Fall Flowers Extend the Season In Your Garden and Beauty in Your Home

It’s not too hard to walk through the yard in mid-summer and pick enough flowers for a vase. But, oftentimes, gardens are less showy in autumn. Heare are five winners you should look for now and plant next spring. All five varieties can be grown from seed for pennies. They will liven up your fall bouquets and your fall garden next year. Best of all, three of them dry beautifully and will last all winter. Don’t forget to feed your flowers Espoma’s liquid Grow! fertilizer for the best possible harvest.

Chinese Lanterns

Chinese lanterns, sometimes called Japanese lanterns, have bright orange seed pods that look like puffy lanterns hanging from their stems. These dry beautifully and may be used in arrangements for many months, even years. Their vivid orange color makes them ideal for all things Halloween. You can sow the seeds indoors in the spring or outside directly in the soil. They are vigorous growers and can be grown in pots to keep them in check.

Blackberry Lily

This is a twofer. Blackberry lilies have beautiful, bright orange flowers with deep orange freckles on tall graceful stems. After they bloom, seed is produced inside puffy capsules. In late summer the capsules break open and you’re left with a cluster of black seeds that looks exactly like big, fat, juicy blackberries. The glossy berries look beautiful in fresh or dried arrangements. Together with the Chinese lanterns, you’ll have the ultimate Halloween combination.

Zinnias

Zinnia’s have been garden favorites for hundreds of years because they are so easy to grow from seed and come in so many different colors, shapes, and sizes. They’ll start flowering in mid-summer and bloom until frost, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. They make outstanding cut flowers and long-lasing bloomers in the garden. They like good air circulation and always water at ground level, wet leaves can lead to mildew. 

Money Plant

Money plant, also called the silver dollar plant is not the same as the house plant. Its botanical name is Lunaria. This lovely annual blooms in spring with bright pinkish-purple flowers but don’t cut them. After they bloom, they develop an oval seed pod. Toward the end of summer, the pod becomes papery and if you carefully rub them the husks and seeds fall off and you are left with a stem of almost transparent, silver dollar-sized disks that look like parchment. They are so unusual and because of their neutral color, they blend well in any bouquet. Throw the seeds back where they came from for and you’ll get more the next year.

Sunflowers

Annual sunflowers now come in a wide range of colors from yellow, orange and bronze to ruby red and even white. They also come in a variety of heights from six feet tall to shorter branching varieties to dwarf varieties that reach just a foot or two. They are all easy to grow from seed and are especially fun to grow with kids because they grow so fast. Cut them early in the morning, when the flower petals are just beginning to open for the longest lasting cut flowers.

Foraging

If you don’t have enough varieties of fall blooming flowers, foraging may be an option. Foraging isn’t legal everywhere but if you have friends or family with some property ask if you could cut some wildflowers. Goldenrod, asters, and tansy can add beautiful and flare to a cut flower bouquet. Think of berries too. Many shrubs have fall berries and many roses offer hips. Don’t forget about adding dried grasses, hydrangeas and foliage with fall color. The most important thing is just to be creative and have fun. Mother Nature already made the flowers beautiful, so you can’t miss.

Here are links to other blogs we hope you’ll find interesting.

Nature Never Goes out of Style – Transition into a Fall Cutting Garden

Create the Perfect Centerpiece for Fall Gatherings

Fall Foliage Adds Spark

Espoma Products – Grow!

Grow! Plant Food

6 Kid and Pet Friendly Plants

Danger could be lurking anywhere when you’ve got kids and pets. That’s why parents do their best to baby-proof and petscape. And when you’re a plant parent, the last thing you want to think about is your real babies or furbabies snacking on your plant babies.

Whether it’s because they’re poisonous or prickly, some plants are just not safe for consumption.

Luckily, many plants are non-toxic and safe for the whole family to enjoy.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Boston Ferns

Not only are Boston ferns safe to have around pets and kids, but they also clean the air every minute of the day. Studies from the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) have found that levels of indoor air pollution can be two to five times— and in some cases 10 times — more polluted than outdoor air. Feed ferns every two to four weeks with Espoma’s liquid Indoor! fertilizer to keep plants growing.

Image courtesy of Costa Farms

Spider Plant

This 70s mainstay and easy care plant is one of the safest you can find. Spider plants also great for teaching small children about plant propagation. Just snip off the babies and transplant into Espoma’s organic potting mix to create more plants.

Christmas Cactus

With their flat green leaves, stunning blooms in pink or lilac and longevity, Christmas cacti can sometimes be family heirlooms handed down from one generation to the next. To trigger blooming, these plants need darkness for at least 14 hours a day and sunlight between 8 to 10 hours a day for six weeks. You can cover your cacti if your indoor lighting is bright to create the needed rest period.

Echeverias

The entire echeveria family is safe for pets and children, although we still don’t advise eating them. This desert native comes in a variety of colors and does best in dry conditions. Echeveria should be watered only once it has dried out. For optimal results, place echeveria in full sun and ensure the soil is well drained. Use Espoma’s Cactus! liquid fertilizer to give succulents the optimal amount of nutrients.

Zebra Plant

Another favorite of succulent lovers, this striking plant gets its name from the horizontal stripes covering its leaves. Growing about 5” tall and 6”wide, the zebra plant is tidy, contained and a perfect addition to any small space. Zebra plants require a moderate amount of sunlight and water.

African Violets

These stunners are known to bloom continuously, even throughout the darker months of winter. Place them throughout the house to enjoy their colors and velvety texture throughout the year.  Once you get in a regular routine of taking care of African violets, you’ll find they’re very easy to grow. All of their basic needs need to be met though, or they won’t bloom. Give them the right temperature, light and a good feeding with Espoma’s Violet! liquid fertilizer, and you’ll be blooming in no time.

Safety First

Tiny hands and paws often find their way into the dirt and end up in the mouth. Picking non-toxic plants is a step in the right direction toward keeping your little ones safe, but go one step further by choosing organic products and soil for your plant babies. Plus, it’s healthy for your plants, and the planet, too.

Espoma Products for Happy Houseplants

Potting Soil

Plant Azaleas in Early Fall

Fall is a great time to plant. First of all, the cooler temperatures make it much more appealing to be outside. Secondly, fall plant sales are the best. Many garden centers offer deep discounts because they don’t want to overwinter plants. Take advantage of these deals to add some spice to your yard and garden.

Photo courtesy of Encore® Azalea

Star of the Show

Azaleas are some of the most beautiful and popular shrubs you can buy. The plants are covered with delicate blooms in spring and summer and many have attractive fall color too. In the right location, they are easy to grow and they’ll soon become the stars of the garden.

Soil and Light

Azaleas are acid-loving plants. That means that they prefer soil with a low pH. Fertilizers like Espoma’s Holly-tone were developed especially for acid-lovers. You apply it once in the spring and again in late fall at half strength. Well-drained soil is also a must. They do best in bright shade. Too much sun can burn the foliage and too little will result in poor flowering.

Photo courtesy of Encore® Azalea

Planting with TLC

Azaleas are shallow-rooted shrubs meaning the roots don’t go deep looking for water. Adding some compost to the soil when planting will help hold moisture around the roots. It’s also a good idea to add Bio-tone Starter Plus to the planting hole. It’s a great starter fertilizer to help make sure your new plant gets established quickly. Water deeply after planting.

Mulching

Fall isn’t the best time to mulch. It can hold warmth in the soil instead of letting the temperatures gently drop, encouraging the plant to go into its natural dormancy. Add a layer of mulch next spring after the soil has warmed up. Bark, pine needles and leaf mold are all good choices.

Photo courtesy of Encore® Azalea

Pruning

Generally speaking, azaleas don’t need to be pruned unless you are trying to reduce their height. In that case, prune the shrubs back after they flower. You can remove dead or damaged branches any time of the year. It is also a good idea to deadhead the flowers once they have finished blooming. That way the plant can use all of its energy to grow bigger and stronger instead of producing seed. Be careful when you snap off the old flowers as the buds for next year are right below them.

Here are some other blog posts we hope you will find interesting.

Step-by-Step: Prep the Garden for Winter

How to Plant Colorful Flowering Shrubs: Azaleas and Rhododendrons

Espoma Products

How to Plant a Terrarium with Summer Rayne, Homestead Brooklyn

Terrariums are beautiful, fun to make and easy to care for. Our favorite Brooklyn plant expert, Summer Rayne Oakes, guides us through the process step-by-step in this episode of Plant One on Me.

Summer covers which plants, tools, containers and soil mix you’ll need. Plus, how to water, the number one reason people kill plants.

If this terrarium seems too large to start with, go with a smaller version.

You don’t need a green thumb for this DIY project, promise.

Getting Started

First of all, choose a glass container. It’s easiest if the container is big enough to fit your hand inside. Next, choose plants that have the same kinds of light and water requirements. Check the plant tags to make sure they’ll be compatible. Generally speaking, terrariums are best in bright, indirect light. Full sun can be magnified by the glass and burn foliage. Base the container size on the number of plants you’d like to include.

Tools

Summer uses a set of aquarium tools for her terrariums. It’s a clever idea because they are extra-long. Having said that, it isn’t really necessary to buy this type of set when starting out. A long pair of chopsticks does a great job. She also uses a spoon and a narrow garden trowel. A watering can with a thin spout is handy to direct the water.

Soil Mix

The soil for terrariums needs to be a light, free draining mixture. Espoma’s organic Cactus Mix combined with perlite makes the perfect blend. If plants are small you can start with a drainage layer of an inch or so consisting of small rock and or charcoal. In this case, she didn’t use a drainage layer because the plants were relatively large and would have rooted into the drainage layer too quickly.

Planting

Add an inch or two of the soil mixture to your glass container. Play around with the plants until you have an idea of how you’d like them to look. Every plant won’t be blooming all of the time so choose ones with different textures and foliage to create the terrariums subtle beauty. Plant around the edge first, adding soil around the plants as you go. Plant the centerpiece last.

Watering

Terrariums create their own humidity which means they’ll need to be watered less frequently than houseplants in pots. Water sparingly and keep an eye on them. If plants seem to be wilting, water them. As time goes by, you’ll find the right watering schedule for your terrarium. Once every two weeks is about average.

Plant List

Here is a list of the plants Summer used in this video:

  • Monstera siltepcana – light and dark varieties
  • Peperomia trinervula
  • Hemigraphis/Strobilanthes alternate
  • Pilea asp.
  • Begonia conchifolia
  • Peperomia caperata

More Information

Here are links to other videos and blog posts we think you may find interesting:

How to Make an Easy Terrarium

DIY Terrarium Ideas

Everything Old Can be New Again with Terrariums

How to Care for the Luckiest Houseplant

Instead of carrying around a rabbit’s foot or a four leaf clover, try adding jade plants to your home for good luck! These plants signify wealth and prosperity, so they make the perfect addition to offices and homes. Like most succulents, they’re low-maintenance and easy to care for.

You don’t need to be lucky to find success, just follow these simple care instructions for your jade plant.

Water

Instead of watering your jade plant on a schedule, water as needed. If the top inch of the soil is completely dry, it’s time to water. Depending on the amount of sun and the room temperature, water needs may vary. If your jade plant starts to lose leaves or develop sun spots, it’s trying to tell you it’s thirsty. Water just enough to moisten the soil.

As with all houseplants, avoid over watering as it can lead to root rot and other diseases.

Sunlight

Jade plants love sunlight. Just four to six hours of direct sun a dat promotes healthy growth also protects against diseases. Place your jade plant on a sunny windowsill at work or at home.

Certain varieties of jade, typically ones with variegated leaves, don’t need as much sun. Look for a variety than can thrive in indirect sunlight to place on your desk or coffee table. Jade plants love mild temperatures, anywhere from 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit will do.

Soil

Jade prefers a well-draining soil to avoid becoming water logged. Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix is specialized for succulents. It promotes healthy root growth with its optimum aeration and drainage. Clay pots are great for jade plants because they wick away any excess water and help protect the plant from over watering damage.

Fertilize

Fertilize your jade plant regularly to keep it healthy and growing, try Espoma’s Cactus! Liquid plant food for succulents.

With just a little care, your new jade plant will bring you plenty of luck and prosperity!

Want to be creative with succulents? Try this DIY paint can planter for succulents.

Top Five Trees to Plant for Bees

Bees, birds, butterflies and other pollinators are responsible for pollinating 85 percent of the planet’s flowers and more than a third of our fruits and vegetables. Without bees, the shelves at our grocery stores would look pretty sparse.

 

Starting a pollinator garden is easy. But, trees in your landscape are just as important as colorful flowers.

 

Bee sure to plant some of these trees for the bees!

 

5 Top Trees For Bees:

 

Native Oaks

Provide bees with winter shelter and habitat by planting native oaks.  Native plants are one of the best ways to help pollinators, after all. Choose native oaks to support pollinators throughout the year, but especially during winter when these strong trees make for excellent shelter. In fact, more than 500 pollinator species call native oaks home, returning year after year.

 

Magnolias

The nourishing pollen and sweet nectar of magnolia trees supports pollinators year round. However pollinators aren’t the only ones that love magnolias. Known for their vibrant blooms, fruit flies, leafhoppers and more are known to visit these trees, too.

 

Tupelo

Have you heard of Tupelo honey? There’s no doubt that bees love Tupelo trees for food and shelter. Plus, tupelo trees provide colorful pops of foliage to the fall landscape with their yellow, red and orange leaves.

 

Yellow Poplar/Tulip Tree

Not actually a poplar, this tree is actually a member of the magnolia family. It gets its name from the large, tulip-like flowers it produces. Its greenish yellow blooms and sweet nectar attract pollinators to the yellow poplar.

 

Black Cherry

Add this sweet, fruit tree to welcome pollinators to your landscape. Not only are black cherry trees practically irresistible to bees and caterpillars, these trees also look spectacular.

 

Once you have picked the perfect tree, keep pollinators coming back for years by keeping your tree healthy. Fertilize regularly with Espoma’s Tree-tone.

 

What to know more? Watch this video to find out how to fertilize trees.

Companion Plants for Your Hydrangeas

There’s no doubt that hydrangeas can hold their own in the garden. With big colorful blooms and beautiful green foliage, summer’s favorite flower makes a bold statement in any garden.

But, why not pair them with delicate foliage, bold flowers or subtle ornamental grasses for more variety? If you’re looking for ways to make your hydrangeas pop even more, try these companion planting tips.

When planting hydrangeas, be sure to use Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus for best results.

Foliage

It’s hard to go wrong when choosing a color for companion plants. Try pairing hydrangeas with foliage in different hues of the same color. This adds subtle dimension and almost creates a 3-D effect in the garden.

If your hydrangeas are pink, pair them with Rose Glow Barberry shrubs. The deep pink and purple foliage emphasizes the pastel pink flowers and contrasts perfectly with the green leaves. Try planting Blue Star Juniper alongside blue hydrangeas for a beautiful display. This low-maintenance shrub provides beautiful bluish-green foliage that complements any blue flowering plants.

Flowers

When planting flowers with flowers, timing is everything. Be sure to choose a summer blooming flower that will blossom around the same time as your hydrangea. You can choose to plant similar hues or bright contrasting colors. If you’re looking to create a dramatic contrast in the garden, choose a flower that comes in a variety of colors.

Begonias and geraniums are beautiful flowers that come in many different shades, making them a perfect companion for hydrangeas. Create a colorful rainbow garden by pairing blue hydrangeas with pink geraniums or white hydrangeas with scarlet begonias.

Grasses

If you want the focus of your garden to be mainly on hydrangeas, opt for more subtle ornamental grasses that simply enhance their beauty. Most ornamental grasses are low-maintenance and easy to grow, giving you more time to spend perfecting your hydrangeas.

Fountain grass is one of our favorites because it provides pretty feathered plumes that dance in the wind. Green and yellow Japanese forest grass also complements hydrangeas very nicely.

Let us know what you’ll be planting with your hydrangeas this summer! And watch this video on planting hydrangeas.

Grateful for Great Gardeners this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is days away, and we’re so excited to gather with loved ones and enjoy a locally-grown, organic feast! Does it get any better? It sure does! Because we have so much to be thankful for. Below we’re sharing what we’re thankful for at Espoma this year.

Our Espoma Community

Each time we package a product, meet with a customer or hear from you, we’re filled with overwhelming gratitude.

We are so incredibly thankful for you — specifically your continued support and enthusiasm for organic gardening over the years.

Everyone who supports Espoma becomes part of our organic gardening community. Just last week, we connected with a customer who has been using Espoma products since 1968.

He reminded us we’re all in this together.

organic lawn care, green lawn,

Three Barks for Safe Paws

This year, we launched Espoma’s Safe Paws. Through Safe Paws, we advocate the importance of using organic lawn and garden products to keep pets safe.

Once we learned that cancer affects 1 out of every 3 dogs, we had to take action.

Since then, we’ve been sharing easy, fun ways to keep your pets’ paws safe!

We’re so thankful we’re able to keep pets safe from harmful pesticides by focusing on using organic lawn products.

organic gardening, edible gardening

Green Movement Growing

When we started our organic garden company in 1929, we were organic before organic was trendy.

Now, we’re thrilled families across the nation are joining the green movement.

35 percent of all households in America — a mighty 42 million households — are growing fruits and veggies.

Best of all, the largest increase in food gardening is among young families, according to the National Gardening Association.

Thank YOU for growing your own food, using sustainable energy and reducing waste whenever you can.

Pause and appreciate what you’re most thankful for this year. Happy Thanksgiving to all!