How to Plant Hydrangeas

In the video below, Laura from Garden Answer demonstrates how to plant hydrangeas using Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus and Holly-tone.

Can’t wait to learn more about hydrangeas?
Check out our Hydrangea Growing Guide

HYDRANGEA
Growing Guide

 


 

Garden Answer’s Top 5 Low Light Houseplants (Extended Version)

Sometimes the perfect place for a houseplant has little to no light. But that won’t  stop these low light houseplants from growing big and healthy. Laura from Garden Answer shows off her favorites and gives tips to keep them healthy.

Garden Answer’s Favorite Low-Light Plants

Peace Lily

Not many plants that tolerate low light areas have blooms, but this one does! It has interesting green or white flowers that are the same texture as the foliage, which is dark and glossy. The flowers bloom for long periods of time. Peace lilies can grow 18 to 36 inches tall and wide, depending on the container you have them in. Water every week or so, be sure not to overwater, and as a friendly reminder the foliage will droop if it needs more water.

Pothos

This houseplant thrives in places out of direct sunlight and is super low maintenance, so place them wherever you want to enjoy them. They can be planted in hanging baskets or on ledges to allow the foliage to drape over and trail down. Water every 10 to 14 days.

Sansevieria

Also known as a Mother-in-law’s tongue or a snake plant, this houseplant has striking foliage that grows upward. It is a very modern plant that comes in different shapes, sizes and colors, so it will truly work with any decor. It is very low maintenance — just keep an eye on the foliage for wilting and water about every two weeks when the soil is completely dry. In the winter, you may go a month between waterings. Add water away from the plant – never pour over the leaves.

Spider Plant

This is another interesting plant to add to any space. It is multigenerational, meaning it is easy to propagate and pass on to others (even kids and grandkids) to start their own. The name Spider Plant comes from the off shoots on the foliage. They look like little spiders hanging from a web. Pinch an off shoot (or spider) and plant it in a pot with fresh Espoma Potting Soil to start a new plant. Water once a week to keep them happy.

ZZ Plant

The dark green healthy foliage on this plant is worth noting, though it isn’t always that way. The foliage starts off bright green when it is freshly planted and will darken as time goes on. While other plants can get little burns from being indoors, the ZZ plant is hardy enough to withstand anything, even the darkest of corners. This is probably the toughest plant of this list.

Remember, low-light houseplants need time to absorb water, so allow them to dry out in between watering. The peace lily is the only exception, as they prefer it a bit moist. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the leaves every month or so. This will help keep your plants looking better as dust settles on them. Be sure to keep the cloth damp as they need humidity to survive too. In addition to the cloth, spray a mist over the foliage with distilled water to amp up the humidity around the plant.

Feed your houseplants regularly with Espoma’s Indoor! liquid plant food. It is an all-purpose houseplant food to help give them the nutrients they need. Lastly, be sure to check the roots every six months to see if you need to move your plants to a bigger pot.

 

Products:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Low Light Houseplants

Houseplants are great for adding color, décor, texture or even a little bit of health to any space in your home. Sometimes the best place to put a houseplant isn’t the most ideal for the plant, but with these low light houseplants, they will thrive in even the darkest corners. Don’t forget, these plants can go anywhere indoors, like an office space that can use a little life.

Garden Answer’s Favorite Low-Light Plants

Peace Lily

Not many plants that tolerate low light areas have blooms, but this one does! It has interesting green or white flowers that are the same texture as the foliage, which is dark and glossy. The flowers bloom for long periods of time. Peace lilies can grow 18 to 36 inches tall and wide, depending on the container you have them in. Water every week or so, be sure not to overwater, and as a friendly reminder the foliage will droop if it needs more water.

Pothos

This houseplant thrives in places out of direct sunlight and is super low maintenance, so place them wherever you want to enjoy them. They can be planted in hanging baskets or on ledges to allow the foliage to drape over and trail down. Water every 10 to 14 days.

Sansevieria

Also known as a Mother-in-law’s tongue or a snake plant, this houseplant has striking foliage that grows upward. It is a very modern plant that comes in different shapes, sizes and colors, so it will truly work with any decor. It is very low maintenance — just keep an eye on the foliage for wilting and water about every two weeks when the soil is completely dry. In the winter, you may go a month between waterings. Add water away from the plant – never pour over the leaves.

Spider Plant

This is another interesting plant to add to any space. It is multigenerational, meaning it is easy to propagate and pass on to others (even kids and grandkids) to start their own. The name Spider Plant comes from the off shoots on the foliage. They look like little spiders hanging from a web. Pinch an off shoot (or spider) and plant it in a pot with fresh Espoma Potting Soil to start a new plant. Water once a week to keep them happy.

ZZ Plant

The dark green healthy foliage on this plant is worth noting, though it isn’t always that way. The foliage starts off bright green when it is freshly planted and will darken as time goes on. While other plants can get little burns from being indoors, the ZZ plant is hardy enough to withstand anything, even the darkest of corners. This is probably the toughest plant of this list.

Remember, low-light houseplants need time to absorb water, so allow them to dry out in between watering. The peace lily is the only exception, as they prefer it a bit moist. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the leaves every month or so. This will help keep your plants looking better as dust settles on them. Be sure to keep the cloth damp as they need humidity to survive too. In addition to the cloth, spray a mist over the foliage with distilled water to amp up the humidity around the plant.

Feed your houseplants regularly with Espoma’s Indoor! liquid plant food. It is an all-purpose houseplant food to help give them the nutrients they need. Lastly, be sure to check the roots every six months to see if you need to move your plants to a bigger pot.

 

Products:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

 

 

 

 

How to Re-Pot Houseplants (quick cut)

Your houseplant’s health is extremely important. Laura from Garden Answer clears the air when it comes to re-potting in this step by step tutorial.

This is the safest and best way to re-pot your plants to enjoy them in your home for years.

There are a few tell-tale signs a plant is outgrowing its container. Pick the plant up out of its container. If you see a jumbled mess of roots, it is time to re-pot. Another sign of needing to re-pot is if you are able to see roots coming out of the drain hole. Matted roots near the surface are another sign it is definitely time for a bigger container.

The new container will need to be one to two inches larger in diameter than the original. Be sure your new container has holes for drainage in the bottom. This is important because if the plant roots are sitting in water, they can rot. Laura from Garden Answer typically uses terracotta pots because they are porous and oxygen can flow in and out, which is good for your houseplant’s health. Plants in terra cotta pots tend to dry out faster so be sure to adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

When transferring your plant, you will want to use a good quality potting mix, such as Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. This mix works for most plants, but there are some such as succulents, African Violets, and orchids that require a specific potting mix. For these plants try Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix, Organic African Violet Mix, or Organic Orchid Mix.

Now you’re ready to re-pot. It’s really simple. First, take your plant out of its original container. You will need to gently break up the tangled roots at the bottom. Next, place the plant in its new container. Fill in around your plant with soil and pack in tightly. Avoid burying your plant too deep by only filling in soil to the level at which the old soil is packed. To finish it off, water it lightly and, voila! You have a re-potted houseplant.

When fertilizing your newly re-potted houseplant, use a liquid fertilizer such as Espoma’s Indoor! Liquid fertilizer. However, plants such as succulents, African Violets, and Orchid require specific fertilizers. For these plants try Espoma’s Liquid Cactus!, Violet!, and Orchid! liquid fertilizers.

Products:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil MixEspoma Organic Orchid Mix

 

How to Re-Pot Houseplants

Plants can outgrow their homes. And by homes, we mean containers. Here are quick tips on how to re-pot houseplants.

Usually, there are two reasons to re-pot houseplants. The first is that you just bought a plant from a garden center and would like to put it in a more decorative pot. The second is that your houseplant has outgrown its current pot. Either way, the same re-potting rules apply.

There are a few tell-tale signs a plant is outgrowing its container. Pick the plant up out of its container. If you see a jumbled mess of roots, it is time to re-pot. Another sign of needing to re-pot is if you are able to see roots coming out of the drain hole. Matted roots near the surface are another sign it is definitely time for a bigger container.

The new container will need to be one to two inches larger in diameter than the original. Be sure your new container has holes for drainage in the bottom. This is important because if the plant roots are sitting in water, they can rot. Laura from Garden Answer typically uses terracotta pots because they are porous and oxygen can flow in and out, which is good for your houseplant’s health. Plants in terra cotta pots tend to dry out faster so be sure to adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

When transferring your plant, you will want to use a good quality potting mix, such as Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. This mix works for most plants, but there are some such as succulents, African Violets, and orchids that require a specific potting mix. For these plants try Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix, Organic African Violet Mix, or Organic Orchid Mix.

Now you’re ready to re-pot. It’s really simple. First, take your plant out of its original container. You will need to gently break up the tangled roots at the bottom. Next, place the plant in its new container. Fill in around your plant with soil and pack in tightly. Avoid burying your plant too deep by only filling in soil to the level at which the old soil is packed. To finish it off, water it lightly and, voila! You have a re-potted houseplant.

When fertilizing your newly re-potted houseplant, use a liquid fertilizer such as Espoma’s Indoor! Liquid fertilizer. However, plants such as succulents, African Violets, and Orchid require specific fertilizers. For these plants try Espoma’s Liquid Cactus!, Violet!, and Orchid! liquid fertilizers.

Products:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil MixEspoma Organic Orchid Mix

 

Fixer Upper: Chicken Coop Edition

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to Brooklyn’s newest chicken coop!

Summer Rayne Oakes from Homestead Brooklyn crowdsourced funds and donations to build a new chicken coop and garden for Los Sures, a non-profit senior citizen service center. Summer currently fosters Kippee, a Rhode Island hen, in her Brooklyn apartment and embarked on this project in an effort to build Kippee a new home.

Summer is an environmental scientist and entomologist by training. She’s changing the way we think about everything from how to care for houseplants to how we connect our community.

Los Sures’ mission is to develop and preserve sustainable communities in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They build affordable housing, participate in community service, and even have a food program. The organization originally started to help improve the borough in the seventies.

Summer worked alongside Zach Williams, the food access manager at Los Sures, to purchase tools and equipment for the chicken coop. With the help of the community, the chicken coop was erected in a single day. The Espoma Company was happy to help by donating Sani-Care animal bedding, Sani-Care Odor Control, Bio-tone Starter Plus fertilizer, and Garden Soil.

Sani-Care animal bedding is an all-natural product, manufactured using a blend of NIH approved premium hardwoods that includes beech, birch and maple. Sani-Care Odor Control helps to mitigate the odor of chicken feces.

Summer and Los Sures built a top-notch chicken coop! The chicken coop and garden will serve a variety of purposes for the organization. The chickens provide eggs which contribute to Los Sures’ food program and pantry.

Want to see more about the chickens at Los Sures? See how Homestead Brooklyn creates a garden just for the chickens to enjoy!

Espoma Chicken Coop Essentials

 

Companion Planting for Beginners

Grouping certain plants together will actually help your garden in more ways than you think. Companion planting is planting things together that benefit each other.

Find out how to your plants can help each other in this tutorial with Laura from Garden Answer. She’ll walk you through the basics of what it is, how to get started and how she companion plants in her own garden.

Example One: Growth and Habit Can Benefit Other Plants

Imagine a cucumber. Think about how it vines out all over the ground. If you were to trellis the cucumber to grow somewhat vertically, it will cast shade on the ground and you can plant something underneath — think greens, spinach, or anything that enjoys a bit of shade throughout the day.

If you don’t want to trellis your cukes, you can use this example with anything that grows taller and will cast some shade — such as sunflowers or corn. Hardier, tall plants can also be used like a trellis for peas or beanstalks to wrap themselves around them.

Example Two: Plant to Suppress Weeds

If you decide not to trellis vine crops, but instead allow them to grow over the ground, these can be used to block the sunlight and water from getting into the ground. This will make new growth difficult for weeds.

Example Three: Plant to Attract or Repel Insects

You can plant herbs or flowers to attract or repel insects. It is the same concept of planting herbs on the patio to repel mosquitos. Planting them near other producing plants will help fend off unwanted insects. For example, plant basil next to tomato plants to ward off the tomato hornworm — an insect that can be devastating to tomato plants. In this example, basil will also help the tomato grow and taste better – so it is worth a try!

On the other hand, zinnias will attract ladybugs – which is a good thing! Bring ladybugs into your garden to help keep control of other insects.

Nasturtiums act as a host plant for aphids. If you need to get aphids away from other plants that are producing, plant a nasturtium nearby as a distraction.

Other ideas:

  • Plant Thyme with cabbage to repel cabbage worms
  • Add marigolds to repel pests with strong fragrance

Example Four: Plant with Root Depth in Mind

Be sure to consider what you are planting near each other. If you only plant shallow rooted vegetables together they will be competing for space and nutrients. Before planting, be sure to know how deep the roots will go and mix and match the ones you place together. That way each plant can get the right amount of nutrients.

Planting lettuce, tomatoes and carrots together would work well. Lettuce has shallow roots, tomatoes have medium roots and carrots are a deep root vegetable, so they will not have to compete for the same space. Let’s say you want to add in potatoes – think about where the carrots are and don’t plant them next to each other. They will be much happier next to the lettuce.

When you are considering planting for nutrients, be sure there are nutrients in the soil for your plants to take up. Before planting, add Espoma’s Organic Bio-tone Starter Plus to ensure the plants are getting all the nutrients they need to grow big and tasty. Later in the season, it is best to follow up with Garden-tone to keep plants in close quarters thriving.

Espoma Products For Companion Planting:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Companion Planting for Beginners with Garden Tour

Grouping certain plants together will actually help your garden in more ways than you think. Companion planting is planting things together that benefit each other.

Find out how your plants can help each other in this tutorial with Laura from Garden Answer. She’ll walk you through the basics of what it is, how to get started and how she companion plants in her own garden.

Example One: Growth and Habit Can Benefit Other Plants

Imagine a cucumber. Think about how it vines out all over the ground. If you were to trellis the cucumber to grow somewhat vertically, it will cast shade on the ground and you can plant something underneath — think greens, spinach, or anything that enjoys a bit of shade throughout the day.

If you don’t want to trellis your cukes, you can use this example with anything that grows taller and will cast some shade — such as sunflowers or corn. Hardier, tall plants can also be used like a trellis for peas or beanstalks to wrap themselves around them.

Example Two: Plant to Suppress Weeds

If you decide not to trellis vine crops, but instead allow them to grow over the ground, these can be used to block the sunlight and water from getting into the ground. This will make new growth difficult for weeds.

Example Three: Plant to Attract or Repel Insects

You can plant herbs or flowers to attract or repel insects. It is the same concept of planting herbs on the patio to repel mosquitos. Planting them near other producing plants will help fend off unwanted insects. For example, plant basil next to tomato plants to ward off the tomato hornworm — an insect that can be devastating to tomato plants. In this example, basil will also help the tomato grow and taste better – so it is worth a try!

On the other hand, zinnias will attract ladybugs – which is a good thing! Bring ladybugs into your garden to help keep control of other insects.

Nasturtiums act as a host plant for aphids. If you need to get aphids away from other plants that are producing, plant a nasturtium nearby as a distraction.

Other ideas:

  • Plant Thyme with cabbage to repel cabbage worms
  • Add marigolds to repel pests with strong fragrance

Example Four: Plant with Root Depth in Mind

Be sure to consider what you are planting near each other. If you only plant shallow rooted vegetables together they will be competing for space and nutrients. Before planting, be sure to know how deep the roots will go and mix and match the ones you place together. That way each plant can get the right amount of nutrients.

Planting lettuce, tomatoes and carrots together would work well. Lettuce has shallow roots, tomatoes have medium roots and carrots are a deep root vegetable, so they will not have to compete for the same space. Let’s say you want to add in potatoes – think about where the carrots are and don’t plant them next to each other. They will be much happier next to the lettuce.

When you are considering planting for nutrients, be sure there are nutrients in the soil for your plants to take up. Before planting, add Espoma’s Organic Bio-tone Starter Plus to ensure the plants are getting all the nutrients they need to grow big and tasty. Later in the season, it is best to follow up with Garden-tone to keep plants in close quarters thriving.

Continue to watch for a tour of Laura’s vegetable garden and to see where Laura plants her companions.

Espoma Products For Companion Planting:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Mother’s Day Planter

Calling all moms out there! This Mother’s Day, create a gift any mom will love with the help of your little one. Yes – it is a bit messy, but it is worth every drop of paint. If you don’t have a little one to help, you can make your own classic piece that will go well anywhere you place it.

Laura from Garden Answer is a new mom this year, so she is diving right into this project for her mom – with the help of Benjamin. This project is perfect for any woman out there.

Espoma Products Needed:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Materials needed:

  • Terra Cotta Pots
  • Chalk Paint (Two Colors – One Light and One Dark)
  • Tempera Paint (Various Colors, Black)
  • Photo Paper or Stencils
  • Exacto Knife or Box Cutter for Photo Paper
  • Paint Sponges
  • Smaller Paint Brush
  • Q-Tips
  • Clear Acrylic Sealer
  • Two to Three Plants
  • Wet Ones (For Clean- Up)

Steps for Painting a Monogrammed Planter:

  1. Print off what border and monogram you want to use on photo paper and cut out the design. If you want to skip this step and use a stencil you found at the store instead, feel free to do so. Set this aside.
  2. Paint the outside of the pot with the lighter colored chalk paint so it is one even color. Continue painting the inside rim. This is to ensure uniformity when the plant is inside and the soil doesn’t hit the top. Let dry.
  3. Hold the stencil on the pot carefully, or tape it down where you want it. Using a clean sponge brush dab the inside of the stencil with the darker chalk paint. Let dry and repeat if you have multiple stencils.

*If you want to mute the paint a bit, dab it onto paper or cardboard to lessen the amount of paint on the brush.

  1. Once your pot is dry, spray a clear acrylic sealer the all around the outside and inside of your pot. Since terra cotta is porous and water will seep, you want to ensure your paint isn’t ruined.

Steps for Painting a Butterfly Mother’s Day Planter:

Note: This planter requires the use of small feet, best to ask your little one to help! Grab him or her and let’s get started!

  1. Paint the bottom of your little one’s foot and gently place it on the pot. Use the same color twice in a “V” shape to make the butterfly wings.
  2. Repeat with different colors around the pot.
  3. Take the smaller paint brush and paint black bodies for the butterflies.
  4. Use the Q-Tip to make the ends of the antennae. Repeat step for every butterfly around the pot.
  5. Let dry!
  6. Once your pot is dry, spray a clear acrylic sealer the all around the outside and inside of your pot. Since terra cotta is porous and water will seep, you want to ensure your paint isn’t ruined.

Time to fill both planters with Espoma Organic Potting Mix and plant them up! Laura puts a Peachberry Ice Heuchera in the monogrammed pot to give it the classic farmhouse feel. She plants a Superbells Yellow and a Superbells Grape Punch in the butterfly pot to keep the bright fun colors feel.

Every mom – or grandma – will love these custom made planters. Happy Mother’s Day! Watch the extended version here.

How to Repot a Bromeliad

Summer Rayne Oaks of Homestead Brooklyn demonstrates the ins and outs of repotting bromeliads. Follow along as she explains the difference between the pup and mother plant and what happens when you remove the pup vs leaving it on to continue growing. Utilizing her expansive collection of plants, she shows us what both scenarios look like in the repotting process.

Three takeaways from this video:

Summer Rayne teaches you how to get a brand new bromeliad from a plant that is about to expire. With the right care, she was able to get new life from the plant.

The best soil to use for bromeliads is a barky airy mix, such as The Espoma Company’s Organic Orchid Mix, that’s full of nutrients.

Once the pup is either 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mother plant, you can decide to remove the pup for the mother to grow another or keep it on and watch it grow from the mother until it expires.

5 Steps for Repotting a Bromeliad:

  1. Grab some gloves. Some of the leaves are going to be prickly, so you want to protect yourself.
  2. Grab scissors or sheers. If the mother plant is desiccated or if you want to remove the pup before repotting, you will need something sharp to remove them.
  3. Remove the bromeliad from the container and separate it from the mother plant, if possible.
  4. When placing the bromeliad into the new container, center it and fill with Espoma’s Orchid Mix. You don’t need to tuck it in too hard, as it likes having room to breathe.
  5. Water it in well to help it settle into its new home.

*Remember, if you have a healthy mother plant and a healthy pup, you can plant them together or separately. You won’t harm it either way.