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VIDEO: Perennial Planting with Garden Answer!

It’s a beautiful day for planting some beautiful perennials! Take it from Garden Answer: a little bit of Espoma Organic Bio-tone Starter Plus goes a long way in getting them off to a great start.

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Kaleb Wyse: My Annual Plant Haul

Kaleb Wyse, an enthusiastic fourth-generation Iowan gardener, made Wyse Guide as an outlet for his passions in gardening and cooking. This Spring, he’s sharing with us his seasonal plant haul, complete with colorful foliage, fun ferns, and cute succulents. You can watch the full video below:

 

To start off with, Kaleb picked out some of his go-to annuals to fill in his yard with foliage. He grabbed some Helichrysum plants, a Limelight variety, which he thinks will pair beautifully with the yellow stripes of his Americana Agave. Kaleb also brought home some Purple Lady, Amethyst Falls (an ornamental oregano), and Variegated Lemon.

Kaleb was also excited to fill up his hanging pots with greenery. He had a problem, though. He loves the look of hanging ferns, but with a west-facing porch, he was concerned about sunlight. Luckily, over the years, he’s learned that Kimberly Queen Ferns thrive in full sun. He took a few of those and added some fun succulents around them, like String of Pearls and Senacios. Kaleb also made sure there was plenty of room for the plants to grow, so the baskets still look great when July comes around.

Before adding in his fun plants, though, Kaleb needed to make sure his greenery had all the right nutrients. He started by pouring some Espoma Organic Potting Mix into his hanging containers. This soil is great because it is so versatile and can be used on all indoor and outdoor container plants. Kaleb also added in a bit of Espoma Organic Garden-Tone. While Kimberly Queens don’t need a lot of food, it’s great to add just a little extra nutrients to help them thrive.

Kaleb ended with some words of wisdom for fellow gardeners: “Guess what, it’s not as hard as it looks. We make mistakes, things die, things grow. In the end it just makes us happy, and that’s what matters.” Stay tuned for more tips from Kaleb on Wyse Guide and right here on our own blog!

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Video: Reusing Summer Pots for Fall Plants with Garden Answer!

 

Follow along as Laura from @GardenAnswer gives her outdoor plants a fall makeover. Reusing pots for your fall garden is quick and easy with the help of Espoma Organic Potting Mix!

 

 

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Walk Down the Aisle with These Wildflowers in Your Bouquet

It’s wedding season! Whether you’re having a dreamy, late summer wedding or a rustic, autumn wedding, wildflower bouquets can match almost any color palette and theme. You can even grow your bouquet in your own backyard with the right timing and resources. Here are a few suggestions as well as tips and tricks to have beautiful blooms on your big day!

Zinnias

If you’re new to gardening, zinnias could be a great place to start! They are one of the easiest wildflowers to grow and bloom from late spring until the first frost, which is sometime in the fall, depending on where you live. They also grow in a variety of bright colors, so you have a large palette to choose from. Make sure to grow them in full sun!

Daisies

If you want flowers as white as your dress, daisies are perfect. For extra vibrant white petals, use Flower-tone. Daisies are a convenient option if you’re short on space in your garden, as they grow about 1–3 feet tall. They typically bloom in full sunlight from late spring to early fall.

Baby’s Breath

Baby’s breath is the perfect flower to fill the spaces between larger blooms in your bouquet. They’re low maintenance, deer resistant, and have an extended bloom time of four weeks. Grow in full sun.

Sunflowers

Who doesn’t love sunflowers? Single-stem varieties will grow quickly and produce one stem per plant. The classic golden sunflowers can add a beautiful pop of color to your bouquet, but if you’re looking for something a little more unique, try growing Lemon Queen sunflowers, which have more of a lemon shade of yellow than the typical golden variety. For the biggest, brightest blooms, feed your sunflowers Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus and grow in full fun or half shade.

 

Cutting

Once your wildflowers are in bloom, cut the stems. It’s best to do this in the early morning or in the late evening so that the sun and heat do not wilt the flowers. Foliage placed in water may grow bacteria that will kill the flowers prematurely. You can prevent this by stripping the foliage from the bottom of the stem gently using your hands or scissors.

A bouquet of wildflowers makes a beautiful addition to your wedding, but if bulbs are a better fit for you, check out these tips from Laura from Garden Answer!

 

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Video: Planting 2022 Recipes with Garden Answer

Follow along as Laura from @Garden Answer plants the Proven Winners 2022 Recipes of the Year using tried-and-true Espoma products!

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Meet the Team: Q&A with Bonnie Satterthwaite

Here at Espoma, our products are only as great as the team behind them. That’s why we’re excited to begin our Q&A series where you’ll get to learn a bit more about the talented folks behind the brand. We want you to see for yourself just how our company is comprised of hard-working people who genuinely care about our customers and everything plant- and garden-related!

First up is our Southeast Territory Sales Manager, Bonnie Satterthwaite. Bonnie has been with us for 14 years! We’d love to tell you about all her and the amazing things she has done for Espoma over the years, but we figured it would be best to hear it straight from the source. So, we sat down with Bonnie and let her put it in her own words.

Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?

A: Developing relationships and often becoming friends with our customers. And, of course, the opportunity to visit all of the fabulous garden centers in my area.

Q: What about your personal life? Any new hobbies helping to pass the time? 

A: I purchased a rowing machine, but have yet to leave the dock…

Q: Tell us about your personal garden, yard, or plants. 

A: I truly love gardening, and I know that passion resonates with my dealers. I maintain a floral cutting garden, a white/night garden, over 150 hydrangeas, and a hydrangea graveyard.

 

Q: What is your top gardening tip? 

A: Never think you are finally finished and get rid of non-performers!

Q: What’s one Espoma product you couldn’t live without?

A: Without hesitation, BioTone Starter Plus. I do not plant without it. I have seen what it does for plants and transplants. I have seen unsolicited “with and without” trials by garden centers who use the “trust and verify” model. It is an amazing product. I am proud to recommend all of the Espoma line, because of our dedication to quality, the environment, and the safety of children and pets.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of gardening?

A: My favorite aspect is certainly the seasonal outdoor garden beds — just tending the garden beds and the joy of watching things flourish. There comes, for me, great satisfaction from the hard work — and I find the whole process relaxing.  I love a morning and late evening stroll around the garden.

Q: What made you want to enter the gardening industry? 

A: I was a stay-at-home mom and my sister was a grower for a local garden center. She asked me to come and help her plant 10,000 geraniums during school hours. The owner of both the growing operation and garden center told me I talked too much to be in the greenhouse and asked if I would come to his garden shop during the busy season and talk to customers. And there you go….

Q: Tell us what made you want to work at Espoma and what makes it a special place to work?

A: I met Jeremy Brunner on a garden center bus tour and, unbeknownst to me, my Espoma adventure was about to start. I was very happy at my previous job, but Jeremy’s passion and vision for the growth of the Espoma company was something that was missing from my previous job. I wanted to be a part of something that I could see and feel was going to be spectacular. Espoma cares just as deeply for their work family as they do for their products. So, for me, there was just no question on where I wanted to continue my career.

We were so fortunate to have Bonnie join us when she did — and we hope to keep her around for as long as possible! At Espoma, we definitely pride ourselves on being able to congregate hard-working employees who genuinely enjoy the gardening industry the same way our loyal customers do. Thanks for all you do, Bonnie!

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5 Reasons to Start a Cutting Garden

Summer weather brings with it new planting projects. If you love having a fresh bouquet of flowers to keep you happy and refreshed while you’re spending more time than usual indoors, it may be time to start your own cutting garden. And the best part about it is that it’s completely customizable to what you like. You can grow roses, shrubs, perennials, and even bulbs. Try growing berry bushes to add an accent to your next bouquet!

If you’ve always thought growing your own flowers isn’t worth the hassle, take a look at these five reasons for why you should definitely reconsider. And don’t forget to stop by your local garden center to find out which plants will work best in your yard.

1. So many blooms

If you love to spend all day staring at your vase of flowers every time there’s a special occasion, you’re going to love having a cutting garden. When all the flowers are in your backyard, you get to enjoy them inside and outside! Plus, there’s no more waiting around for special occasions. When you use Espoma’s Bio-Starter Plus, your flowers will be ready to be freshly picked every week.

2. Health benefits

Gardening really can be a great workout. All the same, it can be incredibly relaxing and meditative. Take a moment to get some fresh air, move around by digging and planting, and reap the benefits later (physical wellbeing and fresh flowers)!

3. Unlimited bouquets

Who says you have to stop at one bouquet a week? Fill your entire home with color-coated bunches of fresh flowers! Once your garden is fully bloomed, you no longer have to run to the store or tip for delivery.

4. Quality bonding time

There’s no better way to teach the kids how to care for living things and to connect with nature — all while spending quality time together. Even if you don’t have room in your yard, taking a family trip to a community garden can also help expand your circle of friends!

5. Curb appeal

If you do have room in your own yard, your cutting garden will instantly boost your curb appeal! Your home will not only be filled with beautiful flowers but will be surrounded by them too. Proper maintenance with Espoma’s liquid Bloom! will help keep your neighbors green with envy and your plants nice and bright.

Are you convinced yet? As you can see, there are numerous benefits to starting your own cutting garden, and very few cons! Who wouldn’t want unlimited access to fresh flowers? Even when you have to roll up your sleeves and put in the work, you’re still getting a great workout and great payoff. Find your nearest garden center and get started today.

Top Picks for Growing A Cutting Garden:

No Fuss Roses – REALLY!

Photo Courtesy of Kerry Ann Mendez

I used to consider growing roses a form of self-punishment. It was a tedious, never-ending job that more often than not, ended in disaster.   Thankfully there are stunning roses now available that don’t need pampering.  These game-changers require less water, fertilizer and pesticides – plus some are even ‘self-cleaning’ (no deadheading required). And if the thorns are a ‘thorn in your side’, there are thornless varieties.

As a garden writer and passionate gardener, I’ve trialed many roses. Praise-worthy contenders are held to high standards by this no-fuss gardener. Not surprisingly, I primarily evaluate roses grown on their own roots (not grafted) and hardy to at least Zone 5, if not colder.

Below are a few favorites:

‘At Last’  I was spellbound by this 30”-36”, fragrant, sunset orange rose with deep green, shiny leaves.  And I wasn’t the only one. Last year the garden center where I work sold out of this winner by mid-summer!

Photo Courtesy of Kerry Ann Mendez

Knock Out Roses  Knockout roses have become highly popular, given their superior performance requiring little input.  There are many cultivars to choose from. My personal favorites are Double Knock Out (red), Pink Double Knock Out and Peachy Knock Out – one of 2018 winners of the American Rose Trials for Sustainability (A.R.T.S).

Courtesy of Star® Roses and Plants

Earth-Kind Roses  Roses earning the Earth-Kind award do well in a variety of soils plus they require minimum fertilizer, pesticides and water. These trials for sustainable roses began at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service but are now operational in 27 states. ‘Carefree Beauty’ is one of these exceptional performers. To discover others, click here.

Photo Courtesy of Kerry Ann Mendez



No matter how praiseworthy a rose is, if it is not sited in the right location, all bets are off. Roses like full sun (six or more hours, preferable mostly afternoon sun in hardiness zones 6 or colder). They also do best in well drained, organically enriched soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.  Treat roses to Rose-tone, a slow-release organic fertilizer in spring and then 6 weeks later to boost the bloomathon.  Japanese beetles and rose sawfly (caterpillar-like larvae) can sometimes pester roses, even superstars mentioned above. Handpicking, as well as organic products containing Neem oil or Spinosad, will solve the problem.  The time to prune shrub roses is in late winter or early spring. Prune back canes by 1/3 to half their height.

About the author: As an award-winning garden designer, author and lecturer, Kerry Ann Mendez focuses on time-saving gardening techniques, workhorse plants and sustainable practices.  She has been on HGTV and in numerous magazines including Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Garden Gate and Better Homes & Gardens.  Kerry Ann was awarded the 2014 Gold Medal from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for her horticultural accomplishments.  She has published four popular gardening books, her most recent being, The Budget-Wise Gardener (February 2018). In 2016 Kerry Ann introduced National Gardening Webinars that are attended by thousands.  For more about Kerry Ann visit www.pyours.com  

Awesome Astilbe

Astilbes are the drama queens of the shade garden.  You cannot help but admire these ‘no-fuss’ divas for their beauty and grace. Flowers can be delicate and frothy or stiff and compact.  Blooms range in color from red, burgundy, white, purple, rosy-purple, peach and various shades of pink. The handsome, fern-like foliage is a delightful contrast to heftier leaves like those of Hosta and Rodgersia. Leaves can be shiny, matted or coarse.  I like to insert additional zing to the garden by incorporating Astilbe with foliage that is bronze or burgundy tinged (‘Delft Lace’, ‘Fanal’, ‘Maggie Daley’), chocolate (‘Chocolate Shogun’), chartreuse rimmed in red (‘Amber Moon’) or chameleon-like (‘Color Flash’) – the leaves start out brilliant green and then morph to burgundy-purple before closing the season in blazing orange, red and yellow.

Photo Courtesy of Kerry Ann Mendez


Even though Astilbe is typically known as a shade perennial, it tolerates full sun, as long as there is enough moisture.  Those in the chinensis species are best suited for drier conditions.  These beauties also make wonderful container plants. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9 (many references claim Zone 3), pollinator-friendly Astilbe provides four seasons of appeal (leave the dried flower stalks up for winter interest) with little effort on your part!

Astilbes flower for three to four weeks but by mixing early, mid and late season cultivars, you can enjoy glorious blooms from mid-June until mid-August. These deer and rabbit resistant workhorses range in height from only around 8” (‘Lilliput’) to spectacular back of the border giants that can reach 4’ (‘Purple Candles’, ‘Mighty Pip’).  Astilbe ‘Pumila’ makes a terrific, weed-smothering ground cover with low, overlapping leaves and late season, lilac-pink flowers that top out at 10”.

Photo courtesy of Kerry Ann Mendez


Astilbe does best in organically enriched, moisture retentive soil.  You can achieve this by simply amending soil – or mulching – with compost, aged manures or similar materials.  Further boost the floral display by fertilizing with Plant-tone, a slow release, organic fertilizer. Astilbe prefers an acidic soil (pH in the high 5’s or low 6’s).  Check soil pH by taking a sample to your local extension office or use a do-it-yourself-kit such as Rapitest. To lower pH apply Espoma’s organic Soil Acidifier (elemental sulfur).

About the author: As an award-winning garden designer, author and lecturer, Kerry Ann Mendez focuses on time-saving gardening techniques, workhorse plants and sustainable practices.  She has been on HGTV and in numerous magazines including Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Garden Gate and Better Homes & Gardens.  Kerry Ann was awarded the 2014 Gold Medal from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for her horticultural accomplishments.  She has published four popular gardening books, her most recent being, The Budget-Wise Gardener (February 2018). In 2016 Kerry Ann introduced National Gardening Webinars that are attended by thousands.  For more about Kerry Ann visit www.pyours.com  

Plant your Window Boxes Like Garden Answer

Dressing up window boxes can add so much beauty and curb appeal to your home. They instantly greet you the moment you walk up to your home, brightening every day.

If you don’t have window boxes, just put a good sized container next to your front door and make the same combination in a smaller form.

If you have old soil in your window boxes, it’s best to remove it and start with fresh Organic Potting Soil from Espoma. In this case, Laura is only replacing half the soil because it was only used briefly in her window boxes last fall. Pour the new soil in until your planters are half full.

For these early spring window boxes and containers, you can take liberties with spacing and sun and shade preferences. The plants won’t actually grow much in cool climates, except for the daffodils. As you will see this combination contains both sun and shade-loving plants.

This gorgeous combination begins with Lenten rose, Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’. Their burgundy pink buds open to ivory with a pink blush on the back of the petals. These are the tallest plants in the combination and are planted in the back. Next, plant Martin’s spurge, Euphorbia ‘Tiny Tim’. The emerging foliage is deep red and picks up the reddish tones in the Lenten roses. A miniature Narcissus called ‘Tete-a-Tete’ is placed in between the spurge and will add a bright pop of yellow when they flower. Two varieties of pinkish apricot primrose are planted next and are interspersed with deep blue perennial violets.

This design is awfully clever for a couple of reasons.

First of all, it shows that it’s possible to create a sophisticated early spring display that can withstand very low temperatures. Secondly, it’s extremely economical. All of the plants in her palette, with the exception of the primrose, are perennial and will be planted out in her landscape in late spring. Having your plants do double duty is brilliant and saves money.

Since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, get creative and try out different combinations or add branches for another design element. Have fun.

Espoma Products for Early Spring Window Boxes