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It’s Indoor Plant Week! Here Are Some New Plants to Try Growing

Ted Lare Home & Build-Iowa-Indoor Plant Week-variegated fiddle leaf fig plant

Happy Indoor Plant Week! In celebration of this special occasion, we’re giving you a virtual tour of some of the rarest and most fascinating plants in our garden center right now. If you’ve been eager to expand your indoor plant horizons and introduce some new plant babies to your collection, you’ll want to run—not walk—to pick up one of these exciting specimens!  

Ted Lare Home & Build-Iowa-Indoor Plant Week-silver satin pothos
Pothos ‘Silver Satin’

This stunning new indoor plant is so named thanks to its unique shimmery silvery-green foliage. Pothos ‘Silver Satin‘ grows fast, and pretty soon, its pot will overflow with a river of glimmering vines! Best of all, like all pothos plants, ‘Silver Satin’ is exceptionally low-maintenance, with moderate light requirements and low to moderate water needs. It thrives somewhere high up, such as an indoor shelf or hanging basket, or you can train it to scale a trellis or moss pole.

Monstera Standleyana ‘Variegata Aurea’

This fascinating new indoor plant is very different in appearance to the uber-trendy Monstera deliciosa, but in all the best ways! Monstera standleyana ‘Variegata Aurea‘ (we know, it’s a mouthful!) has superb elongated leaves with green, white, and pale yellow variegation. A skilled climber, it will happily scale a trellis or drape gracefully from an indoor hanging basket. Keep it happy in a pot of well-drained soil; over time, you’ll notice the monstera’s signature ‘Swiss cheese’ holes developing!

Ted Lare Home & Build-Iowa-Indoor Plant Week-fiddle leaf fig variegated
Fig Fiddle Leaf, Variegated

This one will be a true jewel in your collection! The variegated fiddle leaf fig has the beauty and elegance of the standard fiddles, with the bonus of stunning pale green and cream-colored margins. This plant is a stickler for bright, indirect light, but once you find the right spot for it, it will command the attention of anyone in the room. These fiddles are hard to find and even harder to keep in stock. The photos simply can’t do them justice!

Sansevieria Kirkii ‘Coppertone’

Nothing accents a house full of greenery like an indoor plant with contrasting colors! As you might have guessed by its name, kirkii ‘Coppertone’ boasts a warm color palette that sets it apart from other sansevieria cultivars. Copper and bronze tones mark the succulent leaves of this rare sansevieria. Its wavy edges add fun texture to your decor in any indoor living space. Like other snake plants, Sansevieria kirkii ‘Coppertone‘ is ultra-low-maintenance and practically thrives on neglect. How ironic, since this beauty is bound to become your new favorite!

Ted Lare Home & Build-Iowa-Indoor Plant Week-Ficus Yellow Gem
Ficus Yellow Gem

We’ve never met a ficus we didn’t love, and ‘Yellow Gem‘ is no different! The leaves of this new rubber tree cultivar have a really interesting quality, with a texture oddly similar to leather. Its vibrant green color is ultra-fresh and invigorating in any room. ‘Yellow Gem’ prefers to dry out between waterings; if you forget to water it for a while, it won’t mind one bit. You’ll love the low impact on your schedule and the high impact on your indoor space!

Monstera Dubia

The winding climbing habit of this indoor plant is unlike anything we’ve carried in the past. It climbs in a tight spiral formation around structures like moss poles, trellises, indoor pillars, or wherever you want to put this intriguing plant to work! Monstera dubia, also known as shingle plant, has lovely variegation and quick-growing vines and leaves that will have you check every day for new growth.

Have you started clearing some space for these amazing finds yet? Collect these and other exceptional new indoor plants at our Iowa garden center today! Be sure to pick out a gorgeous container for your new plants from our fall collection to give your space something fresh and fabulous.

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How to Grow Gorgeous Fall Mums at Home

Ted Lare Design & Build - Grow Mums for Gorgeous Fall Color-chrysanthemum flowers with ornamental kale

No fall landscape is complete without everyone’s favorite autumn-blooming flowers—mums! Growing chrysanthemums is simple, but the key to long-lasting color is selecting a great specimen and treating it with the correct care. Here’s your guide to growing fall mums in Iowa!

Types of Fall Mums

There are two varieties of mums you’ll typically find at garden centers; florist mums and perennial mums.

Florist mums, sometimes called decorative mums, are the mums you’ll typically see for sale in every storefront starting in mid-August. They are best grown as annuals and look spectacular in pots thanks to their dome-like mound of brilliant blooms.

Perennial mums are grown in garden beds with the rest of your perennials and come in a wide variety of bloom shapes, sizes, and colors—from single-flowered, daisy-like cultivars to ones with cushion-like double blooms.

In addition to the two varieties, there are also many different types of chrysanthemum blooms, each more interesting than the last:

  • Single blooms resemble daisies with a single row of petals.
  • Quilled blooms have long, needle-shaped petals.
  • Spider blooms have very long, narrow petals like the legs of a spider.
  • Anemone blooms have a cushion-like mound of petals that emerge from a disc-shaped center.
  • Pom pom blooms look like, you guessed it, pom poms!
  • Incurve blooms have long petals with a slight inward curvature at the edges.
  • Reflex blooms, by contrast, have a slight outward curvature at the petal edges.
  • Decorative blooms are a double flowering type and the most common flowers.
  • Thistle blooms have petals that are long, very thin, and tube-shaped.
  • Spoon blooms also have tube-shaped blooms but flatter, wider edges.
Ted Lare Design & Build - Grow Mums for Gorgeous Fall Colorplanting a fall mum flower

Planting Fall Mums

Both florist and perennial mums prefer full sun, with 6-8 hours of direct sunlight exposure per day. Some cultivars are moderately tolerant of partial shade, but insufficient light can lead to leggy plants and fewer or smaller flowers. Perennial mums also prefer to be planted in a bed of slightly acidic, moist soil with excellent drainage. 

Caring for Your Fall Mums

If there’s one thing all mums have in common, it’s their appetite! Mums need to be watered every other day while in flower and require frequent fertilization with an appropriate formula for flowering plants. Perennial cultivars will also need a deep, thorough watering each week starting at the beginning of the growing season and more often as the temperatures rise. To encourage full, bushy growth, pinch back spent flowers whenever you notice them.

Ted Lare Design & Build - Grow Mums for Gorgeous Fall Color-chrysanthemum flowers

A Buying Guide for Fall Mums

Wherever you find mums for sale, the best value for money will be from a healthy plant that has barely begun to bloom. A low-cost pot of chrysanthemums may seem like a great deal, but clearance prices generally mean the plant is nearing the end of its bloom or the plant itself is unhealthy. 

To get the longest-lasting fall color from your mums, choose a dense plant with perky, dark-green foliage and covered in tightly-closed flower buds. A few open buds are fine, but the more closed buds on the plant, the more blooms you’ll save for your garden beds or containers.

We also recommend checking the base of the plant, especially if you plan on interplanting your mums with other plants in your beds. It’s common to find mold, mildew, and other fungal infections on the mums the discount grocery stores put out for sale, and those infections can also spread and affect your other plants. We provide the best care for our chrysanthemums until the day you take them home to your garden, so you can count on quality mums with a healthy root system from Ted Lare Design & Build. 

Ted Lare Design & Build - Grow Mums for Gorgeous Fall Color-mum flowers in garden bed

There is a great reason mums have earned their spot as the go-to fall flower—their glowing, warm colors and bounty of blooms bring pure joy to your autumn landscape. Discover our selection of fall mums for sale at our garden center in Des Moines!

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The Many Benefits and Uses of Peat Moss


You’ve heard your gardening friends talk about peat moss, you’ve read about it in gardening blogs, and you may have even used it in your garden once or twice. But what is it about this magic moss that offers so many benefits to your landscape plants? Let’s dive deep into all the basic uses of peat moss and its many useful applications in the garden!  

What is Peat Moss?

Peat moss is marketed as an alternative to compost, often sold in bags or bales. It is made of a large, absorbent organism that grows in dense masses in bogs, also known as “peatlands.” Used most often as a soil amendment, peat moss and garden soil usually serve as a two-man show, complimenting one another. 

Why Use Peat Moss?

Although different from potting soil, peat moss is an excellent soil additive for potting soils and seed starting mixes. It efficiently manages your soil pH, keeps plants hydrated, and releases moisture to your plants’ roots in a gradually controlled manner. It also aids in retaining nutrients within your soil so that they don’t get washed out when you water it! This magic moss is rather fascinating, isn’t it? 

Peat Moss in Raised Garden Beds 

When mixed into the soil of your raised garden beds, your peat moss will promote optimal drainage and help retain water so that your plant roots can stay well-hydrated longer between waterings. If your soil is extra packed within your raised beds, mixing in some peat moss with your hands will also help to loosen it, which your vegetables’ delicate roots will greatly appreciate. You can also add peat moss to the soil of your flower beds before the growing season begins. During the transition from winter to spring, till your flower beds and mix it in generously until it contains around 30 percent peat and 70 percent garden soil. With just a few shovel-fulls of peat moss, you can save yourself many waterings throughout the growing season!


Which Plants Will Benefit the Most?

Many plants are well-adapted to growing in peat moss, from classic leafy houseplants like pothos to decadent flowering shrubs like hydrangeas. Epiphytic plants, like moth orchids, are happiest when grown in light, soilless mediums like peat moss. Moreover, since peat moss is acidic, it works wonders when applied to acid-loving edible plants, like blueberries, peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes. 

Is Peat Moss Bad For The Environment?

It wouldn’t be very green-thumb of us not to acknowledge the environmental effects that peat moss can have on the planet, which is why we’ve also outlined some alternative options that are more eco-friendly and work just as well. Peatlands are delicate habitats that consume a lot of the world’s excessive carbon emissions, and peat moss harvesting disrupts these natural systems. This is why some gardeners opt for other compost options, like pine needles, composted manure, and other organic materials. If you prefer not to use peat, try adding coffee grounds, crushed eggshells, evergreen needles, and citrus peels to the soil in the areas you want to acidify.

Ted-Lare-Design-&-Build--The-Many-Benefits-and-Uses-of-Peat-Moss-in-iowa- black gold peat moss product

Peat Moss Application 

When using peat moss, mix it into the soil rather than applying it on top. It is not recommended to top dress with peat since it will blow around and stiffen after rainfall. If peat moss is well-integrated with your soil or potting mixture, it will improve nutrient access in your Des Moines garden like no other!

From retaining nutrients within your soil to balancing out pH levels, peat moss truly is the magic ingredient inside your soil. For more information on how to mix peat moss into your garden routine, visit us at Ted Lare Design Build in Des Moines, Iowa, today

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Hydroponic Houseplants and How To Grow Them

Ted Lare Home & Build -Hydroponic Houseplants in Iowa -clay aggregate hydroponic1

Are you fascinated by gardening but not so fond of getting your hands dirty? Try growing your houseplants hydroponically! This blog will cover which plants you can grow in water and how to do it. 

What is Hydroponic Gardening?

Hydroponics is a soilless technique for growing many types of plants, including houseplants, that uses a different medium to support the roots and grows the plants directly in nutrient-rich water. Hydroponic growing may help houseplants grow faster, and give you a first-hand look at your plant’s magical root systems during their maturation process. There are a few methods for growing your houseplants hydroponically, and all of them are equally fascinating.

Ted Lare Home & Build -Hydroponic Houseplants in Iowa -TYPES OF HYDROPONIC SYSTEMS

Different Kinds of Hydroponic Systems 

Hydroponic systems can be divided into six different types, including:

  • Water Culture Hydroponics: This is one of the easiest ways to begin your journey of hydroponic gardening! An air pump oxygenates the growing environment when houseplants are grown in deep water culture.

  • Wick System Hydroponics: This method involves using a cotton or nylon wick to absorb water and nutrients from a solution and deliver them to houseplants.
  • Ebb and Flow Hydroponics: This cheap and effective hydroponic growing method involves periodic flooding and draining of the nutrient solutions. The reservoir and plant tray are the two main parts of the solution. 
  • Drip Hydroponics: Drip hydroponics uses a pump to feed your houseplants with nutrients and water slowly over time. They are also known as “trickle” and “micro-irrigation” systems.
  • N.F.T. (Nutrient Film Technology): No, we don’t mean the newfangled type of NFTs you read about online! NFT hydroponic systems grow plants without a substrate by coating the roots with a nutrient solution.

  • Aeroponic Systems Hydroponics: This method is notable for its high levels of success in hydroponic plant growing! The roots of the plants in aeroponic systems grow in the open air and are sprayed directly with nutrient water mix.
Ted Lare Home & Build -Hydroponic Houseplants in Iowa -monstera cutting growing in water

Which Houseplants Are Suited to Hydroponics?

While most houseplants are capable of growing hydroponically, some perform better than others under hydroponic pressure! The best hydroponic houseplants to grow indoors include:

  • Spider plant
  • English ivy
  • Lucky bamboo
  • Peace lily
  • Money tree
  • Pothos
  • Monstera
  • Chinese evergreen 
  • Orchid

How Do I Start?

Beginner hydroponic gardeners will ideally want to stick to the wick, water culture, and ebb and flow methods. Aeroponics and nutrient film systems are more advanced systems for growing hydroponic houseplants. The wick method is the easiest to put together and works well with most houseplants. To set it up, you will need to create a water reservoir that sits under the tray holding your plant and growing medium. Connect the wicks to your growing tray, set it up, and place it under a high-quality grow light or appropriate sunlight. Voila, you’re a hydroponic gardener!

Ted Lare Home & Build -Hydroponic Houseplants in Iowa -houseplant growing with no soil

Can I Transplant to Soil?

Yes, you can safely transplant hydroponic houseplants into potting mix. To ensure the best possible transition, monitor your moisture levels carefully, water immediately at the point of transplant, and cut back on watering gradually as the plant gets established in its new home. 

Growing hydroponic houseplants is a great way to develop a more profound appreciation for your plants’ unique but often-hidden root systems. For more tips on hydroponic gardening with your houseplants, visit us at Ted Lare Design & Build in Des Moines, Iowa, today. 

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The Many Colors of Coneflowers

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa- multi colors of echinacea

After years of cultivation, there are so many new unique colors and forms of these gorgeous flowers, ranging from shades of pink, orange, red, white, and yellow! These showy perennials are heat tolerant and drought resistant, easy to grow, have long bloom times, make beautiful cut flowers, and attract birds and other pollinators to your garden. Coneflowers are the ultimate statement of simple beauty and elegance with a wild-flower aesthetic that will make your garden feel like a cottage. 

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-white echinacea copy

How to Care for Coneflowers 

Although they tolerate almost anything you throw at them, coneflowers prefer full sun and well-draining, nutrient-rich soil. You can add compost or aged manure to the soil after loosening it to a depth of 12–15 inches. 

You will want to plant your coneflower in an area where they receive enough sunlight for the soil not to be wet. To keep your coneflowers blooming to their fullest, you should deadhead them after the flowers fade. Cut back stems to a leaf near a bud in the late season to prevent self-seeding and bird-feeding.

Winter Care

There are several USDA hardiness zones (3-9) where purple coneflowers thrive, but if you live in a cold winter like Iowa, you may want to give them a little winter protection in their first years. That said, once they are established, coneflowers are rugged and hardy! 

Varieties of Coneflowers 

There is always a perfect coneflower shade for your garden, whether you’re looking for a bold, vibrant perennial or a simple-toned flower to tie your garden together! 

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-bravado chinacea

Pow Wow Wildberry

This variety features beautiful blooms similar to daisies, except more fun because they have a funky pinkish-purple color! The plant is shrub-like and bushy, making them perfect for filling up extra space and adding volume to your garden. It’s a classic purple coneflower with beauty that never fails to impress.

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-hot papaya echinacea

Double Scoop Mandarin

This variety offers a bright and vibrant red color to your landscape with orange undertones and coppery-bronze eyes. As ‘Double Scoop Mandarin’ blossoms age, the cones develop a ruffle of petals along the edges, slowly emerging across the entire cone. Eventually, you will have a beautiful pom-pom-looking perennial to turn up the party in your garden! It’s a great variety to attract birds and butterflies to your yard. 

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-double decker echinacea

Double Scoop Bubblegum

This variety is the two-for-one deal of coneflowers. ‘Double Scoop Bubblegum’ coneflowers produce large magenta-pink daisies with a smaller flower on top of each dark brown central cone; literally, one flower sitting on top of another. You plant one flower and get two blooms! Does it get better than that?

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-green envy echinacea

Green Twister

In addition to their thick green petals that curl upwards, ‘Green Twister’ coneflower petals develop a pink flush along their length as time passes. A gorgeous bi-colored effect appears as though mother nature decorated the petals herself with her paintbrush! This cultivar is perfect for pairing with other purple-pink flowers, as it will echo the color in a subtle way.

Ted Lare Design & Build -The Many Colors of Coneflowers in Iowa-sunrise echinacea

Kismet Yellow

‘Kismet Yellow’ coneflowers shine bright as the morning sun in your flower bed and will bloom from early summer until the frost! Pastel yellow petals and green-to-copper central cones—these coneflowers make you happy just looking at them. They are great for naturalizing and supporting pollinators in your garden too. We promise, everyone who visits your garden, people and pollinators alike, will love these.

With colors and shapes for every occasion, coneflowers really are the gift that never stops giving to your garden. They’re easy to take care of, beautiful to look at, and will attract pollinators to your garden. We promise it’s a win-win situation! Visit us at Ted Lare Design Build & Garden Center in Des Moines, Iowa, for help selecting the best coneflowers for your landscape


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To Trail or Train: Skills to Manage Your Vining Houseplants

Ted lare garden center - skills to manage your vining houseplants-trailing pothos plant

It’s no secret that vining house plants have minds of their own, but with a little persuasion and guidance, you can train your plant to grow in various ways for the perfect decoration in your home. Here is a guide on which vining house plants trail and how to help them grow in the right directions.

The Basics of Vine Training

The key to successful climbers is to train them young. Training your vining house plants in an upright growth habit as early as possible will help them continue growing this way for the rest of their lives. Of course, if you want your plant to grow with trailing vines that hang down, that’s a great option too! 

Ted lare garden center - skills to manage your vining houseplants-climbing ivy plant

When settling your plant into a new pot, consider how you want to encourage it to grow: do you want it to climb a trellis or pole, or do you want it to climb across your wall or around a door frame? If you choose a pole or trellis, insert it into the container before you plant your vines so that you don’t accidentally damage the roots. Then you can wrap it around the support so it can grow. If you want your plant to grow on your wall or around a window, you can use command hooks, metal picture hangers, plant vine clips, and string for cheap and effective options. 

If your plant needs some help staying attached to its support structure while it gets used to growing, you can use trellis clips or covered wire to keep it close to the structure while the new growth climbs. Once your plant is secure, you can easily remove these. Be sure you don’t tie the wire too tight and damage the plant!

Fantastic Climbing Vines You Can Train


Pothos plants are an excellent option for low-light environments and are easy to grow! They have a fast growth rate and are perfect for framing a bookshelf or training to climb across a wall. They have stiffer stems, so be delicate when arranging your plant. To encourage bushy growth, pinch your pothos’ leaves back routinely; this helps prevent your vining house plant from becoming thin and lanky. 

Ted lare garden center - skills to manage your vining houseplants-hoya carnosa


Hoya plants feature spectacular showy colored flowers and waxy leaves. Most varieties of these vining house plants can climb, but some have leaves that grow too large to climb and should be left to trail. A classic aesthetic for hoyas is a ring-shaped trellis in the container, creating a halo of waxy leaves and gorgeous blooms. You will want to be extra gentle when attaching your hoya to the trellis so that you don’t break any stems or leaves.

Ted lare garden center - skills to manage your vining houseplants-philodendron on moss pole


There are many varieties of philodendrons, and many of them climb similarly to a pothos, but they prefer a rough, damp support that their aerial roots can cling to rather than stakes or framework. You can purchase a moss pole at your local garden center or DIY build one at home using some rough textured rope!

Ted lare garden center - skills to manage your vining houseplants-monstera adansonii


Monsteras are a staple houseplant for influencers and plant addicts alike. These gorgeous vining plants love to climb and adapt very well to moss poles and trellises. If you have a mature plant, it may need extra time and slow adjustment to climb the support structure; take it slow and use clips or twine if needed.


Visit us at Ted Lare Design Build & Garden Center in Cumming, Iowa, for all your houseplant care needs, we can’t wait to help you get those vines climbing!

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How To Manage Crabgrass: The Weed With Many Unfriendly Faces

Ted Lare Design & Build How to Manage Crabgrass in Iowa -removal of crabgrass with tool

It’s unattractive; it’s clumpy; it doesn’t leave you alone: it’s crabgrass. Weeds like these are so intrusive that even thinking about them can make your mind tense. At first, crabgrass can be relatively hard to identify, but once you find it, you’ll be looking for every opportunity to get rid of it! The good news is that we have the solutions you need. Learn everything you need to know about crabgrass in this blog and how to manage it accordingly so that you never have to worry about it again. 

Ted Lare Design & Build How to Manage Crabgrass in Iowa -crabgrass clumb growing

What is Crabgrass?

Crabgrass wears many different faces, and none of them are friendly. As mentioned, it blends so well with your lawn’s grass that it is sometimes difficult to identify. In terms of crabgrass’ life cycle, crabgrass seedlings look like mini corn stalks when they are young, with the leaves spreading out as the weed grows. The blades of crabgrass become thicker than your lawn grass when they reach maturity, forming from a star-shaped growth habit that attacks your lawn. Luckily, we know how to manage it.

Ted Lare Design & Build How to Manage Crabgrass in Iowa -crabgrass growing in the lawn

How to Get Rid of Crabgrass

Crabgrass is one tough cookie, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the ammo to manage it and send it packing right out of your backyard. Getting rid of crabgrass at this early stage is remarkably effective, but you’ll likely need to do a little more than this to ensure it’s gone. Best practices for managing crabgrass include: 

  • Pluck out crabgrass as soon as you notice it. The root system of young plants leaves only a tiny hole in your lawn, which will fill with new, healthy grass. 
  • Mow your lawn frequently and keep grass clippings in bags to manage seeds.
  • Reduce the amount of sunlight reaching dormant crabgrass seeds by allowing your lawn to grow at least 3 inches tall; this will protect the soil from getting too hot and keep your grass thick and lush, which means no room for crabgrass to grow!
  • Vinegar is a great natural substance that kills crabgrass! Apply to crabgrass growing on hard surfaces, such as an interlocking tile or stone.
Ted Lare Design & Build How to Manage Crabgrass in Iowa -mowing the lawn

How to Prevent Crabgrass

Crabgrass spreads like wildfire and continues producing seeds until you kill it or cold weather arrives, so it’s best to have a preventative measure in place before it becomes a problem that you need to manage. The best way to rid your lawn of crabgrass and other weeds is to keep your lawn healthy:

  • Mow high by cutting your grass to a height of 3 inches. Longer grass protects the soil from evaporation, which means healthier roots.
  • Feed your lawn with fertilizer, compost or worm castings to ensure it receives proper nutrients.
  • Use a pre-emergent herbicide—these work by creating a protective barrier in the soil that keeps new seeds from germinating. 
  • Manage your watering schedule to allow the surface to dry out in between waterings to promote strong root development. Of course, you’ll need to increase watering during the hottest parts of the summer. 
  • Each year, our lawns get compacted by precipitation, foot traffic, and thatch. At the beginning of each season, hit up your local nursery or Iowa gardening center and discuss how to manage your specific lawn care needs with us.  
Ted Lare Design & Build How to Manage Crabgrass in Iowa -healthy front lawn

Encouraging a healthy lawn to keep it from returning is the best way to manage crabgrass and keep it permanently out of your backyard. For more tips on combatting this deadly weed or other expert gardening advice, visit us at Ted Lare Design Build & Garden Center in Cumming, Iowa. We can’t wait to help you!

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Beautiful, Tropical, and Low-Maintenance: The ZZ Plant

Ted Lare Home & Build - Why You Need a ZZ Plant-ted lare garden center -zz plant foliage

ZZ plants, also known as Zamioculcas zamiifolia, have become wildly popular in the social media world of plant addicts thanks to their durability, striking foliage, and low maintenance requirements. With dramatic, dark, tropical leaves that provide texture and visual interest for different areas of your home, ZZ plants can handle almost anything. Even if you have a black thumb, this plant is for you. Find out why everyone needs a ZZ plant and how to care for them below.

Ted Lare Home & Build - Why You Need a ZZ Plant-zz plant in home office

Why Is a ZZ Plant Great? 

ZZ plants are a lazy plant lover’s best friend. Do you want a sun-loving houseplant for a sunny corner of your home? Do you want a plant that requires indirect light to set in the corner of your bedroom? The ZZ plant is always the answer! Here are the top reasons we love it: 

  1. They are extremely versatile and low maintenance.
  2. They thrive well in areas with both low and high amounts of light.
  3. They are adorned with dramatically beautiful thick textured leaves that will set a vibe in your home.
  4. They serve as air purifiers, removing pollutants like toluene, carbon, and xylene from the air.
  5. They are said to bring abundance and luck.

Decorating With Your ZZ Plant 

ZZ plants are as easy to decorate with since they can grow well in various light conditions. Depending on what area of your home you want to spruce up, you can hang your ZZ plant from the ceiling or place it on your desk to add an essence of nature to your work environment. They are excellent bedside plants, and you won’t have to worry about remembering to water them as often as other plants. However, it’s best to keep your ZZ plants away from your small children and pets, as their foliage is toxic. 

Ted Lare Home & Build - Why You Need a ZZ Plant-watering a zz plant

ZZ Plant Indoor Care 

Caring for your ZZ plant in Iowa is easy! Hydrate your ZZ plant every few weeks and allow your soil to dry out periodically between waterings. Your plant may require a bit more frequent watering if it is in a brighter area of your home. In darker areas, you can water low-maintenance houseplants like snake plants and ZZ plants as infrequently as once per month. Applying fertilizer every six months (or even monthly during its growth period) will also help your ZZ plant thrive, but it isn’t necessary. We mean it when we say ZZ’s are low maintenance! 

These plants can thrive under a wide range of lighting conditions, making them awesome for anywhere in your home. However, they prefer indirect sunlight because direct sunlight can cause leaves to scorch; nobody wants a ZZ with damaged leaves! Dust off its leaves every now and then to keep them looking fresh and shiny and to make sure they can absorb light well.

Ted Lare Home & Build - Why You Need a ZZ Plant-raven zz plant variety

ZZ Plant Varieties

  • Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Raven’: A new variety that has dark purple-maroon foliage.
  • Zamioculcas zamiifolia’ Variegated’: a variety with green leaves that are variegated with yellow and white. These speckles on the leaves fade if the plant does not get enough sunlight. This variety can be more sensitive than others but is still extremely low maintenance. 
  • Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Zenzi’: A new ZZ variety known for its smaller growth habit, making it perfect for small spaces! This little plant reaches a height of approximately one foot, with a chunky stalk and classic ZZ foliage. 
  • Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Lucky Classic’: This variety stands out with feathery-looking leaves and a rounder shape than the others. Flowers may bloom during the spring and summer months. 

Visit us at Ted Lare Design Build & Garden Center in Cumming, Iowa, to talk about how a ZZ plant can complement your home. 


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Big Leaf Houseplants

-ted lare garden center -large leaf houseplants - monstera deliciosa

There’s no such thing as too large of a houseplant! Their beauty makes them almost impossible to ignore, which is also what makes them such good conversation starters when guests visit! Gathering tall palms around sitting areas with comfy lounge chairs inside your home is the best—the leaves create a canopy overhead that feels luxurious and serene. From banana plants to ficus varieties, these big leaf house plants could just be a perfect addition to your indoor houseplant collection. 


Having a croton plant in your home is great because it requires little light and has big bold leaves. There’s no need to water it more than once a week in most cases, depending on the humidity in your home. It still offers all the drama to your home decor for how little maintenance it requires! Leaf colors range from green, yellow, red, orange, cream, pink, and black to certain varieties with all of these colors combined. Your soil should be kept evenly moist, allowing it to dry out between waterings. Set your plant in a sunny area of your home.

-ted lare garden center -large leaf houseplants - ficus elastica

Rubber Plant – Ficus Elastica 

Rubber plants are the it-girl of the indoor big leaf houseplant world. They simply have it all. Adorned in large beautiful evergreen leaves, they boast impressive height and serve as great air purifiers in your home. Rubber plants are easy to care for and can survive even after being neglected for a few days. If you frequently travel or leave the house, you can return home knowing that your ficus houseplant will still be alive when you arrive home! Other big leaf varieties of ficus that grow well indoors include Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata) and Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila).

Banana Plant 

The banana leaf plant has big, lush leaves that make it a great indoor house plant. Their interesting shape and unique coloring adds a splash of vibrancy to any room. Ideally, banana trees should be placed near a window so they can receive plenty of natural light and watered regularly. You can use artificial lighting if you don’t have a sunny spot for them in your home

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Unlike other houseplants, philodendrons don’t experience much scrutiny when moved between indoor and outdoor locations – they actually enjoy it!. Philodendron house plants thrive indoors year round trouble-free, but they also benefit from an occasional trip outdoors in a shady spot! Your philodendron houseplant will thrive best when fed a balanced liquid foliage houseplant fertilizer that contains macronutrients. You will want to water your plant with this fertilizer monthly in spring and summer months, and every six to eight weeks in the fall and winter. 

Bird of Paradise 

Not only is this exotic plant’s foliage decadent, but it can grow up to 8 feet in height! These tall big leaf houseplants are perfect for creating a statement in high-ceiling areas of your home. These evergreens should be kept in front of a window, ensuring that they receive at least 4-5 hours of sunlight a day.

-ted lare garden center-large leaf houseplants - areca palm

Areca Palm

If you’re looking to add a tropical vibe to your home, nothing beats a big leaf palm plant. It is characterized by many stems that produce graceful, arching fronds that are reminiscent of bamboo. Otherwise known as the butterfly palm or bamboo palm, this indoor houseplant requires bright indirect sunlight and grows to six to ten feet in height. 

Fiddle-Leaf Fig 

The grand stature and elegant leaves of the fiddle-leaf fig are great for bringing drama and height to your space! These indoor houseplants should be placed directly in front of a window inside your home. Your Fiddle Leaf Fig’s size will also determine how much light it needs to thrive. The bigger the plant, the more light it will need. Every one to two weeks, wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to get rid of dust and keep them looking beautiful. Dust removal will also allow more sunlight to reach the leaves and improve photosynthesis!

ted lare garden center -large leaf houseplants - caladium


The vibrant, paper-thin, heart shaped big leaves that adorn caladiums are just one of the few characteristics that make them so special. A large assortment of leaf patterns and colors are found on these big leaf indoor houseplants, from white leaves with green veins and borders to spotted and marbled patterns in red, pink, green, and white. Thriving indoors in direct sunlight, this spectacular plant is the perfect way to liven up any room inside your home. 

Monstera Deliciosa 

With big green waxy leaves, the Monstera deliciosa commands attention as soon as you enter the room. As hardy and easy to maintain indoor houseplants, they make great choices for home offices, bedrooms, and any other part of your home! A warm, humid environment, a substantial supply of water, and gentle sunlight are ideal for monstera houseplants. Place your Monstera where it can receive medium to bright indirect light. 


The needs are different for each of these big leaf beauties, but we would be more than happy to help provide you with the proper care regimen for each of your lush leafed indoor plants! Visit us at Ted Lare Design Build & Garden Center in the Des Moines, Iowa region today to get your indoor plants thriving inside your home. 

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How to Use Groundcovers in Your Landscape

-ted lare garden center - groundcover plants -creeping phlox

You may have heard gardeners use the term “groundcover” before, but what actually is it? We’ll answer that and more, featuring great groundcover options for Des Moines and inspiration on how to use groundcover plants in your landscape for maximum impact.  

What Are Groundcovers?

Groundcover plants refer to low-growing ornamental perennial plants that tend to sprawl rather than grow upright. You can find both coniferous and deciduous groundcovers. Groundcovers are a great way to introduce new colors and textures into your landscape design, but you can cover parts of your yard where grass does not thrive or is prone to flooding. 

Groundcovers are excellent for reducing weeds, containing moisture, preventing evaporation, and keeping the roots of your other plants cool. In fact, groundcover plants work very similarly to mulch in your garden beds! It’s a win-win option for style and function. 

Groundcovers for Des Moines 

Select a groundcover plant suitable for your landscape’s growing conditions. A few of our favorite groundcover options for Des Moines include: 

Sedum: Sedums come in a wide array of colors, textures, heights and bloom colors.  It’s an excellent filler for rock gardens and around garden paths.

-ted lare garden center - groundcover plants - pink dianthus

‘Cheddar Pink’ Dianthus: An aesthetically pleasing set of pink, needle-like flowers form on this sun-loving plant in the spring months.


Carex Pensylvanica: An excellent option for planting under trees, this groundcover is tolerant of most things you throw at it, making it perfect for the midwest. These plants have dainty, draping leaves that soften the landscape and blow gently in the breeze.

-ted lare garden center -_groundcover plants - European Wild Ginger

European Wild Ginger: This wild ginger displays glossy, heart-shaped leaves and tiny greenish-yellow flowers in April and May. When contrasted with ferns and fine-texture perennials, it looks great!


Creeping Phlox: As one of the fastest flowering groundcovers, creeping phlox is a favorite amongst many gardeners. Creeping phlox blooms early in the spring, covering the landscape with flowers in shades of purple, pink, or white, and is perfectly suited for the Des Moines climate. You can use this plant to cover rock gardens, cascade down retaining walls or fill vast garden beds.

Vinca: With glossy green foliage or variegated foliage, and periwinkle flowers this medium fast-growing groundcover will have your garden lush in no time! 

How to Use Groundcovers in Your Landscape

Partnered alongside other plants, groundcover plants make a great team in dressing up the landscape. Their slow growth provides movement as the eye moves from one level to another, making a great filler underneath tall plants. In selecting a colorful option like the ‘Cheddar Pink’ groundcover flower listed above, you end up with an eccentric look that you can appreciate both near and far. 

Groundcovers also have a spreading habit that makes them perfect for use along paths. By hiding a brick path or rock bed’s edge with groundcover, you can integrate it more naturally into the landscape design. The options are truly limitless! 

-ted lare garden center - groundcover plants -sloped garden

If there are any spots in your landscape where moisture is always pooling, it might be worth leveling the terrain or adding some groundcover plants to stabilize the soil and absorb excess moisture. You can also plant groundcovers on steep slopes that are hard to mow, where you need to fill gaps, soften edges, or plant where you’d like to replace your lawn! Replace the mulch, river rock, or whichever protective groundcover you prefer.


There are so many groundcover plants available! Pay us a visit at Ted Lare Design Build & Garden Center in Des Moines, Iowa, and we can provide you with more information about selecting the best groundcover for your landscape design so that your yard looks full and beautiful.