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Gothic Gardening – The Darkest Plants

These black beauties are some of the most sought after houseplants available today. While they’re certainly fitting for autumn décor, they’re stunning year-round additions to your collection. Use them to create dramatic accents in any room, alone or in combination with other favorite houseplants. They all prefer bright, indirect light. They tend to lose their deep coloring in low light locations. Keep them looking their best by feeding them every two to four weeks with an organic houseplant food like Espoma’s Indoor! fertilizer.

Each of the plants on this list requires good drainage. Make sure containers have a drainage hole and consider setting them on a saucer of pebbles to catch any run-off water. The potting soil is also important. A 50/50 mix of Espoma’s Potting Soil Mix and Espoma’s Cactus Mix would be ideal. The potting mix will help hold nutrients while the cactus mix will ensure good drainage.

Black Raven ZZ courtesy of Costa Farms
Image Courtesy of Costa Farms

Raven ZZ

Raven ZZ is the “Top Model” of the house plant world. Everyone from plant parents to interior designers are scrambling to get their hands on one of these. It’s shiny, nearly black foliage and strong, upright form gives it a bold visual presence, perfect for modern and contemporary homes. As if that wasn’t enough to recommend this plant, it will grow in almost any place in bright or low light. The key to keeping Raven healthy is not to overwater it. They grow from one to three feet tall.

Image courtesy of Monrovia

Black Prince’ Echeveria

It’s no secret that succulents are all the rage and this deep purple, nearly black variety is king. The dramatic foliage is accented by salmon to red-colored flowers in the fall and early winter. This plant shines in succulent arrangements, providing a spectacular color contrast. ‘Black Prince’ grows best in bright light. The foliage color will fade in low light. Water sparingly and use a container with good drainage.

Image courtesy of Costa Farms

Burgundy Rubber Tree

Green rubber tree plants are beautiful, easy to grow houseplants. Burgundy rubber plants however, steal the show every time. The new foliage emerges blood-red in stunning contrast to the deep burgundy leaves. Give this beauty a spot in bright, but not direct sun. Designers often use them to accentuate corners as they grow quite tall but not necessarily very wide. They will tolerate low light but the color will be less intense. Make sure the container you choose has good drainage.

Courtesy of Proven Winners

Charmed® Wine Shamrock

This lucky plant is growing in popularity as an indoor foliage plant. The bright purple foliage adds bright pops of color to any room. In the evening the leaves fold down but lift back up in the morning light. The small pink flowers are delicate and attractive. A sunny window with bright, but not direct, light is best and good drainage is a must.

Black Velvet’ Elephant Ear

This is a must-have for any houseplant collector. Many people are familiar with giant elephant ears that grow outdoors. ‘Black Velvet’ is a dwarf variety, with nearly black foliage accented with silvery-white veins, a truly striking combination. This tropical loves warm, moist places like kitchens and bathrooms. It prefers bright, but not direct, sun and well-drained soil.

Ready for more? Learn How to Fertilize Houseplants with Homestead Brooklyn

Espoma Products Indoor!, Potting Soil Mix, Cactus Mix

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.

 

Plant America – Red, White and Blue Plants

While getting ready to decorate and hang the flag high for the Fourth of July, think of your garden. Show off your patriotic colors with red, white and blue plants for your garden or containers.

Don’t worry though, patriotic colors stay in season all year long. Red hues will make your garden look bigger, white plants are perfect for a moon garden and blue plants bring a peace of mind for relaxation.

Plants for Fourth of July

Rocket’s Red Glare – picks for red plants:

Photo courtesy of Star® Roses and Plants

Red Roses

Red roses are one of the most traditional plants to grow in the garden. They either become the statement plant or are a fine complement to a focal point. You can use roses to cover up an unsightly area or add fragrance. Feed regularly with Rose-tone to ensure bright colors and thriving blooms.

Red Gerbera Daisies

With a bright and cheery demeanor, gerbera daisies have quite a bit of flair. They will have single, double or even multiple petals, which can add some texture and contrast to your garden. They will withstand the summer heat with their sturdy stems and big blooms. Feed regularly with Flower-tone to give their stems a boost.

Broad Strips and Bright Stars- picks for white plants:

Ox-Eye Daisies

Ox-Eye daisies’ will be in full bloom by the Fourth of July. With their white rays and yellow centers, they will be sure to brighten up a patriotic space. They grow 1-3 feet tall so they will not take up too much space. Feed regularly with Bloom! liquid plant food for vibrant whites and beautiful fragrance.

White Dahlias

With a variety of sizes and varieties, dahlias can add a lot to a garden. As one of the most popular summer flowers, dahlias live up to their reputation. Whether you choose a ball or a collerette, the dahlia will be the talk of the neighborhood. When planting, feed with Bulb-tone for full, bulbs that will last all summer.

Twilight’s Last Gleeming – picks for blue plants

hydrangea care, hydrangea color, growing hydrangas

Photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries

Blue Hydrangeas

Large, beautiful blue hydrangeas are a great addition to your patriotic garden. Their bold blooms make them perfect for freshly cut or dried flowers. Getting off to the right start in the right location is key to keeping your hydrangeas blue. If you are having a little trouble keeping your blooms blue, feed with Holly-tone to keep the soil acidic.

Brazelberries jelly bean, Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Photo courtesy of Bushel & Berry

Blueberries

A quirky take for your patriotic garden, but perhaps one of the most American fruits, blueberry is another great choice. With their red insides and blue exteriors, they would be perfect with red and white companions. Plus when you are itching for a holiday snack, head right outside and pick one off! Be sure to feed with Holly-tone to give it the nutrients it needs.

 

Products Used:

Bloom! Plant Food

 

 

 

 

Plants Only a Mother Would Love

From crayon stick figures to loud burps, Moms are notorious for thinking anything their kids do is cute.

This Mother’s Day, brighten mom’s day by giving her a plant that’s just as unique as you. And if you choose the right plant, it will last for years to come. From succulents and cacti to brilliant foliage plants, there is a plant that will bring some extra sunshine to her life every day. She knows you better than anyone else, so remind mom just how awkward and quirky you were as a child.

Baseball Plant

The low-maintenance, euphorbia obesa, comes in a baseball-like shape. Perhaps it’ll remind mom of your little league days. This is a cactus, so it simply needs a warm climate, light and a well-draining soil such as Espoma’s Cactus and Succulent mix.

‘Wine Cup’

Crassula umbella is perfect for the mom who loves taking trips to the vineyard, with her children of course. When it flowers, this plant can grow up to six inches tall. This succulent likes well-drained soil and dry roots, so don’t overwater.

Donkey tails

Remind mom of your playful nature with a donkey tail plant. These succulents drape over containers in a trailing way. With their grey-green tear-drop shaped leaves, the “donkey tails” can grow up to two feet long. Flowers with small blossoms in red, yellow or white will emerge in late summer. Place these sun-loving succulents near a sunny window and water weekly during spring and summer.

Nerve Plant

If mom’s always saying you’re getting on her nerves, try getting her an actual nerve plant! Also known as Fittonia, the name ‘nerve plant’ comes from the attractive pink, red or white veins that run throughout the plant’s rich green leaves. Their bright coloring and great patterns will surely ease mom’s nerves every time she looks at it. This plant also makes a great addition to a terrarium. Place it in a space where it’ll receive medium to low light. Too much sun can cause leaves to crisp. Water the plant weekly, when the soil starts to dry. Nerve plants need regular fertilizing, use Espoma’s Indoor! Liquid fertilizer to encourage new growth.

Yes, more traditional moms might prefer something like an exotic orchid or a lovely pink succulent, but the above are sure to make her smile. Visit your local garden center to find the right plant.

Want to do something different from mom? Try this hand print planter from Garden Answer.

Give Some Green for the Holidays

This holiday season choose gifts that help the earth and are sure to impress friends and family. I’ll give you a hint: Think green!

Whomever you are shopping for, green is sure to please. It doesn’t matter if it is someone new to gardening or the expert gardener in your family, there is something for everyone.

Providing “green” gifts allows loved ones to decorate their homes and enjoy the benefits of a healthy life.

Here are some great ideas for gardening gifts:

With just a little care, holiday houseplants can continue to thrive throughout the year. Knowing how to care for them helps to keep them beautiful.

Holiday Houseplants

Poinsettias, Christmas cactus, amaryllis, and cyclamen are just a handful of holiday houseplants that will wow any recipient. These everlasting gifts that will bloom again and again for years to come. Pick up houseplants at your local garden center. Don’t forget to pair your new houseplants with Espoma’s Indoor! liquid fertilizer.

Garden Starter Kit

This is one you can have fun with. Grab a few garden essentials and your recipient will be set and ready to get their hands in the dirt. Grab a bag of Espoma’s potting mix, a hand trowel, gardener gloves, various vegetable seeds, seed trays, and a few flower seed packets for the perfect starter kit for any gardener. Personalize it by adding their favorite flower seeds or including their favorite colored items.

Go Local

Are too many choices making the gift giving process overwhelming? Is that loveable gardener on the list too picky? Take the hassle out of shopping and buy a gift certificate to a local garden center. It’s an easy and thoughtful gift and also supports a local business.

Get Outdoors

What better way to enjoy gardening than to spend time in one? Give the gift of forest bathing this year and purchase a day pass or membership to a local arboretum or public garden. Spending time in nature reduces stress and improves concentration.

Get Creative

Be crafty and make these DIY succulent snow globes with Garden Answer’s tutorial. These little planters are sure to please even the toughest gift recipients. And you get bonus points for making them yourself.

 

Christmas Cactus Care

Laura from Garden Answer gives her best tips for caring for everyone’s favorite holiday plant – the Christmas cactus. These plants can live for year’s with the right care. Learn how to keep your Christmas Cactus blooming!

 

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!

How to decorate with succulents for the holidays

The brightest part of winter may just be decorating your home for the season. Your holiday decorating doesn’t have to be the same every year and holiday houseplants aren’t just limited to poinsettias. Switch it up by incorporating easy-care succulents and brightening up your living spaces for the holidays.

Check out our holiday succulent roundup for eight ideas to add natural festive touches to your décor. The possibilities are endless.

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8 Ways to Decorate with Succulents for Winter:

  1. Succulent centerpiece: Add succulents to your centerpiece and give your holiday party a farm-to-table look with this tablescape DIY.
  2. Succulent kissing ball: Update the traditional mistletoe with succulents.
  3. DIY Terrarium Ornaments: Go all out and add these mini landscapes to your tree. It’s easier than it looks and you can repurpose the plants when the season is over.
  4. Copper-dipped terrarium: Tap into the copper décor trend by adding the hue to your terrarium. Give as gifts or use in your home. A terrarium will hold up long after the ugly sweaters and ornaments have been hidden away.
  5. Holiday succulent arrangement: Use evergreen clippings from cedar and holly garden clippings to make this festive succulent arrangement. Use clippings in wreaths, outdoor planters and indoor arrangements while you’re at it.
  6. Recycled Succulent Tins: These recycled paint-dipped cans make perfect gifts for everyone from teachers to hostesses. This DIY is perfect for little hands and the finished project will last long beyond the holidays.
  7. A Magnolia Cone & Succulent Wreath: No glitter, sequins or shiny ornaments used here. This succulent wreath will surely please holiday guests.
  8. Make a living succulent tree: Make a living succulent tree using this quick DIY video. Bonus, it makes great décor beyond just the holidays.

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

Top 4 Houseplants to Give and Get this Holiday Season

There’s so much to love about the holiday season — the cooking and baking, the time spent with family and friends, and the festive plants. Poinsettias or a blooming Christmas cactus are compact yet boast of holiday spirit. The more plants, the merrier!

With just a little care, holiday houseplants can continue to thrive throughout the year. Knowing how to care for them helps to keep them beautiful. Repot later if needed.

So whether you’re getting or giving holiday houseplants, use these tips to help keep them blooming.

How to Care for Holiday Favorites

poinsettia

Poinsettia: No other plant quite marks the beginning of the holiday season like the poinsettia. With more than 100 varieties available today in colors of red, white, pink and more, this plant can be found just about everywhere during the holidays.

First things first, don’t let poinsettias get cold on the ride home from the store. Keep trips and exposure to cold as short as possible. Once home, these cheery plants thrive on six hours of indirect light a day away from cold drafts and need proper watering. When the plant needs water, remove the decorative foil and let soak in a few inches of water for an hour or so. Let excess drain and rewrap.

Tip: Take the poinsettia out of its foil and place it in a decorative container.

Norfolk Island pine: A mini Christmas tree, this festive plant looks lovely when adorned with mini lights and homemade ornaments or just plain on its own.

Give pines about six to eight hours of light per day. Any less and lower branches are likely to drop. Water when dry to the touch. Fertilize Norfolk Island pines bi-monthly with our new liquid houseplant fertilizer to keep them happy and healthy.

Tip: Pines can last for years and be decorated for other seasons as well!

christmas-cactus

Christmas cactus: Though this cactus is known for blooming around Christmas, it’ll stay strong throughout the year and periodically rebloom. It’s ruffled flowers range in color from reds to pinks to oranges and creams.

Give this plant bright indirect light and place outdoors in a semi-shady spot during summer months. Allow plant to become slightly dry between waterings.  Keeps this holiday plant reblooming for years to come by giving it a rest during the fall and placining it in the dark for about six to eight weeks, encouraging new blooms.

Tip: No matter how diligent you are about care, bloom time may vary based on variety. Whether or not it blooms in time for the holidays, you’ll still have winter blooms to enjoy.

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Cyclamen: Cyclamen’s bright flowers in pink, white or red are great for adding a pop of color where you need it. With the right conditions, they can bloom for more than eight weeks.

Cyclamen likes light, but not super-bright light. Keep the temperature consistent and deadhead spent flowers and leaves. Pour water in a saucer and let the plant absorb it for 15 to 20 minutes.

Tip: During the summer, cyclamen’s foliage turns yellow and dies back. This is their dormant period when they’re storing energy for the next flowering season.

Any houseplant can grow with the proper care. Learn how here.