Category Archives: Container Gardening

Some people don’t have the space — or even the dirt — to grow vegetables. That’s where container garden comes in to play. You get a pot, tray or other container, fill it with soil and start planting.

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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

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Cool Weather Veggie Container Gardens

Although some parts of the U.S. are still experiencing winter, other parts are seeing signs of cool spring weather on its way! So what are some suitable vegetables to start planting first?

Radishes, lettuces, beets, peas and carrot seeds are just a few you can begin to plant 2-4 weeks before the last frost. For the north this would be around early May and for the south mid-April.

Parsnips, turnips, cauliflower, cabbage and onions are other veggies to consider planting. Grow dark greens such as Swiss chard, kale, collards, and spinach.

What qualifies a veggie as “cool-weather?” Most can withstand light frost and nighttime temperatures above 40 degrees. However, hot temps above 80 degrees will cause them to taste bitter.

If you have a small space for planting, such as a deck or patio that receives plenty of sunlight – these would be great spots for container gardens. Use any type of container you wish as long as there is a hole(s) on the bottom for drainage. Also, don’t use any old dirt, use a good bag of soil mix that contains fertilizer and one that holds extra water.

Once the weather becomes warmer reuse your containers to plant warm-season veggies such as tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.

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Easy-to-Grow Indoor Herbs

Growing herbs indoors should not only be fun, but easy! Herbs are perfect to grow indoors in the colder months because you don’t have to go outdoors to reap the benefits. If you plan on growing your herbs in your kitchen, that’s even better. You can make so many delicious dishes with fresh herbs – you will be amazed.

Below is a list of the five best and easiest herbs to grow indoors.

1)    Chives – this is a must have herb. It is very versatile because of its mild onion flavor, and can be used in many savory dishes. The flavor of white or yellow onions can often be a bit on the strong side, but chives are perfect for those who just want a hint of onion flavor. Snip them back often so that they don’t get too out of control.

2)    Thyme – is a great, all around herb that can be used in just about anything – even desserts! Most all varieties of thyme are easy to grow. Remember to trim this herb regularly. The more you trim the better the flavor. Thyme is known for its slight lemon flavor. It is perfect for fish, chicken, or vegetable dishes. You can also use thyme in hot tea.

3)    French tarragon – French tarragon has a terrific flavor, similar to basil. Its hints of licorice are a bit stronger, but goes great with many things. From frittatas to chicken dishes to bruschetta – tarragon makes a tasty addition. No tricks to growing this herb just plant it and watch it grow.

4)    Sweet marjoram – this herb is closely matched with the flavor of oregano, yet not as robust or bitter. Sweet marjoram is great on pizza dishes and in home made breads. It also holds up nicely when used to season the hearty flavor of steak. Anyone who loves herbs will appreciate marjoram.

5)    Sage – Sage is one of those must have herbs. It is very easy to grow, versatile and packs quite the flavor punch! Sage is great around Thanksgiving, because it goes nicely with turkey and other poultry dishes. It is also great to use in vegetarian meals when you want to add some flair to your dinner. Use this herb in tea for sore throats and colds. Sage comes in many varieties, so feel free to choose more than one!

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Top 10 Indoor Plants

If you love your foliage and are stuck inside because of the cold, don’t worry, you can still have your plants and grow them too!

Here is a list of the top 10 indoor plants to help you get through the cold winter months.

1. Peace lily – This is a great indoor plant that is small enough to be placed on your table top or anywhere you like. It has long stems and elegant white flowers, perfect for any décor!

2. Philodendron – If you’re thumb isn’t the greenest, this average sized plant is perfect foryou! It requires little light and works well in hallways or darker areas.

3. Weeping fig – This is one tough little tree, but great for indoors. Its leaves are small and shiny and is sometimes available in other forms such as a ‘lollipop’ tree.

4. Dracaena ‘Happy Plant’ – This plant needs moderate watering and does best in spaces with medium light.

5. Syngonium – Not keen on bugs, consider this insect resistant plant! The Syngonium loves humidity and loves to be misted regularly.

6. Silver queen (a.k.a. Chinese evergreen) – Very attractive indoor plant that normally runs on the small side, enjoys a mild climate and does well in low light.

7. Lady palm – This plant sounds high maintenance, but you’ll be surprised! Keep it watered and out of direct light, and its happy. Keep in mind it grows very slow and can be quite pricey.

8. Stromanthe – Double your pleasure with this gorgeous mult-color plant. The leaves are a deep green and underneath present a rich purple hue. This plant loves bright light and misting.

9. Rubber plant – This plant is great for households that might have children eager to touch plants and explore. It is bred for toughness and survives in low light. It tends to grow on the large size and is content in a dry environment.

10. Kentia palm – Very elegant, and quite tall, this plant has feather-like fronds and survives in low light as well as brighter areas.