Urban Gardening-Plants for Container Gardening

When I think of gardens, I can picture the lush English gardens from those period movies such as Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. I didn’t even know small space gardening was a thing until I got into it. I am still learning the ins and outs of urban gardening but thought I would give you some ideas on plants for container gardening.

Ever since I got serious about gardening, I pretty much have been buying small plants I think are pretty, get a small container and hope to not kill the plant. Right now my garden consists of succulents, some tropical plants, then a small variety of small flowering plants that look like they would grow well in containers.

plants for container gardening

 

For the most part, this has worked well. I have not had success keeping lilies, tulips, and most recently, lavender in containers. All the other plants I have seem to like where they are, for the time being.

Container Gardens

What are container gardens, exactly? Container gardens are exactly what the name entails, a garden where the plants are kept exclusively in containers, instead of in the ground.

There are a variety of sizes, shapes, and styles of containers that appeal to anyone. Since I’m on a budget and limited to space, most of my containers are plain but sturdy. This works well for me since I want the focal point of my garden to be the plants themselves.

plants for container gardening

Why Container Gardening?

Container gardens are perfect for people who want to garden but don’t have any ground to work with, such as myself. I have a small balcony and utilize it for my container garden as best as possible.

Containers are also great to use to accent a large garden, specific area of a garden or a porch. There are limitless ways to use a container garden.

plants for container gardening

Containers versus Planting in the Ground

Both container gardening and traditional ground gardening work great. It really counts on what you have to work with, personal preference, the plants you have and what you want to grow.

Plants for Container Gardening

I have discovered over the past year that there are many types of plants that grow well in containers. Below I will discuss just a few of these plants.

plants for container gardening

Nemesia

Nemesias don’t grow very large, which makes them the perfect container plant. They come in a variety of colors. Nemesias require full sun, so they need at least 6 hours of sunlight.

Double Impatiens

Double impatiens are small, colorful flowers that are easy to grow in containers. They can grow from 6 to 30 inches tall. Make sure the soil you use is good drainage soil for the flowers.

plants for container gardening

Snapdragons

Snapdragons can be easily grown in containers as well. Snapdragons can grow from 8 inches to 3 feet tall. Deadhead flowers when they are past the blooming stage to encourage the plant to continue to grow flowers.

plants for container gardening

Calendulas

Brightly colored calendulas need full sun to grow well. These daisy looking flowers grow from 18 to 24 inches tall. Calendulas help keep insects away, which is an added bonus to including these in your container garden.

plants for container gardening

Herbs

There are a variety of herbs to choose from, so much that you can create an entire container garden out of herbs. Rosemary, mint, sage, thyme, and oregano are just a few of the herbs that you can grow in containers. Some of these can be grown together.

plants for container gardening

Petunias

These versatile and colorful flowers are another great choice for container gardening. Petunias grow well in containers and hanging pots, with different colored petunias and other flowers. Only a few should be grown together at a time to avoid overcrowding.

plants for container gardening

Morning Glories

Morning Glories are trailing plants with beautiful blue flowers. Since they trail, when put in a container they need a trellis to encourage growth upward. Morning glories can grow up to 8 feet tall.

plants for container gardening

Osteospermums

Osteospermum plants are also known as African daisies. These flowers come in pinks, purples and other colors. African daisies need plenty of sun to grow and flourish in containers.

plants for container gardening

Marigolds

Marigolds grow very well in pots. Some types grow very tall and may seem to look to overpower the container. My French marigolds are a little smaller than traditional marigolds and fit perfectly in the hanging side containers I have them in.

Don’t grow too many marigolds together in a pot. I have 4 French marigolds in each pot, which looked too much at first, but so far they are growing nicely.

plants for container gardening

Gerbera Daisies

Gerbera daisies also make great container plants. I should know, right now I have yellow and pink gerbera daisies in two different containers on my balcony.

Gerbera daisies need partial to full sun. To keep them growing flowers, make sure to deadhead the daisies.

plants for container gardening

Advantages of Container Gardening

There are many advantages of container gardening. Below I will mention just a few of those advantages.

  • Container gardening is a great way for beginner gardeners to get more experience in gardening.
  • Gardening with containers only is great for people like me who have no ground soil and small spaces to work with.
  • Container gardening is a great way to encourage kids to learn about plants and gardening.
  • Wildlife is less likely to get into plants in containers versus plants grown in the ground.
  • Since containers are portable, they can be moved around in a design or arrangement of your choice.

plants for container gardening

Disadvantages of Container Gardening

There are generally fewer disadvantages to gardening in containers.

  • Plants are limited to the size of the container they are growing in. I try to buy plants small enough so they can grow well into the container they are planted in.
  • Plants grown in containers tend to dry quickly and need more watering.
  • The soil in containers needs to be replaced every year since the soil loses nutrients that plants need to grow well in.

plants for container gardening

Closing Thoughts

I hope you learned something new about plants for container gardening or was inspired to start your own container garden. I only have a few of the plants mentioned above but would love to add more of these flowers to my container garden.

Do you have other plants that grow well in containers that I did not mention above? Let me know in the comments section below!

Bring Hawaii to You-Plumeria Care

I was lucky enough to go on two family trips to Hawaii when I was younger. I still remember getting off the airplane to be greeted by a Hawaiian woman who put a beautiful lei of plumeria flowers around my neck, as well as all those plastic plumeria flower souvenirs in many of the souvenir shops all over the islands. I now enjoy my own plumerias in my backyard and would love to share my plumeria care tips with you.

Before I talk about plumeria care, I would like to briefly discuss the origin and history of plumeria plants. It is quite interesting.

plumeria care
My first plumeria flower!

Not a Hawaiian Native

I don’t know about you, but when I see a plumeria flower, a motif or logo of one, I immediately think of Hawaii. Did you know these fragrant trees are not originally from the Aloha State? Neither did I!

So, where are these beautiful plants from anyways?

Origin of Plumeria

The plumeria tree is originally from the Carribean. This makes sense since the Carribean is another tropical area, although I do not think of plumerias when I see or hear about the Carribean. Maybe pirates but definitely not plumerias!

plumeria care
Leaves from a plumeria tree.

Plumerias also originated in Mexico and Central America. From these places, plumeria trees spread to other tropical areas as well.

Nifty Name

The plumeria plant was named after Charles Plumier. He was a French botanist who studied many plants in the Americas.

Another name for plumeria trees is frangipani (plumeria rubra). A 16th century monk named Marquis Frangipani was known for a perfume he made. The plumeria flower’s scent and that of Frangipani’s perfume are similar to each other, hence the other name for plumeria plants.

plumeria care

Hello from Hawaii

The plumeria tree was first introduced to the great state of Hawaii in 1860. There is now such an abundance of plumeria plants in Hawaii that many people assume its a native plant.

Where Can Plumeria Trees Grow?

Plumeria plants can definitely grow in tropical areas, but where else can they grow? Plumerias can be grown in a variety of places, as long as the tree is brought in during the winter. USDA zone 10 are where plumeria trees grow best though.

I remember driving around Orange County, CA last year, seeing all the beautiful plumeria blooms thinking, I must have one! I am now the proud owner of two small plumeria trees.

plumeria care
My two plumeria plants in my little urban garden.

Types of  Plumeria

There are many different types of plumeria trees in a variety of colors. One of the more common trees is plumeria rubra aztec gold. The flowers on this tree are white with a gold yellow center.

There are other variations with more or less gold, as well as more or less white on the flowers. They are all beautiful. Mine are a variation of gold and white flowers.

plumeria care

Other types of trees have pink and white flowers with different colored centers. I’ve seen blue and purple ones online, but I heard these were fake blooms. I’ve seen many white, yellow and pink plumerias while driving around my neighborhood.

I hope to own other colors of plumerias, but will enjoy my yellow and white flowered ones for now.

Plumeria Care

Caring for plumeria trees is quite easy. They can be grown in the ground or in containers. I have my two small plumeria trees in pots and they fit perfectly in my little balcony garden.

plumeria care

Plumerias grow based on the space that is available to them. These plants can spread out and grow as tall as over 20 feet. As container plants, plumerias will grow as much as the pot they are in will allow.

Plumerias are commonly sold as cuttings. The tree I bought was sold with some soil in its small pot. These plants have thin root systems, so it was easily tranferred into a slightly larger pot.

The other plumeria I received as a gift from my best friend’s in-laws. They told me to let the cutting dry out in the shade for a few weeks, then plant it. This tree is currently growing in some beautiful leaves.

plumeria care
Beautiful plumeria leaves!

Planting Plumerias

If you plan to plant your tree in the ground, use half native soil and half well draining soil. A cactus, palm and or desert soil will work great.

If potting the plant, you may want to add gravel or Perlite to the bottom. I added a few inches of mulch to both my potted plumerias and they are growing fine. Make sure that the containers have a hole for water drainage.

Fragrant Flowers

When I bought my first plumeria plant at the end of last summer, I expected it to start producing flowers right away. I’ve had it for almost a year and it just started blooming gorgeous yellow and white flowers. I’ve had to learn patience with this plant but its been well worth the wait.

plumeria care
Another flower is blooming!

The flowers are refreshingly fragrant. Each flowering tree has its own distinctive fragrance to enjoy.

How Much Water?

Plumeria trees are hardy plants that do not require much water. Plumerias need to be watered regularly while the leaves and flowers are blooming. Once the plant’s leaves fall off during the winter, it does not need to be watered.

I have been tempted to water my plants when they don’t need any, but try to hold back since I heard that over watering is a common reason plants die, especially here in Southern California where many plants thrive with little water.

plumeria care

Winter Slumber

Something else I learned about plumeria trees are that they become dormant in the winter. When the leaves fell off at the end of the year, I thought I had killed my plants. I wanted to throw them out when this happened, but took my husband’s advice and kept the plants.

I’m glad I did, since now I have two beautiful trees! One is producing flowers while the other is producing leaves. I’m not sure why one is not producing flowers, but I’ve only had it a few months so I may have to wait another year before I get to enjoy its blooms.

plumeria care

Ending Thoughts

I knew the basics of plumeria care before I began researching for this blog post. I have learned so much more since and I hope you have learned a thing or two about plumeria care as well. Feel free to add your own tips on caring for plumeria trees below!

How to Take Great Pictures of Your Garden-Flower and Garden Photos

I’ve gotten several compliments about how great my photos are here on my gardening blog. I appreciate the comments but many of the photos are not my own, but from commercial free sites like Pixabay. I’m wanting to learn to take more and better flower and garden photos and thought I would share my thoughts on how to achieve this.

As a side note, all the pictures on this particular blog are from me and my husband.

flower and garden pictures

Old School

During my Senior year in high school, I had the opportunity to take a photography class during both semesters. I still remember taking the time to develop the black and white film in the dark room. That statement alone dates me, but I had a lot of fun in those classes and learned many new skills about taking photos.

After digital cameras and quality cameras on cell phones took over, I took advantage of taking more photos to practice my long forgotten photography skills. I love how I can take a bunch of photos without it costing me a dime or take much time to develop the photos.

flower and garden photos

Artistry of Photography

I like to tell people I was born an artist, or at least became an artist when I first learned how to pick up and use a pencil. I still remember the folder my parents kept of all the pictures I drew growing up. I was even a fine art student for a time in college, but life took me on a different career course.

Of course I still find time to feed my creative genes nowadays, but mainly through photography. I take my fair share of candid photos of family and friends (and my cats), but also like to add my own artistic flair to my photos. This will look different for every photographer.

flower and garden pictures

Camera Type-Phone verses Digital

My husband has graciously offered to let me use his Canon camera, which takes awesome pictures. I prefer the camera on my Samsung Galaxy S6 phone. I take it everywhere I go and can easily take it out when a photo opportunity presents itself, especially when I’m out and about.

I don’t think its important if one uses a camera or a camera phone (if you disagree let me know below). I think its more important how skilled the person is in using the camera and how they take photos.

I’m sure some people would argue that one is better than the other. I know there are particular brands of cameras out there that are known for taking quality photos. Use whatever type of camera works for you.

flower and garden pictures

Quantity-How Many Photos Should One Take?

Since I’m pretty new to this whole blogging world (3 months now), I recently decided I should take as many photos of my flowers and garden as possible. I have also taken photos that I find interesting when I’m out and about of various plants and flowers.

By taking a plethora of photos, I can experiment with angle, color, and other features that make a great photo. I also want to have a photo library available for my Google Plus, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and my other social media accounts.

flower and garden pictures

I also like that by taking a bunch of photos, I can use different pictures of the same flower or plant but at different angles. I can use the same picture on all my social media accounts or use slightly different photos of the same flower or plant.

Quality not Quantity

Just because I take 100s or 1,000s of photos does not mean they will all turn out great. I may take a bunch of photos of the same plant or area of my garden, but will only use the best ones on my blog and social media accounts.

Lighting

If you’ve ever spent any time around photographers, you will learn quickly how important lighting is when taking photographs. I will only focus on outdoor photography and lighting tips.

flower and garden pictures
Way too bright!

I’m still pretty amateur when it comes to taking outdoor pictures. When I see a pretty flower I just take a few pictures with as little sun as possible and hope they come out nice.

Overcast days make the best outdoor pictures (according to my photographer husband). I’ve made the mistake of trying to take pictures of my flowers with the sun shining directly on them. This results in a very bright, glaring picture.

Taking pictures on cloudy days helps avoid pictures with glare in them. I have also been able to take quality photos in the shade, despite the sun being out. I have to be careful that the shade is not too dark or the flower or plant will be lost in the shade.

flower and garden pictures

Angle

I sometimes play with different angles when taking pictures of plants and flowers. Sometimes I take a photo and that one photo is enough for me to be happy with. Other times I play around with varying angles to get the best photo I can of the flower or plant I am focusing on.

There are different ways to achieve varying angles of a flower, plant or several flowers and plants. One way is to take photos of the subject while stand up. Another way to play around with angles is to get on your knees or even your stomach.

I usually just point and shoot from wherever I am standing or happen to be walking. I need to begin experimenting with other methods to get the best angle of my flowers and plants.

flower and garden pictures

Close Ups

I love taking close ups of flowers and plants. It might be to focus on the color, lines, texture, or shape of the particular plant I am photographing. I usually take as many photos close ups as I can of the plant until I find one I like.

Background

Background plays an important role in creating quality photos of your garden. This is especially true if you want the focus to be on a single plant or flower. You don’t want the background of your photo too busy or it will take away the focus off your flower or plant.

flower and garden pictures

 

There are ways to do this manually with a camera. My phone will automatically focus on either the foreground or background when I get really close to a flower I am trying to photograph.

You may want the focus to be on the background if you are taking a picture of a huge area. My husband recently took a great photo of me in front of a field of lavender with the focus on the plants. I’ve seen some great looking photos turn out well this way too.

flower and garden pictures

 

Closing Thoughts

I hope I have kept you interested in what I have had to say about taking the best flower and garden photos. This is by far my longest but most enjoyable blog to write. I have actually learned a lot of new concepts about taking pictures of my garden by writing this.

I will make more of an effort to take more flower and garden photos on a daily basis. I will, of course, share them here with all of you! I know there are many more things I could say about photographing plants and flowers.

flower and garden pictures

If you have great tips and tricks of yourself on how to take better flower and garden photos, then let me know below!

How to Care for Kalanchoe Plants

A Diverse and Hardy Plant

I love the diversity and beauty of hardy desert plants that are available to gardeners in California. One of these plants that keep showing up in my little garden are kalanchoes. Since I have several of these in varying stages of growth, I thought I would write a blog about how to care for kalanchoe plants.

I’ve seen several variations of these plants. I will be focusing on the types of kalanchoes with pretty little flowers, some that look like tiny roses. During my research I’ve discovered there are many types of kalanchoes.

How to Care for Kalanchoes

This blog will be about the popular houseplant kalanchoes. I keep these outside but see many indoors as well. I may write about the other types in the near future as well.

Madagascar

Kalanchoe plants are originally from the small island of Madagascar, off the coast of Eastern Africa. They are also native to many parts of Africa. Somehow, they made their way to sunny Southern California.

There are over 100 species of Kalanchoe and this hardy plant comes in a variety of colors. They can be bought at different life stages and sizes. I personally like buying these as small as possible, so they have plenty of time to grow in my small balcony garden.

How to Care for Kalanchoes

 

I love being able to spend only a few dollars to add beauty and color to my balcony garden by purchasing small plants such as these. Since my blog is all about saving money and space, I highly recommend purchasing a kalanchoe and see how you like it!

In N Out

Kalanchoe plants can be grown indoors or outside. Some grow better in either area, based on what zone they are in. Make sure to take note what growing zone you live in before planning on where to place your kalanchoe.

You may also want to experiment with how your kalanchoe responds to indoor light verses outdoor light. They might prefer one setting over the other.

How to Care for Kalanchoes

To Pot or Not to Pot

Kalanchoe grow well in the ground and in pots. Since my garden is a container only garden, I will only focus on how to grow kalanchoe in containers.

Containers need to have holes in them for water drainage. Also make sure the soil you use is the well draining kind.

For most of my plants I use Miracle Grow’s soil for flowering potted plants. I’m sure others work just as well, but I have the most luck with this soil. I also have Miracle Grow’s soil for succulents and may try this in the future too.

How to Care for Kalanchoes

Kalanchoes can grow in any sized container. Make sure the container is large enough to let the kalanchoe grow. This may be part of my problem, as I have all my kalanchoes in smaller pots since I bought them when they were small and most are starting to get a little big for their containers.

Sunny Days are Here

Kalanchoe need plenty of sun, either direct sunlight or near a window with lots of sunshine. I may need to move mine in the shade or indoors, since too much sun seems to dry them out too much.

Kalanchoes are popular house plants and many nurseries sell them in their indoor and outdoor garden sections. I keep mine outside since my cat is known for sneaking a few bites from plants I’ve had indoors.

How to Care for Kalanchoes

Rainbow

I love color and one of the many things I like about Kalanchoes are the many colors the flowers can come in. My kalanchoes are red, yellow, white and orange, but they also come in pink and variations of the colors I already have. I recently found some at Home Depot that were two colors and beautiful!

Water

Since kalanchoes are drought tolerant plants, they do not need to be watered frequently. I have heard its best to let them dry out between watering them. I am still trying to figure out how many times a week to water my kalanchoes, since a few are drying out with no flowers while the others are thriving.

How to Care for Kalanchoes

Fertilization

Just like other plants, kalanchoes need to be fertilized periodically. I use fertilizer sticks that easily dissolve when the soil is wet. I might need to switch to a succulent friendly fertilizer for my kalanchoes, since the fertilizer I use is for flowering plants and not specifically for desert plants.

More Flowers Please

Its best to keep kalanchoes in as much sunlight as possible to continue to produce flowers. I’m still trying to figure this out, since several of my kalanchoes have stopped growing flowers. I would move the plants that have no flowers in a sunnier place, but other kalanchoes in the same area are still producing flowers.

 

I’ve heard that I might need to trick my kalanchoes into flowering again, based on the amount of sunlight I give them. I’m still trying to work out how to do this with some of my plants.

How to Care for Kalanchoes

Pruning

Its best to prune the plants once the flowers wilt. Cutting off the dead flowers will encourage new growth of the plant in general and new flowers. The plant will then be able to focus on new growth (hopefully).

Sizes

As I said before, kalanchoes can be purchased in various stages of growth and size. I bought and planted my red kalanchoe at the beginning of the year, and then it was only about 3 inches tall. Kalanchoes can grow to be over a foot tall. They can also spread out if planted in the ground.

How to Care for Kalanchoes

 

Concluding Thoughts

Kalanchoes are great and diverse plants that grow wonderfully indoors and out. They make a great addition to a succulent garden, as well as any garden. I’m all about color, so these little plants go well in my colorful container garden.

I hope you learned something new about how to care for kalanchoe plants. I’m still learning as I go. If you know something about how to care for kalanchoe plants that I did not include here, then feel free to add your own tips in the comments section below.

Happy gardening!

No Birdfeeder Needed-How to Attract Hummingbirds

How to Attract Hummingbirds

When I had a larger porch, I had several bird feeders to attract hummingbirds and other birds. I could buy feeders now, but accidentally and delightfully discovered that some of my plants attract hummingbirds. I even took a gardening class on how to attract hummingbirds by selecting specific plants they like to feed on.

How to Attract Hummingbirds
Since I’m all about saving money, I have added some plants to my garden to attract these beautiful birds to my balcony. I love the fact that I can bring in hummingbirds and other wildlife just by the plants I choose to grow.

Why Hummingbirds Like Certain Plants

Hummingbirds love plants with flowers in a variety of colors, but they are most attracted to plants with red flowers. The red color reminds these little birds of food. It’s also a color to camouflage them from bees.

How to Attract Hummingbirds

Colors

Hummingbirds like feeding off of flowers that are yellow, orange, pink and red. Red is a more popular color, but hummingbirds have fed off my yellow and orange flowering plants as well.

Size

Hummingbirds will drink from large and small flowers. As long as a flower produces nectar, hummingbirds don’t care how tiny or huge the nectar is coming from.

How to Attract Hummingbirds

Shape

Since hummingbirds have long, thin beaks, it is common to see them feed off of flowers with the same shape. They can drink nectar from small, thin flowers, as well as large open flowers. This is why it’s a good idea to have different types of flowers in your garden.

Types of Plants Hummingbirds Enjoy

As stated above, hummingbirds love a variety of flowers in different colors. There are particular flowering plants they get nectar from more than others. I will explain to you these flowers below.

Hibiscus

Hummingbirds love these plants with their huge, colorful flowers. I have an orange and pink hibiscus plant that hummingbirds love to drink from. These plants come in a variety of colors and are a great addition to any garden.

How to Attract Hummingbirds

Lantanas

Lantanas are another great flowering plant to add to your garden to attract butterflies. I love my pink and yellow lantanas. I have seen them in yellow, orange and purple all over town. There are over 100 species of lantanas to choose from.

 

How to Attract Hummingbirds

Marigolds

Marigolds are another colorful flowering plant that can attract hummingbirds to your garden. I bought mine to keep aphids from my hibiscus, so if they can also attract hummingbirds to my garden, that is an added bonus!

How to Attract Hummingbirds

Zinnias

Zinnias are additional colorful and inexpensive flowers to add to your garden to keep hummingbirds coming back. They are easy to grow and just need to be watered on a regular basis. Zinnias come in a variety of beautiful colors!

How to Attract Hummingbirds

Fuchsias

Another personal favorite are fuchsias. These also come in a variety of colors. I love watching hummingbirds drink from my hanging fuchsias.

How to Attract Hummingbirds
Fuchsias can also be grown in several ways. They grow great in hanging pots or on a vine. Either way, hummingbirds will come back for the sweet nectar these plants produce.

Petunias

Petunias are popular flowers that keep hummingbirds returning for food. Pick a color, then enjoy as hummingbirds relocate to your garden for food.

How to Attract Hummingbirds

Salvia

Hummingbirds also love the red hue of salvias. These flowers also come in other colors, although red is popular.

How to Attract Hummingbirds

Friends

Many of these plants also attract butterflies. Some days I have both hummingbirds and butterflies visit my small balcony garden. I love how my plants attract these beautiful creatures!

Concluding Thoughts

As you can see, there are many types of flowers that will attract hummingbirds to your garden. If you know how to attract hummingbirds to your garden in other ways, please do not hesitate to tell me below. Happy hummingbird hunting!

How to Attract Hummingbirds

More Than a Great Smell-Lavender Medicinal Uses

Lavender Medicinal Uses

Lavender-More Than Just a Great Aroma

I absolutely love the smell of lavender. I love lavender even more because of the many benefits it has as a medicine. Lavender medicinal uses have been around for centuries.

I had the opportunity to go to a lavender festival with my husband this weekend. I learned many new things about lavender that had little to do with its pleasant smell. I would like to share with you what I discovered about the medicinal uses of lavender.

Lavender Medicinal Uses
Photo taken by hubby.

More Than Just One Type of Lavender

I have seen several types of lavender at a variety of stores. This weekend I learned that there are around 100 types of lavender! And this was just what was grown on the farm!

The ones I discovered this weekend have different uses. Some lavender is known for its strong fragrance. Others are used specifically for medicinal purposes.

Lavender Medicinal Uses

Today I will be focusing on the types of lavender used for medicine. Dutch and French lavender are common types of lavender used for a variety of purposes, including medicine. Lavandins are a hybrid type of lavender, popular in its oil form.

Most of these types of lavender can also be used for other purposes too, such as being used in recipes for meals.

Lavender Forms

I have some dried lavender hanging in the hallway and near the bed. I have several satchels of lavender in the bathroom, kitchen and living room. I also have lavender as an essential oil in our medicine cabinet.

Medicinal uses of lavender include lavender being dried or used as an essential oil. Both work great for a variety of uses. Lavender can prevent ailments as well as boost the body against illnesses.

Lavender Medicinal Uses
Souvenirs from this weekend’s festivities.

Depression Killer

As I mentioned in my About Me page, I’ve struggled with depression off and on for years. Lavender is known to help people who struggle with depression. This is one of the reasons it’s all over our apartment.

Lavender can help boost your mood. This applies to the dried form as well as lavender oil. Ingesting lavender in small doses has also been shown to lower depression.

Lavender Medicinal UsesBye Bye Anxiety

Depression and anxiety go hand and hand, so it should come to no surprise that lavender can also relieve anxiety. Using lavender essential oil and using dried lavender can help alleviate anxiety.

Using lavender oil and the aroma of lavender in its dried form can calm an otherwise anxious person down.

Since depression and anxiety are related, using lavender to relieve both is like taking two medications in one.

Lavender Medicinal Uses

Study Time

Stressing out about a huge final exam you have coming up? Take a deep breath of lavender and relax. It should come to know surprise that lavender can relieve stress.

Apply some oil or inhale dried lavender before starting a stressful day and enjoy the lavender’s calming effects.

Goodnight

Lavender can also be used to help people who have trouble sleeping. Hang dried lavender near your bed or apply some lavender oil to your temples as a sleep aid. You can also apply a few drops of lavender oil to your pillow to help you sleep.

Taking a bath with lavender salts at night can relax your muscles, which can also help you sleep. Experiment to see what types of lavender help you relax and get a good night’s asleep.

Lavender Medicinal Uses

An Alternative to Neosporin

If you were like my family, Neosporin was a staple in your medicine cabinet. I have a small tube in mine right now. Did you know that lavender oil is an alternative to Neosporin?

Lavender can be used as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. Lavender, in its oil form, can relieve sunburns, heal minor cuts and small insect bites. Did I also mention that lavender smells really good, too?

Lavender Medicinal Uses

Antioxidant Replacement

Antioxidants help stop the deterioration of other molecules in the body. Antioxidants can be found in many fruits and vegetables that we eat and can prevent many diseases. Lavender essential oil can make a great alternative antioxidant.

Although antioxidants can easily be added to our diet, many people do not eat foods essential to this. Using lavender essential oil on regular basis can prevent many illnesses and can be used for those who have trouble keeping other antioxidants in their diet.

Lavender Medicinal Uses

Side Effects of Lavender

Just like anything else used as medicine, lavender does have side effects. For women who are pregnant and breastfeeding, it is best to stay away from using lavender since there is not enough research to support using it while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Since lavender is used to calm down the body, it can also affect a person’s central nervous system by slowing it down. This can affect how a person’s body reacts to medications during surgery. Avoid use of lavender before and after any surgery for several weeks.

When ingested, lavender can cause headaches and make you hungry. Just be cautious and start with small amounts when taken by mouth.

Lavender can also cause skin to become irritated. I have noticed this when applying it to my wrists. If you notice your skin becoming irritated, use less or take a break from applying lavender oil to your skin.

Lavender Medicinal Uses

There is not a ton of research out there on side effects of lavender on children, so it’s best to use other medicines on children. Adults in general should be able to use lavender with little affects, but just like with any medicine, be aware of how your body reacts after taking lavender.

Concluding Thoughts

The side effects of lavender I have found to be minimal. There are a plethora of benefits to lavender, both in its oil and dried forms. Lavender medicinal uses are great and very beneficial.

Lavender Medicinal Uses

While at the lavender festival the weekend, I even noticed how calm, relaxed and happy everyone seemed to be. I blame the lavender for the great mood everyone seemed to be in.

Have you found other medicinal uses to lavender? Let me know below.

Gardening on a Dime-Cheap Garden Containers

Finding the Perfect Garden Container at a Low Price

If you are like me, you are always looking around for great deals for your garden containers. There are many beautifully decorated pots and containers out there for gardens, but since I’m on a budget, I’m always on the look out for great cheap garden containers. These may be on sale, made of cheap but quality products, a cheap hidden gem, homemade or even free.

Cheap Garden Containers
Variety of Garden Pots

I love the variety of garden containers out there. I’ve been an artist practically since birth, so I’m always drawn to colorful, artsy objects. Since most of those types of containers are out of my price range, I keep a look out for the cheap garden containers. There are many ways to do this, with some patience and creativity.

Let me give you a few ideas how you can keep in your budget when looking for cheap garden containers.

Plastic Pots

The first ones that come to mind are hardy plastic pots. These are inexpensive and come in a variety of colors and sizes. You can find them in garden stores or places online like Amazon.

This type of cheap garden container is in no way fancy, but they do make plants stand out on their own. You can find my review on one such as theFiskars 12 Inch Ariana Planter with Self-Watering Grid here. Most of these planters will need holes drilled out of the bottom for drainage.

Cheap Garden Container
Plastic Pots

Plant Pouches

Another type of cheap garden container is the plant pouch. These are in no way fancy but make a great display if you choose to do vertical gardening. They start at only a few dollars and can be found at a variety of places online.

Since most plant pouches are small, make sure you plan ahead what you want to grow in them and don’t chose a plant that needs deep space for its roots. These are great for herbs, succulents, petunias, impatiens and a variety of hanging plants. Experiment to see what works for you.

Terra Cotta Pots

Terra cotta pots make great inexpensive additions to any garden. These are inexpensive and are available in different sizes. They come plain but can easily be decorated with paint and other craft products. Terra cotta pots can be found in craft stores and online.

Cheap Garden Container
Terra Cotta Pots

Freebies

Another person’s junk can be your treasure. Ask friends and family if they have any containers they no longer use or are piled up in garage. You never know, you may be able to turn one into a garden container! Make sure you drill/cut out holes in the bottom of any container for water to drain out of.

Crafty Containers

Craft stores, such as Hobby Lobby and Michael’s have a variety of containers that would look great in a garden. Baskets, wood crates, and other decorate containers can be found at these stores, which would also make great cheap garden containers.

Cheap Garden Container
Baskets

Make sure to cut or drill holes in the bottom. You may also want to cover the inside with plastic and cut holes in the plastic for drainage as well.

Homemade Containers

If you keep old stuff like so many other people do, you may be able to find your own container right at home. Old kitchen colanders, beach buckets, wheel barrows, children’s plastic town containers as well as others can be made into garden containers. It just takes a little imagination and some time.

Last Words

As you can see, there is a variety of ways to buy or make your own cheap garden containers. It may take some planning, bargaining, imagination and searching, but it can be done. Let me know what you have come up with for cheap garden containers!

Gardening Shelves

Limited Space

When I began my small gardening hobby, I didn’t think that I would collect plants as fast as I did or even considered running out of space. Both happened in a small amount of time. As I continued to feed my new addiction, I looked into vertical gardening for a time, but since the outside walls don’t seem to support much, I gave up on the idea. Soon after I started researching gardening shelves and other ways to save space while enjoying my garden.

To my delight, I found a plethora of designs and prices for gardening shelves. I love shopping and research, but this felt a little overwhelming so again, I gave up the search. That is, until my husband suggested he could make me one at the fraction of the prices I saw.

I then began to research more in depth the design, size and materials I wanted for my own garden shelf. Like I said before, researching this became a little overwhelming but I was able to narrow my search based on those three things. And since this is a site dedicated to those who have limited space for gardens, I had to consider the small size of my porch.

gardening shelf
Gardening shelf

I will now discuss in detail various designs, sizes and materials so that you may also make your very own gardening shelf on a budget for your limited garden.

Gardening Shelf Design

There are many types of designs for a gardening shelf. After you’ve seen an unlimited amount of pictures, you will be able to narrow down your results like I did. They can look like a traditional shelf as well as more elaborate and imaginative. Yours can be made based on your preference.

First of all, I recommend you figure out how much space you have to work with. My gardening shelf takes up the majority of one side of my porch. If you have more space to work with, you might prefer something longer. The size may also play a part in helping you decide on a design, but many styles of gardening shelves can be made different sizes.

Gardening Shelf Materials

Next are the types of materials you want to build with. Since my husband and I were trying to cut down on costs, I wasn’t too picky about the appearance of my gardening shelf. He ended up buying some small wood supports and natural wood colored fencing posts at Home Depot. Hubby also bought nails and screws. Total cost of my shelf was around $30. You may spend more or less.

Since the materials were longer than needed my husband ended up sawing most of the pieces down with his saw. He also used a drill and hammer that we already had. A leveler also came in handy. Now, my husband did all this without an actual paper in hand, so yours may be different.

After hours of sawing, drilling, hammering and some trial and error, I had a beautiful custom made gardening shelf. Now it was in no way perfect, but it does the job of showing off my beautiful plants. Hubby suggested I get it stained or painted, but I like the natural look, so for now its finished.

gardening shelf
My finished gardening shelf

If you like the white picket fence look, there are plenty of parts to create a white picket fence garden shelf. If you prefer something dark and modern, there are numerous supplies to achieve that look as well. With extra work, you can also pick out natural wood and paint it a color or colors to match the outdoor look.

Another way to save on materials is to ask friends and family with larger yards if they have any materials they won’t use that you can for a gardening shelf. Lumberyards and scrapyards are also great places to find cheap materials.

Gardening Shelf Sizes

My gardening shelf is about 5 feet by 4 feet tall with four shelves. Each shelf is spaced so that the one below juts out by half the one on top. Each shelf is about one foot wide so that a variety of pots can be placed on them. When my husband built the framework, the shelf was pretty wobbly and unsteady, so he added the supports that criss-cross the back.

If you choose to start small, I suggest a corner shelf. You can make this short or tall, depending on what you want, how much money you have to put toward your shelf, and how many plants you want to display. Another good size to start with as a base for each level is one foot in height, depth and length.

Also, when you consider the size of your gardening shelf, make sure you have enough supports to handle the weight of your pots. I have my larger pots on the ground and lowest shelf. The smaller ones I placed on the highest shelf. This can vary based on size and materials used.

gardening shelf
My gardening shelf

Other Gardening Shelf Ideas

If you would rather use a pre-drawn out plan, there are many to choose from. There are plenty ready made shelves and ones that you build yourself that come with plans. Another inexpensive way to have your own gardening shelf is to scan Craigslist ads in the for sale and free sections.

If you decide to start from scratch like my husband did, I highly recommend making several drawings with measurements. This will help you avoid making mistakes and waste time redoing certain steps. Of course, if you do start from scratch, everyone has their own way of doing things.

Conclusion

In conclusion, enjoy the process and definitely the finished product of your own gardening shelf. You will learn a lot as you build your shelf (or by watching you significant other build it). And if you really enjoyed the results, this may lead to other homemade outdoor furniture. Let me know if you have your own tips and tricks on how to make your own gardening shelf. Enjoy and happy creating!

Ann

How to Keep Squirrels Out of Your Garden

Why Squirrels?

Several months ago I found some odd occurrences happening in my garden. Several of my pots had what looked like holes in the dirt. There was also evidence of what looked like an animal had dug through some of my plants. My new lavender was also flattened, as if something had fallen in it.

I live in an area surrounded by trees, so I figured all of this was caused by falling branches or small animals. It shouldn’t have surprised me when I heard some noises outside and saw a squirrel laying on one of my planters.

 

The squirrel glared at me, then jumped from the planter to my hanging strawberry plant, where he began digging in the dirt to bury what looked like a large seed or rock. He patted his burial place neatly before scurrying off into the nearest tree.

This didn’t alarm me, since seeing the squirrel made all the other oddities make sense. I wonder if he is also the reason why some of my plants are not growing.

Why Keep Squirrels Out of Your Garden

Squirrels are small, cute and furry creatures that I enjoy watching while walking around my complex, as well as having staring contests with them. Why bother keeping them away from your garden?

 

There are many reasons to keep squirrels out of your garden. They can destroy flowers, fruit and vegetables that you worked hard to grow. Squirrels will steal and smash your prized plants as well.

My husband began researching how to keep squirrels out of your garden, hence this blog post. He showed me some videos of how to do this with homemade items. I will be discussing these as well as other methods below.

How to Keep Squirrels Out of Your Garden

There are many ways to keep squirrels out of your garden, but I will be only discussing several.

Cayenne Pepper

The videos my husband showed me talked about placing cayenne pepper in the garden to keep the squirrels away. Apparently they do not like the smell. I figure this would be a free way to keep the critter out.

Luckily, we had a jar of cayenne pepper. The pepper does not harm plants, so I sprinkled some in all my planters that had evidence of the squirrel. Its been a few days and so far I have seen no proof that the squirrel has been back. As far as I’m concerned, the cayenne pepper worked!

Peppers in General

Squirrels don’t like peppers for the same reasons many people don’t, their strong taste and smell. Other red peppers or a combination of peppers, such as paprika and pepper flakes can also keep these critters away from your garden.

Mint

Just like squirrels don’t like the smell of peppers, they are also repelled by the smell of mint. I haven’t tried this method yet but will definitely consider planting mint in the future. Plus, I like the smell of mint.

Bulbs

Squirrels do not like to dig up certain bulbs. As I stated earlier, my best friend’s in laws gave me an amaryllis bulb that bloomed beautifully vibrant flowers for me to enjoy several weeks ago. Thankfully, the squirrel left this alone. Hyacinth, allium and daffodils are some bulbs that squirrels do not like, so if you prefer these bulbs, plant them in your garden!

Mulch

If your plants can thrive in mulch, add these to your garden. I have several planters with dirt that are also topped with several inches of mulch. I’ve noticed that the squirrel has not touched these areas of my garden. The heavier the mulch is, the better.

Neatness

Keep your garden neat. I love being surrounded by so many trees, but some of them in particular love leaving scraps of bark and other debris on my balcony. Make sure there is nothing on the ground that may attract squirrels. I try to sweep the garden area about once a week.

Put Your Pets to Good Use.

Have a cat or dog, or both? Your pet(s) can also keep away squirrels from your garden. If allowed, let them roam around your garden. Our cats are not allowed to walk around our complex, but squirrels are not around when the cats are near the window to my garden.

Do you have any other suggestions for keeping squirrels out of your garden? Let me know!

Until next time,

Ann

Pruning Fuchsias

Fuchsias are plants with beautiful hanging flowers that are available in a variety of colors. They look great when planted in the ground or from a hanging planter. I bought my hanging fuchsias from Home Depot late last summer.

The last flowers fell near the end of the year. I noticed the plant was still growing leaves but not flowers. I thought about throwing the plant out and starting new since the flowers are the reason I bought the plant, but figured that was not the answer. After I did some research I discovered that by pruning my plant I could encourage new flowers to grow back in and save money!

Today I am going to talk about pruning fuchsias. One way to budget while gardening is pruning plants to enjoy over and over again. As I stated above, I almost threw mine out, but did not since I can save money by pruning. The only tools you will need are pruning shears and possibly garden gloves. I was able to find my shears at Ross for a discounted price. Sheers can be found at a variety of other stores too.

There are several ways to prune fuchsias. Cut the branches back by at least a third . You can prune even further and cut the plant back near the soil. It is also a good idea to cut branches that criss-cross to avoid getting them tangled up. This will also keep the plant from looking messy and give it a cleaner appearance.

Cutting back dead and unhealthy parts periodically will also keep your plant looking nice. Pruning can also give the plant a new or updated shape. You also want to do this early in the year, around springtime, so that you can enjoy new fuchsias for as long as possible.

Pinching off buds and flowers can also bring in new growth. This will help the plant produce more branches and flowers. Make sure the plant is growing green wood. This is where the new flowers will appear.

Dead flowers should also be pinched off to help the plant continue to grow new flowers. This should be done during the flowering season of the fuchsia.

Also, make sure your fuchsias are getting enough sun. I keep mine partially shaded due to the warm area of the country I live in.  If you live in a cooler area the fuchsias will need more sun. If you are not sure, check the plant climate zone map in your area.

Another way to help your fuchsias thrive is to use soil with good drainage. If you have your plant in a pot like me, make sure the pot has holes in the bottom for the remaining water to drain from. If there is no drainage the plant may rot from sitting in water.

Fertilize the fuchsia plant periodically, about once every month or so, to encourage new flowers to grow. I use fertilizer sticks that dissolve in water that I was able to purchase from the local dollar store. Jobe’s Fertilizer Spikes for Flowering Plants are a popular choice. These are pretty inexpensive in other garden stores as well.

I waited a little late to prune mine, but as you can see, new fuchsias are growing in nicely. There are even several buds forming all over the plant, so hopefully I will have a bunch of fuchsias growing in soon. I will check every few days to see if I need to cut back some more branches.

Happy pruning everyone!

Ann