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

The Best Colorful Trees and Shrubs for an Attractive Winter Garden

Sometimes it seems like winter in our gardens is very monotone: grey leafless trees and white snow, with a few evergreens here and there. But there are actually quite a variety of hardy trees and shrubs that can add pops of color, shape, and texture to give our gardens a beautiful aesthetic, all year long.

We’ve got plenty of ideas on how to make your garden just as beautiful in winter as it is in summer. Here are just a few of the best trees, shrubs, and grasses for winter interest in Iowa.

Trees

Trees are an excellent addition to your garden for many reasons, not just because they’re beautiful. Trees increase property values, reduce noise, clean our air, and help lower our utility costs by shading our homes. These trees offer all of these benefits while giving your landscape four-season color.

Colorado Blue Spruce features bright blue needles on gracefully drooping branches that look beautiful under the snow. It can be trained for upright growth or a spreading groundcover form. The steely blue color is striking in winter.

White Pine features long silky-smooth needles. It looks a little fuzzy from a distance, which makes it look very cozy under snow in the winter. It is a beautiful shade tree in a brilliant warm green.

Norway Spruce is a durable evergreen with a uniform cone shape. The needles mature to a rich deep green for the winter.

Trembling Aspen is a North American deciduous native. It features striking white bark, the beauty of which is revealed when it has lost its leaves. It’s brilliant white contrasts beautifully with rich blue winter skies or evergreen backdrops.

As River Birch matures, it develops richly colored peeling bark in shades of white, brown, and golden-yellow. The unique bark adds visual texture and color interest in winter.

Red Jewel Crabapple is a small ornamental crabapple. It’s spring blooms are beautiful, but it provides beautiful color all the way through the year with brilliant red fruit that hangs on all through the winter. The fruit is a spectacular pop of color, and the Cedar Waxwings arriving next spring will appreciate them as well.

Shrubs

Shrubs add texture, height variation, and depth to your yard, drawing the viewer’s eye through the landscape. They also provide shelter and safety for our important native Iowa birds and critters.

Japanese Garden Juniper is a spreading groundcover juniper. It features bluish-green foliage that turns a purplish-blue in winter.

Montgomery Blue Spruce is a mounded shrub that resembles a short, plump Christmas tree at maturity. Its silvery-blue foliage looks beautiful under snow in the winter.

Green Velvet Boxwood is a mounding broadleaf evergreen that can be pruned into any shape you like, from a clean and uniform hedge to a unique topiary shape. Its leaves maintain a brilliant green through winter, and a totally unique texture compared to other needle-type evergreens.

PJM Rhododendron is another broadleaf evergreen. The leaves turn a dark purple-red in the fall. The dark leaves really stand out against a backdrop of white snow.

Ivory Halo Dogwood forms a rounded mound and has four-season interest. It has showy variegated foliage during the growing season, creamy white flowers and berries in the spring, and eye-catching bright red branches in the winter.

Little Lime Hydrangea is a deciduous shrub, but the blossoms will dry on the stems and last all winter. The conical flower heads and branches fade to rich golden brown and add unique shapes to the garden.

Technically Forsythia is a spring-blooming shrub. But it’s so early in the year, sometimes the very first thing to bloom, that it can still feel like winter when its bright yellow flowers burst into bloom.

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

Grasses

Shrubs add texture, height variation, and depth to your yard, drawing the viewer’s eye through the landscape. They also provide shelter and safety for our important native Iowa birds and critters.

Grasses add a completely different look and feel to our yards in winter. Their tall wispy fronds add structure and drama against a snowy backdrop. Their golden yellow color contrasts beautifully with evergreens and snow.

Karl Foerster Reed Grass grows in clumps and up to five feet tall and features a fine delicate texture. A row of delicate golden-tan clumps adds texture and definition in winter.

Purple Fountain Grass grows up to four feet tall and features thick bottle-brush seed heads, and rich reddish-purple color all winter long. The gracefully arching seed heads and foliage are beautiful against snow.

Northwind Switch Grass grows up to five feet tall and turns a brilliant coppery-bronze in winter. It’s rigid upright form, and brick red seed heads are strikingly beautiful.

If you’re finding your yard a little lackluster to look at this winter, come visit our garden center in the spring. Pick out some gorgeous new trees, shrubs, and grasses to fill your yard with vibrant color next year.

Please note: we are currently closed for the season. We will be open on the weekends of January 24-26, and February 7-9 and then we will officially reopen for the season on March 23, 2020. Stay informed – sign up for our newsletter. We can’t wait to see you next year!

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.