Friday, May 16, 2014

Tropical Foliage Plants that Add Pizazz to your garden

You can achieve color and texture in your landscape with out depending on just perennials and annuals.  Spice things up with a wonderful mixture of tropical plants that will thrive and live up to a hard frost.  Some of my favorites are the Neon Pothos (awesome!), the Snake plant, different varieties of the Chinese Evergreen family, crotons, Bird Nest ferns, and even the variegated Ficus.  Just mix these varieties into groupings of each kind and you will have one spectacular landscape.  Who knows, you may just win the yard of the month.

Custom Made Gifts for your Mom

Bling Bling Vase:

Mother's Day is just around the corner, and it's time to be thinking about a very special gift.  Why not create a bling bling vase that is full of sparkle and may be filled with something special!  Take any type of vase.  We used a cylinder style Terra-Cotta vase.  Now it's time for the bling bling!  Your mother may have some costume jewelry that she never wears which would be great.  If not, any antique mall or even a craft store has jewelry that may be used.  At your local hardware story, you will find a pre-mixed adhesive and grout mixture that you will apply to the outside of the vase using a plastic knife.  Simply layer the adhesive add add the costume jewelry.  Allow to dry overnight.  We also used colorful beads for an extra pop of color.  Present your mother with this bling bling vase filled with some happy flowers!


- Vase
- Costume jewelry/beads
- Pre-mixed adhesive and grout mixture
- Plastic knife
- Flowers

Coffee Filter Flowers:

With Mother's Day around the corner, creating coffee filter flowers will be a great project to make with the kids!  You will need a package of coffee filters, wooden skewers, green garden tape, food coloring/and or acrylic paint.  Take one coffee filter and fold into thirds.  Roll this coffee filter into a tube (the center of the flower).  Take another coffee filter and roll around the center of the flower.  Repeat this step until the flower is full.  Hot glue the center of the flower to the other rolled coffee filters.  Poke the wooden skewer into the center of the flower and secure with hot glue. Completely wrap the wooden skewer with green garden tape.  Next, dip the flower into a bowl filled with food coloring and water.  The coffee filters will absorb the colored water.  Allow to dry overnight.  You may also use watered down acrylic paint in any color.  

- Coffee filters
- Wooden skewers
- Green garden tape
- Food coloring/acrylic paint
- Hot glue gun/hot glue

Entertaining with Class

Place Card Ideas:

When entertaining, whether for lunch or dinner, it's always nice to have place cards awaiting your guests!  A super simple idea is to take a clear plate (glass or melamine) and decoupage a place card underneath the place.  Be sure to glue the name side of the card directly underneath the plate, so the name appears correctly.  Place the plate on a fun placemat for the name to really pop! Another idea is to take a small terra-cotta pot, fill with styrofoam, place a spoon or fork's handle into the center of the styrofoam, and fill with moss.  Either hot glue the place card directly onto the spoon or slip the place card in between the tines of the fork.  In the wedding section of any craft store, there are packages of place card holder.  Any item may be turned into a fun place card that may also be given as a favor.  For instance, a spool of colorful twine, or any object may be used to create place cards.  


- Clear glass or melamine plate
- Place card/marker
- Modge Podge/brush
- Placemat
- Terra-cotta pot
- Styrofoam
- Spoon/fork
- Moss
- Place card/marker

A Colorful Landscape

Now that the cold is over for most of us, its time to plant your landscape with colorful flowers that will give you enjoyment for the next 7 to 8 months.  There are so many different varieties of seasonal color on the market so what do you chose?  I can make it easy for you with my 10 top picks.

1.  Summer Snapdragons (purple, pink and white)
2.  Supertunias (Love this plant)
3.  Big Series Begonia (Even Tom Brannon Loves this Plant)
4.  Blue Torenia
5.  Bandana Lantana (new series that grows more compact)
6.  Asparagus Fern (green but green is a color and soft texture)
7.  Diamond Frost Euphorbia
8.  Fan Flower (cool sky blue flowers)
9.  Dragon WIng Begonia (watch this baby grow)
10.Yellow Bidens (Yellow....Chris' favorite color)

Remember to always fertilize with an all-purpose fertilizer and watch for bugs...:)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Easter Eggs Galore

Easter is this week and its time to get ready and decorate your Easter Eggs.  There are so many new products on the market that can make your Easter egg dying simple and stylish.    You can now have Easter eggs that are custom design with gold leaf and even ways in which you can hand draw custom designs on them.  Endless possibilities!!!

Perfect Gifts for the Mother who is a gardener

Don't forget your Mom this coming Sunday.  Mom's want to know that you care so why not give your Mom a gift with thought.  If your Mother is a gardener then don't just give one item but a gift that is a collection of different garden related accessories.  Why not give a gift pot stuffed with an assortment of plants, a outdoor pillow, a garden stake, a gift certificate, and even jewelry with a garden theme.  Endless possibilities!!!

Creating the "What the What" Factor for your Containers

I always say when you replant your containers for the spring and summer to  "Crame It and Shove It"  full of an assortment of plants.  Mix and different colors and textures and remember to make your pots look like living floral arrangements.  You want the "What the What" factor.  This means you want to create a potted container that looks so lush and beautiful that it will stop any person passing by stop in their tracks and take notice and enjoy.

Plant roots eventually fill containers and this often reduces growth. This is not necessarily a bad thing as slightly stressed plants are often attractive and the slower growth reduces the maintenance needed. However, eventually the plant will need to be moved to a bigger container or the compost refreshed in the same pot, as composts lose their structure over time. Shrubs and trees that stay in a pot for years are especially vulnerable unless re-potted.
These steps will ensure success when re-potting into a larger container:
  • When moving plants to a larger container, (one size larger at each stage), re-pot in early spring as soon as they show signs of growth
  • Remove a little of the old compost, slide the plant out and tease out roots, cutting them if necessary
  • When it is no longer convenient to repot them every year into a bigger pot, they should be repotted in the same pot at least every other year. Replace one-third of existing compost and roots with fresh compost
In years when re-potting is not carried out, topdress by removing 5cm (2in) old compost from the top of the pot and replacing with fresh compost.

Summer care 

Plants in containers need attention all year, but summer is the most critical period as plants can soon run short of water and nutrients.


  • Check for moisture daily from April to September (twice daily in hot weather)
  • Water thoroughly, filling the container to the rim and allowing it to drain, then filling it a second time to ensure that the whole of the compost is adequately moistened
  • If water is not draining out freely, check the drainage holes for blockage and assess compost structure
  • Lining or sealing terracotta pots with waterproof materials is unlikely to significantly reduce the need to water as most water is lost though plant leaves
  • Grouping pots for mutual shade will reduce heat stress on pots
  • Mulching pots will help reduce heating and suppress weeds, but as most water is lost through plant leaves careful watering will still be needed


  • From April to the end of August use a general-purpose proprietary liquid feed or, preferably, a high-nitrogen feed
  • Alternatively, add a controlled-release fertilizer at planting time
  • With soil-less composts, make sure fertilizer includes essential trace elements
  • After late summer feeding is usually suspended until mid-sping; however bedding plants and other short-lived annuals will still benefit from feeding until early autumn
  • Feed when the compost is moist

Winter care

In winter, the main danger is compost freezing, which may kill plants.

Frost protection

  • Protect pots with bubble plastic or bring them under temporary cover
  • In very wet periods move plants under temporary cover if the compost becomes sodden, until it has dried out a little. The ‘rain shadow’ of walls can be sufficient
  • In wet weather, raise pots up off the ground on ‘feet’ or similar to keep the bottom of the pot out of the water
  • Remove saucers in winter


  • Watering may still be necessary for conifers and other evergreens, especially if you have moved them under cover, so that they recieve no rain. Check evergreens and conifers at least weekly and water if needed
  • Watering is seldom necessary for deciduous or other dormant plants


  • Feeding is not necessary during the winter months


Over-watering is the most common cause of loss of container plants; watering should aim to keep the compost moist, never soggy and avoid alternating dryness and saturation.
Plants grown in containers suffer from many of the same pests and diseases as when grown in beds and borders, such as aphids, algae, liverworts and moss and scale insects. Vine weevil and fungus gnats are particularly common pests of container-grown plants.

Happy Easter Creations

Yarn Covered Easter Eggs:

Yarn covered Easter eggs will add a fun touch to your Easter table or displayed around the house!  You may purchase paper mache eggs at your local craft store or create homemade paper mache eggs yourself using balloons, newspaper, and glue.  We chose already made paper mache eggs.  After choosing a variety of colors for your yarn, using Modge Podge, simply glue one end of the yarn to the egg and begin wrapping the yarn around the egg.  You may create stripes, solids, or even polka dots using the yarn.  Use Modge Podge throughout this process to ensure the yarn sticks to the egg.  After creating stripes, we chose to paint portions of the eggs with acrylic paint. 


- Paper mache eggs
- Yarn
- Modge Podge
- Scissors
- Acrylic paint/ paintbrush

Spotted Eggs:

Creating spotted eggs will add a whimsical touch to the traditional Easter egg.  This process is so fun and will be great for the kids to partake.  We used already made paper mache eggs; however, you may create these spotted eggs using hard boiled eggs as well.  You will need acrylic paint in a variety of colors and Q-tips.  Dip the end of a Q-tip into the paint and begin "dotting" the eggs all over.  Choose another color and repeat this step.  You may choose 2, 3, or even 4 different colors to create these spotted eggs.


- Paper mache eggs/ hard boiled eggs
- Q-tips
- Acrylic paint

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bunnies, Bunnies and More Bunnies

It's Easter time and that means we decorate with Easter bunnies.  There are so many different kinds you can buy as indoor decor but how you display them is endless.  They also make perfect gifts.  Here is a great idea to make that perfect Easter gift or simply as a decoration for that Sunday lunch or dinner all you have to do is add the bunnies.
Strawberry Basket Easter Gift:

If you are a guest for Easter dinner this year, be sure to create this fun strawberry basket!  You may purchase strawberry quart wooden crates online.  The crate has four solid wooden sides.  Using scrapbook paper, cut to size four pieces of the scrapbook paper.  Glue to each side.  Fill with Easter grass and Easter cookies and candy!

- Strawberry quart crates
- Scrapbook paper
- Scissors/glue
- Easter grass, cookies, and candy

The Higher the Better

Tiered Basket Easter Centerpiece:

For your Easter dinner, why not create a tiered Easter basket centerpiece!  Simply take 3 lightweight baskets of various sizes (large, medium, and small).  Be sure to find baskets that have a handle.  Hot glue the medium sized basket on top of the large basket's handle.  Hold in place and allow to cool.  Repeat this step with the small basket glued on top of the medium sized basket.  Fill the baskets with colorful green shredded paper for the grass and add lightweight Easter goodies for decoration.  Place a moss runner down the middle of your table and add then add your centerpiece!


- 3 baskets with handles
- Hot glue gun/hot glue
- Shredded green paper
- Easter goodies
- Moss table runner

Easter Basket Centerpiece:

When decorating for Easter, you may use any style of baskets when creating your centerpiece.  Take any basket and spray paint the baskets with a color of your choice.  Align three baskets of the same size down the center of your table and fill with fresh, colorful flowers or any Easter goodies.  You may place a moss runner down the middle of your table and add candle votive or Easter candy for an added touch of fun!


- 3 baskets
- Spray paint
- Fresh flowers
- Easter goodies
- Moss table runner
- Candle votive
- Easter candy

Happy Easter!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bring Those Spring Flowers Indoors

It's my favorite time of year with all the spring blooming flowers outdoors.  Why not enjoy them inside as well.  Here are a few simple but chic ideas on how to display them indoors.

Test Tube Garland:

This test tube garland may be hung out on the patio or inside the home!  Using a small gauge wire, wrap the wire around a test tube (plastic or glass) and extend the piece of wire at lease 6 inches and create a hook at the top of the wire.  Cut a piece of twine for your garland and attach the test tubes using the hook.  Allow at least 6 inches spacing for each test tube.  Hang the garland, fill test tubes with water, and place a variety of fresh cut flowers or herbs to make a great statement at your next spring party!


- Test tubes
- Wire
- Twine
- Fresh cut flowers/herbs

Framed Vase:

This framed vase is a great addition to any outdoor space!  Take a picture frame of any size and remove the glass.  Using wire cutters, cut out a piece of chicken wire that fits the backside of the picture frame.  Attach chicken wire with a staple gun.  Feed a piece of colorful ribbon from the backside of the frame to where both ends of the ribbon are facing towards you.  Take a small vase preferably with a "neck" and tie the ribbon around the neck of the vase.  Fill with water and and add fresh flowers!


- Picture frame
- Chicken wire
- Wire cutters
- Staple gun
- Ribbon
- Vase
- Flowers

Pesky Moles and Armadillos

It's that time of year when moles are invading our turf areas and squirrels and armadillos are having fun playing in our flowerbeds.  You may have tried different products but there are safe products on the market that are all natural and really work without reapplying them after every rain.  Yard Gard comes in large bags or  4 pound containers.  It deters most animals that dig in the earth and really works.  Yard Gard also makes a natural insecticide spray that is safe for edibles and can be eaten the same day sprayed.  These products contain white pepper and Castro oil among other natural ingredients.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Perennial Power

It's time to start selecting and planting the right perennials for your landscape.  Before you go to your garden center make sure you take a few pictures of your area to show the garden center expert.  Then study what your light requirements are in each particular area.  Is it shady, semi-shady, and/or full sun.  The right light is essential in making your perennials bloom and survive the Southern heat. 

Also, chose the right perennials that will provide color for different seasons.  For example, plant Columbine for early spring color, for summer color plant yellow Rudbeckia, and then in fall plant Pineapple Sage.  

Make sure you enrich your soil with organic mix and good drainage is essential.   Also, feed your perennials at least twice during the growing season for maximum blooming power.

Everlasting Geraniums

Most of us are starving for color in our landscape and pots.  The one plant that is the most popular in early spring is the famous Geranium.  Why?  Because you can buy them in full bloom and lush plants.  I do love the plant myself but with the Southern heat they tend to burn out in the summer.  No fear, you can make your geraniums last and bloom all summer long.  How?  Place them in a semi-shady area.  They love morning sun for about 5 to 6 hours.    They are heavy feeders so remember to fertilize with any all purpose fertilizer that is high in phosphorus.  This is the blooming power in fertilizer.  If you dead head the spent flowers then they should bloom for months to come.   

For instant impact buy your geraniums in hanging baskets.  We carry them at Botanica Gardens with other seasonal flowers mixed in for overflowing color all summer long. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Kitchen Envy

Most of us spend so much time in our kitchens so why not make sure our kitchens are trendy and fashionable.  It's all about the details.  Make sure to add accessories that are not only kitchen related such as stacked cook books but other items that are trendy such as spoon art. 

Framed Spoon Art:

For a fun and whimsical project, let's frame some colorful spoons!  Using a frame of any size, create a backdrop.  We chose foam core board with a linen pattern.  Cut the foam core board to fit the inside of the frame.  Use glazier points found at your local craft store to secure backing.  You may use spoons you already own; we purchased our spoons at the dollar store.  Take any set amount of spoons to create a fun pattern.  Now it's time for the fun part...using acrylic paint of your choice, paint the rounded portion of each spoon in a variety of colors.  Hot glue each spoon onto the backing in a fun pattern.  Not only will this project become a conversation piece, but it will also provide a great pop of color in your home!


- Picture frame
- Foam core board
- Scissors/razor blade
- Glazier points
- Spoons
- Acrylic paint
- Hot glue gun/hot glue

Delicate Indoor Ferns that are Easy to Grow

Looking for a houseplant that requires little care, thrives in low-light conditions, and adds visual interest to a room?  The answer is the fern, which has foliage ranging in appearance from delicate to dramatic, depending on plant family.
Ferns do best with indirect lighting.  A north-facing window is ideal although during the winter months, when the sun is low on the horizon, an east window is fine for these plants.  Avoid south and west-facing windows, as the intense sunlight may scald the leaves or fronds of the ferns, depending on the intensity of the light.  Or they may dry out faster or scald the leaves if there is low moisture in the soil or air.

Most ferns like an average room temperature of 65 to 75 degrees F during the day, up to 10 degrees cooler at night.  If temperatures exceed 75 degrees F, you may need to water more frequently.  Below 60 degrees, add water only when the soil is dry to the touch.  Some of the more tropical ferns may grow poorly, preferring the higher temperatures.

Consistent watering, keeping the soil evenly moist, not wet, is also key to the health and well being of the plants.  Over watering causes the fronds to yellow and wilt and may eventually lead to root rot and fungal diseases, especially if the pot is allowed to sit in water.  Too little water also causes wilt.  A few varieties, such as Rabbit's Foot Fern, Brake ferns, and Holly Fern are an exception to the consistent watering rule.  For these, you may allow the soil to dry out slightly between watering's.

Ferns, many of which are native to the tropics, like high humidity, which is why they do well in bathrooms.  But you also can increase humidity around the ferns by placing the pots on a pebble-lined tray.  Add water to the pebbles, making sure the bottoms of the pots do not touch the water in the tray.  The evaporation will add extra humidity around the plants.  The best solution is to have a room humidifier adjacent to the plants.  This also benefits people indoors in dry homes as well.  Homes  often have five to 10 percent relative humidity.  Humidifiers might raise that to 30 to 50 percent, which is really minimum for ferns to do best (although they may tolerate slightly lower humidity), and in native climates often have 70 percent or higher relative humidity.

Or double pot your ferns to provide more moisture.  Place the main container into a second, larger container that you have lined with moist sphagnum moss.  Keep the moss moist or even wet.  Use plastic pots, which don't dry out as quickly as clay pots.  The latter are not recommended for many ferns indoors, unless you use the pot in pot method as described above.  A clay pot surrounded by moss then the ceramic or plastic pot on the outside is probably ideal.

In addition, misting the foliage, especially in winter, will increase the humidity.  Just be careful not to mist the furniture and outer walls.  Use room temperature water as cold water may spot the leaves. You'll know when the humidity is too low as the tips of the fronds will brown or die back.  Maidenhair, Stag horn, and Boston Fern are especially susceptible to lack of adequate humidity.

Ferns require only light feedings of fertilizer once a month from April through September unless actively growing in winter months.  Apply liquid houseplant fertilizer at about one-half the recommended rate.  Too much fertilizer will scorch the foliage.  Newly potted plants should not be fertilized for four to six months, again unless there are indications of active growth.

Plant diseases are rare in ferns grown indoors although your plants may suffer from infestations of scale insects, mealybugs, and mites.  Handpicking or spraying with water are the best options for control as pesticide sprays may injure ferns.  If you must use, choose the least toxic product for the pest and read the label carefully before applying.  Check at least weekly to catch pests early.  If ferns are infested with scales, the easiest way to control is to cut off affected fronds.  If infestation of out of control, you may need to discard the plant before the rest of your houseplants are affected.

Ferns will require re potting every few years.  Re pot in the spring, using a purchased soil-less mix that is 50 percent peat moss.  Divide overcrowded plants by removing from the pot and cutting carefully between rhizomes (fleshy roots).  Keep as many leaves as possible per division.

It is also possible to propagate new plants by spores.  In the summer plants will produce spores (brown dots) on the undersides of the leaves.  When these spores darken, remove the leaf and place in a paper bag.  As the leaf dries out, the spores will fall off.  Plant in a peat-based seed starting mix.  Water well, and place in a plastic bag.  Temperatures of 65 to 70 degrees will encourage sprouting.

When fronds are one-inch high, remove the plastic bag and transplant in groups in small pots.  At two to three inches, transplant to individual pots.  This can be tricky as it often takes quite a while for fronds to reach transplant height, and moss and algae or other growth may appear first and kill off young plants, so be forewarned if you decide to propagate your own ferns.
The following ferns can be grown as houseplants.  Or ask your local garden center for recommendations.

--Birds nest Fern (Asplenium)--one of the easiest ferns to grow; may reach 18  to 24 inches tall although in humid room like greenhouse might get to be six feet high and across; has broad, light green, leathery, undivided fronds that grow upwards, giving the plant the look of a bird's nest.  At Botanica Gardens we have so many new varieties to choose from as well.

--Boston Fern (Nephrolepis)--also known as the ladder or sword fern; has long, delicate fronds and light green foliage; grows from 10 inches to three feet, depending on cultivars; ideal for hanging baskets; fern may drop leaflets, especially if too dry, making this a "messy" plant to grow; some newer dwarf compact cultivars are an excellent choice for a houseplant. These were especially popular in Victorian times.

--Brake Ferns (Pteris)--several varieties are available, including some with variegated foliage; may be grown as a table fern or in a hanging basket; prefers diffused light and nighttime temperatures of 50 to 55 degrees F, 68 to 72 degrees F during the day.

--Button Fern (Pellaea)--good plant for small spaces as it only grows 12 to 18 inches tall; it is often dark green and has round, slightly leathery "button-like" leaves attached to slender stems.

--Holly Fern (Cyrtomium)--also known as the fishtail fern; has bright, glossy, leathery leaves; rather unfernlike in appearance; prefers cool to moderate temperatures and indirect sunlight; requires less humidity than most other ferns; ideal for lower light conditions.

--Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum)--fast-growing fern that needs high humidity and consistent moisture to survive; foliage is lacy with small, fan-shaped leaves; does best in a north window. If it dries out, the foliage may die as the plant shrivels.  However, it  doesn't "unwilt" when watered as many houseplants will, but new shoots should appear.

--Rabbit's Foot or Ball Fern (Davallia)--excellent fern for hanging baskets as the furry, creeping rhizomes hang over the edge of the container, resembling a rabbit's foot; needs to be planted with rhizome above soil level instead of buried; very sensitive to salt and thus needs to be watered with soft water.

--Staghorn Fern (Platycerium)--leaves are wide, flat, down-covered, and resemble an elk's antlers; slow-growing but can reach three to four feet in height; should be grown in sphagnum moss with the shield (the brown part from which the green "antlers" emerge) wired to a piece of wood or cork bark; fern is really marginal in many interiors as it needs lots of humidity; water by taking entire wood slab or cork bark and moss off the wall or wherever it is hanging, then immerse with plant shield into a pan or tub of water.  A bath tub without soap suds works best.  Water should be lukewarm, not hot.  Allow to drain before rehanging.