Houseplant of the Week: String of Hearts

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Ceropegia Woodii, aka String of Heart or Rosery Vine

Ceropegia Woodii, aka String of Hearts

Ceropegia Wodii has many names, but the most common is String of Hearts. It’s also known as a Rosary Vine.

Both names are very accurate. The leaves of this lovely plant are distinctly heart-shaped and they drape down along a thin, wire like stem that looks like a vine.

This succulent trails beautifully and makes it a popular plant for hangers. The vines, with the hearts looking like beads hanging along it, can grow to two or three feet.

Caring for Your String of Hearts

These plants are pretty tolerant and easy to grow. Plant using a cactus potting soil mix or a regular potting mix of soil and sand.

Water your String of Hearts sparingly. Your best bet is to allow the soil to nearly dry out and then water thoroughly. These plants are native to Africa and might droop a little during the winter, but don’t worry; they’ll come back in the spring.

String of hearts can survive in lower light setting, but does best in bright, indirect sunlight. Less light will result in less contrast in the leaf variegation.

Fertilize during the spring and summer, but cut back in the fall to allow your plant to rest during its semi-dormant period during the winter.

Other tips

  • Rotate your plant periodically to ensure even growth on all sides.
  • Make sure your plant has excellent drainage and remove excess water from the plant saucer after watering.
  • You can cut off errant stems, but pruning is not strictly necessary.

You can check out all of our Houseplants of the Week in our gallery here.

Yes, You Have to Water Your Garden in Winter

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It’s a question I get asked all the time at the nursery: Do you need to water your garden in winter?

The answer is yes.

Yes, your deciduous trees have shed their leaves and your perennials are no longer blooming. But they are just dormant and need water to fuel basic metabolic functions.

Unless we have an amazing amount of moisture consistently throughout the winter, you need to be watering your trees, shrubs and perennials, but less frequently.

NORTHERN ARIZONA IS A DRY, DRY, DRY PLACE

It’s been a brutal season for moisture this year.

Our monsoon season only generated a little over 2 inches of rain this year. It was the driest season for Flagstaff since they started keeping records in 1898. We only got about 25% of the moisture we usually get from mid-June to late September.

And, in even more bad weather news, we haven’t had any measurable snow and by this time we’ve usually had almost three inches.

Plus, we tend to have a lot of windy weather that increases the dryness of the soil. So your plants are probably plenty thirsty.

SO HOW OFTEN (AND HOW MUCH) DO I NEED TO WATER?

You should plan on watering about twice a month during the winter. Because it’s so infrequent compared to the spring and summer, you might want to make sure to note it down on the family calendar or your daily planner. And, of course, you’ll be watering by hand since you should have winterized any drip irrigation system you have.

So how much water is enough during the winter? It depends on the size of the tree, shrub or perennial plant and whether it is new or well-established.

As a general rule, you’ll need about 10 gallons of water for each diameter inch of the tree. For example, a two-inch diameter tree needs 20 gallons per watering. The trick is you need to water slowly; you can’t just dump 10 or 20 gallons of water all at once, as it will run off instead of soaking down to the roots.

Newly planted shrubs require about twice as much water as an established shrub needs. You should be looking at 5 gallons each time you water a new shrub and 2.5 gallons for shrubs planted at least a year ago. Make sure they are surrounded by mulch to help them retain the water.

Perennials vary, but know that those planted late in fall will not have had as much time to establish their roots as the ones you put into the ground this past spring. Winter watering is highly advisable for late-planted perennials and ones located in windy or southwest exposures.

WHAT ABOUT FREEZES?

It’s a good idea to make sure that temperatures are going to hit about 40 degrees on the days you are watering, and you’ll want to water by midday to make sure it’s been absorbed before any nighttime freezes.

You’ll also want to try to water when it isn’t windy out. A drying wind could wind up carrying off the moisture you are trying to get to the roots of your plants.

By watering your garden in winter, you are increasing the chances that your garden, trees, shrubs and perennials will be lovely and lush next spring.

For tips on how to take care of your garden all year long, check out our gardening week-by-week page.

Happy gardening (and watering!)
Misti

Houseplant of the Week: Tradescantia

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Leaves of Tradescantia houseplant, aka purple inch plantOur latest Houseplant of the Week, Tradescantia, goes by many names, including wandering jew and the purple inch plant.

Whatever you call it, however, it has a beauty that looks great in a hanging planter or spreading along a flat surface.

Part of the spiderwort family and originally from Mexico, Tradescantia is a plant that grows easily – some might argue too easily. In fact, in certain zones, it is grown outside and can be seen as invasive!

But as a indoor plant, it will be a welcome and colorful addition to any room.

Typically, Tradescantia matures into a plant about 6 to 9 inches in height spreading 12 to 24 inches.

Caring for Your Tradescantia

Probably the trickiest part of cultivating your Tradescantia is getting the moisture levels right. These plants like their water, but like most plants will develop root rot if they are soggy. Your best bet is to make sure that it is planted in potting soil that drains well. Mixing a little sand into your potting soil can help. Water them when the soil starts to get dry; don’t let the plant fully dry out.

You’ll also be looking to find the right balance for light. Inch plants like bright but indirect light. Too little light and the distinctive variegation on its leaves will start to fade. Too much direct sunlight and those leaves will scorch. However, inch plants can tolerate some direct light, which makes them a great choice for growing in a sunny window.

Propagating Your Inch Plant

Remember how we said this plant was easy to grow? Well, that applies to creating new inch plants from cuttings. Simply take a one-inch piece of stem containing at least one leaf and set it in fresh potting soil. Water it regularly and you should have a fully rooted new plant in just a few weeks.

You can check out all of our Houseplants of the Week in our gallery here.

Chilly Outside? Time to Garden Indoors!

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Now that it’s becoming a little too nippy to garden outdoors, it’s time to focus your green thumb on the plants inside your home or office.

Whether you are a newbie to houseplants or have them covering every horizontal surface, indoor plants have many demonstrated physical, psychological and emotional benefits.

The classic study about the health benefits of houseplants is the 1989 NASA report that showed that indoor plants not only provide oxygen through photosynthesis, they also can “scrub” the air of cancer-causing compounds like formaldehyde and benzene. (Why were a bunch of space professional studying houseplants? They were looking for ways to effectively detoxify the air of space station environments.)

Other studies found that the soil microorganisms in potted plants also play a part in cleaning indoor air, but it’s really the plant part – big leafy greens – that were most effective in ridding the air around you of toxins.

Then there are the psychological benefits. Numerous studies have shown that having potted plants around have a calming effect that can boost our mood, our creativity and even how well we interact with others.

Warner’s has many varieties of plants available, from “floor models” to hanging plants to ones that will look perfect on your sunny windowsill. There are super easy ones to grow like the classic pothos to more exotic items like orchids. You can check out a gallery of our favorites here.

But today I wanted to feature an indoor plant that is perfect for this time of year – paperwhite narcissus.

They feature beautiful, delicate white flowers and are super easy to grow.

You can plant their bulbs in water, potting soil, gravel or sand. Regardless of the planting medium, you’ll want to give them plenty of moisture and place them in a well lit location. You’ll get lovely and fragrant flowers in about four to five weeks.

When paperwhites are forced to bloom indoors, they can get a little “leggy” and threaten to topple over. Prevent this by adding some stakes and securing them upright with twine.

Happy gardening,
Misti

Houseplant of the Week: String of Dolphins

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Rare and super unique, String of Dolphins is a fun succulent whose leaves literally look like tiny dolphins jumping out of the water.

These plants look fabulous in a mixed container or in a hanging basket on its own with the distinctive leaves hanging down.

Like most succulents, String of Dolphins are relatively low maintenance and have few growing issues. They need well-draining soil, however, to thrive.

They prefer bright, indirect light or filtered light from a window. They also tend to thrive in slightly crowded conditions, so think about mixing them with other smaller succulents and decorating with a sea theme of seashells or sand dollars.

Houseplant of the Week: Echeveria

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Is it any surprise that a houseplant this beautiful is named after an artist?

In 1787, Atanasio Echeverría y Godoy was part of the Royal Botanical Expedition to New Spain, an exploration of areas throughout what is now California, Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico. He created hundreds of drawings of the plants they discovered and cataloged, including this group of succulents.

There are about 150 species of Echeveria, most of which feature the beautiful rosette design. They are sturdy plants that can be grown in the shade, but can also take some frost. All the species are drought-resistant, but they tend to grow better with regular watering and fertilizing.

Most species lose their lower leaves in winter. Since these droppings can be fertile ground for a fungus that can then attack the plant, you should remove them regularly.

Frosty Times

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Frosty times have arrived in Flagstaff. The forecast says that most evenings will dip to or just below freezing, so it’s time to talk about what to do in your garden (and how to save those last veggies and tomatoes in your fall harvest).

First off – the frosts of fall are not as threatening to your garden as those unexpected freezes we get in the spring. Your perennials and shrubs won’t be devastated – this is part of the natural ebb and flow of the seasons for perennials, so most likely the frosts will just put them “to sleep” for the winter a little sooner.

You do want to ensure that your plants are well watered prior to a frost to protect them.

As far as veggie gardens go, you can protect plants with frost cloth when the temps get down to the 30s, but if you are trying to harvest, now’s the time to get those last tomatoes and green peppers indoors and let them ripen in the cozy warmth of your home.

A few tips on ripening veggies inside.

  • Pick any full-size peppers or tomatoes that are green
  • Pick an area of your home that’s a bit dark (a laundry room, an insulated garage or even your kitchen as long as you remember to keep your veggies covered).
  • Make sure your veggies are a couple of inches apart. Why? Because if any of them ripens too quickly and begins to rot, it’ll spread to the other veggies.
  • Cover with newspaper.
  • Check on them frequently as they will ripen quickly.
  • Enjoy when fully ripened!

Other miscellaneous things to do as the weather gets colder: Deadhead your spent perennials and collect the seeds. Apply mulch, which will help insulate plants in the colder weather. And get into the habit of unhooking your hoses from spigots at night so your pipes don’t freeze. You may need to drain your hoses after use as well.

Hope you are enjoying this beautiful fall and the cooler temps!

Happy gardening,
Misti

Early Bird Specials This Saturday

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It’s our Fall Early Bird Sale. Set the alarm and make sure to visit Warner’s between 9 and 11 am to save on these items:

  • BOGO 1gallon Mums
  • 30-50% off all perennials
  • 30% off all shrubs
  • 30% off select deciduous trees (choose from Locust, Chokecherry, Crabapples and fruit trees)

9 am to 11 am only on Saturday, Oct. 5!

Fall Gardening: So Much to Do!

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This week it officially became Fall – and that means lots to do for gardeners.

I know some of you are ready to pack up your trowels and call it a season, but this is the perfect time to extend the season and enjoy some more quality time outside.

But what exactly does fall gardening look like?

The threat of a freeze is always looming, so I’ll be honest with you – you’ll likely lose your “non-hardy” annuals. In fact, if you’d like to save any of them, I’d suggest cleaning them up and moving them inside.

But you can replace them with some fall favorites like mums, asters, flowering cabbage and kale, all of which will keep your garden looking beautiful for several more weeks. Meanwhile, spring blooms like pansies and violas have made a reappearance and aren’t threatened by a little cold weather – or even snow!

If you haven’t yet, make sure you get those spring-blooming bulbs into the ground before the freeze. Plus there’s still time to plant some cold-season veggies.

Fall is also a great time to get trees and perennials planted. I know the temptation might be to wait until next year, but there are a lot of advantages to getting them into the ground now. You’ll get more growth out of the plant next year if they are planted in the fall. Also, there’s less up-front care that is required when you plant this time of year.

The bottom line is any excuse to be outside gardening during this beautiful season is a good thing!

Hope you are enjoying your Fall and we hope to see you soon at Warner’s Nursery.

Happy Gardening,
Misti