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Indoor Gardening Maintenance Outdoor Gardening Plant Highlight

Mint (Mentha) Care Guide

The mint plant (Mentha) is a hardy, perennial herb grown for its leaves, which have a variety of culinary uses, including mint sauce for roast lamb, herbal tea infusions, as garnishes and in salads such as tabouli.

There are several varieties eg. peppermint (Mentha piperita), spearmint (Mentha spicata), pineapple mint (Mentha suaveolens variegata), orange mint (Mentha piperita citrata) and apple mint (Mentha suaveolens).

The plant grows vigorously in sun or partial shade. It should be treated as a weed for that reason. It is recommended that you grow it in pots rather than in garden beds as it can quickly take over the garden bed.

Why Grow Mint?

Due to its strong scent, it attracts beneficial insects and repels pests, including fleas, mosquitoes and mice.

Besides having beautiful ornamental leaves, it provides a number of health and medicinal benefits. It helps to relax muscles, soothes indigestion, acts as a mild decongestant and freshens breath.

It also helps that it grows quickly both indoors and outdoors, so it’s easy to pick some every now and then without running out.

Common Problems

  1. Insects – It is usually quite vigorous and strong. Occasionally, it may be attacked by aphids, spider mites, mint root borers and cutworms.
  2. Fungal diseases – It can also be attacked by mint rust, verticillium wilt and anthracnose.

Common Mistake

There aren’t many things that can go wrong when growing mint as it requires minimal care. The one mistake to watch out for is planting mint into a garden bed. Mint is invasive as it sprouts runners. Mint will overtake a garden bed and smother other plants in no time if it is not controlled.

Care Requirements/Guide

Watering: Keep the soil moist by watering it roughly every 3 to 4 days.

Light: It can grow in full sun and partial shade. Roughly 6 hours of direct sunlight a day will keep them happy.

Temperature: Mint copes with winter when established although the leaves may die back a little. When the warmer months comes around, it’ll spring back to life again.

Soil: It prefers slight acidic to neutral soil which is rich.

Fertilizer: It is not necessary to feed it. However, if you would like to, you can give it an occasional dose of all-purpose, water soluble fertilizer at half strength. Over-fertilizing cause it to lose its flavor.

Pruning: Pruning is not necessary if you are harvesting it regularly. However, be sure to keep the runners in check and ensure that it does not choke other plants.

Propagation: It is easy to propagate from cuttings, or just uproot a plant after it has spread via runners. It is also easy to grow it from seeds.

Toxicity Warning

It is not toxic to humans. However, if used in essential oils, it is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. If a lot is ingested, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Our Picks:

Buy It Now: Mint Garden in a Bag
Buy It Now: Herb Starter Kit
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Outdoor Gardening Plant Highlight

Pelargoniums (Pelargonium spp.) Care Guide

Pelargoniums (Pelargonium spp.) are recognisable by the same 5 petal flowers and long beak-like seedheads. They are versatile plants that are able to grow in containers, hanging baskets or flower beds. All you have to do is to ensure that they are watered regularly and have exposure to full sun.

Common Problems with Pelargoniums

  1. Pelargonium rust – Pelargoniums may develop a fungal disease, which appears as brown spots on the underside of leaves due to poorly ventilated spaces or being overly wet. Grow pelargoniums in a well-ventilated area and avoid wetting them too much. If rust forms, remove the affected leaves as much as possible, and spray the remaining leaves with fungal spray.
  2. Yellowing of bottom leaves – This may happen if the plants are too close together. The bottom leaves do not have sufficient exposure to sunlight.

Common Mistakes with Pelargoniums

  1. Over watering – You may be drowing your pelargonium plant. Too much water will exclude the oxygen from the roots, causing them to die.
  2. Under watering – If pelargonium plants don’t have sufficient water, they may become hard and woody, Since the plant is never dormant, it requires moisture all the year round.

Care Requirements/Guide

Watering: Allow the soil to dry between watering. Usually when the leaves show signs of drooping, it’s time to provide pelargoniums with small amounts of water. They are not thirsty plants but do need water to thrive.

Light: Pelargoniums grow well in full sun. If growing under glass, be sure to protect them from direct sunlight in the heat of summer.

Temperature: A temperature range of between 40 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit or 5 to 25 degrees celsius is recommended for pelargonium plants.

Soil: Perlagonium plants are happy in garden soil of all types, but prefer neutral or alkaline soil.

Fertiliser: Pelargoniums are quite happy without regular feeding. However, to get the best out of them, use a balanced liquid fertiliser in Spring, then switch to a fertiliser with high potassium content when flowering begins.

Pruning: Regular pruning to remove older leaves and woody stems will help to keep the pelargoniums looking fresh and green instead of growing scraggly.

Propagation: Pelargonium plants are propagated by cuttings. Just take a short cutting with stem and leaves, dip it into rooting hormone and grow it in moist soil.

Fun Fact about Pelargoniums

It is common to confuse Pelargoniums with geraniums. Both have five-petalled flowers. However, the lower three petals of Pelargoniums are different from the two at the top, ie. Pelargoniums are symmetrical in one plane only, ie. left to right, like a human face. On the other hand, Geranium flowers comprise five similar petals and therefore have radial symmetry, in multiple planes, like a daisy flower.

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Outdoor Gardening Plant Highlight

Geraniums (Geranium spp.) Care Guide

Geraniums (Geranium spp.) are popular garden plants and it is not hard to see why. They are hardy perennials that require little care while providing lovely blooms almost all year round. Flowering is mainly in late spring to early autumn, attracting plenty of beneficial insects such as butterflies and bees. They are sometimes confused with pelargoniums.

Common Problems with Geraniums

  1. Yellow leaves – If the geranium’s leaves turn yellow, it may be an indication you are watering too little or too much.
  2. Lack of flowers – This may mean that there is not enough sunlight. Move it to a new position where it gets more exposure to the sun.

Common Mistakes

  1. Over watering – Hardy geraniums can become prone to fungal disease if watered overhead.
  2. Not pruning regularly – Geranium plants may become scraggly if not pruned regularly. Trim it to encourage new leaf growth.

Care Requirements/Guide

Watering: Allow the soil to dry between watering. Usually when the leaves show signs of drooping, it’s time to provide geraniums with small amounts of water.

Light: Geraniums grow well both in full sun and partial shade.

Temperature: A temperature range of between 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 to 24 degrees celsius suits geraniums best.

Soil: Geranium plants prefer humus-rich soil. They are happy both in the ground and in pots especially on window sills.

Fertiliser: Geraniums are quite happy without regular feeding. An annual application of compost will do the trick.

Pruning: Regular pruning to remove older leaves and leggy stems will help to keep the geranium looking fresh and green instead of growing scraggly. It is also useful to separate clumps of geranium plants every 2 to 3 years, and re-plant them spaced apart.

Propagation: Geraniums can easily be grown from cuttings. Just take a short cutting with stem and leaves, dip it into rooting hormone and grow it in moist soil. They are also capable of self-seeding although growing them from seed isn’t as easy as cuttings.

Fun Fact about Geraniums

Geraniums are known to be toxic to Japanese beetles, so you will not have to worry about having beetles in the garden.

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African Daisy (Osteospermum) Care Guide

The African Daisy (Osteospermum) is a half-hardy perennial or subshrub which is most commonly grown as an annual. It self-seeds, so if it is grown in a garden bed, you are virtually guaranteed of seeing them in that spot year after year.

African daisy is delightful as it comes in a variety of colours, so you can create a colourful garden with african daisies. They do not like extreme heat and will flower sparsely in hot weather. They usually flower en mass in winter, providing a nice prelude to spring.

Common Problems with African Daisy

  1. Diseases such as root or stem rot, powdery mildew – These can be prevented by not over-watering, reducing humidity or ensuring good air circulation around the african daisy plant.
  2. Attack by pests eg. whitefly, fungus gnats, or aphids – Spray with pesticide if this happens. However, it is uncommon if african daisies are in good health.

Common Mistakes with Osteospermum

  1. Over watering – African daisies are drought-tolerant when established, so just a moist soil will suffice.
  2. Planting in an overly shady spot – This may result in less flowers.
  3. Not pruning regularly – The african daisy plant may become leggy if not pruned regularly. Trim it to encourage its lush green leaves to grow closer to the ground.

Care Requirements/Guide

Watering: African daisies are drought-tolerant once they are established. Therefore, is important to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Overwatering may result to fungal disease or rot.

Light: African daisies prefer a sunny to lightly shaded location and will flower best in full sun.

Temperature: Osteospermums prefer cooler weather. They are not fond of the combination of hot and dry. During periods of drought, it is common for the plants to gradually cease blooming and go dormant. Keep them well-watered during this time. They will bounce back in cooler months.

Soil: The african daisy prefers lightly acidic soil which is well-drained.

Fertiliser: African daisies are not fussy once established, so a light feed once a year usually suffices.

Pruning: If you want your african daisy to look a healthy lush green, trim it regularly to remove skinny stems. That will help to maintain it as a neat small bush.

Propagation: You may grow African daisies from cuttings. Just take a short cutting with stem and leaves, dip it into rooting hormone and grow it in moist soil. Alternatively, you can also grow african daisies from seeds. Let the seeds to dry on the flowers, then harvest them at the end of the growing season directly from the flower heads. The seeds need light to germinate, so cover the seeds with a thin layer of moist soil either directly where you want them to grow or in starter pots since they transplant easily.

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Indoor Gardening Maintenance Outdoor Gardening Plant Highlight

Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) Care Guide

The Jade plant (Crassula ovata) is a hardy succulent which can be grown indoors and outdoors. It is also known as money plant in Asia and is thought to bring wealth and prosperity.

There are approximately 18 different varieties of jade plants. Generally, they are all easy to care for, provided they are provided with plenty of light and the right amount of water.

Common Problems

  1. Loss of leaves – Insufficient lighting. To remedy the loss of leaves, move your plant to a brighter location and change the soil.
  2. Yellowing of leaves – Overwatering or root rot. If the roots are still alright, simply reduce watering and repot the plant. If the roots have rotted, it’ll be easier to discard it and propagate a new plant using the remaining leaves.
  3. Dropping of older leaves – Too much heat. In winter, this could be due to the jade plant being placed too close to a heater. Moving it to another spot should fix the problem.
  4. Mouldy leaves – Humidity is too high. If it is too humid indoors, placing the plant outdoors may fix the issue.
  5. No flowers – The plant is probably too young. Jade plants tend to flower when they are about 5 to 8 years old. They also tend not to flower indoors.

Common Mistakes

  1. Insufficient lighting
  2. Overwatering
  3. Excessive heat
  4. Excessive humidity

Care Requirements/Guide

Watering: During spring and summer, when the jade plant is growing actively, it will require more water (eg. weekly). During autumn and winter, the jade plant will require less water (eg. monthly). It is best to ensure that your plant pot has sufficient drainage and allows water to escape the base of the pot. Water your plant deeply when the soil is dry to the touch and wait until the soil is dry again to water it again.

Light: The Jade plant (Crassula ovata) require at least 4 hours of sunlight a day. However, if the jade plant is exposed to too much sunlight, they may develop reddish leaves.

Temperature: The ideal temperature range for a jade plant is room temperature (ie. 15 to 24 degrees celsius). Jade plants are not frost tolerant. However, well-established outdoor plants usually cope well with mild frosts.

Soil: Jade plants love good drainage. So avoid growing them in clayey soil. A soil mix used for cacti and succulents is preferable.

Repotting: Jade plants cope well even if root bound in a small pot. Keeping them root bound keeps them small and manageable. However, if you would like to encourage growth, repotting every 2 to 3 years is a good idea. Alternatively, plant them outdoors into the ground and watch them take off!

Fertiliser: Feed your jade plant twice a year with a water-soluble fertiliser, keeping in mind that you should never add fertiliser while the soil is dry as this may damage the roots. Water the plant first the usual way, then add fertiliser.

Pruning: Jade plants require pruning at least once a year to keep their growth in check. It is easy to prune jade plants as they are soft.

Toxicity Warning

Jade plants are toxic to animals including dogs and cats. If ingested, symptoms may include gastrointestinal distress such as vomiting, ataxia or lack of bodily coordination, depression or a lowered heart rate.

Jade plants are only mildly toxic to humans. Touching the plant sap may lead to itching and burning skin for some. If ingested,  diarrhorrea and vomiting may result.

If you have pets that will chew nearly any plant, check out our article on pet safe indoor plants.

Our pick:

Buy It Now: Crassula Ovata Obliqua (Jade Plant)
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Indoor Gardening Maintenance Plant Highlight

Rubber Plant (Ficus Elastica) Care Guide

The Rubber Plant (Ficus Elastica) is a popular, ornamental indoor plant that range in height from 30 centimetres to 2.5 metres in height.

There are a variety of rubber plants that are commonly available, including the ficus elastica decora, ficus elastica robusta, ficus elastica burgundy and variegated varieties which feature lime green, pink and white leaves.

Common Problems

  1. Loss of leaves – often due to overwatering, low temperatures, insufficient light or cold drafts. To remedy the loss of leaves, move your plant to a brighter location and change the soil.
  2. Leaf edges yellowing – could be due to poor soil, overwatering and under-feeding.
  3. Pests – the most common are mealy bugs, mites and scale.

Common Mistakes

  1. Over watering
  2. Moving the plant around excessively
  3. Placing your rubber plant in a location that experiences sudden drops in temperature and cold drafts

Care Requirements/Guide

Watering: Ensure that your plant pot has sufficient drainage and allows water to escape the base of the pot. Deepwater your plant when the soil is dry to the touch and wait until the soil is dry again to water it again.

Light: Rubber plants can survive in low light conditions, but bright, indirect light is ideal to see your plant thrive.

Temperature: The ideal temperature range for a rubber plant is 15-24 degrees celsius. Avoid temperatures that drop below 12 degrees celsius.

Soil: The soil for your rubber plant needs to be well-aerated. A recommended potting mix for the rubber plant is made from 1 part peat, 1 part pine bark, 1 part coarse sand or perlite to ensure that water flows through and drains properly.

Repotting: Repot your rubber plant when it becomes root bound and stops producing new leaves. Repotting into a larger pot with more soil will encourage new growth of both the root system and its leaves.

Fertiliser: Feed your rubber plant during sprint and summer with a diluted fertiliser every two weeks.

Pruning: If you want a shorter, fuller appearance for your plant, cut off the top branch and prune back any unwanted branches. Pruning in Spring or Summer is ideal.

Cleaning: Your plant’s leaves will need a gentle wipe with a damp cloth to ensure the leaves are glossy and dust-free so they can absorb the sunlight.

Toxicity Warning

All parts of the rubber plant (Ficus Elastica) are poisonous to pets if ingested.

In humans, the sap of the rubber tree can cause serious rash or irritation if handled by bare hands or exposed to bare skin.

If you have pets that will chew nearly any plant, check out our article on pet safe indoor plants.

Where to Buy Rubber Plant

Rubber Tree