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Kaleb Wyse: My Annual Plant Haul

Kaleb Wyse, an enthusiastic fourth-generation Iowan gardener, made Wyse Guide as an outlet for his passions in gardening and cooking. This Spring, he’s sharing with us his seasonal plant haul, complete with colorful foliage, fun ferns, and cute succulents. You can watch the full video below:

 

To start off with, Kaleb picked out some of his go-to annuals to fill in his yard with foliage. He grabbed some Helichrysum plants, a Limelight variety, which he thinks will pair beautifully with the yellow stripes of his Americana Agave. Kaleb also brought home some Purple Lady, Amethyst Falls (an ornamental oregano), and Variegated Lemon.

Kaleb was also excited to fill up his hanging pots with greenery. He had a problem, though. He loves the look of hanging ferns, but with a west-facing porch, he was concerned about sunlight. Luckily, over the years, he’s learned that Kimberly Queen Ferns thrive in full sun. He took a few of those and added some fun succulents around them, like String of Pearls and Senacios. Kaleb also made sure there was plenty of room for the plants to grow, so the baskets still look great when July comes around.

Before adding in his fun plants, though, Kaleb needed to make sure his greenery had all the right nutrients. He started by pouring some Espoma Organic Potting Mix into his hanging containers. This soil is great because it is so versatile and can be used on all indoor and outdoor container plants. Kaleb also added in a bit of Espoma Organic Garden-Tone. While Kimberly Queens don’t need a lot of food, it’s great to add just a little extra nutrients to help them thrive.

Kaleb ended with some words of wisdom for fellow gardeners: “Guess what, it’s not as hard as it looks. We make mistakes, things die, things grow. In the end it just makes us happy, and that’s what matters.” Stay tuned for more tips from Kaleb on Wyse Guide and right here on our own blog!

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Bonsai Care 101

Picture of Bonsai tree

Bonsai Care 101

Bonsai trees–if you’re a millennial, you probably remember them from The Karate Kid movies. Did you know it’s actually pronounced “bone-sigh”? Bonsai means “to plant in a container or a potted plant.”

This blog all about bonsai care is inspired by Episode 119 of Bloom and Grow Radio–where host Maria Failla interviewed Bjorn from Eisei-En Bonsai.

Can Any Tree Be a Bonsai?

There are 3 characteristics to look for to help transform trees into the bonsai art we know and love:

  • Smaller leaves. You’re trying to create a large tree shrunk down into miniature form–so if you’re using a trunk with very large leaves, it looks quite out of proportion with the overall size of the plant.
  • Plants with bark on them. You should have to work with woody plants to achieve the true bonsai form. All of the conifers like juniper and pine are great for this!
  • Look for plants with apical dominance. Apical what?! Apical dominance means the bud at the tip of the stem stops the growth that occurs on the other buds along the stem. It does this to become the dominant stem and allow woody plants to grow taller–which is great for bonsai shaping!

Are Bonsai Grown Indoors or Outdoors?

You may be wondering, “can I grow a bonsai as a houseplant?” And the answer is yes–but with a few caveats.

You need to figure out if it’s a tropical or a temperate climate tree. Temperate climate trees have four seasons and need to go through their life cycles outdoors–think oaks and maples.

Tropical climate trees do not survive freezing temperatures and suffer in below 55 degrees F conditions, so these would be better options as indoor bonsai plants. Ficuses like the Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) and the Pot-Bellied Ficus (Ficus microcarpa) would both work great!

If you want an indoor bonsai, try sticking with the subtropical and tropical climate plants. And check out the Top 5 Bonsai Trees (Indoor and Outdoor Options) with Bjorn from Eisei-en Bonsai for more variety options!

How to Care for Bonsai Trees

Now that we know more about what to look for, let’s jump right into bonsai care. We’ll cover all the basics for soil, fertilizer, water, light, and pruning. Buckle up, ‘cause we’re on this road of planty learning for a while!

What Is the Right Soil for Bonsai?

Since your goal is total control over the growth of the bonsai, you have to use almost entirely inorganic components when you mix your soil together. To make your own, try getting your hands on these 3 basic components:

  1. Expanded Shale: great for aeration and drainage
  2. Calcined Clay: holds a lot of moisture, but also releases that moisture & fertilizer back to the plants easily
  3. Aged Forest Products: also good for aeration, drainage, and root growth.

The particle size is quite large at 3/16 inch to ensure as much drainage and aeration to the root system as possible. Don’t want to make your own soil mix? Check out our Organic Bonsai Mix.

By keeping the plants in a mostly inert soil mix, you can then decide how much fertilizer to give the tree and the type of growth that you’re going to get out of the plant.

Bonsai Potting Mix

How Do I Fertilize Bonsai? 

Fertilizer is the key to controlling your plant’s growth. To keep the soil from clogging up, Bjorn recommends distributing bonsai fertilizer by adding synthetic or organic fertilizer to a tea bag and slowly allowing the nutrients to leach into the soil. Every time you water your bonsai, water directly over your nutrient tea bag.

So how much fertilizer and what type of fertilizer should you apply? That all depends on the stage of tree development.

  • Young Trees: at this stage you want to thicken the trunk of the plant. Use a very high-nitrogen synthetic or inorganic fertilizer, which produces elongating, inner nodes and bigger leaves on your tree.
  • Older Trees: with older trees, you’re simply in maintenance mode. Here you’ll need fertilizer that has a much lower nitrogen value and well-rounded, equal amounts of nutrients.

Bonsai Fertilizers

How Do I Water Bonsai?

Since you’re using a rockier, more aerated soil, you’ll be watering more frequently than you would a regular potting mix.

A good general watering rule with bonsai plants: Bjorn suggests checking on them twice a day and water when the soil surface is slightly dry. Stick to the basic schedule of checking on your bonsai morning and evening, and all should be well in the bonsai world!

Bonsai Watering Guidelines

How Much Light Do Bonsai Need? 

In general, you want your bonsai plants to have as much light as possible. Bjorn says the more light you have, the smaller the leaf size and the softer the branch structure. In the long run it will be easier to maintain that tree’s shape.

If you plan to keep an outdoor bonsai, morning sun and afternoon shade is best during summer. Indoor bonsai plants will need supplemental light, especially during the fall and winter months. Generally speaking, 12-14 hours of direct light is best for bonsai growth.

Bonsai Light Guidelines

How to Prune Bonsai? 

You might have guessed that pruning is one of the most important factors in creating a bonsai tree. There are two main parts to pruning: roots and shoots. Let’s go over both.

What is the difference between Root Pruning and Shoot Pruning?

Root pruning should happen every 2-5 years in spring when you notice water is no longer penetrating the soil and simply pooling on the surface. Remove a lot of the old soil with a root rake or wooden chopstick. You will inevitably remove some roots through that process, but removing that old soil exposes the outer and underside of the root system. Make sure you don’t prune back more than 20-30% of the roots. Then simply replenish the space you’ve created with new potting mix. Since the mix is fresh, make sure to use your hands to pat the soil within the root system of the plant and give it a good watering to help settle the soil.

Shoot pruning is also done every 2-5 years in late spring or early summer after new growth has appeared. Your bonsai should have put out about 6-10 leaves–cut it back to two leaves with dormant buds. Essentially, you want to look for those little bitty nubs that are right at the base of the leaves. As long as you’re counting at least two, you can cut them back.

Think about pruning like you’re always trying to push the growth back and create desired directionality in one direction or another within the plant. Make sure to avoid pruning your roots and shoots in the same year–that would be far too much stress on your precious bonsai.

Bonsai Pruning Guidelines

Bonsai is a Wonderful Practice for Mindful Plant Parents!

Are you someone who likes to interact with your plants on a daily basis, control all the elements, and look towards the future? Then the bonsai is a perfect fit for you! Caring for a bonsai is one of the most engaging and interesting hobbies you can get into. It really shifts your perspective on instant gratification, which will definitely make you think differently about not only plants, but also life in general.

Ready, Set, Grow!

If you’re ready to grow your own bonsai, make sure to check out the Eisei-en Bonsai YouTube channel with Bjorn and find all the specific guidelines for each tree variety along with tons of other helpful information.

Where can one buy a bonsai tree? If you’re in Nashville, Tennessee, you absolutely have to get one of Bjorn’s bonsai plants at Eisei-En Bonsai Garden. Otherwise, check out Brussel’s Bonsai online for plants, tools, and pots!

 

About Bloom & Grow Radio Podcast

Bloom & Grow Radio Podcast helped people care for plants successfully and cultivate more joy in their lives. Host Maria Failla, a former plant killer turned happy plant lady, interviews experts on various aspects of plant care, and encourages listeners to not only care for plants, but learn to care for themselves along the way.

About Our Interviewee

Bjorn from Eisei-En Bonsai

Bjorn Bjorholm’s bonsai love started when he got a bonsai tree for his 13th birthday after watching all the Karate Kid movies. Even though his first bonsai croaked (hello plant parent initiation), Bjorn was hooked and founded the Knoxville Bonsai Society in high school with his father. After graduating from the University of Tennessee focusing on Japanese language and business, he moved to Japan and began a bonsai apprenticeship for 6 years under Master Keiichi Fujikawa at Kouka-en bonsai nursery in Osaka, Japan. His tenure as an apprentice at Kouka-en was followed by three years as artist-in-residence, making him the first foreign-born working bonsai professional in Japan. Bjorn now owns Eisei-en Bonsai in Nashville, TN, the premier bonsai garden, nursery and school of the Eastern US.

Follow Bjorn:

Website

Instagram

YouTube

 

References

  1. Episode 119 of Bloom and Grow Radio
  2. How Woody Plants Grow: https://extension.illinois.edu/blogs/garden-scoop/2020-12-12-how-woody-plants-grow
    1. Used to describe apical dominance
  3. Temperate Deciduous Forest: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/biome/biotemperate.php
    1. Used for temperate tree examples
  4. Ficus benjamina: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/ficus-benjamina/
    1. Used for info on Ficus benjamina
  5. Ficus microcarpa: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/ficus-microcarpa-ginseng/
    1. Used for info on Ficus microcarpa
  6. A Bonsai Close-Up on Indoor Tropical Bonsai: https://prairiestatebonsai.com/a-bonsai-close-up-on-indoor-tropical-bonsai/
    1. Used for indoor bonsai light requirements

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Video: How to Begin Winter Seed Starting with Garden Answer!

The cold weather is no match for Laura at Garden Answer’s greenhouse! Follow along to see how Laura gets a head start on seed starting to plant amaryllis bulbs and indoor plants before the spring with the help of Espm Organic Seed Starter and Potting Mix!

 

 

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Video: Reusing Summer Pots for Fall Plants with Garden Answer!

 

Follow along as Laura from @GardenAnswer gives her outdoor plants a fall makeover. Reusing pots for your fall garden is quick and easy with the help of Espoma Organic Potting Mix!

 

 

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How to Use Succession Planting in Your Fall Garden

 

Did you finish harvesting your summer crops and find yourself wondering what to do next? There’s still plenty of time to get a fall and winter garden going before the first frost! Try planting one vegetable right as another one finishes. This is a process many gardeners use called succession planting and will maximize your harvest all season long. Here are four different ways to do it!


Harvest and replant


Go ahead and harvest your veggies that are ready to go. When you’re done, plant another set of vegetables with a shorter maturity date in that same plot in your garden. Replacing leafy greens with potatoes is a great example of this method.

 

Be sure to plan accordingly here! Growing based on maturity can be a little tricky if you aren’t planning for your region. Make sure to check the seed packet or plant tag to find out how long the plant will take to mature and what temperature in which it will grow best. Also be sure you have enough seeds to keep you going through the season.

 

Companion crops

 

This method involved planting two or more crops with varying maturity dates around each other. This way, even after you harvest the first crop, your garden will continue to flourish! Radishes next to cucumbers are a perfect example of this since radishes will be harvested before the cucumbers start to produce too much shade.

 

Remember to feed all your crops at their varying stages of growth to keep them moving along. Espoma’s Garden Tone will keep the soil rich in order for your crops to continue thriving as the weather gets colder. And don’t hesitate to pull plants that are reducing or ceasing harvest in order to make room for new crops!

 

Staggered crops

 

Try planting the same crop every few weeks in order not to be bombarded by the entire crop at once. For example, tomatoes and peas would work well in small batches throughout the entire season.

 

Just one crop

 

Lastly, you can always keep things simple by planting the same crop with different maturity dates. Seed packets will often display the days to maturity for you. Broccoli, for example, is a crop with various maturity dates.

 

Don’t forget that you can always start your seeds indoors in order to speed up the growing process outdoors! This allows you to harvest and quickly plant to keep your garden at an optimum level throughout the fall and winter season.

 

Ready to get out there and start succession planting? We can’t wait to see your endless harvests all season long! Get started by making a list of veggies it’s not too late to plant.

 

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Video: Repotting Fiddle Leaf Fig Cuttings with Garden Answer

Follow along as Laura from @Garden Answer takes care of her new fiddle leaf fig cuttings with the help of Espoma!

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Video: Planting Annuals with Garden Answer

Laura from @Garden Answer is packing up her truck with some annual plants and trusty Espoma products to revamp her driveway and spruce up her local church! Follow along to see how she gets it done.

 

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Video: Planting Honeyberries with Garden Answer

Spring is here, which means it’s time for new blooms and berries! Laura from Garden Answer uses Espoma Organic Potting Mix and Bio-tone Starter Plus to help her shrubs get a healthy start.

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5 Trailing Plants to Spice Up Your Indoor Jungle

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can keep growing your indoor garden! The perfect way to turn it into an indoor jungle is to utilize trailing plants and high spaces around your home. These plants are characterized by their ability to grow long so they can gracefully drape down from bookshelves or windowsills. Here are some of the best ones to integrate:

1. Philodendron 

If you’re a new plant parent, philodendron may be the best choice to start. There are over 200 different types of just this plant alone, so you have plenty of options. The most important things to remember are to place it in indirect sunlight and water about once a week. Be careful because direct sunlight can cause sunburn on their leaves.

2. Pothos

This long, leafy vine also prefers indirect sunlight and moist soil. One of the most common problems with this trailing plant is that it can get thirsty very easily, so make sure to look out for signs of a dry habitat such as crispy brown leaf tips. For optimal care, they should be kept in a room that is 70°-90ºF during the day and above 60º F at night. That means keep them away from any drafty windows for the remainder of winter!

3. String of Pearls 

Another great starter trailing plant is the string of pearls. Unlike philodendron or pothos, this succulent thrives in bright light and can survive with less water. Be sure to check the soil and verify that it’s dried between waterings to avoid root rot from overwatering! If you’re ready to see this plant baby thrive in the coming growing season, stock up on indoor plant food and feed them every other month until spring and summer, then up their feeding schedule to once a month.

4. Inchplant

These beautiful purple leaves on top of trailing stems are perfect for hanging baskets! You need to make sure your inchplant is getting plenty of sun, because their overall health will decline if kept in low light for too long. The best way to help them thrive is to place them on a sunny windowsill. While inchplants are rarely bothered by pests, it’s always a good idea to keep a lookout for aphids and mites. If you start to see any, introduce some Insect Soap.

5. Arrowhead Plant

This plant is known for its beautiful large leaves that resemble arrows. They prefer bright light and moderate watering in addition to well-draining, acidic soil. A great way to make sure this plant stays happy and healthy is to give it the quality soil it craves. Don’t forget to repot your plants at least once a year with our Organic Potting Mix.

 

Have you decided which of these plants you want hanging around yet? There are plenty of options to greenify your shelfs and ceiling space, and many of them are easy to care for! Plus, adding these plants now will mean lots of new, beautiful growth in the coming warmer months.

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Video: How to Plant Citrus in Containers

Watch Laura from Garden Answer show you how to grow citrus in containers!

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