Without a doubt, you should start using used coffee grounds in your potting mix and indoor plants as it can be greatly beneficial to your indoor potted plants. Used grounds are high in nitrogen and nutrients which improves the fertility of the soil. Also, the smell of coffee is said to ward off and kill garden pests like slugs, caterpillars and even cats. The antimicrobial properties found inside used coffee grounds also benefits plants by preventing diseases in vegetables and other crops. Do not use freshly ground coffee beans or whole coffee beans as caffeine can affect your beloved plants in a disastrous way. It can suppress plant growth and cause your plant to die. Used grounds, however, have a much lower caffeine level and are much safer to incorporate.
How to incorporate?
To add coffee grounds to your soil, you can easily incorporate your coffee waste into your compost bin. You can add up to twenty percent used grounds into your compost’s total volume. Adding too much recycled grounds into your compost will compromise the ability for microbes to breakdown organic matter. Conversely, adding too little will limit the effect the grounds will have on your compost and further, your plants.
You can spread a thin layer of the coffee grounds onto the surface of the soil. Apply approximately half an inch to the top of the pot along with a layer of mulch or compost. Avoid adding a thick layer of coffee grounds. This will create a barrier that won’t allow air or water properly penetrate the soil.
Check our article on DIY potting mix to create your own potting mix to suit different plant types. Try incorporating recycled grounds to them as a natural and zero-waste fertilizer alternative.
Air plant care is often something that is forgotten. Though low maintenance, it is important to look after your air plants to ensure healthy growth.
What are air plants?
Air plants are an excellent starter plant for novice plant enthusiasts because they don’t require soil. Although they don’t survive on air alone, air plants are a fun and decorative way to spice up any room. As members of the Tillandsia genus, air plants are found naturally in forests, deserts and mountains of America.
Air Plant Care
Here are things you should consider when caring for your air plants:
Air plants do best when they receive bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight over prolonged periods of time may cause your air plant to wither. Meanwhile, a lack of light will mean your plant won’t sufficiently photosynthesise.
For a room where natural lighting is not sufficient, full-spectrum fluorescent lights are a suitable alternative. Keep your plants within close proximity of the light ensuring it has exposure for a minimum of 12 hours a day.
Both misting and soaking your air plant will ensure that it is receiving a sufficient amount of water without causing the leaves to rot. How often you mist and soak your plant will depend on the conditions of your plant’s location like the amount of light it receives and the temperature of your home. You can soak your plant for up to 10 minutes by submerging it in a container of water. Ensure that is able to fully dry within three hours to prevent any rot. You can also mist your plant frequently to ensure it is moist but not wet. Alternatively, you may also place your air plant near a humidifier. Water more frequently in Summer as opposed to Winter as your plant will be more likely to dry out during hotter weather.
Following up with your air plant care, and ensuring that your air plant continues to grow, you can incorporate fertilisers designed for orchids or bromeliads into the water in which you soak your air plants up to twice a month. This will encourage growth, reproduction and even blossoming.
Where to buy air plants?
If you are looking for some quick and convenient air plants delivered straight to your door, check out succulents box for a range of unique and collector air plants.
When I went nursery hopping recently, I came across a few pots of stunning purple-leafed plants which I couldn’t get out of my mind. They were none other than Persian Shield plants, also known as royal purple plants.
I regretted not buying it on the spot (no thanks to pre-Christmas budget issues!). Eventually, a budget recovery paved the way for a new addition to my home. So I set about finding out how to look after it.
It is also worth noting that the sap of the plant is a mild skin irritant, so be careful when handling it.
Common Problems with Persian Shield Plants
The persian shield is a thirsty plant. However, it hates being water bogged.
The plant will lose its bright color if it’s in far too much shade.
Drought-stressed plants are susceptible to mites, gnats, aphids and whiteflies. A soap spray will help with this.
The plants also have a tendency to grow leggy and spindly, which can look unattractive. Pinching back the leaves will help it to grow into compact bushy plants.
Common Mistakes with Persian Shield Plants
Overwatering – Although these plants love to be in moist soil, overwatering will result in root rot. You could dip your finger into the soil to find out whether it is ready to be watered. In winter, soil may dry out faster than usual due to indoor heating systems in use. Another way is to add grit or sand to your soil to increase its drainage capacity.
Insufficient light indoors – If it does not get sufficient light, the foliage of the persian shield plant may become dull in color. Placing the plant next to a window which receives bright, indirect light will improve its color vibrancy.
Care Requirements & Guide for Persian Shield Plants
Watering: Maintain the plants in moist soil as they are not drought tolerant. If kept indoors as a houseplant, care must be taken to ensure that the persian shield plant is watered at least twice a week.
Light: When grown outdoors, they can tolerate full sun. However in their natural environment, they tend to grow in partial shade under trees. Dappled shade probably suit it best.
Temperature: The plant is an annual in tropical climates which thrives in heat and humidity. But in cooler climates, it will die back in Winter. However, if the root system doesn’t freeze and die, it will bounce back to life in Spring. If kept indoors, it is best to keep the plant at a temperature above 60°F (about 16°C).
Soil: Persian shield plants prefer organically rich well-drained soil. Maintain the soil pH within the neutral range of 5.5 and 7.5.
Fertiliser: Feed every two weeks with a half dilution of liquid plant food especially if grown in pots. It will be prudent to suspend feeding in Fall/Autumn and Winter.
Propagation: You may propagate persian shield plants from seed or through stem cuttings.
Fun Facts about Persian Shield Plants
The name is a misnomer as it is native to Myanmar, not Persia.
Persian shield plants are flowering plants but their leaves are more interesting than their tiny flowers.
We hope you enjoy your persian shield plant for many years to come. Send us your photos of your persian shield plants indoors or outdoors. We would be more than happy to feature them on Facebook or Instagram!
DIY potting mix recipes consist of a combination of ‘ingredients’ that provide the substrate required for your plant while adding nutrients and moisture that allow for plant growth. Comparatively, the all-purpose potting mix doesn’t always work best because it isn’t necessarily suited to the type of plant you are trying to grow. Of course, it is important to use different types of potting mix for the various types of plants you own as they require different levels of humidity, nutrition and water retention. Additionally, buying your own potting mix ingredients in bulk saves money and ensures that you always have a potting mix on hand for the type of plants you are housing.
Why use potting mix?
Potting mix compared to traditional garden soil is airy and light which allows the roots to grow easily and enable them to breathe. Potting mixes are more long-lasting than soil as they are less compacted and break down at a slower rate. The blend of ingredients in a potting mix also ensures that water is retained for a longer amount of time within the pot and contains some nutrients to sustain the plant without having to use liquid fertilizer as frequently.
What ingredients do I need to start my DIY potting mix recipes?
Different blends of potting mixes contain generally the same types of ‘ingredients’ at different ratios. The most popular types of potting mix ingredients include:
Sphagnum Peat Moss
Sphagnum peat moss is often used as the base ingredient of potting mix recipes as it requires a longer amount of time to breakdown while ensuring that the mix is well-draining and aerated. It is also a cheap ingredient and retains moisture to ensure the plant has time to absorb water through its roots.
Coir fibre holds more nutrients than sphagnum peat moss and takes an even longer amount of time to break down but comes at a higher cost. You can often find coir fibre sold in compacted locks that need water added to them in order to expand and be useable as part of your potting mix. Coir fibre is more environmentally responsible than sphagnum peat moss as it is long-lasting and a renewable resource as it is made as a by-product of the coconut processing industry.
Perlite is used for its porous properties which improve drainage while not adding weight to the mix. Additionally, it has a larger surface area which benefits indoor plants that require a high humidity level.
Vermiculite, like perlite, improves the porosity of the potting mix but also adds calcium and magnesium to the mix. It occurs as a natural volcanic mineral. It also retains moisture and nutrients which feeds the plants and maximizes growth.
Coarse sand is also used to increase the drainage of the potting mix but also adds weight. Succulent potting mixes therefore often have a high ratio of coarse sand in its recipe.
Limestone is used to neutralize the pH of the soil. Adding limestone to potting mix increases the structure of the soil and encourages nutrient absorption into both the soil and the plant.
Fertilizers are added to the potting mix to increase the nutrient intake of the plant in order for it to grow. They can consist of minerals, animal by-products, manure, and plant materials. Worm casting or vermicast are often used as a fertilizer as it holds and supplies nutrients while retaining water.
Wood chips and mulch can be used to allow air and water to travel through the mix. Wood chips also repel pests, control weeds while breaking down at a slower rate.
Compost can be used to increase water retention and nutrients in the mix.
What equipment do you need?
To start your potting mix project, collect the following items:
Additionally, we have compiled a list of 5 different types of DIY potting mix recipes you may need for your home and garden.
As we excitedly fill our homes with trees, lights, decorations, flowers and gifts during the Christmas season, it’s worth bearing in mind that some Christmas/holiday plants and flowers are poisonous and may potentially cause issues for young children and pets. Here’s our (non-exhaustive) list of 6 poisonous Christmas plants to avoid or keep out of the reach of young children and pets.
Some species of mistletoe are more dangerous than others. However, as a precaution, treat any mistletoe brought into the house as potentially harmful to children and pets.
The leaves and berries of European mistletoe are poisonous as they contain several chemicals (eg. alkaloid tyramine) that can cause severe gastrointestinal problems. Dogs may die from ingesting it.
North american mistletoe contain phoratoxin which can cause nausea, vomiting, stomachaches, diarrhorea, blurred vision, slower heart rate and a lowered blood pressure.
Holly contains saponin glycosides, methylxanthines and cyanogens which can cause symptoms such as hypersalivation (drooling), loss of appetite and vomiting. Theobromine is also found in holly berries. (This chemical, which is in chocolate, is toxic to dogs.)
Poinsettias were previously believed to be very toxic. However, research in recent years have shown that it is not particularly dangerous. You may feel ill or nauseous if you have eaten a few leaves. Also, rubbing the sap from the plant into your skin can give you an itchy rash. Beyond that, this plant is unlikely to cause a problem for either humans or pets. Having said that, it is still worthwhile ensuring that it is out of the reach of young children and pets.
Cyclamens grow an underground stem or tuber called a rhizome. There is a concentration of chemicals in the tubers. These chemicals, known as triterpenoid saponins, are toxic. While the leaves and flowers also contain the toxin, they have them in much lower concentrations. Although it’s unlikely that a pet or child will get to the tuber, there is still the remote risk of the pot being knocked over or the soil being dug up by a pet.
Cyclamen poisoning may result in severe vomiting and diarrhorea, which is accompanied by significant fluid loss from the body. Furthermore, it may cause abnormal heart rhythm and seizures.
Amaryllis contains a toxin known as lycorine, which is found mainly in the bulb of the plant. Eating bulb tissue (or a very large amount of leaf or flower tissue) can cause stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, diarrhorea, tremors and convulsions.
Yew contains chemicals called taxines that quickly cause an irregular heartbeat after being eaten. The alteration in the heart rate can be life-threatening. Yew poisoning can also cause a headache, dizziness, gastrointestinal problems, breathing difficulties, trembling, convulsions, dilated pupils, and a coma.
Alternatives to Plants
If you were thinking, ‘What a damper! I was looking forward to having some of these in my house this Christmas!’, here are some alternatives:
Artificial plants & silk flower arrangements
Pop-up paper arrangements
Also, if you have not figured what to buy for your plant loving friend or family member, check out our selection of gift ideas!
This ends our blog post on poisonous Christmas plants. Let us know how you go with your child-safe and pet-safe Christmas celebrations by sending us your photos. We would be more than happy to feature them on Facebook or Instagram!
Not all of us are fortunate to have huge gardens in which we could lose ourselves. Short of climbing to some mountain top retreat, here are 9 garden ideas that you can incorporate in your indoor spaces.
If you live in an apartment and prefer to grow outdoor plants, then the balcony is the perfect space for it. By filling your balcony with plants, you can create your own peaceful oasis right there. Plants also provide a privacy shield and sound barrier in the midst of high-density living.
When growing plants in pots on a high-rise balcony, it is important to select plants wind tolerant. Strong winds can pull on an plant’s leaves and roots, causing damage and breakage. Some suggestions of wind tolerant plants are frangula, ivy, bamboo, golden sumac, gazanias and marigolds.
If you have a bathtub and enjoy a good soak in it every now and then, being surrounded by plants in the bathroom will help to add a zen-like feeling to your bathroom indulgence.
To ensure that plants thrive in your bathroom, be sure to select plants that prefer high humidity and can tolerate temperature fluctuations throughout the day. Some plants that suit a bathroom are asparagus fern, bamboo, begonias, bromeliads, dumb canes and orchids.
If you love picking off herbs to add to your cooking, having a tiny kitchen garden will be handy. Chives, basil, cilantro, sage, mint and thyme do well in tiny pots within the kitchen.
Otherwise, you could also consider placing potted plants on your kitchen bench, including flowering plants that will add a splash of colour, or trailing plants that will fill visual gaps.
If you’re fortunate to have a wide window sill, then capitalise on it. Be sure to select the right plants for your windows. If it’s a window that gets a lot of sun exposure, then sun-loving plants will be great for that spot. If the window is in the shade most of the time, then a shade plant would be perfect.
If space is at a premium in your home, then vertical gardens may be the answer. It could be as simple as growing a creeping plant up a mesh or an entire wall covered with creeping plants. You could also consider vertical garden systems.
Besides vertical gardens, trailing gardens are another possibility for compact spaces. With this method, all you need to do is to place trailing plants at higher spots within your home, either by hanging them off the ceiling or placing them high up on a shelf. Pothos are great for this purpose.
If you prefer to avoid potentially damaging your walls, then placing potted plants all over your home on shelves is another option. It is easy to re-arrange plants or pots to suit your changing decor, while keeping them close to you for both visual appeal and health benefits.
Planter Box Gardens
The use of planter boxes is another great way to visually ‘bulk up’ your plants, by gathering them all in one neat spot. If you’re able to attach wheels to the base of the planter boxes, you will also be able to move your planter boxes around your home quite easily to suit your changing decor or simply to rotate positions so that your plants can get sufficient natural light in order to thrive.
Crazy Plant Person Garden
Finally, this is one method of gardening that every plant enthusiast needs no introduction to. All you have to do is to cramp as many plants as you can in one spot to create an indoor jungle! Oh, to be lost in one of these spaces. What bliss!
This ends our blog post on various indoor gardening ideas. Let us know how you go with creating your indoor gardens by sending us your photos. We would be more than happy to feature them on Facebook or Instagram!
Daisy plants (Asteraceae) are cheerful flowers that are a ‘must have’ in any garden. However, be aware that there are many different types of flowers which we refer to as ‘daisies’. There are common daisies, african daisies, english daisies, and so on.
Daisies create a cheerful disposition for any garden, so it’s not hard to see why they are popular.
Common Problems with Daisy Plants
There are not many problems with daisy plants as they are generally low maintenance and disease resistant. However, do look out for aphids and leaf spot, and treat them accordingly.
Common Mistakes with Daisy Plants
Planting indoors – Daisies are outdoor plants which will not thrive indoors.
Not controlling it within its own garden bed – Daisies can be considered as weeds as they are prolific growers.
Care Requirements & Guide for Daisy Plants
Watering: Daisies are hardy perennials. When they are established, they are usually drought tolerant. However, water them regularly during dry periods or if they are growing in an area that is dry and hot.
Light: Daisy plants thrive in full sun. It’s best to select a sunny site that they can grow for years to come.
Soil: Enrich the soil with manure and compost, so that the soil becomes rich and well drained for growing daisies.
Fertiliser: Add a general purpose fertilizer in the early growth stage, and once a month afterwards.
Propagation: Daisies can be propagated by division in spring or through seeds in spring or late autumn. It is a good idea to divide your daisies every two to three years to improve flowering and overall plant health.
Fun Facts about Daisies
Daisies can be used make necklaces (daisy chains).
A single daisy flower is actually made up of two separate flowers. The petals in the center are one flower (disk florets) which is surrounded by the petal-like white “rays” of another flower (florets) at the periphery. This arrangement on daisies is a type of inflorescence known as a capitulum.
We hope you enjoy your daisies for many years to come. Happy planting! Send us your photos of your daisy beds. We would be more than happy to feature them on Facebook or Instagram!
Ever wondered how some people appear to maintain beautiful healthy gardens effortlessly while others struggle? Surprisingly, healthy outdoor gardens do not always require a lot of work. Just some clever advance planning and regular light maintenance will go a long way in maintaining a healthy garden.
Here are our top 8 tips for healthy outdoor gardens.
Tip 1: Pick the right spot for your plants
Whether you are starting up a new garden or working with an existing garden, it pays in the long run if you could spend a few days observing (and recording before you forget) which parts of your garden get the most sunshine and which parts of your garden are in the shade most of the time.
Then ensure that the parts of the garden that receive the most sun have plants that love full sun or lots of it. And the shady parts of the garden should have plants that require less sunlight or prefer shade. Not all plants are the same! Some love sun, some prefer partial sun/shade and some are shade plants. The difference in location makes a difference to their survival and the long-term success of your garden. If necessary, transplant plants into spots that suit them best.
Tip 2: Deadhead flowering plants regularly
Pinch off flowers as they droop and dry. This will encourage your plant to produce more blooms. Some flowers develop seeds of fruit as soon as their petals fall, diverting the plant’s energy from making more flowers.
Deadheading will result in a healthy garden over the long run as it also improves the look of your garden, keeping it fresh. Besides, wet petals may stick to leaves and rot on them, leading to unsightly brown patches.
Tip 3: Do not overmow your lawn
The height of your lawn should vary according to the season. In growing season, it’s ok to mow low as the lawn will grow quickly. In the colder months, when your lawn is likely to go dormant, mowing too low may result in the lawn being prone to more weeds.
Resist the urge to mow too low thinking that you will be mowing less frequently. Most grasses prefer to strike a balance between the size of their root systems and length of their blades. When the roots and the grass blades are in the right balance, the lawn will be at its healthiest and provide a lush green look with fewer weeds.
Mowing can help your lawn grow thicker because the tip of each grass blade contains hormones that suppress horizontal growth. When the lawn is mowed, these tips are removed, thereby encouraging the grass to spread and grow thicker near the roots.
Tip 4: Soak your garden weekly
Give your garden a good long weekly soak. That means watering to the extent that the soil gets at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water. This allows the water make its way down to the roots and encourage your plants to grow deep roots. Short frequent waterings result in water that remains at the surface which is more likely to evaporate rather than penetrate to the roots.
Tip 5: Avoid watering during the hottest part of the day
Watering on a hot sunny afternoons may result in moisture lost to evaporation rather than soaking the ground. There is also a minor risk of leaf scorch depending the heat. Having said that, if you’re experiencing a few days of scorching heat, it is worthwhile watering whenever you can to reduce plants withering or dying from heat and lack of moisture.
Tip 6: Improve soil quality
Soil does get depleted of nutrients from time to time. It is wise to pay regular attention to the quality of soil. Some plants also use certain nutrients more than others. Using the right type of fertiliser for each section of the garden will do wonders. There are fertilisers specially formulated for citrus plants, flowering plants, roses, lawn, etc. So use the right product for the various parts of the garden. You may also enrich the soil by adding compost, manure, peat moss, etc.
Tip 7: Get on top of weeds
Healthy gardens tend to have little weeds. Bare spots in your garden are more likely to have weeds. There are a few ways to prevent and control weeds – use a weed mat, weed killer or mulch. Mulch is especially great for covering the area under plants, to keep weeds under control by smothering them. In between plants, you may consider laying weed mats or even ground covers that don’t require much sunlight or water. Shade-loving succulents can act as good ground covers in such instances. Besides these, ensure that you physically remove weeds as and when they appear.
Tip 8: Trim & prune regularly
Trimming and pruning frequently by removing older stems and leaves encourages a plant to direct its energy into new growth. This will help keep the plant looking young and healthy. It also improves air circulation and allows light to reach inner and lower leaves. Pruning away unhealthy or damaged parts of the plant also reduces the risk of disease, while controlling the overall size and shape of the plant.
Send us your photos of your beautiful gardens. We would be more than happy to feature them on Facebook or Instagram!
Pest control are an ongoing issue that every gardener faces. There are many pest control products available on the market. For those of us who prefer non-chemical or organic remedies, natural pest control remedies can be used as an alternative. Companion planting may be the perfect solution as well.
What is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is a technique of growing plants in close proximity to vegetables or crop plants to help repel pests.
This planting technique usually results in increased pollination as a result of beneficial insects being attracted to the garden. Besides this, there is usually a reduction in damage from pests resulting in an increase in crop yield.
Here are some suggestions of companion plants that can be used for natural pest control remedies. Moreover, it doesn’t hurt that they also look good or are edible!
Flowering Plants that Deter Pests
If you love having a colourful garden, then growing flowering plants alongside your vegetable garden could be just the thing for you.
Here are 4 suggestions of flowering companion plants.
Chrysanthemums: Chrysanthemum discourage nematodes, spider mites and Japanese beetles. Chrysanthemums have a naturally-occurring chemical known as pyrethrum, which is an insect repellent.
If you prefer a sustainable lifestyle and growing everything that you cook, then herbs are the best companion plants for you. Everything that you grow can be eaten. The old fashioned concept of ‘from the paddock to the table‘!
Here are 4 suggestions of herbs which can be grown as companion plants.
Basil: Basil repels gnats, thrips, flies and aphids.
Dill: Dill is great for repelling aphids & spider mites, and may keep cabbage loopers, squash bugs and tomato hornworms at bay.
If you’ve ever grown seedlings that were tall and skinny, you’d understand the disappointment. Leggy seeddlings tend to be floppy and weak. When they grow to full-sized plants, they are prone to diseases and look spindly or untidy. They are also almost guaranteed to produce less flowers.
Why do seedlings grow leggy?
Here are the common causes of leggy seedlings.
Lack of light: If you grow seedlings in a low light situation, it would be a natural reaction for them to stretch and grow towards light. Without sufficient light, they wouldn’t be able to produce important plant sugars. It is a natural survival technique to get closer to a light source as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this results in tall, spindly seedlings that are likely to flop over in strong winds or rain.
Lack of water: A lack of moisture due to soil that is not wet frequently or allowed to dry out will result in skinny seedlings. Being unable to absorb water and nutrients from the soil results in a seedling not having what it needs to grow strong stems and leaves.
Wrong temperature: This is usually in warmer months when high heat may inadvertently result in a growth spurt where the stems grow faster than the leaves. Sometimes it could also be due to thermostat being set too high in your home.
Seedlings growing too close together: This results in seedlings competing for light, water and nutrients, so they try to out-do one another by growing faster and taller.
How to Fix Leggy Seedlings
If you take action soon enough, it is possible to fix leggy seedlings. Otherwise, it may be easier to start all over again by planting new seeds in the right conditions. Here are some ways to fix leggy seedlings.
Increase access to light: This may be as simple as moving the seedlings to another location with more light. You could also move them outdoors (if weather conditions allow for it). Placing grow light or fluorescent light near the seedlings will also help.
Simulate wind: It is a natural reaction of plants to grow thicker stems to withstand the forces of wind. So one way is to place an oscillating fan nearby to create air movement. Another way is to brush your hand past the seedlings a few times a day to create movement. This will trick them into growing thicker stems.
Improve soil quality: Providing moist, nutrient-rich soil will allow your seedlings to absorb what they need in order to grow healthily. Plant food that includes potassium will enhance root growth and plant health. Ensure that you do not increase the level of nitrogen. Excess nitogen can cause a spike in development which exceeds a seedling’s ability to increase girth.
Space seedlings further apart: Giving seedlings more space from one another will also result in them having access to more light, moisture and nutrients.
Products for Optimal Seed Growing
There are a number of products on the market which will aid optimal seed growing. Here are our top picks and suggestions.