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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
The popularity of succulents is hard to miss. As they become increasingly trendy, they seem to be showing up everywhere.
These plants are popular thanks to their eye-catching appearance, a welcome variation from all of the popular varieties that have been houseplant staples for years, but also due to their low-maintenance nature. Simple to care for, succulents are accessible for anyone to enjoy, regardless of their level of confidence in being a Plant Parent.
Post Winter Blues:
After a long and dry winter – especially with our furnaces working so hard through this year’s deep freeze – everything is feeling a little dried out and drab. You can bet that your little succulents are feeling the effects of a dark and dry winter, and will need a bit of refreshing to shine for the rest of the year. While this might sound like a lot of work, if you invest the energy up front to give your succulents a great foundation to work from, the rest of your plant care will be a breeze! Take the end of winter as an opportunity to set your succulents up for a great spring and summer, when you can spend more time enjoying them than pampering them.
Dormant Succulents: Safe from plummeting temperatures, wind, and snow, it’s easy to forget that our indoor plants also feel the seasons changing. With shorter days, less sunlight, and the dry air, our plants get ready to go dormant over the winter. Thankfully, our plants still look gorgeous during hibernation, so our homes still feel like an indoor oasis even when it’s chilly outside.
While dormant, your plants might look the same, but under the surface they’re in long-term survival mode until the weather improves. They don’t require nearly as much water or care, because they aren’t doing much growing! Limit watering, avoid fertilizing, and simply keep an eye on them to remove any leaves that might die off. We like to use tweezers to pull away dead leaves to avoid causing any more damage.
Winter Temperature for Succulents: Keeping your succulent in the cooler part of your home will help them to settle into a natural rhythm of hibernation so they don’t come out of dormancy before the spring is ready to greet them. Dormancy is not only normal and natural but also important to help thrust your plant towards a spring and summer full of vibrancy.
Winter Lighting for Succulents:
In the dim winter, when we have less light, don’t be surprised if you see your succulent leaning towards the window or the nearest light source. You might notice them “stretching” – growing taller and spreading further disproportionately in search of light. This is a telltale sign that your dormant plant isn’t getting the light it needs to survive the winter comfortably.
To prevent this, you might want to relocate them to a brighter spot or even invest in a little grow lamp to provide extra light for them. With spring around the corner, you might be able to wait it out, but desperate plants could use that extra help. Don’t worry if your plant stretches too much – you can always snip away some of the furthest growths and propagate them into new plants.
To propagate them into new succulents:
Use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to cut off the top of your succulent. Make sure to leave a stem that is at least 1-2” long with at least 3-4 leaves on it.
You can leave the original plant in place as new growth will also sprout from the base of it, as well.
Let your cutting dry out for a few days. When the end of your cutting has formed a “scab,” it is safe to plant it in soil.
Your new succulent cutting will start to put off roots within 2-3 weeks.
The original plant will begin to put off new growth within a few weeks. You can care for the original plant the same as you were before cutting it back. The leaves that were left on the original plant may fall off or die at some point. Do not worry if this happens – it is very normal, although often they don’t fall off at all.
Succulents placed next to drafty windows run the risk of getting chilled in the winter – which is something to keep in mind as you try to find more light for your plant. Your poor succulent isn’t used to our frozen temperatures and can get frost damage just from being next to a cold window. You’ll be able to identify cold damage on the leaves a few days after your plant was exposed. Look at the thinnest and most vulnerable parts of the plant first, checking for softening, discoloring, and turning brown. At first, the damage may look like leaf rot, but you can usually sleuth out the cause if you consider your plant’s location. Leaving these damaged leaves on your plant can be an unfortunate starting point for rot and disease, so treating it right away is important for the health of the rest of your plant.
How to Save Your Succulent from Cold Damage:
A little bit of cold damage doesn’t have to be the end of your succulent’s time with you, but it will need some intervention to keep your plant healthy – especially while they’re vulnerable and dormant. Here’s how to save your succulent from cold damage without compromising aesthetic:
Use a sharp paring knife. Before you start, clean the blade with rubbing alcohol to prevent passing any bacteria or disease to your succulent
Carefully cut off the damaged parts of your plant, including parts that are discolored or soft. Between every cut, clean your knife again with rubbing alcohol
Once you’ve removed the damage, place your succulent in a dry place that has ambient light but is not in direct sun.
After the wounds have healed up, you can move your plant back to the sun and resume your care schedule. Be careful not to place it somewhere that could bring on more cold damage!
The winter is tough on us, but it’s nice to have some living plants in your home to remind you of the vibrancy that waits for us in the spring. There’s a lot to be said about home decor that loves you back. Our plants improve our moods, beautify our homes, and keep our air fresh – but in return, they need some love and care from us to get through the difficult winter season.
As spring approaches, move your plant to a warmer spot in your home to coax it out of dormancy. Treat it to a half dose of cactus fertilizer when you see it sprouting new growth, and you’ll be ready to enjoy all that your succulent has to offer once you’ve both made it through the winter.
Some gardeners are intimidated by the idea of planting a tree in their yard. While it can seem like a big project, planting trees is actually quite simple, and a great investment in a living legacy that will continue to grow in your yard and with your family for years to come. Trees are the ultimate statement-maker in outdoor decor, providing a number of benefits to your yard and home, while providing a dramatic, stately look that will endure the seasons and years.
The best time to consider adding a new tree are the temperate seasons of spring and fall. With autumn fast approaching, we’re getting close to tree-planting season, making this the ideal time to start planning for your new addition. Back-to-school season is full of new beginnings, why not start your property with a gorgeous upgrade, too?
Trees can manage in our mid-summer heat waves, but they truly thrive in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. Planting when it’s cool gives your tree all the low-stress weather it needs to get established before the mercury drops further.
Planting isn’t complicated, but approaching it with the right steps is a sure way to succeed. If you’re nervous about taking the project on yourself, though, our landscaping teams are always happy to help make your property dreams come true. For the do-it-yourself crowd, follow these simple steps to get your yard looking perfect with the ultimate classy upgrade.
1. Getting your yard ready:
You’ll want to plant your tree as soon as you get it home, so preparing your planting area beforehand saves time and will have your tree looking its best sooner. If you can’t plant right away, you’ll want to make sure the tree is shaded and that the root ball stays moist until you do plant.
2. Pick the perfect location:
Choosing a spot for your tree is a compromise between your tree’s needs and your aesthetic vision. Match your location to the needs of your tree so it will get the moisture and light it craves – and make sure you plan for your tree to grow over the years, too.
Your house relies on an amazing foundation to stand the test of time and your tree does, too. Start your tree right with a good hole and you’ll be sure to have a healthy and vibrant addition to your home. Dig a hole twice as wide and the same depth as the root ball, making sure that you’re planting in good soil. If by chance the hole is dug out deeper than the root ball, make sure to add more dirt to the correct level and tamp or pack down the dirt. This will ensure the tree does not sink past the existing soil level. If your dirt isn’t up to the standard, add some black earth, compost, and peat moss to help it get established. If your yard doesn’t have ample soil on top of a largely useless layer of clay or rock, just dig the hole for your tree wider to give it the space it craves to perform its best.
Once you’ve planted, water generously to help the roots get established as quick as possible. Water near the edge of the root ball and be sure to pack the dirt down as you water. This will help to remove any air pockets that are near the root ball. A sufficient amount of water should saturate the dirt and begin to puddle near the surface
A layer of mulch – a simple wood mulch, like cedar – is an absolutely crucial step. Not only does it look polished and professional, but the mulch will help to regulate temperature at the roots for your tree, providing shelter in the cold months of winter, and shading from the hottest days of the summer. Take care not to let the mulch directly touch the tree’s trunk, though. Leave a space between the two to prevent any rotting.
Planting a tree is simple and doesn’t have to be a chore. Choosing a tree to be your home and family’s companion for years to come is an investment in your future that will grow with you. It’s the ultimate classy addition to your home’s aesthetic and will weather everything to come with your family – promotions, new schools, graduations, new pets, new family members – all with a lush and green flair of style.
If you would like more detailed instructions or have any questions, make sure to contact our experts at Ted Lare Garden Center and we’d be happy to help with any concerns!
For such large statement-makers, evergreens certainly get forgotten a lot. These reliable and foolproof additions to your yard bring more than just aesthetic to the table. While it is easy to just plant them and forget them, let’s take some time to get to know these beautiful plants:
Evergreens suffer from the curse of being so good at their job that they scarcely get noticed. For many of us, they are simply just “there” in our gardens, and don’t get many kudos beyond their ornamental purpose. Not only does an evergreen add year-round style and color in an easy and foolproof way, but they could be one of the most beneficial additions you could make to your yard and home.
We love to enjoy our outdoor space at home, but most of us prefer to do so with a little bit of privacy. Using plants as a natural barrier and screen can make your home and yard more comfortable to enjoy while adding to your backyard aesthetic, instead of distracting from it. Deciduous trees are delightful in the summer to provide a lush screen for your home but with our long Iowa winters leaving them bare for months on end, they just don’t do the job. Cold weather shouldn’t make you feel like you need to live life with the blinds closed. Evergreens provide beautifully lush coverage every day of the year. With so many species available, you can choose a natural screen that is as large or small as you need – either as a bold statement plant, or a modest and small-footprint privacy screen.
It’s common knowledge that bigger canopy trees, like Elms and Willows, help to shade and cool our homes in the summer when the sun is harshest. But in our sometimes frigid winters, we find ourselves begging for some extra warmth. The truth is that the winter wind pulls heat from our house and makes our furnaces work on overtime to maintain a comfortable temperature. Our gas bills are higher and houses are left less cozy.
Evergreens provide all the same summer-shade benefits that we crave on the hottest days of the year, but they also do an amazing job of protecting our homes in the winter when the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves to hibernate. This makes them a great choice to block the prevailing winds we know so well in Iowa. Plant close enough to your home to be effective, but still far enough (15-20 feet away) that the roots have room to grow.
In Midwestern states that take a temperature dive in the winter, it’s smartest to plant evergreens on the North side of your home. A towering, lush tree on the South could block the sun from naturally warming your house, while a northern placement will them block the majority of the coldest winds. A deciduous on the South will let the sun in when the temperatures are coldest but will provide shade in the summer.
We’re realizing that dousing our yards in chemicals can not only make our yard problems worse in the long run, but they also pose a hazard that prevents us from enjoying all our outdoor space. Natural yards that have healthy predator populations will keep the pests in check for you and, like anything that we want to keep around, our helpful predators need some protection, too.
Evergreens help to sustain populations of birds and other creatures that help to maintain a balanced yard ecosystem. Animals use their consistently green branches to find shelter in the winter and protect themselves from bigger predators, all while making a home close to your garden to keep pests in check. By keeping your tree growing close to the ground, you’ll be maximizing its benefit as a shelter to the best predators for a healthy yard – while also hiding the patch of grass under the tree that notoriously struggles to grow.
Trees are the earth’s lungs, and they work hard to strip the air of pollutants, replacing carbon dioxide with oxygen. In the summer, our deciduous trees help to guard our yards from the pollutants and smog that might creep into our homes, but their abilities are limited in the winter when air pollution is at its worst. While barren deciduous branches don’t do much for air quality, the needles on your evergreen do. They aren’t perfect at removing all pollutants, but they are able to help you and your home all year while your deciduous trees are sleeping. And while they won’t remove all the pollution, their fresh pine scent will certainly help your home feel a little fresher. There’s a reason so many household cleaners smell like pine!
Evergreens are so reliable that we often forget about them and neglect to give them credit where it is due. While we often consider them as the background plants, they are often the unsung heros. They offer tons of benefits to you, your family, your home, and even your bank account. With so many benefits, we’re lucky that they are also such a stunning addition to any home. Not just a pretty face, beautiful evergreens are ready to work to make your home and yard easier to enjoy.
Are you feeling a little of those winter blues? When the winter temperatures drop and the outside world gets frosty, our houseplants are the green aesthetic boost that we need. However, the darker and drier winter conditions can be hard on your beautiful houseplants. Understanding the needs of your plants can help you keep them gorgeous and lush all winter.
With how short our winter days are, everyone is getting less natural Vitamin D from the sun than usual. We may even be feeling the difference, getting a little sluggish and tired on darker days. The indoor plants in your house also rely upon the sun to boost their metabolism, so many of them may even be hibernating these days.
You might notice your plant taking a short break: leaves might fall, and growth slows down. Don’t worry too much, as your plants will perk up with the return of more sunlight in the spring.
In the meantime, watering less will help your houseplant’s dormant roots to avoid being overwhelmed. If you poke your finger into the soil and it is dry up to the first knuckle, it’s time to water your houseplant.
On the other side of giving your plant the water it needs, the drier winter air can be very stressful for your houseplants. With the exception of succulents and cacti, most houseplants are from tropical forests, where they enjoy nearly 100% humidity. If the air gets dry enough in the winter, it can even pull moisture out of the leaves of your plants, leaving them parched.
If possible, keep your tropical houseplants close to together to let them benefit from each other’s moisture (with the added bonus of creating an attractive tropical oasis in your home). Boosting the humidity of the air can also help, either through the use of a humidifier or by letting your plants enjoy evaporating air nearby. For a quick pick-me-up, your houseplants will love a brief misting to keep them healthy and lush.
Another thing your favorite tropicals struggle with is temperature changes. Back in their rainforest homes, the temperatures barely change a few degrees over an entire year, while our homes can change several degrees in a single day.
If your houseplants are close to cold windows or in the way of icy drafts from doors, they’ll appreciate moving away from sudden, cold temperatures. Keeping attractive and healthy plants sometimes calls for being flexible about where they are displayed to keep them rich and green, especially this time of year.
Houseplants are one of our favorite ways to add winter interest to our indoor living spaces. We get to bring something green and colorful inside to enjoy every day of the year. Keeping your houseplants healthy in winter conditions will ensure that they are lush all season and better than ever when they come out of hibernation in the spring!
Ted Lare Design Build specializes in Des Moines Landscaping Design and Installation.
We cover a wide range of Central Iowa. We have installed landscapes for many years in all areas of the Des Moines metro, including West Des Moines, Des Moines, Waukee, Clive, Urbandale, Johnston, Ankeny, Altoona, Indianola, and Norwalk.