Patio Gardening To Suit Your Needs

Patio Gardening To Suit Your Needs

By: Nolo Ndhlovu

Absolutely anyone can master patio or container gardening. These are words that will make beginner gardeners dance with joy, especially if you know nothing about gardening!

Most plants aren’t finicky about the type of pots you plant them in; you must simply remember to give them space to spread their roots.

Container or patio gardening is a benefit for everyone – those with enough land to grow a beautiful garden with pot plants placed in a shaded area as well as balcony gardening for those who have limited space but would like to create a beautiful quaint plant-filled portion.

Benefits of patio gardening:

Versatile gardening

One of the biggest reasons why patio gardening is popular is that the pot can be moved around. Just imagine placing a pot of rosemary right outside your kitchen – culinary convenience at your doorstep. When you’d like to move it, it’s as simple as picking up the pot and moving it to its new space.

Low maintenance

Plants in containers require less maintenance, as there is a smaller area to tend to attention than a garden bed. Patio gardening is great for beginners because it requires also less care and attention, as it is easy to control the quality of the soil in the pot, which helps to control disease and insect pests.

Be creative

Container planting allows for maximum creativity. There are all sorts of pots you can buy, with different colours, patterns and textures for you to choose from. If you really feel creative, you could take it a step further and paint an old terracotta pot to look like a face and then plant a carex so that it has ‘hair’.

Patio gardening does require a little work

It is true that a patio garden is much easier to care for than a garden, but it requires more watering as the plants dry out faster. Luckily, Starke Ayres new Hydrocache water-retaining gel offers a great solution to get around this problem.

Also remember to fertilise your planted pots for them to get all the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy.

Get started with patio gardening

First, you will need to assess the amount of space you have for the plants you plan to grow. This will help you visualise your garden and make your trip to a Plantland garden Centre much easier.

Also consider choosing plants that pair well together; this will benefit plant growth as time goes by. We say it is best to pair plants with similar needs to make the care process so much easier– pack them together!

For more tips and advice visit us at Plantland.

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How Plants Can Help Us To Relax and Feel Peaceful

How Plants Can Help Us To Relax and Feel Peaceful

We are complicated beings that experience all sorts of complex emotions, from the ones we enjoy, like feeling love or contentment, to the emotions we wish we never experienced, like anxiety and sadness.

From the green we see to the peace we feel

Most of us live in a fast-paced work environment and have also been dealing with a pandemic for 2 years now. Many of us are working from home, some have lost their jobs, and there are so many other stresses that came along with this pandemic.

Many of the activities we used to enjoy to help us relax have been put on pause, like enjoying fun nights out with friends and attending a public event.

Luckily we still have plants. We have learnt that plants help us to relax and are good for our wellbeing, but what we would like to fully understand is what goes on in our brains and bodies when we are around them.

How do plants help us relax?

We experience wonder, a feeling of mysteriousness, curiosity and abundant love. It could even be called oneness.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines awe as, ‘an emotion variously combining dread, veneration and wonder that is inspired by authority or by sacred or sublime.’

Would you not want to be in state of constant sublimity?

What we know for sure is that being in a garden helps our immune system. Unconsciously, without noticing, we become quiet and hear the buzzing of the bees and the singing of birds.

Having a plant or two in your bedroom purifies the air your breathe, making it easy for your body to rejuvenate and sleep better. Some say that paying attention to the symmetry, fractals and patterns of leaves or flowers is also what helps to reduce stress and direct our attention outside of ourselves.

To summarise, you need plants to help you relax! 

  1. Greenery is good for the brain, body, and soul

When you do not have the opportunity to go outside often, bring plants to your workspace and home to help decrease your blood pressure.

  1. Helps remove toxins from the body

Plants are natural air purifies and remove toxins from the air.

  1. Plants are therapeutic

Looking after plants is a natural form of therapy.

  1. Helps reduce background noise

Big leafy plants help with creating a tranquil mood.

  1. Plants help sharpen our attention

If we pay attention to plants, it will help with concentration.

  1. Plants help us recover from illnesses

Plants can help speed up your recovery.

  1. Plants can help with productivity

Studies have shown that people in workspaces with plants take fewer sick days off work.

  1. Plants could help with your outlook on life

Just pay attention to plants, their textures and colours, and experience a feeling of being both a big and a small part of the ecosystem.

  1. Plants provide us with a sense of companionship

You can talk to them, tell them private things and give them names, all of which help a lot.

Get the ‘in’ on plant relaxers

Having plants can be a source of pleasure! Sharing your space with living breathing beings can make your environment feel happier and healthier.

While this was just a small collection of relaxing benefits, there is so much to explore on the importance of plants. To get more info visit Thanks Plants!

plants relax
How to Turn Your House Into a Home with Indoor Plant Decor

How to Turn Your House Into a Home with Indoor Plant Decor

If you’ve recently purchased a house or are experiencing a need to change your Feng Shui into a modern jungle, your goal should be to turn your concrete environment into a comforting home you can blissfully flourish in. Indoor plants can do just that!

A world filled with indoor plants

Adding a bit of greenery will make a world of difference to your living space. For instance, if you add an Aloe vera plant to your bedroom, you will not only be decorating your room but will also likely sleep much better, due to their air-purifying abilities. With a few cute décor elements and a lot of plants, your house will soon become a warm, soft and inviting space to live in.

Where do you begin if you feel like you have the opposite of ‘green fingers’?

Invite Some Green into your room

The colour green is alive, vibrant, and never goes out of season, especially this year! It’s even better when plants hang from your walls or chill in a nicely lit spot in the living room, or if you have some herbs growing in cute jars on your kitchen windowsill. Lush green plants bring a sense of fresh air into any space!

When you add plants to your home, make it a personal experience! Decide what do you like first, and take it from there. If you visit a nursery such as Plantland in Pretoria, you can have a lengthy and informative conversation about your plant needs with the knowledgeable staff.  

Must have indoor plant collection

Chlorophytum comosum, known as the spider plant, just so happens to be indigenous to South Africa, and makes a great addition to any room. They are easy to care for, so even habitual plant killers will have to try really hard to knock this one off. Loads of indirect sunlight and a good watering a few times a week are all it needs. This plant is especially great if you have kids or pets because it is non-toxic.

Sansevieria, also known as snake plant or in Afrikaans as ‘skoonma se tong’, is an easy-to-take-care-of plant that can take different levels of light, so it can be placed anywhere in the house as long as there is some sun seeping into that room. This plant is amazing mostly because it releases oxygen while removing toxins from the air. Let’s not forget to mention that it is a cool-looking plant.

The peace lily (Spathiphyllum) creates a relaxing mood even when you just think of it. Its beautiful leathery leaves, its stunning white flowers and its ability to help reduce dust in a room by 20% are all big points in its favour. And when you water a peace lily, magic happens thanks to something called its high transpiration rate, which helps bring back moisture into the room.

Greening your house one room at a time – Thanks plants!

Adding nature to your space is immediately grounding and calming, and we hope our tips help you to start your journey towards living in a semi-jungle that you can call home! When you need a little help with which plant fits in what room, read Indoor plants: choosing the best one for every room.

indoor plants
Container Garden Design Tips

Container Garden Design Tips

Container garden design is a matter of personal style and preference. Some like their garden neat, others like them wild. You may prefer foliage, while your neighbour favours flowers. That’s part of the excitement – injecting your own style, making what you want, and arranging it whichever way you want.

While there are no hard and fast design rules, and creativity remains the foundation of your own container garden design, there are some general principles that can make your containers (and the garden as a whole) look better.

Sizing Containers

Sizing your containers is not only important in terms of care, but also in design. Plants in the wrong size pot – whether too big or too small – can look out of place. Balance sizing so your plants look healthy in their home, not weak and diminished. It is also possible to go too big. You don’t want your pot to be top-heavy or overflow from the sides. Keep the plant size around double the height and width of the pot at the most.

Consider Colour

Colour can have a massive impact on the design of your containers. Widespread colour design principles used indoors apply here too. For a dramatic look, place contrasting colours (in pots and plants) next to each other. For a calmer, harmonious look, choose plants and pots with similar shades of the same colour. Don’t forget foliage when considering colour – flowers may not be around the entire year, but foliage often is and can add a pop of colour in off-seasons.

These principles don’t only apply to colour, they can also apply to the texture, size, and design of your pots. Contrasting textures in leaves and flowers add variety and interest. The same goes for the sizes of the leaves and flowers, or their density. For harmony and uniformity, choose plants with similar textures and sizes. You can also contrast the pot itself with the plants inside it. Use simple pots with flamboyant plants, artsy pots for simple plants, or keep the pot colours and textures uniform to highlight the plants themselves.

Arrangement

Before planting, consider arrangement within the pot and the wider garden. The first, and most important, factor to keep in mind is plant care. When placing plants in the same pot, they will be sharing sunlight, soil, and water, so it’s vital to ensure all these requirements are correctly matched. Never place two incompatible plants in the same pot – no matter how good they look together.

Matching plant’s needs within the same pot doesn’t have to be a headache though. It actually gives you an advantage in plant care. As the needs of each plant in the pot are the same or similar, they all require the same type of soil, the same sunlight levels, and the same watering levels. By creating your own soil mixes that suit the plants perfectly, placing the pot in the ideal sunny spot, and watering as needed, you’ll cut down your care time and make it all the more likely that your plants will thrive.

After care, comes design and placement of the plants within the pot. The tallest plant in your pot should ideally go in the centre or at the ‘back’ if the pot is placed in a corner to form a focal point. Surround the centre plant with smaller, complimentary plants called fillers. The edges of a pot are ideal for trailing plants, as if they are spilling out of the pot. Trailing plants also make a good cover for any unsightly marks on containers. It comes down to three fundamentals: thriller, filler, and spiller.

When arranging your pots, apply the ‘Rule of Three’ by grouping pots of different heights together. Add one or two tall plants (trees are ideal) to ensure the garden does not appear one dimensional. Group plants of different types – flowers and foliage, or shrubs and succulents – to add variety.

Houseplant Care: Best Practices for Watering Your Plants

Houseplant Care: Best Practices for Watering Your Plants

When it comes to the causes of houseplant problems (and demises), water is usually the number one culprit. For beginner gardeners, standard advice such as “water once a week but do not overwater” may be difficult to understand, leading to incorrect practices and unhappy plants. Understanding when to water and how to water is vital to plant care success – here’s how you can ensure you get it right.

When to Water

It may be convenient for humans to live on a schedule, but plants don’t. Their needs are not determined by the days of the week. How often you water your plant will depend on several factors: soil conditions, the amount of light the plant is getting, or the seasons for example. And ‘right time’ almost never coincides with a perfect schedule.

The first factor, soil conditions, relates to the amount of moisture the plant needs in the soil. All plants need water at some point, but they all prefer different amounts.

For example, succulents and cacti, holding most of the water they need in their leaves, prefer the soil to be completely dried out before they are watered again. The plant can only hold so much water in the leaves – any remaining water will stay in the soil and may cause the roots to rot.

Most indoor plants (usually tropical plants) need a good amount of water as their leaves do not store much. But they don’t like environments that are too moist either, so the top layer of soil should be dried out completely before watering. Other plants, like ferns with extremely thin leaves, like moist soil and a moist environment (although this does not mean soggy).

The soil will change conditions at different times depending on your environment, how much light the plant is getting, and the seasons (impacted by both changes in weather and increased growth rate in Spring).

Rather than watering your plants on a weekly basis (or whatever period is recommended) test the soil with your finger to determine if your plant needs water, based on the characteristics we interpreted before. If you like routine, you can always set a time once or twice a week to check all your plants and water as needed, instead of having to check them every day, or watering them anyway and facing the dreaded ‘overwatering’ scenario.

How to Water

There are three main methods of watering your indoor plants.

The first is to water gently with a watering can where the plant is placed. This is a handy method for a quick top-up but comes with some caveats. You’ll need to know exactly how much water the pot holds, so you water the soil enough to reach the bottom, but not so much that water runs out the drainage holes at the bottom (and hopefully onto the tray beneath it, not your shelf). If you do overwater, you will have to empty each tray to prevent the water from stagnating. Despite the caveats, this method is ideal for indoor gardeners with little time and a lot of plants.

The second method is watering over the sink, completely drenching the soil, and allowing the excess to run through. This may be tedious if you have a lot of plants, but it is a more reliable method.

If you forgot a watering cycle or two, soaking the soil over the sink may not be sufficient. Extremely dry soil will pull away from the sides of the pot and repel water (called hydrophobic soil). When the soil is extremely dry, the water will run off the top, down the sides of the pot, and out the drainage holes, without penetrating the soil. In these cases, you will need to use the third watering method – submerging.

Fill a sink or large container with a shallow layer of water and place the plants inside, allowing them to draw the water up from the bottom of the container. This way the plants can take up as much water as they need with even distribution. This process takes a couple of hours, but most plants should not be left in water for too long and can be removed as soon as the soil is soaked through.

How To Reuse Autumn Leaves In Your Garden

How To Reuse Autumn Leaves In Your Garden

With autumn well underway, the yearly task of raking is likely to become a priority in many gardens. Just one medium-sized deciduous tree can produce a pile of leaves large enough to ‘swim’ in, and the size of that pile only expands with the number of trees in your garden. Once you’ve completed the time-consuming task of raking, don’t let all your effort go to waste – put those leaves to good use. Fallen leaves can be reused throughout your garden in a number of ways, each one improving the health of the living plants in your garden.

Compost

Every gardener needs a compost pile. Not only because it’s a great way to manage your garden waste and give back to your garden, but also because it provides an ideal home for your dried leaves.

Good compost requires a mix of green materials (nitrogen-rich) and brown materials (carbon-rich). That’s great news for gardeners with a giant pile of dried leaves in their backyard, as dried leaves of one of the best carbon-rich materials to add to your compost heap.

If you need compost in a hurry, shred the leaves as much as possible before throwing them on the pile. Whole leaves take far longer to break down than shredded ones as you’ve done half the work for them.  

Mulch

Mulching is incredibly important for the growth and health of your plants. It’s also super simple to do and comes with a wide range of benefits – especially if you have a pile of leaves in your garden. Shredded leaves protect the soil as the plants grow and break down over time to improve soil health.

Although shredding leaves is an extra step, it is a necessary one. Rather than retaining moisture and improving soil quality, unshredded leaves prevent water and air from reaching the soil, depriving the roots of their basic needs. If the layer is too thick, it can also trap too much moisture in the soil, causing root rot.

There are leaf shredders designed for this exact task, or you can go wild with your mower and ride over your leaf pile a couple of times to do the job.

Soil Amendments

Depending on the layout of your garden, you may not have to rake up your leaves at all. If the leaves fall straight onto bare soil, you can simply work them back into the soil to decompose right where they land. This added organic material improves aeration and nutrients as it breaks down over time.

The same practice can be applied to those pesky leaves that land on your lawn. Instead of raking them, leave them where they are and simply mow your lawn. The leaves will break up into fine pieces amongst the grass (as long as there aren’t too many around), covering any gaps and helping retain moisture in the soil. The leaves will also break down into the soil over time, improving the overall quality of your lawn.

Leaf Mould

The name may not sound particularly appealing, but this organic material can do wonders for your garden. It is a process for patient gardeners, as making leaf mold can take well over a year, but the results are worth the wait.

Leaf mold is a dark substance with a wide range of benefits: improving soil quality by breaking up compacted soils, improving water retention, and aiding microbial activity. It can also be used as a growing medium when sowing seeds.

To make this magical substance, simply drop your leaves in a bag or basket with plenty of holes for aeration or leave them in a separate pile in a secluded corner of your garden. In two years, you will have a dark, rich pile of leaf mold to use in whichever way your garden desires.

5 Reasons Why You Need to Start a Container Garden

5 Reasons Why You Need to Start a Container Garden

If traditional flower beds and large gardens don’t match the amount of time and space you have, don’t rule out gardening all together. Container gardens blend the traditional and the modern, solving a number of typical garden problems:

If garden space is at a premium

When your outdoor garden consists of a 2x2m patch of grass that is almost never sunny, or when you have no outdoor garden at all, planting in pots is the best way to add any lacking nature around you. Container plants and propagators can be placed anywhere -indoors or outdoors, windowsills, patios and balconies, even on your rooftop – as long as there is adequate sunlight.

If you don’t have the right garden for your favourite plants

Container gardens allow for more versatility; not only because you can match specific soil requirements to each plant, but also because you can easily move them around. If you want to grow a plant that requires partial sunlight but only have a baking hot balcony, you can move the containers indoors and outdoors whenever you need to, allowing you to plant whatever you want. This is also great for renters who won’t have to leave their plant children behind when moving!

If pesky pests are a problem

The isolation of container plants and less surface area means some problems typical larger gardens face are either infrequent or much easier to control. Pests and diseases are less likely to find your plants or spread to others, making eradication effortless. Similarly, problems with weeds or space invaders are almost non-existent.

If you want to help the environment and save water

While the droughts may be subsiding in South Africa, you can still help the environment and reduce the threat of drought in the future by opting for a water-wise container garden. Water requirements can be optimised for each plant rather than watering an entire piece of ground. By collecting water that would go unused (like running cold water when waiting for hot water) to water your pot plants, you can drastically limit your water usage. Alternatively, you can invest in self-watering planters that will do the job for you!

If you are a gardening newbie

Container gardens allow you to start small, experiment, and scale up whenever you want to. For those without experience with plants, pot plants are easier to monitor and modify watering or sunlight accordingly. Container gardens are a great way to introduce children to gardening or help physically challenged gardeners because they are more manageable and accessible.

Show Your Flowers Some Love This Valentine’s Day

Show Your Flowers Some Love This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a florist’s favourite holiday but most of the time these one-day-gifts are forgotten about a week later. Sad wilting flowers definitely do not say eternal love – keep them alive with these tips for fresh Valentine’s Day Flowers.

Cut Flowers:


The V-Day staples are typically red roses, with lilies and tulips also a common option that say love and passion. There is also the occasional bouquet of left overs that say I forgot and this is all they had left. No matter the intention, every flower is a gift and it’s not hard to treat them like one:

  • Cut the stems at an angle to make sure they can absorb water. Repeat every 2 or 3 days.
  • Remove leaves below the water line to prevent bacteria growth and place the bouquet in room temperature water. Replace the water every few days to prevent cloudiness.
  • Myths like bleach, pain tablets, coins and hairspray are sworn by remedies but in reality, don’t do much for your flowers. Adding ¼ cup of a clear sugary soda, adding a splash of vodka or putting your flowers in the fridge overnight are a few ways to make your flowers look brand new, even 10 days later.

Orchids:


For the extravagant and possibly suggestive suitor, orchids are the flower of luxury and seduction. Although they may have a reputation for being difficult to take care of, a little attention to their environment can keep them going, making great indoor plants:

  • Place in a mild, humid environment with occasional sunlight.
  • Water well, but not often as the roots need time to dry out. In summer, water once a week and winter, once or twice a month.
  • Transfer to a new container once it is finished blooming as store containers are typically not suitable for long term growth. A chunky, well-draining medium with things like bark, rocks, and even styrofoam covered with moss works best. Orchid growing mediums are available online or at most garden centres.
Valentine's Day Orchids

Roses:

Roses don’t have to be given in the typical ‘dozen’; a flowering rose bush is also a great long-lasting alternative. However, longevity requires a bit more attention than a perishable bouquet:

  • Replant soon, either in a new container or in the garden as store containers usually do not leave enough space for the bush to grow. Water on the first day and replant once the soil has dried out.
  • Replant with a mixture of compost, bone meal and fertilizer and plenty of space between other plants. Must receive a minimum of 5 hours sun.
  • Water the roses daily until there is new growth and water often afterwards.
Valentine's Day Roses

Baskets of Success – How to Plant Hanging Baskets

Baskets of Success – How to Plant Hanging Baskets

Thinking of hanging baskets, it only conjures up images of lush planted colour, suspended from filigree brackets, faded red terracotta tiles as mountains form the backdrop. Yes, Europe! We have all seen these pictures and some of us have been privileged to visit these countries. Rows upon rows of hanging baskets greet us, pelargoniums and petunias trailing over the verges of the pots.

With our living spaces becoming smaller and our gardens decreasing in size, we constantly look for clever ways to incorporate plants into our lives.  Hanging baskets have the ability to make a dead space come to life, adding an extra dimension to our gardens and even indoors.

Some of us have failed miserably trying to replicate these beautiful creations and have thought that we are dreadful gardeners. Gardening is a very practical thing, that’s why I love it. We just have to be clever in what we plant and have realistic expectations. It’s all in the planning.

The biggest mistake we make is wanting a hanging basket, planting it up and then hanging it in the wrong spot because we did not think it through. Plants don’t change, some love shade, other full sun. The rules still apply. You cannot expect a sun loving plant to grow in the shade and vice versa.

Rule number one, find the area you want to hang your basket. Look around and take note of the suns position.  Is it in full sun or dappled shade? Is there a wall that will catch the hot afternoon rays? These factors will all dictate the type of plants you use in your basket.

Rule number two, soil, soil, soil! It is the living stomach of the plant. Good soil is like a food warehouse, where the roots get their nutrients and grow. If you have poor soil, you will have poor plants.

With a magnitude of styles available, you can find the perfect hanging basket for your décor style.

Get going:

  1. Locate the area where your basket will be hanging.
  1. Choose your basket, make sure that it is sturdy and the chains or rope are able to handle the weight of the plants.
  2. Most hanging baskets, if not woven, have drainage holes. If not, drill some holes, you don’t want your flowers to have wet feet.

Potting Mix:

  1. Mix a third deconstructed palm peat with your potting soil. Add a hand full of organic fertiliser and a sprinkling of bone meal.
  1. If you are planting up seedlings that need more moisture, add 5g EXLGel powder to your mixture, this will retain water for longer.
  1. Place your hanging basket on a plastic pot, nestling it on the opening. This way you can plant up your hanging basket with ease as it will not fall to the side.
  1. Fill the bottom of your basket with the potting medium you have mixed.
  1. Place the bigger plants in the centre of the basket and if you have trailing or smaller plants, place them on the sides. If the roots are a bit pot bound, gently tease them loose before placing them in the hanging basket.
  1. Fill the rest of the basket with your soil mixture and gently firm down.
  1. Give a good watering and add a liquid fertiliser  once a month to your watering. Water your hanging basket regularly when dry.
  1. The last and most important. When hanging your basket, don’t hang it so high that you cannot enjoy what you have planted. Suspend between 1.2m to 1.6m, at your eye level. This also allows for easy watering and maintenance.
  1. If you have planted annuals, deadhead regularly to encourage blooms. Also prune if one plant is outgrowing another, as to keep balance in your hanging basket.

Colourful combinations:

For the herb lover:

Basil in the centre

Nasturtiums and thyme on the edges

For the salad lover:

Lettuce in the centre

Parsley and violas on the edges

For the succulent lover:

It is important to substitute your palm peat with silica sand. Succulents prefer drier soil. Do not add the EXLGel. Do feed with liquid fertiliser once a month.

Echeveria Giant Blue Curls in the centre

An array of sedums trailing over the edges

For the Mediterranean flower lover:

Pelargonium in the centre

Alyssum and petunias trailing over the sides

These all come in an array of colours.

hanging baskets

For the patio or indoors:

Play with combinations of ferns like Maidenhair ferns and Bird’s-nests (Asplenium nidus) as your centre

Many Philodendron types have a trailing manner and this combination is perfect for Bathrooms and patios.

And don’t forget the many Bromeliad hybrids available.

hanging baskets