It’s cold and gray outside but you can warm up your home with some live greenery. Plus houseplants improve the quality of the air we breathe. Choose from a nice selection of ivy, African violets, rosemary, Norfolk Island pine, blooming cyclamen and easy-to-grow succulents.
Here are a few tips to keeping your houseplants looking good in winter
- The more light the better. Since our days are so short and light is low, place your houseplants in the brightest part of the room. Also avoid drafty areas near a door and away from fireplaces or heat registers and vents.
- Hooray for humidity! Place your plants on a saucer with some small rocks or chat and keep a little water in the saucer at all times. Better yet, run a humidifier. It’s good for you as well as the plants!
- Water wisely. Check the plants every 7 to 10 days. Water thoroughly, so the water runs through the bottom of the pot. After a few minutes poor out any standing water that is not taken back up by the roots.
- Feed judiciously. Plants need to eat in the winter too, just like me and you. But they don’t need lots of food when they are in slow grow mode. So an organic feed like Espoma’s indoor liquid plant food is best.
A cut Christmas tree can add warmth, fragrance and nostalgia to your home. Here are a few tips to keep yours fresh during the holidays.
- Let us cut a small section of the trunk off the base of your tree to facilitate water uptake.
- As soon as you get home put the freshly cut tree in a large bucket of water. Even if it’s outside and preferably in the shade, make sure it has plenty of water.
- Once it’s inside, place in the coolest place part of your home away from the fireplace and heating vents.
- Keep the tree stand full of plain cold water, no soda or aspirin, etc…Save those items for your own holiday overindulgence.
- If possible, run a cold water humidifier somewhere near the tree. It’s good for the tree and for people too!
Effingers has a large selection of milkweed to choose from. Milkweed is the sole source of food for the monarch caterpillar. Read more [+]
The plight of the monarch butterfly has increased the demand for milkweed exponentially over the last few years. While the monarch butterfly is the poster child for pollinators, other important endangered pollinators include birds, bats, bees, beetles, moths and wasps.
Bees pollinate one in every 3 bites of food we enjoy. Almonds, apples, avocados, strawberries and blueberries are just a few crops that depend on bee survival. Bee colonies have severely declined and in many instances completely collapsed over the past decade.
Factors that threaten pollinators:
- Lack of wild forage and habitat due to housing development, agriculture and industry.
- Monoculture leads to starvation. Commodity crops like corn and soybeans provide little nutrition-pollen and nectar
- Loss of milkweed- sole source of food for the monarch butterfly
- Parasites-the varroa mite destroys bee colonies
- Improper human use of pesticides and fungicides
Tips for improving pollinator survival:
- Plant native plants as well the showy nectar producing plants that predominate in our yards. Native plants provide food for insect larvae that in turn feeds baby birds who cannot digest bird seed. Native milkweed is the sole source of food for the monarch caterpillar. Oak, wild cherry, willow, spicebush and common herbs like parsley, fennel and dill are excellent caterpillar host plants.
- Bee friendly. Rethink a lawn only environment – set aside a small portion of your yard, maybe on the back side of a garage or along an alleyway. Let it go a little wild with a few native plants, grasses and wildflowers.
- The more diverse the habitat the better. Plant a combination of shrubs, wildflowers, native plants and grasses- the more diverse the better.
Check Out Our Swell Selection of Butterfly, Hummingbird and Bee Friendly Plants
Hellebores or Lenten Rose are a tough, easy-to-grow underused evergreen for the shade garden. Read more [+]
When temperatures head south, 45°- 50° it’s time to bring your summer loving houseplants indoors. No matter what measures you take, there’s bound to be a little shock. Most plants thrive in our warm humid summer weather and pout when brought into dry heated indoor air. But it’s important to minimize the risk of unwanted pests hitchhiking indoors and aggravating the transition.
• Check your plants carefully, especially the intersections between leaves and stems and the leaf undersides for insects. If visible, pick off or hose plant leaves with a gentle steady stream of water.
• Next, check for soil dwelling insects. Scratch the surface of the soil and top few inches. If possible, slip the plant out of its pot and check for bugs at the bottom of the pot near the drainage hole.
• If your plants aren’t too big, a simple effective way to eliminate both soil and foliage pests, is to dunk the entire plant in a bucket of water with a few drops of dish soap. Let soak, tops and all for about 10 mins. Of course, this is easiest done outside but a bathtub works well indoors.
• With large houseplants this method is impractical. An insecticidal drench can be applied to the soil of bigger pots, also easier done outside. It’s important to soak the entire soil column and let the drench drain through the bottom, eliminating any pesky critters near the drainage hole.
• After bringing your plants indoors, keep your eyes on them for a few weeks. If pests still pop up, we can help you with a safe indoor spray.
• Final tip, a clean humidifier works wonders for your indoor plants during the dry winter months.
Autumn is one of the best times of year to plant flowering shrubs, evergreens and trees in southern Illinois. Read more [+]
Visit the Million Pollinator
Project for more info
Bees are in trouble. Habitat loss, pesticide exposure and disease have wreaked havoc with our native bee populations. Here is some interesting bee trivia: most bee species are solitary or not formed in colonies, males cannot sting and bees pollinate one third of the food we eat. But you don’t have to become a bee keeper to help. Here are a few simple things that home gardeners can do. Read more [+]
There’s really not much to do getting your plants ready for winter. But a few easy steps make the difference between plants merely surviving and actually thriving despite the weather. These tips are especially important for newly planted evergreens, trees and shrubs. Read more [+]