Posted on Leave a comment

Repotting: The Signs To Watch For And How To Do It

Repotting houseplants seems like a pretty straightforward task, and we’re often tempted to repot our new plants as soon as we get them home. However, repotting can be a somewhat traumatic experience for plants, and some are more sensitive to this disruption than others. The journey from the garden center to your home is quite an adjustment for your plants, and they should be given a little time to rest before repotting.

When Should I Repot My Houseplants?

Repotting houseplants is best done when the plants are actively growing, which happens from April through August here in Iowa. After this time, plants go dormant, and repotting should be avoided unless the plant is showing signs of being severely rootbound. If you’ve brought a new houseplant home, give it about 3-5 days to rest and adjust to its new environment before you repot it.

A Bigger Plant Pot is Not Always Better

Overplanting is a common problem with houseplants. Overplanting happens when plants are repotted into containers that are too large, leaving a small root system sitting in a large volume of potting soil. This contributes to over watering problems and can cause poor root development and root rot. Most plants like to be potted in smaller containers, and it’s okay for them to be a little rootbound. We recommend sizing up no more than one size from the current pot. This is usually done in 2” increments for pot sizes.

If you are planting a plant that prefers specific conditions, like an orchid, it may need a specialized container. Orchid containers have large holes in the side of the pot for extra air circulation around the roots. 
   


What Type of Soil Should I Use?

Most houseplants will benefit from a good quality potting mix; there are even a few available designed specifically for certain houseplants. 

Some plants, like orchids and cacti, definitely need specialty mixes. Orchid potting mix and cactus mix are both free draining, but they feature very different types of materials. Planting orchids or succulents in other media can cause disease and root rot problems from overwatering.

How Do I Deal with Rootbound Plants?

When you remove your plant out of the old container, you will often see tangled roots. When you see more roots than soil, it means the plant is rootbound or potbound. In some cases, this can require an intervention. When repotting, it’s crucial to separate these roots before planting in the new pot. Very gently, pull some of the roots apart and untangle them from each other. Take out as much of the old soil as you can at the same time. You will break some roots while you’re doing this, but that’s okay. Some broken roots will encourage the plant to grow new roots (however, orchids are an exception to this rule). Carefully place the plant roots into the new pot prepared with a layer of fresh orchid mix at the bottom, and backfill around and over the roots. Leave about half an inch of space between the lip of the pot and the top of the soil line to allow room for watering.  

 

Orchids Are The Exception

Some specialized plants have their own rules that need to be followed using the example above. Orchid roots don’t grow the way other plants do, so do your best not to damage or break any of the roots while repotting—be very delicate. Orchids also like to have some air roots, so leave some of them exposed. 

Repotting After Care Tips

Tropicals and foliage plants should be soaked deeply right after repotting. 

Cacti should not have their watering schedule adjusted when repotted—place them in the new pot and don’t water them until they’re due for a drink. 

Should I Fertilize After Repotting?

It may be tempting to break out the fertilizer after repotting. However, it’s best to wait at least a month before fertilizing. Fresh potting soil is loaded with the nutrients your plant needs to get a good head start on growing new roots, so fertilizer shouldn’t be required for up to 3 months depending on your mix.

Whatever you need for repotting your houseplants this spring, we’ve got you covered. Stop by our garden center today, and we’ll send you home with everything you need to make repotting as trauma-free as possible for your houseplants. 

Love what you’re reading? Sign up to our email newsletter, and get exclusive tips for keeping houseplants healthy!

If you’re looking to add some exotic, strange, or straight-up strange-looking plants to your home, stop by our garden center. We’ve got plenty of weird and wonderful houseplants for you to discover! 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

5 Houseplants with the Most Amazing Leaves

It’s always exciting to bring a new houseplant home. But if you’re tired of the same old plain green leaves, why not look for something more exotic the next time you shop for indoor plants? There are plenty of intriguing species we can grow indoors with unique leaves packed with personality! Here are a few of our favorite striking indoor plants for Iowa

Fittonia, often called Nerve Plants, are dramatic in more ways than one. They have striking dark green leaves with bright red or white veins. They’re beautiful to look at, and they can tolerate fairly low-light situations. However, they’re very dramatic about being watered. If you let their soil dry, they’ll wilt and collapse as if the world has ended. Luckily, it hasn’t (unless you leave them like that for days on end!). Give them a thorough soaking, and they’ll perk back up within a few hours like nothing ever happened.

Lithops, often called Living Stones, are an unusual family of succulents that actually look like rocks! They’re native to very dry areas of southern Africa, and some even survive in areas that get less than 2″ of rain each year. They stay small and low-profile, and they can go months without water. However, they do need full direct sunlight for a minimum of 5 hours per day. A bit of extra shade in the heat of the afternoon is helpful. 

The warning to NOT overwater these guys is super important. Lithops are dormant for spring and summer, so don’t water them then unless the leaves start to shrivel. At that time, only offer a small amount, just enough to moisten the top of the soil. They start growing again in August or September, and plants that are at least three years old may bloom in the fall, producing cute little spiky flowers. 

In the fall, you can give them one deep watering, but make sure they have good drainage. Cactus soil is ideal, as it prevents them from staying wet for very long. Stop watering altogether by the end of September. They grow through the winter, but they need the soil to be very dry to complete their growing cycle. Do not be tempted to water if the old leaves start to shrivel; this is a normal part of their growth and reproduction process.

Staghorn Ferns have recently become more popular for their large leaves that look like moose antlers. Staghorns are epiphytic, which means that in the wild, they attach themselves to other plants and don’t grow in soil. They do best when mounted on a hanging platform of some sort, or in a hanging wire or mesh basket with little to no soil. An orchid bark mix would be well suited for staghorn. 

So, how do you water a staghorn? There are two primary ways to make sure your fern is getting enough moisture. They like humidity, so if your home is dry, you may need to mist even once per day during the driest parts of the year. The higher the humidity in the area, the less frequently you’ll need to mist or water. 

The second watering method is to soak the roots. You can dunk the entire root ball into a bowl or sink of room temperature water for a minute or two. You’ll have to pay attention to your fern to figure out how it likes to be watered. Fronds beginning to go black or brown at the base means it’s getting overwatered. Wilty fronds with brown tips are telling you the plant needs a bit more frequent watering.

Sensitive Plant has leaves that may not be that exciting to look at from a distance, but they are truly fascinating when you get closer. Kids and adults alike love to interact with this plant, because as soon as you touch its tiny leaves, they fold up and move away from your finger, only to reopen a few minutes later. This amazing reaction is a defense mechanism to keep the plant from being eaten by herbivores. Don’t touch it too often, though, as the constant folding/unfolding is stressful and weakens the plant.

The sensitive plant likes bright light, with some direct sun in the morning and high humidity. It is poisonous, so keep the plant out of reach of kids and pets and watch closely when allowing kids to interact with the leaves. Let the top of the soil dry before watering again, but don’t ever let the whole pot dry out completely. Sensitive plants can benefit from a few applications of all-purpose houseplant fertilizer during its growing season. 

Mother of 1000s is a variety of kalanchoe. Its thick triangular leaves propagate little baby plantlets all along the edges. This is another succulent species, so it needs excellent drainage; cactus soil is best. In the tropics, Mother of 1000’s can become invasive because the babies simply drop off when they’re ready and can quickly fill in an area. 

Mother of 1000’s likes plenty of indirect light, so they should be close to a window with a sheer curtain to protect the plant from direct sunlight. Thanks to its succulent leaves, it doesn’t need to be watered too frequently. Allow the top 2 inches of soil to dry out before watering. 

Love what you’re reading? Sign up to our email newsletter, and get exclusive tips for keeping houseplants healthy!

If you’re looking to add some exotic, strange, or straight-up strange-looking plants to your home, stop by our garden center. We’ve got plenty of weird and wonderful houseplants for you to discover! 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Decoding Houseplant Fertilizer: What, When, & How Much

It may seem like fertilizing your houseplants is too complicated, so it’s just easier to skip it. However, fertilizer is the only way for houseplants to get the nutrients they need in their small, controlled environments. Since houseplants are kept in pots, soil nutrients don’t get replenished in the soil the way it does outdoors. By leaving fertilizing out of your houseplant maintenance routine, you may be missing out on the true potential of your favorite plants!

As we head into spring in Iowa, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about giving your houseplants a boost as they begin to come out of their winter rest period.

What is in Fertilizer?

Fertilizer is most commonly a mix of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). The amounts of each of these nutrients are called the NPK ratio. They’re commonly seen on fertilizer packaging as numeric ratios, like 10-10-10, or 6-12-4. Most fertilizers also include trace amounts of other minerals and nutrients that your plants need. Most houseplants do best with a balanced (i.e., 10-10-10 or 20-20-20) fertilizer specifically designed for houseplants, or a formula with a higher nitrogen number. But, houseplants that flower need a fertilizer with a higher phosphorus number to support blooming. Some of the more finicky bloomers, like African Violets, have specific fertilizers formulated just for them. Higher nitrogen promotes more greenery and lush leaves, high phosphorus promotes more blooms.

 


What Type of Fertilizer is Best?

There are so many fertilizer options available, it can be hard to decide on the right one. We recommend two guidelines when choosing fertilizer:

  1. Make sure it says on the packaging that it’s specifically for houseplants.
  2. Consider an organic brand if possible.

The reason for these guidelines is that fertilizer for outdoor plants or lawns has different ratios of nutrients and minerals because indoor and outdoor plants have different nutrient needs. 

We recommend organic fertilizers because they’re healthier for your plant’s soil, and our planet, in the long term. Organic fertilizers are created from organic compounds in things like seaweed, compost, or worm castings. Synthetic fertilizers are often created from inorganic compounds that are a byproduct of the petroleum industry. These products deliver nutrients, but that’s where the benefits end. Organic products give your plants and soil a boost by adding organic matter that helps to repair nutrient-depleted soil, along with beneficial microbes that contribute to healthier soil over time. 

If you do prefer synthetic fertilizers, we recommend Scott’s Osmocote for houseplants. It comes in a pellet form that dissolves slowly, and you only need to use more every four months. It makes fertilizing houseplants super quick and simple. 

The organic fertilizer line we recommend is Espoma. Espoma’s products are of excellent quality, and they have a variety of different organic fertilizer options, including easy-to-use liquid formulas. 

 


How to Fertilizer Your Houseplants

Here are a few essential tips to remember when you fertilize your houseplants.

  • Only fertilize during the growing season (once you start seeing signs of new growth, or in mid-March), avoid fertilizing your houseplants in winter.
  • Be conservative in the spring and fall and dilute the fertilizer to half the recommended strength.
  • Taper off fertilizer applications. Starting in mid-August, diluting to half-strength again, and fertilizing less frequently.
  • Liquid fertilizers should usually be applied every 2 weeks. Always water plants with plain water before applying liquid fertilizer.
  • Granular fertilizers are usually applied once a month.
  • Slow-release fertilizers are usually applied once every 4 months.
  • Some fertilizers can be applied as a spray to the leaves, check the bottle for instructions.

We don’t recommend fertilizing succulents and cacti. It can be tricky to make sure they get the right amount, and too much fertilizer might kill them!

Love what you’re reading? Sign up to our email newsletter, and get exclusive tips for keeping houseplants healthy!

Fertilizing your houseplants is pretty simple, and it’s not something to avoid. Your houseplants will thank you for feeding them with healthy, vigorous growth during their growing season! If you’ve got any questions at all, stop by our garden center and ask our expert staff. We can help you figure out which product is best for you and explain how to use it. 

Posted on Leave a comment

The 7 Best Blooming Houseplants to Brighten Any Room

We’ve still got a while to wait for spring here in Iowa, but you don’t need to wait until then to enjoy some mood-lifting flowering plants! These flowering houseplants all add color and life to any room—just what you need to get you through the home stretch of winter. Here are seven of our favorite blooming houseplants.

Anthuriums: These beauties have bright white, pink, or red flowers that look like cartoon hearts. They flower periodically throughout the year, and each bloom lasts for months at a time! When not in flower, the triangle-shaped foliage has a glossy appearance that adds timeless flair to any space. Anthuriums range in height from between 1-2′ tall and wide, but even the smaller plants can produce their beautiful, signature blooms. They like to be near a window that offers bright, filtered light. Allow your anthurium to dry out a bit between waterings.

Holiday Cacti: Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, and Easter cactus make up the trio of Holiday cacti. These plants are all similar-yet-distinct varieties of the Schlumbergera family. Each plant develops flowers when the night length reaches a certain point, which causes them to bloom near their respective holidays. The flowers are either tubular or shaped like daisies, depending on which type you get. Holiday cacti range in color from white, red, pink, orange, and yellow. Allow these to dry out considerably between waterings.

Hoya: Many know about the colorful leaf designs these wonderful plants have, but what many people don’t know is that, in the right light, hoyas can produce very unique flowers! They have little florets that resemble shooting stars, while others form a cluster shaped like a spear. Some are sweetly fragrant, while others are just eye-candy. The color palettes range from reddish-purple to pink and white. Many hoyas flower when they reach a certain age and can flower at any time of the year. Most hoyas like their soil on the dry side with moderate to full sunlight.

Bromeliads: These plants offer some of the brightest blooms you’ll see indoors! The colors range from vivid yellow, pink, red, and orange. Their large conical flowers last for a couple of months and add some tropical attitude to your indoor spaces. Both the blooms and the leaves of bromeliads have great ornamental appeal, and some bromeliad varieties have gorgeous variegated foliage. Bromeliads enjoy moderate to full sunlight, and it’s important to let them dry down before rewatering.

Crown-of-Thorns: This plant may look a bit scary at first glance, but their bark is worse than their bite. The thorns of these plants are for show only and are completely safe for your fingers! What’s awesome about this plant are their little clusters of cheerful flowers, an intriguing contrast next to the tough-looking, spiky stems. Bloom colors come in reddish-pink or yellow, and the blooms last for quite some time. This plant may look like a desert plant, but we have found they prefer to be watered deeply and allowed to dry out. To get the best show of blooms, keep them in full sunlight.

African Violets: These vintage favorites have come a long way! African violets flower in almost any color of the rainbow, including purple, blue, red, white, and pink. You can also find African violets with single or double blooms. Some African Violets have beautiful variegated leaves, while more traditional-looking varieties have solid green foliage. They require lots of light to flower, but once flowering has started, they can bloom for months under the right conditions. Try not to allow any water to touch the leaves since it can cause unattractive blemishes. Pour water directly into the soil or water from the bottom, then allow the plant to dry out. 

Orchids: A popular favorite that comes in many colors, bloom shapes, and styles. The most common colors are white, pink, black, yellow, and red. You might spot a blue one here and there, but this color can only be achieved by dying the white orchids. Some orchids have delightful scents, like vanilla or chocolate! They usually bloom annually in winter or spring. Some people may be intimidated when it comes to growing these graceful houseplants, but they aren’t nearly as tricky to grow as they seem. Planting in an orchid bark mix is a must, and make sure to use an orchid container or clay pots since these blooming beauties are used to having lots of air circulation around their roots.

Love what you’re reading? Sign up to our email newsletter, and get inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.

At this time of year, it’s so nice to come home to colorful flowers and lush green foliage. Find your new favorite houseplant today at our garden center in Cumming, IA! We carry a great selection of houseplants to suit your style and brighten your day.

Posted on Leave a comment

Beautiful Blooms for the Holidays

We’ve already talked about the classic Christmas plants like poinsettia and Christmas cactus, but they’re only a few of the many winter-blooming plants that can complement your festive decor. If you’re looking for something just a little bit different to add some bright color to your home, try one of these beautiful blooms for the holidays in Iowa.

Phalaenopsis Orchid

Orchids are an elegant and exotic bloomer. Phalaenopsis orchids, in particular, are quite easy to grow and are available in a variety of colors. The best part about orchids is that their blooms last for ages. You may still have the same blooms on your orchid well into January! Orchids can be prone to root rot, so err on the side of underwatering. Orchids like bright but indirect light, so they don’t need to be too near a window. If you’d like to try getting your orchid to rebloom later, it’s a good idea to re-pot it from time to time. They perform best in a chunky, fast-draining orchid-specific potting mix.

Bromeliads

Bromeliads are sensational houseplants. Their dramatic shapes and bright colors bring a tropical flair to any room. Their blooms also last an extremely long time, for several months usually. They also like indirect light and do prefer to be a bit drier, especially in winter. Water bromeliads when the soil is dry to about 2″ deep. When you do water your bromeliad, be sure to water into the center, where the leaves and flower stalk meet. Bromeliads also absorb water through their tank in the center. Unfortunately, bromeliads only bloom once in their life, so once the colorful central stalk starts to fade, you can cut it back. Hopefully, your bromeliad will then begin to develop “pup” plants, which you can transplant into new pots and enjoy all over again.

Azalea

Small azalea plants are another option that is commonly available around Christmas. They have large, cheerful, blousy-looking blooms. They like bright indirect light and prefer moist, but not wet soil. Azalea is best watered with a tray when the water starts to run through, stop watering. After an hour, dump any excess water sitting in the saucer. Some varieties of Azalea are hardy enough for our chilly zone 5 winters in Iowa, and you can plant them outdoors to grow into a lovely shrub. Just check the tag to make sure the variety you’ve picked out is appropriate for our climate.

Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe is another popular holiday houseplant. Similar to poinsettias, they’re often kept for the season and then composted once the blooms finish in January. As a succulent, kalanchoe need excellent drainage, they’ll do best in a succulent or cactus soil. The best way to water kalanchoe is to set it in the sink in an inch or two of water and let it soak until it stops, but don’t water until the soil is dry. They’ll suffer more from overwatering than underwatering. They love lots of sunshine, so a spot near a south window is perfect for them. They can be kept and successfully rebloomed again next year. Starting in September next year, they need 12-14 hours of complete darkness to initiate the blooming process in time for Christmas.

Winter Begonias

Winter begonias are profuse bloomers through the holiday season, with pretty blossoms and showy leaves with pink, red, silver, or white centers outlined with brilliant green. Begonias prefer filtered light, evenly moist soil, and humidity. Begonias propagate very easily, so you can quickly grow yourself many more begonias just from leaf cuttings. You can pinch back some leaves and blooms (when they finish blooming) to encourage a bushier growth habit.Love what you’re reading? Sign up to our email newsletter, and get inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.

If you are looking for a more unexpected holiday houseplant than the traditional choices, stop by our garden center. We can help you find a beautiful new houseplant that reflects your personal style and adds a cheerful hit of color to your home through the holiday season.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Best Living Holiday Ornaments & Inspiration

Adding living plants to your holiday Christmas decor is easier than it might seem. Incorporating live plants into your holiday decor brings a sense of vibrancy and natural beauty that you just can’t get with artificial plants. We’ve put together a festive list of our favorite ways to decorate with live holiday ornaments in Iowa, and two tutorials for fun holiday decor with houseplants.

Houseplants on a Christmas Tree

We think adding houseplants to the Christmas tree gives it a unique and elegant look. Here are a few innovative ways to add some of your favorite houseplants to your tree decor. The very best part about all of these ideas is that you can keep them out well after Christmas.

Glass Ornaments

Glass ornaments with openings can act like tiny terrariums. You can find open-sided glass ornaments in a variety of sizes and styles at our garden center. You can keep them super simple, popping a single air plant or a sprig of evergreen into each one, or get more creative by crafting a miniature ecosystem.

Get the kids involved and create tiny Christmas fairy garden terrariums. Using sphagnum moss as a base, you can create a tiny holiday scene in each one. Small pieces of an evergreen branch can stand in as a tiny Christmas tree. Hanging these on your Christmas tree, or placing them around the house, adds understated elegance and simplicity to your decor.

Wire Ornaments

Simple metal or wire ornaments in classic holiday shapes, like stars or bells, are very trendy right now. Using wire, attach a grouping of air plants or succulents to one of these ornaments, and you’ve got a beautiful mid-century modern living ornament for your home.

Terra Cotta Pots & Macrame

Macrame has come back in a BIG way in the last year or two. Our favorite versions for the holidays are tiny macrame hangers for 1-2″ terra cotta pots. You can hang these on your Christmas tree for delightfully unique ornaments. If you’ve never done macrame before, don’t be intimidated. There are numerous videos online on how to make simple macrame plant hangers. Pop a tiny bit of soil and a mini succulent, “baby” spider plant, or other small plants into the terra cotta pot, and you’ve got some super cute living ornaments for your Christmas tree.

Our Favourite Live Christmas Decor

Evergreen boughs are a classic living Christmas decoration. There are so many different kinds of evergreens available, you can never go wrong with adding some branches to your holiday decor. Whether you add some to pots on the front porch, arrange them in vases on the table, draped over the mantle, or made into a wreath, evergreens always add a traditional Christmas feel to your home.

Amaryllis is a perennial favorite holiday plant. They’re elegant and simple with dramatic flower bracts, which makes them a classic central element for a Christmas centerpiece. Because their stems and leaves are tall and slender, amaryllis won’t block your view of the happy faces around the table!

Paperwhites are another classic Christmas bulb that compliments amaryllis well. They’re also tall and slim, but they feature beautiful bunches of white star-shaped flowers that complement the voluptuous, colorful blossoms of amaryllis.

We often associate floral arrangements with warmer days, but there are tons of beautiful flowers that work very well with Christmas decor. Classic red and white roses, or red and white carnations, have a decidedly Christmas-y feel when paired with greenery. Holiday floral arrangements combine nicely with sprigs of eucalyptus, ivy, or holly.

Tiny potted living evergreen trees are delightful both indoors and outdoors. You can get different varieties and place one in each room of the house, or use them to line your front walkway. It’s fun to decorate each tiny tree with a different theme. Strings of tiny fairy lights make them just as romantic as a full-sized tree.

Our absolute favorite live decor has to be our Table Top Grinch Trees. Combining living cedar greenery, a cute pot, and some adorable ornaments, these fun evergreen designs are always a bestseller. We also hold seasonal workshops in which we show you how to create your own unique Whoville tree. These stunning arrangements keep on living right into the new year if you keep them watered. Sign up for our upcoming class on December 4th to learn how to make your own. If you can’t make it to this class, we’ve got so many others coming up featuring ideas for live holiday decor, including:

Sterling Silver Snowflake Jewelry, November 30, 9-11 AM, $25-$50

Holiday Porch Pot, November 30, 12:30-2:30 PM, $20

Vintage Santa, November 30, 12:30-2:30 PM, $60

Mini Birch Evergreen Holiday Centerpiece, November 30, 3-5 PM, $25

Succulent Christmas Tree, December 2, 6-8 PM, $20

Holiday Grapevine Wreath, December 3, 6-8 PM, $39

Holiday Creation Station, December 3, 6-8 PM, $20

Holiday Angel Painting, December 3, 6-8 PM, $45

Tabletop Grinch Tree, December 4, 6-8 PM, $40

Holiday Porch Pot, December 5, 5-8 PM, $20

Garden to Glass: Holiday Part 2, December 5, 6-8 PM, $35

Holiday Porch Pot, December 7, 9-11 AM, $20

Holiday Centerpiece, December 7, 12-2 PM, $20

You can sign up for any of our workshop classes online or in person at our garden center. By the way, if you’re really set on making a Grinch Tree but can’t make it the workshop on the 4th, let us know! You can always come to the Holiday Creation Station workshop on the 3rd instead, but if we get enough interest, we may consider adding in another Grinch Tree workshop for our friends in Des Moines!

Posted on Leave a comment

Top 15 Delightful Houseplants for 2020

Houseplants have seen a surge in popularity across the states in the last few years, and they’re just as popular in Iowa as anywhere else. With 2020 around the corner, the houseplant trend isn’t going anywhere.

In 2019, the list of most popular houseplants in Iowa was dominated by tropical beauties that are super easy to grow, like Snake Plant and ZZ Plant. Now that people have gotten a taste of the joys of houseplants, it looks like they’re starting to branch out a bit and take on plants that are a little more challenging, like African Mask. Plant sharing is becoming more popular too, so things that are easy to propagate, like Chinese Money Plant, are still on the list.

Here are 15 gorgeous houseplants that are about to be wildly popular in 2020.

Beautiful Paver Patio Outdoor Living

Swiss Cheese Plant

Swiss Cheese Plant, or Monstera deliciosa, has the potential to grow to a massive scale. In their native environment, from Southern Mexico to Panama, they grow up to 30′ tall. It’s dramatic split leaves are visually striking, adding drama to any room. Swiss Cheese Plant is a statement piece. They will tolerate low light fairly well, but they grow faster in a bright room. Native to the dappled shade of the rainforest, Swiss Cheese Plant can’t tolerate direct sun, so don’t get them too close to south-facing windows. Now and then, wipe the leaves with a damp cloth or sponge to clean the dust off.

String of Pearls

String of Pearls are unique succulents that looks beautiful when trailing over the edges of hanging pots. It genuinely resembles a string of green pearls. This popular succulent is pretty easy to care for, too. It needs well-draining soil, like a cactus mix, in a shallow pot. Fertilizer can cause root burn, so don’t fertilize more than once a year in spring. This succulent likes bright light, but not direct sun, which can be too intense for this delicate plant. If it’s struggling near a south window, move it away. It doesn’t need much water; the soil should be dry before watering again. String of Pearls is very easy to propagate—just snip off a section of pearls and tuck the cut end into the soil.

String of Hearts

String of Hearts, or Rosary Vine, is another popular trailing plant. It has delightful soft green heart-shaped leaves with white veins. It looks beautiful in a hanging pot. String of Hearts loves heat, but not direct sun. It thrives near a west-facing window. While not technically a succulent, it likes similar care to succulents like String of Pearls, and the soil should dry out between watering. This plant is sensitive to overwatering.

Beautiful Paver Patio Outdoor Living

Rubber Tree 

Rubber Tree, or Ficus elastica, is another popular house plant with the potential to grow big and bold. It has shiny dark green leaves and is an excellent complement to minimalist decor. Rubber Tree isn’t actually made of rubber, but it is very easy to care for! Keep yours in a bright room but out of direct sunlight. Don’t water until the top inch or two of soil is completely dry. You can keep their size in check with regular pruning, but if left to its own devices, this plant will grow and grow. The sap from Rubber Tree is a known skin irritant, so wear gloves when pruning or repotting.

Ruby Rubber Tree

Ruby Rubber Tree, or Variegated Rubber Tree, has variegated leaves with green centers, white edges, and hints of pink. Often the middle stem of leaves will be red. Ruby has similar care requirements to the standard Rubber Tree, although its need for bright indirect light is even more critical. Poor lighting will cause the vibrant colors of this variety to fade.

Rubber Tree Tineke

Tineke Rubber Tree, or Burgundy Rubber Tree, is very similar to Ruby, but it is a little more compact with deeper red tones. It has the same care requirements as Ruby, and bright indirect light is very important for color retention. Love what you’re reading? Sign up to our email newsletter, and get inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.

Beautiful Paver Patio Outdoor Living

ZZ Black Raven 

ZZ Plant is probably the easiest low-light plant to care for. With its recent resurgence in popularity, more varieties of ZZ Plant are available than ever. Black Raven is a favorite because of its extremely dark, nearly black leaves. It’s a striking contrast to the classic brighter greens of most house plants. Black Raven ZZ Plant should not get direct sun. Although it does need some light, it will grow well in offices or bathrooms with less light. The new leaves emerge in a shade of vibrant green and shift to deep purple-black over time. 

Raindrop Peperomia

Raindrop Peperomia, also known as Peperomia polybotrya, Owl Eye Peperomia, or Coin Leaf Peperomia, commonly gets mistaken for Chinese Money plant, but the leaves have slightly different shapes. Raindrop Peperomia’s leaves are a distinct water droplet shape. It is suitable for smaller spaces as it won’t usually get more than 1′ tall. It needs bright light but should be kept out of the direct afternoon sun. Raindrop Peperomia is a succulent, so let the soil dry out between waterings. 

Sansevieria

Sansevieria, also known as Snake Plant, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, or Viper’s Bowstring Hemp, might tie with the ZZ plant for the title of “easiest plant to care for.” You can forget to water Sansevieria for weeks, and they don’t seem to care. In fact, they’re more sensitive to overwatering than infrequent watering. They’ll do well in low light situations, and are also easy to propagate from cuttings. There are many different varieties available with beautiful patterns and colors. 

Beautiful Paver Patio Outdoor Living

Starfish Snake Plant

Sansevieria Starfish, or Starfish Snake Plant, has thick cylindrical leaves that spread out in all directions like the legs of a starfish. The leaves have stripes of alternating light and dark green. Their care requirements are the same as all other Sansevieria.

Fernwood Snake Plant

Sansevieria Fernwood, or Fernwood Snake Plant, also has cylindrical leaves, with slightly wider strips than Starfish. The leaves grow in a tight cluster that arch out a little as they get taller. The care requirements are the same as all other Sansevieria.

Rattlesnake Plant 

Rattlesnake Plant, or Rattlesnake Prayer Plant, has light green leaves with dark purple stripes and spots, and purple undersides. The leaves have slightly ruffled edges, giving the plant an intriguing appearance. Rattlesnake Plants prefer medium to low-light locations; direct sun will burn the leaves. It likes damp, but not waterlogged, soil. Overwatering will cause it the leaves to wilt, and if it’s left dry for too long, the leaves will start to curl and may turn brown.

Beautiful Paver Patio Outdoor Living

Calathea Orbifolia

Calathea Orbifolia is another popular variety of Prayer Plant. It has large bright green leaves with dazzling silvery-blue stripes. This variety is a little harder to find, but it’s a beautiful addition to any home. Like Rattlesnake Plant, Calathea Orbifolia prefers medium to low-light conditions and evenly damp soil.

Chinese Money Plant

Chinese Money Plant, or Pilea peperomioides, is also a super easy-care low-light plant that happens to be absolutely adorable. It has pretty round leaves at the top of long skinny stems. Chinese Money Plant is an excellent plant for sharing with friends because it regularly sends up new little baby plants all around its base. This cheerful plant will start to turn yellow or brown if exposed to too much water or direct sunlight.

Elephant Ear Alocasia

African Mask, also known as Alocasia sanderiana or Elephant Ear plant, is a bit higher maintenance than others on this list, but its exotic colors are worth the effort. It has arrowhead-shaped, nearly black leaves with striking white veins. It offers an exciting contrast to more common houseplant varieties. Elephant Ears require bright but indirect light, and moist, but well-draining soil. It’s best to water this plant in the morning. They need plenty of humidity and warmth, and regular fertilizer during the spring and summer growing season.

If you haven’t tried any of these gorgeous houseplants, visit our garden center in Cumming, Iowa. You’ll love browsing our selection of the most popular houseplants for 2020, along with gorgeous pots to go with them.

Posted on Leave a comment

10 Winter Survival Tips for Your Houseplants

We aren’t the only ones struggling with the shorter days, colder temperatures, and drier air here in Iowa. Our houseplants are also affected by the lower light levels, frigid drafts, and arid air from our furnaces. 

However, these harsh conditions don’t have to mean certain death for your household greenery. Here’s how to protect your indoor plants through the winter.

Keep a consistent temperature. Move your plants away from heat registers, radiators, and drafty entryways. Most houseplants prefer between 65-75 ̊F and are fine with a little dip in temperature at night. However, drastic temperature changes, like those they might experience near a radiator, heat register, or even too close to the front door, can be shocking for plants. 

fiddle-leaf figs placed indoors

Turn plants toward the light. As your plants seek out more light, they may unbalance themselves. If you notice them leaning towards a window, turn their pot to get them to straighten up again. You may need to turn them regularly throughout winter.

Find a sunnier spot. As the sun gets lower, some areas in our homes may get more or less direct light. If the light has changed drastically in one spot, consider moving your plants a bit to suit their ideal light preferences. If you don’t get very much light into your home in the winter, you may want to consider getting a grow light or two to help your plants through the shortest days of the year.

Don’t let leaves touch glass window panes. Glass can get really cold when it’s chilly outside, and when plant tissue sits against it, it can give your plant a nasty case of frostbite. 

Boost the humidity. Most plants thrive in 40-50% humidity, and some, like tropicals, even appreciate a little more. Furnaces dry out the air like crazy. You can recreate that humidity by grouping your plants closer together, misting your plants regularly, adding some pebble trays underneath your plant pots, or running a humidifier in rooms where you keep plants. 

Adjust your watering schedule. If you watered your houseplants weekly in the summer, you’ll need to change up your schedule for the winter. Some plants may only need water every ten days, while some may need to be watered every five days. Check the soil with the tip of your finger; if it’s dry down to half an inch or an inch, it’s ok to water. If possible, use room temperature water. Let the water sit for a day inside your watering can to allow it to come to room temperature and let any chlorine evaporate. 

Cut back your fertilizing. Houseplants in Iowa do not need fertilizer in winter. Give your plants a break on the feeding for the winter, and start back up in spring. 

fiddle-leaf fig plant

Give your plants a shower or bath. When our furnaces kick in, it seems to stir up a lot of dust that we didn’t even know was there. Dusty leaves can hamper your plant’s ability to breathe and photosynthesize. Your plants will benefit from a wipe down of the leaves or an actual gentle spray from the showerhead in your bathroom. 

Do some light pruning. Clip back tall and leggy stems and yellowing leaves to encourage new growth for spring. 

Keep your eyes peeled for pests. Our houseplants are particularly vulnerable to pest infestations as they adjust from summer to winter conditions. Keep a close watch on the stems and the undersides of leaves for signs of pests.

Love what you’re reading? Sign up to our email newsletter, and get inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.

Your houseplants may require a little extra care through the winter, but it’s an excellent way to keep your green thumbs active. A bit of indoor gardening is good for our health, too!

If you have any questions about how to care for your houseplants through the winter, stop by our garden center in Cumming. We can help you keep your houseplants alive through the winter so they can thrive again next spring.

Posted on Leave a comment

15 Non-Toxic Houseplants That Are Safe for Kids & Pets

Kids and pets alike seem drawn to grabbing and tasting houseplants. Some houseplants are totally safe, and some can make people and animals quite sick. Cats, in particular, seem to like to floss their teeth on the fronds of plants. Whether you’ve got curious kiddos around, or perplexing pets that like to chew on your houseplants, it’s important to know which houseplants are safe for them.

There are plenty of common houseplants that are actually quite toxic to humans and animals. As adults, we generally don’t eat pieces of our houseplants, so we don’t often think about it. Just because a houseplant is toxic, doesn’t mean you need to get rid of it completely (unless you have cats that are determined to eat it). There are lots of ways to keep toxic greenery out of reach of curious fingers and mouths, including hanging baskets, high shelves, and careful supervision. There’s a wide variety of gorgeous houseplants available at our garden center, and growers generally don’t label whether plants are toxic are not.  

As fall zips by here in Iowa, make sure you’re up to date on what plants are safe for your family before you stock up your indoor garden with new plant babies. 

Love what you’re reading? Sign up to our email newsletter, and get inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.

Toxic Indoor Plants

While we want to focus on non-toxic plants, we thought we should mention a few common indoor plants that are poisonous and could make your family members sick. If you have these plants in your house, place them well out of reach of little hands and paws.

  • Pothos
  • Philodendron
  • English Ivy
  • Hyacinth
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Arrowhead Vine
  • Lilies (cause kidney failure in cats, do not let them sniff the pollen or chew on any lilies)
  • Caladium (Also called Elephants Ears, Pink Cloud, and Mother-in-Law Plant, angel wings, or heart of Jesus)
  • Snake Plant (also called Mother-in-Law’s Tongue)

Non-Toxic Houseplants

Not all houseplants are toxic, so don’t despair. Here are 15 that are safe for kids, cats, and dogs. They still shouldn’t go on a houseplant munching adventure, but if they do ingest a few nibbles of these, they will be ok.

Beautiful Paver Patio Outdoor Living

1. Christmas Cactus (or Easter or Thanksgiving Cactus)

Holiday cactuses are popular houseplants in Iowa, with colorful and unusual shaped blooms. The secret to getting them to bloom for the holidays is to cut back a bit on watering 6-8 weeks before you want them to bloom. Wait until the top half-inch of soil is dry before watering.

2. Boston Fern (also called Sword Fern)

Boston ferns like a relatively cool environment, between 6-75F, with lots of humidity. If its fronds are fading to yellow, it needs more humidity. You may need to mist it daily in the fall and winter, keep it on a pebble tray, or run a humidifier near it.

3. African Violet

Keep this lovely bloomer happy by keeping it in a pot about 1/3 the size of the plant, letting it soak up water from below, and fertilizing it with African Violet fertilizer regularly. Don’t get the leaves wet; they’re a bit delicate.

Beautiful Paver Patio Outdoor Living

4. Peperomia

Peperomia is pretty easy to care for, but remember, they prefer to be away from a window. Direct light on their leaves can cause them to burn. Water your peperomia when the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry.

5. Baby’s Tears 

Baby’s Tears prefers a wide, shallow pot so that it can spread out and drape over the edges. Keep it out of direct sunlight. 

6. Prayer Plant

Prayer Plant is another low-light easy-care option. They do not like direct sun and will tolerate a random or inconsistent water schedule quite well. They do like humidity, so mist them regularly.

Beautiful Paver Patio Outdoor Living

7. Parlor Palm

Also called Neanthe Bella Palm, Parlor Palms are another humidity lover. Mist them regularly and keep them away from sunny windows. They prefer bright indirect light. 

8. Spider Plants

Spider Plants are notoriously resilient and will put up with significant abuse. Cats may be particularly attracted to spider plants as they’re a little bit like catnip. It’s completely safe for your cat to chew on them, but if they won’t leave it alone and the plant is suffering, try hanging it out of reach.

9. Sensitive Plant

These fascinating plants will tolerate some direct sun, but they like their soil to be moist without being soggy. Sensitive plants are popular with kids because they react so immediately to touch. 

Beautiful Paver Patio Outdoor Living

10. Haworthia Pearl Plant

This aloe lookalike is the perfect non-toxic alternative. It’s a typical succulent and will appreciate some sun, and for its soil to dry out an inch or two between watering.

11. Phalaenopsis Orchids

Phalaenopsis orchids, or moth orchids are one of the most common orchids available. Orchids may seem finicky, but they simply prefer care on a consistent schedule. Water phals on a regular basis, and keep them in indirect sunlight to keep them happy.

12. Fittonia

The distinctive white and green leaves of Fittonia, also known as Nerve Plant are a striking contrast to the usual houseplants. It does prefer moist soil, so check it regularly. In the fall and winter, Fittonia may need to be watered up to twice a week.

Beautiful Paver Patio Outdoor Living

13. String of Pearls

This unique succulent likes sunshine and heat. It prefers dry soil, so make sure you don’t leave it sitting in water. It loves to trail over the edges of its container, so give it some room to do that.

14. Hens and chicks

Hens and chicks also like warm and dry conditions. They’ll spread and fill their pot with adorable little baby plants. Hens and chicks come in a wide variety of colors and textures. 

15. Burro’s Tail

Another succulent that likes to trail over the edge of its pot, burro’s tail looks awesome in hanging planters.

You don’t have to give up on houseplants just because you have curious pets or children around. The plants above can add lots of beauty, interest, and fresh air to your home, and you can be confident that they’re safe for your family. If you’re not sure about the toxicity of a plant, a quick google search can help you find out. Or, if you’re near us in Iowa, come by the garden center and have a chat with our staff; we’ll help you find some beautiful and safe options for your home.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Best Plants for a Dreamy Terrarium

Terrariums are taking over Iowa homes—and for good reason. People are really embracing the trend of bringing nature into their homes. Unlike house plants, once you’ve put a terrarium together, they’re nearly maintenance-free, which makes them excellent options for busy students and professionals. They also inspire creativity and imagination. Your terrarium doesn’t have to be for plants alone; they can also include tiny decorations or figurines, creating any scene you can imagine. It certainly would be nice to stare into a tiny green world while all of the Iowa area is covered in snow!

While you can plant almost any plant in a terrarium, there are a few types of plants that are better suited to this particular environment. The main thing to remember when selecting plants is to make sure they all have similar water and light requirements. If you have a shade-loving plant and a sun worshipper in the same container, one of them is going to be very unhappy, and trying to compromise will leave them both to suffer.

fiddle-leaf figs placed indoors

Our Top 9 Plants for Terrariums

You can design a terrarium for succulents and cactus type plants, but it’s a bit more work to tweak the environment so it’s just right for them. A humid rainforest environment is probably the easiest to replicate and maintain. Sealed or open, having plants with similar water and light needs will make your miniature oasis nearly maintenance-free. Here are a few of our favorite terrarium-friendly plants from our garden center.

Mosaic Plant is also known as Fittonia or Nerve Plant. It’s a compact spreading plant with distinctive white veins on dark green leaves. Mosaic loves humidity but does not want any direct sun. Keep it in a bright spot in a room that isn’t too close to the window. It’s a slow grower, so it won’t overwhelm your container. You can prune your mosaic if needed.

Earthstars, also known as Cryptanthus, are easy to care for, and they add a unique shape and pop of color to your container. They also prefer bright but indirect light and plenty of humidity.

Begonias can thrive in terrariums because they are such stable, controlled environments. They like humidity but need good drainage, and no direct sun. Ideally, the bottom of your terrarium should be layers of gravel or rocks, with very little soil and sphagnum moss instead.

Ferns, like the small versions of Pteris or Maidenhair ferns, are great for terrariums because they love humidity, and they also don’t like much direct sunlight. Be careful about the positioning of ferns because most of them do not like their fronds to touch the glass.

Creeping Fig is a profuse grower often used as a ground cover. It prefers indirect light and humidity, and it doesn’t mind being trimmed and pruned to keep it in check.

Chinese Money Plant, also known as Pilea, likes humidity, prefers indirect light, and adds a unique look with its circular leaves on long, slender stems.

Peperomia may look like a succulent, but they’re actually rainforest plants, and they love the humidity. They also prefer bright indirect light. Each leaf will have its own unique variation of color.

Neanthe Bella Palms add the visual look of a bamboo forest to a terrarium. They are a slow-growing, low-maintenance plant that also loves humidity. They also prefer indirect light.

Polka Dot Plant has splashy pops of red and silver on its eye-catching leaves. Growing it away from direct sunlight will help to keep it smaller, but it could still use pruning once in a while.

Remember, the most important thing is to get plants that have similar light and moisture requirements. Once you have your terrarium set up with plants and other decorations, it should be almost maintenance-free. You’ll love having an entire mini-ecosystem in your home! 

Love what you’re reading? Sign up to our email newsletter, and get inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.

When you’re selecting plants for your terrarium, it’s essential to keep the size of your container in mind. You don’t want to cram in too many plants and crowd them all. If you have a specific terrarium in mind already, bring it with you to our garden center in Iowa when you’re looking for plants. That way, you can be certain which plants will fit, and you can get an idea of how you want to place them. If you don’t have a container yet, no worries! We’ve got lots of beautiful options to choose from, and we’ll even help you get set up with all the materials you need to create your miniature natural world.