Category Archives: Container Gardening

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How To: Make a Pumpkin Planter

Creative a festive autumn planter using a pumpkin!

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Gather your supplies. You will need:

A pumpkin
A plant, or plants, of your choice
A knife and bowl to collect guck
A Gardener’s Blue Ribbon Cork Mat

 

 

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Begin by carving out the top of your pumpkin with the knife. Remove all seeds from the inside of the pumpkin and place in the bowl and set aside.

 

 

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Place your chosen plant(s) into the hollow planter area of the pumpkin and water.

 

 

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Place your new pumpkin planter on a Gardener’s Blue Ribbon Cork Mat to protect your surface from seepage and water marks!

 

 

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Attract Birds with Hanging Baskets

Themed gardens are a popular among gardeners. There are tons of themes that can be put to use, but one of the most common is a garden to attract birds. A hanging basket garden designed to do so will allow you an up close and personal look at your feathered friends.

A few plants to include in your basket are:

  • Zinnias – birds appreciate the seeds from this bright purple flower
  • Bee Balm – hummingbirds appreciate these purple pom pom shaped blooms
  • Aster – any variety of this common flower will beautify your baskets
  • Cornflower – enjoy a gorgeous pop of color with this bright blue flower
  • Coral Bells – a gorgeous flowing pink plant that will add texture and length to your baskets

It is important to make sure your hanging basket is located in a place where birds will not feel threatened. For instance, if you have cats at your house you shouldn’t place a bird-friendly basket in a location where cats can’t bat at birds or attempt to jump at them. Birds will not visit the basket if they feel that their safety may be compromised.

Which plants will you use to create your bird themed basket? Share with our community by commenting on this post or visiting our Facebook wall!

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Suggested Vines and Flowers for your Hanging Baskets

There are tons of options for filling your hanging baskets, whether it is herbs, or grasses, or flowers. The most common types of plants that are used in hanging basket gardens are flowers and vines, as they are well liked by most people are generally easy to care for.

You may plant a basket with one type of flower, one color scheme, or a variety of both. The floral you choose will make a difference in the look of the basket and overall feel of the décor. Combining a mixture of heights and brights will add interest to your hanging basket and make it a work of art. Some flowers to consider including are:

• Waterfall Blue (Lobelia) – a gorgeous purple-blue flower that overflows elegantly
• Marigold (Tagetes ‘Lemon Gem’) – this flower’s bright yellow hue will attract the eye, and butterflies!
• Bacopa (Sutera ‘Snowstorm’) – a heavenly pale pink/white flowing plant that will reach towards the ground as it grows
• Wax begonia (Begonia ‘Prelude Red’) – red flowers against bright green leaves provide a brilliant color contrast and unexpected fiery pop

Generally we appreciate that plants grow towards the sky, but there are some that grow out, or down. Vines are fun to grow, but can be problematic when placed in a garden where they take over the flowerbed. Hanging baskets are the perfect solution as they allow vines to grow down and create a gorgeous hanging canopy of flowers and foliage. A few vines to try include:

• Ivy (Hedera helix) – This dark green leafy vine is a staple in many hanging baskets
• Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas ‘Margarita’) – A bright green, large leafed vine that will brighten up your hanging basket
• Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare ‘Limelight’) – Tiny lime green colored leaves will grow on vines that curve down and back up
• Vinca ‘Variegata’ – A twiggy, sparsely leafed vine will create texture

If you’re a beginner to hanging baskets it will be wise to try a hanging vine and flower design. The easy care options, and easy to design abilities they possess, will help you understand how hanging baskets work. After heading to our Hanging Basket Shop head to your local garden center to stock up on plants that will burst with color and hang with style!

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Why Line Your Hanging Baskets?

Hanging baskets are just that – a type of basket. The use of baskets provides lots of open space for adequate air circulation and sets the stage for proper drainage. With that in mind, it is important to line your hanging basket with materials that will help keep the soil, plants, and roots protected, in addition to keeping water from just pouring through.

There are a few options that work well for lining your baskets. Some gardeners use moss to line their hanging baskets. Other gardeners turn to coco and pre-manufactured liners that are made to fit a certain size basket.

Coco liners have a long and interesting history. They are fabricated from the shell, or outer covering of a coconut, hence the name coco liner. The first steps of the coco liner’s production are primarily done in Sri Lanka and Indonesia where the hull is shredded into fibers and baled. These bales are shipped to China where they are dried, sprayed with pesticides and latex, and then cut into squares for easy handling so they can be molded into the shape of baskets.  The molding process also involves additional latex spraying. It is a highly manual process involving unnecessary chemicals.

Until recently, these textured and messy liners were the only option available on the market. The EcoLiner™ has changed the hanging basket liner landscape with its durability, performance, and eco-friendly construction.

What is EcoLiner™:

CobraCo® has developed a solution that dramatically outperforms the coco liner. Meet EcoLiner. EcoLiner is a paper mache liner; fabricated from recycled corrugate. The benefits of using EcoLiner in your hanging baskets include:

  • Biodegradable materials; without the chemicals used in coco liner production
  • Twice the moisture retaining capability of a coco liner
  • Reduced effort required to maintain plants – less watering on your part
  • Resists fading caused by sunlight due to natural colorfast pigment dye

EcoLiner is truly better for your plant, better for you, and better for the earth. Made with a paper mache material that starts with recycled cardboard to create a slurry, EcoLiner®’s material is not the art class paper mache you’re familiar with. This mixture is made with biodegradable ingredients necessary to create durability and moisture retaining features of EcoLiner. With this proprietary formula, EcoLiner can be made in just about any shape or color you can imagine!

Using a liner for your basket will save you time and water and will help the longevity and health of your plants. CobraCo® plant liners are available at your local garden center or can be purchased online in our Plant Liner Shop!

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Decorative Houseplants 101

Houseplants offer a variety of benefits including air purification and increased oxygen in our homes, but they’re also capable of beautifying an indoor space. Decorative houseplants can add pops of color and touches of texture to a room in your home. With low cost and low maintenance plants available, you can easily add floral décor to your home. Let’s review a few options that will work for your home or lifestyle.

Low-Light Plants

There are often places in our homes and offices that do not get ample light and therefore are often reserved for lamps, bookshelves, etc. Luckily, there are plant varieties that grow and sometimes thrive best in low-light situations.

Ferns: Many fern varieties grow heartily in low-light conditions. White Rabbits Foot fern and Bird’s Nest Fern are excellent candidates.

Aechmea Bromeliads: This flowering tropical plant performs well in poor light conditions.

Lucky Bamboo: This good fortune bringing plant survives well in a glass container with a base of pebbles and a few inches of water.

Low-Water Plants

Keeping houseplants watered is usually the first thing people worry about when deciding which plants to host. Some decorative houseplants don’t require daily watering, but grow better when watered only a few times a week.

Chinese Evergreen: A well-drained container to prevent overwatering will keep this plant healthy. This cold temperature tolerant plant is low maintenance.

Philodendron: Although this tropical plant prefers warm moist air, it can go days without being watered.

Peace Lily: When in need of water this flowering plant’s leaves will wilt letting you know hydration is necessary.

Popular Flowering Plants

To add color to your home you can look to flowering houseplants. Various plants offer a wide range of colors and shapes that can add visual interest to tables, floors, and windowsills!

African Violet: Blooming year round is easy for this plant when placed on a sunny windowsill. Tons of colors are available which make it perfect for any décor scheme.

Oxalis: Not only are the blooms colorful, but the purple hued triangular leaves are gorgeous. Small bulbs make dividing this plant an easy task.

Gloxinia: Huge bell-shaped flowers bloom in late winter or early spring and offer rich colors to dress up a room.

Whether you’re going for texture or color, houseplants can offer an inexpensive and low maintenance solution. Visit your local garden center to learn more about which decorative houseplants would fare well in your home, as well as how much water and sunlight they need.

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Healing Plants 101

The uses of plants for medicinal reasons predate written history and have been used for a variety of reasons. These reasons include:

  • Used to synthesize other compounds
  • Fight against infections from insect and animal attacks
  • Prevent disease with regular use
  • Relieve pain and reduce fever

Popular herbs grown that possess healing qualities include aloe, eucalyptus, lavender and thyme.

Aloe: This flowering succulent plant is native to Africa and is used for a variety of pharmaceutical purposes. Use well draining soil and allow room for root growth. Aloe can be used to alleviate skin irritations and sooth sunburn.

Eucalyptus: Globe Eucalyptus is most common among homegrown varieties and is grown as a container shrub. Eucalyptus is known to help relieve symptoms of colds and the flu like chest congestion, sore throat, and respiratory infections.

Lavender: When placed in a sunny location, lavender will thrive well indoors, and this aromatic herb can be moved outdoors during the summer months. Popular for its aroma, lavender helps reduce the effects of insomnia by relaxing you.

Thyme: Frequent watering and lots of sunlight help thyme grow well indoors. Liquid fertilizer helps supplement this plant’s energy needs. Thyme’s healing abilities range from its antiseptic properties to remedying gastrointestinal upset.

As with other houseplants, growing medicinal herbs is an easy task. Equip yourself with high quality planting soil and fill your plant containers half way. Place an already maturing plant with roots into container and fill the remaining space with potting soil. Adequate drainage is necessary when growing these plants because overwatering can suffocate roots and kill them.

It is important to note that although medicinal herbs have long been used for their healing properties, some illnesses or infections may not be treatable using them. Consult your physician for expert care advice regarding herbal treatments or before beginning an herbal regimen.

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Planting Herbs 101

Plants have always been used to provide food and to add flavor to our foods. Many people grow herbs through the summer months, but shy away from continuing herb gardening through winter months. With the use of planters and containers, indoor herb growing is an easy task and will fill your home with a delicious aroma!

Most herbs need about six hours of sunlight each day. Plan to place your herb containers in a well-lit space where they can soak up the sun for energy and growth. It is important to note that containers have a tendency to become little heaters for your plants, so depending on which type of container you use, your herbs may need less sunlight than if they were placed outdoors.

Consider the watering needs of your herbs when you choose their container. Some herbs appreciate a constant supply of water, which can be achieved through a self-watering container. Other varieties of herbs can survive with periodic watering and can be placed in most any container. Herb containers should offer sufficient drainage because overwatering your herbs may kill them. Most herb plants have shallow roots so you can use smaller containers, too!

Equip yourself with high quality planting soil and fill your pots half way. If starting with seeds, fill the container ¾ of the way and place the seed about two inches into the soil. If transplanting a started seed, place the plant and roots into container and fill the remaining space with potting soil.

Now that you’ve got the necessary information to get started, it is time to choose which herbs to grow! Here are a few staples you may want to have in your home:

Parsley – With low light and watering requirements, this plant will provide a tasty addition to your recipes.

Mint – Known to grow like a weed, peppermint will choke out other herbs in the same container. Place a “peppermint only” container in an area that receives a small amount of light throughout the day.

Oregano – A required 6-8 hours of sunlight is suggested for healthy growth, so place your oregano container in a southwest-facing window.

Basil – Popular and frequently used in the culinary world, your best bet is to host African Blue Basil indoors. Hydroponic growth for basil is a great option, too.

Chives – An easy-to-grow herb that does not require much light. These are best started from already established plants.

Now that you’re prepared with knowledge and a few tips for better planting and growing, you’re all set to get started. Which herbs will you plant today?

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Fall Flower Boxes

Enhance your fall outdoor decorating and extend your gardening season with fall flower boxes and hanging planters.

The first brisk fall evenings crash through summer’s warmth and abruptly awaken our senses to the season’s arrival. It seems like one day we are enjoying long days and cookouts, and the next day it’s football and early morning frost. Those crisp nights also tend to foretell the end of our gardening season.

Fall mumsThe thought of all your hard work disappearing steadily with each falling leaf, though inevitable, is a disappointing end to the summer. So don’t let it be the end of your garden season! Take back the fall with your flower boxes and hanging baskets, because they are a great way to extend your gardening season past Halloween and even continue to have garden color into Thanksgiving. Once your summer annuals are done blooming, its time to start to research some plants and flowers that will last a little longer in your hardiness zone. Don’t forget that there are some plants that will look great in your flower boxes even after the first frosts, and will provide color late into the year.  Less hardy plants start to wither up and die and your garden starts to turn brown.

Chrysanthemums, or mums, are a very common and colorful fall flower. There are many different variety’s available to today’s gardener, including some very hard plants that can be perennials all the way in to Zone 5! Mums also make excellent container plants, and will work superbly for a flower box. Select 2-3 different colors to provide a nice, diverse showing. If you prefer, use a palette of fall colors like orange, yellow, and dark-red. They match up superbly with your traditional Halloween and Thanksgiving decorating.

Pansies

Pansies are an excellent way to add some vibrant color to your fall flower boxes. While pansies are not hardy enough to last as perennials in winter zones, they thrive in the cooler weather that fall provides, with some varieties even being able to survive light snow. The incredible color variety that is available with pansies make them a great option for filling in empty spaces in your flower boxes or hanging baskets.

Ornamental cabbages and kales provide nice leafy centerpieces to build your fall flower boxes and hanging baskets around. There are a handful of different varieties, all with different shapes and sizes. As the weather gets colder the color in the center of these plants become brighter and really provide a nice base of color for fall flower boxes and hanging baskets.

Don’t let fall be the end of your beautiful gardens. With a little research, and a little extra care, you can have flower boxes and hanging baskets that will extend your growing season, and give your outdoor decorating an extra touch of color and beauty at a time of the year when most people have given up.

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Maintain Plant Moisture with Ice Cubes

With this squelching hot weather, it’s natural to want to hibernate away indoors with air conditioning or lounge in cooler, shaded areas… but what about your plants? Finding it tough to keep up with watering your container gardens in this heat or keeping your plants from drying out too quickly?  Try adding ice cubes!

Adding several ice cubes to the base of your plants will allow your hanging baskets or container gardens to be watered slowly, as the ice melts into the soil.  This nifty little trick helps to keep you from overwatering your plants and allows the soil to retain moisture over a period of time.  Plants don’t like to be shocked by the cold, though, so be careful to keep the ice away from the actual plant, just resting on top of the soil.  It is important to pay attention to your plants when you first start watering with ice cubes, to know how many pieces of ice to use per plant, being cautious to not overwater them when all of the ice melts.

If you are looking for a more long-term solution to maintain a proper routine of watering your plants while you are at work all day, or plan to leave town for a few days on vacation, check out our CobraCo® Plant Sitters for your plants! The CobraCo® plant sitter system provides a healthy-well balanced diet of water and fertilizer for your plants. With busy work schedules, family activities, vacations and business trips, life can get rather hectic. That doesn’t mean your plants have to wither from infrequent attention… take advantage of today’s innovative plant sitter systems. Plant sitters take the guesswork out of nourishing plants, giving you one less thing to worry about. The ceramic plant moisture sensors fit inside virtually any planter and irrigate plants for up to 2 weeks from our 1-quart reservoir (duration depends on plant size).  No more wilting plants with brown edges from under watering and no more oddly light-colored leaves from too much water; just healthy, happy plants!

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COMMERCIAL TOMATO GROWING EXPOSED: Convincing reasons why you should grow your own tomatoes!

Here are some REALLY good reasons why you should grow your own tomatoes. Read “Tomatoland” by Barry Estabrook. Or be convinced by these excerpts from the NY Times book review…

“South Florida, where nearly all of America’s winter tomatoes are grown, is nearly…(an)…alien…environment for farming. It’s insane that tomatoes are grown there at all.

“Florida’s sandy soil, Mr. Estabrook writes, is as devoid of plant nutrients as a pile of moon rocks. “Florida growers may as well be raising their plants in a sterile hydroponic medium.”

He continues, witheringly: “To get a successful crop, they pump the soil full of chemical fertilizers and can blast the plants with more than 100 different herbicides and pesticides, including some of the most toxic in agribusiness’s arsenal.” Migrant workers are coated with these chemicals too. The toll that’s taken on them, in the form of birth defects, cancer and other ailments, is hideous to observe and should fill those who eat Florida tomatoes with shame.

And all this for what? Hard, tasteless, uniform green balls that barely dent when they fall off a truck at 60 miles per hour and that must be gassed to achieve the sick-pink hue they present in supermarkets.

To read the full review:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/06/books/tomatoland-barry-estabrooks-expose-review.html?_r=2&ref=books

To find the book:
http://www.amazon.com/Tomatoland-Industrial-Agriculture-Destroyed-Alluring/dp/1449401090/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310152463&sr=1-1