Hanging Plants: Make Your Own Kokedama

Houseplants that you don’t have to think about are the best. And extremely low maintenance ones that look great are even better. Enter Kokedama. This traditional Japanese art form encloses a plant’s roots in moss to retain moisture.

Kokedama literally mean “moss ball.” The style originated from the Nearai and Kusamono bonsai styles and today, this design goes one step further when the moss balls are suspended with string.

You can use almost any small indoor plant for this project. When choosing your plant, think about where you will display your Kokedama and keep lighting needs in mind for your plant.

It’s not hard to make your own. Follow along with these instructions.

For this project, you will need:

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6 Steps to making a Kokedama

  1. Mix it. Kokedama uses heavier soil and we recommend using a ratio of 70 percent indoor potting soil with 30 percent garden soil. In a bucket, mix soil well. Add a small amount of water to bond the soil together so it has a clay-like feel. Soil should be sticky and pliable once all ingredients have been mixed.
  2. Ball it. Depending on the size of your plant, form a ball ranging in size from a plum to a grapefruit. Gently insert your thumbs into the middle of the ball, keeping the sphere intact. This is where your plant roots will go.
  3. Plant it. Remove plant from container, gently shaking off excess soil. Dunk roots in water. Place your plant’s roots into the soil ball, gently forming the soil around roots and adding more soil if necessary.
  4. Cover it. Dip moss in water, then squeeze out excess water. Place and press the damp moss around the soil ball. Leave enough space around the plant for breathing room.
  5. String it. Once your ball has taken shape, securely wrap and tie it with twine. Now, add a piece or wire or twine at your desired length for hanging.
  6. Soak it. Place the Kokedama in a bucket and cover the moss ball with water without submerging the plant. Let it soak for 10-15 minutes then you’re ready to go! Do not let the Kokedama dry out completely before soaking again. Depending on the plant and environment, soak Kokedama about once a week.

Once you’re done with your Kokedama, try your hand at this succulent planter DIY!

Succulent Success – What’s the secret?

You’ve probably heard the words cacti and succulents thrown around interchangeably. However, this is a common misconception. Technically, all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. Cacti are simply one of the many types of succulents.

Succulents are defined by their water retaining cells. Which is one of our favorite things about them because it’s what makes them so low maintenance and drought tolerant.

Another common misconception is that cacti are defined by their prickly needles. Many succulents have spikes similar to cacti, and not all cacti are prickly.

If you’re looking specifically for a cactus, the determining factor is called an areole. They are small, cotton-like lumps on a cactus where the spines grow out of. All cacti have areoles, making it easy to distinguish them from other prickly succulents.

Now that you know the difference, let’s talk about care. Although they’re different plants, cacti and succulents have similar needs. When caring for cacti or succulents, remember they love everything in moderation – not too much, and not too little.

Photo courtesy of Garden Answer

Photo courtesy of Garden Answer

Light

Cacti and succulents thrive in a spot by the window or outdoors in the garden. Too little sunlight will cause loss of color or strange growth patterns. Lack of sun can lead to root rot as the soil may stay  moist for too long.

On the other hand, too much direct sunlight and heat can cause succulents and cacti to sunburn! These burns can change the color and texture of the plant. While most succulents can handle direct sunlight, it takes time for them to become accustomed to a new environment. Don’t move them from a windowsill to full sun in the garden without conditioning them. Gradually place your plant in brighter locations and allow it some time to adjust to its new surroundings.

Water

The same Goldilocks rule goes for watering – not too much, but not too little.

While succulents and cacti are drought tolerant and can survive without water, that doesn’t mean they’ll thrive. They will do best when watered in moderation.

It’s safer to stay on the lighter side of watering rather than giving too much. If you notice the succulent starting to shrivel, its most likely because they are using up the water reserved in their cells. Add a small amount of water to the soil to help them replenish.

Too much water will cause your plant to become mushy and potentially develop root rot. Your succulent or cactus can fall apart right in front of your eyes!

Avoid these problems by using very little water and determining later whether they need more. If you have your plant in a double pot, water it and after a few minutes empty all excess water. Over-watering is just as common of a cause of plant death as under-watering. Use Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix potting soil to keep roots healthy and to reduce drought-stress in between watering.

Temperature

Succulents and cacti are very flexible when it comes to temperatures. Just be sure to adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

When plants are in cool temps, soil won’t dry as fast. Remember root rot can occur if the soil is too wet for too long. If succulents or cacti are planted outdoors in the hot summer sun, you may need to water more often.

Now that you know the difference between succulents and cacti and the proper care, add some to your garden today!

Feed plants with Espoma’s Cactus! Succulent Plant Food for best results and let us know how your succulent garden turns out!

6 Easy-to-Grow Indoor Succulents

Succulents are a trendy decorative addition to any home. This diverse group of plants offers endless color variations, as well as low maintenance options for your indoor space. Most plants need a wet environment to survive, but succulents are able to store water for longer periods of time. This ability makes succulents practical to grow in the dry and warmer conditions typically found in the home.

Succulents are perfect plants for beginners. Coming in a variety of shapes, sizes and textures, succulents have an enticing quality. Here are six succulents that are easy to grow indoors year-round.

6 Succulents to Add to Your Home

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Jade Plant. Native to South Africa, the jade plant has thick stems and glossy green leaves. Keep jade in bright light and water when the soil feels dry. Be cautious, as jade is commonly killed by over watering.

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Aloe Vera. This prickly plant has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The sap found on the inner leaves is used to heal wounds and soothe burns. Aloe Vera should be kept in full sunlight and should be watered when the leaves feel dry or brittle. Keep this medicinal plant by a bright kitchen window to enjoy its beauty every day.

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Echeveria. 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. Unglazed clay pots are the ideal growing condition for this succulent, as the clay allows water to evaporate. For optimal results, place echeveria in full sun and ensure the soil is well drained.

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Zebra Plant. This striking succulent 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 plant requires a moderate amount of sunlight and water.

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Panda Plant. This plant is characterized by little white hairs, giving it a fuzzy texture. A Madagascar native, panda plant loves the dry, winter air in heated homes. Water as necessary, but just enough to keep the leaves from shriveling.

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Crown of Thorns. Add a splash of color to your room with this beautiful plant. With enough sunlight, it can bloom year-round producing red or yellow bracts surrounding its tiny flowers. Crown of Thorns has low to moderate watering needs and should be placed in direct sun for best bloom results.

Ready to start your own succulent collection? Watch this video on growing succulents!

 

5 Reasons to Give Orchids This Valentine’s Day

There is more to a beautiful bouquet of flowers than what meets the eye. For centuries, flowers have been used as a means of expressing romantic sentiments and are symbolic of a beautiful, lasting relationship between two people.

Luckily, for this day dedicated to expressing your devotion and admiration there is a better option than cut flowers, choose orchids that will last all year! Delicate and graceful, orchids are a symbol of luxury, love, strength and beauty. Here are 5 reasons you should give orchids a chance this Valentines’ Day.

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Five Reasons Orchids are The Best

  1. They’re Long-Lasting: An orchid’s blooms serve as a daily reminder that someone is thinking of you long past February 14th. When cared for properly, this exotic flower can last for several months and will continue to bloom year after year.
  2. Orchids are Easy to Care For: Your valentine does not need to be an expert gardener to keep an orchid alive. Even in the winter months, orchids are low-maintenance. For more blooms and better health, you can your plant feed bi-weekly with our liquid orchid fertilizer. Your orchid will need to be repotted each year after flowering, and Espoma’s Organic Orchid Mix will give them the nutrients they need to grow. Who knows, your gift of an orchid could inspire someone to take up gardening as a hobby!
  3. The colors are stunning: Orchids come in a variety of spectacular colors and unique shapes. They have a dramatic presence whether they are a solid color, or have splashes and speckles. Coming in everything from white and light pink, to vibrant reds, oranges, and purples, you will be able to find the perfect orchid to match your valentine’s personality.
  4. Orchids have exotic flair: Coming from far off places such as Hawaii and South America, orchids are said to be reminiscent of the tropics. Their exotic nature sets them apart from the traditional rose and will send a special message to your significant other.
  5. They perk up your home: An orchid’s lifespan combined with its beauty makes it a great way to add an affordable splash of color to any room without spending significant time and money on redecorating efforts

This Valentine’s Day, tell your significant other how valued they are by giving the gift of an orchid.

Help orchids stay beautiful year-round. Watch this video to find out how!

Common Orchid Problems and How to Fix Them

It’s a myth that orchids are difficult to grow. In fact, they are highly adaptable and fairly low- maintenance plants. The hardest part might be choosing an orchid. There many types of orchids to choose from, and while some are more temperamental, plenty will thrive in in your home.

With that being said, they are susceptible to problems like any other houseplant. Take a look at these common orchid questions and find out what you can do to fix them.

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Why is my orchid’s foliage changing colors?

Orchids are especially sensitive to environmental changes. The problem in this case is likely due to the lighting conditions. If orchids receive too much light, the tissues to yellow. If they don’t receive enough light, they develop dark spots. It can help to gradually expose your orchid to more light over time and to keep it by a window that is shaded by a sheer curtain.

Help! My orchid’s buds are drying up without any sign of pests or disease!

This is a common problem with orchids and again, a good indication of an environmental problem. Bud Blast is a condition where buds dry up and die. This is typically caused by an environment that is not humid or bright enough, but could also be a result of incorrect watering. Orchids should be watered about once per week, allowing the soil to dry out in between. Dropping your home’s temperature by about 10 degrees at night can help initiate flower buds.

My orchid has a sticky substance on its surface, is it harmful?

If you see small white ovals along with the sticky substance, then it is harmful. The sticky substance is left behind by scale pests, which can be treated with an organic insecticide soap. If white ovals aren’t visible, it is harmless and simply due to a drop in temperature.

The leaves of my orchid are turning to mush and the roots look like they are rotting. What am I doing wrong?

Due to the high humidity levels that orchids need to survive, they are at a higher risk for fungal and bacterial diseases. This can lead to conditions like root rot and spots on flowers and leaves. Remove severely damaged leaves using sterile tools and treat plants with a copper based spray.

The orchid’s roots are growing above the soil; does it need to be repotted?

These are called “air roots” and are normal for orchids. Air roots can actually be helpful. Orchids generally need to be re-potted once a year. It’s time to re-pot when you see: yellow foliage, lack of growth or dead or damage roots, or the plant starts growing over the edge of the pot. The best time to re-pot is just after flowering, or when new growth appears. Use Espoma’s Organic Orchid Mix for best results.

Many orchid issues are not as serious as they seem. What may appear as a problem can sometimes be helpful in determining what set of conditions your orchid prefers to grow in.

Ready to know more? Learn what orchids need. 

How to propagate succulents from individual leaf cuttings

Why have just one succulent when you can have many? Luckily, it’s easy to grow an entire garden of these hardy plants when you propagate them from leaf cuttings.

All you need are a few simple materials and a single succulent. Get started now!

Propagate Succulents in 7 Steps

  1. Select healthy leaves. Pick a leaf from your succulent that has no rips or blemishes and looks healthy. It’s best to choose larger, mature leaves rather than under-developed ones.
  2. Make the cut. Remove the leaf using a razor blade or craft knife. Sterilize the blade beforehand with rubbing alcohol to prevent the spread of any disease that could harm the plant. You can also use “volunteers” from plants that occasionally drop their leaves like Jade does. The entire succulent leaf must be cleanly broken off the plant or it won’t root. If the part that was attached to the stem is broken off, discard the leaf and try again.
  3. Let leaves dry. Allow leaves to dry on a baking sheet for 1-3 days after removal, until the raw ends have calloused.
  4. Get ready to grow. Place dried leaves on top of a container filled with Espoma’s Organic Cactus mix. Do not bury in the soil. Place the container in a spot where it will be protected from full sun exposure.
  5. Keep soil moist, without being watered too much. Water leaves when the soil is dry to the touch.
  6. Wait. In about a month or so new roots will appear and the parent leaf will wither. Remove the parent leaf carefully, avoiding damage to the new roots.
  7. Replant. Once your propagated succulents have taken root, they can be replanted. Show them off in a repurposed planter. Feed regularly with our Cactus! Succulent Plant Food for best results.

And just like that you’ll have plenty of succulents. Grow enough to decorate your home and garden and give a few away as gifts.

The growing doesn’t stop here! Learn how to care for succulents here.

Your Orchid is Just Resting

Orchids bloom in spectacular colors and unique shapes. Depending on the orchid you’ve chosen, blooms come in every color from white and light pink, to vibrant reds, oranges and purples.

When taken care of properly, the striking blooms can last for several months and will continue to flower year after year.

Don’t panic. Orchid blooms last for one to three months and then they wilt. Even though your beautiful orchid loses all of its blooms, don’t give up on it, it still has a lot of life left. Trust us!

Phalaenopsis, also known as moth orchids need rest periods to rebloom. While the orchid is dormant, you can expect the stem to shrivel up and for leaves to dull and flatten out.

Just give your orchid some extra care during this period and you’ll be rewarded with even more blooms next time. Orchids can bloom for years to come.

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Five tips to care for resting orchids.

1. The best time to repot orchids is during their resting stage. Use Espoma’s orchid mix to give plants the foundation they need to grow bigger and stronger next season.

2. Water orchids weekly. Unlike many houseplants, orchids should only be watered when they begin to dry out. Watering when they’re almost dry mimics their natural environment.

3. Feed orchids bi-weekly using Espoma’s Orchid! Fertilizer. Nutrients are extra important during this resting period.

4. Let the light in. Make sure orchids are still receiving plenty of indirect sunlight. Too little light will keep the orchid from reblooming.

5. Chill out. Help trigger blooming by moving the orchid to a cooler room. Orchids thrive in temperatures that are between 75 and 80 during the day, but they prefer cooler temperatures during dormancy.

Orchids make beautiful houseplants. Learn more about caring for orchids here.

Five Ways to Celebrate Houseplant Appreciation Day

The winter season can seem to drag on forever with its harsh weather, short days and dreary landscapes. Which means now is the perfect time to bring the memory of the warm spring weather indoors with houseplants.

January 10 is Houseplant Appreciation Day, and there’s no better way to celebrate than to acknowledge all the things they do for you. They’re decorative, boost well-being and purify indoor air.

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Here are 5 simple tips to celebrate the day:

  1. Recognize houseplants for all they do

Many houseplants do double duty by looking good and cleaning the air, absorbing up to 87 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that hide in ordinary household products such as paints, carpets and ink. Studies from the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) have found that levels of indoor air pollution can be two to five times higher — and in some cases 10 times more polluted than outdoor air.

  1. Add a Plant

You can never have too many houseplants, right? According to the EPA, most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors; a houseplant is the perfect way to be reminded of the beauty the world has to offer outside. Houseplants bring a breath of fresh air to a room when placed in colorful pots and made into a focal point. Succulents, orchids and African violets all make good additions.

  1. Learn how to care for your plant

Plants need water, light and nutrients to thrive indoors. Step one; determine what kind of houseplant you have. This can be as simple as checking the plant tag. Your plant will let you know it’s happy by maintaining healthy leaves.

  1. Create a schedule

Houseplants do best with regular care, trust us. Now is the time to create a watering schedule if you don’t already have one. Add water if the soil is dry about an inch below the surface. Overwatering is the number one cause of houseplant death. So if the plant does not seem too dry, check it again in a few days.

  1. Feed them

Fertilizing is easy with Espoma’s indoor liquid plant foods. Give plants the natural proteins and beneficial microbes they need to provide beautiful results.

Show gratitude for your favorite plants by giving them proper care. Learn how here.

Beginner Tips for Succulents

It’s easy to see why succulents are one of the trendiest plant groups right now. Their unique shapes, colors, textures and sizes add drama and interest to the décor of any room. They also look great on their own or paired with other succulents. Not to mention, they’re so easy to grow and can handle drought.

 

You have to start somewhere, though. With the right growing conditions and care, your succulents can survive year-round. Follow these beginner tips to get started.

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  1. Pick a healthy succulent – Look for succulents with full shapes, good color and with healthy foliage. Avoid plants with insects or signs of damage.
  2. Choose the right soil – Succulents like to be dry and need a well-draining soil. Use Espoma’s Cactus Mix to keep plants healthy.
  3. Select containers – Succulents can be planted in almost anything that allows for proper drainage. Make sure containers have a drainage hole for water to flow through.
  4. Give enough water– Succulents with leaves that pucker aren’t getting enough water and ones with soggy leaves are holding onto too much water. Get into a regular watering schedule to help plants thrive. Water succulents when the top inch of soil feels dry by pour water into the pot until it flows through the drainage hole. Remove all excess water.
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  5. Soak up the sun – Most succulents love light. Place them in spaces where they’ll receive four to six hours of sun.
  6. Feed them – Give succulents a boost by fertilizing as needed with Espoma’s new Cactus! Succulent plant food.
  7. Keep plants looking good – Remove dead or decaying leaves to keep plants looking nice and insects at bay.

Want to know more? Learn how to care for succulents in winter.

A Healthy and Happy New Year with Plants

With the start of a new year, we’ve got resolutions on our mind. Eat right, exercise more and add houseplants.

Yep, you read that right. Houseplants actually boost your wellbeing. In addition to bringing the outdoors in, some houseplants are proven to provide both physical and psychological benefits.

You know that plants produce the oxygen we breathe, but did you know that houseplants are also powerful natural air filters. Common products such as household cleaners, carpets, furniture and nail polish release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air.

Add just few plants to your home to improve air quality. Adding houseplants is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to make your home healthier for the New Year.

Winter houseplants aren’t just limited to holiday plants like poinsettias. The options are endless.

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The Best Plants for Your Home

  • African violets
  • Orchids
  • Peace lily
  • Chinese evergreen
  • Philodendron
  • ZZ plant
  • Dieffenbachia

he colorful blooms of African violets are extra special. They’ll instantly add color to any room.

Some houseplants even remove common toxins from indoor air, surely shooing away the winter blues.

Other scientific studies show houseplants can help us stay healthier in other ways, including reducing frequency of headaches, sore throats and stress levels.

Especially after spending so much time indoors for the winter, it’s nice to have a pop of nature. Dry skin and chapped lips are uncomfortable side effects of forced-air heating. A natural remedy is to add houseplants that act as humidifiers, releasing moisture as a part of their natural breathing.

Being around plants, especially in indoor environments, improves creativity, problem-solving skills, memory, and cognitive skills.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to keep houseplants healthy! The cold season can be challenging for houseplants, too. Help houseplants thrive by creating a happy home and they’ll continue brightening winter days. Feed with Espoma’s indoor liquid plant foods to give plants the natural proteins and beneficial microbes they need. And the innovative Easy Dose cap pours the perfect amount without any measuring or mess.

Houseplants give back year-round. Learn more about caring for houseplants here.