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Help Local Pollinators Survive the Winter

October has arrived and with it comes fall flavors. Pumpkin spice pops up practically wherever you go. And there’s nothing like a freshly picked apple or glass of apple cider.

Pollinators know it‘s fall too and they could use some help from your garden. This time of year is known as nectar flow, where many major nectar sources are blooming. They want their own fall fixes as they prepare to hibernate or migrate.

You’ve probably added perennials and trees to your garden for pollinators, now add fall flowers to bring pollinators to your garden.

6 Fall Blooming Plants for Pollinators

Aster

All kinds of pollinators are attracted to this fall-blooming plant — bees, butterflies, native birds and other insects. This double duty plant will bring vibrant colors to your garden while providing nectar from summer into late fall. Asters are appealing to pollinators due to their friendly flower structure. They grow 2-3 feet tall in zones 4-9 and are happy in both sun and partial shade.

Goldenrod

The fall color scape isn’t complete without the goldenrod’s vibrant color. This easy-to-grow plant brings butterflies and bees to your garden. Being a native to North America, it will adapt to the climate it is set in. They grow 2-3 feet tall in zones 4-9 and are happy in sun or partial shade. Pollinator Tip: Goldenrods do well when paired with Asters.

Purpletop Vervain

Bring the fall colors to your garden with this deep purple plant. The flowers cluster at the top of a long slender stem, which butterflies and bees adore. Purpletop Vervain responds better to late fall sowing as it likes cold temperatures. They grow 2-4 feet tall in zones 7-11 and are happy in full sun.

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed is perfect for gardeners looking to add some height. It may be called a weed, but it brings the classic fall mauve to play with large dinner plate-sized blooms. They are loved by butterflies and will bloom late summer into the fall. They can grow up to 5 feet tall in zones 4-9 and are happy in full sun.

Autumn Joy Sedum

If you know the classic sedum for the large pink blooms, you will be in for a surprise with Autumn Joy. This variety offers burnt red blossoms on top of tall gray-green stalks. The vibrant fall color complements your garden this season. Butterflies are a frequent visitor to this plant. It will last through the fall, until the flowers dry in the winter. They grow 2 feet tall in zones 3-9 and are happy in full sun.

Bugbane

Known for being a dramatic addition to any garden, Bugbane is popular among gardeners.  Bugbane is a host plant and source of nectar for butterflies. On top of long stalks, wispy white flower spikes bring sweet smells. Other fall colors are offered in various varieties of this plant. They grow up to 6 feet tall with 12-18 inch spikes of color in zones 3-9 and are happy with partial sun to full shade.

Be sure to keep fall blooms big and vibrant with Espoma’s Grow! Liquid Plant Food.

Fragrance of Fall – Plant Something Sweet

As autumn nears, we’re dreaming of cooler weather, cozy sweaters and pumpkin everything.

The flavors and aromas of autumn float around the air and it is full of bliss.

As the trees change color and the pumpkins begin taking shape, step outside to experience this bliss and the crispness of the air.

Fill your garden with these sweet smelling plants to keep the fragrance of fall floating around your garden all season. Make sure you fertilize with Espoma’s Liquid Bloom! Plant Food to maximize the fragrance.

Chrysanthemum

Add some classic beauty to your garden with a simple Chrysanthemum. Some varieties have an earthy, herb-like smell. It blooms with many varieties, so choosing what color you desire adds to the value. The classic mum will get you in the autumn spirit in no time. Plant in full sun in zones 3-9 and feed regularly with Espoma’s liquid Bloom! for gorgeous flowers.

Katsura

As the leaves of this tree turn to gold, orange or red, the brown sugar scent closely follows. This multi-hued tree has all of the redeeming fall qualities. Known for its shade protection, katsura is a great addition to your garden. The sweet fragrance can be enjoyed from a considerable distance. It is perfect to get you into the autumn feel. Plant in full to partial sun in zones 4-9 and use Bio-tone Starter Plus when planting to help katsura establish roots.

Flowering Tobacco Plant

Best for filling gaps in your garden, this tall fragrant beauty will keep you enjoying its white tubular flowers all autumn long. Known as a night plant, the terrific smell of jasmine is found most powerful at dusk. They are wonderful at attracting hummingbirds. Plant in full to partial sun in Zones 10-11 and feed regularly with Plant-tone to ensure superior growth.

Chaste Tree

This shrub releases refreshing fragrances of sage. And with its light blue flowers on a wooded stem, it’s a great addition to a cut flower fall bouquet. Plant in full sun in zones 6-9 and feed regularly with Tree-tone for strong roots and trunk.

Fragrant Angel Coneflower

Mix and match colorful coneflowers, just be sure to include the fragrant angel. The large sweetly scented flowers are made up of two rows of white petals surround a greenish, orange cone. They tend to smell of vanilla which is wonderful wafting through the air in autumn. Plant in full sun in zones 4-9 and feed regularly with Espoma’s liquid Bloom! for gorgeous flowers.

Tea Olive

Known as the “false holly,” tea olives grow into dense evergreen shrubs or trees and have leaves that look like holly. Their flowers commonly come in white, but can surprise you with yellow or orange blooms. The apricot fragrance from these shrubs will make you happy you welcomed them into your garden! Plant in full to sun in zones 7-10 and feed regularly with Holly-tone to provide essential nutrients.

 

Stuck on what else to plant this fall? Learn how to plant the perfect tree this season to enjoy for generations to come!

Timeless florals will never go out of style

Spending time in your grandmother’s garden is a lovely memory: The big luscious blooms, the scents and peacefulness radiating off the flowers, watching your grandmother putter around always adjusting something. You never wanted to leave.

You can bring your grandmother’s garden to your home. Plus, gardening is good for your own wellness. Try planting our favorite timeless flowers in your own garden and, fertilize with Espoma’s Flower- Tone to ensure your blooms stay luxurious.

Top 10 Timeless Flowers

1. Sweet Pea – Our first pick in the timeless flowers category due to their old-fashioned fragrance. They are a delicate flower with a diversity of color. Generation after generation has introduced this flower to their garden. It is a climbing plant, so keep a trellis or a wall to allow it to reach its full potential.

2. Primrose – With over 400 varieties of Primrose in the world, this flower has withstood the test of time. Typically pale yellow in color, with varieties including white or pink, many people are fond of this plant. It’s one of the first perennials to bloom and can flower into winter as a low growing flower.

3. Heliotrope – It’s sweet vanilla and almond fragrance makes this flower a lovely addition to any garden. It even dates back to the Victorian era. Often used as a border plant, this bloom will make your garden timeless. Heliotropes do well in container gardens too.

4. Four o’clocks – Featured in the 1876 St. Louis seed catalog, this flower is incredibly popular thanks to its jasmine-like scent. It is described as a favorite, combining the beauty of foliage, the wonderful bloom, a diversity of colors, and delightful fragrance. They are a self-sowing plant, so monitor the seed pods to control spreading.

5. Foxgloves – With name variations that date back to 1847, foxgloves can be a perfect fit for your garden. The bell shaped flower provides a variety of color and freckles on the inside. Foxgloves are a biennial, so flowers don’t show up until the second year in the ground. They are self-sowers, so if you leave the stalks in, they will continue to bloom year after year.

6. Morning Glory – Being a climber, this vining flower will grow well by a trellis, fence, or a leaning ladder to add some beauty to anything. When choosing your variety, be sure to choose Ipomea tricolor, which is non-invasive. Other more popular morning glories are invasive and can cause problems in your garden.

7. Poppies – Starting off as a common weed, poppies gained their popularity over time. They became a symbol through World War I and have stuck around since. They are beautiful swaying in the wind with their vibrant colors. Many are self-sowers, so plant them once and watch them come back for years.

8. Peony – Peonies have been around for hundreds of years. They are able to survive with minimal effort for the gardener, but draw “oohs” and “ahhs” due to their big beautiful blooms. Gardeners have hundreds of hybrids to choose from for their own garden. They release an abundant fragrance and are perfect for adding some color to a bouquet.

9. Bleeding Heart – Known as a classic cottage staple, the bleeding heart has captured many gardeners’ love. Their romantic blooms develop quickly in late spring and are long lasting through the summer. It’s easy to see why their floral pendants, in shades of rose pink and white, are considered timeless. You can never go wrong with a bit of romance.

10. Hollyhock – Often seen in front of a barn, cottage or white fence, hollyhocks are perfect for bringing some beauty to a bland canvas. They have big blossoms in vibrant colors and will grow five to seven feet tall. They are perfect for the back of a border or by itself, to not overwhelm the surrounding blooms. Plan accordingly as some varieties are perennials and others are biennials.

 

Ready to try something new? Use Espoma’s liquid Bloom! plant food to give your favorite flowers the nutrients they need and to promote bigger blooms.

2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show Highlights with Garden Answer

The Espoma Company and Laura from Garden Answer visit the 2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, “Holland: Flowering the World.” Bridges, windmills, canals and water gardens explore the architectural aspects of Holland. While a sea of 30,000 flowers reflects the traditionally grown bulbs. The natural and sustainable approach of the Dutch New Wave Movement is evident throughout the garden displays. And a not to miss light display illuminates the beautiful landscapes.

 

Want more? Check out the full version of our Philadelphia Flower Show tour with Garden Answer.

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. 

Picking and Caring for Orchids

With showy flowers that stay in bloom for months, orchids have a flair for the dramatic.

While these plants are show-stoppers with blooms that last for months, orchids are surprisingly easy.

There are so many benefits to having houseplants, why not add an orchid to your collection?

The hardest part of orchids is choosing which type since they are available in a wide range of spectacular colors and exotic shapes. Choose an orchid in a single color such as white, pink, fuchsia or yellow for a pop of color. Or for a more captivating look, choose one with expressive splashes of color.

Keep orchids happy and blooming for months with these simple tips.

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Picking Your Orchid:

  1. Bloom power. A plant loaded with flower buds with only a few flowers fully opened will provide the most reward. The rest of the buds will open at home.
  2. Healthy glow. Look for a plant with firm, bright green leaves. Check that roots that are not brown or shriveled.
  3. The right temperature. A few minutes of too hot or too cold temperatures can impact new blooms. Help your new orchid to transition easily by not leaving it in the car for too long.

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Caring for Your New Orchid:

  1. A New Home. Orchids like bright light, but not direct sun. Avoid cold, drafty spots.
  2. Water right. Allow water to flow through drainage holes then drain excess water completely. This is best done in the sink. Water again only when soil is completely dry or the pot feels light.
  3. Just right nutrients. Feed with our liquid orchid fertilizer for more blooms and a healthy plant.
  4. Wait for more blooms. Once all the orchid flowers have withered, cut back stem halfway. If the stem has turned brown or died, cut back to the base of the plant.
  5. Repot when needed. 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.

Brown thumbs can easily turn green. Learn more about caring for houseplants here.

Plant A Fall Container

Laura from Garden Answer shows you how to plant a fall container that will add beauty to your landscape all season long.

 

 

Container Garden Tip: Extend Summer Color

Fabulous and fun, containers filled with bright blooms are easy to maintain and thrive with the right care. They’re great additions to any patio, yards or landscape.

Before summer’s heat and dry conditions get the best of them, give them what they need. Keep containers in tip top shape with these easy tips.

Here’s how to extend the life of containers for a summer of color.

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Deadhead. Use pruners or shears to snip off dead or dying flowers, stems and foliage. This is called deadheading. Don’t be afraid to clip stems back a little to encourage new growth. This not only makes the plant look better, it helps encourage more blooms.

Want even less work? You can always opt for plants that do the deadheading on their own, like Million Bells.

Feed. Feed established containers with Bloom! liquid fertilizer to promote & prolong flowering. Simply flip, fill and feed. Or, sprinkle granular Plant-tone on the soil surface and gently work in.

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Water. Containers need to be drenched – generally every day – and make sure to get the roots. Water until it pours from the drainage holes. Be sure to empty saucers to keep roots from getting waterlogged.

Replace. If all else fails, simply replace the leggy or tired plants in your container garden with late-season bloomers, like ornamental cabbage, coneflowers or sedum.

Now that your containers are taken care of, sit back and enjoy the heat of summer!

Prune Hydrangeas a Cut Above the Rest

Hydrangea care, specifically pruning, doesn’t have to be complicated. Honest. Even those who have been gardening for years still have questions about how to prune hydrangeas.

Discover our secrets to pruning hydrangeas.

Hold Up! How to Prune Hydrangeas

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Hone in on Hydrangeas. Before you prune hydrangeas, you need to know which type you have. If you planted a hydrangea from our Hydrangea Guide, your answer is just a click away.

Take the quiz below to find out what type of hydrangea you have and when to prune.

Does your hydrangea bloom most of the season?

  • Yes? You have a new variety of hydrangea, such as an Endless Summer. If you’re planning on re-shaping, prune in fall after the final blooms. However, you can prune these at any time.

 Does your hydrangea have blooms in early summer that fade away by mid-summer?

  • Yes? You have a bigleaf, modheap, lacecap or oakleaf hydrangea that blooms on old wood. Prune these right as their flowers begin to fade to maximize next year’s blooms. Whatever you do, don’t prune in the late fall, or you’ll remove next year’s flower buds.
  • Pruning Old Wood Hydrangeas. Cut off any dead, diseased or deformed canes. Also, remove any branches that rub. Cut canes off close to the ground. If the hydrangea is older and has smaller blooms, remove up to 1/3 of the oldest canes. If the hydrangea is too tall, cut off the tallest canes.

 hydrangea care, hydrangea color, growing hydrangasDoes your hydrangea start to bloom in mid-to-late summer and flower until the first frost?

  • If yes, you’re the proud owner of a panicle or smooth hydrangea that blooms on new wood. Prune in winter or early spring before they start growing.
  • Pruning New Wood Hydrangeas. For the biggest flowers, prune shrubs to the ground. Over time, this pruning method weakens the plant. If you want to keep hydrangea’s long-term health in mind, cut back canes to 18-24”. Also, prune canes to 18-24” if you’ve noticed your hydrangea flops to the ground due to heavy blooms.

Do you have a climbing hydrangea that grows upward?

  • If yes, prune in late spring or early summer. Skip pruning during their first year, though.
  • Pruning Climbing Hydrangeas. When pruning, remove any dead, diseased or rubbing branches.

 P.S. You can still can deadhead hydrangeas at any point.

There you have it! Now you know how to prune hydrangeas. Impress your friends with this knowledge or by teaching them how to change hydrangea color!

Learn all of our hydrangea secrets in our hydrangea growing guide.