Neighborly Garden News
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Tips to improve your indoor space with house plants
The author Hilton Carter’s new book “Wild at Home: How to Care and Style for Beautiful Plants” offers some practical and new ideas for decorating your home with houseplants. According to a study by GardenResearch.com Millennials are just crazy about plants. Thirty percent of gardening households were made up of 18-34 year olds. Social media platforms are filled with images of people and their plant collections. I am not in this age group, nor do you have to be in order to have an established love of all things green and growing. It is just a natural extension to want to bring something green into your home too.Mr. Carter wanted to expand on the information offered on social media. He wanted to give tips to ‘newbie’ plant lovers, and expand on how to incorporate plants into your indoor space. He feels it is better to create a plant corner, rather than have them scattered throughout your home. A well thought out composition will keep the grouping from looking too cluttered; he likes using the same species of plant, in different forms or colors to accentuate a plant collection. A bonus to this method is, this will make the plants easier to care for; as they will have the same requirements for light, temperature and water needs.
Form following function is another tip from Mr. Hilton. If you have a standing shelf, it may be desirable to have flowing or trailing plants spill from some of the shelves like a living curtain. He thinks many people use books as decorative accents now, so the need for access to them frequently may be fairly minimal. This will create a kind of wild and overgrown look.
Trailing plant collection
The author also advocates for hanging plants to create a jungle look. Hanging plants in front of every window was something I remember from back in the 70’s! Vining plants, like a Pothos, can also be tacked up to grow along a wall, or doorframe. This is also an effective way to keep your plants out of harm’s way if you have pets that may want to eat house plants, or even just play with them. My cat is a known destroyer of houseplants. The slimmer the leaves, the more attractive they are to him.
Decorating a door frame
Knowing your plant’s needs is foremost to Mr. Hilton. A windowsill grouping can be a dramatic way to liven up the room, but will only work if the plants all have similar light requirements. A bright indirectly lit windowsill is great for African Violets, which can bloom non-stop all winter, but not bright or sunny enough for a Cacti collection. Once you have determined what kind of light you receive, you can begin to acquire plants that will accentuate and thrive in your space.
Succulent plant windowsill garden
Don’t forget the bathroom as a possible plant area. The high humidity and warmth can be very accommodating for a variety of low light plants. Think of ferns, Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra) or Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema). You’re probably not going to want the jungle look in your bathroom, but a simple placement of one beautiful specimen can liven up an otherwise under planted indoor space.
Whatever your indoor space is like, there is sure to be a houseplant that will make it look better.
April’s ‘to-do’ list:
Snow on the first day of spring is not so unusual for New England, but it never fails to make me say “Wow!” It seems to be a recurring theme; after a wonderfully warm day on March 9th, it turned cold enough to snow a week or so later. Meanwhile, I’m hearing the first of the spring Peepers; our native Wood Frogs, singing in the nearby stream.
I’ve noticed our warmer-than-normal winter has promoted early bud development on some trees and shrubs. If you’ve had insect pest problems in the past, now would be a good time to do dormant spraying- to get a jump on pest problems.
Many types of plant pests will overwinter as immatures or as dormant spores. Without cold temperatures to kill a percentage of these potential pests, there may be an uptick in infectious agents as the weather warms.
Ticks will become active at temperatures above 39’F. They are most active between April and October; peaking June through August. Take precautions when working or playing outdoors; long-sleeves, long pants, and use an insect repellent. Modify your landscape to minimize areas where the tick’s hosts will live, and where ticks can propagate. We offer two types of tick control products, one of them being organic, designed to kill ticks and control their hosts. Please contact Scott Higley, (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Prune Roses this month, for the best June blooms. Begin pruning rose bushes as the buds begin to swell. This helps to identify living from dead wood. Prune small twigs less than the diameter of a pencil, and any broken, diseased, or inward growing branches. Make your cut above an outward facing bud or node to keep the center of the plant open and airy. Prune Climbing roses and heirloom (non-remontant) roses after they bloom, so as not to interrupt their bloom cycle. Roses are actually rejuvenated after a hard spring pruning.
Begin digging and dividing any perennials you didn’t get to last fall. Doing this early, and in cool weather, lessens transplant shock; with minimal effect on their blooming. Please be sure your flower bed is dry enough to work in; squeeze a ball of soil tightly in your hand, and then release. Poke the soil ball with your finger, if the ball ‘shatters’ it is dry enough to work. If the ball stays together, wait a bit longer for the soil to dry.
Before spring rainy season, check gutter downspouts and drains to be sure they are clear of leaves and debris. If you wish to conserve water and utilize your rainwater runoff, consider installing a rain capture system to minimize your dependence on well or municipal water for your utility water needs, or create an eco-friendly rain garden to absorb excess runoff.
If your lawn is completely dry, it needs a good raking, and/or de-thatching. Schedule your pre-emergent crabgrass control and spring feeding, before the window of opportunity passes. Early spring is also a good time for reseeding bare spots in the lawn; cool temperatures promote good growth of grass seed.
There is still time for cool weather crops to be planted before hot weather arrives for their harvest period. Peas grow best during cool weather, but prefer full sun, and need a light fence or teepee to twine onto. Lettuce is another cool weather loving crop, and will even tolerate a bit of light shade during the heat of summer. It can easily be grown in pots, just use a container that is at least 12” deep, to accommodate the roots, and 18-20” wide. Fill with regular potting mix, scatter the seeds so they look ‘heavily salted’ on top; lightly firm in and gently water the seeds. Monitor the soil, so they seeds don’t dry out, and you will be rewarded with a crop of your favorite greens in less than 30 days. Best way to harvest: use a scissor to clip as you need it. The plant will re-grow through successive ‘haircuts’.
Need help with your spring to-do list? We can help lighten your load; start your garden beds, prune your trees and shrubs, and clean up your yard. Give our office a call, or shoot us an email: email@example.com (413) 458-5586
How to make a wildflower seed bomb!
Finished seed ‘bombs’
Seed bombs can be planted too
Rhododendrons, and their cousins the Azaleas, are the queens of springtime blooming shrubs. Many hardy types are US natives, with varied blooming times. Surprisingly, some species of Rhododendron are deciduous, and quite a few develop good fall leaf colors.
Rhododendrons like moist, heavily organic, acidic soils; which additionally must be well drained. Rhododendrons have shallow, fine textured roots, which can rot in soggy soil. They don’t need full sun, but prefer a lot of indirect light. With planning, you can have a Rhododendron garden in bloom from April through July. An important note, Rhododendrons will not tolerate being planted proximal to Walnut trees or any in the same genera (Hickory, Butter Nut, etc.) because of the toxic substance, juglone, exuded from their roots.
Rhododendron ‘Golden Lights’ is fragrant and exceptionally cold hardy, this compact Azalea belongs to the ‘Northern Lights series of hybrid Azaleas developed by the University of Minnesota. Red/orange buds unfurl to luminous butter yellow flowers, which bloom before the leaves develop. ‘Golden Lights’ have bud hardiness to -30F. They will bloom from late spring to early summer, and are deciduous. Hardiness zones 3-7! Grows 3-6 ft tall x 3-6 ft wide at maturity.
Rhododendron ‘Golden Lights’
Rhododendron ‘Nova Zembla’ is a vigorous, native, evergreen shrub known for producing masses of brilliant red flowers that smother the plant in mid-to late spring. This Rhododendron will tolerate more sun than others in the group. Hardiness zones 4-9. Nova Zembla will grow 8 ft tall x 8 ft wide at maturity.
Rhododendron ‘Nova Zembla’
Rhododendron ‘Olga Mezitt’ is a shrub which will provide you with year-round interest. This is a small leaved, evergreen Rhododendron, the leaves turning a pleasing coppery-burgundy during fall and winter. The clear pink flowers start blooming in late spring, the flowers are slightly fragrant. Olga Mezitt is a good choice for smaller spaces, grows to 5 ft tall x 4 ft wide at maturity.
Rhododendron ‘Olga Mezitt’
Rhododendron ‘Roseum Elegans’ is an outstanding native, broadleaf evergreen shrub with purple-pink flowers blooming in late spring-early summer. This Rhododendron has an upright rounded habit of growth. ‘Roseum Elegans’ prefers to be grown in partial shade, hardiness zones 4-8. ‘Roseum Elegans’ will reach 8 ft tall x 8 ft wide at maturity.
Rhododendron ‘Roseum Elegans’
Rhododendron mucronulatum ‘Cornell Pink’. Soft pink flowers appear in great profusion in late April or early May, before the leaves develop, forming a virtual cloud of pink beauty. The small delicate leaves turn lovely shades of gold or burnt orange in the fall. The plant’s compact habit makes it a great shrub for a wide range of garden areas. This deciduous variety originated at Cornell University, so it’s very cold hardy. Hardiness zones 4-8. Will tolerate full to partial sun, grows 5 ft tall x 3 ft wide.
Rhododendron mucronulatum ‘Cornell Pink’