Winter Garden Plants that Dazzle

Jack Frost is starting to nip at our noses and cold fronts are coming in. Summer and fall colors have come and gone and gardens are left with cut back perennials and the anticipation of spring blooms. But your garden doesn’t have look lack luster due to the cold! Some blooms thrive in the winter.

Plant these hardy, winter thriving plants and watch them dazzle even in the snow. They will add color even in the dreariest months of the year.

6 Dazzling Plants for Winter Months

Hellebore

This winter-loving plant will impress any holiday visitors. Also called Christmas Rose, Hellebore will show off beautiful blooms from mid-December through early spring. It grows tall enough for its blooms to poke out even after a good snowfall. The colors of the flower come in white, green, pink, purple, cream and even spotted. Hellebore grows well in zones 4-9 and in partial shade.

Witch Hazel

Keeping its fall color through the winter, witch hazel is bright and beautiful against the white snow. This shrub can be massive, growing more than 12 feet tall in some areas. Witch hazel puts out red and yellow clusters that look like little suns. It fits well in woodland gardens or can be used as a focal piece in a garden. Witch hazel grows well in zones 3-9 and in full to partial sun.

Winter Heath

Mounding, soft needle ground covers that provide color in the winter is a must-have in the garden. Winter heath brings dainty purple flowers that bloom in December and last through April. It only grows about a foot tall, but it will spread twice the height. Depending on the variety, winter heath grows well zones 4-8 and in full sun.

Camellia

With sturdy foliage and rose-like blooms, camellias are often found in the South. Some varieties will surprise you with their hardiness in the snow. These varieties come in colors from white to pink. They grow well in acidic soil, using Espoma’s Holly-Tone to fertilize will set them up for success. Camellia grows well in zones 6-9 and in partial sun.

Winterberry

Winterberry provides year-round interest with beautiful greenery in the summer and bright, lipstick-red berries in the winter. Mirroring the traditional holly, the bright berries make the shrub stand out in a winter holiday setting. Winterberry grows well in zones 3-9 and in full to partial sun.

China Blue Vine

This evergreen is hardy and dependable. In the spring, it produces lovely, fragrant bell shaped flowers in a variety of colors ranging from ivory to mauve. The foliage stands out year-round by being thick and shiny. It holds the foliage lower so it will not topple over in the snow.  China Blue Vines grow well in zone 7-9 and in full to partial sun.

Give winter plants their best chance by planting with Espoma’s Bio-Tone.

Need tips on how to prepare your garden for winter? Check out this blog!

Boost African Violets by Repotting

African violets need to be repotted about once a year to keep them growing big and beautiful. It is best to inspect them first to see if their leaves and roots are healthy.

If your African violet is happy and healthy, but needs room to grow or is fresh from the garden center and needs to come out of the plastic pot, transferring it, adding fresh soil and Espoma’s Violet! liquid fertilizer will keep it healthy and prevent it from getting leggy. Plus it will give you an opportunity to really interact with your new (or old) plants and give them some love.

houseplant care, potting soil, indoor plants

Steps to Repotting Your African Violets:

  1. Find the right container for your African violet. Keep in mind that the roots grow more out, not down – a shallow wide container will work better than a narrow tall container. Also, you want to find a slightly bigger container than the one it is now – never smaller.
  2. Fill the new pot with enough of Espoma’s Organic African Violet Potting Mix so the root ball will sit just under the lip. This will allow your plant to have the correct drainage, pH level and nutrients that it needs. African violets don’t like sitting in water, so keeping them in well drained soils will prevent root-rot.
  3. Take your African violet out of the previous pot by gently wrapping your hand around the plant and slowly removing it. Give the pot a squeeze or a small shake if the plant needs help coming out.
  4. Place your African violet centered in the new container. You want the root ball to be below the top of the container.
  5. Fill the container the rest of the way with soil and tuck it in the sides as needed. Be gentle as the leaves will break off if they are handled roughly.
  6. Water to settle the plant. The best way to do that is to soak the bottom of the pot in two inches of water and allow the roots to soak it up. Empty any remaining water after 5 minutes. African violets don’t like water to touch their leaves, so if you can’t soak it, be sure to water under their leaves and only the soil. Remember, the recommended amount  of our Violet! liquid fertilizer to the water to give it a boost.

Repotting or freshly potting your African violets will increase growth and beauty!

To see this done in action, watch Laura replant her African violets!

 

 

Why Do African Violets Get Leggy?

African violets are gorgeous flowering houseplants. They bring bright colors and joy indoors. Beginning and advanced gardeners can be successful at growing one.

They can be a little needy, as they have specific watering and light requirements. Because of this, African violets can sometimes get “leggy.” Leggy is when new growth forms on a plant tip. This new growth takes most of the energy away from the bottom of the plant.

 Reasons African Violets Get Leggy

Light

African violets require bright, indirect light, which can be achieved through grow lights or placing it near a thin curtained window. Gardeners sometimes think that indirect light means low light. Depriving your plant from light will cause longer stems as they reach for light to grow.

Water

Leaves of African violets don’t like to be wet.  The soil in your pot should be a well-draining soil to allow it to dry in between waterings. Be sure to water the soil, not the plant, in order to keep it happy. If leaves stay wet, they are more susceptible to mold, rot, and fungus growth. The flowers will try to get away from the mold or fungus and become leggy.

Age

African violets’ bottom leaves will turn yellow and eventually fall off the plant, leaving other stems bare.  This is a natural part of plant aging, plants lose the rosette of leaves at the base. This too can give the plant a leggy look.

The best way to combat leggy African violets is to repot to give it a fresh space and fertilize with Espoma’s Violet! liquid plant food. This will help keep your plant growing new leaves to help keep it from becoming leggy and will enhance the colors of your flowers.

 

Get six quick tips for caring for African violets from Garden Answer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VCudo90K5I

 

Hauntingly Good Plants for Halloween

The spookiest holiday of the year is just around the corner and trick-or-treaters are getting ready for the big night. This year, decorate your house with creepy, living decorations that will add an eerie twist to your night.

With their creepy names, weird colors and devilish shapes, these plants will be the center of every fun, spooky story you tell. Better yet, these plants can stick around all year with the right light, water and feeding directions.

Top 5 Spookiest Houseplants

Spider Plant

This creepy plant is fun to decorate with due to its long spider-like legs that grow little “spiderlings” on the ends. Transfer it into a hanging plant basket and wrap synthetic web around the outside of basket. Cover with plastic spiders to give it extra creep. Make it kid friendly, by painting a container black and adding spider eyes to the front to making it look like one big spider. Spider plants are known for being low-maintenance so it will grow in almost any spot.

Dracula Orchid

The Dracula orchid is not an ordinary orchid. Aptly named, as it blooms, the center of the plant looks like it could bite you with its vampire-like mouth. Wrap your container in a cape and paint it red down the sides to decorate this plant into a creepy vampire.

Devil’s Backbone

Devil’s Backbone gets its name from the interesting zigzagging formation of the leaves resembling a creepy spine as it grows. Invite this devilish plant to your home and hang ghouls and ghosts from it to add a spooky charm. Though it may be called the Devil’s Backbone, it works hard to purify the air from toxins.

Earth Star

With spiky edges and elongated “fingers”, the earth star plant is a creepy addition to your Halloween décor. Transfer into a spooky container and let it spread and it will look like something is crawling toward you. Keep in bright light to encourage growth.

Rope Plant

The rope plant’s foliage that twists and turns looks like something right out of a witch’s lair. Put a spell on your home with the shadows this plant gives off. The rope plant will flower and last up to a month.

Fun and spooky houseplants are the best way to bring live Halloween décor to your home. Feed as directed with Espoma’s Indoor! plant food.

6 Cool Weather Growing Tips

As evenings become cooler and crisper and the daylight gets shorter and shorter, it’s a signal that frost is not too far away. The change in temperature and season can leave gardeners longing for the warm summer air, instead of prepping for winter.

There’s still plenty of gardening to be done this time of year. Get the most out of your fall harvest and set your garden up for spring success by jumping on these garden tasks now.

6 Tips for Fall Gardening

Plant Trees

It’s no secret that the best time to plant a tree or shrub is in the fall. Before you plant, evaluate the landscape to assess the amount of sunlight, ground vegetation, proximity to permanent structures, and hazards, such as overhead wires or underground pipes. Choose a site where the tree will be able to grow to its mature height. Then, dig a hole twice as wide and the same depth as the root ball. Place the tree in the hole at the same depth it was growing before and fill half the hole with compost or Espoma’s All Purpose Garden Soil. Mix in an organic fertilizer such as Bio-tone Starter Plus with the soil. Backfill the hole, give it a nice drink of water and watch your tree grow.

Get Bulbs in the Ground

Spring-blooming bulbs can generally be planted any time before the soil begins to freeze. Give bulbs their best shot by planting a few weeks before the ground is frozen to help them establish roots. Be sure to add in a scoop of Bulb-tone to each planting hole.

Improve the Soil

While fall is for planting, it’s also the perfect time for prepping for next season. Healthy soil is the backbone of every successful garden. Test soil now for pH and nutrient levels and amend accordingly. Dig 4” deep with a stainless steel trowel and either use a DIY soil test or send your soil sample to the county extension office.

To adjust the PH level of your soil, use Espoma’s Organic Garden Lime to raise the pH of very acidic soil. Poke holes in the soil’s surface and scatter on the lime. Rake lightly into the top inch of soil. Or, apply Espoma’s Soil Acidifier to lower the pH of extremely alkaline soil.

 Create Compost

All of those colorful leaves that are falling make for perfect additions to your compost pile. If you don’t have a compost pile already, start one! The best compost contains about 25 times more carbon-rich materials than nitrogen-rich materials. Think of these as brown and green materials. Brown materials include paper, straw or dried leaves. Green materials include garden and food scraps. Add Espoma’s Compost Starter to help speed the composting process, for rich, fertile compost.

 Top with Mulch

Add a thick blanket of mulch to reduce evaporation and control weeds.

Choose organic mulch that will improve the soil as it decomposes. Lay 2 – 3” of mulch around established plants.

When mulching trees, the mulch should extend away from the plant to just beyond the drip line covering a bit of the roots. Keep 2 – 3” away from the stems of woody plants and 6 – 12” away from buildings to avoid pests.

Prep and harvest fall crops

If it looks like frost will arrive earlier than expected, protect your crops and extend your growing season by covering with a sheet, blanket or tarp. Use stakes to keep the cover from touching the plants.

 

Looking for an indoor project? Check out this low-light succulent planter from Garden Answer.

Top Trees for Fantastic Fall Color

The changing color of leaves is one of the best performances of fall. Trees all over are shedding their summer greens and bringing in their vibrant reds, oranges and yellows. With it comes the magic of fall, the lower temperatures and cool-weather festivities for everyone to share.

Fall is the perfect time to get trees in the ground, so what are you waiting for? Add some fall color to your garden to keep the vibrancy radiating throughout the season. There are hundreds of trees that produce amazing fall color, but these five are known for their incredible transformations.

5 Fantastic Fall Trees

Red Maple

This fall classic brings the right amount of fall color to any landscape in every season. Throughout the year, this tree has a touch of red on it. During the fall, it opens with vibrant reds and wonderful yellows. Red maples are a fall favorite, which everyone seems to enjoy. Plant in zones 3-9 and watch this tree grow.

Japanese Maple

The variety you choose will determine the variety of colors. Some Japanese maples stay red year-round, while others transition with each season. With those varieties you could see green in the summer, intense reds in the spring and yellows and orange in the fall. Plant in zones 6-8 for your trees to thrive.

Sugar Maple

Finishing off the maples strong, the leaves of this fall standout can form a complete color wheel throughout the seasons. The foliage will change various shades of green in the summer, then to shades of yellows and oranges, to eventually land on bright red in the fall. Watching this tree complete the cycle is well worth planting it in the yard. Plant anywhere in zones 2-10 and enjoy this tree every season.

Sassafras

Known for making root beer from its roots, sassafras is more than just sweet. Sassafras will exceed your expectations for fall colors with its gorgeous display of purples, reds, oranges and yellows. Better yet, you will enjoy the sweet scents that emit from the limbs year-round. Plant this hardy tree in zones 4-9 and welcome fall to the yard.

Black Gum Tree

One branch of this tree can contain many shades of fall color, which makes it a contender for our fall favorites. You will find shades of orange, yellow, purple, bright red and scarlet foliage decorating this tree. The variety that will provide the best fall coloring is ‘Autumn Cascades’. It is a weeping variety, which makes it all the better for that perfect fall look. Plant in zones 4-9 and watch your tree grow to 30 to 50 feet high.

Make sure you keep the fall colors vibrant and full with Espoma’s Tree-Tone.

Bring the Outside In – Best Indoor Plants

Having a beautiful garden is what we all dream about, but in the cases we don’t have the space or we want to have more greenery inside, indoor plants come to the rescue.

Some indoor plants come with the added benefit of not only giving color to a blank space, but also cleaning the air you breathe every day. Some plants are better for an office space while others are great as a centerpiece.

Not sure what plants will work for your space or how to care of them so you can enjoy them for a long time? We have you covered! We’ve rounded up the best indoor plants to introduce to your office or home this week and offer some tips on how to keep them happy and healthy. Be sure to monitor the light and water requirements and feed regularly with Espoma’s Indoor! liquid plant food for superior results.

7 Best Indoor Plants

  1. Ficus

Arguably the most popular indoor plant for homes and offices, the ficus’ simplicity in looks makes it well known and well liked. They are great for purifying the air — making the air better and cleaner to breathe. Ficus trees love indirect light, so place plants in a naturally bright room where it will thrive. Keep your ficus away from any drafts as they prefer more heat. This plant is perfect for the home or office; it is both beautiful and sophisticated.

  1. Peace Lily

The peace lily is a hardy, forgiving plant that will let you know when it needs water. It has a telltale droop to signal it’s thirsty. It will pop back up as soon as it gets the water it desires. Peace Lilies prefer bright indirect light, but will be happy with medium light, as well. Place it somewhere light comes through for a few hours of the day.

  1. African Violets

With a little bit of learning, you can introduce brilliant, cheerful blooms to your home easily. They don’t need a lot of room, so any small pot or a group of them in a bigger pot works well. African violets need bright to medium indirect light. Place them 3 feet from a west or south facing window and turn them regularly to ensure proper growth. Feed regularly with Espoma’s Violet! liquid plant food for plenty of blooms. Bring this plant to the table during dinner or hosting a party to make a beautiful and colorful centerpiece.

  1. Golden Pothos

Due to its attractiveness and simplicity to grow, golden pothos is one of the most common houseplants. Golden pothos’ trailing vines love to fall over the sides of the container, making it fun to decorate with. Those who have a “black thumb,” welcome this plant into their homes. It needs low light and minimal watering, so placing it in a bathroom would be perfect.

  1. Rubber Plant

This indoor plant may seem intimidating, being able to grow 10 feet tall, but they are simple to care for. Rubber plants love being the focal point for any home. Place your plant somewhere with bright, indirect light and water with room temperature water. These are great in sunny spots when protected by a sheer curtain.

  1. Kalanchoe

Add a pop of color with this beautiful flowering plant. While it has a reputation for being a disposable plant, with a little care they may rebloom next season. It is easy to propagate a new plant quickly from the cuttings. Place your kalanchoe in a place with bright light, such as a windowsill.houseplant care, potting soil, indoor plants

  1. English Ivy

This gorgeous plant will take over wherever it is stationed. You can train it to grow around an item to make it into a decorative sculpture or allow it to spread freely. English Ivy needs bright indirect sunlight and steady moisture. This would look great on a desk or mantel where the sun hits.

 

Keep the foliage on your houseplants’ foliage looking great with Espoma’s new leaf polish Shine!

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.

Autumn Houseplants for Any Home

Autumn is a wonderful (some might say the best) time of the year for color. Trees and landscapes turn into amazing shades of reds, golds, and oranges. Everything in the yard makes us want to bring those same colors indoors.

While a cutting arrangement full of autumn flowers is wonderful, they won’t last all season. That’s why we have autumn houseplants. Indoor plants bring a welcoming burst of color during the dark winter evenings and keep homes feeling cheerful.

Keep plants happy during colder months by following directions for your houseplant’s light and water requirements. Feed regularly with Espoma’s Indoor! liquid fertilizer to keep those amazing colors vibrant all season long.

8 Houseplants You Need This Autumn

  1. Crotons

Invite this bold houseplant to your space this season. The foliage comes in incredible colors of red, green, orange, yellow and even black! You will not be disappointed. Crotons like bright areas, so place it near a big window.

  1. African Violet

Bring vibrant hues to your home with African violets. They can be grown almost anywhere there is light and a bit of humidity. African violets prefer full sun in the winter to get their gorgeous color. Rotate them regularly to keep growth even. Feed regularly with Espoma’s Violet! liquid fertilizer to ensure sensational blooms.

African Violet for color by Espoma

  1. Dracena

Nicknamed the dragon plant, this houseplant brings great texture to any décor. Choose the variety of dracena that best complements your design styles– such as dark green foliage or red lined foliage. These plants are easily cared for, tolerating low light, but thriving in medium to bright spots, too.

  1. Lemon Cypress

This holiday favorite brings joy to your home all season long. Keep it trimmed into the cone shape to keep it looking like a miniature tree throughout the rest of the year. Keep in direct light and cool temperatures.

  1. Chrysanthemum

Mums are a sure indicator of autumn with their yellow, orange, and red hues. Put them anywhere they can get bright filtered light during the day, but remain in the dark at night. They look great on shelves and desks that have some sunlight hitting it.

  1. Goldfish Plant

A member of the African violet family, the goldfish plant brings a unique orange flower to your home. It’s named for the flower’s fishlike bodies and puckered mouths. Place this plant a few feet away from windows. Its curved stems make this a great choice for hanging.

  1. Oxalis triangularis

Also known as red shamrock plant, oxalis triangularis is a wonderful addition to any houseplant collection. It has big, redish-purple, clover-shaped leaves which give it the nickname shamrock. It blooms little pink or white flowers that contrast with the foliage so well. It is a dream to have. Oxalis triangularis doesn’t like direct sun, so anywhere will work for this plant. It is a bulb, so allow for drying in between waterings to prevent rotting.

  1. Bromeliads

Known for the bright yellow, it may be surprising to some that bromeliads are offered in a sunset of colors. Bromeliads thrive on low light and minimal watering. So those who are looking for hardy plants, this one’s for you!houseplant care, potting soil, indoor plants

Have pets and want houseplants? Here is a list of pet-friendly houseplants to introduce to your home.