Posts

How to Care for Your Monstera

Monstera is commonly called Swiss cheese plant or split-leaf philodendron referring to the beautifully cut leaves. It’s a must have for its Caribbean feel. The foliage is deep green, lush and tropical. With time the foliage can become quite large and exotic looking. There is also a rare white variegated form that is slower growing. They generally don’t bloom indoors but in its natural environment they will produce edible fruit that is said to taste like fruit salad.

Light and Placement

As a tropical plant it’s no surprise that your Monstera likes warm indoor temperatures between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. A little humidity makes them feel right at home, too. Bathrooms and kitchens can often supply a touch of humidity or you can simply mist your plant now and then. These plants grow naturally in the dappled light of the forest floor. To mimic that, place your Monstera in bright or filtered, indirect light. They can actually grow in deep shade, but may not exhibit as much of the cut leaf foliage. If you live in zones 10 or 11, you can grow it outdoors in a shady spot.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Food and Water

Monstera likes moist soil, but not one that stays soggy or overly wet. Make sure the pot has good drainage. Water weekly, when the top inch of the soil is dry. Make sure any excess water drains away. In spring and summer, when the plants are actively growing, it’s a good idea to feed them once a month with a liquid fertilizer like Espoma’s Organic Indoor!  plant food.

Repotting

Repot young plants every year to encourage growth and add soil nutrients. Gradually go up in pot size by 2 inches per year.  Once your plant has reached its optimal height for your space, you can give it a top dressing of new soil once a year and only repot it about every 3 years. Always use a quality potting soil to help keep the soil moist but free-draining. These are natural climbers that use their aerial roots to hold on to trees. When you do repot your plant, be sure to add a trellis or moss covered plant stake for support.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Pruning

Young plants often have compact, bushy habits. As they grow, they will begin to show their vining nature. You can either give them support to climb and become a tall and dramatic or if you prefer, you can pinch them to rein in the lankiness. Pinch off the new growth tip with your finger at the height you’d like it to stay at. Feel free to prune out stems that are producing few or no leaves. If you can’t tuck the aerial roots back into the pot, you may remove them as well.

Pest and Disease

Monstera is rarely bothered by pest or disease. Wipe off the leaves with a damp cloth from time to time or give it a shower to remove dust. Check for spider mites when you do. This is a long-lived house plant that will give you years of pleasure with little care.

Ready for more houseplants? Check out Garden Answer’s Top 5 Low Light House Plants.

 

Best products for Monstera

 

Plant parenthood: Top 5 plants to start your houseplant family with

Welcome to Plant Parenthood, a reoccurring series helping you with all things houseplant! As plant people ourselves, we are so happy to see you here. This will be your resource to get you started, to teach you how to care, when to fertilize and much more.

 

Some of you may already have a houseplant or two, which is wonderful. If you are starting from scratch, below are some great houseplants to get you started. They are easy-to-grow and require little maintenance.

Before getting started think about your lifestyle and what chores you want your houseplant to do. Do you want them to clean the air, just sit around and look pretty or maybe both! Also, think about how much light your space gets, as some houseplants love bright light while others thrive in little to low light.

Top Five Plants to Start Your Houseplant Family:

 

Peperomia

This tried and true classic is getting more and more popular. Peperomia is compact, so you don’t need a lot of space for it. But don’t let the size fool you, it’s variegated and colorful foliage can pack a punch. Keep your plant near a window, as it likes medium to bright light. Water it when the top two inches of soil are dry, though it can go a bit without water and still be fine. It will not grow quickly, however use Espoma’s Indoor! liquid plant food to give it the nutrients it needs to thrive.

Photo Courtesy of Costa Farms

Dracaena

Dracaena will need  a new home as it ages. When it is young, it is perfect for a tabletop or desk, as it is a little bushy plant. Though, it can grow 5 to 6 feet tall as an adult. Depending on the variety you choose, its foliage can look like little bursts of stars or fireworks on the tips. It adds dramatic texture to any room. Place it where it looks best in your home – it is not picky about how much light it gets. Water it when the top of the soil dries out.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

ZZ Plant

This tough houseplant can survive even with the brownest of thumbs. You can put it anywhere in your home or office and it will be happy to see you. It can even survive with only florescent lights and no natural light.  Water when the top two inches of soil are dry. Don’t worry if you forget, it may start to drop some of its leaflets to conserve the water left and will rebloom after a good drink.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Aglaonema

Also known as the Chinese evergreen, this houseplant is stunning. It can come in colors from deep green to silver to red. It is slow growing, with large, narrow and glossy oval foliage. When deciding where to put Aglaonema, keep in mind the lighter the variegation, the more light it needs. So if you opt out for dark green foliage, it can thrive in low light. Water when the top two inches of soil is dry and add humidity around the plant in the summertime. Use Espoma’s indoor! liquid plant food during the growing season to give it the nutrients it needs.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Pothos

Have fun with pothos as you can grow it in a hanging basket to allow the foliage to trail down, trellis it up or allow it to grow horizontally across a shelf or on a cabinet. It has a beautiful green foliage with specks of white, yellow or cream mixed in. It can grow in any kind of light, with low humidity. Keep the soil moist, so water it when the top inch of the soil is dry.

Laura from Garden Answer shows off some low light houseplants that are perfect for anyone looking to get started.

 

Happy Houseplants Need Food:

 

New Year, New Gardening Reads

Spend winter months brushing up on your plant knowledge and cozying up indoors with a book on plants. The options can be endless and there’s certainly something for every level of gardener. Explore a whole new world of plants with our recommendations below.

How Not to Kill Your Houseplant: Survival Tips for the Horticulturally Challenged

By Veronica Peerless

From the basics of horticulture to detailed information about what type of plant will thrive in your living space, How Not To Kill Your Houseplant will be your comprehensive guide. This book covers 50 popular house plants and teaches you how to look for warning signs of sickness, pests and disease. With helpful tips, pictures and informational panels How Not To Kill Your Houseplant will help you create a plant paradise right in your own home.

Homestead Brooklyn shows you how to fertilize your houseplants.

Photo courtesy of Urban Jungle

Urban Jungle: Living and Styling with Plants

By Igor Josifovic and Judith de Graaff

This book will inspire beginners as well as advanced plant parents. It goes beyond the basic of plant care into the art of styling your home with plants. Travel across Europe to 5 different green homes with urban jungle bloggers, Igor and Judith. Along with style tips you’ll find DIY ideas with step-by-step instructions along with beautiful photography. Take your design skills to the next level and create and care for your own urban jungle.

Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers

By Leslie F. Halleck

Growing under indoor lights opens up a whole new world of possibilities for home growers. Gardening Under lights is a complete guide to high tech growing. It explains the basics and gives an overview of the most up-to-date tools and gear available. It also offers tips and techniques for growing ornamentals like orchids and bonsai, to growing a whole range of edibles from arugula to zucchini. There is also a complete guide to starting seed indoors.

New to seed starting? Watch this video to get up to speed.

Root, Nurture, Grow: The Essential Guide to Propagating and Sharing Houseplants

By Caro Langton and Rose Ray

A follow up to their successful debut book House of Plants, Caro and Rose show how easy it is to propagate house plants at home in their stylish new book. Beginner friendly techniques such as stem cutting, rooting in water, runners, offsets, grafting, and division are all covered. It also includes DIY projects like seed-bombs and how to make self-watering plant pots. Find out how fun and easy it is to create new plants for meaningful gifts and displays.

Here’s how to propagate the hottest houseplant.

The Savage Garden, Revised: Cultivating Carnivorous Plants 

By Peter D’Amato

While this might not be new, The Savage Garden is still the best-selling book for anyone interested in carnivorous plants. The new edition is fully revised to include the latest developments and discoveries in the carnivorous plant world, making it the most accurate and up-to-date book of its kind. Beautifully illustrated with over 200 color photographs, let this be your guide to the beautiful, unusual world of easy to grow savage plants.

Bonus: Houseplant Masterclass

The Houseplant Masterclass is the first comprehensive online audiovisual course on houseplant cultivation, care and maintenance taught by Summer Rayne Oakes, founder of the blog, HomesteadBrooklyn.com, the weekly web series Plant One On Me, and author of the forthcoming book, How to Make a Plant Love You (Optimism Press, July 2019).

The course was fully funded on Kickstarter in April 2018 and went on sale in December 2018. The Masterclass features five sections and 100+ sub-sections on houseplant growing, care and cultivation; over 4 hours of audiovisual recordings; 300 full-color images and charts; a comprehensive care spreadsheet of 300+ common houseplants; 100+ botanical terms and 350+ botanical Latin names; product and book recommendations; access to a private Facebook community; and more. Participants will get houseplant badges as they complete sections and a certificate of completion at the end of the course.

Want to learn the basics of one of the most common houseplants? Summer Rayne teaches us all about Pilea Peperomioides.

 

 

Products to Buy

 

 

Not your average houseplant – Bromeliads

Growing bromeliads indoors is a wonderful way to welcome vibrant colors and live foliage into your space. While they have a reputation for being difficult to grow, they are just different than the average houseplant. They are adaptable to their surroundings, low maintenance and offer long-lasting blooms.

Bromeliads that grow in soil are best to use as houseplants. There are four varieties that are best for bringing indoors: Billbergia, Cryptanthus, Guzmania, and Neoregelia. These are most recognizable for their spikey blooms and can be solid in color or have a variegated stripe to them.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

How to Grow Basics:

  1. Light

Each variety grown indoors likes their light a bit different. Generally placing them in bright, indirect light is fine, but be sure to check plant tags as some prefer shaded areas.

  1. Potting

Bromeliads should be potted at the base of leaves to give the roots enough to secure it to the soil. A 4-6 inch pot is a great starter, but keep an eye on your plant and place it in a bigger container if it begins to lean or fall over. Use a barky, airy, well-draining soil, such as Espoma’s Orchid Mix for orchids and bromeliads.

  1. Temperature and Humidity

Potted bromeliads adjust to the temperature around them. They are happy in the temperature you keep your home – anywhere from 35 degrees to 95 degrees. When the temperature increases, increase the humidity around your plant by misting water or using a pebble plant tray. Like most plants, you should keep them away from heating and air vents so they don’t dry out.

  1. Fertilizer

Use a slow release fertilizer, such as Espoma’s Indoor! liquid fertilizer once a month. Simply mix it in with your watering can and follow the instructions on the bottle.

Already have a bromeliad that needs more room? Watch Summer Rayne repot her bromeliad.

 

Products Needed:

Espoma Organic Orchid Mix

 

Create a Spa in Your Bathroom

Every room in your house looks cozier and more beautiful filled with houseplants. It’s especially true of your bathroom. Who wouldn’t want a lush, tropical, spa feel at home? In fact, your bathroom is perfect for tropical plants because they love a humid environment.

Research shows that having plants around makes people feel calm, happy, and relaxed. Making them perfect for some spa time. And some houseplants actually purify the air. Ivy can remove 75% of mold spores in a room, which is important if you have allergies. Plants can pull dust from the air to help you breathe easier.

Not sure about the bathroom spa? Find out which plants thrive in your bedroom, living room and kitchen.

Here are our plant picks for your bathroom –

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Nerve Plants – Small Plant for Low Light

Nerve plants have colorful foliage that’s so attractive they don’t need flowers. Try adding one to a shelf, the corner of the counter or even hanging from a hook. Nerve plants grow best in medium to low light. If you have sheer curtains you could even grow them in full sun. Water when the surface of the soil is just starting to dry out. They like moist soil but not too wet. Feed them on a monthly basis with Indoor! liquid plant food to keep them healthy.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Peace Lily – Medium-Large Plant for Low Light

If you are lucky enough to have a lot of space in your bathroom but not a lot of light, you can go large and tropical. Try this easy to grow Jungle Queen. The more it grows, the more spectacular it becomes. It tolerates low light but will grow faster and larger with more direct sunlight. Water regularly to keep the soil evenly moist and feed once a month with Indoor! liquid plant food.

Moth Orchid – Small Plant for Bright Light

Moth orchids have long, thin stems and large flowers that create a big impact in small places. They flower for an incredibly long time.  If you have the room, arrange a small group of them for a sophisticated look. These are the easiest orchids to grow, even if you are a beginner. Water well once a week, then let them drain completely. Feed regularly with Orchid! liquid plant food.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Majesty Palm– Big Plants for Bright Light

Majesty palms are the quintessential tropical plant.  If you have room for one of these, it will transform your bathroom into an oasis.  They thrive in the humidity and like to be kept evenly moist.  Fertilize regularly with Indoor! Liquid plant food for faster growth. These are easy palms to grow and don’t require any pruning except for an occasional old frond.

 

Is there low light in your home? Laura from Garden Answer tells us about low light houseplants that you need to bring home.

How to Care and Propagate Pilea Peperomiodies

Pilea peperomiodies is becoming a more popular plant by the day. With the unique shape of its leaves, waxy stems and ease of propagation, it’s no surprise this houseplant is popping up everywhere.

Before they were popular in the U.S., Summer Rayne from Homestead Brooklyn brought home a pilea peperomiodies plant back from the Netherlands. She has been caring for hers for a few years and it is as happy as can be. If you aren’t sure what plant we are talking about, the more common names are Chinese money plant, UFO plant or friendship plant.

Here are a few tips to keeping your plant happy, healthy and ready to be shared.

Water and Sun Care:

Natively grown in a forest, the pilea peperomiodies doesn’t need a lot of water. It is best to let it dry out in between waterings. The waxy sheen on the leaves indicates that it actually holds its water well and prevents the water from transpiring too much. Summer usually checks to see if it needs water every 3-4 days so it doesn’t go too long without water.

It likes to be in indirect, bright light and will climb towards it. Summer has had success growing it in Northeast facing windows and a few feet from a southwest facing window. To even out your plant within the container, be sure to rotate the container evenly to allow the light to reach all parts of the plant.

Fertilizing Care:

Summer fertilizes her houseplants about once a month with Indoor! liquid plant food. But, now that autumn has arrived, she will stop for the colder months. Now is the time to feed your houseplants once last time to set them up for success for the upcoming months. Mix Indoor! with water in your watering can and use normally.

Soil Care:

Since the pilea peperomiodies likes to dry out in between waterings, the right kind of soil is important to keep it healthy. A typical potting mix, such as Espoma Organic Potting Mix would work well. Summer also includes perlite, which is a puffed volcanic stone, which is lightweight and helps regulate the water in the soil.

Propagation Tips:

Pilea peperomiodies are self- propagating plants, so you can cut off a small piece of the plant and grow another. They are rhizomatous, which means they will have little offshoots that grow under the soil. It basically clones itself in case it cannot find a partner.

You can take the little pups at the base of the stem and replant them elsewhere to create a new pilea peperomiodies. To do so without harming the plant, take a sharp blade and slice off the pup from the mother plant. Try to do it when they are still little, so you aren’t disrupting a fully grown pup. Then add Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix and Bio-tone Starter Plus fertilizer to a small pot. Put a little hole in the middle, insert your cutting and water well.

 

Where to Buy

Products Used:

Garden Answer’s Top 5 Low Light Houseplants (Extended Version)

Sometimes the perfect place for a houseplant has little to no light. But that won’t  stop these low light houseplants from growing big and healthy. Laura from Garden Answer shows off her favorites and gives tips to keep them healthy.

Watch the quick version and see instructions here.

 

Products:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Low Light Houseplants

Houseplants are great for adding color, décor, texture or even a little bit of health to any space in your home. Sometimes the best place to put a houseplant isn’t the most ideal for the plant, but with these low light houseplants, they will thrive in even the darkest corners. Don’t forget, these plants can go anywhere indoors, like an office space that can use a little life.

Garden Answer’s Favorite Low-Light Plants

Peace Lily

Not many plants that tolerate low light areas have blooms, but this one does! It has interesting green or white flowers that are the same texture as the foliage, which is dark and glossy. The flowers bloom for long periods of time. Peace lilies can grow 18 to 36 inches tall and wide, depending on the container you have them in. Water every week or so, be sure not to overwater, and as a friendly reminder the foliage will droop if it needs more water.

Pothos

This houseplant thrives in places out of direct sunlight and is super low maintenance, so place them wherever you want to enjoy them. They can be planted in hanging baskets or on ledges to allow the foliage to drape over and trail down. Water every 10 to 14 days.

Sansevieria

Also known as a Mother-in-law’s tongue or a snake plant, this houseplant has striking foliage that grows upward. It is a very modern plant that comes in different shapes, sizes and colors, so it will truly work with any decor. It is very low maintenance — just keep an eye on the foliage for wilting and water about every two weeks when the soil is completely dry. In the winter, you may go a month between waterings. Add water away from the plant – never pour over the leaves.

Spider Plant

This is another interesting plant to add to any space. It is multigenerational, meaning it is easy to propagate and pass on to others (even kids and grandkids) to start their own. The name Spider Plant comes from the off shoots on the foliage. They look like little spiders hanging from a web. Pinch an off shoot (or spider) and plant it in a pot with fresh Espoma Potting Soil to start a new plant. Water once a week to keep them happy.

ZZ Plant

The dark green healthy foliage on this plant is worth noting, though it isn’t always that way. The foliage starts off bright green when it is freshly planted and will darken as time goes on. While other plants can get little burns from being indoors, the ZZ plant is hardy enough to withstand anything, even the darkest of corners. This is probably the toughest plant of this list.

Remember, low-light houseplants need time to absorb water, so allow them to dry out in between watering. The peace lily is the only exception, as they prefer it a bit moist. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the leaves every month or so. This will help keep your plants looking better as dust settles on them. Be sure to keep the cloth damp as they need humidity to survive too. In addition to the cloth, spray a mist over the foliage with distilled water to amp up the humidity around the plant.

Feed your houseplants regularly with Espoma’s Indoor! liquid plant food. It is an all-purpose houseplant food to help give them the nutrients they need. Lastly, be sure to check the roots every six months to see if you need to move your plants to a bigger pot.

 

Products:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

 

 

 

 

How to Re-Pot Houseplants (quick cut)

Your houseplant’s health is extremely important. Laura from Garden Answer clears the air when it comes to re-potting in this step by step tutorial.

This is the safest and best way to re-pot your plants to enjoy them in your home for years.

There are a few tell-tale signs a plant is outgrowing its container. Pick the plant up out of its container. If you see a jumbled mess of roots, it is time to re-pot. Another sign of needing to re-pot is if you are able to see roots coming out of the drain hole. Matted roots near the surface are another sign it is definitely time for a bigger container.

The new container will need to be one to two inches larger in diameter than the original. Be sure your new container has holes for drainage in the bottom. This is important because if the plant roots are sitting in water, they can rot. Laura from Garden Answer typically uses terracotta pots because they are porous and oxygen can flow in and out, which is good for your houseplant’s health. Plants in terra cotta pots tend to dry out faster so be sure to adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

When transferring your plant, you will want to use a good quality potting mix, such as Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. This mix works for most plants, but there are some such as succulents, African Violets, and orchids that require a specific potting mix. For these plants try Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix, Organic African Violet Mix, or Organic Orchid Mix.

Now you’re ready to re-pot. It’s really simple. First, take your plant out of its original container. You will need to gently break up the tangled roots at the bottom. Next, place the plant in its new container. Fill in around your plant with soil and pack in tightly. Avoid burying your plant too deep by only filling in soil to the level at which the old soil is packed. To finish it off, water it lightly and, voila! You have a re-potted houseplant.

When fertilizing your newly re-potted houseplant, use a liquid fertilizer such as Espoma’s Indoor! Liquid fertilizer. However, plants such as succulents, African Violets, and Orchid require specific fertilizers. For these plants try Espoma’s Liquid Cactus!, Violet!, and Orchid! liquid fertilizers.

Products:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil MixEspoma Organic Orchid Mix

 

How to Re-Pot Houseplants

Plants can outgrow their homes. And by homes, we mean containers. Here are quick tips on how to re-pot houseplants.

Usually, there are two reasons to re-pot houseplants. The first is that you just bought a plant from a garden center and would like to put it in a more decorative pot. The second is that your houseplant has outgrown its current pot. Either way, the same re-potting rules apply.

There are a few tell-tale signs a plant is outgrowing its container. Pick the plant up out of its container. If you see a jumbled mess of roots, it is time to re-pot. Another sign of needing to re-pot is if you are able to see roots coming out of the drain hole. Matted roots near the surface are another sign it is definitely time for a bigger container.

The new container will need to be one to two inches larger in diameter than the original. Be sure your new container has holes for drainage in the bottom. This is important because if the plant roots are sitting in water, they can rot. Laura from Garden Answer typically uses terracotta pots because they are porous and oxygen can flow in and out, which is good for your houseplant’s health. Plants in terra cotta pots tend to dry out faster so be sure to adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

When transferring your plant, you will want to use a good quality potting mix, such as Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. This mix works for most plants, but there are some such as succulents, African Violets, and orchids that require a specific potting mix. For these plants try Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix, Organic African Violet Mix, or Organic Orchid Mix.

Now you’re ready to re-pot. It’s really simple. First, take your plant out of its original container. You will need to gently break up the tangled roots at the bottom. Next, place the plant in its new container. Fill in around your plant with soil and pack in tightly. Avoid burying your plant too deep by only filling in soil to the level at which the old soil is packed. To finish it off, water it lightly and, voila! You have a re-potted houseplant.

When fertilizing your newly re-potted houseplant, use a liquid fertilizer such as Espoma’s Indoor! Liquid fertilizer. However, plants such as succulents, African Violets, and Orchid require specific fertilizers. For these plants try Espoma’s Liquid Cactus!, Violet!, and Orchid! liquid fertilizers.

Products:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil MixEspoma Organic Orchid Mix