Perfect for Porches

197670466 1226cbc132 300x225 Perfect for Porches

“hosta, york me” by Peter Beardsley

Now is a great time to look ahead to the summer season. You will have time to plan and order the needed supplies to create stunning outdoor container arrangements for your clients. It is important to consider the space you are working with when you plan your arrangements and many establishments may want their container arrangements placed on covered porches.  This poses the particular problem of light.  Many covered porches will not have enough light for sun loving flowers. There are, however, a number of beautiful plants that will not only tolerate, but thrive in the low light conditions. You can create beautiful container arrangements that are perfect for porches.

Hostas

Hostas are an excellent, shade loving plants that are perfect for a porch container.  There are a seemingly endless amounts of varieties. Hostas are attractive because of their lush foliage that range from broad and deep green to narrow and variegated. They have small, understated flowers that rise above the foliage and are usually light blue or purple in color. Garden Guides suggests planting Hostas singularly in containers and then group different varieties of Hostas together for an arrangement. Garden Guides also suggests ornamental grasses in separate containers or ivy in the same container as companion plants.  Hostas like a lot of water, but do not like to remain soggy so be sure to choose a potting mix that will encourage drainage. Also, Hostas vary greatly in size so be aware of the mature size of the Hosta you are growing and plan accordingly.

Ferns

According to Container Gardening Guide there are 12,000 different varieties of ferns. Ferns also love the shade and can grow well in containers. Ferns have shallow roots systems and should not be planted in pots deeper than 6 inches. If you want to display your fern in a large decorative container, place the pot inside the larger container. You can flip over an empty pot in the bottom of the large container to fill space and act as a stand.  The watering needs of ferns vary greatly so be sure to follow the growers instructions so that you do not over or under water the ferns. Ferns also grow well singularly in containers. You can place several different varieties in different containers and group them together for an arrangement.  Browse this link for a list of several descriptions of ferns along with pictures that are ideal for growing in containers. Ferns can also work well in hanging containers.

Shade Tolerant Flowers

If you want to add color to your porch arrangements consider some shade tolerant flowering plants. A few options include begonias and impatiens.  Fine Gardening suggests finding some unique varieties of these old standards such as double impatiens or tuberous rooted begonias with unique foliage. You can pair these with coleus or ivy to make the containers overflow with interesting foliage.

Foliage is the key to making stunning shade tolerant container arrangements. The possibilities and combinations are numerous and shade loving varieties can be grouped together in showy containers to create a lush environment. As you search for the right container to show off your unique variety of hosta or fern check out NewPro Containers selection of outdoor containers. Do you have a favorite shade loving plant you like to use in arrangements?

Photo “hosta, york me” courtesy of Peter Beardsley

Planting Spring Bulbs in Containers

tulips 199x300 Planting Spring Bulbs in Containers

“Spring is Here” by aussiegall

As winter continues with its dark nights and chilly days it is exciting to start thinking about the color and warmth spring will bring. Now is the perfect time to plan out and even plant spring containers. Consider using some of you favorite bulbs in a container to create a cheery springtime display.

Getting Started

To get started first choose the bulbs you want to use then, based on their size, choose a container. NewPro Containers has a great choice of indoor and outdoor containers.  The National Gardening Association suggests you allow for 1 inch between the tip of the bulb and the rim of the container, and a few inches between the bottom of the bulb and the bottom of the pot. For example, if you have a 2 inch bulb your pot should be at least 6 inches deep with 3 inches of soil leaving 2 inches for the bulb and 1 inch between the top of the bulb and the rim.  You can plant several different kinds of bulbs in the same container. Place the larger ones towards the bottom and the smaller bulbs closer to the top taking care not to place the bulbs on top of one another. Make sure the bulbs that you plant together have relatively similar blooming times. You do not want some plants languishing and turning brown while others are just starting to bloom. If you want to have succesive blossoms plant several different containers each with bulbs that bloom at different times. Place the container that is flowering in the most prominent position.

You can use regular potting mix formulated for houseplants in your container. When you pot the bulbs add fertilizer formulated for bulbs at the rate specified by the manufaturer to the soil. Once the bulbs are planted with just the tips showing above the soil water the container thoroughly. Make sure that your pot is able to drain well. The soil should stay moist, but if it stays soggy the bulbs will rot.

Time to Chill

Depending on what type of bulb you use it will need a period of 8-14 weeks of cold in order to flower. These temperatures should average between 35 and 40 degrees. If you live in a place that has warmer temperatures find a cool place to keep your containers such as a garage, basement or refrigerator. If you live somewhere much colder and you place the containers outside they could freeze because they do not have the insulation from the ground.  You can keep the container outside and when freezing temperatures threaten bring the containers to a cool place indoors or keep the containers in a space you know will not become very cold. While your bulbs are chilling be sure to watch the moisture in the soil. If is becomes dry about an inch deep in the container then add water.

Ready For The Move

When the tips of the bulbs begin send up green shoots you can move the container outside. If it is not warm enough you can continue to keep the containers in a cool and dark space and this will inhibit growth. The National Gardening Association suggests that once you move the containers outside, but if temperatures become warmer than 75 degrees keep the container shaded. Temperatures warmer than this will encourage the bulbs to grow too quickly and become leggy and top heavy.

With care and planning you can have beautiful spring bulb containers to greet the warmer weather. Remember to allow for time to chill and monitor the moisture in the containers well so that the bulbs do not rot. What are your favorite spring bulbs? Do you have any container recipes you have found successful?

Is it Time to Repot?

potted plants 300x198 Is it Time to Repot?

Plants B/W by dailyinvention

You have been enjoying lovely indoor plants growing in your windows all winter long. With spring a bit closer you may be antsy to get your hands dirty again and now may be the perfect time. To grow and thrive plants need to be in a container that allows their roots to take in moisture and nutrients from its growing media.  Your plants may have out grown their living environment and be ready for a change.

How do you know it is time to repot?

It is a good idea to check your plants before the longer days and more sunshine trigger a spring growth spurt.

How to know it’s time to re-pot:

  • The roots are poking through the drainage holes
  • Water runs quickly through the pot because there is no soil left to retain it
  • The pot is very light and the plant is top heavy

To get started, a few hours before you plan to transfer the plant water your plant so that the roots will be less voulnerable when they make the transition.

Choosing your pot

Next, you need to choose your new pot. Containers are typically measured in diameter, which is the distance across the top opening. According to Guide to Houseplants, you want to find a pot that that is only one or two  inches larger than your old pot. So if your plant had been in a four inch container the largest container you should transfer the plant to should only be six inches.  If you use a pot larger than this your soil may retain too much water, causing root rot and hindering your plant from thriving.

If you are reusing any previously used pots be sure to disinfect the pot before transferring. This will reduce the risk of transferring pests and diseases from plant to plant.

Now that you have your container and your plant ready for repotting you can choose your soil mix. You can purchase a  potting mix made specifically for your variety of plant from a landscape or garden store or you can mix your own. For potting mix ideas see this previous post.

Making the transfer

Now it is time to remove your plant from its old container. Gently tip the container and tap the sides to loosed the soil and roots. Pull the plant out and shake loose any soil. Roots that are coiled on the bottom can be gently pulled straight out or pruned. Plant Care suggests you:

 ”score the rootball vertically with a sharp knife in several places, cutting into the rootball about an inch as you slice from top to bottom.”

These actions will help the roots adjust quickly and begin growing in their new medium.

Next, place a few inches of the potting soil in the bottom of the new container. Now check your plant to make sure it will be at a depth equal to what it was in its old container. You do not want the plant too deep in the container, but you also do not want the root ball to be exposed over the rim. Once your plant is situated correctly you should fill in the potting soil around it and tamp it down to remove any air pockets.

To finish, water your plant thoroughly.  Guide to Houseplants advises that you not fertilize your plant for the first month in its new home. This will allow the roots to become established and protect them from fertilizer burn.

Now that you know when and how to repot your plants it is time to find the perfect container. NewPro Containers has an excellent selection of decorative containers perfect for any indoor plant.

Have you repotted any plants lately? What tips and trick do you have for a healthy repotting?

Photo “Plants B/W” courtesy of dailyinvention

How Professional Certification Helps You

2449547741 4e5082a26c 199x300 How Professional Certification Helps YouYou may have a wealth of information regarding indoor landscaping. Your mind is full of all the tip and tricks you’ve learned over the years as you have served your clients and created inspired plantscapes.

The question is how do  you communicate that you have the necessary knowledge to manage plantscapes to your clients. The easiest way to tell your clients you know your stuff is through certifications.

Certifications carry a certain weight that say you care enough to pursue them and that you have completed the needed training to qualify for them. They display that you maintain a very specific skill set.

Certifications give your clients confidence that you are well trained for the job and learning the most updated information. When your clients have more confidence in you they will offer more jobs and more word of mouth referral. Certifications will also prove to potential clients that the work you do is complex and it is worth investing in the service you provide.

Trade Organizations

So what certifications are out there? You can start by finding trade organizations that relate to interior landscaping. Several of these organizations include  OFA an Association of Horticulture ProfessionalsPlantscape Industry Alliance (PIA), American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) and Professional Landcare Network (PLANET).

Membership in a trade organization will help you network with other indoor landscape professionals, give you access to the latest research and knowledge, inform you of opportunities for furthuring your education such as seminars and connect you to suppliers.

Some organizations also offer certifications. For example, PLANET offers a Landscape Industry Certified Manager and a Landscape Industry Certified Interior Technician. These certifications can be received  through acheiving 70% accuracy on a written exam that is based on specific industry related materials. This certification program also encourages you to remain up to date on current information as it requires continuing education units including seminars and self study to maintain your certified status. Those who are new to the profession and do not have an accomplished portfolio or a broad client base with good word of mouth referrals can use certifications to lend credibility to your service offerings.

Help Getting Started

If you would prefer not to spend the time or the money on certification, membership in trade organizations can still be incredibly valuable. When you are just getting started in the field of interiorscaping trade organizations are an excellent place to start. Doing some research ahead of time will help you understand what you need to know how to create a successful business. Not only do trade organizations have access to technical information, but industry information as well. Useful resources such as pricing guides and reputable suppliers can be found through trade organizations. Trade shows, conferences and events can also help you network with those more experienced in the field. Getting to know others in your field will help you know who to turn to when you have business and technical industry questions.

Your Turn To Share

Certifications will give your clients confidence whether it is as a technician, manager or area specific knowledge such as pesticide application. Maintaining certifications will help you develop beautiful, safe and healthy plantscapes for your clients. Having a certification may also be the last piece of information your potential clients needs to feel confident in your services and invest in your services. Whether or not you choose to be certified trade organizations can also be an excellent resource. What trade organizations are you a member of? What industry event has been helpful to you? Have you pursued any industry certifications?

Photo “Queen’s Commerce Class of 2008 group photo 19″ courtesy of eddiehosa