The Inaugural Great Plants Symposium

The Espoma Company is excited to announce its sponsorship of the inaugural Great Plants Symposium on Friday, October 6 at The Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center in Sturbridge, MA.

This one day symposium is jam-packed with information, inspiring speakers and delicious food. Patterned after its sister symposium, the Great Gardens and Landscaping Symposium, this is an amazing opportunity to learn what’s happening in the gardening world.

The excitement begins before the symposium even starts. Offered is a special 3- hour flower gardening program on Thursday where Kerry Ann Mendez will dive into what to plant in your garden that will bring you more bang for your buck. Kerry will also be giving tips and tricks on how to reduce stress for a happier, healthier life – and garden!

Speakers include award-winning blogger, Kathy Purdy, professional horticulturalist, Heather Lynn Poire, garden designer and plantswoman, Suzanne Thatcher, and as mentioned earlier, award- winning national speaker and garden consultant, Kerry Ann Mendez.

Cost to attend is $93 per person; $88 for Master Gardeners or Groups of 5 or more. This includes five garden lectures, refreshments, buffet lunch, handouts, garden gift and door prizes.

For more information and registration for the symposium, visit https://pyours.com/great-plants-symposium/  Special room rates available.

IF YOU GO:

What: The Great Plants Symposium

Where: The Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center in Sturbridge, MA

When: Friday, October 6th

How: Register by mailing in a check and form.

Best Plants that Produce Fall Fruit

It’s easy to help your garden thrive when there is something beautiful to look at. Spring and summer seasons make this easy to do with their gorgeous floral blooms. Did you know that Autumn can have equally as attractive plants?

Even the simplest shrubs and trees make great additions to fall gardens, bonus points if there’s fall fruit involved. We’ve rounded up the top trees and shrubs that will provide year-round enjoyment and fresh fall fruit.

6 Trees and Shrubs with Fall Fruit

  1. Mountain Ash

This deciduous tree gets its name from the blue-green pinnate leaves and white flowers that bloom in the spring. Mountain ash truly dazzles in autumn, turning into a blazing purple and red. The white flowers transition to shiny pink berries that stands bright against its foliage. And despite the name, mountain-ash (Sorbus) are very different types of plants than ash and are not attacked by emerald ash borer. Hardy in Zones 4-7 and feed regularly with Tree-Tone for strong roots and trunk.

  1. Crabapple

Crabapple trees offer beautiful hues. Varieties can include colors of burgundy, purple, red, orange, green or yellow. As the crabapple transitions into autumn, the fruit really begins to show. It transitions well into the winter, when birds will happily take care of the fruit. Hardy in zones 4-7 and feed regularly with Tree-Tone for strong roots and trunk.

  1. Beauty Berry

While you might not think twice about this shrub in the spring or summer, it shines in autumn. Its tiny pink flowers transform into brilliant ruby-violet berries that stop people in their tracks. This autumn shrub will give your garden something to talk about. Hardy in zones 5-11. Use Plant-Tone for beautiful berries.

  1. Possumhaw

This tree may be small, but it certainly is mighty. Even after the foliage falls in the autumn, the bright red berries remain, making it look like a red flowering tree. The berries on this tree aren’t large, but they last through a cold winter – unless the birds get them first. The Possumhaw is tricky – it ‘prefers’ acid soils but can ‘tolerate’ alkaline. Hardy in zones 5-8 and feed regularly with Holly-Tone for strong roots and trunk.

  1. Teton Firethorn

Stunningly bright in the autumn and winter, this show stopping shrub is the perfect edition to your garden. Vibrant orange fruit pop out from behind the foliage. The fruit thickly covers top to bottom on this plant. This shrub is tall and typically used as a hedge. Hardy in zones 6-9 and feed regularly with Holly-tone for radiant blooms and fruit.

  1. Coralberry

This low-key shrub in the spring and summer saves it’s best for autumn and winter when the small yellow flowers transform into purple-red fruit clusters. They are shade tolerant and can last well into the winter. Hardy in zones 2-7 and feed regularly with Plant-Tone for gorgeous blooms and tasty berries.

Want to know how to fertilize trees and shrubs? Let Laura from Garden Answer show you how!

tree-tone, espoma tree fertilizer, garden answer tree fertilizer

Laura from Garden Answer demonstrates how to fertilize a tree using Espoma’s Tree-tone. The slow release formula provides a long lasting nutrient reservoir to feed the entire tree, leaves, trunk, and roots.

Plant a path – The best Ground Covers

Easy-to-grow groundcovers aren’t just limited to grass. There are plenty of attractive solutions that suppress weeds and add interest to your yard.

Groundcovers that feature variegated leaves and bright blooms bring life to areas that might otherwise go unnoticed. Plus, most groundcovers use less water than typical lawns and don’t require mowing.

To get a groundcover started, dig planting holes twice the size of the plants’ roots, fill partially with compost, add the plant and then backfill with compost enhanced with Bio-tone Starter Plus. Water plants thoroughly after planting.

5 Ground Covers for Your Yard

1. Thyme

Choose this perennial herb to create an aromatic, green carpet. Creeping thyme will grow between the cracks and crevices of stone paths and the pink or white blooms are lovely. Plant in full sun. Thyme is hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4-10.

2. Creeping Juniper

This evergreen thrives in the heat. It does especially well in poor and sandy soils, drought and hot summers. Use it to fill in slopes, hills or rocky terrain. Plant in full sun. Creeping Juniper is hardy in Zones 3-10.

3. Sedum

One of the most dependable perennials you can grow, sedum quickly establishes in any sunny spot. Some sedums provide four seasons of interest, turning red in fall and winter. This low-maintenance, fast spreading plant will grow in even the poorest soil. Plant in full sun. Sedum is hardy in Zones 4-9.

4. Sweet Woodruff

Its star-shaped leaves and tiny white flowers make this shade-loving ground cover a favorite for many gardeners. True to its name, sweet woodruff will bring an earthy aroma to your yard. Plant in part to full shade. Sweet woodruff is hardy in Zones 4-8.

5. Pachysandra

Pachysandra is a great ground cover for areas where deer are a problem. Plus, it requires little care once it’s established. Be careful, though. While this ground cover is great for deterring deer, it can be poisonous to pets and children. Grow in shade and moist, well-drained soil. Pachysandra is hardy in Zones 4-8.

Looking for something with more blooms? Find out the top annuals to plant in containers.

Keep deer and other pests away from plants

You love your garden, and so do the notorious neighborhood deer. They’ll try anything at least once and will come back for more if they like it. Not to mention the rabbits and other critters that think of your yard as their own personal all you can eat buffet.

Get serious about deer proofing your garden before the damage gets out of control.  Early intervention is always best and you can prevent future invasions by taking action now. It’s much easier to deter one deer before the entire herd is grazing on your garden.

fallow-722410_1920

What do deer eat?

More like what won’t deer eat? Deer will eat any vegetation and the hungrier they are, the less picky they get. Growing plants that deer find less attractive is a good starting point, but a desperate deer might still take a bite.

Deer are big eaters. The average adult male consumes about five pounds of food a day.

If you want to keep the deer at bay, try out these tips in your own yard.

deer proof garden, natural ways to repel deer

Deter Deer and Other Animal Pests:

1. Place strong scented plants near entry points such as garlic, rosemary and lavender. Or choose plants with textures like lamb’s ear, thorny roses, barberry or holly.

2. Fences are generally the best force to keep critters at bay, but they can be expensive. Choose an 8’ tall fence or plant tall, thick hedges around borders. If your main concern is rabbits, the fence should be 30” tall and buried 8-12”.

3. Use liquid or granular animal repellant. Spread or spray around the perimeter of your yard. Reapply after rain and as often as directed. Over time, deer can become used to repellents so you may need to switch products if you notice deer near your yard.

4. An element of surprise such as a garden ornament or scarecrow can deter deer. Move it around frequently.

5. Install motion sensors that light up as deer approach.

6. Enlist your pooch. Active and noisy pets can keep deer at bay.

What’s worked for you in the past? Let us know in the comments below!

Make Like a Garden and Grow

This year, let’s grow your best garden yet! All you need is a sturdy pencil, a blank notebook and a vivid imagination. You’ll almost be able to smell wild lavender and delicate roses.

With a detailed garden plan, your organic garden blooms right off the page.

 Grow On! How to Plan Your Dream Garden

1. Reflect to Perfect. Think about last year’s garden. Jot down all your flowers, edibles and shrubs. Mark your favorite and most used plants. Cross off those that didn’t produce, succeed or required too much effort. What plants do you wish you had? What edibles did you spend too much on at the store? Add those to your plant list.

2. Wise Size. Sketch your current garden space. Should you expand or cut back? Consider if and where you’d like to place new garden beds, raised beds, containers or another vegetable garden. If this is your first garden, plan for 50-75 square feet.

garden plan, garden design3. Site for Light. With your garden design sketched, it’s time to color coordinate! Fill in each area with a different color based on how sunny or shady it is.

4. Single or Mingle. Tweak the list of plants you want to add, keep or remove. Then decide which plants you’ll cluster and which to keep separate. Pair plants with similar water, light and soil needs. Plan where to plant them, and circle the plants you’ll start from seed.

start seeds, plan garden5. Pick to Mix. Scrutinize your list to make sure you have a good mix of: plant types, scents, bloom times, beneficial plants, texture, sizes and color. Do the Safe Paws check to make sure all plants are safe for your pets.

Step back and admire your handiwork! In just a few short months, your hands will be in the soil making your garden plan spring to life.

Let Light Delight. Learn about Our Solar Power Initiatives

Five years ago, we at Espoma converted our plant and offices in Millville, NJ into a sunny, solar-power sanctuary. And we’ve never looked back!

Learn how much solar power brightens our world along with simple ways to harness solar power.

Radiant Energy Reductions at Espoma

Vowing to reduce our carbon footprint, we installed 43,000 square feet of solar panels. This reduces as much carbon dioxide as planting 1.7 million trees!

Espoma solar power

Data as of Nov 2015

Every year, Espoma generates enough solar energy to power over 60 homes and save more than 1.4 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

Click here to see how many light bulbs we’ve saved over the last five years!

Easy, Enlightening Ways to Use Solar Power

Solar panels are a big, initial investment. Luckily, you can still give solar power a shot by trying the Espoma Aerial Solar Powerbelow!

  1. Get a Solar Glow. Swap your outdoor garden lights or indoor desk lamps to solar energy.
  2. A Sun Deck for Your Tech. Charge phones, laptops and tablets using solar power! Switching to solar-powered tech chargers instantly reduces your energy use. If plugged in, tech chargers suck up energy – even without a device attached.
  3. Sizzle with Solar. Heat your home’s water with just a few solar panels. A fraction of the cost of a complete solar power system, you can test solar panels without the hefty price tag.
  4. Swim in the Sun. Whether you’re building a new pool or choose to convert a current one, you can heat pools and hot tubs with solar energy.
  5. Bask in Sunny Skylights. Opt for solar tubes instead of regular skylights. Solar tubes are cheaper, more energy efficient and better insulated than skylights.

Be a leading light, and use solar power! Don’t go solar solo, though. Share these easy tips with your friends.  

Don’t Leave Hanging Baskets Out to Dry…

Hanging baskets make great visual impacts when they are filled to the brim with bright summer blooms. They add instant color to any spot and are a sign of warm weather.

Though as days get hotter and the summer rolls on, hanging baskets can start to look tired: drooping blooms, minimal flowers and straggly plants.

Your hanging basket isn’t doomed. It just needs a good ol’ fashion pick-me-up.

Refresh your hanging baskets to keep them partying all summer long

Get ready to give your hanging baskets a make-over. With these tips, your hanging basket will be back in its prime in no time.

Photo Courtesy Proven Winners

Photo Courtesy Proven Winners

Take the Heat Off Hanging Baskets

  1. Test the Waters Hanging baskets need more water when temperatures rise. During the peak of summer’s heat, water baskets in the morning until water drips from the drainage holes. Check them again in the afternoon to see if they need more water. On windy days, hanging baskets dry out, so they will need even more water.
  2. Food for Thought. Feed hanging baskets  with an organic flower food, like Flower-tone or the new Bloom! liquid plant food. Because of how much water baskets need, nutrients are frequently flushed from the soil. Regular feedings give your hanging baskets the energy they need to shine and bloom continuously.
  3. Drop Dead Gorgeous Blooms. As flowers fade, pinch them off where they meet the stem. Deadheading hanging baskets keeps them producing flowers and prevents them from going to seed.
  4. Which to Switch. Not every flower blooms all summer. If one of your flowers is done blooming for the season, swap it out. Gently remove the flower, replace it with a vibrant plant and fill with an organic potting soil.
  5. What to Cut. When your hanging basket is looking a bit wild or leggy, cut it back by 1-2”.

Look at that! Your hanging baskets already look better. Keep up these tips throughout the summer to keep hanging baskets fresh, beautiful and blooming.

Repurpose on Purpose: Trash Transforms into Beautiful Containers

Container gardening adds a whole new element of style and flair to your outdoor space. Not only do you get to showcase DIY containeryour style through plants, but also in the unique pots you choose. It’s twice the fun!

And you can do it for the planet, too. Growing herbs, veggies and flowers already makes the world a greener place. Now reuse and repurpose a forgotten item into an invigorated planter. Upcycling creates less waste and saves money, too.

Create a repurposed container for a beautiful (and thrifty!) container garden.

Your soon-to-be favorite container may already be in your house. Almost any vessel can be repurposed into a garden container! You’ll be amazed by what you discover (and by what containers you didn’t even know were hiding in your cupboards).

Up for Grabs: Upcycled Containers

  1. Pin Your Style. Create a look that is truly all your own. Decide if you want a rustic, modern, country or bold look. Then browse Pinterest for inspiration.
  2. Start the Search. Browse your kitchen, closet, garage and cupboards for items you no longer use. Any size works! Branch out to yard sales, thrift stores and flea markets for more unique looks.
  3. Add a Special Touch. Personalize your container by painting it, covering it in old wallpaper, or even turning it into a mosaic. Get crafty!
  4. Show Them the Drill. Then Fill. Drill holes in the bottom of your repurposed container to provide drainage. Without drainage holes, soil becomes too wet and causes roots to rot. When ready, fill with the ideal potting soil, Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix, and your favorite plants.
60bc838855263aa8a8875fd58e171bca

These upcycled tires are stacked and painted- as seen by Ellen Wells at Syngenta

Colander-planter_wm

A colorful, retro colander makes a great hanging container

Toy-truck-planter

Think outside of the (toy)box

bra-planter

And, of course, the bigger the better for this container…

Other Types of Repurposed Containers:

Get inspired by some of our favorite items to turn into garden planters below.

  • Teacups and teapots
  • Pitchers
  • Tires
  • Boots and shoes
  • Colanders
  • Desk drawers
  • Buckets
  • Wine crates and whiskey barrels
  • Wheelbarrows and wagons
  • Clothes and lingerie
  • Toolboxes
  • Suitcases
  • Watering cans

Creating repurposed containers is a quick, affordable and fun way to expand container gardens. Once you start, the possibilities are endless!

*thank you MicroGardener for the photos!

 

Double your Roses by Feeding and Deadheading

Is there anything better than walking into your garden, smelling the heavenly scent of a rose and seeing a luscious rose bloom?

Believe it or not, we think there is!

More roses!

Once your roses start blooming, all you want is for more roses to grow, too! Stack the odds in your favor by feeding and deadheading your roses now.

Give Your Roses an Energy Boost!

roses

 

To create those gorgeous, lovely rose blooms, roses need lots of energy! You don’t think those beautiful blooms just happen, do you?

  1. Ohm. Find the Right Balance. Roses need a balanced, organic fertilizer made specifically for roses. A balanced food with the same amounts of NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) keeps the roots, flowers and foliage growing strong and healthy.
  2. Do as the Experts Do. Don’t the experts always know best? That’s what it seems like from those toothpaste commercials at least! The same is true in the garden. Rose-tone by Espoma, an organic plant food, is preferred by professional rose-growers. Follow their lead to grow bigger, better roses! Dare we say, prizewinning?
  3. The 30 Day Phase. Feed your roses once a month during the growing season. When you use a slow-release, organic fertilizer, your roses have enough to eat for 30 days. After that, they’ve consumed all the soil’s nutrients and need their energy source replenished. If the soil is dry, make sure you water roses heavily before feeding them. Find out more here.
  4. Look Dead? Off with their Head. Anyone who grows roses knows the value of deadheading. Roses will bloom all season if you remove spent flowers. Otherwise, the roses focus on seeding – not flowering. Plus, deadheading is easy! With pruners, simply cut dead roses just below the flower to the first set of leaves. Leave the leaves though, since these help plants grow strong. During drought, deadheading also reduces the plants need for water, increasing its chance of surviving this dry spell.
  5. Don’t stop there. Continue to deadhead roses until late August. This will allow the rose to form the important seed bearing hips it needs to produce even more flowers next spring!

Soon, roses will be coming up every which way! Go forth and create big, beautiful blooms with your newfound knowledge.

Mother’s Day Container Garden Ideas

Freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies, homemade sandwiches with the crusts cut off and secret passwords— mom did it all for you. She showered you with love in so many ways, big and small.

Now it’s your turn to remind Mom how much you truly appreciate her.

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 10th, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Since Mom has made so many wonderful treasures for you over the years, take the time to make her a gift she’ll enjoy for months!

From a traditional hanging basket to a funky container garden, select a container that’s just her style, fill it with her favorite flowers and present a homemade gift that will bloom and delight for months!

Watch our video on container gardening for each step of the process, or follow the steps below.

First, find the perfect container. There are tons of fun, colorful and patterned containers out there. Or get creative and use an unexpected object. Either way, select the one that screams “Mom!” to you.

Be sure your container has drainage holes at the bottom and be sure it isn’t too big. Once the container is filled with soil, it can get pretty heavy.

Next, look for 3-5 flowers, grasses or greenery. If you already know Mom’s favorite flowers, definitely use those.

Then, choose plants that spill, thrill and fill! You want a plant that cascades, one that mounds and one that stands out among the rest.

You can mix colors, or stick with a monochromatic color scheme. Have fun with it!

Regardless, it’s best to make sure your plants like the same growing conditions. As a final check before checkout, compare plant tags to see if they all need the same amount of sun and water.

While you’re still shopping, grab a bag of the best organic potting mix.

Espoma Organic Potting Mix is not only 100 percent organic, but contains Myco-tone Mycorrhizae, too.

Plants growing in Espoma Organic Potting Mix require up to 30 percent less water than other potting soils. With water restrictions a concern, Mom will use less water for her container.

Plus, Espoma Organic Potting Mix helps your plants adjust to their new home better and grow bigger roots for bigger plants.

Now, get crafty!

  1. Fill the container 3/4 full with Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix.
  2. Mix in 2 tablespoons of Espoma’s Bio-tone® Starter Plus with the soil to give it that extra oomph. This organic plant food encourages bigger and more plentiful blooms!
  3. Remove the plants from their original containers and arrange them in the new planter.
  4. Play around a bit. Move the plants around to see where each plant looks best.
  5. Once the plants look perfect to you, fill in any gaps in the container with organic potting soil.
  6. Water well.
  7. Stick your Mother’s Day card in the soil on a floral pick and tie a bow around the container.

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

Share a photo of your Mom with her homemade Mother’s Day container on our Facebook page! And tell her Happy Mother’s Day from Espoma!