I love houseplants. Not only do they help to keep the indoor air fresh and toxin-free, but they also add a warm and organic flair to decor. Most houseplants are not overly fussy and require only minimal care once established. However, it is essential to adopt an excellent watering regime if you want your plants to flourish. Read on to discover how to keep your houseplants looking their best and discover the number one mistake you must avoid when watering your precious indoor plants.
When it comes to plant fertilizers, there are plenty to choose from. However, not all plant food is created equally. There is good reason to be overwhelmed with all of the options out there, especially if you are a new gardener. There are two broad categories of plant fertilizers – inorganic and organic. One type of plant food reigns far superior in my books, and that is organic. Let’s look at why and how you can make your very own miracle plant food using common household items that plants love.
It’s a new year; perhaps the year you will cut all refined sugar from your diet, which is a great thing to do. Your resolution to be healthier, however, may leave you with a few extra bags of white sugar – you know the kind that you loved (past tense) to put in your favorite cookies? No worries, that same sugar that you are trying to nix out of your diet is the very thing your garden needs.
As the wind blows and the snow flies, you might find yourself gazing out your window at your garden. Are you dreaming of big and beautiful spring roses with luscious warm scents? For many gardeners, roses play an integral role in the garden – they are either beautiful focal plants, the perfect privacy screen, or simply a breath of fresh air in early spring. No matter what role roses play in your garden, you won’t want to miss these tips and tricks to have the healthiest roses of all in your 2021 garden.
Unlike some garden plants, roses do benefit from a little extra TLC, especially in the spring. The first thing you want to do once the weather breaks is to remove any winter rose protection you applied in the fall. After that, take note of the rose’s condition and do the following to get your beauty off to a great start.
Although not every type of rose requires pruning, spring is the best time to get the job done. Proper pruning starts with sharp and clean pruning shears. If you did not already clean your shears in the fall, do so now, before you cut your rose bushes. Soak pruners in a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water for an hour and rinse well with clean water. Dry thoroughly before using. Pruning your rose bushes before the leaf buds open will send energy into new growth, and this is what you want.
In warmer climates, spring pruning stars in January. If you live in areas with warm winters such as Florida and Southern California, you may just be pruning out dead wood and doing some thinning. For those in areas with freezing winter temperatures, pruning starts in April. Pruning too soon in these areas can result in damage from winter temps and weather.
Once plants, including roses, come out of winter dormancy, it is time to concentrate on feeding. Giving them a nutritional boost will revive and ready them for the growing season. There are several excellent feed mixes available, but any all-purpose food will do. Follow the feeding directions on the package. If you prefer to mix your feed, here is my favorite, time-tested recipe for success.
What you need
- 1 part fish meal
- 1 part alfalfa meal
- 1 part greensand
- 1 part gypsum
- ½ part bone meal
How to make it
- Mix all the ingredients well and sprinkle around the plant’s base, working well into the soil.
- Water well
Something I learned a long time ago is to add a handful of Epsom salts when you feed. This extra magnesium is the perfect superfood for hungry roses.
Black spot spray
Roses, unless you have specific disease-proof versions, are prone to fungus diseases. Even organically grown roses benefit from preventative spring spraying. Black spot is a particularly nasty fungus that plagues roses. Sometimes it overwinters on the rose and appears in the spring.
In the past, I have used lime sulfur to kill fungus and also horticultural oil. I have recently used an alternative spray consisting of baking soda ( my favorite go-to natural substance), bleach-free dish soap, and water. To make, simply combine a tablespoon of baking soda with a gallon of water. Add two drops of dish soap ( which helps keep the baking soda on the leaves). Pour mixture into a spray bottle and spray both sides of leaves well. Do this weekly and after rain for best results. The exciting thing about this mixture is that the baking soda changes the pH level on leaf surfaces, making it difficult for the black spot to attack plants.
An ounce of prevention
When it comes to black spot and other rose diseases, an ounce of prevention goes a long way. This is what I mean when I spoke of TLC earlier. If you desire to have big and beautiful roses year after year, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Choose the right rose for your climate. If you are unsure, check with your local Cooperative Extension office or garden supply store.
- Make sure that your roses get at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.
- Provide winter protection in cold areas.
- Always water roses from the bottom. Watering from the top means that water sits on the foliage, making your rose prone to black spot and other fungal diseases.
- Remove all dead and diseased plant parts and keep the growing area clean.
- Prune according to the type of rose.
- Keep your gardening tools sterilized.
Roses, the symbol of love, require love to thrive. Once you get in the hang of just what your rose needs, it will become like second nature to provide the care necessary. Don’t let the thought of a little extra time spent in the garden rob you of the rich pleasure of owning a rose, or many roses, for that matter. They are indeed a joy to behold when they burst forth in beautiful color and enticing aroma.
Susan, CBHC and Master Gardener
Whatever you do, don’t plant these seeds. Thousands of packages of unsolicited seeds have been delivered to households in the United States over the past several months. According to the US Department of Agriculture, mysterious light gray or beige packages containing seeds postmarked from China, have been showing up in mailboxes all over the country. In response, Amazon is now banning the sale of foreign seeds, and federal officials are warning us not to touch or plant these seeds. But what is really behind this strange seed scandal?
July and August are months when you should be enjoying the fruits of your labor in your flower garden. Unfortunately, high summer temperatures and drought conditions sometimes bring a premature end to your garden’s beauty. Fortunately, there are some key things that you can do now, in the heat of summer to renew your flower garden’s vigor.
Summer means many things, beautiful gardens, backyard fun, and long walks in nature. Unfortunately, nice weather also means a few not-so-attractive things like mosquitoes and the dreaded poison ivy. You may have heard the Ben Franklin saying, “ Leaves of three, let them be.” This is good advice to avoid this vining plant that can cause an irritating rash. To keep you and your family safe from this dangerous plant, there are a few other things that you need to know.
Although you may be familiar with the host of pollinators that visit your garden during daylight hours such as hummingbirds, butterflies, and bumblebees you may not know about the secret night life in your garden. When these pollinators finish their shift and retire for the evening, the night shift comes on strong. Pollinators, including hawk moths, bats, and squash bees are known as crepuscular pollinators that work hard in the hours when other pollinators are resting. Creating a moonlight garden to draw these hard-working pollinators to your garden is easy and beautiful.
Do you love exotic flowers, but think they’re either out of your gardening expertise or not likely to grow in your hardiness zone? Then you may want to consider growing a passion vine. Passion vine is a unique plant that sprouts exotic, tropical-looking flowers that can grow almost anywhere. In fact, with the genus Passiflora containing over 500 different species, you can even find these outwardly delicate vines growing alongside the road. Here’s everything you need to know about planting and caring for passion vine.
Whether you live in the city, suburbia, or the country, window boxes add beauty, texture, color, charm, and even drama to your view. Adding window boxes brings flowers and foliage to eye level, which offers a different perspective than having them in your garden. From inside your home, plants create a lush view to the outdoors that can brighten your day no matter how gloomy the weather. And from the outside, plants and window boxes provide curb appeal that becomes part of the architecture. Here are three ideas for a beautiful view.
Renowned for their lush, eye-catching blooms, hydrangeas add old-fashioned charm to any garden. You might think hydrangeas are high maintenance. But surprisingly, they need little care. With a few tips, your hydrangeas will thrive in a variety of conditions. So, if you’re looking for a stunning garden flower, with large globes of colorful blossoms, then hydrangeas are the perennials for you! Here are seven tips for beautiful hydrangeas.