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Plant Parents: Add These Tropical Houseplants to Warm Your Soul

The brightest part of winter may just be decorating your home for the season. While hot cocoa, holiday lights and a cozy fireplace are traditional ways of warming your space, try thinking tropical this year.  Your decorating doesn’t have to be the same every year and holiday houseplants aren’t just limited to poinsettias.

It’s not a secret that many houseplants are tropical by nature. They feel right at home in places with year-round warmth and jungle-like conditions. So, bring some warmth and tropic flair to your space by adding one of these houseplants.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Anthurium

Anthuriums are elegant, easy-care plants with cheery blooms that last a long time. This show-stopping plant is a favorite for any romantic with its glossy heart-shaped, pink leaves. Anthurium stands out of the crowd with blooms on and off all year. This exotic plant loves warmth and humidity.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Bromeliad

This easy-to-grow houseplant makes for a perfect gift. It provides an exotic touch of red, orange, pink or purple to any home. Even with the thick foliage and wide leaves, it gives off a radiance that anyone will fall in love with. Be sure to use Espoma’s Orchid Potting Mix to allow proper drainage.

Palms

Majesty palms practically whisk you away to somewhere tropical.  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 to grow and don’t require any pruning except for an occasional old frond.

Image courtesy of Costa Farms

Orchids

Orchids can bloom for up to four months, making them great fir add some color and flair to any home. They love indirect light, a little bit of water and to be away from any drafty windows, air vents or ducts.

Plus, they will continue to rebloom every year with a little love and patience and fertilizer.

An organic fertilizer, such as Espoma’s Orchid! liquid plant food, will help keep your blooms looking fresh and colorful year after year.

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.

Try these lowlight houseplants if you want greenery, but lack light. https://youtu.be/SYXv_EcBdEA

Products for houseplants

Espoma Organic Orchid Mix
Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

Your Plants are Trying to Tell You Something

Did you know houseplants can communicate? We talk to our house plants in hopes they can tell us what’s wrong. Thankfully, plants communicate with us all the time. If your plants’ leaves are wilting, they’re saying “Please water me.” Yellow leaves are saying “Hold off on the water. You’re killing me with kindness.” Let’s look at a few things your plants are trying to tell you.

Leaf and Flower Drop

No one likes stress, not even plants. A common sign your plant is stressed is if it’s dropping leaves and flowers. Stressors can include lack of water, over watering, temperature change, less light – you name it. If the problem isn’t too little or too much water, or something else easy to identify, have patience. The plant will likely adapt to its new situation.

Wilting

Wilting is usually a sign that your plant needs water. Some plants, like peace lilies, wilt so terribly you’d think it was dead. But don’t worry, it’s just being dramatic and will perk up after a good watering.

Stretching

We’re not talking about yoga here. In the plant world that means long and spindly stems. The plants are literally stretching themselves toward the light. Sometimes older leaves will fall off. Check on your plants requirements — chances are it just needs more light. It could also mean that your plant needs pinching. It’s not mean, it’s kind of like pruning. Pinching off the top inch of your plant’s stem will encourage it to grow laterally and become fuller and more beautiful. Pinching off spent flowers is a good idea that will help your plant save energy, too.

Salt Build Up

Have you noticed some white stuff on the side of your clay pots? As you water and fertilize your plants, salts and other minerals can build up. It may cause the foliage tips to turn yellow or brown. Watering your plants in the sink and allowing the water to run through a few a few times helps flush then out. You can use a scrubbing pad on the outside of the pot. Repot regularly.

Brown Leaf Tips

Leaves get brown tips because water isn’t reaching that far. Too little water or too much fertilizer is usually to blame. Make sure you’re watering consistently. Use Espoma’s Indoor! House Plant Food for its slow release formula to ensure your plant isn’t being overfed. Always follow the package directions as more is not better. Do you remember the last time you repotted it? If you can’t, maybe it’s time for fresh soil and bigger pot.

Think your houseplants need some extra space? Check out this video about repotting house plants.

Where to Buy

Products for Healthy Houseplants

Indoor Liquid

Potting Mix

African Violet FAQs

We are big fans of African violets and know many of you are, too! These houseplants add color to any space in winter and their cheerful flowers make us smile.

Since African violets can be picky about where they want to be and how they want to be watered, we created a go-to guide for you.

Keep your plant happy and healthy with these African violet frequently asked questions.

The Basics

  • How do I pick the perfect plant?
    • Select a healthy African violet in your choice of color that has dark green, spot-free leaves.
    • Look for a plant with one growing center, known as a single crown, to get the most blooms.
  • What container should I use?
    • Keep in mind that the roots grow out, not down, so a shallow wide container works better than a narrow tall container.
  • What potting soil should I use?
  • How much light should my African violet get?
    • African violets need indirect sunlight, as direct sun can burn the leaves.
    • Choose a north- or east-facing window and keep plants away from cold glass.
    • Rotate the pot once a week so all leaves receive light.
    • Extend daylight by placing African violets under a grow light during winter months.
  • Do my African violets need to stay warm?
    • African violets prefer the same temperatures most people find comfortable: between 70-80°F during the day, and around 65–70°F at night.
  • How do I water my plant so it is happy?
    • Only water your violet when the soil is dry to the touch.
    • Fill the pot’s saucer, and allow the roots absorb the amount of water they need. After an hour, dump any remaining water to avoid over watering.
  • When Should I fertilize?

Getting Leggy

  • What causes my African violet to 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.
    • The three main reasons on why your plant is getting leggy are age, water and light. For more information on this, visit this blog.
  • What can I do to help my leggy plant?
    • The best (and easiest) way to help it is to repot your African violet. Allowing more room for roots and a better growing atmosphere, will help your plant succeed.

Repotting Plants

  • How often should I repot my African violet?
    • Once a year should be enough to keep your plant happy. It will provide new space for root growth and also prevent it from getting leggy.
  • Can I use the same size container?
    • You want to find a slightly bigger container than the one it is in now – never smaller. While African violets like to be root bound to bloom, you want to provide space for it to breathe and grow.
  • Can I reuse the soil?
    • It’s best to start fresh with an organic potting soil made specifically for African violets such as Espoma Organic African Violet Mix. Using the same soil can bring new infestations to your plant that may not be prevalent now.
  • How close to the top of the pot should the root ball be?
    • You want the root ball to be below the top of the container. Don’t forget to center your plant!
  • Do I need to compact the plant in the new pot?
    • It is best to tuck your plant in to the new pot gently. Pressing too hard can harm the leaves, but not tucking it can cause problems in growing.
    • Settle the plant by watering it from the saucer.

 

Start Propagating

  • Is it difficult to propagate African violets?
    • Not at all! It’s one of the easiest plants to propagate.
  • Where do I start?
    • Find a healthy leaf on one of your current plants. Be sure to have a clean cut on it before planting it in your soil. For full directions, see here.
  • How long does it take?
    • At about 3-4 weeks, roots should begin forming on the leaf.
    • In another 3-4 weeks, your new leaves will start to sprout.
    • When the sprouts get 2-3 leaves on them, which is around the 2-6 month mark, you will need to repot.

Have any more questions? Reach out to us on Facebook!

5 Reasons to Give Orchids This Valentine’s Day

There is more to a beautiful bouquet of flowers than what meets the eye. For centuries, flowers have been used as a means of expressing romantic sentiments and are symbolic of a beautiful, lasting relationship between two people.

Luckily, for this day dedicated to expressing your devotion and admiration there is a better option than cut flowers, choose orchids that will last all year! Delicate and graceful, orchids are a symbol of luxury, love, strength and beauty. Here are 5 reasons you should give orchids a chance this Valentines’ Day.

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Five Reasons Orchids are The Best

  1. They’re Long-Lasting: An orchid’s blooms serve as a daily reminder that someone is thinking of you long past February 14th. When cared for properly, this exotic flower can last for several months and will continue to bloom year after year.
  2. Orchids are Easy to Care For: Your valentine does not need to be an expert gardener to keep an orchid alive. Even in the winter months, orchids are low-maintenance. For more blooms and better health, you can your plant feed bi-weekly with our liquid orchid fertilizer. Your orchid will need to be repotted each year after flowering, and Espoma’s Organic Orchid Mix will give them the nutrients they need to grow. Who knows, your gift of an orchid could inspire someone to take up gardening as a hobby!
  3. The colors are stunning: Orchids come in a variety of spectacular colors and unique shapes. They have a dramatic presence whether they are a solid color, or have splashes and speckles. Coming in everything from white and light pink, to vibrant reds, oranges, and purples, you will be able to find the perfect orchid to match your valentine’s personality.
  4. Orchids have exotic flair: Coming from far off places such as Hawaii and South America, orchids are said to be reminiscent of the tropics. Their exotic nature sets them apart from the traditional rose and will send a special message to your significant other.
  5. They perk up your home: An orchid’s lifespan combined with its beauty makes it a great way to add an affordable splash of color to any room without spending significant time and money on redecorating efforts

This Valentine’s Day, tell your significant other how valued they are by giving the gift of an orchid.

Help orchids stay beautiful year-round. Watch this video to find out how!

Common Orchid Problems and How to Fix Them

It’s a myth that orchids are difficult to grow. In fact, they are highly adaptable and fairly low- maintenance plants. The hardest part might be choosing an orchid. There many types of orchids to choose from, and while some are more temperamental, plenty will thrive in in your home.

With that being said, they are susceptible to problems like any other houseplant. Take a look at these common orchid questions and find out what you can do to fix them.

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Why is my orchid’s foliage changing colors?

Orchids are especially sensitive to environmental changes. The problem in this case is likely due to the lighting conditions. If orchids receive too much light, the tissues to yellow. If they don’t receive enough light, they develop dark spots. It can help to gradually expose your orchid to more light over time and to keep it by a window that is shaded by a sheer curtain.

Help! My orchid’s buds are drying up without any sign of pests or disease!

This is a common problem with orchids and again, a good indication of an environmental problem. Bud Blast is a condition where buds dry up and die. This is typically caused by an environment that is not humid or bright enough, but could also be a result of incorrect watering. Orchids should be watered about once per week, allowing the soil to dry out in between. Dropping your home’s temperature by about 10 degrees at night can help initiate flower buds.

My orchid has a sticky substance on its surface, is it harmful?

If you see small white ovals along with the sticky substance, then it is harmful. The sticky substance is left behind by scale pests, which can be treated with an organic insecticide soap. If white ovals aren’t visible, it is harmless and simply due to a drop in temperature.

The leaves of my orchid are turning to mush and the roots look like they are rotting. What am I doing wrong?

Due to the high humidity levels that orchids need to survive, they are at a higher risk for fungal and bacterial diseases. This can lead to conditions like root rot and spots on flowers and leaves. Remove severely damaged leaves using sterile tools and treat plants with a copper based spray.

The orchid’s roots are growing above the soil; does it need to be repotted?

These are called “air roots” and are normal for orchids. Air roots can actually be helpful. Orchids generally need to be re-potted once a year. It’s time to re-pot when you see: yellow foliage, lack of growth or dead or damage roots, or the plant starts growing over the edge of the pot. The best time to re-pot is just after flowering, or when new growth appears. Use Espoma’s Organic Orchid Mix for best results.

Many orchid issues are not as serious as they seem. What may appear as a problem can sometimes be helpful in determining what set of conditions your orchid prefers to grow in.

Ready to know more? Learn what orchids need. 

Your Orchid is Just Resting

Orchids bloom in spectacular colors and unique shapes. Depending on the orchid you’ve chosen, blooms come in every color from white and light pink, to vibrant reds, oranges and purples.

When taken care of properly, the striking blooms can last for several months and will continue to flower year after year.

Don’t panic. Orchid blooms last for one to three months and then they wilt. Even though your beautiful orchid loses all of its blooms, don’t give up on it, it still has a lot of life left. Trust us!

Phalaenopsis, also known as moth orchids need rest periods to rebloom. While the orchid is dormant, you can expect the stem to shrivel up and for leaves to dull and flatten out.

Just give your orchid some extra care during this period and you’ll be rewarded with even more blooms next time. Orchids can bloom for years to come.

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Five tips to care for resting orchids.

1. The best time to repot orchids is during their resting stage. Use Espoma’s orchid mix to give plants the foundation they need to grow bigger and stronger next season.

2. Water orchids weekly. Unlike many houseplants, orchids should only be watered when they begin to dry out. Watering when they’re almost dry mimics their natural environment.

3. Feed orchids bi-weekly using Espoma’s Orchid! Fertilizer. Nutrients are extra important during this resting period.

4. Let the light in. Make sure orchids are still receiving plenty of indirect sunlight. Too little light will keep the orchid from reblooming.

5. Chill out. Help trigger blooming by moving the orchid to a cooler room. Orchids thrive in temperatures that are between 75 and 80 during the day, but they prefer cooler temperatures during dormancy.

Orchids make beautiful houseplants. Learn more about caring for orchids here.

Help Houseplants Weather the Winter

Lush green plants filled with blooms aren’t only found in the garden. Even though you’ve put your outdoor garden to bed for the winter, you can still grow thriving houseplants inside.

Winter houseplants aren’t just limited to holiday plants like poinsettias. The options are endless — ranging from African violets to orchids. Some houseplants even remove common toxins from indoor air, surely shooing away the winter blues.

The cold season can be challenging for houseplants, however. Light is low, days are short and indoor humidity is terrible. Help houseplants thrive by creating a happy home and they’ll continue brightening winter days.

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Four tips to help houseplants thrive over winter:

  1. Keep leaves green. If leaf tips are brown, it means your houseplant isn’t getting enough moisture. The remedy is simple. Place a humidifier near multiple plants or place the plant on a tray of pebbles and water. But don’t let the roots sit in standing water.
  2. Don’t forget to water. This is a common issue for the forgetful gardener. Set up a watering schedule and give plants a drink when soil is dry to the touch, about every seven to 10 days.
  3. Let in the light. A houseplant will tell you it’s happy by maintaining healthy leaves. If there’s enough light for you to read by, there’s probably enough for a low-light houseplant. Don’t put plants near heat or air conditioning ducts, on TVs, or between curtains and chilly windows.
  4. Feed Organically. Fertilizing is easy with Espoma’s indoor liquid plant foods. Give plants the natural proteins and beneficial microbes they need to provide beautiful results. And the innovative Easy Dose cap pours the perfect amount without any measuring or mess.

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

Top 4 Houseplants to Give and Get this Holiday Season

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

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

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

How to Care for Holiday Favorites

poinsettia

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

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

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

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

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

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

christmas-cactus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 Steps to Keep African Violets Blooming

The colorful blooms of African violets are extra special. They’ll instantly add color to any room.

They’re known to bloom continuously, even throughout the darker months of winter. Place them throughout the house to enjoy their colors and velvety texture throughout the year.

Once you get in a regular routine of taking care of African violets, you’ll find they grow very easily. All of their basic needs need to be met though, or they won’t bloom. Give them the right temperature, light and a good feeding, and you’ll be blooming in no time!

he colorful blooms of African violets are extra special. They’ll instantly add color to any room.

Choosing and Caring for African Violets:

1. Start off healthy. Choose a plant with bright emerald leaves and the flower color that you want. Make sure the pot has drainage holes.

2. The right light. The most common reason African violets don’t bloom is because they aren’t getting enough light. African violets need indirect sunlight, direct can burn the leaves. Choose a north- or east- facing window for best results. Keep plants away from cold glass and rotate the pot once a week so all leaves receive light. Extend daylight by placing African violets under a grow light during winter months.

3. Keep warm. African violets prefer the same temperatures most people find comfortable: between 70-80°F during the day, and around 65–70°F at night.

4. Water from below. Fill the saucer using room temperature water. Let sit for about an hour and then pour excess water out. Allow the plant to dry out between waterings.

5. Fertilize with Espoma’s new liquid Violet! Indoor houseplant food every 2-4 weeks in spring, summer and fall.

6. Think before replanting. African violets only bloom when they’re root bound. When it is time to repot, be sure to use an organic potting soil made specifically for African violets, such as Espoma’s African Violet Mix. They flower best in small pots — choose one that’s about a third of the diameter of their leaf spread.

Now that you’re African violet is off to a great start, it’s time to care for your other houseplants!    

A Plant Today Keeps the Doctor Away

For most of us, the outdoor gardening season is winding down. Yet, we want to keep that green thumb moving!

Channel your gardening energy indoors. A green-filled oasis awaits you! Add a few indoor plants today!

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Top 3 Reasons Why You Can Never Have Enough Houseplants

Plants add a pop of color and a burst of life to spaces. But, they do even more.

  1. Pollution Solution. Indoor plants scrub the air clean by removing toxins, according to NASA research. Houseplants remove 87 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are in everything from rugs and grocery bags to paint and vinyl.
  2. Find Your Focus. Houseplants increase well-being by 47 percent, increase creativity by 45 percent and increase productivity by 38 percent, according to new research.
  3. Combat Colds. Powerful indoor plants can reduce fatigue, coughs, sore throats and other cold-related illnesses by more than 30 percent, found the University of Agriculture in Norway.

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Caring for Houseplants is Easy

Houseplants provide us with all those benefits and ask for very little in return. Here’s all they need!

  1. Strong Soil. Organic potting soil packed with nutrients, enriched with Myco-tone® and fortified with worm castings sets houseplants up for success. Whether you’re planting new or repotting old plants, use an organic soil.
  2. Light It Right. Check your plant tag to see how much sun your plant needs.
  3. Wow with Water. Water most houseplants when the top of the soil feels dry. Only water succulents and cacti when the soil is completely dry.
  4. Fuel with Organic Fertilizer. . Fertilize houseplants with an organic fertilizer such as Indoor! during active periods of growth. This is usually during the spring and summer.

Those happy houseplants will make you smile every day! Check out Espoma’s “Houseplant” Pinterest board for more inspiration and ideas!