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Video: Winter Seed Sowing with Garden Answer

Interested in trying your hand at the winter seed sowing method? Follow along with @Garden Answer in this new video for some tips, tricks, and other learnings!

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4 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Poinsettias

‘Tis the season of poinsettias! These jolly red plants are a classic holiday gift and household decoration all across the country during the winter months. Unfortunately, for many people, the leaves quickly turn lackluster and the plant dies soon afterward. But you can avoid this outcome with proper care and maintenance! Here are 4 ways yours can thrive this holiday season, as told by Garden Answer.

1. Get a healthy start

Did you know poinsettias are actually tropical plants? These festive spurges have somehow become a staple during the colder months, but they very much still appreciate their native climate! That means you should try to avoid the ones that are placed near the entrance of your local grocery store, since the draft from outside and the dry heat from inside are already harming the plants’ health. If you find them elsewhere, be sure to check that the foliage has solid colors and is not showing any green as this could mean they’re finished flowering for the season.

2. Give them a loving home

Since poinsettias appreciate that tropical climate, be sure to place them somewhere with lots of light that’s away from cold glass. As mentioned before, keep them away from any drafts — warm or cold. Be sure to check their soil moisture regularly as heated homes often lack moisture in the air. You can water them when the top layer of soil feels dry. As a finishing touch, feel free to mist them regularly and use Espoma Bloom! to give them a boost.

3. Stay safe this holiday season

A widely believed myth is that poinsettias are incredibly toxic to pets and humans. But the truth is that you would have to ingest an exorbitant amount of it for it to actually be dangerous! You should still err on the side of caution since the white sap that’s produced when the stems break can be a skin irritant, and it’s best to set them somewhere pets and kids can’t reach as with all houseplants.

4. Start anew next year

No matter how devoted you are to your beloved poinsettias, you should still think of them as annual plants that need to be replaced each year. It can be very difficult to get them to bloom again a year later and it involves much stricter care than the tips listed above. 

Now that you have all the necessary knowledge, go find the biggest and brightest poinsettias you can locally buy — and rest assured that they’ll last much longer than last year’s!

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Bloom! Plant Food

How to Prepare Your Garden for the Winter Season

Winter is afoot! With the nights becoming chilly, now is the time to start thinking about what to do with your garden until springtime. Soon enough soil will freeze and many plants will stop growing or die. But there are steps you can take to preserve what you have! Read on to find out how to prepare your garden and save any vegetables you might’ve been growing.

 

 

 

1. Take care of your root crops

 

If you have root crops like carrots, beets, or turnips in your garden, you’re in luck! These require less maintenance because they are able to stay inside the ground after a frost. However, make sure you’re taking them out before the ground freezes over or they may die. Some root crops like parsnips even taste better when kept buried in near freezing weather for 2 to 4 weeks!

 

 

2. What to do with your leafy greens

 

If you’ve been following us for a while and took our advice in August to plant these leafy vegetables, you now get to reap the rewards! It’s time to harvest those sweet greens for some fresh homemade salads and dishes. If you’re willing to wait a little bit, veggies like kale and collards get sweeter with a little light frost. Cabbages and Swiss chard can handle the frost, if you want to harvest them all at once, but their outer covering may get a little damaged. Lettuces, however, cannot withstand the cold. Take them out before the frost hits.

 

 

3. Reduce irrigation

 

If you’re someone who has their sprinklers on overnight or all hours of the day, we have some good news! You can lower the use of sprinklers if you’re in a warmer weather and stop it altogether if you’re in a cooler weather. Now you can save your water usage and lower your water bill without compromising the quality of your lawn. Win-win!

 

 

4. Herbs for winter

 

Herbs may seem like very delicate plants that would be unlikely to survive winter, but that’s not true! Herbs like sage, thyme and chives are hardy perennials that will survive the harsh weather with no problem. Some other herbs like rosemary and basil need to be dug up and brought inside where they will happily continue to grow.

 

 

5. Preparing the soil for spring

 

Preparing your soil in advance will make your work much easier come spring. Adding things like compost, manure, bone meal, and kelp will add nutrients to your soil and keep it healthy until spring. You can start working on it right as spring comes instead of having to fill it up with nutrients and wait for them to get incorporated! Add a layer of organic mulch for extra protection from winter rains and keeping your enriched soil safe.

Winter doesn’t have to mean everything dies until the spring! Taking the proper precautions and using the right products can help keep your favorite herbs and veggies growing throughout the colder months. Get started on these steps while the weather is still mild — and if you haven’t already, make sure you’re also caring for your tools and keeping them safe from the icy cold.

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

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Espoma Organic Orchid Mix
Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

5 Ways to Decorate Your Garden for the Holidays

It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year! Everyone seems to be in a better mood when they’re spending time with the people they love.

Going all out with décor is easy and fun. Putting up a big Christmas tree with lights and ornaments, draping garland around the house really makes it feel cozy and welcoming. Draping lights around the home and statues on your front lawn, is a fun way to make the whole neighborhood light up.

This year, incorporate some living décor for your holidays. Here are 5 ways to decorate your garden:

1. Decorate Containers

Containers are a perfect way to liven up a home. Finding a festive container or painting a plain one with festive colors or patterns will bring it to life for the holidays. Fill your container with winter hardy plants that are right for your zone, just be sure to use Espoma Organic Potting Soil to give it the nutrients they need.

2. Design the Grounds

With colorful winter shrubs, vegetables and flowers, planting in a design can bring cheer in ways that are unique and cheerful. With the colors and options your plants provide can make an image come through. Utilize the dead space in between your winter hardy plants to create a holiday design.

3. Plant an Evergreen

While everyone brings their trees indoors, plant one outside. You can decorate it the same way you decorate the one indoors. Plus you can enjoy your Christmas morning outside, depending on the weather. Use natural materials, such as pine cones, berries and flowers collected from your garden to decorate. Be sure to use Espoma Organic’s Holly-tone to keep the foliage green.

4. Train Your Plants

Adding a toy train to show off your garden is a great way to mix fun and childlike spirit to your garden. Utilize the plants you already have planted that will survive the winter. Have the toy train go around what you want to showcase. Add some twinkling lights and everyone who stops by will want a garden like yours.

5. Green Your Mailboxes

Draping an evergreen garland over a mailbox is a simple way to incorporate living décor to your holidays. Creating a garland requires few materials and can look festive within a few minutes. Be sure to add a nice large bow to tie it all together.

Want to keep making decorations for your home? Check out this Succulent Snow Globe from Garden Answer.

 

 

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Espoma Holly-tone

 

 

Succulent Snow Globe DIY (Full Version)

Laura from Garden Answer shows you how to bring the outdoors in for the winter months. Make this easy potted plant snow globe using succulents and Espoma’s organic cactus mix. Ask kids to help make these tiny globes or make them yourself. They’re perfect for holiday decor or to give as gifts to the plant lover in your life.

 

Here are the basics:

  1. Gather your winter crafting materials, paint, potting soil, globe ornament, fairies, ribbons and succulents. Choose a small container such as a terracotta pot to serve as your base.
  2. Paint container and let dry.
  3. Fill with Espoma’s Cactus Mix
  4. Cut a large opening in clear ornament
  5. Drill a small hole in the ornament for air flow and to water succulents with an eye dropper
  6. Add a miniature toy, fairy and/or succulents
  7. Make it feel like the holidays by adding faux snow
  8. Tie a ribbon or string around the container and finish with a bow.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our YouTube page!

 

Quick Succulent Snow Globe DIY

Laura from Garden Answer shows you how to bring the outdoors in for the winter months. Make this easy potted plant snow globe using succulents and Espoma’s organic cactus mix. Ask kids to help make these tiny globes or make them yourself. They’re perfect for holiday decor or to give as gifts to the plant lover in your life.

 

Here are the basics:

  1. Gather your winter crafting materials, paint, potting soil, globe ornament, fairies, ribbons and succulents. Choose a small container such as a terracotta pot to serve as your base.
  2. Paint container and let dry.
  3. Fill with Espoma’s Cactus Mix
  4. Cut a large opening in clear ornament
  5. Drill a small hole in the ornament for air flow and to water succulents with an eye dropper
  6. Add a miniature toy, fairy and/or succulents
  7. Make it feel like the holidays by adding faux snow
  8. Tie a ribbon or string around the container and finish with a bow.

Want to see more? Check out our YouTube channel!

Grow Your Own Microgreens

Microgreens add fresh flavor and nutrients to salads, sandwiches, smoothies and stir-fries. These plants are harvested when they’re young, usually about two weeks after planting.

 

Plus, microgreens contain about five times more vitamins than if grown to mature vegetables, according to USDA researchers. Adding microgreens to smoothies will boost the nutritional content without adding strong flavors.

 

While you’re waiting to start seeds for the spring, try growing microgreens for a fun winter project. They’ll also be the perfect complement to your indoor herb garden.

6 Steps to Grow Winter Microgreens:

  1. Soak seeds in room temperature water for no more than eight hours before you plant them.
  2. Select a container that will hold an inch of soil. This can be a seed-starting tray, plastic take-out dish, disposable pie plate or even a clear salad box.
  3. Punch a few drainage holes in the bottom. Set container on a cookie sheet, plastic tray or container to prevent spillage.
  4. Add 1” of Espoma’s Seed Starter and sprinkle with seeds. Lightly cover seeds with soil and water lightly.
  5. Cover container with a damp paper towel or newspaper to keep the seeds from drying out. Lift the cover daily and spray lightly with water until sprouting begins.
  6. Remove the cover when sprouts appear and move microgreens to a sunny windowsill.
  7. Harvest microgreens by cutting the tops with scissors when they are 2” or taller. Rinse sprout tops in a strainer. Microgreens can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  8. Continue harvesting microgreens for up to three weeks.

Dreaming of the outdoors? Learn how to plant veggies in containers for next year!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVVyRRJDfSk&t=67s

Winter Garden Plants that Dazzle

Jack Frost is starting to nip at our noses and cold fronts are coming in. Summer and fall colors have come and gone and gardens are left with cut back perennials and the anticipation of spring blooms. But your garden doesn’t have look lack luster due to the cold! Some blooms thrive in the winter.

Plant these hardy, winter thriving plants and watch them dazzle even in the snow. They will add color even in the dreariest months of the year.

6 Dazzling Plants for Winter Months

Hellebore

This winter-loving plant will impress any holiday visitors. Also called Christmas Rose, Hellebore will show off beautiful blooms from mid-December through early spring. It grows tall enough for its blooms to poke out even after a good snowfall. The colors of the flower come in white, green, pink, purple, cream and even spotted. Hellebore grows well in zones 4-9 and in partial shade.

Witch Hazel

Keeping its fall color through the winter, witch hazel is bright and beautiful against the white snow. This shrub can be massive, growing more than 12 feet tall in some areas. Witch hazel puts out red and yellow clusters that look like little suns. It fits well in woodland gardens or can be used as a focal piece in a garden. Witch hazel grows well in zones 3-9 and in full to partial sun.

Winter Heath

Mounding, soft needle ground covers that provide color in the winter is a must-have in the garden. Winter heath brings dainty purple flowers that bloom in December and last through April. It only grows about a foot tall, but it will spread twice the height. Depending on the variety, winter heath grows well zones 4-8 and in full sun.

Camellia

With sturdy foliage and rose-like blooms, camellias are often found in the South. Some varieties will surprise you with their hardiness in the snow. These varieties come in colors from white to pink. They grow well in acidic soil, using Espoma’s Holly-Tone to fertilize will set them up for success. Camellia grows well in zones 6-9 and in partial sun.

Winterberry

Winterberry provides year-round interest with beautiful greenery in the summer and bright, lipstick-red berries in the winter. Mirroring the traditional holly, the bright berries make the shrub stand out in a winter holiday setting. Winterberry grows well in zones 3-9 and in full to partial sun.

China Blue Vine

This evergreen is hardy and dependable. In the spring, it produces lovely, fragrant bell shaped flowers in a variety of colors ranging from ivory to mauve. The foliage stands out year-round by being thick and shiny. It holds the foliage lower so it will not topple over in the snow.  China Blue Vines grow well in zone 7-9 and in full to partial sun.

Give winter plants their best chance by planting with Espoma’s Bio-Tone Starter Plus.

Need tips on how to prepare your garden for winter? Check out this blog!

Winter is Coming – Frost Preparedness

It may still be warm outside, but that doesn’t mean winter is not going to come bite us in the bud. Frost is coming and it will hit your garden hard if you aren’t prepared.

Be sure to find your first frost date and prep your garden for winter.

What is Frost?

Frost is when the dew you see on your garden turns into ice crystals. This happens when the temperature drops down to 32° F or lower.

Even a light frost can end your garden for the season. This happens when temperatures are between 29-32°. When frost hits a garden that hasn’t been properly prepared, you can say goodbye to heat-loving plants.Winter can be hard on any garden, but many plants can be protected from a light frost and continue to grow until your first hard freeze.

Find your Frost Date.

The easiest way to find your frost date is to type in your zip code into this frost date calculator.

This calculator gives you an idea on when frost will hit first and when you can expect temperatures above freezing in the spring. The percentages on top of the chart explain that you have that much of a chance of having frost for that date. For example, in the Fall 32° row, if you have the date Oct 14 under the 50 percent column, you have a 50 percent chance of 32° on October 14th.

What does this mean for your garden?

Once you know your frost date, it’s time to prepare your garden to preserve what you can.

Prepare. Often times, first frosts are light and followed by some sunshiny days before everything freezes over for good. Cover crops with a blanket or cloth material to keep them warm during this period. Try to avoid plastic as it can freeze and crack. You can also try to hose off your garden first thing in the morning to get any of the excess ice crystals off and warm your plants back up.

Harvest. Remember to harvest as your vegetables continue to ripen. You don’t have to make a mad dash to get all of your vegetables inside, but keep an eye on them. If they stop producing or if a harsh frost is coming, harvest any vegetables on your plants and let them ripen inside. Frost will damage the delicate tissue of fruits and veggies like tomatoes.

Wait. For winter vegetables, such as some squash, pumpkins, and cabbage families, you can wait until after the frost. In fact, some root crops actually have improved flavor after the frost. Check your seed packet or with your local garden center to check which vegetables you can keep outside during a frost.

Feed. Lawns will stop growing when it gets colder. This is great news for you – no more mowing! Give them a fresh dose of Espoma’s Fall Winterizer Lawn Fertilizer to help it withstand the winter’s harsh cold.

When the hard frosts are on the way, it is time to put your garden to bed for the winter.