In the Garden: Flowering houseplants

Winters can be grey and colorless, especially when you are looking from the inside out. Consider adding a little color to your indoor landscape with a few easy to grow flowering plants.

African Violets have been a perennial favorite for generations. It is one of the most collected species for many plant enthusiasts. It is compact in size and produces a huge pop of color periodically throughout the year.

African Violets can be a little fussy when it comes to watering. If you follow these simple tips you should not have any problems. One key tip is to water plants from the bottom. African Violets have furry leaves that prefer to remain dry. Repot violets in a self-watering container, a pot within another pot. The pot the the violet is planted in is porous and absorbs water from the reservoir. This helps prevent overwatering and keeps the leaves dry. They prefer to dry between waterings and like a Northeastern exposure to bask in the morning light.

When repotting use African Violet mix and fertilize bi-weekly with a 8-14-9 nutrient ratio.

Begonias range from flowering Tuberous Begonias to Rex Begonias. Tuberous begonias like Non-stop and have rose like blossoms. Rieger Begonias also known as the winter begonia burst with a wide variety of beautiful colors and bloom prolifically in bright light throughout the season.

Rex begonias are technically not known for their flowers, but pack a punch with their brightly colored foliage. Both are low maintenance and prefer the soil to dry thoroughly between each watering. Don’t be afraid to bring your Begonias outdoors for the summer. They are awesome in shade containers and bloom all summer. Fertilize weekly during the growing season with all- purpose 20-20-20 nutrient ratio. Dead head spent blooms to encourage more blooming.

Calandiva, a type of Kalanchoe, is a tropical succulent in the Crassulacaea family. Its tiny clusters of double-star shaped flowers bloom for six weeks and takes little care. Keep in a bright sunny location and allow the soil to dry out. Once the plant is done blooming cut off spent blossoms. Plants can bloom again when light exposure is manipulated.

Gerbera Daisy have large daisy like flowers that are color saturated in rich jewel tones as well as pretty pastels. You can find Gerbera Daisies during the winter months at your local garden center and grocery store. They are happy growing indoors as well as outdoors in flower beds and containers. Keep plants in a bright, indirect sunny window with daytime temperatures at 70 degrees.

The key to keeping these flowers happy is careful watering. You want to be sure to water when the soil is dry to the touch and the pot feels light in weight. Soak the plant thoroughly and allow to drain properly. When blooms are spent snip the flower and stem to promote more blooms. Fertilize monthly using a water soluble fertilizer. I recommend using an acid fertilizer at half the rate once per month. This will help maintain the 6.2 ph level that is ideal for Gerbera Daisies to keep blooming.

Garden Trends in Two Thousand Fifteen

As the winter doldrums set in and we eagerly await the the arrival of spring. You may be wondering what will be the “It” thing to do or grow in your garden in the year 2015.  Here are a few concepts trending in the garden industry.

Edible gardening.
  Gardening with edibles continues to be on of the strongest trends in 2015.  People continue to focus on a healthy lifestyle with a purpose and growing sustainable vegetables and herbs is at the top.  According to the Garden Writers Association Survey 58% of the American people plan to grow some of their own edibles in 2015.  That number has increased considerably within the last 2 years.  According to the National Gardening Association in a 2013 survey only 35% of Americans were planning to grow vegetables.

Garden naturally.
  Create gardens that look effortless.  Introduce native  plants into the mix. By doing so you will create a more diverse and balanced environment.  Natives attract natural wildlife and adapt to their natural environment by using less fertilizers and conserve water.  Some species to consider are, Heliopsis helianthoides, False Sunflower, Asclepias tuberosa, Butterfly weed.  Ilex Verticilata, Winterberry Holly, Native blueberries, Vaccinium corymbosum, Highbush Blueberry, Viburnum sp.

Container Gardening.
  Gardening in containers continues to be a strong trend for 2015 and Millennials along with Baby Boomers are the driving force.  Millennials are becoming known as the generation of “NOwners”.  They prefer to rent rather than own their homes therefore portability of gardening in containers affords them to
move at will.  Baby Boomers continue to downsize and have limited time and space to maintain a full landscaped yard.  Containers are the perfect solution.  They allow for high impact design with a pop of color.  Portable enough to move around the landscape, patio or balcony.

Edible Container Gardening.
Growing vegetables in containers continues to grow in popularity especially within the last couple of years.  Two notable plant varieties worth growing are ‘Patio Baby’ eggplant and ‘Indigo Ruby’ tomato.  Both known for their compact habit and rich flavor.

Garden Living Room.
  According to the Garden Media Group the US demand for outdoor plants and outdoor products is expected to grow between $4 – $7 billion in 2015. People are utilizing every space of the home, especially the outdoors. That includes potted containers, terrariums as well as redesigning the garden and patio.  Again the Millennial generation is the driving force. A Casual Living Apartment Therapy Outdoor Decorating survey found out that 62% of Millennials spend their time outdoor and 85% rank outdoor rooms extremely important.  A percentage considerably higher than previous generations.

Color in the Garden.
  Pantone’s color for 2015 is Marsala, it is no surprise that the color trending in the garden this spring will be varying shades of  deep wine to pink.
Hopefully this will inspire you to start planning your garden today.