10 Jun

Top Tips for Buying Indoor Plants

When buying indoor plants, make sure that you pick a healthy plant that is great in shape, has no signs of disease or damage, and is ready to be transferred to the intended environment.

When you are buying indoor plants, make sure that you understand their growing conditions and have sufficient space to provide them. Once you have decided what indoor plants you want to buy, make sure you select the best available indoor plants available in the garden center. The following tips for buying indoor plants will help you select the best plant and avoid costly mistakes.

Tips for Buying Indoor Plants


  • Look for healthy foliage and sturdy stem. Avoid plants with drooping leaves or foliage showing signs of discoloration. Do not buy plants with damage or weak stem. Look for firm stem with no signs of damage.

  • If you are buying a seasonal flowering plant, pick the plant with lots of unopened buds. Avoid plants that are end of their flowering cycle.

  • Carefully watch buds, under the leaves, and tips of new stems for insects. Do not buy plants that carry bugs. Also watch for eggs and larva. If you have already brought home an infested plant, immediately isolate it from other plants and treat the affected plant.

  • Make sure that plants roots of the plants are not growing out of the pot. Roots growing out of the pot suggest that the plant has been potted in the same pot for a long time and it would be difficult to transfer it to another pot and that transferring the plant to another pot would put a lot of stress on the plant.

  • Always pick smaller indoor plants. Not only they cost less but also adjust easily in their new environment. You can also prune and train smaller plants to your desired shape. Buying smaller indoor plants also gives you freedom to fit them easily in available space.

  • Check the soil carefully. Make sure that it is not soggy or very dry – clear sign of neglect.

  • Do not place your new plants under direct sunlight. It is advised that new plants should be kept under indirect sunlight for a few days so that they can adjust to their new climate. If you are buying flowering plants, place them in the spot that is best suitable for them so that they are not stressed in the process of acclimatization. Flowering plants, when not provided with the right climate, may shed their flowers and buds immediately.

  • When buying indoor plants, make sure they are handled carefully during the transit. It is advised that they are properly wrapped and provided sufficient support during transfer.
03 Jun

5 Best Medicinal Plants to Grow in Your Garden

There are so many cosmetics, herbal extracts and natural products in the market that you can use for various healing effects and medical benefits that they offer. Most of these plants are not very hard to find at your local. You can also buy these plants online and easily grow them in your own garden.

Here is a list of some common and easy to grow medicinal plants you should try.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is used for preparing various face packs and masks. Aloe vera gels are great source of Vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, and E. Apart from these vitamins, it also has minerals like iron, zinc, copper, sodium, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. Just extract the gel from its leaves and apply it directly on face and hair for that shine. Old tissues of your skin are rubbed off and newer ones generate with this application of gel and that’s how you get a fabulous skin. Sunburn spots and dark circles or for that matter any kind of dark spots are alleviated with this gel.

Lavender

Lavender has many healing properties. It can not only improve your skin but also your mood and sleep disorders. The anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of this plant gives you a blemish free and scar-free skin.

Rose

Rose petals are a great source of Vitamin C and that ensures that you have a soft and smooth skin. As a toner, rose water, is used since a very long time. It alleviates rashes and inflammation.

Tea tree

Tea tree has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. Tea tree oil is an important ingredient in many skin care products available in the market because it enhances that natural glow of the skin and also removes dark spots.

Chamomile

Infusing the chamomile petals in your tea would bring in a massive change in your state of mind and body. It also rejuvenates skin as well as acts as an effective relaxant for sending you to a sound sleep.

28 May

Lovely Indoor Foliage Plant: Balfour Aralia

Polyscias balfouriana, commonly known as, Balfour Aralia is a beautiful foliage plant known for its attractive leathery foliage. Though a bit hard to find in horticulture marketplace, it makes an excellent indoor plant that does not require much maintenance. Originally from tropical regions of the Pacific, can be grown in bright and slightly humid spot near a sun exposed window where it receives plenty of indirect sunlight in the morning and occasional watering.

The plant is characterized by round, leathery, dark green leaves that look like dinner plates thus giving the plant its common name – the Dinner Plate Aralia. Variegated varieties of Balfour Aralia with gold and cream leaf margins are also available.

In its native climate, it grows up to 12 feet or more but it takes many years to attain that size. When grown indoors, it grows slowly and can be easily pruned and trimmed to keep it in desired shape. In fact, Balfour Aralia makes an excellent subject of bonsai.

Balfour Aralia

Balfour Aralia / Image via jardin-secrets.com

How to Grow Balfour Aralia

Balfour Aralia benefits from a well-drained soil and occasional application of nitrogen-rich fertilizer. The plant is prone to root-rot when over-watered therefore it is advisable to neglect on part of watering. Water generously when the soil is completely dry and then allow the soil to dry before next watering.

Balfour Aralia, Foliage Plant

Balfour Aralia, Foliage Plant / Image via pdiplants.com/

For healthier growth, make sure that your plant receives at least 2-3 hours of indirect morning light. A good shower to keep the leaves clean is also advisable.

Other popular species of Polyscias include:

Polyscias ‘Fabian’ (Fabian Aralia) grows scalloped dark green leaves on a woody trunk.

Polyscias fruticose (Ming Aralia) grows feathery leaves and makes a nice small tree for growing outdoors.

Alert: The leaves of Balfour Aralia are poisonous for pets.

15 May

How to Care for Amaryllis in Your Garden

Amaryllis are beautiful flowers that, if cared for correctly, will bloom year after year. They have a magnificent, exotic appearance and are best known for featuring red or red and white blooms. Although they do come in other colors such as purple, pink and yellow and some varieties are even multicolored. These colorful flowers are grown from bulbs and Amaryllis is the more popular name for what is actually the Hippeastrum bulb.

Amaryllis are easy to plant and of all the flowering bulbs, they are the easiest to bring to bloom. While they are ideal for any garden, they also make fantastic houseplants and have become popular gifts at Christmas because of this.

Amaryllis

So, you have your Amaryllis bulb, now what do you do…?

Ideally you will plant it between October and January, they will then flower from winter to spring – generally within six weeks of planting. Amaryllis bulbs are tender and need warmth to grow therefore it is best to plant them in pots – in nutritious compost – and start them indoors, to avoid the frost. The Amaryllis should be grown in a pot only slightly bigger than the bulb itself, with two-thirds of the bulb remaining above the surface.

You should begin to water sparingly – then, as the new leaves develop, start watering regularly avoiding excessive watering while not letting the compost dry out.

Amaryllis should be placed in full sun – they will grow in light shade but they tend to develop better in brighter light – but remember to turn the pot regularly to avoid the stalk growing towards the light. You should feed your amaryllis bulb every few weeks with a balanced fertilizer and stake larger flowers as they start to grow.

Once the flowers on the initial stem have faded, cut the stem back to the bulb and another should grow and flower.

So, when can you move Amaryllis into the garden?

Firstly, as soon as the plant starts flowering it should be moved to a cooler spot to help extend the flowering period. Then, in the summer, once the last of the frost has passed, it can be moved outside. When choosing where to place it in the garden remember that Amaryllis should not be in intense sunlight, instead look for a semi-shaded position.

Once outside you need to be aware of and on the look out for slugs and snails! Similarly, if you find that your plant is flowering this could be down to growing in conditions that are too shady, or under-watering during the previous summer. But, this could also be due to attack from fungal disease or bulb pests.

You may be tempted to start pruning but you don’t need to do this until the leaves turn yellow (around late September) – then you can cut them back to around two inches from the top of the bulb. Your Amaryllis will need re-potting every two to three years in January to March – after flowering.

Amaryllis will be a great addition to any garden and if you care for them properly, you will be able to enjoy their pretty, colorful flowers for months and years to come.

03 May

Best Specimen Plants to Grow in Your Garden

Specimen plants are usually grown in gardens and landscapes to create focal points. These plants are often characterized by unusual form, bold colors, attractive flowers, or lovely foliage. Best specimen plants have year-round foliage, compact growth and low maintenance needs. When grown indoor, small specimen plants can be used to brighten up small spaces by creating focal points or create dramatic effects by placing these plants at strategic spots. When grown outdoors, large specimen plants can be used to fill spaces or create permanent displays.

Some of the best specimen plants that are always at the top of my list include:

Colocasia esculenta – A nice specimen plant grown for its large, attractive foliage.

Taro, Best Specimen Plants

Pennisetum setaceum – Commonly known as ‘purple fountain grass’ is a beautiful specimen plant for growing outdoors.

Pennisetum Setaceum 'Rubrum'

Pennisetum Setaceum ‘Rubrum’, Image by Matt Lavin

Miscanthus sinensis is a bold, upright and attractive grass.

Miscanthus Sinensis Grass

Miscanthus Sinensis, Image via Wikipedia

Acer palmatum or ‘Japanese Maple’ is a small tree with interesting and colorful foliage.

 

Dioscorea elephantipes is a beautiful specimen plan known for its unusual form.

Best Specimen Plant - Dioscorea elephantipes

Pachypodium lamerei or the ‘Madagascar Palm’ is another beautiful specimen plant for growing outdoors.

unusual plant pachypodium lamerei

 

27 Apr

Top Tips for Keeping Your Indoor Plants Healthy

Keeping your indoor plants healthy and fresh all through the year is not difficult at all. Whether you are growing an exotic orchid, a tropical foliage plant, a miniature succulent or large specimen plant, general rules for keeping your indoor plants healthy and fresh are simple and universal.

Keeping Your Indoor Plants Healthy

Select the Right Spot

Provide your indoor plants with the right spot. Not at all plants have same requirements. Some like prolonged exposure to the sun, some like indirect light. Some indoor plants can thrive in low lights whereas some benefit seasonal outdoor exposure. Make sure that you understand light, moisture and temperature needs of your plants and then provide them with the right indoor spot. Do not change location of indoor plants frequently. Plants that are moved frequently spend most of their energy adjusting to their new spot.

Protect Indoor Plants from Direct Exposures

Most indoor plants do not like direct exposure to harsh sunlight in the summer season. Do not put them on windowsill or near a window with direct sunlight during most part of the day. Avoid placing your indoor plants near radiators, heaters or air conditioners. Extreme and frequent change in environment is not good for indoor plants.

Monitor Temperature and Moisture Level

Use a temperature and moisture gauge to keep a check on indoor temperature and moisture level especially when you are using humidifiers, heaters or dehumidifiers.

STARRICH Portable Mini LCD Digital Thermometer Hygrometer Air Temperature and Humidity Meter Moisture Mete for Household

You can buy a quality device like STARRICH Thermometer, Air Temperature and Humidity meter to keep a check on indoor climate. Most indoor plants do not prefer extremely dry or moist conditions. If you are growing plants that prefer moisture, you can group them together to raise moisture level around them. It is a good practice to group plants with similar moisture and temperature requirements.

Provide Your Indoor Plants with the Right Pot

Repot your indoor plants into larger pots every two year or so. This will ensure that plants get enough room to grow their roots.

Water Your Indoor Plants Carefully

Indoor plants usually require less watering. A good practice is to allow the soil to dry completely before each watering. Water generously before next watering. Make sure that your pots have sufficient drainage at the bottom. This will prevent the soil from bogging and keep the roots properly aerated.

Act in Time

Keep a close eye on your plants and do not procrastinate if you notice something unusual such as pests, falling buds, or withering leaves. Be proactive and solve the problem as early as possible. If a plant infested with pests, immediately separate the affected plants. Natural and organic pesticides are better than chemicals and are safe for children and pets. Some organic insect killers such as EcoSmart Botanical Insect Killer can be purchased online.

 EcoSmart Botanical Insect Killer

Allow Your Indoor Plants to Rest

Allow your indoor plants to rest during the dormant months of winter. During this time, reduce watering and move your indoor plants to a little cooler place. Do not fertilize or repot them during dormant months.

17 Apr

How often do I need a pest inspection?

If you see pests in your lawn or on the plants in your garden, start inspecting your home for pest infestation. Similarly, if your home is infested with pests, they will likely creep into your garden and on to your plants. There are so many ways your home or garden can get infested with pests – soil, small animals, transferring indoor plants from outside etc. However with proper pest inspection, it is easy to protect your house from pest infestation.

Home Pest Inspection

There are many contributing factors that determine how long you can responsibly wait between inspecting your home for pests. As a general rule of thumb, you should always consider the effort involved in performing regular pest inspections versus the effort required to eradicate a large infestation. It will always be quicker and more cost efficient to exterminate a small number of pests in the early stages of an infestation. There are many precautions you can take to ensure your home will not see a full blown infestation. To maintain a pest free home you must know the major contributing factors for an infestation, which include: the environment in which you live, the abundance of wildlife in the community, and a history of repeated infestations. Learn more here about your free home inspection.

The environment in which you live can play a huge role in how often your home is ransacked by small pests. In colder environments, many pests will come into your home searching for warmth and a dry shelter. This is a natural behavior for the animals to survive the conditions. However, these are not harmless animals. Many rodents coming into your home carry dangerous diseases that can be transmitted to humans and our pets. If you live near a heavily wooded park or forest, you may need to check your home more often for rodents. If you live in an environment that is cold or near a lush greenbelt, you should perform a regular inspection of your home at least once every other month.

The single greatest factor for infestations is the abundance of pests in the area. As stated above, if you live near a greenbelt, you will most likely see more small rodents than other communities. This is because many rodents can live in the foliage with minimal predators and reproduce very quickly.  Similarly, there are pests that thrive in desert communities, such as: termites, scorpions, bees, spiders, and cockroaches. Cockroaches can be especially abundant in warm climates because they can reproduce at a very quick rate. A cockroach will lay up to 50 eggs in their ootheca, or better known as their egg sac. If you live in a community with a high abundance of pests, you should perform an inspection of your home once a month so you can quickly take care of any problem that arises.

If your home has a history of being infested with pests, there may be small spaces on your home you need to board up. A mouse can enter your home from a hole the size of a nickel, so this should be your benchmark for determining if a hole needs to be filled. Many rodents enter your home from appliances with hoses that lead to the outside of your home. You should fill all the gaps in these holes with caulking, and install metal mesh coverings to cover all vents. If your home has a history of pest infestation, then you should regularly check your home every month just to be safe.

12 Apr

9 Examples of a Beautiful Sunroom Garden

A sunroom also known as a solarium is an extension of a house that provides protection from weather yet allows good exposure to the sun and the landscape outside. Mostly popular in colder climates, a sunroom serves multiple purposes:

  • As a warm place on sunny days, you can use your sunroom as a patio for enjoying breakfasts
  • During freezing months in winter, you can bring plants from your garden inside the sunroom and protect them from frost and freezing
  • You can also use a sunroom to grow plants that cannot be grown outside in the garden during the winter season
Sunroom or Solarium Garden

 

With introduction of many durable, cheaper and better materials, it is not expensive to build a solarium or sunroom. Modern materials are cheaper as compared to traditional sunrooms made of glass and aluminum. Sunrooms made with modern materials and techniques also address issues of leakage and climate control. You can easily provide ventilation, control moisture level, and temperature and maintain an ideal climate for growing almost all types of indoor and outdoor plants traditionally grown outside in the garden.

Useful Link: How to Build a Successful Sunroom by Steve Maxwell

Examples of Beautiful and Practical Sunroom Gardens

This design by Dominick Tringali Architects that shows how practical a beautiful a sunroom garden can be. 
A solarium can be a tropical garden too. Photo by CKA PARIS 
Sunroom can be used to grow almost any type of plant in colder climates – Photo by Reliance Design Build
You can even make a zen garden in your solarium – Photo by Flavin Architects
A solarium can be as useful as a living room – Photo by Conservatory Craftsmen
Call it a patio, a living room or an indoor garden – Photo by B. Jane Gardens 
Grow your favorite plants all year round in a solarium garden – Photo by Jonathan Miller Architecture & Design
A lovely solarium garden. Photo by Elsie Interiors 
A solarium can be built to practically utilize unused outdoor space – Photo by Tych & Walker Architects
10 Dec

3 Reasons to Visit a Farm Shop During Christmastime

Most people associate fruits and vegetables with the sunny days of spring, summer, and fall. However, local farm shops are bustling during the winter as well, with a variety of fresh crops and products suited to make your home more hospitable over the holiday season. The aromas and flavours of Christmas are upon us, with the scent of pine and pumpkin permeating the air of many homes. Shopping local not only gives you access to the freshest and healthiest produce, it also helps support local farmers and families who participate in the cultivation and harvesting of those crops. Here are three reasons why Christmastime is one of the best times of year to visit a local farm shop:

1. Fresh Winter Crops Abound

Never underestimate the sheer deliciousness of commonly overlooked winter crops like kale, chard, leeks, savoy cabbage, spinach, Brussel sprouts, artichokes, sprouting broccoli, and cauliflower. In fact, many of these crops are at their finest during the winter because the cold temperatures have a ripening effect on most plants. Plus, wintertime crops are often sweeter and more colourful than their summertime counterparts. Of course, the cold weather also has a way of preserving flavours and freshness via natural refrigeration, so you stand to find some of the crispiest and juiciest greens during the late and early months of the year.

Farm Shop

2. Christmas Trees and Wreaths

From later November onwards you can typically find a variety of Christmas trees and wreaths at your local farm shop, garden centre, or nursery. There’s nothing like the smell of a freshly cut tree to bring the authentic smell of the holiday season alive in your home. Carpenters Nursery carries a range of firs and spruces that exhibit a variety of aromas, statures, and growing characteristics. If you prefer to bring the tree inside in early December you’d be wise to choose a Nordmann Fir, whereas the Norway Spruce is better left outside until December 15th due to its tendency to shed needles in warm temperatures.

3. Recipe Ideas, Desserts, Breads, Essential Oils, Candles, and Other Natural Products

Visiting a farm shop during Christmastime is sure to inspire you to bring your culinary creations to the next level. Oftentimes you’ll find artisan, locally crafted products that you can’t get anywhere else. These items are not only healthier for you as an individual, they also help promote the local economy and build a stronger, more self-sufficient society. Instead of spending your money with the larger brands and getting an inferior dining or home décor experience, why not help the citizens of your region by opting for higher quality products that will benefit the community as a whole.

A Unique and Friendly Shopping Experience

All other perks aside, the staff at a local farm shop is likely to greet you with a warmer welcome than the average clerk at a national grocery chain store. Christmas is a festive time of year so it would make more sense to put yourself in places where your business and presence is appreciated.