07 Jul

Eco-Friendly Pest Control for Your Home

There is no doubt that insects are an important part of the world’s eco system, so we should probably not simply try to kill them all off. This does not mean that you should find yourself pinned to the chair because a family of spiders is standing in the middle of the floor. It also does not mean that you should have to throw out a ton of food items because ants have found their way into your kitchen cupboards.

You want to make sure that insects stay outside of your home. Doing this successfully, involves using pest control. But what about the problem of using chemicals? We have already mentioned how killing all insects is bad for the ecosystem; you may be concerned about pest control chemicals, for the same reason. Many pest control experts actually offer services that are more environmentally friendly than was previously the case; you can find out more about eco-friendly pest control service. If you would rather try your own eco-friendly methods first, here are a few ideas.

Eco Friendly Pest Control

Eco-friendly Pest Control / Image via flickr

Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is simply a collection of fossilized remains of a species of algae. The remains consist of hard and sharp pieces which are microscopic in size. These pieces damage the exoskeletons of the insects that may be tempted to invade your property, killing them. You only need a thin layer of diatomaceous earth to do the job and you can sprinkle it wherever you choose, as it’s perfectly safe.

Mint Leaves

Mint is harmless to humans, but ants and flies do not like it. All you should do is scatter a few leaves around where there is a potential problem of infestation, and the culprits should be deterred. As an added bonus, mint gives your home a fresh and clean scent.

Soap and Water

This may sound like a really simple solution; but it can work. You just need to fill a spray bottle with a soap flakes and water solution, then point at the bugs you want to get rid of, and spray. The soap in the mixture damages the exoskeleton of the bug. The water then gets inside and the bug drowns. It’s as simple as that.

Keeping out Termites with Sand

Termites that invade from underground can be deterred by using a barrier of sand. They cannot tunnel through the sand in the same way that they can tunnel through earth. You can use sand around the foundations of your property, in crawl spaces and in any other area that may be susceptible to termite activity.

Nematodes and Termites

This may sound a little gross, but you can actually kill termites using a different type of creature; microscopic worms called nematodes. They are just pumped into areas where there is a problem with termites and they then kill any termites which are present.

You can use any or all of these solutions to try and rid your home of a pest problem. If you have any issues doing so, do not be worried about calling in the experts. You can discuss any concerns about chemicals with them, before any treatment is started.

05 Jul

A Beautiful Example of Contemporary Garden Design

Bricks, concrete blocks, pebbles, rocks and stones are material for contemporary landscapes and gardens. These contemporary materials are used to design gardens and landscapes that are low on maintenance yet high in water efficiency. The whole idea is to cover the ground with ‘hardscape’ elements to reduce evaporation and retain moisture. The hardscape is filled with drought-resistant or water-efficient plants. Hardscape elements also minimize the need to control weeds and use pesticides by naturally controlling weeds and preventing pests.

See more information and resources on water-efficient garden designs and a list of water-efficient plants.

Recommended Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Designing Beautiful Xeriscapes

Also browse these beautiful examples of contemporary garden design by Folia Horticulture + Design.

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 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 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.


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.


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.