooming.

How to Care for Holiday Favorites

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Poinsettia: No other plant quite marks the beginning of the holiday season like the poinsettia. With more than 100 varieties available today in colors of red, white, pink and more, this plant can be found just about everywhere during the holidays.

First things first, don’t let poinsettias get cold on the ride home from the store. Keep trips and exposure to cold as short as possible. Once home, these cheery plants thrive on six hours of indirect light a day away from cold drafts and need proper watering. When the plant needs water, remove the decorative foil and let soak in a few inches of water for an hour or so. Let excess drain and rewrap.

Tip: Take the poinsettia out of its foil and place it in a decorative container.

Norfolk Island pine: A mini Christmas tree, this festive plant looks lovely when adorned with mini lights and homemade ornaments or just plain on its own.

Give pines about six to eight hours of light per day. Any less and lower branches are likely to drop. Water when dry to the touch. Fertilize Norfolk Island pines bi-monthly with our new liquid houseplant fertilizer to keep them happy and healthy.

Tip: Pines can last for years and be decorated for other seasons as well!

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Christmas cactus: Though this cactus is known for blooming around Christmas, it’ll stay strong throughout the year and periodically rebloom. It’s ruffled flowers range in color from reds to pinks to oranges and creams.

Give this plant bright indirect light and place outdoors in a semi-shady spot during summer months. Allow plant to become slightly dry between waterings.  Keeps this holiday plant reblooming for years to come by giving it a rest during the fall and placining it in the dark for about six to eight weeks, encouraging new blooms.

Tip: No matter how diligent you are about care, bloom time may vary based on variety. Whether or not it blooms in time for the holidays, you’ll still have winter blooms to enjoy.

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Cyclamen: Cyclamen’s bright flowers in pink, white or red are great for adding a pop of color where you need it. With the right conditions, they can bloom for more than eight weeks.

Cyclamen likes light, but not super-bright light. Keep the temperature consistent and deadhead spent flowers and leaves. Pour water in a saucer and let the plant absorb it for 15 to 20 minutes.

Tip: During the summer, cyclamen’s foliage turns yellow and dies back. This is their dormant period when they’re storing energy for the next flowering season.

Any houseplant can grow with the proper care. Learn how here.

How to Care for Succulents and Cacti in Winter

Succulents and cacti are great low-maintenance plants that brighten up the indoors, even during winter’s darkest days. Their unusual shapes and textures add visual interest to any table or windowsill, and with the right care, they’ll stay just fine throughout the long, cold season.

Succulents and cacti make for good houseplants year-round. In winter, plants only need a little light and occasional watering to keep them going. Most cacti and succulents go dormant by the time fall comes around, meaning they will stop growing when temperatures and daylight drop.

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5 Ways to Care for Cacti and Succulents during Winter:

1. Make your cacti or succulent happy by placing the dormant plant in an area where it will thrive. Succulents need less light during the winter and will survive when given indirect light, too. For the best results, make sure your plant receives at least three to four hours of bright light a day. Place are happiest near a south or east facing window.

2. Succulents typically grow in sandy, well-drained soil. Use Espoma’s cacti and succulent mix to give your plant what it needs. Succulents can’t stand overly moist soil, so make sure containers have drainage holes to allow excess water to exit.

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3. Control the temperature. Succulents won’t mind temperatures as low as 50 to 55 degrees, but few will tolerate colder.

4. Succulents need deep watering, but will not use as much water as when they’re experiencing active growth. Water sparingly and from the top, allowing water to trickle through to the bottom. Do not let plants sit in water for a long time. Make sure to keep water off the body of the cactus, it can contribute to rot.

5. Check for pests. Look at leaves monthly for aphids and mealy bugs. If found, move the infested plant away from others and mist with a mixture of 3 parts rubbing alcohol to 1 part water.

 

No green thumb? No worries? Learn more about caring for cacti and succulents.

7 Plants Cupid Struck with His Arrow

Roses are red. Violets are blue. All flowers are lovely, but let’s try something new!

Show your love with these seven indoor plants this year.

Tie a big, showy bow around the pot! Then seal the deal with a handwritten love note (complete with houseplant care instructions, of course).

Divine Gifts for Your Valentine: 7 Indoor Plants to Show Your Love

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Opulent Orchids. Gift simple elegance to the one you love. Choose pink, purple or multi-colored and opt for a romantic colored pot, too. When repotting, use an organic orchid mix potting soil. Water with three ice cubes weekly, and fertilize monthly.

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Amorous African Violets. Dainty yet bold, African violets are for sweethearts who are sugar, spice and everything nice. Plant in a pot using potting soil specifically for African violets. Water only when dry to the touch, and feed weekly.

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Fiery Flamingo Flowers. Made for Valentine’s Day – complete with red, heart-shaped flowers! Water only when dry to the touch, and feed every 3-4 months.

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Captivating Cyclamen. Choose sweet pink or daring red flowers coupled with dreamy, marbled leaves to make your valentine swoon. Water when dry, and fertilize monthly when flowering.

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Mesmerizing Miniature Roses. Give pink or red roses for Valentine’s Day that last! During winter, keep soil slightly moist. Come spring and summer, feed every two weeks.

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Kindhearted Kalanchoe. These ever-lasting pink or red blooms flourish all on their own, making them perfect for brown-thumb Valentines. Water when dry, and fertilize once a month when flowering.

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“Be Mine” Bromeliad. Bold, bright and beautiful! Water the center of its bloom when the soil is dry.

 With indoor plants this good looking, your sweetheart is going to be head-over-heels in love!