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SUCCULENTS

BEGINNER TIPS FOR SUCCULENTS

It’s easy to see why succulents are one of the trendiest plant groups right now. Their unique shapes, colors, textures and sizes add drama and interest to the décor of any room. They also look great on their own or paired with other succulents. Not to mention, they’re so easy to grow and can handle drought.

You have to start somewhere, though. With the right growing conditions and care, your succulents can survive year-round. Follow these beginner tips to get started.

7 Beginner Tips for Growing Succulents

  1. Pick a healthy succulent – Look for succulents with full shapes, good color and with healthy foliage. Avoid plants with insects or signs of damage.
  2. Choose the right soil – Succulents like to be dry and need a well-draining soil. Use Espoma’s Cactus Mixto keep plants healthy.
  3. Select containers – Succulents can be planted in almost anything that allows for proper drainage. Make sure containers have a drainage hole for water to flow through.
  4. Give enough water– Succulents with leaves that pucker aren’t getting enough water and ones with soggy leaves are holding onto too much water. Get into a regular watering schedule to help plants thrive. Water succulents when the top inch of soil feels dry by pour water into the pot until it flows through the drainage hole. Remove all excess water.
  5. Soak up the sun – Most succulents love light. Place them in spaces where they’ll receive four to six hours of sun.
  6. Feed them – Give succulents a boost by fertilizing as needed with Espoma’s new Cactus! Succulent plant food.
  7. Keep plants looking good – Remove dead or decaying leaves to keep plants looking nice and insects at bay.

Want to know more? Learn how to care for succulents in winter.

Courtesy of Espoma.com

House Plants

Five Reasons to be Thankful for Houseplants

While you’re counting your blessings and listing those things you’re grateful for this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to include houseplants. Indoor plants provide a pop of color and interesting texture to any space.

Houseplants are more than just a pretty face, though. They impact our everyday lives by cleaning the air and reducing stress. Give houseplants everything they need to grow and they’ll pay you back.

Here are the Top Five Reasons to Be Thankful for Houseplants

  1. Indoor Plants Purify the Air

Studies from the US Environmental Protection Agency have found that levels of indoor air pollution can be two to five times higher — and in some cases 10 times more polluted — than outdoor air. Houseplants such as bromeliads, spider plants and dracaena, remove the harmful compounds frequently found in homes and offices, produced by cleaning supplies, paint, furniture glue and nail polish remover.

  1. Houseplants help us relax

Researchers have found that being around plants—especially indoors, can reduce stress and help us feel happier and more relaxed. You can never have too many houseplants so choose one, or 10 that work for you.

  1. Plants Make Us Smarter

Having a plant around can enhance learning abilities by improving our concentration, focus and problem-solving skills. Make sure to place houseplant in home offices, studying spaces and at work.

  1. They Improve Our Physical Health

Plants offer physical benefits, too. One study found that adding plants to office spaces reduces headaches, coughs and sore throats. And employees typically use fewer sick days.

Know someone in the hospital? Bring them a plant. A Kansas State University studied found that patients in rooms with plants request less pain medication, have lower heart rates and blood pressure, experience less fatigue and anxiety and are discharged sooner.

  1. They’re easy to care for

Seniors feel better and more fulfilled when they take care of houseplants (or pets). Keeping plants healthy, helps make us more socially connected and happy. There’s a perfect plant out there for anyone, and certain plants, such as sansevieria and zz plant, are surprisingly low maintenance .

Show gratitude for your favorite plants by giving them proper care. Learn how here.

Courtesy of Epsoma.com 

 

Are You Out of Your Gourd

gordIf you love to grow vegetables, but find you can never eat all your garden yields, here’s an alternative to researching new recipes in anticipation of your millionth tomato. Grow some decorative gourds in place of a portion of your usual edible veggies. Decorative gourds have potential as centerpieces, serving bowls, storage containers, birdhouses, and a wide range of children’s craft projects. You might be surprised that professional gourd artists can sell their art for as much as $20,000 and their artwork is displayed in galleries across the nation. If mastering the skills required for fine art gourds is not in your future, then consider the novelty of drying gourds for maracas and giving them to the youngsters in your family.

Once you decide how much time you are willing to devote to a project and your tolerance for crafting, choose the right gourd seeds for your family. Remember that a minimal amount of effort is required to grow small gourds for display in a basket. If you are not interested in growing gourds, but are intrigued by their potential uses, dried gourds can be purchased online anytime. Small decorative gourds are also available at the local farmer markets in late summer/autumn.

Caring For Fall Beds

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Are you overloaded with new ideas for perennial beds and borders after visiting friends or public display gardens? Seen lots of unfamiliar and interesting new plants at the nursery? If so, fall is an excellent time to prepare new beds for planting now or in the spring. The cooler temperatures, weaker sunlight and shorter days of fall mean less energy goes into top growth and more into establishing a strong root system. Planting in this area can usually continue through October.

After choosing the proper plants for your location-taking into account plant hardiness and the amount of available light-the most important thing you can do to insure success is to properly prepare your soil.

After marking off the area, you need to rid it of perennial weeds. Rototilling will only increase your weed crop, so you will need to carefully pull all underground stems and roots. Be sure to also remove any additional roots you find when you turn the soil over.

A quicker way to do the job is to use a broad spectrum herbicide such as Roundup. You may have to repeat the applications on especially tough weeds. Follow label directions and safety precautions.

The soil you’re aiming to create should hold moisture, but also be well drained. If it doesn’t drain well now, it probably has high clay content. The actual soil particles are very small and pack together very closely, suffocating and drowning plant roots. Adding gypsum to clay soil can help break it up.

If your soil drains very quickly and you need to water frequently, it is probably sandy. Soil particles are relatively large and fit together loosely. Plants rarely drown in sandy soil unless the area is low-lying or the water line is high. In this instance it would be best to make a raised bed.

The solution, both for maintaining good drainage, and moisture retention, is generous amounts of organic matter. It separates clay particles, creating air space, and holds water and nutrients in sand. Good sources of organic matter are finished compost, well-decomposed manure, leaf mold and damp peat moss. These should be incorporated into the soil when it is turned over to a depth of 12″ or more. At this time you can also remove any sizable rocks, roots or other debris.

Most perennials grow best in a soil that is slightly acid to almost neutral-a pH of about 5.5-6.5. Most soils in this area are probably very acid and will need to have lime added every 2-3 years.

If you prefer to estimate your fertilizer needs, there are a few things to keep in mind. Phosphorous, and some of the trace elements, even when present in the soil in sufficient quantities, are only available to plants within a fairly narrow pH range. Keeping your soil pH at 5.5-6.5 should be adequate for most plants.

Fertilizers can either be natural ñ we carry Espoma products such as bone meal, dried blood, cottonseed meal, greensand or a ready-mixed blend. Or you can use dry or granular fertilizers that are either quick or slow release (i.e. Osmocote). You can use either type if you are going to plant now. If you are going to delay planting until spring, wait and add the fertilizer then unless you are using natural fertilizers which break down slowly and will not leach out readily. For this reason, I prefer them for any sandy soil. If your soil is sandy and you wish to use chemical fertilizers you should use smaller doses and repeat at intervals.

Natural fertilizers should be incorporated into the soil when you turn it over, especially phosphorous (bone meal, rock phosphate), as it doesn’t move readily through the soil. Dry or granular fertilizers can be sprinkled on the surface and raked into the top few inches of soil.

Properly preparing a bed can take a lot of time and effort, but in the end, it repays you many times over.

Happy Planting!