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Behind the Rise in Popularity of Succulents

Posted by Jenny Holt on Mon, Oct 23, 2017

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If you’ve recently visited a coffee shop, restaurant, doctor’s office, a friend’s home, or anywhere else with counters and tables, you may have noticed the rise in popularity of succulents. For those unfamiliar with these types of plants, a succulent refers to any plant that stores water in its leaves or stems (sometimes both). They are available in all shapes, colors, and sizes, making them perfect for almost any space. Well-known succulents include aloe plants, cacti, and zebra plants.

Take a look at three of the top reasons succulents have risen in popularity within recent years.

They can match almost any decor

Whether your style is more modern or traditional, succulent plants work well with almost any decor. If you want a design that will match a particular room, planting succulents in decorative containers is a great way to achieve the look you desire. Succulents are available in small enough sizes to fit a tiny glass container, and they can also be arranged to fit large pots or containers. Whatever your space constraints or needs are, succulents can be customized to work with any interior or exterior area. Additionally, succulents provide a wide availability of colors. Although there are many green options, succulents can also be found in shades of pink, red, orange, purple, and blue-green.  

They require minimal maintenance

If you don’t have a green thumb, or can’t commit to consistent care of a plant, succulents are a great choice. Because they can store water in their leaves and/or stems, one weekly watering is all that is needed to keep these plants healthy. They are built to handle drought conditions, so occasionally forgetting to water them will usually not cause any harm. Also, succulents can handle almost every environment (except for the extreme cold). This means that whether you have access to full, minimal, or no sun, or if you choose to plant indoors or outdoors, your succulents will stay alive.

They are gorgeous plants

Aside from the concrete, logical reasons for the rise in popularity of succulents is a more subjective reason: they are simply gorgeous to look at. The diversity of colors and shapes of succulents are powerful enough to brighten one’s mood and environment in an instant. Whether decorating a dorm room or an upscale cafe, you can easily bring a stunning element of nature into any space. Perhaps it is the desire to experience beautiful, natural elements on a daily basis that has contributed to the continued rise in popularity of these versatile plants.

Choosing succulents for your space

When choosing the best succulents for your space, decide what colors and styles will work best with your existing decor. Do you want a bright, vibrant feel, or a more natural, relaxed appearance? Also, be sure to assess how much space you will need to cover with your succulent plants, and what style of container you would like to use. No matter what you choose, you are sure to enjoy the wide array of benefits provided by succulents.

Tags: Plant Care, Plants, DIY, Succulents

Why You Need a Yucca Plant in Your Living Room

Posted by Jenny Holt on Fri, Sep 15, 2017

The yucca plant originated in the hot dry areas of the Americas and the Caribbean. It is an incredibly resistant plant which can adapt to pretty much any climate; it is becoming more and more popular as a garden or indoor addition, thanks to the fact that it is easy to care for, beautiful and has various uses, such as being a powerful air cleaner. 

There are around 40 species of yucca and around 24 subspecies, so there are a variety of shapes, sizes and colors to choose from to display your plant and floral personality and style. 

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photo via ftd.com

Tips for Growing Your Yucca Indoors

A yucca plant inside can add a wonderful focal point to your living room or be part of an interesting indoor display. They are easily adaptable so they are perfect for displaying indoors as well as outdoors, although indoor yucca plants are usually smaller in size. As more than 40 species of yucca exist, coloration can vary greatly: they can range from the classic green to bluish with variegations of white, cream and yellow and delicate beautiful flowers.   

Yucca plant care is simple and straightforward; yuccas grow on large woody stems or canes do not require much attention. The ideal placement is in a sunny to partly shaded location; indirect light greatly helps leaf color, as full exposure to sunlight might cause browning tips or white spots on the leaves. 

Yucca plants, both indoors and outdoors, require little water and are actually drought tolerant to some extent. A light fertilization can help the plant grow when it is being grown in container, but it is not necessary for plants which are already established. Soil quality doesn't really matter but it should be heavy enough to maintain the plant upright and well-draining. Aim for a three to one mixture of sand and peat to grow yucca effectively in containers. 

The Many Uses of Yucca Plants

Yucca plants are not only a stylish indoor addition but also have many surprising uses. 

The yucca is one of the top-rated air cleaning plants which can remove toxins from the air, according to an important NASA study.

The yucca is also edible, especially certain species such as the banana yucca and the soapweed yucca, which produce succulent flowers and fruit. The roots are also edible; although they do not taste as good as the fruit and flowers, they are natural anti-inflammatories. 

Yuccas can help you with your washing and beauty routine as well. In fact, it is a key ingredient in natural shampoo and the Native Americans used the roots and trunk of the soaptree yucca (yucca elata) to make soap to wash hair and clothes. It can be quite easy, not to mention satisfying to make your own yucca soap at home! Yucca is also a wonderful skin salve, as it nurtures cuts and scrapes.

According to the Native Americans, a yucca symbolizes transmutation, protection and purification. With its many uses, beautiful flowers and stylish look, a yucca can be the perfect low maintenance addition to your living room. 

 

Tags: Plant Care, Plants, Health, Lifestyle

Plant, Animal, People

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Aug 16, 2017


There’s an old saying for those who are looking to create more balance in their life that caring for something should start in this order:


Plant-----------→ Animal ----------→ Human


The reason behind this strategy is to build the concept of responsibility by taking baby steps towards reaching your goal.  You may have heard of this approach in connection to AA, becoming a new parent or Sexaholics Anonymous but in general, this is very good advice for anyone who’s looking to enter a solid relationship with another individual.  

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photo via aboutflowers.com

If you believe that you may be on the “Plant” end of the diagram, there are excellent varieties you should be aware of to get you set up in this type of training but before I give you a list to go on, you might want to keep in mind these useful tips.


  1. Water- Just like people, plants have to be well hydrated in order to survive and flourish, making this the number 1 rule when you purchase your plant.  Be careful to read the instructions given to you by your florist or nursery since every species is different with their needs (Again… just like people).  If you feel you might fall in the forgetful realm when it comes to this task, you may want to start with a cactus, which needs very little and is drought tolerable.

  1. Sunlight-  Plants are living entities who need plenty of sunlight in order to create their own photosynthesis (food generation) so you’ll need to find a brightly lit area of your home to set your new friend up in front of.   Again, there can be a variation between different species but I can promise, there needs to be some kind of sun at least part of the day available to the plant if you’re hoping to ever continue to phase 2- an animal.  

  1. Love-  It might sound corny but plants need love just like humans do and the way to accomplish this is to follow both previous rules as well as add a little extra into the mix.  While the age-old theory claims that talking to plants will help them grow into epic proportions, some people prefer to sing to them instead.  While you may be reading this and thinking it’s silly, plants have been proven to positively react to human verbal contact and have been recorded to double in size compared to those spent in solitary.  If you need another reason to loosen up around your ficus, just remember that it’s great practice for starting a conversation once you get to step 3- a real human being.

  1. Suggested Plants- Fiddle Leaf Ficus Trees, spathiphyllum, ferns and cacti


YOU CAN DO IT!

Tags: Care Tips, Plant Care, Plants, Health

A Poinsettia Isn’t Just Your Everyday Christmas Flower

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 16, 2016

The poinsettia is the most popular species of flower grown for the month of December and is cultivated for the sole purpose of seasonal arrangements and décor.  The Christmas bloom is both traditionally recognized as one of the top five holiday symbols (trees, wreaths, lights and holly are above) as well as the most frequently purchased item for gifts.  Every year, florists seek out premier plants from premier growers expecting that it will once again be an item of high demand. If you aren’t familiarly with the poinsettia, take a good look and you, too might become smitten with its seasonal attractiveness.   Formed with large star-like petals and decadent hues of red, white, pink and burgundy, the pleasant visual presentation keeps this product continuously in high demand.  Easily transportable and relatively affordable compared to other Yuletide tokens, its no wonder why guests often pick up a poinsettia as a quick gift for friends and family!

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Here’s the irony…  Compared to other plant varieties generally grown in greenhouses, the poinsettia is incredibly difficult to produce and cultivate on a grand stage of performance.  Issues concerning temperature control, lighting and watering have given this bloom the reputation of being a fussy plant that many florists sometimes wish to phase out of their holiday product line.  Personally I think that it’s pretty unfair.  I mean, what do you expect from a plant that originated in the arid desert of Mexico?  Poinsettias come from a natural region consisting of soaring heat waves and well-drained soil conditions.  Bean Town’s ever changing climate and weather conditions make growing this species almost impossible to duplicate in the northeast, although there are a few gifted growers who are successful…  If you’re curious how your Christmas Poinsettia was cared for before purchase, read these tips on how to productively cultivate these beautiful holiday plants.

 

  1.  Temperature Control

This flower not only requires a warm Celsius reading, it’s also incredibly susceptible to frost bite even when exposed to the smallest amount of chill.  As I said before, this species is a tropical bloomer so you must do the best you can to replicate these conditions even after you’ve brought it home.  Keep them away from doors and windows and make sure they stay away from drafty areas in the house.

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photo credit via aboutflowers.com

  1.  Let There Be LIGHT

As if growing these babies couldn’t get any more difficult, they also need a minimum of six to eight hours contact with bright light.  As you can imagine, the northeast gets pretty dark these days and finding this amount of adequate sunlight can become tricky.  Many agriculturalists are forced to provide faux overhead lamps to deceive the plants into thinking that it’s really natural light.  When this happens, there’s a mix bag of results.  Typically you’ll see the plant’s leaves droop or experience stem decay well before the expected end of its lifeline.  

 

  1.  Water, Water, WATER

Another proven difficulty is watering.  Poinsettias adore healthy moisture and misting but they detest sitting on top of it.  In order to prevent mold and decay of roots, it’s crucial to have a watering tray underneath that can be emptied periodically.  Packing the bottom of pots with pebbles can also do the trick, which will allow the excess water to drain easily from the container.  

Tags: Poinsettia, Plant Care, Christmas, Winter Rose

Don't Waste Your Money on a Poinsettia from Home Depot

Posted by Rick Canale on Sat, Nov 26, 2016

Local Boston Greenhouse
Did you know that Exotic Flowers of Boston grows hundreds of our own poinsettias at the Lombardi Florist greenhouses in Roslindale. For years, we have witnessed the glut of Canadian grown poinsettias in Massachusetts. These Canadian poinsettias flood the marketplace in November with low price tags and even lower quality. Caveat emptor.
If you cannot make it to an experienced grower or nursery like Exotic Flowers or Lombardi Florist, here are some purchasing tips so that your poinsettias lives beyond Christmas.
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Flowers: Poinsettias are leafy plants with dark green leaves. Many people believe these leaves are the flowers. They are incorrect. The real flowers are the tiny mostly yellow berrylike cyathia in the center of the leaf bract. The cyathia should be fully developed but unopened and displaying no pollen.
Colored Bracts: look for poinsettias with thoroughly colored bracts. You want a poinsettia that does not appear bruised or blemished. Droopy is bad. Avoid plants with 'burned' or dried out edges.
Leaves: Look for a poinsettia with plentiful dark green foliage all the way down to the stems. Avoid poinsettias with yellow or brown edged leaves.
Soil: Check for waterlogged soil. This could be a sign of root rot.
Pests and Diseases: If you see any type of pests or mold, avoid that plant.
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The United States recognizes Poinsettia Day every December 12th, which is also the day Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett died. Dr. Poinsett is was an American diplomat who introduced the poinsettia to the United States from its native Mexico. There is now even a College Football Bowl Game in San Diego every December to honor and promote the poinsettia, The Poinsettia Bowl.

Tags: Lombardi Florist, Boston Greenhouse, Poinsettia, Plant Care

Easy Steps to Shape Up Your Garden for the Summer Season

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jun 15, 2016

Sometimes a garden can look pretty bleak when we begin to prepare for the summer season.  There is no color, the soil looks as if its evaporated into thin air and the idea of ever seeing beautiful plants once again flourish seems like an impossibility.  We all go through this in one way or another because if you’re a true New England gardener, you know that the winter is brutal on our beloved flower and vegetable beds.  It will take a little time to get things back into tip top shape but I assure you, the task doesn’t have to be as taxing as we make it out to be.  There are many ways that we can get the job done without having to spend months of our time breaking our backs or emptying our wallets.  This is a list of several tips that will get your green thumb growing in no time so you can spend your summer days doing exactly what you want to do, playing in your gardens!

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Tips to Shape Up Summer Gardens Fast


  1. You don’t always have to replace emptied raised beds with a ton of extra soil.  Sometimes the earth just needs a good toss and till to infuse the dirt with life after the colder months have past by.  Often freezing occurs which tricks the landscape into lying lower than it really is so pick up a shovel and do a little digging before you haul heavy bags of soil all over your lawn.

  1. Buy your seeds in advance from places like local hardware stores, Home Depot and Job Lot who often cut the prices once the summer has ended.  You’ll be able to stock up early as well as save a pretty penny on all the deals that you’ll find.  
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  1. Save old sheets and other fabric material that can be reused for purposes such as weed coverage or netting.  Many varieties of plants need extra protection from unwanted animals and bugs and these items are extremely helpful.  Labeled netting is often expensive and the supplies you may already have at home work just as well if not better so rummage through closets before you decide to buy anything.

  1. Save yourself the frustration of having to decipher what plant remnants are annuals and which are perennials by yanking out annuals as soon as the time has come to shut down your garden.  It can be wasteful when you discard plants that are able to bloom again if only given the time to rejuvenate.  If you really want to be economical, replant the annuals inside and see if you can weather them until the next summer!   This is how many of the pros do it and how many plant heirlooms are passed down through generations of family.  

Tags: Gardening, Plant Care, Outdoor Living, Seeds, Gardens

Easy Steps to Care for Your Hanging Plants

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sat, Jun 11, 2016

Part of loving summer is being able to decorate the outdoor landscape with beautiful plants and flowers.  For many of us, this means long warm days spent weeding our gardens and filling up window boxes but for others who are looking for another way to enjoy seasonal flowers, you might want to consider hanging baskets.  Hanging baskets are a wonderful investment although many people shy away from this type of floral design because of the intimidation of care.  For some reason, flowering, cascading plants can look as though their maintenance might be overwhelming but in reality, they’re really quite simple as gardening tasks go.  You don’t have to have a green thumb to enjoy these stunning presentations!  All you need to learn is this hanging plant care guide to get you on your way to displaying a decadent and bold array of color on the outside of your home.

hanging plants

Care Guide Instructions


  1. One of the best reasons to grab a few hanging baskets is that they will last all summer long as apposed to perennials which make their entrance in spring and then slowly exit before the end of summer.  You can color coordinate with the paint on your house or even choose an eclectic palette that showcases many different colors.  Tell yourflorist or garden center the climate of your living space as well (Do you live by the beach?  Do you live in the city?), because these differences may affect the variety of species in your basket.  Some varieties do better in the salt air as other types do better inside steamier humid conditions.  

  1. Before you go out and buy a hanging planter, find an area that you’ll be able to install a sturdy piece of hardware to hold it intact (some hangers are very heavy) and a place where there is a lot of sunlight.  Most people like to display them right outside their front doors but if there isn’t a lot of sunlight, you might want to rethink your decision.  Flowers need light to thrive and survive so the position of the planter is going to make a huge difference on how the flowers perform throughout the summer.

  1. WATER!!!!!!!  Yes, watering is the single most important thing to do when you hang a planter because they are constantly seeking moisture since there is no saucer to contain it.  Take a pitcher of water and dump it directly into the soil and if the dirt feels extra dry?  Water it again!  The single most cause for the death amongst flowering hangers is dehydration so make sure it is done daily.

  1. A little nip and tuck of the dead blooms ensures that the flowers keep blooming throughout the entire season.  Don’t worry if you’ve trimmed back the plant slightly too much because I assure you, they love “haircuts” that keep its system healthy and continuously producing blossoms.  

Tags: Gardening, Plant Care, Outdoor Living, June, Garden

Plant Identification - There's an App for That

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Mar 28, 2016

I have this friend who is always sending me pictures of plants and flowers with her phone when she’s stumped by the variety or species.  For most of them, I can pretty much quickly give her an answer but for others that I’m not familiar with, it can be a real problem.  For many of us who have the same habit of curiosity, we can sympathize with the frustration of seeing a beautiful bloom or appealing shrub that might look great in our yard and having no idea how to find it!  Although the greenhouses and florists located within the Boston area are on the whole, sharp as tacks when it comes to deciphering the Morse code of unusual flora and fauna, it would be quite helpful if they had a name to go by.   

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So wouldn’t it be awesome if someone inventedan app that could do all of this for us?


You’ll be excited to learn that there’s a brand new way to identify plant life using cutting edge technology developed in France!  With the use of the already popular application, Shazam, creators have now found a way to decipher breeds in a habitat just by clicking a photo and filtering it into the program.  With a vast collection of plants and flowers being loaded into the system named PlantNet, not only can you find what you’re looking for but also add to the collection.  Taking another step forward inside the future of horticultural technology, IdentiPlante is evolving to include the name of the featured flower/plant and also supporting data on subjects such as the preferred habitat and care instructions.  

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How cool is that?  


Pretty soon a walk in the woods will inspire snaps of sensational living foliage, which you can now instantly learn more about with a simple swipe of your phone.  Landscaping issues, wedding planning and garden architecture will be as easy as one, two three with the use of this fascinating “i invention”!

Tags: Gardening, Plant Care, Plants, Garden

Plants Who Fight Back Against Predators

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Aug 05, 2015

As flower and plant lovers, we often associate them with décor, landscaping or centerpieces when in fact we are limiting our interpretation by not realizing that flora and fauna play active roles in our environment.  For instance, some species encourage the breeding of other imperative vegetation, insects and in some circumstances animals.  They supply the needed nutrients for critters as well as provide shelter and habitats for millions of different varieties of life.  Yes, plants and flowers capabilities move far past their characteristics of beauty and provide essential food, warmth and shelter for many of the earth’s inhabitants.  Since their role is so imperative to maintaining a healthy ecological system, it made me wonder if they possess the necessary defense mechanisms that other moving life may have.  Surprisingly, I found several examples of plants that not only have the capability to protect them from danger but can also use insects and animals to act as their personal weapons.  I know it sounds wild but there are actually some examples of growing vegetation that are gifted in this sense and can actually fight off potential harm by befriending other members gifted by Mother Nature, the most impressive being a flower called the “Black Mustard Plant”.


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Black Mustard is a seemingly pretty, yellow, wild flower that commonly grows in bulk across fields and cliffs closely situated near the sea.  Also called, Brassisca Nigra, this flower is a customary meal for butterflies and their offspring, the caterpillar.  Butterflies use the plant stem and leaves to lay their eggs until they’re ready for hatching.  Once the ova matures, a caterpillar is born and is conveniently brought into the world laying right next to it’s primary food supply, the Black Mustard plant.  Caterpillars have long been the enemy of this species because they have historically, wiped out entire crops just by munching up and down the leaf stock.  


Now here’s where things get interesting…


Once the plant has detected a caterpillar egg, it releases a chemical through its pods, which signals its ally, the wasp.  Nearby wasps will instantly pick up on the SOS signal and locate the Black Mustard plant that is in distress.  The stinging insect then assesses the stem and leaves until they’ve found the butterfly’s eggs and then proceeds to destroy the contents.


Now this is where things get even more interesting…


Instead of leaving the remains, the wasp in turn uses the material for her own eggs!  Carefully, the new eggs are deposited inside the caterpillar shell and will successfully provide the needed home for the baby wasps.   Although the mustard plant and the wasp are an unlikely pairing for friendship, together they have managed to protect and nourish one another in their natural habitats.


Isn’t nature something!  

 

Tags: Gardening, Plant Care, Plants

Indoor Winter Gardening in Boston

Posted by Rick Canale on Fri, Oct 03, 2014

 

by Suzie Canale

Westwood, MA

Westwood Garden

The colder temperatures are slowly but surely creeping in and many New Englanders are becoming anxious about the demise of their hard worked summer gardens.  Although Mother Nature’s reclaims our green thumb’s efforts during the colder months of the year, there are ways to enjoy some of our hardier favorites year round by learning the techniques of indoor plant weathering.  While it is true that not every growth can be repotted and stored until the thaw of spring arrives, there are some varieties, which make perfect candidates for building an indoor winterized garden. Unfortunately, due to this region’s inclement drop in temperature, not every garden favorite will be strong enough to make the transition from your Boston back yard, so before taking your trowel to begin digging, keep these tips in mind to make sure you are choosing the right species. By keeping your eyes peeled for these hardier varieties, you’ll have a fighting chance of keeping some of your favorite greenhouse treasures year round.  

Westwood Herb garden

 

Many herb plants are wonderful for re-planting once the autumn frosts have begun.   Types such as parsley, sage and particularly rosemary are easily transitioned from the garden to a sunny windowsill and require very little maintenance with the exception of a once a week watering and pruning when stems become spindly and brittle.  Basil is a highly desired herb for transfer but often has disappointing results since the plant prefers warm temperatures and a significant amount of light to thrive.  Commonly, the plants will stay the same size when brought inside until replanted back into their natural environment so the constant need for larger planting containers is rarely an issue.  When removing the roots from the outside soil, make sure you dig far enough down to get the entire system (or as much as possible) to avoid damaging the plant and causing a stressful transfer.  Once safely inside, locate a sunny area with little drafting.  An icy spot can cause an instant droop within the petals and a shorter likelihood of survival.

 

Several people desire a flowering plant to enjoy within their Boston home once their gardens have gone to sleep for the winter.   Truthfully, it’s a difficult order to fill but not impossible if you choose the right selection.  Scented and unscented geraniums make excellent candidates and seem to thrive both indoors and outdoors if properly cared for.  Be mindful of areas with a lot of sunlight for placement, a weekly watering schedule and the occasional task of removing dead leaves and unhealthy stems.  Plant food should also be put into the mix every few weeks to ensure an adequate amount of nutrients.  Another flowering possibility is marigolds, which seems to also transition easily from one place to the next.  More durable than some of your other garden varieties, these pretty little blooms will provide a cheerful burst of color and appealing scent with little maintenance required.  Winter is just around the corner, so pick out your favorites and start building an indoor garden that will keep you entertained until the warmth of the summer returns once again.

Suzie Canale Suzie Canale is the Founder and President of The Women's Lockerroom Foundation, has written four children books, works at the Westwood Public Library and raises two sons.

Tags: Gardening, Gardening in Boston, Plant Care, Suzie Hearl Canale, Author, Suzie Canale

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