How To Make A Living Succulent Topiary

By Westwood Gardens

Feast your eyes on this perfect little wonder we made this week:

Looks a little intimidating, right?

Here’s the good news…it’s pretty simple to make. And we’re going to show you how! All it takes is a little patience and time. The best news is, this is a living succulent topiary, meaning these babies will take root and go on indefinitely. That’s why we’re using succulents for this project, since they root so easily.

Step 1: Select your moss ball topiary and submerge in water

Select your preferred moss ball and submerge in water (remember we’re planting things in this).

We have several options at our stores. Pictured here is a 6″ moss ball topiary that is staked and can be planted (this is what we used for the project). But we also have a 6″ hanging topiary that you can…you guessed it…hang.

Step 2: Gather your succulent cuttings

Time to snip, snip, snip those succulent cuttings. No succulents plants to cut from at home? No problem. We’ve got a huge selection of miniature succulents that will work perfectly.

Step 3: Make holes in your moss ball

Using a pen or other object, begin making holes in your moss ball.

Step 4: Dip each succulent cutting in rooting hormone and place in the holes you’ve made

Getting closer…

Step 5: Add some pea gravel/rocks to help stabilize the topiary

Ta-da! Now pose by your masterpiece and wait for the compliments.

Care instructions: Keep the topiary ball moist by spritzing with fertilized water until succulents are rooted. After that, it can be drenched/submerged in water when dry. Water the planter portion when dry. Place in part sun to full sun.

Caution: You may be hooked on succulent projects after this, and that’s okay. We’ve got some more succulent inspo for you here.

Source: How To Make A Living Succulent Topiary – westwood gardens blog

Gardening Trend You’ll Want to Dig into in 2021

snipping stems in vegetable garden with scissors
Credit: Cameron Sadeghpour

We came, we saw, we gardened in 2020. In fact, more than 20 million novice growers took up their trowels and pitchforks in response to the pandemic, according to Bonnie Plants CEO Mike Sutterer. We as a nation went from 42 million gardeners to 63 million in the past year, with the majority being males under 35, a fairly unique demographic. And there’s good news: Sutterer believes these newbies will be back in 2021. 

And what will everyone be growing? For 2021, it’s clear that the bliss of being in nature, in general, will be bigger than ever, with people increasingly turning to their yards for exercise, stress-relief, and a creative outlet. Both seasoned and new gardeners are keen to surround themselves with beautiful plants, and they are looking for more unusual, adventurous species like tropicals. But they also want to keep up the “victory gardens” they started because of the pandemic, especially to help their neighbors.

Bigger and Better Food Gardens

One top reason millions of newbies hit the gardening scene in 2020 was to grow their own food. According to a recent Garden Media Trend report, edible gardening influencers such as Timothy Hammond of Big City Gardener saw as much as 400% growth on their platforms, due to an influx of followers and engagements with first-time gardeners looking for guidance. The report also notes that 67% of surveyed adults are “growing or plan to grow” edibles into 2021.

As the pandemic drags on, Sutterer thinks that this boom in homegrown produce is “not just about growing food for you and your family, and the benefits that it brings to you personally.” He believes it’s also about taking “a few extra zucchini, a few extra tomatoes, a few extra cucumbers, to my local food pantry to help those in my community as well.”

Article By Mackenzie Nichols for BHG©

Source: 4 Gardening Trends You’ll Want to Dig into in 2021 | Better Homes & Gardens (bhg.com)

Adventurous, Unusual Houseplants in Demand

4 Gardening Trends You'll Want to Dig into in 2021
Credit: Adam Albright

While everyone has been at home more, we’ve also been ramping up our houseplant collections. Indoor plants have been in demand for several years, and 2021 will be no different, predicts plant influencer Summer Rayne Oakes. She thinks that easy-care aroids like philodendrons, anthuriums, and aglaonemas will be particularly popular, as well as plants in the Hoya genus

Related: 5 of the Most Colorful New Houseplants You Need for Brightening Up Your Home

“The houseplant trend was already booming pre-pandemic, but with everyone setting up home offices and the like, people are inevitably focusing on making their homes more livable and workable. Plants are a big part of that,” Oakes says.

All signs indicate that 2021 will be a time to fill your home with plenty of houseplants and your garden with lush tropicals and nutritious edibles to feed not only your family, but also those in need. The future is definitely looking greener.

Article by By Mackenzie Nichols for BHG©

Source: 4 Gardening Trends You’ll Want to Dig into in 2021 | Better Homes & Gardens (bhg.com)

These Are the Flowers You Should Plant to Celebrate First Day of Spring

mt vernon, washington, united states   march 16, 2016 skagit valley daffodils beautiful outdoor scenery of colorful daffodils and hyacinth
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After a long, dark winter with plenty of grays and browns, you’re ready for some spring color! Whether you live in the snowy North or the sunny South or anywhere in between, spring means a renewal of your garden. Flowering plants are just what your winter-weary soul needs this time of year. If you’re planting a perennial, which returns for many years, or shrub, make sure it’s suited to your USDA Hardiness Zone (find yours here) so it can survive winters in your area. Spring-blooming bulbs must be planted in fall before the ground freezes (that’s as late as early December in some parts of the country). Some annuals can take a frost, but for those that aren’t as tough, you’ll want to plant them after the last expected frost date in your area; your local university coop extension service can advise you about that estimated date in your part of the country.

Here are our favorite spring-blooming flowers to brighten up your garden and celebrate the first day of spring.

1 Crocus

early spring crocus in snow series group of flowers shallow depth of field

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These hardy bulbs often will pop up when snow is still on the ground in wintry climates. Crocuses must be planted in the fall for a spring show—and don’t be surprised if you find them where you didn’t plant them—like under a shrub! They’re tasty to rodents so they often dig them up and bury them elsewhere.

2 Daffodil

daffodil

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These classic springtime bulbs, which must be planted in the fall for spring blooms, are one of the first signs that spring finally has arrived! Their cheery yellow flowers are super-reliable. Rodents and deer will leave them alone.

3 Hyacinths

gorgeous display of spring blooms in city parks splashes of pinks and purple of hyacinths look particularly lovely with greens in the background

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These beautiful, fragrant flowers should be planted in the fall for spring blooms. Rodents won’t bother them (there’s a toxic substance in the bulbs, foliage, and flowers). Another plus? Their flowers last for weeks!

4 Primrose

the primula in latin primula spectabilis blooms in the forest

COPYRIGHT BY LASZLO SZIRTESI GETTY IMAGES

Primroses appear in very early spring in a rainbow of colors including white, canary yellow, deep purple, and pink. They’re easy, low-care perennials, which often bloom when snow is on the ground. There are many varieties, so make sure you buy one that’s a perennial that will survive winters in your region.

5 Forsythia

forsythia x intermedia

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The bright yellow blooms of forsythia are a sign that spring is here. Older types can become quite leggy, so if you need to trim this shrub, do it right after flowering or you’ll cut off next year’s buds. Also, look for newer varieties that are more compact for smaller gardens.

6 Tulips

close up of the red and white flower of tulip carnival de nice

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Tulip bulbs must be planted in the fall for spring color. They’re technically a perennial, but they often fade after the first year, so they’re treated as annuals and planted every year. They’re also delectable to critters, so plant them in pots where rodents can’t dig or layered underneath less tasty bulbs such as daffodils.

7 Pansies and Violas

close up of fresh purple yellow flowers blooming in garden

QUÁN CHANG MÍNG QUÁN CHANG MÍNG / EYEEM GETTY IMAGES

These adorable annuals come in bright, cheerful shades and last until summer’s heat fades them. They’ll tolerate frost—and even a mild freeze, so don’t be shy about planting them early in the spring.

8 Grape Hyacinth

grape hyacinth flower muscari

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These tiny bulbs, which you plant in fall for spring blooms, naturalize themselves quite easily, so you start with a few and end up with a whole swath of grape hyacinths in a few years! Rodents don’t bother them, and their cheery purple, pink or blue blooms last for weeks.

9 Sweet Alyssum

summertime blossoming white alyssum in bloom

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This dainty annual looks delicate, but it’s tough as nails. It doesn’t mind frost at all. As long as you keep it watered, it will bloom and bloom from spring until the first hard freeze in the fall. Now that’s a great investment!

10 Fritillaria

delightful blooms of spring meadow

KATRIN RAY SHUMAKOV GETTY IMAGES

If you’re looking for something a little more exotic in appearance, fritillaria are for you! These fall-planted bulbs bloom have unusual bell-shaped blooms that appear around the same time as tulips and daffodils. Rodents usually leave them alone. They’re typically treated as annuals because they don’t reliably return.

11 Rhododendron

A beautiful rhododendron flower head

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Rhododendrons have glossy leaves and bloom in late spring in shades of white, salmon, peach, pink, and purple. There are both evergreen and deciduous (which drop their leaves) varieties, so read the plant tag or description to be sure about what you’re buying.

House Beautiful article by  TAYLOR MEAD AND ARRICCA ELIN SANSONE

Source: 11 Best Flowers to Plant for Spring – When to Plant Daffodils, Tulips, Rhododendrons, and More (housebeautiful.com)

Here Are 3 Things You Need to Know about Your Soil Test

By Ea Murphy Fine Gardening –

Photo: Steve Aitken

Though immensely valuable, a soil test is not a crystal ball. A little knowledge goes a long way in making the most out of your test results. 

Nitrogen is complicated

Soil tests were invented by chemical agriculturalists to measure chemical nitrogen, which is often lacking from being leached out by rain or taken up by plants. The complex organic nitrogen of rich garden soil, however, is not captured by a standard soil test. Steady soil building (with the moderate-to-high phosphorous test results to prove it) means that the supply of organic nitrogen is likely sufficient.

PH is important

A home soil pH meter rarely is as reliable as a soil pH test. Though most plants tolerate a wide range of pH, a test gives a good baseline, as well as an indicator of how easy or hard it is to change. Clay soil resists change (and will need a lot of lime), while sandy soil reacts quickly to lime or acidity.

Ignore (or reduce) fertilizer recommendations

Fertilizer and lime recommendations are based on agricultural crops and rarely relate to your garden plants. Instead of fertilizer application rates, use the test result ratings. If they are low or moderate, consider adding some fertilizer. If they are high or very high, your ­organic soil is supplying enough nutrients to meet your plants’ needs.

Source: Got Your Soil Test Back? Here Are 3 Things You Need to Know – FineGardening

Biophilic Design and Indoor Plants

So, biophilic design is essentially the art of bringing nature indoors for the betterment of human health, and it’s motivated by a number of studies pointing to the mental health benefits of nature. Most simply, this means filling your home with plants, but there is a curation and, well, design element to it, too.

“While everyone will continue to bring more plants into their spaces, I believe people will also get a bit more picky about what they add to their collection,” says plant and interior stylist Hilton Carter . 2021, then, is all about making your lifeless pandemic bunker come alive—with intention. Haphazardly accumulated greenery will make way for more thoughtfully designed interior landscapes inspired by your own interactions with nature and artistry or, perhaps, the expertise of a plant interior designer like Carter.

a woman holding a plant: plant trends 2021
© Photo: Getty Images plant trends 2021

“I’ve always found taking care of plants therapeutic,” says Carter. “It’s my way of connecting with myself and thinking about what’s truly important. I’ve been inspired to see so many other people turn to taking care of plants and awakening their green thumbs as a method to add a bit of joy this year.”

This symbiotic relationship isn’t going anywhere in the new year, either, according to Well+Good’s 2021 predictions. “Unlike what happened in the early ’80s where plants fell out of fashion, everyone is more aware of the benefits of greenery indoors and have found many more creative ways to tie them into the indoor space,” Carter says. Below, the ultimate insider when it comes to all things green and grown from the ground shares his predictions for which specific plants, and plant trends, will grow in 2021.

a close up of a tree: juniper-topiary

1. Juniper topiaries

Indeed, topiaries offer a creative outlet other plants may not; you can have your very own Edward Scissorhands moment shaping them in whichever which way you like. Then, when you’re allowed to have people in your home again, they’ll be impressed or terrified by your work, depending on what you’ve done. Either way, it’ll make for a better topic of conversation than the pandemic, amirite?

Juniper topiaries are relatively easy to care for, too, as they require infrequent watering; however, though they do need a good amount of light, so be sure to place yours somewhere sunny. Can’t keep a plant alive to save your life? You can buy faux ones—like the one pictured above.

a vase of flowers on a plant: staghorn-fern
© Photo: Etsy staghorn-fern

2. Staghorn fern

Carter predicts that this particular fern varietal, which used to be quite rare but has recently gained in popularity, will be ubiquitous in 2021—especially given it can double as filler for wall whitespace. “The Staghorn fern is a plant that can be mounted on board, so it’s the perfect plant to hang like a work of art,” says Carter. Staghorn ferns prefer medium-to-bright indirect natural light, lots of moisture and humidity, and a comfy 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

a tree in front of a palm tree: spindle-palm
© Photo: Etsy spindle-palm

3. Spindle Palm

“The spindle palm is a beautiful tropical plant that can really transform a space and make it feel more lush,” Carter says. It’s native to Madagascar (though yours will likely be grown much closer to home), is slow-growing, and should eventually reach about six feet tall (it gets much taller outside, when not potted, as pictured!). It likes bright natural light but can tolerate less-than-tropical amounts of sun, and like the Staghorn it, too, prefers moderate temps.

a vase with a flower on a plant: ficus audrey
© Photo: Etsy ficus audrey

4. Ficus Audrey

This super low-maintenance plant, which somewhat resembles the popular rubber plant, is also on Carter’s radar for 2021. “The Ficus Audrey is a wonderful tree-like plant that grows large and can instantly blur the line of indoor/outdoor,” says Carter. If you’re looking for a somewhat substantial statement plant that doesn’t require a lot of elbow grease (and can handle a smidge of neglect) the Audrey could be your perfect plant pick.

Article written by Erin Bunch for Well+Good©

Source: 5 Plants (and Plant Trends) That Are Going To Be Very Big in 2021, According to Renown Plant Expert Hilton Carter (msn.com)

These plants could kill you

© Shutterstock

Deadly plants – These plants could kill you

Plants bring our gardens to life, and many are used to produce medicinal drugs. But there are some plants that can kill you. Literally. And, as you’re about to see, you can’t always judge a plant by its cover: eating the seeds, fruit, or leaves, for example, of a completely harmless-looking specimen could leave you dead within hours.

Victorin’s water-hemlock (Cicuta maculata)

If you should come across a wild plant that resembles edible parsnip or celery, keep your distance! You may have stumbled upon Victorin’s water-hemlock, the most poisonous plant in North America.

A member of the same family as the plant that killed Socrates, Victorin’s water-hemlock contains high levels of cicutoxin. In addition to numerous unpleasant symptoms, such as abdominal cramps, convulsions, and nausea, this toxin can also lead to death.

Surviving a case of poisoning doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of the woods; many people are left with amnesia and tremors.

The roots are the most toxic part of the plant.

Deadly plants – Castor bean (Ricinus communis)

At a glance, castor bean appears to be your run-of-the-mill herbaceous plant. Don’t be fooled. Native to Africa, this plant produces seeds containing a highly toxic protein called ricin.

Ricin is so poisonous that it would take only two to four castor-bean seeds to kill a child and roughly twice that amount to kill an adult. Other symptoms of ricin poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, and convulsions.

In 1978, Bulgarian journalist Georgi Markov was poisoned with a lethal dose of ricin.

Deadly plants – Oleander (Nerium oleander)

Do you have an oleander plant at home? If you happen to have young children, it might be wise to get rid of this indoor shrub.

The plant’s stems and leaves contain oleandrin, a toxic substance that can cause abdominal pains, diarrhea, dizziness, irritation of the mouth, nausea, drowsiness, coma, and death.

Wild oleander poses a danger to animals. Bees that gather nectar from its flowers risk producing contaminated honey, which can make a person sick if ingested.

Deadly plants – Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna)

As early as the 13th century, the likes of Saint Hildegard warned against eating the fruit of deadly nightshade, a plant long associated with black magic.

Indeed appetizing in appearance (reminiscent of small black cherries), its fruit is extremely poisonous. It contains the toxins atropine and scopolamine, which cause paralysis of the muscles and, in some cases, of the heart.

The leaves and roots of deadly nightshade should also be avoided. Simple physical contact with the plant’s leaves will cause skin irritation.

In addition, the naturally occurring toxins in its sap are lethal in high doses.

Deadly plants – Monkshood (Aconitum napellus)

Monkshood is easily distinguished by its violet blooms, but don’t be fooled by this plant’s beauty—it’s highly toxic! There’s a reason it’s been used as a poison since ancient times.

According to Greek mythology, monkshood comes from the slaver dripping from the fangs of Cerberus, the formidable three-headed hound that Hercules was forced to confront.

In 183 BC, to avoid capture by the Romans, Hannibal is said to have taken his own life by ingesting a poisonous mixture containing monkshood. During the Renaissance, the Borgias were fond of using this plant for its poison.

In addition to being fatal when ingested, monkshood can cause agitation, weakness, tingling, tightening of the throat, nausea, and vomiting.

Here’s one I plant:

Deadly plants – Lantana (Lantana camara)

You may already have encountered lantana if you’ve ever visited a plant nursery. Originating in the Antilles, this plant is distinguished chiefly by its dark green leaves and purple, white, and yellow flowers.

Lantana is lovely to look at, but you should never eat its leaves or unripe fruit. In addition to death, they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, lethargy, cyanosis, and coma.

And this one. Who knew?

Deadly plants – American mistletoe (Phoradendron flavescens)

American mistletoe is ubiquitous during the holidays as a popular decoration.

If you have children, make sure they aren’t tempted to eat its leaves or fruit, which can cause severe poisoning.

In addition to symptoms resembling those of gastroenteritis, mistletoe can cause cardiac arrest and death.

(I guess it’s ok to kiss under it, just don’t eat it.)

To read the article by Philippe Michaud, which includes more plants, click below:

Source: These plants could kill you (msn.com)

How to Arrange Flowers in a Pot

how to arrange flowers in a pot

Learning how to arrange flowers in a pot is important for indoor and outdoor gardening. Arranging flowers to create beautiful containers begins by letting go of your inhibitions. There is no right or wrong way and we should be willing to experiment a bit.  If you’re new to container gardening arranging different plants in a single container may seem a bit awkward at first. 

If you find yourself a bit overwhelmed when making the decision the following fundamental methods will help you begin to easily combine plants of your choosing.

The Single Flower

If you are worried and don’t want to take the risk, you can keep things simple and plant one plant in one container.  If the right plant and container are paired this can be as striking a display as a container overflowing with a variety of plants.

I personally have taken this approach when planting a flower that I was heavily invested in seeing succeed. Having the plant in its own pot makes it easy to take care of it and facilitate its growth.

Multiple Plants  

 Alternatively, you can up the ante and plant two plants in one container, three plants in one container and so on. Adding more plants does not create greater difficulty when planting.

However, it is important to remember to group plants with similar lighting, soil and water requirements together to ensure the health and vitality of each plant in the container. This will ensure that your container continues to thrive and that no plant in the container is struggling to survive.

Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers

A tried and true method or arranging plants in containers is to use a combination of upright, broad and trailing plants in a single container. You will often see these three types of plants referred to as thrillers, fillers, and spillers used in pots of all sizes.

Combining the three creates focus, balance, form, contrast, rhythm, and proportion within your container garden. Check out this article on the best flowers for pots that you can include in your arrangements.

Thrillers

Thrillers, as I am sure that you can guess by the name, are often the boldest and most exciting element of your container. When choosing your thriller, you are looking for a tall upright plant.  Choose plants with interesting flowers, colors and/or foliage.  Picking an interesting thriller can help shape the rest of your container.

When learning how to arrange flowers in a pot, the thrillers are often used as the main focus of the container. The main flower acts as a guide for positioning the other flowers.

Fillers

Fillers are chosen to add volume to the container while complementing the thriller. Choose fillers with colors that compliment your thriller or create contrast. Choosing different types of leaves and flowers to create contrast and texture should also be considered.

Spillers

Spillers are chosen to soften the edges of the container.  Adding spillers creates an overflowing display that gives the feeling of fullness and life in your container.  Choosing spillers with colors, leaves, and flowers that compliment or contrast the other components of your container will tie your entire container garden together.

Spillers are great additions especially on hanging and raised pots. The trailing flowers add a great dimension to the pot and can change the entire space.

Arranging Flowers in a Pot

Using the thriller, filler, spiller method is a great method to start creating different combinations in containers. It helps you create beautiful containers/pots almost instantly.

Don’t be afraid and have a little bit of fun. Experiment a little and you will begin creating beautiful containers in no time. Try using this method and if you do not like the results you can always take apart the arrangements and start over.

I hope you found this post on how to arrange flowers in a pot useful. If so, please share it and also follow me on social media for updates on future posts.

Source: How To Arrange Flowers In A Pot? | Flowersandflowerthings

Dealing With Stressful Times With Plants

Growing an indoor jungle is a great way to deal with stress

Today we’re in Oklahoma City, visiting Treyon’s indoor plant collection:

I started gardening about a year and a half ago. I started as a means to decompress, get grounded, and connect with nature in a new way than I have before. I am currently a dental student, so life can get stressful, but my plants have been a key element in my creating a safe space for myself. My plants help remind me that simply existing and growing at my own rate is enough. No need to perform—only exist and grow, however that may look for me.

Philodendron Jose Buono

A beautifully variegated Philodendron ‘Jose Buono’. This is Treyon’s largest philodendron, and he says that he dreamed of having this plant for two weeks before he found it, and that it has lived up to all his expectations. The dramatic, irregular patterns of white and green are certainly worth dreaming of!

Another shot of ‘Jose Buono’. Variegated plants like this produce a different pattern on each leaf.

indoor plants

The plant lover relaxes in his indoor plant jungle, which is his safe space during the stress of dental school.

calathea

Treyon’s calathea collection: Calatheamusaica (left), Calathealeitzei ‘White Fusion’ (bottom), Calatheaorbifolia (right), and Calathea ‘Medallion’ (top). These look stunning. Calathea have a bit of a reputation for being fussy, but there’s no sign of that here.

variegated peace lily

A variegated peace lily (Spathiphyllum). Who needs flowers when the leaves are this beautiful? Treyon says that this plant is easy to keep happy because it always lets you know when it needs something. This is a plant that will wilt dramatically if it gets too dry, but it perks up again the moment you give it a drink.

Fiddleleaf fig

Fiddleleaf fig (Ficuslyrata) can be expensive, and it has a reputation for being fickle, but Treyon fell in love with this dramatic plant and had to give it a shot. Clearly it is happy and looks fantastic.

Treyon also says that he has found a great community of plant lovers online and that these plant accounts have been a big inspiration to him: @monsteramaven@plantsdecoop@botanicalblackgirl@plantkween and @kayleeellenofficial

You can see more of Treyon’s plants in his own Instagram feed: @plantfix_and_chill/

Source: Dealing With Stressful Times With Plants – FineGardening