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Hoya Plant Care for Beginners

hoya hindu rope

Hoyas have made a serious comeback as houseplants in recent years, and we are totally here for it. Often sold as wax plants because of their thick, shiny foliage, Hoyas are sometimes said to be difficult to care for—but we are here to tell you otherwise! There are hundreds of varieties, and while a select few may deserve the rep of being difficult, there are so many varieties that are actually quite easy to care for. Keep reading to learn a little more about your Hoya plant’s origin, appearance, and basic care needs. 

All About Hoyas 

Native to both Asia and Australia, Hoyas grow epiphytically (i.e., rely on other plants for mechanical support) in their natural environment. As houseplants, they are much loved for their fragrance, fascinating foliage, and downright enchanting clusters of star-shaped flowers

blooming hoya plant

Hoya Plant Care

Under the right conditions, Hoyas are a pretty simple plant to care for. Here are some basic tips to get you started. 

Light Requirements 

These plant’s preferred conditions are bright, indirect light. While they will tolerate low and medium light conditions, they won’t thrive and are much less likely to bloom. Direct sunlight will also scorch its foliage, so north-facing windows are an excellent option for Hoyas. Whichever spot you choose, make sure you keep your Hoya away from any significant drafts (i.e., front doors, air conditioning, or heating vents). 

Watering Your Hoya

Many caring plant owners have lovingly killed their Hoya by overwatering it—don’t make the same mistake! While they are not technically succulents, their fleshy, waxy leaves hold more water than you might think. It is definitely best to err on the side of underwatering vs. overwatering when it comes to Hoya plant care—they really don’t like to have soggy feet. Generally, watering about once a week in the warmer months and maybe once every two weeks in the winter will likely keep your Hoya happy.

Humidity

They are adaptable plants and actually fare pretty well in dry environments—but they are tropical. This means that they do thrive with higher humidity levels. To increase humidity for your Hoyas, you can add a pebble tray underneath the pot or container where it lives or give your plants a little misting of water (preferably distilled) about once or twice a week. 

Popular Hoya Varieties

Hoya australis

One of the most classic houseplants around, the trailing vines of Hoya australis have broad, oval green leaves. This fast-growing plant is, as promised, easy to care for, and like all, comes with the signature waxy foliage and clusters of star-shaped flowers. Its air-purifying qualities and unique, creamy white flowers with red centers make it a pretty popular houseplant.

Hoya kerrii

Hoya kerri is a genuinely unique houseplant with heart-shaped leaves along a trailing vine that you can’t help but love. They come in a few different varieties. Hoya kerrii ‘Splash’ looks like someone splattered white paint all over its plump, heart-shaped leaves. Hoya kerrii ‘Albomarginata,’ has sort of buttery-soft yellow edges around its green leaves. And then there are the single-leaf varieties that just look like a heart planted in soil which are the ones you’ve likely seen around Valentines Day

Hoya carnosa 

There are quite a few cultivars of Hoya carnosa, but we are partial to the ‘Krimson Queen’ and ‘Krimson Princess’ varieties. ‘Krimson Queen’ is distinguishable by the creamy white or pink around its leaves, and its flowers emerge similarly to its close relative, Hoya australis. ‘Krimson Princess’ is distinguished by its ruby-red vines of new growth, green leaf borders, and variegation. 

Have we convinced you of the wonder that is the easy-to-care-for hoya houseplant yet? If so, be sure to stop by the garden center to pick up some of the most exquisite Hoya varieties in Des Moines!

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What’s Eating My Leaf?

japanese beetle

Sometimes it can seem like your garden is a battlefield where you have to constantly be on the lookout, waging war against all those pests that want to eat your plants. Here are six common garden pests that you will probably encounter in your Iowa garden. 

Japanese Beetle 

Japanese beetles are about half an inch long, and they have reddish-copper wings with a metallic green head. These pests are an invasive species and will eat the leaf, flowers, and fruit of plants. They also lay their larvae in the turf, which can cause browning (also known as grubs—and they are not conducive to a healthy lawn).

These pests chew holes in leaves, making them look like lace. If they’ve laid larvae in the turf, there will be spots that turn brown. Mostly they’re a cosmetic problem, but they can defoliate a plant to the point of death during years of heavy beetle population numbers.

In late June or Early July, knock the beetles off your plants into a bucket of soapy water. Check the tops and bottoms of leaves. A neem solution can be a deterrent if you don’t have a large infestation. It’s not a great idea to use insecticide since it will also kill other essential insects. 

potato beetle

Potato Beetle 

Colorado potato beetles are about ⅓ of an inch long. They have a round, hard shell with a cream background with brown stripes down the back, and spots on their head. 

Potato beetles can do damage to potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tobacco plants. These pests will turn the foliage of your plants into skeletons, eating all the soft tissue between the leaf ribs. 

Potato beetles may be around all growing season, so keep your eyes open—row covers for potatoes and crop rotation help. Products like BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) and neem oil also work well. Handpick them as you see them, crushing them or dropping them into soapy water.

Hornworms 

Hornworms are a caterpillar that is usually shades of yellow to white. They have horns on the last segment of their body, and will have white marks down their sides. 

These pests defoliate plants, usually starting at the top; as they get bigger, they get faster, and can devour an entire plant. 

Handpick and drop them into soapy water; they camouflage well. You can till the soil late in the fall to disturb any burrowing for winter. If you find hornworms that have many projections from their body, leave them be. They’ve been parasitized by braconid wasps which will help kill more of them.

corn earworm

Corn Earworms 

​​The adults are dark brown or green moths. The larvae are the real pest, though, and they are about 1.5 inches long, pink, green, or yellow, with cream, yellow, or black stripes down the whole body. 

These pests feed on the leaves, shoots, tassels, and ears of the corn.

Corn earworms appear in June. As soon as the silks develop on your corn, clip a clothespin at the top of the ear to prevent the larvae from entering. You can release Trichogramma wasps to parasitize them. BT can be combined with corn oil and applied to the tip of each ear. 

Spider Mites 

These teeny-tiny pests are hard to spot, but they leave a fine webbing that you usually notice first. They are usually red; if you shake an infested plant over a piece of paper, you may see a bunch of tiny red dots. 

Spider mites feast on the most tender parts of lush plants. Foliage will have a speckled appearance, and the entire leaf may turn yellow and die. The webbing will be in the nooks and crannies of stems and leaves. 

They’re mostly problematic when the weather is hot and dry. Encourage beneficial insects in your gardens like ladybugs and beneficial nematodes. You can spray them off with water, treat them with neem oil or insecticidal soap.

Aphids

Aphids are tiny little pear-shaped pests that can be green, yellow, brown, red, black, or gray. Some fly, and some don’t.

They attack all sorts of plants, particularly younger, lush growth. Similar to spider mites, they suck the plant’s sap out from the underside of the leaves. Leaves will twist, curl, and turn yellow. There may be spots of droplets of honeydew on the leaves below where the aphids are. 

Make your garden welcoming for ladybugs. If you start plants from seed, watch them. You can spray the aphids off your seedlings with a spray bottle. Older and stronger plants can take a stronger spray from the hose. You’ll need to repeat the treatment 2-3 times a week until they’re gone.

Figure Out What’s Eating that Leaf ASAP!

Early identification and treatment of these pests is key to keeping your plants safe and growing well. If you’re seeing signs of a pest chowing down on a leaf, you can bring pictures of the damage and the pest to the garden center (in a tightly sealed bag) or submit samples to the ISU extension Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic. There are specific guidelines for how to submit samples.

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Hydrangeas: Old Wood or New Wood Blooms

pink panicle hydrangea

Hydrangeas are a very popular landscape plant because they have such beautiful flowers, and they’re generally pretty easy to take care of. But there’s also a ton of confusion about hydrangea care and how to keep them looking their best. We’ve previously covered change-color hydrangeas, so we’ll take a look at pruning here. 

While they’re all related, they do not all have the same growth and bloom patterns. Some hydrangeas change color based on pH; some hydrangeas bloom on fresh growth from this year called new wood, and some flower on the growth they put out last year called old wood. It all depends on the species of hydrangea, so it’s helpful to know what you have and keep the plant info card handy. 

pruning dead hydrangea blooms

When to Prune Hydrangeas 

You can prune hydrangeas that bloom on old wood right after they finish flowering. You can prune varieties that bloom on new wood in late winter or early spring. There are six main types of hydrangeas: Macrophylla (Bigleaf), PeeGee (Paniculata), Oakleaf (Quercifolia), Smooth (Arborescens), Mountain (Serrata), and Climbing (Anomala petiolaris). 

The truth is that most hydrangeas don’t require pruning. You can prune them to control the shape or manage the size and remove dead wood, but they will also grow happily and still look great if you don’t prune them. 

Bigleaf, oakleaf, climbing, and mountain hydrangeas bloom on old wood and can be pruned immediately after they finish blooming before they start pushing out next years’ buds. 

Each year you can take out a few of the older and thicker stalks to control the size and shape of the plant and encourage new growth. By just removing a few of the oldest and thickest stalks, you’ll ensure you still get lots of blooms the following season. 

Panicle and smooth hydrangeas bloom on new wood and can be pruned in late winter or early spring. These types tolerate very hard pruning to control the size of the bush, and a bit of pruning in spring may encourage more flowers

The main thing to remember is that all hydrangeas, honestly, don’t need to be pruned. You can deadhead them or not. You can prune them or not. If you want large bushes, keep the pruning to a minimum.

hydrangea budding

How Can I Tell If My Hydrangea Blooms on Old or New Wood?

The quickest way is to check the tag for the name of your variety. But if you don’t have the tag anymore, or it’s faded beyond recognition, there are a few other clues that will help you determine if your hydrangea blooms on new or old wood. 

If you pruned your hydrangea in the spring and it did not flower that summer, then it’s likely one that blooms on old wood, and spring pruning would have removed the buds. If you prune your hydrangea hard in the spring, and it still blooms that year, then it blooms on new wood.

Check your plant when it’s blooming; you should be able to see and feel a bit of difference between old wood and new wood. Old wood should be stiffer, tougher, thicker, and more grey or brown, while new wood will be much more flexible, soft, and should still have a greenish tinge.

pink hydrangeas

You can also check your hydrangea in the fall to see if any buds are starting to push out already. If there are buds already on the branches, then it blooms on old wood. If there are not yet buds in the fall, then it will push them out on new growth the following spring.

Don’t be discouraged if your shrub isn’t blooming; leave it alone for a couple of years. Sometimes there are numerous environmental factors that can affect bloom production. Leaving it alone for a while might be just what it needs to start blooming next season. If that doesn’t do the trick, then you may have other issues affecting the blooms such as watering, sun, or soil conditions.

If you haven’t added a hydrangea to your landscape yet, what are you waiting for? Stop by Ted Lare; we’ve got plenty of options available that are well-suited to our climate here in Iowa, and we can help you solve any blooming issues you may have.

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Houseplant Shelving Ideas

houseplants on shelf

When you brought home your first couple of houseplants, it was probably pretty easy to find a place to put them. Set them down on a side table near a window, and they looked great. But as you add more and more houseplants to your collection, it can be challenging to figure out how to display them. 

Lining them all up in every windowsill isn’t particularly creative or exciting to look at. Never mind that it makes it difficult to open windows and makes them an easy target for any bored cats looking to push things off ledges. Shelves are a fantastic solution to displaying all kinds of plants—and no pets are sabotaging your plant parent goals. Here are three core concepts to keep in mind while looking for shelf options, and considering styles.

grouped houseplants

Shelfie Plant Groupings

Plants tend to do better when they’re grouped in your home. This is because their leaf canopy helps to keep more humid air around them, which most houseplants prefer. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Think about the sizes of plants you want to group. A cluster of 3 tiny plants together works well when they’re slightly different sizes and heights. Grouping a pothos with a tall snake plant and a colorful begonia gives size and texture variation. But pairing your lithops collection with your 9’ tall monstera is like giving your lithops an invisibility cloak since the monstera will be the main attraction. A variety of leaf textures and colors helps catch the eye and keep it moving through your space; for example, imagine the tiny leaves of ‘baby’s tears’ near a Ficus benjamina or a jade.

The last thing to think about with groupings is needs. It will be easiest to perform your plant care routine when you have varieties with similar needs grouped together. They should also have similar light requirements. The bonus of plants grouped on shelves—it makes a fantastic background element for video calls or facetime chats.

hanging macrame houseplants

Plants on all Levels of Shelves

The best part about shelves for plants is that you can have them at every level, from a top shelf or basket hanging from a hook or to a staircase of floating shelves. Be creative when you’re looking for shelves. It’s easy to default to the classic white floating shelves. They’re sleek, and they work. But keep your eyes open for shelves with more character. 

Check thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales for unique bookshelves or cabinets. Cabinets with glass doors can also help keep humidity levels up for sensitive plants. Look for ladders, side tables, and trellises. Often you can mount small individual shelves to something like a trellis and hang multiple pots from it. 

Having plants on every level, from the top of shelves to under a glass coffee table, brings a sense of life to your space.

Plant Shelf Decor Ideas

Plants are beautiful in their own right, but one of the best parts about houseplants is choosing great pots to style them in. Get creative, but try to stay within a theme, style, or color palette. Baskets are a fantastic and affordable option. Metallics look beautiful too, with an aged patina or crisp and shiny. Try old tins from tea or cookies for a vintage look, apple crates for a rustic look, or cement for industrial chic.

Embrace the idea of having a plant shelf, or 10, in your house, whether they’re wall-mounted or free-standing. If you’re going to mount shelves on the wall, be very careful about the weight you put on them. Ensure you check weight limits for shelves, use appropriate mounting hardware, and be very careful when you water your plants. Wet soil is heavy, so make sure your shelves are strong enough to hold the weight of each plant just after it’s been thoroughly watered. You may even want to weigh your plants after watering to make sure you can set them safely on your shelves. 


For more fun plant decor ideas and inspiration, stop by Ted Lare garden center and check out our indoor plant collection!

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8 Best Deer-Resistant Shrubs for Your Landscape

spirea shrub

Deer are lovely animals to observe in the wild, but they can demolish garden beds, shrubs, and trees in record time (particularly in the spring and fall). 


With that said, a little bit of planning and prevention can help keep deer out of your yard. By selecting deer-resistant flowers and shrubs, the chances of your garden and landscape becoming deer dinner will be much lower. Check out these 8 deer-resistant shrubs that allow you to admire Bambi from afar instead of worrying about chasing them out of your yard all season long.

barberry shrub

1. Barberry: In addition to being deer-resistant, Barberry shrubs are low-maintenance, offer colorful red-hued foliage, and tend to be disease-resistant. Japanese barberry (B.thunbergii) has a reputation for being invasive, but plenty of other varieties of this hardy, tough, thorny shrub are not invasive—and lovely to look at. Barberry has relatively moderate water requirements and enjoys full to partial sun.

 

2. Boxwood: These broadleaf evergreen shrubs have been popular for centuries. They can be pruned into any shape you desire or allow them to let their hair down and grow in natural form, which is also an attractive addition to any landscape. Boxwood prefers evenly moist, well-draining soil and does well with some winter protection.

forsythia

3. Forsythia: These deciduous, deer-resistant shrubs are actually related to the olive tree, interestingly enough. Their brilliant yellow flowers will add a show-stopping flair to your yard in the springtime and are relatively easy to care for. Forsythia will thrive in full sun and well-draining soil. 

 

4. Lilac: Lilac is best known for its fragrant, pastel-hued blooms that grace gardens across North America each spring. They are a hardy, deciduous, deer-resistant shrub that can grow from diminutive dwarf cultivars to 20 feet tall and spread up to 20 feet wide, depending on variety.

mugo pine

5. Mugo Pine: Mugo Pine are evergreen, low-maintenance shrubs that are both deer and disease resistant. They are quite cold-hardy as well, thriving in zones 2 through 7. They don’t generally need to be pruned, drought-resistant once established, and add year-round interest to any landscape.

 

6. Viburnum: This group of flowering shrubs includes more than 150 plant species, including both deciduous and evergreen shrubs. They are truly versatile and a fan favorite among many landscapers and gardeners. Birds may feast on the berries of your viburnum shrub, but you will also be treated to visits from pollinators like bees.

beautybush shrub

7. Beautybush: A member of the honeysuckle family, this deer-resistant flowering shrub will add color to your yard with white and pink flowers that blossom on arching branches. Once its flowers are gone for the year, the beautybush’s dark green foliage and small berries will continue to provide interest in your landscape all season long. Beautybush grows best in fertile, well-draining soil and is mildly shade-tolerant. 

 

8. Spirea: As one of the most popular flowering shrubs, spirea is a wonderful, multi-faceted addition to any landscape. While it is deer-resistant, this shrub will attract pollinators like bees and butterflies with its long-lasting blooms. Spirea will bud out in either spring or summer, depending on the variety you select. 


With a little bit of landscape deer-proofing, you can happily enjoy deer from a distance and keep your beautiful yard and garden intact. Looking for deer-resistant shrubs in Des Moines? Stop by the garden center to see what we have in stock and chat with our in-house landscaping experts for some other tips and tricks you can try as well!

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Spider Mites 101

spider mites on rose leaf

If you fancy yourself a green thumb, it is more than likely that you already have or will have to contend with pests in some way or another. But, inevitable as it may be, it doesn’t make the problem any less frustrating. Spider mites are quite common. They can show up both outdoors in the garden and indoors on houseplants. Read on to learn about these tiny little buggers, how to identify them and what to do about them if you end up with a spider mite problem on your plants. 

So What Are Spider Mites Anyway? 

Spider mites are tiny little bugs that are no larger than a pinhead. They are tick-shaped critters belonging to the spider family (as the name would suggest) that tend to emerge outdoors in the spring when the weather warms up or indoors when the air is hot and dry (i.e. in the middle of the winter when your furnace is kicked into high gear). 

They live for up to about a month, and females can produce about 100 eggs during their lifespan. After that, they “windsurf,” dispersing themselves to other plants by using their webbing as a sort of little magic carpet. So, containment and disposal of any infested plants are essential for managing these sneaky pests! 

red spider mites on houseplant

How to Identify or Find Spider Mites on Your Plants

The first thing you are likely to notice if you have spider mites are little yellow or brown spots on your plant’s leaves. If the infestation has already gotten out of control, the leaves on your plant may yellow completely, and its growth may be stunted. If you suspect a spider mite problem, the first sign is the presence of fine webs covering areas of your plant. Another way to check is to hold a piece of white paper under the leaves, shake them gently, and if you see what looks almost like pepper fall onto the paper, it’s probably a spider mite problem.

How to Get Rid of Spider Mites on Houseplants

Just like most problems, prevention is the best way to manage these pests. So, any time you bring a new plant into your home, be sure to quarantine it in a room separate from your other houseplants for at least a few days and check about 25 percent of the leaves using the paper trick we shared earlier. 

If you determine that you do have spider mites on your plants, it is vital to start treatment immediately because these guys are pretty destructive and can get out of control if left unmanaged. 

Start by isolating the affected plant and prune away any excessively damaged or infested leaves. The next best method of attack is to simply spray your plants with water every few days once you notice spider mites. Either with a spray bottle or in the shower if it is a rather large houseplant. 

You can even mix a small amount of a mild dish detergent in with the water and wipe down all of the stems and leaves with a damp cloth. Just be sure to always use lukewarm water to avoid shocking your plants, be very thorough, and rinse them off well afterward. Also, keep in mind that the treatments may mean you can reduce your regular watering schedule as it is likely to saturate the soil in the process. Continue this treatment a few times a week for a couple of weeks.

Another alternative, particularly for heavy infestations, is to apply an organic insecticide like neem oil to the leaves. This will also need to be done regularly for a couple of weeks.

spraying pesticide

Treating Spider Mites Outdoors

Treating spider mites on plants in the garden is not all that different than treating them indoors. Remove severely affected plants or leaves from the garden immediately, and spray the rest with a relatively strong stream of water at least once every couple of days to break their lifecycle (particularly the undersides of leaves). If that doesn’t work, insecticidal soaps and superior horticultural sprays are quite effective at mitigating spider mites on plants. If all else fails, you can also look to chemical insecticides or miticides. 

Spider mites are a pain, but you can easily keep them from getting out of control in your garden or house plant collection with the correct information and a few simple steps. If you have any questions or need help solving another garden or landscaping problem in Des Moines, be sure to stop by the garden center—we’d be happy to help! 

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How to Water Your Houseplants When You’re Away

aglaonema houseplants

If you’re getting excited to go on vacation, but a little worried about how your plants will survive your absence, don’t worry. You can set your houseplants up for a successful holiday with just a little bit of planning. For best results, we suggest starting the prep process a few days before you head out of Des Moines—don’t leave it to the last minute!

watering houseplants

Plan a Plant Spa Day

If your plants are well-watered, clean, and thriving before you leave, they’ll be much more likely to manage for 10-12 days on their own. So pick a day, 2-3 days before you leave, to spend some time getting your plants ready for your vacation. Here’s what you need to do a few days before you head out:

  • Thoroughly water all your plants with a deep soak. Once the water has thoroughly soaked into all the soil, let them sit and drain a bit.
  • Clean up any dead or brown leaves and inspect for signs of pests. If plants have pests, treat and quarantine them away from the rest of your plants before you leave on your trip. 
  • Plants that are clustered together create their own little microclimate, which retains humidity. So, pull your plants together in groups. If you have a bright bathroom, fill the bathtub or shower with your plants. Ideally, they should be clustered away from windows, yes, even ones that like direct sun, and away from drafts like doorways or air circulation vents. The less direct sun they get, the slower they’ll use up water. 
  • Raise the humidity. You can do this with pebble trays, or, if you have tall plants, try placing some tall open containers, like pitchers, with water in them amongst your plants to help with humidity.
  • Set the temperature in your home to a more moderate temperature. They will use up water more slowly if they aren’t experiencing extreme temperature fluctuations. Temperatures between 55º and 65º will slow the process of transpiration slightly. 
houseplant water globe

Watering Your Houseplants While You’re Gone

For most houseplants, a good watering, higher humidity, and clustering them together before your vacation will be enough to get them through about ten days of your absence. However, if you’re going away longer than 10-12 days, or you have houseplants that need consistently moist soil, you’ll need to set up an irrigation system of some sort. (That is, unless you can bribe a friend or neighbor to water them for you!)

There are several excellent drip irrigation systems out there that you can buy for houseplants, but you don’t have to spring for anything too fancy. You can also find plenty of DIY tutorials online for building your own drip irrigation systems. However, that’s also a pretty significant project to add to your list of pre-trip to-dos! 

Instead, we suggest opting for one of the less-complex systems to water your moisture-loving plants while you’re gone:

  • Create a capillary watering system. This consists of a long chunk of either heavy cotton cord, fabric, or webbing and a bucket of water. First, push the cord down into the soil of your pot, quite deep, so it gets to the roots. Then you drape the other end into your container of water. The fabric wicks the water out of the bucket and down to your plant’s roots. 
  • Use watering globes or watering spikes. Unless you have pretty large watering globes, they’re not going to buy you a ton of extra time. But watering spikes can help quite a bit since they hold large bottles on top of them, like a 2-liter soda bottle. You can also create DIY watering spikes by poking several tiny holes into the lid of a soda bottle, filling it with water, and then bury the neck in the soil of your planter so that the water seeps out slowly.
  • Try self-watering pots. Self-watering pots are designed similar to a capillary system, but the wicking fabric and water reservoir are contained inside the pot. They’re also great for plants in hard-to-reach places.
houseplants on shelf

Just because you’ve acquired a large houseplant jungle doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice their wellbeing for a well-deserved vacation! On the contrary, if you follow these tips, your plants will hardly miss you while you’re away.

Come visit us in Des Moines anytime for answers to all your watering questions!

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10 Drought-Tolerant Flowers for Sun and Shade

gaillardia

The hot summer conditions of Iowa present a multitude of challenges when it comes to landscaping and gardening. Finding plants that are well-suited to the different areas of your garden can be a challenge! But, there are actually quite a significant number of drought-tolerant trees, shrubs, and flowers that you can plant in your gardens and yard—and they can withstand a surprisingly large stretch of time without rain. Whether you are looking for plants that enjoy full sun, or a little bit of shade, this top 10 list of drought-tolerant flowers should help you plan your garden and ensure that you don’t spend all of your time (and money) on watering. 

1. Epimedium (Bishop’s Hat)

Bishop’s hat is a gorgeous groundcover perfect for a shaded or wooded area or even along a walkway. It is a drought-tolerant flower that prefers moderate shade and well-draining soil. While it does have dainty little flowers ranging from white to purple that make an appearance in the spring, its primary feature is its pointed, leafy foliage.

solomon's seal plant

2. Solomon’s Seal

Solomon’s seal is another perfect drought-tolerant flower to consider if you are looking for a shaded garden. Both the green-leaved and variegated varieties are deer-resistant and relatively easy to care for. 

3. Baptisia 

Also known as false or wild indigos, baptisias are beautiful, shrub-like, drought-tolerant flowers that offer a long season of interest thanks to both their upright flowers and foliage. Their height and width vary slightly depending on the species, with the most common (Alba and Australis) reaching approximately three feet tall to three feet wide. They are sun-lovers that don’t like to be moved, so be sure to choose your site somewhat carefully when you plant them. 

butterfly weed

4. Butterfly Weed

Butterfly weed is a bushy perennial that graces gardens with absolutely stunning clusters of citrus-toned blooms that will remain throughout the summer season. This perennial wildflower is popular among pollinators, thrives in full sun, is easy to care for, and very drought-tolerant. 

5. Calamint

This low-growing, bushy plant will shower you with cloud-like blooms from early summer until late fall. It’s a tough, shade-loving, and drought-tolerant flower that will attract many pollinators. They’re lovely fillers that have historically been used medicinally as well as in teas and other recipes.

blooming liatris

6. Liatris

Liatris is a popular perennial that performs best in full sun. It’s quite drought-tolerant and is not a big fan of soggy soil. Their purple flower spikes are a lovely addition to a pollinator garden or cut flower garden. 

7. Purple Coneflower

Purple coneflower is another very popular drought-tolerant perennial—and for a good reason. They produce scores of beautiful pinkish-purple blooms that will attract a ton of butterflies. Coneflowers prefer full sun, well-drained soil, are easy to care for, and will profusely self-sow their seeds in your garden. 

russian sage

8. Russian Sage

Another sun-lover, Russian sage, will grow to about three to four feet tall and two to three feet wide once established. It will hold up exceptionally well in drought-like conditions—and is almost completely critter and pest-resistant. 

9. Gaillardia

The bright color combination of Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is bound to bring a smile to the face of any passerby. You can find annual, biennial, and perennial varieties, all of which grow best in full sun. They do not like wet feet, are incredibly heat tolerant, and offer quiet long-lasting blooms if you deadhead them regularly.

yarrow plant

10. Yarrow 

There are all kinds of reasons to add this hardy perennial to your garden bed. They are both drought-tolerant and cold-hardy, they come in various sizes, and their flat-topped flowers will attract all sorts of pollinators. Yarrow is happy to grow in almost any soil type and is quite deer and rabbit resistant. Yarrow thrives in full sun. It will tolerate some shade but will likely get quite leggy. 

 

These 10 beauties will keep your gardens looking fabulous all season long, regardless of the hot, dry conditions we face. If you are on the hunt for a sun-lover, or the perfect addition to that Des Moines shade garden of yours, stop by to check out the selection of drought-tolerant flowers we’ve got in stock! 

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Control Tips for New and Established Weeds

mulching garden bed

Controlling the weeds in your yard, whether they’re in your garden, flower beds, or lawn, is a process. It’s an ongoing task that you’ll always have to stay on top of. The good news is that your maintenance routine will be much easier to manage once you get your weeds under control. 

There are various ways to control weeds in your yard, and they all sit on a spectrum from relatively passive to highly aggressive. We’ll go through the most popular methods here, in order of least invasive to most invasive. 

Least Invasive Garden Weed Control: Mulch

Adding a thick layer of mulch (about 3-4 inches deep) over the top is one of the simplest ways to help control weeds in your yard. Mulch does a decent job of smothering them and keeping them from germinating. It is a big job to install initially, but over the long term, mulch is fairly low-maintenance. If you top-dress it with a fresh 1-2 inch layer every year, it should help to keep things under control for many years. Mulch also looks great, helps the soil retain moisture, and reduces the amount of lawn you’ll need to mow. Another option is landscape fabric with landscape rocks on top; which is just as effective as mulch but is much more labor intensive.

pulling weeds

Moderately Invasive Garden Weed Control: Digging Them Out

If your garden and landscape have a lot of weeds, digging them out is going to be a big job the first year, but it’s necessary. It’s a task that’s worth scheduling into every week, or even short bursts every day. You might be surprised how many weeds you can dig out in just 15 minutes.

If you only have a few minutes available, go around snipping the heads/flowers off as many as you can. This won’t stop them from growing, but it will stop them from producing seed, which will prevent even more from growing.

When you’re digging them out, you’ll want to make sure you get as much of the root as possible but avoid disturbing too much of the soil. Try to schedule your weed pulling after a bout of rain, as taproots will slide out much more easily when the ground is still damp. If you’re digging out taproots (like dandelions), a tool like a standup weeder also makes the job a lot less backbreaking. Insert the prongs around the center of the dandelion, push it down until the prongs are all the way into the soil, and then use the leverage arm to pull them out. 

If you’re using a hand weeder, move some of the leaves out of the way so you can get your hand weeding tool as close to the root as possible, then push it straight down beside the root as far as you can. Once you’re down there, you can also leverage hand tools against the soil to catch the taproot and pull it out. It’ll feel noticeably harder to push once the prong of the tool has caught the root, so push and pull the handle in a few different directions until you’re sure you’ve got the root.

Most Invasive and Aggressive Garden Weed Control: Herbicides

Sometimes weeds can get completely out of control. Who has the time to hand-pull huge sections of overgrown lawn over and over? Herbicides can help you get your weed patch under control so that you can turn it into a garden patch, pristine lawn, or whatever else you have in mind. 

It’s important to be very careful with herbicides and apply them exactly as directed. Additionally, you’ll have the most success if you use herbicides for the specific varieties of weeds you have, so make sure to accurately identify them before you start applying herbicides. 

If you want to get ahead of the weeds, apply a pre-emergent herbicide early next spring. This will prevent them from germinating, but it will also prevent other things from germinating as well, so you have to be very particular about how and where you apply it. Read the instructions carefully, and don’t be shy to ask our garden center team any questions you might have. We can help you find the best combination of weed control solutions for your garden and landscape. 

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Grow an Indoor Water Garden

plant propagation

Water gardens and ponds aren’t just for people with outdoor spaces. You can create indoor water gardens on a smaller scale with all the same features as outdoor ponds. These unique features allow you to enjoy the serene sights and sounds of a water feature all year long! 

In an indoor water garden, you can use both semi-aquatic and aquatic houseplants. Semi-aquatic houseplants can adapt to having their roots in soil or water while keeping their leaves above the water. Aquatic plants live fully submerged in water full time, have most of their leaves in the water, and need a layer of gravel, rocks, or sand to help anchor their roots. There are a surprising number of common houseplants that can adapt to semi-aquatic life. 

spider plant

Houseplants for Your Water Garden

Semi-aquatic houseplants that are adaptable to growing in water include: 

  • Pothos  
  • Philodendrons 
  • Hoya 
  • Tradescantia 
  • Spider plants 
  • Arrowhead plants 
  • Calla lilies 
  • English ivy 
  • Peace lilies  
marimo moss ballls

There are a few indoor-friendly aquatic plants you can grow as well. Marimo moss balls are just one popular option. Other great indoor-friendly water plants include: 

  • Java fern 
  • Java moss
  • Amazon sword
  • Anarcharis 
  • Anubias

Floating plants are also a fun addition to cover a portion of the water surface if you have a wide bowl container. These include options like: 

  • Duckweed
  • Water lettuce
  • Water hyacinths

But, don’t just run off to the nearest pond and scoop up some duckweed. That’s a good way to get a lot of other unwanted things in your indoor water garden. Make sure to buy your aquatic plants from a reputable source. Pet stores, particularly aquarium and fish-focused ones, often carry a great selection of aquatic plants. 

All You Need to Grow Plants in Water Indoors

The most important thing you’ll need to start your indoor water garden is a water-tight container. Depending on your space, you could go with a taller glass container and use both aquatic plants and semi-aquatic plants for a beautiful underwater view as well as above water. 

If you have plenty of space, you could also go with a wide bowl for an indoor water garden, which would allow you to grow more beautiful floating plants on top of the water. 

Before you start putting your water garden together, fill up your containers with water and let it sit for 24 hours. This will bring the temperature up to ambient room temperature, and it will give the chlorine used in water treatment time to evaporate. You can cover the containers, but don’t seal them shut. Make sure to leave a gap for air exchange.

Next, you’ll need a substrate. Aquatic and semi-aquatic plants need very different growing mediums from most houseplants. Potting soil and even many soilless mixes will make a big powdery mess in a water garden. 

You can purchase specific substrates for water gardens. Usually, they’re fine pebbles or gravel that have been prewashed. If you’re using aquarium gravel, give it a quick rinse to remove any dust it may have accumulated. You can add your substrate to your water garden right away, or you can save it and add it as you add plants.

Most importantly, you’ll need plants. If you want to convert some of your houseplants to a semi-aquatic life, you may want to start with cuttings. Otherwise, you’ll need to spend some time washing all the soil out of the roots of your plants so it doesn’t get into your water garden. Starting plants from cuttings in water and keeping them in water is a less shocking transition for the plants than putting soil-potted plants into straight water. 

For semi-aquatic plants, you’ll need something to create a shelf in your water garden for your plants to sit on and a water planting basket. This will help keep the roots and gravel contained and anchored. You can use various things to create shelves for your plants to sit on, from bricks to rocks to old containers. Just make sure they’re washed well, and any soap is rinsed off thoroughly before you add them to your indoor aquatic garden.

Creating Your Semi-Aquatic Houseplant Water Garden

Gather all your plants, substrate, and water together so you can start arranging and planting up your water garden. If you’re using a glass container, it’s usually easiest to add a substrate layer at the bottom and then fill it partway with water. Then, start to position your plants. 

Once you have things where you want them, you can fill the rest of the water. Just make sure to do it very slowly and gently, since the currents created when you’re pouring water in may dislodge or tangle your plants.

If you’re curious about starting an indoor water garden, visit our Iowa garden center today to get some more ideas and information.