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Video: Overwintering Tips With Kaleb Wyse!

Ever wonder how to save your favorite outdoor plants from the winter cold? ❄🌨 @Wyse Guide demonstrates how he overwinters his plants.

Kaleb demonstrates how to use our Espoma Organic Bio-tone Starter Plus and Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix to re-pot your outdoor container plants and bring them inside for the coming winter months.

Learn more about Wyse Guide here:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheGrayBoxwood 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WyseGuide/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/WyseGuide/ 

Website: https://www.wyseguide.com/ 

 

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VIDEO: Kaleb Wyse Answers Prayers With New Church Planter!

When there’s an important gardening project to be done… you call Kaleb Wyse. 🦸 And he always brings his trusty Espoma Organic products to make sure it’s a job well done! This time he’s tackling a tricky planter in front of his grandparents’ church that gets a lot of sun, a lot of wind, and a lot of eyes on it. Fortunately with our Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix and Plant-tone, those plants will stay looking heavenly! Check out the full video below to watch Wyse Guide work his magic. 

Learn more about Wyse Guide here:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheGrayBoxwood 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WyseGuide/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/WyseGuide/ 

Website: https://www.wyseguide.com/ 

 

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BAGR 154: How to Build a Terrarium

This blog is inspired by Episode 154 of Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast, where host Maria Failla interviewed Patricia Buzo of Doodle Bird Terrariums.

Terrariums do so much more than encapsulate our plants within the confines of a vessel. They capture a feeling. They capture a sense of wonder that a simple potted plant just can’t do. We can create entire worlds within a terrarium, and even ecosystems. They become a place that we can escape into for a mindful moment and use to amplify our passion for playing.

In this blog, terrarium guru Patricia of Doodle Bird Terrariums and Maria from Bloom & Grow Radio break down the differences and similarities of terrariums, paludariums, and vivariums to equip you with the knowledge you need to set your first one up!

What’s the Difference Between Terrariums, Vivariums, and Paludariums?

In the plant community, a terrarium usually refers to a small glass jar or fishbowl that has only plants inside. It’s not going to house any type of pet. 

A vivarium, on the other hand, contains pets like frogs or lizards, but has plants too. It’s also typically much bigger than a terrarium.

A paludarium is a type of vivarium that’s usually an even larger enclosure. It incorporates both terrestrial and aquatic elements into it, so it’s like having an aquarium and a terrarium in one. It often houses animals like fish, lizards, or frogs in the top portion.

Benefits and Common Problems of Growing in a Terrarium

One of the benefits to a terrarium is being able to grow diverse plants that you might not have otherwise been able to, as they create a microclimate of higher humidity. Most miniature terrarium plants need very high humidity, which likely doesn’t exist in your home or garden! 

Another benefit of terrariums is that they can be portable. If you’re traveling a lot and miss your plants, you can simply place them in a jar and take them with you.

A common problem in terrariums though, is mold growth. The warm, humid environment creates perfect conditions for mold to take over and eat away at your plants. You can prevent mold growth by avoiding biodegradable items in your terrarium like sticks, leaves, and pine cones. Adding little creatures like springtails and isopods (aka rolly pollies) that feed on decomposing materials can also significantly reduce mold growth. 

How to Choose the Best Terrarium Plants

When choosing which plants you want in your terrarium, opt for smaller varieties of plants to avoid requiring you to keep sizing up your vessel. 

Take advantage of the high humidity terrarium conditions and choose humidity-loving plants. Look for plants in the terrarium or fairy garden section at your local nursery for options. 

Small and miniature orchids work really well in terrariums, growing only an inch or two high with pretty flowers. Peperomia Ripple (Peperomia caperata) grows well in a bigger jar and loves the terrarium environment. 

Asparagus ferns (Asparagus aethiopicus), the little tree plant (Biophytum sensitivum), jewel orchids (Ludisia discolor), and creeping figs (Ficus pumila) are also great plant options for terrariums.

How to Set Up a Terrarium 

Materials Needed: 

 

Step 1: Make a list of plants you want in your terrarium. Do a quick search of conditions they prefer, including light, temperature, and moisture. 

Step 2: For a humid-loving plant, choose a jar with a lid to maintain humidity. For a plant that needs to dry out a bit, opt for an open jar. You can find great jars secondhand at thrift stores or estate sales, but affordable glass jars are also available at home goods and craft stores.

Step 3: Layer your materials in your glass jar with horticultural charcoal, soil, and plants. Use aquarium tongs to place your plants in the soil and scissors to trim excess plant material. 

Step 4: Water your terrarium using distilled water. Use a spray bottle for moss and if you have rooted plants, pour a small amount of water onto the soil. 

Step 5: Add your bioactive creatures like springtails or isopods and place your lid on top for humidity-loving plants. (This is optional.)

Step 6: Put your completed jar in bright, indirect light and enjoy your new terrarium! 

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For a more in-depth look at building terrariums, vivariums, and paludariums, check out Patricia Buzo’s book, A Family Guide to Terrariums

About Bloom & Grow Radio Podcast

 Bloom & Grow Radio Podcast helps 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

Patricia Buzo founded Doodle Bird Terrariums in 2008 out of her love of plants and creating unique works people would treasure. Each terrarium she creates is handcrafted using the highest grade plants and supplies, utilizing special tricks to carefully package these fragile vessels so they arrive safely.

Now, over 10 years later, she has authored the book A Family Guide to Terrariums, inspired many on her Instagram account, and has been featured in The New York Times.

​​Follow Lisa:

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VIDEO: Summer Rayne Oakes’ Festive Fall Urns

When it comes to turning a house into a home, Summer Rayne Oakes knows what she’s doing! With gorgeous urns, pretty patio plants, and a little help from Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix and Perlite for quick root establishment and big blooms, this cozy meadow house got a welcoming entrance. Watch the full video below!

 

Learn more about Flock Finger Lakes here:

Website: homesteadbrooklyn.com

Instagram – @homesteadbrooklyn

YouTube – Summer Rayne Oakes

Twitter – @sroakes

Facebook – Summer Rayne Oakes

 

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VIDEO: Houseplant Heaven with Garden Answer

Is it even possible to have too many houseplants? Not if you’re an expert like Garden Answer! With the help of Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix, walk through a whole haul of exciting, unique, and beautiful houseplants from the research phase all the way to repotting. 

 

Learn more about Garden Answer here:

https://www.youtube.com/c/gardenanswer 

https://www.gardenanswer.com/

https://www.facebook.com/gardenanswer

https://www.instagram.com/gardenanswer/

 

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8 Terror-ific Plants to Spookify your Home & Garden for Halloween

Pumpkin-picking isn’t the only way to get into the Halloween spirit! With dark shades, peculiar shapes, and scientific names plucked right from the mad scientist’s shelf, plants are a crafty way to give your home and garden a spooky touch your trick-or-treaters will love. Plus, if October isn’t enough to motivate you, these eight plant picks are a great way to spice up your space year-round!

 

‘Black Velvet’ Elephant EarAlocasia reginula

This striking plant earns the name ‘Black Velvet’ for its gothic, nearly black foliage accented by silvery-white veins. This tropical houseplant, a dwarf variety of the Elephant Ear plant, loves warm, moist places and well-drained soil. We suggest a 50/50 combination of our Espoma Organic Potting Soil and Espoma Organic Cactus Mix to keep those ‘Black Velvet’ leaves nice and spooky!

 

‘Black Prince’ EcheveriaEcheveria affinis

Everyone loves a cutesy succulent, but a ‘Black Prince’ Echeveria is the key to adding some drama to your arrangement. Accented by salmon to red-colored flowers in the fall and early winter, this deep purple, nearly black succulent provides spooktacular color contrast against typical green succulents. Water sparingly and keep the ‘Black Prince’ in the bright light to prevent the dark foliage from fading. 

 

Venus FlytrapDionaea muscipula

Dun dun… dun dun… it’s everyone’s favorite insect-eating, horror-movie-starring plant: the Venus flytrap! The carnivorous Venus flytrap has “jaws” that can snap shut in less than a second, and while they’re nowhere near as frightening as Halloween decorations make them out to be, this plant can be a unique, scary-cool addition to your little garden of horrors. 

 

Doll’s EyesActaea pachypoda

Doll’s eyes plant, also called white baneberry, has an alien appearance with creepy clusters of eyeball-like berries. A slow-growing perennial, Doll’s eyes plant is best planted during late fall or early spring, and it can be a low-maintenance, ornamental addition to your garden, especially with a boost from Espoma Organic Flower-Tone. Just beware of the plant’s berries because they are very toxic if ingested. (Eye wouldn’t be caught dead eating one!)

 

Raven ZZZamioculcas zamiifolia

A group of ravens may be called an unkindness, but there’s nothing mean-spirited about the easy-to-grow Raven ZZ! One of the most loved and sought after houseplants for plant parents and interior designers alike, its shiny, dark foliage and upright form make it a bold way to add a gothic element to your space. To keep a Raven healthy, don’t overwater it!

 

Ornamental PeppersCapsicum annuum

Want some witchy fingers clawing through your garden? Give your Halloween decor a little pepper-power with ornamental peppers! Coming in a variety of funky shapes and colors, including vibrant oranges, reds, greens, and purples, you can enjoy these plants before the first frost sets in by keeping them in a container in the fall months. 

 

Dracula OrchidDracula vampira

Based on its name, it’s no surprise that the Dracula Orchid would be a perfect addition to your home and garden this Halloween. At the center of the bloom, the plant has a vampire-like (or for the Netflix buffs, a Demogorgon-like) mouth that looks ready to bite you. Want to add a festive touch? Wrap your container in a cape and paint it red down the sides to give your Dracula Orchid the proper outfit. 

 

 

GarlicAllium sativum

More of a vampire hunter than a Twilight lover? Time to stock up on garlic. Folklore has taught us that garlic is the best way to ward off vampires, and in addition to its protective properties, allium vegetables also do very well this time of year. Kickstart the bulb-planting process with our Espoma Organic Bio-Tone Starter Plus

 

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Espoma’s All Purpose Potting Mix and Indoor! fertilizer will help ensure those peculiar plants grow healthy and strong. We hope these eight plants help you and your garden get in the Halloween spirit! Have a spooky suggestion we left out?

 

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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:

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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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