Watch as Laura from @GardenAnswer plants some new trees with the help of Espoma!
With Memorial Day in the rearview, summer is officially here once again — and while we wish that meant nothing but sunshine and barbecues, bugs seem to always make an appearance this time of year. But did you know there are ways to avoid getting bitten and bugged every time you want to relax outside?
The fragrance of certain plants can actually block the receptors insects use to find us. It’s just another great reason to get a garden going in your backyard, around your patio, or anywhere you like to enjoy fresh air. All you really need to sustain these helpful plants is some good starter fertilizer like Espoma’s organic Bio-tone Starter Plus and to make sure they’re fed every two to four weeks with Grow! to ensure they get the proper nutrients.
So, if you’re getting some unwanted guests during those summer cookouts, try planting some of these simple staples.
Did you know many mosquito repelling candles and sprays are made from citronella oil? Lemon grass naturally produces this ingredient and doubles as a beautiful grassy plant for walkways and around tables. Alternatively, you can plant it in its own pot and use it wherever your local mosquitos tend to congregate.
Other Lemon-Scented Plants
Similar to lemongrass, other plants that give off a strong citrus fragrance — like lemon-scent geraniums, lemon thyme, and lemon balm — work well to repel bugs. These plants use their fresh scent to keep their leaves from being eaten — and in turn can help you keep from being bitten.
Despite lavender’s sweet smell being quite popular among people, most insects hate it. Keeping this plant near seating areas will help ward away mosquitos and other pesky flies. A great thing about this plant is that you can use it fresh or dried to get the job done — or even just use the extracted oil. This way you have different options on how you want to decorate while still keeping the pests at bay.
Rosemary is a great addition to your cookout. Throw a few sprigs on the grill as you’re cooking to release its fragrance into the air. It’ll smell wonderful to you and your family but make the bugs fly in the other direction.
Basil is another herb that will keep the mosquitos away. It’s also toxic to mosquito larvae, so placing this plant near water can help discourage mosquitoes from laying eggs.
Mint’s fragrance is great at repelling pests like ants, mosquitoes, and even mice. It’s also always a nice addition to any dish, so incorporating it into your barbecue can be beneficial in more ways than one.
If cabbage moths are just as pesky as mosquitoes in your backyard, garlic can be your saving grace. When crushed, the garlic bulbs release allicin — an enzyme that produces that classic garlic smell. Your local pests will definitely not enjoy your garlic breath, so go ahead and use it up all weekend long.
Any and all of these plants can be used purely to keep the bugs away, but they’re also beautiful decor for your outdoor area. Be sure to keep up with them all season long in order to reap the benefits whenever your cookouts come around.
Here are some of our other blogs we thought you might enjoy.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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 Starter Plus.
Need tips on how to prepare your garden for winter? Check out this blog!
August is an exciting time. After all, your flower beds are radiant and your vegetable garden is thriving!
Although it may seem like watering and weeding are your only tasks this month, there’s still a lot to do. Help your garden beat the heat and prep for fall at the same time.
Keep your garden beautiful during August:
Maintenance and Preparation
Congratulations on all your hard work on the August garden!
How will you and your garden be celebrating the end of summer? Let us know in the comments!
You love your garden, and so do the notorious neighborhood deer. They’ll try anything at least once and will come back for more if they like it. Not to mention the rabbits and other critters that think of your yard as their own personal all you can eat buffet.
Get serious about deer proofing your garden before the damage gets out of control. Early intervention is always best and you can prevent future invasions by taking action now. It’s much easier to deter one deer before the entire herd is grazing on your garden.
What do deer eat?
More like what won’t deer eat? Deer will eat any vegetation and the hungrier they are, the less picky they get. Growing plants that deer find less attractive is a good starting point, but a desperate deer might still take a bite.
Deer are big eaters. The average adult male consumes about five pounds of food a day.
If you want to keep the deer at bay, try out these tips in your own yard.
Deter Deer and Other Animal Pests:
1. Place strong scented plants near entry points such as garlic, rosemary and lavender. Or choose plants with textures like lamb’s ear, thorny roses, barberry or holly.
2. Fences are generally the best force to keep critters at bay, but they can be expensive. Choose an 8’ tall fence or plant tall, thick hedges around borders. If your main concern is rabbits, the fence should be 30” tall and buried 8-12”.
3. Use liquid or granular animal repellant. Spread or spray around the perimeter of your yard. Reapply after rain and as often as directed. Over time, deer can become used to repellents so you may need to switch products if you notice deer near your yard.
4. An element of surprise such as a garden ornament or scarecrow can deter deer. Move it around frequently.
5. Install motion sensors that light up as deer approach.
6. Enlist your pooch. Active and noisy pets can keep deer at bay.
What’s worked for you in the past? Let us know in the comments below!
Lazy days of summer? Think again! July can be a busy month in the garden.
While watering and deadheading may seem like tedious tasks, harvesting and enjoying the bounty are the reward for months of hard work.
Here are seven things to do in the garden this month.
1. Follow the Watering Rule
Follow the primary rule of summer watering to ensure garden plants get the right amount of water. Water thoroughly and deeply in the morning by making pools in the soil around the roots. Deep watering allows roots to grow deeper and stronger, making them less likely to dry up and die.
When you water will depend on your weather. Check dryness by touching the soil. It should be moist at least 1” below the surface.
Water containers and hanging baskets daily until water runs from the drainage holes.
2.Pick, Eat and Replant
You can finally enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Harvest tomatoes, peppers, peas, carrots, cauliflower, beans, broccoli, leeks, onions, eggplants, cucumbers, squash, Brussels sprouts, kale, lettuce, melons, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, pumpkins and rutabagas.
Harvest tree and vine fruits when they are able to be gently plucked or twisted from their stems. Berries, apples and stone fruits should all be ready for picking in July.
Pick, dry and freeze herbs for use later in the year.
Sow seeds of cool-season crops such as greens and root vegetables for harvesting throughout August and September. Plant garlic for harvest next season.
Prune tomato suckers weekly and cut off any leaves growing below the lowest ripening fruit trusses to improve air circulation and prevent diseases. Thin fruit trees for a more robust harvest.
3. Plants Need to Eat, too
Continue to feed hanging baskets, container gardens and faded annuals with liquid fertilizer Bloom! every 2 to 4 weeks.
Feed roses monthly through the summer with Rose-tone.
Houseplants are actively growing now and will benefit from monthly feedings of Grow!.
4. Continue to Create a Safe Paws Lawn
Using an organic lawn food, as well as organic mulch will eliminate the hazards that chemical fertilizers, pesticides and synthetic mulches present to you, your family and pets. July is the time to feed your lawn with the summer revitalizer from our annual feeding program.
Water lawn regularly, slowly and deeply. Mow to 3″ to protect from summer heat.
5.Keep an Eye out for Pests
Watch for insect or disease damage as the weather gets hotter and plants become more stressed.
Beetles, aphids, slugs, snails and spider mites are just a few of the pests that visit your garden in summer. For best solutions ask your local garden center for suggestions and consider the Earth-tone Controls.
Keep an eye out for powdery mildew. Remove any affected leaves to prevent further spread.
6. Weed, weed, weed
Clear weeds regularly, as they fight your plants for nutrients and water. Plus, you’ll want to pull before they have a chance to flower and go to seed. Otherwise, you’ll fight even more weeds next season.
Cover freshly weeded beds with a layer of compost or mulch to conserve water and blanket weeds reducing their spreading.
7. Prune and Deadhead
Prune summer flowering shrubs as soon as the blossoms fade. Deadhead annuals to promote more growth. Pinch fall blooming flowers such as coneflower and asters in mid-July to promote a fall garden full of color.
Try to hold off on planting anything new until the fall as the hot temperatures and dry conditions can strain young roots. And you’ll benefit because most stores offer major end of season sales. If you do plant or transplant, make sure to fill the hole with Bio-tone starter plus and keep well-watered.
Bonus: Enjoy! Take time to slow down and enjoy your garden with friends and family. We sure will be!
As the official kickoff to summer, Memorial Day weekend is the perfect excuse to tidy up the garden. So before you bring out your red, white and blue and get ready for the summer season, spend a little time cleaning up around the yard.
And yes, Memorial Day may be the start of summer fun, let’s not forget the real reason behind the holiday and thank our veterans.
This federal holiday, observed the last Monday of May, honors those who’ve died serving in our country’s armed forces. Formerly known as Decoration Day, the holiday originated after the Civil War to commemorate both Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war.
Take some time and follow these simple, inexpensive and necessary gardening tips to get your yard in tiptop shape.
Five Ways to Spruce Up:
It’s not the prettiest task but it is one that can have the most impact. First, give lawns a nice clean cut and trim. Next, rake leaves out of garden beds and borders. Shred or leave them whole and place in a compost pile. Finally, remove tools, debris and the uncoiled hose that may be sitting on the patio.
Another task that’s low on the fun list, but necessary for a clean yard is weeding. Pull any weeds and discard. Do not compost weed seeds.
Adding fresh mulch to the garden makes everything look clean. Mulch with shredded bark, compost or other biodegradable mulch.
Now is a good time to apply the second application of your annual feeding program for your lawn. It’s also a good time to give your plants a boost with liquid fertilizer Bloom! to ensure they’re looking their prettiest and peppiest for the party.
Colorful flowers do a world of wonder for a garden. Buy annuals and plant them along borders. Choose heat-loving flowers that will bloom all summer. Decorate with colorful containers and place by front door and at focal points. Putting a few plants out around the patio will really set the mood.
Have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend! If you used any of our tips, let us know! Share your pictures with us on our Facebook page!
Who can resist color-changing blooms as huge as snowballs?!
No one! That’s why no garden is complete until it has at least one hydrangea. With their picturesque foliage and magical blooms, these flower shrubs are a constant delight. Plus, hydrangeas are easy to care for — as long as you pick the right variety for your space.
Before choosing what hydrangea to grow, answer these questions. Then check out our hydrangea varieties guide to pick the best for your garden.
Couldn’t Ask for More! Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Hydrangea
Growing hydrangeas is easy! Simply answer these questions to find a hydrangea variety that will thrive in your garden.
1. How much sun do hydrangeas need? Most hydrangea varieties like a blast of full sun in the morning followed by a nap in the afternoon shade. Though, be sure to check since there are a few hydrangeas that thrive in full sun.
2. What hydrangea color do you want? While color of hydrangeas may seem important, it’s actually not! You can turn blue hydrangeas pink and vice versa. Hydrangea color and saturation all depend on the soil acidity. The only exception? White hydrangeas don’t change color.
3. What size hydrangea would you like? Hydrangeas come in small, medium or large-size. Larger varieties can grow up to 20’ tall and 18’ wide while dwarf hydrangeas are only 3-5’ tall and wide. No matter the size of your garden, you can find a hydrangea that works — even in container gardens.
4. What type of hydrangea to grow? Depending on what type of hydrangea you grow, it needs to be pruned at different times. Make note of what type of hydrangea you have to make pruning easy later on. Here are a few of the most common hydrangeas: bigleaf, oakleaf, panicle and smooth.
5. Is the hydrangea evergreen or deciduous? Evergreen hydrangeas, as their name implies, stay green all year. Most hydrangeas are deciduous shrubs, so they shed their leaves annually.
From hydrangea care to hydrangea fertilization, we’ll be here to help each step of the way as you’re growing hydrangeas. Learn more about growing great blossoms in our Hydrangea Growing Guide.
Container gardening adds a whole new element of style and flair to your outdoor space. Not only do you get to showcase your style through plants, but also in the unique pots you choose. It’s twice the fun!
And you can do it for the planet, too. Growing herbs, veggies and flowers already makes the world a greener place. Now reuse and repurpose a forgotten item into an invigorated planter. Upcycling creates less waste and saves money, too.
Create a repurposed container for a beautiful (and thrifty!) container garden.
Your soon-to-be favorite container may already be in your house. Almost any vessel can be repurposed into a garden container! You’ll be amazed by what you discover (and by what containers you didn’t even know were hiding in your cupboards).
Up for Grabs: Upcycled Containers
Other Types of Repurposed Containers:
Get inspired by some of our favorite items to turn into garden planters below.
Creating repurposed containers is a quick, affordable and fun way to expand container gardens. Once you start, the possibilities are endless!
*thank you MicroGardener for the photos!