Garden Blog

The fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) is a popular indoor specimen plant featuring very large, heavily veined, violin-shaped leaves that grow upright. These plants are native to tropical parts of Africa, where they thrive in very warm and wet conditions. This makes them somewhat challenging for the home grower, who is likely to have trouble duplicating these steamy conditions. However, they are relatively tough plants that can withstand a less-than-perfect environment for a fairly long time.

Fiddle-leaf figs are perfect as focal points of a room if you can situate them in a floor-standing container where the plant is allowed to grow to at least 6 feet. (Most indoor specimens reach around 10 feet tall.) They’re fairly fast growers and can be potted at any point in the year if you’re like most gardeners acquiring a nursery plant to keep indoors.

Botanical Name Ficus lyrata
Common Name Fiddle-leaf fig, banjo fig
Plant Type Broadleaf evergreen
Mature Size 50 feet tall (outdoors), 10 feet tall (indoors)
Sun Exposure Part shade
Soil Type Loamy, medium moisture, well-draining

Fiddle-Leaf Fig Care
Fiddle-leaf figs are not especially demanding plants as long as you can get their growing conditions right. When grown as a houseplant, be prepared to rotate your fiddle-leaf fig every few days so a different part faces the light source. That way, it will grow evenly, rather than lean toward the light.

Also, every week or two dust the leaves with a damp cloth. Not only does this make the leaves appear shinier and more appealing, but it also allows more sunlight to hit the leaves for photosynthesis. Moreover, you can trim off any damaged or dead leaves as they arise, as they no longer benefit the plant. And if you wish, you can prune off the top of the main stem for a bushier growth habit.

Light
Fiddle-leaf figs require bright, filtered light to grow and look their best. Direct sunlight can burn the leaves, especially exposure to hot afternoon sun. And plants that are kept in very low light conditions will fail to grow rapidly.

Soil
Any quality indoor plant potting mix should be suitable for a fiddle-leaf fig. Ensure that the soil drains well.

Water
Fiddle-leaf figs like a moderate amount of moisture in the soil. If the plant doesn’t get enough water, its leaves will wilt and lose their bright green color. And if it gets too much water, the plant might drop its leaves and suffer from root rot, which ultimately can kill it. During the growing season (spring to fall), water your fiddle-leaf fig when the top inch of soil feels dry. And over the winter months, water slightly less.

Furthermore, these plants are sensitive to high salt levels in the soil. So it’s ideal to flush the soil until water comes out the bottom of the pot at least monthly. This helps to prevent salt build-up.

Temperature and Humidity
Fiddle-leaf figs don’t like extreme temperature fluctuations. A room that’s between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit is typically fine, though you must position the plant away from drafty areas, as well as air-conditioning and heating vents. These can cause sudden temperature shifts.

Aim for a humidity level between 30% and 65%. If you need to supplement humidity, mist your plant with clean water in a spray bottle daily. Or you can place it on a tray of pebbles filled with water, as long as the bottom of the pot isn’t touching the water. Plus, fiddle-leaf figs can benefit from being in a room with a humidifier.

Hoya have been popular house plants for decades and with good reason. They are extremely long-lived, have a classic, deep green, vining foliage and produce fragrant, light pink and red star-shaped flowers. Because of their thick waxy, foliage they are often called wax plants or sometimes porcelain flower referring to the unique texture of the flowers.

These tropical vining plants have a few requirements in order to thrive but nothing too hard. Give them bright, indirect light, humidity and a light touch when it comes to watering. Use a potting mix that allows for good air circulation around the roots. Read on for the best recipe for success.

Light

Select a place that gets bright, indirect light. Don’t let their waxy foliage fool you. They are not succulents and can’t take harsh afternoon light. They will grow in lower light situations but it’s unlikely they will bloom. 

Soil and Repotting

Potting soil with good air circulation is very important for Hoya. To create a perfect blend mix equal parts of Espoma’s organic Cactus MixOrchid Mix, and Perlite. Hoya like to be pot-bound or crowded in their pots. They will only need to be repotted every two or three years.

Water

Water regularly with room-temperature water, spring through summer. Let the top layer of soil dry between watering. In the fall and winter growth naturally slows down and they won’t use as much water. Water sparingly during fall and winter, give them just enough that the soil doesn’t dry out completely. Too much water can cause flowers to drop.

Humidity 

Hoya are tropical plants that thrive in humid conditions. Use a humidifier to bring the humidity levels up, especially in winter when indoor air tends to be dry. A saucer with gravel and water also provides humidity as the water evaporates. Misting with room-temperature water also helps but avoid spraying the flowers.

Temperature

Keep the room temperature warm year-round, try not to let it drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also best to keep plants from touching cold windows and away from heating and cooling vents.

Pruning

Prune in spring before vigorous growth begins. The stems with no leaves are called spurs and shouldn’t be removed. Flowers are produced on the same spurs year after year. Hoya are vining plants that will happily cascade from a shelf or window sill. Conversely, they are often trained onto trellises that are either vertical or circular, giving the impression of a more robust plant.

Thanks to Espoma.com for care tips

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Starting plants from seeds is a fun and easy way to stretch those gardening dollars. Whether you are interested in annuals, perennials, herbs or vegetables you’ll find a great selection of seeds to start prior to planting out this spring. Of course you can also sow seeds directly into your garden beds. When you consider that a typical seed pack will contain upwards of one hundred seeds there is no better ‘bang for the buck’.

To sow seeds indoors you will just need a seed starting mix, seed box and tray. Most seed starting kits come complete with these items and a plastic cover to complete your own mini ‘greenhouse’. You will just need to sow the seeds thinly and evenly throughout the seed packs – usually just two to three seeds per cell. Press the seeds into the surface of the soil and cover with a thin layer of fine peat or soil. Next water gently and cover with your plastic cover to retain humidity until the seeds have sprouted, the remove the cover and allow air to circulate. Most seeds will germinate in about two weeks, but you can speed up the process with bottom heat. You can thin out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough that the leaves touch. You will need to time the process back from a couple of weeks past the last scheduled frost date. You can ‘harden’ off your seedlings in a cool, but not cold garage or breezeway to acclimate the seedlings prior to planting.

You can follow this process for just about all seeds, with the exception of some of the larger vegetable varieties that are sensitive to transplant shock. It is a good idea to start larger plants directly into larger pots or ‘peat pots’ that will require the amount of transplanting. You should always follow the instructions on the seed package to determine specific care instructions as well as the time need for germination and development.

Of course you can also sow seeds directly into the garden soil. You would be amazed at how you can add dozens of new plants from a single package of seeds. Mixing and matching the varieties can help you create specific gardens such as those that attract butterflies, or if you are ‘naturalizing’ a portion of your home landscape. 

Some of the easiest plants to grow from seeds are annuals, especially those that ‘self-sow’, or grow from seeds they sow themselves. A few good examples are Alyssum, Calendula, Cosmos, Larkspurs, Nicotiana and even Impatiens! You just need to remember to leave some seed heads to fall onto ‘receptive ground’. Receptive ground is nothing more than friable soil that is raked out and free of weeds, stones and debris.

Nothing is more fun that starting seeds in the sometimes gloomy weeks and months prior to the spring. Of course you can always find expert advice from our staff. We are always here to help you with all of your gardening questions. 

Anthurium Care
Family: Araceae
Common Name: Flamingo Flower, Tail Flower, Painted Tongue Plant
Botanical Name: Anthurium andraeanum

Here’s a little secret: the beautiful heart-shaped “flowers” are not flowers! What makes these durable, easy-care houseplants so appealing are red, white, pink, or purple waxy leaves called spathes that flare from the base of the fleshy spike where the actual tiny flowers grow. These indoor plants are epiphytes, a type of air plant that comes from warm, tropical regions where they either grow on the surface of other plants or in rich organic humus. Therefore, as a houseplant, the Anthurium is extremely durable and requires little care. Simply repot with a peat moss or a coco coir-based soil mixture, provide bright, indirect sunlight, and allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings. For more robust, repeated “flowering,” allow the Anthurium to rest for six weeks with little water during the winter at approximately 60°F. If you notice that the “flower” is green rather than the color you were expecting, it may be a new sprout that was forced to bloom when it should have been resting. If a “flower” is fading, it is likely an older bloom that is ready to dry up and fall off (see below for care).

Important! Anthurium are poisonous if ingested, so be very careful if you have pets and/or small children. The sap can also cause skin irritation.

Light
Flowering Anthurium needs bright, indirect light (direct sunlight will scorch the leaves and flowers!). Low light will slow growth and produce fewer, smaller “flowers.”

Water
Water thoroughly when the first inch of the soil becomes dry to the touch, stopping when water starts draining from the drainage holes. Avoid overwatering (Anthurium roots are susceptible to rot!). The more light and warmth that your Anthurium gets, the more water it will need, so check the soil for dryness every few days. These plants will provide signs of stress or thirst, so pay attention: thirsty plants will be light if you lift them and will have droopy or puckering leaves. You will not need to water as often in the winter when the plant is not actively growing.

Temperature
The Anthurium prefers very warm temperatures (70-90°F), but don’t worry – these plants are extremely adaptable and can flourish in typical household temperature ranges. However, be careful of temperature extremes: if your thermostat drops below 50°F, the Anthurium will stop growing; if your house gets too hot, your Anthuriums will wilt.

Humidity
Most Anthuriums thrive on humidity, but the flowering varieties can tolerate more dryness. If your humidity level is less than 50%, then consider using a humidifier to increase the level to at least 60%. Filling small trays with pebbles and water and grouping indoor plants together can slightly increase the humidity immediately surrounding your plants.

Fertilizer
During the growing season (spring and summer), feed your Anthurium once a month using a complete, ¼-strength liquid fertilizer. Note — too much fertilizer can do more harm than good. To encourage more blooms, use a fertilizer higher in phosphorus during the growing season.

Pro Tips
Use a fertilizer high in phosphorus to promote blooms in flowering varieties.
Use a soil that drains well to avoid root rot, but holds enough moisture for root absorption.
Don’t be alarmed when you see roots growing from the stems! These are simply aerial roots that would benefit from occasional misting. If you don’t like the look of these roots, you can cut them without hurting the plant.
As your Anthurium grows, place it in a bigger pot. Crowded roots will stunt the plant’s growth!
When the flowers fade and you want to remove them, cut at the base of the flower stem, closest to the base of the plant.

…and you never have to worry about getting the wrong size!

Selecting gifts for family, friends, and neighbors can offer a challenge to even the most organized amongst us. Making a gift special requires effort; either in remembering the correct size, or a favorite color, a type of music or even a favored flower. A good gift is something that shares your passion with a friend, or contributes to their interests through your gift.

The most cherished gifts are those that reflect the effort you’ve put into the selection. It is in this process of gifting that we truly give of ourselves. As gardeners, we often share from our garden-whether it is a surplus of tomatoes, fresh blooms, or even a special recipe.

These gifts from the garden are special. They include all the elements that show you care: time, creativity, beauty and expertise. As this holiday season approaches, consider giving the gift of gardening. It is a present that is appropriate to any age, level of friendship or interest.

Which of your gardening friends wouldn’t appreciate a new tool, seed collection, gardening book, wind chime or bird bath? And who among the others on you list would you not share your favored moments from the garden or nature? So let this be the season to share your passion with a poinsettia, bulb collection or pottery.

Remember, a gift card is always a great idea and can be used all year-round!

The holiday season is fast approaching and soon it will be time to deck the halls with decorative greenery and boughs of holly. To make sure all your garland, swags, trees and kissing balls look their best make sure to use an anti-dessicant such as Wilt-Pruf® to keep your greens from drying out.

This is also a helpful tip for prolong the life of greens, holly, berries and boxwood used in outdoor window boxes or winter planters. An application of Wilt-Pruf can help extend the life of your festive display.

You can use Wilt Pruf® to protect and extend the life of Christmas trees and wreathes by reducing moisture loss. Moisture loss is the primary cause of the needle loss and browning that is so common. For wreathes, holly and other seasonal greenery many commercial producers dip the object in Wilt Pruf® and let if drip dry over a catch tray. For the homeowner, spraying is just as effective.


This is a simple process:

  1. For a long lasting Christmas Tree begin by selecting one that has been cut recently and is still fresh.
  2. Apply Wilt Pruf® to all foliage outdoors in daylight, Wilt Pruf® needs exposure to ultra violet light to dry properly.
  3. Let dry before bringing indoors
  4. 1 Quart RTU will treat the typical 5′ – 6′ Christmas Tree, you can also mix the concentrate at 5:1 dilution and apply with any pressurized sprayer.

Wilf-Pruf® is also a good way to protect evergreen shrubs from Winter winds and chills. It provides a protective layer that helps to lock moisture in preventing burning and helps to keep plants from drying out.