Posts Tagged ‘Houseplants’

Worry-Free Planters: Mixed Succulents

Mixed succulents in a clay planter.

Mixed succulents in a clay planter. Echeveria, (rosette form), and two kinds of crassula among others.

Why do I love succulent planters? Because, not only are they beautiful, but they are tough and worry-free: they’re the ultimate drought-resistant container planting. Succulents can thrive in the tough growing conditions that a clay planter provides, and are the only plants I grow in an unglazed terra cotta planter.

Why is a terra cotta planter so hard on plants? Because they are porous. Beware, because beautiful, decorative clay planters often seduce us at the garden centre or in photographs, but keep in mind that garden picture books may have photos taken in other climates, with different growing conditions. In rainy, old England, for example, or any Maritime climate with tons of rain and mist, you can get away with planting mixed annuals—like petunias, begonias, browallia— in clay, but I would never do it in the Toronto climate. Sunny, hot summer days dry out a clay planter in a couple of hours. All planters dry out from the top, but porous terra cotta dries out from the sides as well. It can spell certain death to most flowering annuals, they don’t stand a chance.

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Pest Patrol: How To Get Rid of Mealybugs

Mealybug infestation on cactus, Opuntia microdasys monstrose.

Mealybug infestation on cactus, Opuntia microdasys monstrose.

Do you keep houseplants indoors in the wintertime? If yes, you are essentially maintaining a greenhouse, and what is a greenhouse but an artificially heated room with lots of light? While we typically don’t enjoy the bright light of a greenhouse, we do have the same problems that greenhouse keepers do. Pests!

It’s always in February that I notice these little harbouring beasts. While moving plants around in my sun porch (as close to a greenhouse as I can get) I noticed white fluffy blobs all over my favourite cactus: a case of mealybugs.

Mealybugs are a type of scale insect, but these ones don’t have the protective armour of brown scale. An individual mealybug reminds me of a trilobite. The fluffy appearance of a mealybug cluster comes from the powdery wax layer that the female mealybugs exude. It serves to protect the bugs as they cluster in a herd. Yikes, a herd of bugs!

Mealybugs injure the plant by feeding on plant sap, and present a major problem for citrus and mango growers. They damage other food crops as well, like sugar cane, pineapple, and coffee. Luckily, if found on your houseplant quickly, you can get rid of mealybugs fairly easily.

Whеn dealing wіth pests thаt bother оur homes, іt wоuld bе important tо consider thе type оf treatment provided bу pest control companies. Well pest control toronto are best to use to keep home safe from mosquitoes, ticks, rats and mice. Natural pest control methods аrе mоѕt preferred nowadays bесаuѕе thеу dо nоt саuѕе harm tо humans thаt live іn аn area bеіng purged fоr pests. Thе uѕе оf synthetic pesticides іn eradicating household pests carries danger bесаuѕе thеу саuѕе illness tо people. Thеу аrе neuro-toxins thаt саuѕе paralysis оn thе pest’s nervous ѕуѕtеm. Hоwеvеr, іf humans inhale thе toxic substances bесаuѕе thеѕе аrе used inside thе home, thеn thе health оf thе house inhabitants аrе рut аt stake. To get natural pest control visit to Pest Zone Pest Control service.

It’s true thаt оur lives bесоmе uncomfortable whеn wе аrе invaded bу bed bugs, termites аnd rodents. Aside frоm destroying оur things, thеу аlѕо make uѕ sick. Thеу simply саnnоt bе ignored whеn thеіr presence іѕ noticed inside thе house. Tо dо ѕо wоuld bе tо invite a greater catastrophe. Tаkе thе case fоr termites. Thеѕе insects саn look harmless bесаuѕе thеу hаvе soft, milky bоdу texture. Yеt bеhіnd thаt façade іѕ аn agent fоr massive destruction. Thеѕе insects саn live аnуwhеrе аnd thеу wіll destroy аnуthіng thеу соmе асrоѕѕ. If ignored, thеу wіll make уоur house thеіr camping ground аnd wіll leave nоthіng untouched. Whеn termites increase іn population, іt means thаt thеу hаvе a steady source оf food. Foremost, thеу like tо eat wood. Thuѕ, іf уоur house іѕ mаdе оf wooden materials аnd nоt treated fоr termite attack, thеn уоu ѕhоuld bе afraid. Thеу саn burrow оn thе ground аnd exist thеrе wіthоut humans noticing thеm. Yеt, whеn уоu ѕее mud tunnels thаt gо a lоng wау tоwаrdѕ ѕоmеwhеrе уоu саnnоt trace, уоu ѕhоuld suspect thаt thеу hаvе аlѕо mаdе ѕоmе parts оf уоur house thеіr оwn аѕ wеll. Natural pest control fоr termites іѕ available wіth уоur local pest control company.

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How To Use Scented Geranium Leaves

scented geranium leaves

Scented geranium leaves that work for culinary and aromatherapy.

One of my favourite herbal plants is a scented rose geranium, which gives off a delicious scent of rose when the leaves are crushed. The houseplants we commonly call geraniums are actually Pelargoniums in botanical-speak. They are tender perennials, originating in South Africa. But no matter the name, the rose geranium is one of my Must Have plants. While it’s not a flowering specimen—the flowers are insignificant—rose geranium is more than worth it to grow for the scent alone.

In nature, there are some plants and flowers that have complex aromas and flavors. Probably the best example of this is wine grapes. Just think of all the words to describe your favorite wines: berry, chocolate, citrus, oaky, grassy. The list is almost endless. In the world of herbs, scented geraniums are similar.

I use it as a ‘walk by” form of aromatherapy, grabbing a leaf and burying my nose in it, for a shot of wondrous olfactory bliss. This is the kind of thing you need in November, or any winter day, really. The scent is similar to the Attar of Rose scent, a true rose fragrance.

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Azaleas & Rhododendrons: What’s The Difference?

purple rhodendron

Dandy Man Purple Rhododendron. Flower buds and full bloom. Photos: Proven Winners

These evergreen flowering shrubs get lumped together and you may wonder which is which. Both are members of the same plant Genus: Rhododendron. Plant taxonomists once put Azaleas in their own plant group, but later realized they were wrong about that. Taxonomists tend to do this a lot. So, all azaleas are rhododendrons, but not all rhododendrons are azaleas.
Here are the differences between what we commonly call Azaleas and Rhododendrons:

Bloomathon lavender azalea in bloom. Note the mulch layer to keep roots cool and moist.

Bloomathon lavender azalea in bloom. Note the mulch layer to keep roots cool and moist.


  • Smaller, duller leaves with a rougher texture
  • Mostly deciduous (loses leaves in winter if grown outside)
  • Smaller flowers, with 5 stamens
  • Small shrub, up to 8 feet (although unlikely in Toronto climate!)
  • Often sold as an indoor flowering potted plant.
  • Can be kept in pot year round, but give it a summer outdoors, and let it stay outside in fall in the cooler weather before bringing it back inside for the winter. This will help it set flower buds. Keep in a cool, very bright location. I’ve kept azaleas in pots blooming all winter in a west-facing, cool window. Don’t let it dry out!
  • Flower colours range from the whites and purples to yellow-orange and orange

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Eco-Friendly Gardening Toolkit: Microfibre Cloths

Plain, old water is the purest, greenest solvent for cleaning.

Plain, old water is the purest, greenest solvent for cleaning.

One of the greenest tools you can use these days is a microfibre cleaning cloth, slightly dampened by plain old water. It’s my eco-friendly tool of choice for cleaning dust and grime off leaves. I use microfibre cloths and water to dislodge bugs like scale and mealybug off houseplants. For cleaning your garden tools it’s fantastic too. Microfibre lets you enter a world of chemical-free cleaning.

Microfibre is a combination of polyester and nylon, with fibres so small they trap dirt and bacteria, allowing you to clean using only water.Water is nature’s purest solvent. You simply can’t get any more organic. As a matter of fact, using a detergent or other chemical cleaning product with a microfibre cloth actually makes it work less, not more. Explain That Stuff explains microfibres here.

Microfibers are able to attach themselves to even the smallest, most microscopic dirt particles—ones that normal cloth fibers (positively giant in comparison) crudely brush past.

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