Archive for October, 2014

PLANTS, An Overall Remedy to Clean Air

October 28, 2014

DSCF0582Americans spend an estimated ninety percent of their time indoors according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Indoor air, especially in offices and schools, can contain 10x more pollution than outdoor air! This is because of toxic emissions from synthetic building materials, airborne mold, viruses, and pollutants, along with energy efficient construction that makes spaces as airtight as possible and consequently reduces the circulation of air.

We’re approaching a cold winter, that most of us will spend indoors, glued to our desk at work, or in front of the television at home. During this time more than ever, you might find yourself unconsciously craving some greenery – and not just because it looks nice. Plants have been shown to improve indoor air quality by naturally cleaning your air of toxins & chemicals, which can directly contribute to the improvement of your health and overall well being. Give us a call and see a difference today!


Can Plants Hear?

October 21, 2014

Plants can sense and react to temperature changes, harsh winds, and even human touch. But can they hear?

plants hearThey have no specialized structure to perceive sound like we do, but a new study has found that plants can discern the sound of predators through tiny vibrations of their leaves and beef up their defenses in response. It is similar to how our own immune systems work. An initial experience with insects or bacteria can help plants defend themselves better in future attacks by the same predator.

Now, biologists from the University of Missouri have found that this readying process, called “priming,” can be triggered by sound alone. For one group of plants, they carefully mimicked what a plant would “hear” in a real attack by vibrating a single leaf with the sound of a caterpillar chewing. The other group was left in silence. When later faced with a real caterpillar, the plants that heard chewing noises produced a greater amount of insecticide-like chemicals than the silence group. They also seemed able to pick out those vibrations signaling danger; playing wind noises or insect mating calls did not trigger the same chemical boost.

Although the mechanism of how plants can discern sounds is not known, a deeper investigation could lead to advances in agriculture and natural crop resistance as opposed to spraying costly and harmful pesticides. Despite not having brains or nervous systems in the traditional sense, plants are surprisingly sophisticated. They can communicate with each other and signal impending danger to their neighbors by releasing chemicals into the air. Plants constantly react to their environment, not only light and temperature changes, but also physical stimuli.

Even though some swear that a soothing voice or classical music works wonders for their greenery, the scientific evidence is spotty. Experts believe that music in particular is too complex and varied to be able to use in a controlled study.

So, talk to them, love them and call us to treat them right!

Using Plants as Decorations

October 14, 2014

Want an easy way to decorate your home for the holidays? Set out a few Christmas plants and you’ll spread cheer to all who visit this season.

Big, crimson trumpets of amaryllis herald the season on your mantel or buffet table.  Red still rules for the holidays, however new cultivars offer a spectacular variety of shapes, colors and patterns to choose from each year.

red-spider-lily (3)Red Spider Lilies
Red Spider Lily (Lycoris radiata), is another dependable bloomer in the amaryllis family. Its striking clusters of blooms add gorgeous color to your home in an unexpected twist on the traditional.

paperwhite-flowers (3)Paperwhites
Fragrant paperwhite blooms nestled in a pot make a glorious display. Just about the easiest bulbs to force indoors, it’s no wonder why paperwhites are so popular. *Paperwhites are often sold as kits for the holiday season. They’re virtually foolproof — just add water.

christmas-cactus-care (3)Christmas Cactus
Beautiful blooms in all their splendor adorn this tropical cactus.  Christmas cactus has become wildly popular as a Christmas plant in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. If you haven’t grown one before, give it a try. You’ll soon wonder why you waited so long. Given enough light, you can expect blooms every year in time for the holidays. Treat it right and you’ll enjoy it for many years.

Picking the Cream of the Crop

October 9, 2014

0514141148 (3)We love Home Depot as much as the next guy, however we love it for its plumbing supplies but not so much its interior plant selection. If you must go to a large named garden shop (we recommend visiting the little mom and pop nurseries first!) here are a few tips and tricks for picking the cream of the crop (pun intended).

An ailing plant can wreak havoc on the rest of your indoor beauties, so make certain that new members of your houseplant family are in tip-top condition. Once a plant is ill, it’s challenging to bring it back to health, and it’s likely to infect other plants.

You have a better chance of buying healthy plants if you go to a reputable plant dealer that treats houseplants well. Such a store will have houseplants located indoors and away from direct sunlight in an area that is free of drafts. If you are unsure how well a nursery or home and garden center cares for its houseplants, ask management what day of the week they get their shipments, and arrive on that day to shop for plants right after they come off the truck.  Finding and buying a healthy houseplant is as much about recognizing signs of health as it is about spotting signs of sickness.

Signs of houseplant health:

  • Firm, new growth that seems normal in size and shape. New growth is a good indicator of current plant health.
  • Plant is well-anchored in the soil.
  • There are flower buds and new flowers.
  • Leaves are uniform in color and have a healthy sheen.
  • Roots are white or tan and firm.
  • Plant is well-balanced and growing straight or hanging well.
  • Your instincts tell you that the plant is healthy.

Signs of sickness:

  • Droopy, wilted leaves and sluggish or distorted growth are signs of fungal infection and root rot. This is especially likely if the soil remains wet, which indicates that the roots are infected and unable to absorb water.
  • Plant is wobbly and has a squishy base, indicating fungal or bacterial disease.
  • Brown or black squishy roots, which is another sign of root rot.
  • Plant is pot-bound with a mass of circling roots filling up the container and very little soil. Such a plant has been starved of nutrients and water.
  • Plant is leggy and appears to be leaning to one side. This indicates the plant received insufficient light.
  • Lack of flower buds and new flowers.
  • Leaves are distorted, shriveled, yellowing or fall off easily, which can indicate a number of cultural problems, including over- or under-watering, pests or inadequate lighting.
  • Sticky residue on foliage, branches or the pot, indicating the presence of sap-sucking pests, such as aphids, scale and mealybugs.
  • Visible pests. Look for troublemakers on the top and bottom of leaves, on the stems and where the leaf meets the stem.

Even if a plant appears healthy, it is always a good idea to quarantine it for 2 to 3 weeks before introducing it into your foliage family. This is enough time for hidden problems, such as pests and fungal infections, to appear.

If you have any questions, give the pros a call… we are here to listen, consult and even do the heavy lifting for you (not actual lifting, but the design, the choosing of healthy plants, and the setup along with maintenance).

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