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Why Do African Violets Get Leggy?

African violets are gorgeous flowering houseplants. They bring bright colors and joy indoors. Beginning and advanced gardeners can be successful at growing one.

They can be a little needy, as they have specific watering and light requirements. Because of this, African violets can sometimes get “leggy.” Leggy is when new growth forms on a plant tip. This new growth takes most of the energy away from the bottom of the plant.

 Reasons African Violets Get Leggy

Light

African violets require bright, indirect light, which can be achieved through grow lights or placing it near a thin curtained window. Gardeners sometimes think that indirect light means low light. Depriving your plant from light will cause longer stems as they reach for light to grow.

Water

Leaves of African violets don’t like to be wet.  The soil in your pot should be a well-draining soil to allow it to dry in between waterings. Be sure to water the soil, not the plant, in order to keep it happy. If leaves stay wet, they are more susceptible to mold, rot, and fungus growth. The flowers will try to get away from the mold or fungus and become leggy.

Age

African violets’ bottom leaves will turn yellow and eventually fall off the plant, leaving other stems bare.  This is a natural part of plant aging, plants lose the rosette of leaves at the base. This too can give the plant a leggy look.

The best way to combat leggy African violets is to repot to give it a fresh space and fertilize with Espoma’s Violet! liquid plant food. This will help keep your plant growing new leaves to help keep it from becoming leggy and will enhance the colors of your flowers.

 

Get six quick tips for caring for African violets from Garden Answer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VCudo90K5I

 

Autumn Houseplants for Any Home

Autumn is a wonderful (some might say the best) time of the year for color. Trees and landscapes turn into amazing shades of reds, golds, and oranges. Everything in the yard makes us want to bring those same colors indoors.

While a cutting arrangement full of autumn flowers is wonderful, they won’t last all season. That’s why we have autumn houseplants. Indoor plants bring a welcoming burst of color during the dark winter evenings and keep homes feeling cheerful.

Keep plants happy during colder months by following directions for your houseplant’s light and water requirements. Feed regularly with Espoma’s Indoor! liquid fertilizer to keep those amazing colors vibrant all season long.

8 Houseplants You Need This Autumn

  1. Crotons

Invite this bold houseplant to your space this season. The foliage comes in incredible colors of red, green, orange, yellow and even black! You will not be disappointed. Crotons like bright areas, so place it near a big window.

  1. African Violet

Bring vibrant hues to your home with African violets. They can be grown almost anywhere there is light and a bit of humidity. African violets prefer full sun in the winter to get their gorgeous color. Rotate them regularly to keep growth even. Feed regularly with Espoma’s Violet! liquid fertilizer to ensure sensational blooms.

African Violet for color by Espoma

  1. Dracena

Nicknamed the dragon plant, this houseplant brings great texture to any décor. Choose the variety of dracena that best complements your design styles– such as dark green foliage or red lined foliage. These plants are easily cared for, tolerating low light, but thriving in medium to bright spots, too.

  1. Lemon Cypress

This holiday favorite brings joy to your home all season long. Keep it trimmed into the cone shape to keep it looking like a miniature tree throughout the rest of the year. Keep in direct light and cool temperatures.

  1. Chrysanthemum

Mums are a sure indicator of autumn with their yellow, orange, and red hues. Put them anywhere they can get bright filtered light during the day, but remain in the dark at night. They look great on shelves and desks that have some sunlight hitting it.

  1. Goldfish Plant

A member of the African violet family, the goldfish plant brings a unique orange flower to your home. It’s named for the flower’s fishlike bodies and puckered mouths. Place this plant a few feet away from windows. Its curved stems make this a great choice for hanging.

  1. Oxalis triangularis

Also known as red shamrock plant, oxalis triangularis is a wonderful addition to any houseplant collection. It has big, redish-purple, clover-shaped leaves which give it the nickname shamrock. It blooms little pink or white flowers that contrast with the foliage so well. It is a dream to have. Oxalis triangularis doesn’t like direct sun, so anywhere will work for this plant. It is a bulb, so allow for drying in between waterings to prevent rotting.

  1. Bromeliads

Known for the bright yellow, it may be surprising to some that bromeliads are offered in a sunset of colors. Bromeliads thrive on low light and minimal watering. So those who are looking for hardy plants, this one’s for you!houseplant care, potting soil, indoor plants

Have pets and want houseplants? Here is a list of pet-friendly houseplants to introduce to your home.

DIY Terrariums Ideas

Sprucing up your yard is always so rewarding, but what can you do to add a little fun to your indoor home décor? Make a terrarium!

Terrariums are fun little ecosystems that support themselves and create an eye-inspiring look for any space. They are easy to make, really low maintenance and last a long time. When planting, use Espoma’s indoor liquid plant foods to give your plants the nutrients they need!

Check out our list of ideas to see where to start!

  1. Fun (and cheap) Ideas: Creative fun ideas to display all over the house, or even give as gifts, without breaking the bank!
  2. Effortless Ideas: 8 perfectly simple terrariums for tabletop designs that don’t need any extra work put into them.
  3. Miniature Terrariums: Yes, terrariums can actually be even more miniature. These ideas are perfect for adding a little love just about anywhere.
  4. Quirky Gift Ideas: In need of a cute, quirky gift? These ideas will match anyone’s personality and are perfect even for those friends who are sans green-thumb!
  5. Living Walls: Take your plants to the walls with open containers! These terrariums will add life and color to any plain surface.
  6. Refurbished Terrariums: Give old household items a second chance. They make perfect containers for starting terrariums in.
  7. Creative Succulent Ideas: Succulents are easy! Explore a new look with these terrariums and you can make these succulent terrariums with fit any style and personality by using various containers.
  8. Ideas for Everyone: This list has something for everyone – from Legos to boho – create a terrarium that shows off your personality!

Want to try a miniature garden? Check out our ideas for Fairy Gardens!

Believe in Magic – Fairy Garden Inspiration.

 

Fairy gardens are the perfect way to add a little magic to your garden. You can create them in a container, a window box, or just plant them straight into the ground. The beauty is they pop up almost effortlessly overnight and the possibilities are endless!

Fairy gardens are miniature gardens, they are adapted from Japanese bonsai gardens. Fairy gardens took the idea of shaping and caring for a miniature tree for relaxation and created a new way of gardening. Because they are miniature, the idea is to welcome fairies and small creatures to enjoy them, just as you enjoy your garden.

It’s easy to start. Use Espoma’s Potting Mix or Cactus Mix as the base for your fairy garden, add miniature plants or succulents and finish with some whimsical touches.

Need more ideas on where to start or what to do next? Check out our list to get that inspiration coming!

  1. Enchanting Gardens to Build with Your Kids: Grab your kids and start your fairy garden! Add these little ideas in to make your fairy garden really come together.
  2. Recycle Materials: Use broken pots, logs, or teacups to recycle materials you no longer need into something that will bring joy to your garden.
  3. Teacups Galore: Grab a teacup and get started! There are options for every shape and size teacup to build your fairy garden.
  4. Succulent Rooftops: Laura from Garden Answer demonstrates what to use to make your fairy garden’s house styled right!
  5. Ideas Overload: Explore these 50 ideas to boost your backyard. This will definitely spark some creativity!
  6. DIY Toadstools: Have the garden, but need décor? Try making these toadstools to make fairies and magical creatures feel right at home.
  7. Fall Fairy Garden: Fall is almost here. Create a cute fall fairy garden to get you in the fall mood!
  8. Details, Details: These pictures capture the most detailed parts of a fairy garden. See what they can inspire you to create.
  9. Vintage Kitchen: Repurpose pieces from your kitchen to create a quirky fairy garden that’s one of a kind.
  10. Mini Gnome Garden: Gnome’s need a place to stay, too. Learn how to make your own.

Once you’ve planted, don’t forget to use Espoma’s indoor liquid plant foods to get your best fairy garden yet!

Sharp Tips for Growing a Cactus

Are you experiencing a hot, dry summer and wanting to plant something new? Go the water-wise route and add a cactus to your container garden. It keeps your garden interesting and gives everyone something to talk about.

 

Cacti are a great way to introduce new character in a garden. With their unique texture and eye catching shapes, cacti can be the next big hit in your garden. But be careful, their spines can stick you when you aren’t paying attention.

 

Five Sharp Cactus Gardening Tips

1. Gear Up

When handling cacti, it is incredibly easy to get poked by one of their spines (needles). Wear nitrile dipped gloves to reduce being poked by the little hair-like spines. The synthetic of the nitrile helps decrease the penetration. Leather gloves don’t repel as well. Keep an eye out for the long spines; they can still hurt! Make sure your soil is geared up too, with Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix.

2. Catch Your Eye

Every container needs a focal point. Plant tall, structural cacti to ensure your eyes are sweeping over the garden. Add cacti, such as mangave and saguaro, to areas most commonly looked over.

3. Create Cactus Clusters

Bunching up a variety of cacti will improve the aesthetics of your garden. Like other plants, cacti love to be next to each other in clusters.

4. Balance the Colors

Balance out the heat of the summer by planting cool colored cacti. Muted colored cacti have colors of teals, purples and soft greens that really bring relaxation to mind.

5. Create a Living Backdrop

Columnar cacti create a tall narrow look that is perfect for bunching together to make a creative backdrop. This works great to reduce sound, hide a fence, or even as a great meeting place. Put a table and some chairs and always stay on trend. Imagine how beautiful it will look as the cacti start blooming.

Cacti are very low-maintenance, needing water once every 10-17 days in the summer. Remember to use Espoma’s Cactus! liquid plant food every two to four weeks to keep your cacti happy and healthy.

Winter months are right around the corner! Learn how to take care of your indoor cacti and succulent plants to survive even in the winter’s darkest days.

How to Care for the Luckiest Houseplant

Instead of carrying around a rabbit’s foot or a four leaf clover, try adding jade plants to your home for good luck! These plants signify wealth and prosperity, so they make the perfect addition to offices and homes. Like most succulents, they’re low-maintenance and easy to care for.

You don’t need to be lucky to find success, just follow these simple care instructions for your jade plant.

Water

Instead of watering your jade plant on a schedule, water as needed. If the top inch of the soil is completely dry, it’s time to water. Depending on the amount of sun and the room temperature, water needs may vary. If your jade plant starts to lose leaves or develop sun spots, it’s trying to tell you it’s thirsty. Water just enough to moisten the soil.

As with all houseplants, avoid over watering as it can lead to root rot and other diseases.

Sunlight

Jade plants love sunlight. Just four to six hours of direct sun a dat promotes healthy growth also protects against diseases. Place your jade plant on a sunny windowsill at work or at home.

Certain varieties of jade, typically ones with variegated leaves, don’t need as much sun. Look for a variety than can thrive in indirect sunlight to place on your desk or coffee table. Jade plants love mild temperatures, anywhere from 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit will do.

Soil

Jade prefers a well-draining soil to avoid becoming water logged. Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix is specialized for succulents. It promotes healthy root growth with its optimum aeration and drainage. Clay pots are great for jade plants because they wick away any excess water and help protect the plant from over watering damage.

Fertilize

Fertilize your jade plant regularly to keep it healthy and growing, try Espoma’s Cactus! Liquid plant food for succulents.

With just a little care, your new jade plant will bring you plenty of luck and prosperity!

Want to be creative with succulents? Try this DIY paint can planter for succulents.

The Best Pet-friendly Houseplants

For most, pets are a member of the family. And like any other family member, we’ll do whatever it takes to keep them happy and safe. Since our furry friends don’t always know what’s best for themselves, it’s up to us to petscape and create a safe environment they can roam freely in.

To remove some of the guesswork, we have comprised a list of plants that add beauty to your home and are problem-free for your pets. Just because these plants are pet-safe, doesn’t mean a mischievous cat still won’t knock your favorite plant off the table or dog might decide to take a bite. If your pet does get into any plants, even the nontoxic kind, be alert for signs of an allergic reaction.

5 Houseplants Safe to Have Around Pets

  1. Spider plant

This classic, indoor plant is a staple in many households because it grows fast growers and improves indoor air quality. Spider plants do need regular waterings, but can live in most light conditions and temperatures.

  1. Bamboo

In addition to being non-toxic to dogs, cats and horses, bamboo adds beauty to any household. The plant prefers a location with indirect, bright light, but can thrive under artificial lighting as well.

  1. African violet

The blooms of African Violets are delicate and come in hues of vibrant purples and pinks. They can thrive in windowsill container gardens and are very easy to care for. Keep them in a warm place in the house where they can get lots of sunlight to ensure year-round flowers.

  1. Boston ferns

Only true ferns are safe for pets, so when shopping make sure to look for this fern. These non-toxic plants can survive in cool, humid, dark places. Humidity is key for these plants, so lightly mist them once or twice a week and be sure to monitor the soil and keep moist.

  1. Phalaenopsis orchids

These orchids are great because they are both pet safe and human safe. This popular edible flower is found often in Hawaiian dishes and tropical drinks. They require indirect, bright light and need water once a week, but don’t overwater.

Now that you’ve taken care of indoor plants, learn how to petscape your yard.

Hanging Plants: Make Your Own Kokedama

Houseplants that you don’t have to think about are the best. And extremely low maintenance ones that look great are even better. Enter Kokedama. This traditional Japanese art form encloses a plant’s roots in moss to retain moisture.

Kokedama literally mean “moss ball.” The style originated from the Nearai and Kusamono bonsai styles and today, this design goes one step further when the moss balls are suspended with string.

You can use almost any small indoor plant for this project. When choosing your plant, think about where you will display your Kokedama and keep lighting needs in mind for your plant.

It’s not hard to make your own. Follow along with these instructions.

For this project, you will need:

Photo Mar 12, 4 47 17 PM

6 Steps to making a Kokedama

  1. Mix it. Kokedama uses heavier soil and we recommend using a ratio of 70 percent indoor potting soil with 30 percent garden soil. In a bucket, mix soil well. Add a small amount of water to bond the soil together so it has a clay-like feel. Soil should be sticky and pliable once all ingredients have been mixed.
  2. Ball it. Depending on the size of your plant, form a ball ranging in size from a plum to a grapefruit. Gently insert your thumbs into the middle of the ball, keeping the sphere intact. This is where your plant roots will go.
  3. Plant it. Remove plant from container, gently shaking off excess soil. Dunk roots in water. Place your plant’s roots into the soil ball, gently forming the soil around roots and adding more soil if necessary.
  4. Cover it. Dip moss in water, then squeeze out excess water. Place and press the damp moss around the soil ball. Leave enough space around the plant for breathing room.
  5. String it. Once your ball has taken shape, securely wrap and tie it with twine. Now, add a piece or wire or twine at your desired length for hanging.
  6. Soak it. Place the Kokedama in a bucket and cover the moss ball with water without submerging the plant. Let it soak for 10-15 minutes then you’re ready to go! Do not let the Kokedama dry out completely before soaking again. Depending on the plant and environment, soak Kokedama about once a week.

Once you’re done with your Kokedama, try your hand at this succulent planter DIY!

Succulent Success – What’s the secret?

You’ve probably heard the words cacti and succulents thrown around interchangeably. However, this is a common misconception. Technically, all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. Cacti are simply one of the many types of succulents.

Succulents are defined by their water retaining cells. Which is one of our favorite things about them because it’s what makes them so low maintenance and drought tolerant.

Another common misconception is that cacti are defined by their prickly needles. Many succulents have spikes similar to cacti, and not all cacti are prickly.

If you’re looking specifically for a cactus, the determining factor is called an areole. They are small, cotton-like lumps on a cactus where the spines grow out of. All cacti have areoles, making it easy to distinguish them from other prickly succulents.

Now that you know the difference, let’s talk about care. Although they’re different plants, cacti and succulents have similar needs. When caring for cacti or succulents, remember they love everything in moderation – not too much, and not too little.

Photo courtesy of Garden Answer

Photo courtesy of Garden Answer

Light

Cacti and succulents thrive in a spot by the window or outdoors in the garden. Too little sunlight will cause loss of color or strange growth patterns. Lack of sun can lead to root rot as the soil may stay  moist for too long.

On the other hand, too much direct sunlight and heat can cause succulents and cacti to sunburn! These burns can change the color and texture of the plant. While most succulents can handle direct sunlight, it takes time for them to become accustomed to a new environment. Don’t move them from a windowsill to full sun in the garden without conditioning them. Gradually place your plant in brighter locations and allow it some time to adjust to its new surroundings.

Water

The same Goldilocks rule goes for watering – not too much, but not too little.

While succulents and cacti are drought tolerant and can survive without water, that doesn’t mean they’ll thrive. They will do best when watered in moderation.

It’s safer to stay on the lighter side of watering rather than giving too much. If you notice the succulent starting to shrivel, its most likely because they are using up the water reserved in their cells. Add a small amount of water to the soil to help them replenish.

Too much water will cause your plant to become mushy and potentially develop root rot. Your succulent or cactus can fall apart right in front of your eyes!

Avoid these problems by using very little water and determining later whether they need more. If you have your plant in a double pot, water it and after a few minutes empty all excess water. Over-watering is just as common of a cause of plant death as under-watering. Use Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix potting soil to keep roots healthy and to reduce drought-stress in between watering.

Temperature

Succulents and cacti are very flexible when it comes to temperatures. Just be sure to adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

When plants are in cool temps, soil won’t dry as fast. Remember root rot can occur if the soil is too wet for too long. If succulents or cacti are planted outdoors in the hot summer sun, you may need to water more often.

Now that you know the difference between succulents and cacti and the proper care, add some to your garden today!

Feed plants with Espoma’s Cactus! Succulent Plant Food for best results and let us know how your succulent garden turns out!

How to Create a Mini Gnome Garden with Garden Answer

Laura from Garden Answer designs a tiny gnome garden that is sure to delight and inspire. While fairy gardens get all the glory, gnomes also enjoy living in mini villages filled with plants and whimsy.

Want to see more from Garden Answer’s trip to Philadelphia? Check out this video from The Philadelphia Flower Show.