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Garden Answer’s Mother’s Day Container

Mom is the best! For years, she’s showered you with love in so many ways, big and small.

Now, it’s your turn to remind her how much you truly appreciate her. Creating a beautiful container is something she’ll enjoy for months or even years to come. Watch as Laura from Garden Answer visits her family’s garden center to pick out a selection of plants, potting soil and fertilizer to make the cutest planter for her own mom.

Tips for Making a Flowery Container for Mom

First, start by selecting a container that’s her style. You’ll find lots of fun, colorful and patterned containers at your local garden center. Check to make sure your container has drainage holes in the bottom and will fit the plants you select at their mature size.

Next, choose plants that spill, thrill and fill! You want one plant that cascades, one that mounds and one that stands taller than the rest. Look for 3-5 varieties of flowering plants, grasses or greenery. Does Mom have a favorite flower or color? Try your best to incorporate those features into your creative design.

The options are endless. Have fun as you mix colors and textures for a winning combination. Check plant tags to make sure your plants like the same growing conditions, sun exposure and amount of water before checking out.

While you’re still shopping, grab a bag of the best organic potting soil mix and Espoma’s liquid Bloom! fertilizer. These Espoma products will help the plants adjust to their new home and grow healthy roots for bigger plants.

Now plant!

Fill the container 3/4 full with Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix.

Remove plants from their original containers and arrange them in the new planter. Play around a bit and move the plants around to see where each plant looks best. Remember to consider their mature size and give them ample room.

Once the plants look perfect to you, fill in any gaps in the container with more organic potting soil.

Water well.

Wait till you see you mom’s face when you arrive on Mother’s Day with a beautiful, homemade container garden!

Espoma Products for Flowery Containers

Bloom! Plant Food

Get Inspired to Create a Next Level Succulent Arrangement

Succulent arrangements are long lasting creations that can be enjoyed indoors or out. This DIY video from Garden Answer will show you just how easy it is to create your own succulent arrangement

Form Follows Function

Arranging succulents is all about texture, form and color. Use contrasting forms to add interest. Think of the round foliage of a string of pearls plant in comparison to the rosettes of hen and chicks for example. The prickly form of the gold tooth aloe is entirely different than the glossy foliage of a Kalanchoe.  Experiment with different textures and heights to create something entirely unique.

Color Palette

Color also plays an important part in the design. Many succulents have colorful foliage. Think of the nearly black Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ or the orange hues of Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’. Even the container can reinforce the color palette. In this video, a variety of warm colors are used and are picked up the terra cotta accent of the pot.

Care Tips

Caring for a succulent couldn’t be easier. Their number one nemesis is too much water. Pot them up with an organic, potting soil designed for succulents and cacti like Espoma’s Cactus Mix. This will ensure that the soil drains freely. Your succulents also need a special diet. Feed them with an organic liquid fertilizer like Espoma’s Cactus! Succulents love sunshine and their colors will be most intense in bright light.

Meet the Stars of This Garden Answer Video

String of Pearls

This is a highly ornamental plant that can be grown both indoors or out. The “foliage” looks like a string of green pearls. They cascade beautifully over the edge of containers and hanging baskets. This is a show-stopper that will attract lots of attention.

Sempervivium ‘Aglo’

Sempervivum, are commonly known as “hen and chicks.” Each spring new rosettes form that are called the “chicks.” This cultivar is known for its terra cotta colored foliage. The color is best in bright sunlight.

Echeveria pulvinata

Echeveria is also known as a Chenille Plant, ‘Ruby Blush’, ‘Ruby Slippers’, or ‘Red Velvet’ because it has a crimson color. The foliage has a velvety coating to protect it from the intense sun in its native habitat.

Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’

 ‘Zwartkopf’ is a striking succulent, with very dark purple, almost black foliage. The long bare stems are topped with a rosette of leaves and can bloom with clusters of yellow, star-shaped flowers.

Kalanchoe blossfeildiana

This versatile succulent is prized for its glossy foliage and brightly colored flowers that bloom for months. This is a stand out in a container and is extremely low-maintenance. They are available in a wide variety of colors.

Gold Tooth Aloe

These golden spines may look mean, but they are actually soft and won’t harm you. In full sun the foliage will be tinged with orange. Watch for the red blooms in summer.

Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’

Durable, grayish new leaves of this succulent will become tinged with pink in full sun. Happy plants will produce white flowers in spring. The “sunset” coloration is truly striking. Easy to grow and very low maintenance.

Crassula Jade

Crassula, commonly known as the jade plant, are carefree and easy to grow. This beautiful house plant can also be grown outdoors in the summertime. Jade plants are considered to be symbols of good luck, prosperity and friendship.

Check out these blogs to learn more about growing succulents.

Dress Up Your Desk With Succulents

Succulents With Flowers – Beauty Meets Simplicity

How to Care For Succulents and Cacti in Winter

Espoma Products

Dividing Aloe for Containers

Separating large aloe plants into several smaller ones is a wonderful way to propagate new plants to share with friends and family or to use in other projects. It’s also a great way to save money. The large Gold Tooth Aloe Laura from Garden Answer divides in this video cost $22 and produced over 20 new plants.

Aloes are desert plants that are hardy in zones 9-11, or to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  In cooler regions they may be grown in containers and brought indoors for the winter. Aloe is a clump-forming plant meaning they naturally produce many baby plants called offsets. Mature plants flower in late spring and early summer with bright orange-red blossoms that attract pollinators.

Six Steps to Separating the Offsets

  1. Gently slide the plant out of its container
  2. Wear gloves when handling succulents with sharp foliage
  3. Carefully tease the soil away from the roots
  4. Select an offset and follow its stem down to the spot that it’s attached to the main plant
  5. Break it off with gentle pressure, take your time to remove all of the others
  6. Remove dead, damaged or dried up leaves

Replanting the Mother Plant

It is always best to use fresh soil when repotting since the nutrients in the nursery potting soil are likely used up. All succulents and cacti need a free-draining, organic, potting soil like Espoma’s Cactus Mix. Roots will rot in wet soil. The main plant will still have plenty of roots and can be repotted. Wait to water it for about a week to allow the leaf scars to callous over. This helps to prevent disease and infections.

Photo courtesy of Garden Answer

Replanting the Offsets

The offsets all have open wounds where they were broken off from the main plant. The wounds need several days to dry and callus over. One method involves letting them dry on a table in bright, but indirect sunlight for 5-7 days before planting. They may also be planted right away but not watered in for a week.

Care and Feeding

Aloe prefers full sun to light shade. These plants are drought-resistant but container plants benefit from some extra water during the hottest days of summer. Feed regularly with an organic fertilizer like Espoma’s Cactus! Always follow the package directions.

Check out these blogs for more information about growing succulents and the secrets to their care.

Easy, Breeze Houseplants the Cool Your Home

How to Care For Succulents and Cacti in Winter

Succulent Success – What’s the Secret?

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Spring Flowers Melt the Winter Blues

Spring has sprung and it’s time to get outside and plant up some early spring containers. A trip to the local garden center will surely inspire you. Plant big pots of brightly colored bulbs and annuals to liven up entryways, patios and balconies. Laura from Garden Answer shows you just how easy it is to do.

Laura fills her containers with tulips and violas, true harbingers of spring. Alternatively, you could also use daffodils and other cold hardy annuals like Iceland poppies or nemesia. In cold climates, it’s important to select plans that are hardy enough to withstand a cold snap.

These early spring containers will flower for a month or so, bridging the gap from early spring to the frost free date. When it’s time to plant summer containers, replant the tulips out into the garden where they’ll bloom again next spring. The violas may also be moved to a lightly shaded area of the garden.

Four Easy Steps to Early Spring Containers

  1. Prep Containers. Fill containers three quarters full with good, quality potting soil like Espoma’s Potting Mix and prepare to plant bulbs at the depth they were in the nursery pot.
  2. Add Nutrients. Add Bulb-tone fertilizer to the soil, following package directions.
  3. Get ready to plant. Gently remove the plants from their pots and loosen roots. Add plants.
  4. Finish it up. Back fill containers with more potting soil and water deeply.

Enjoy flowers for even longer by choosing tulips or daffodils that are not yet in full bloom. When finished blooming, just remove the flower stem. The leaves will still provide a vertical accent and the bulbs need the foliage to replenish themselves.

Taking time to deadhead the violas will extend their bloom time. If temperatures are cool, you may only need to water containers once a week.

Check out these videos from Garden Answer about tulips and early spring planting.

Plant Your Window Boxes Like Garden Answer

How to Care For Your Tulips After They’ve Bloomed

 

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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

 

Everything Old Can Be New Again with Terrariums

Terrariums are back in style and they’re a fun, easy way to grow and showoff your plants. Terrariums are made of glass and are generally enclose or have a few holes in the cover to provide fresh air. The glass cover traps humidity and recycles it as water, keeping waterings to a minimum. Air holes allow air to circulate and keep the condensation down so that you can see the plants. If your container’s lid doesn’t have air holes, just take the top off from time to time. This is a great way to grow ferns indoors because they need humidity to thrive.

 

You may not be familiar with hydrostone, a product used for the base layer. It’s a soilless growing media that feels like pumice. It helps deliver the perfect balance of air and water to your plants. It’s a 100 percent recycled product, made in the United States.

Begin by adding a one inch layer of hydrostone in your glass container. Top that with a solid layer of sphagnum moss. This helps hold the soil in place and keeps the stone layer looking clean. Next, add an inch or so of Espoma’s Potting Mix.

Choose your plants. Laura uses maidenhair ferns because they require a high level of humidity, which work perfectly for this type of container. Birds nest ferns and staghorn ferns also work well and look terrific with the curly foliage of the maidenhair ferns. Fern displays are all about texture. Gently remove the plants from their pots and shake off as much soil as you can before nestling them into the new container. Top with a bit more potting soil if necessary.

Decorate the top layer with more moss, rocks, miniature fairy garden figures or natural products like pinecones. Whatever you think will look beautiful is the best choice. Leave one little spot of the top soil open. This way you can look at it to gauge how wet or dry the soil is. Mist soil lightly.

At first, it’s a good idea to check your container once a week for watering needs. In general, they’ll only need water about once a month but each terrarium is slightly different. Don’t kill it with kindness, in other words, don’t over water it. Set your new creation in bright light but not direct sun light as the glass can act as a magnifying glass creating too much heat. Fertilize every other month with Espoma’s Indoor! Liquid fertilizer. Now, sit back and enjoy your very chic looking new art project.

Check out Garden Answer’s terrarium video.

Espoma Products for Fern Terrariums!

 

Succulent Pot in a Pot – Quick Version

Social media is blowing up with a new trend – the Succulent Pot in a Pot. It is a fun way to make a succulent arrangement that is a little out of the norm.

 

Basically, it is creating a potted succulent “floral” arrangement inside another pot. You use a small container for the base of your arrangement and place it on its side in the larger container. You fill in the area above the small pot with succulents so, when you look down into the larger pot, you’ll see a beautiful “floral” arrangement made out of succulents.

It might seem a bit complicated in the explanation, but this project is simple, fun and adorable to look at all year long.

Step 1 – Fill Your Large Container

Grab a container that has proper drainage as succulents don’t like to be in too much water. Use an aerating soil, like Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix to fill your container one inch from the brim. This will allow room for you to sink in the smaller container and plant your succulents.

Step 2 – Lay in Your Small Container

Gently sink your smaller container into the soil. You want the bottom half of it to be buried, so the finished product will look right.

Step 3 – Place Your Plants

Starting towards the opening of the smaller pot, place your succulents the same way you would make an upright arrangement. Get creative with the plant use and layout. Go with contrasting colors or various shades of the same. Laura wanted this to be an ode to Valentine’s Day and went with shades of pinks, yellows and light greens.

*Expert Tip: Dress up your soil with pebbles, mulch or even miniature succulents to disguise the soil and give it a more polished look.

Care Instructions

Take care of this arrangement the same way you would any other arrangement. If you used any cuttings, give it a week to allow them to heal before watering it in. When watering try to avoid watering the tops of the succulents – get as close to the soil as possible. Be mindful that in the winter, you may only need to water it every 10 to 14 days. While in the summer, you will be watering it once a week.

 

Find  the extended version here.

 

Succulent Pot in a Pot

Social media is blowing up with a new trend – the Succulent Pot in a Pot. It is a fun way to make a succulent arrangement that is a little out of the norm.

Basically, it is creating a potted succulent “floral” arrangement inside another pot. You use a small container for the base of your arrangement and place it on its side in the larger container. You fill in the area above the small pot with succulents so, when you look down into the larger pot, you’ll see a beautiful “floral” arrangement made out of succulents.

It might seem a bit complicated in the explanation, but this project is simple, fun and adorable to look at all year long.

Step 1 – Fill Your Large Container

Grab a container that has proper drainage as succulents don’t like to be in too much water. Use an aerating soil, like Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix to fill your container one inch from the brim. This will allow room for you to sink in the smaller container and plant your succulents.

Step 2 – Lay in Your Small Container

Gently sink your smaller container into the soil. You want the bottom half of it to be buried, so the finished product will look right.

Step 3 – Place Your Plants

Starting towards the opening of the smaller pot, place your succulents the same way you would make an upright arrangement. Get creative with the plant use and layout. Go with contrasting colors or various shades of the same. Laura wanted this to be an ode to Valentine’s Day and went with shades of pinks, yellows and light greens.

*Expert Tip: Dress up your soil with pebbles, mulch or even miniature succulents to disguise the soil and give it a more polished look.

Care Instructions

Take care of this arrangement the same way you would any other arrangement. If you used any cuttings, give it a week to allow them to heal before watering it in. When watering try to avoid watering the tops of the succulents – get as close to the soil as possible. Be mindful that in the winter, you may only need to water it every 10 to 14 days. While in the summer, you will be watering it once a week.

 

What to Do with Leggy Succulents

Succulents love the sun and thrive when grown in proper light conditions. But you’ve probably seen or grown a succulent that gets leggy and stretched out. These leggy – or etiolated – succulents aren’t getting the light they should in the space you have it.

 

This phenomenon happens with all indoor plants, not just succulents. You may notice how your plant bends toward the sunlight, stretching to get as close as it can. Succulents continue to grow taller as they stretch toward the sun, leaving more space between each leaf.

While etiolated succulents won’t go back to their prior compact shape, you can give them a haircut and propagate the cuttings to get even more succulents.

In this video, Laura from Garden Answer shows you how to deconstruct the plant and start propagating to try again.

  1. Remove leaves. Use pruners or snap off roots and healthy leaves from the bottom half of the succulent. Get as clean of a break as possible to encourage new growth. If your leaf tears, get rid of it. Remove leaves until you’re a little more than half way to the top. See step three to learn how you can snip and replant the stem and the remaining rosette at the top.
  2. Let leaves dry. Allow leaves to dry for a few days after removal, until the raw ends have calloused.
  3. Repot the stem. Planting the stem deeper, where the leaves were removed, will allow to grow new roots. If your stem is too long for your pot, simply trim it 1-2 inches from the base of the plant. If you have no stem at all, it’s ok. Just nest the rosette in the soil so it doesn’t fall out.
  4. Get ready to grow. Place dried leaves on top of a tray, saucer or container filled with Espoma’s Organic Cactus mix. Do not bury leaves in the soil. Place the container in a spot where it will be protected from full sun exposure.
  5. Spray soil until it’s moist, without being drenched. Water again when soil is dry to the touch.
  6. Wait. In about a month or so new baby roots will appear
  7. Replant. Once your propagated succulents have taken root, they can be replanted. Show them off in a repurposed planter.
  8. Lastly, be sure to check the roots every six months to see if you need to move your plants to a bigger pot. Feed your succulents regularly with Espoma’s Cactus! liquid plant food for best results.

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Poinsettia Care Guide from Garden Answer

Showcasing poinsettias at Christmas time has long been an American tradition, even though the plants are native to Mexico. What we think of as the large petaled, red flowers are actually modified leaves called bracts.  The true flowers are the tiny ones in the middle. Today they come in a wide array of colors from shades of red, orange, pink, yellow and white. Some varieties even have cream and green variegated leaves.

Choose Healthy Plants from the Start

When you shop for a poinsettia plant, make sure they aren’t situated too close to the door of the store, where they are repeatedly exposed to warm and cold air. Cold temperatures can easily harm these tropical plants. Check the foliage to see that it looks healthy and the inner bracts are a solid color, not showing any green. That would mean that they are nearly finished flowering. Lastly, before leaving the store make sure it’s in a sleeve or put another bag over the top of it so that it won’t freeze on the way to the car.

Give Poinsettias Proper Care at Home

As you can imagine, these tropical plants like lots of sunshine. Put them in your brightest window but not touching the glass, as it can be quite cold.  Keep them away from drafts both warm and cold. Water your poinsettia when the soil feels dry on the surface. Check the soil regularly, as the indoor air can be warm and dry in the winter. Natives of a humid climate, they will definitely appreciate being misted now and then. Like most house plants, they don’t like to be in standing water. Check to see if the foil liner allows water to drain freely and cut it open if not.

Stay Safe Around Poinsettias

Poinsettias are known for being toxic to pets and humans. However, in reality you would have to ingest a very, large amount to become ill. The white sap can be a skin irritant. Wash your hand well if you get any sap on them. It’s always best to set them up high away from kids and pets and that’s probably where you’d put them anyway so, they don’t get knocked over.

Buy A New One For Next Year

One last thought, think of your poinsettia as an annual plant and plan on buying a new one next year. It’s a tricky business to get them to bloom again that involves a strict light and dark regime. Even very short periods of light at night for instance, from a street lamp can prevent them from blooming.

 

Can’t get enough holiday plants? Check out this video on caring for your Christmas Cactus.