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Caring for All Your Holiday Plants

Caring for All Your Holiday Plants

The holiday season is here, and that means seeing the classic festive plants roll into the shop – Poinsettias, Christmas Cactus, Norfolk Pines, and more. But these plants aren’t just holiday decorations! They can live for many years with the right love and care. Caring for all your holiday plants will be easy as pie:

Poinsettias

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Lighting: For the holidays, place your poinsettia in bright, indirect light.

Soil: Plant in a nutritious, well-draining soil.

Watering: Allow the soil to dry moderately between waterings so that the roots don’t stand in water. If your poinsettia came wrapped in colorful foil, punch holes through the bottom of the foil to allow the pot to drain.

Fertilizer: To encourage reblooming, fertilize in spring every 2 weeks!

Tips: Maintain temperatures between 70ºF and 75ºF during the day, with nights no lower than 60ºF—protect the plant from cold drafts.

Christmas cactus 

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Soil: Use a quality soil rich in humus and other nutrients.

Temperature: Maintain an optimal climate of 65 degrees

Watering: Keep the soil evenly moist while your plant is blooming, misting it frequently.

Light: Place the cactus in an east-facing window for moderate light and some direct sun.

Fertilization: Apply a high-potassium fertilizer every two weeks once buds form.

Cyclamen

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Soil: Use a quality soil that is well-draining.

Temperature: Maintain an optimal climate of 65 degrees

Watering: Keep the soil evenly moist while your plant is blooming, but do not overwater!

Light: Place your cyclamen in a cool spot with bright light, but not direct sun

Fertilization: Apply a houseplant fertilizer every couple months in the growing season

Amaryllis

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Soil: Use a quality soil that is well-draining.

Temperature: Maintain an optimal climate of 65 degrees

Watering: Water enough to keep the soil moist, and avoid wetting the bulb that is above the soil.

Light: Place your amaryllis in the sunniest spot you can find in your house!

Fertilization: Apply an indoor plant fertilizer every 2 weeks to promote reblooming.

Norfolk Pine

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Light: Indoors, Norfolk Island pine tolerates medium to bright light, but does best in brighter spots

Watering: Like most houseplants, it’s best to water Norfolk Island pine when the top inch or two of the soil is dry. Avoid keeping the soil wet all the time, as this can encourage root rot.

Humidity: While these trees tolerate average household humidity, they really thrive with a little extra moisture in the air than you typically find indoors, especially during the winter.

Soil: Use a quality soil that is well-draining.

Fertilization: Apply a houseplant fertilizer every 2 weeks in the growing season.

September Landscaping Tips

September Landscaping Tips

Autumn is approaching rapidly! How did your garden fare this year? And what about your lawn? As we bid farewell to the summer season, there’s much to ponder regarding your landscaping and garden maintenance. The fall season presents an excellent opportunity for planting as well. Explore these valuable September landscaping tips to navigate through fall and ease into the beginning of winter!

  • Plant fescue grass or over-seed established fescue lawns, if needed.
  • Apply a pre-emergent herbicide for broadleaf winter weeds by the end of the month and water normally. Do not use a pre-emergent if you plan to over-seed your cool-season cool grass
  • Aerate your yard to prepare your lawn for the new grass that will emerge in the fall as the temperatures begin to rise and your lawn sees more sunlight. Aerators pull plugs out of your soil, loosening compacted dirt and allowing air and water to reach roots.
  • Begin planting trees and shrubs. Planting in autumn allows them time to grow roots.
  • Avoid pruning spring-flowering trees and shrubs during the fall, as pruning now will reduce spring flowers.
  • Trim dead or damaged wood from trees and shrubs but avoid drastic pruning.
  • Control black spot and powdery mildew on roses with labeled fungicide.
  • Watch for fall webworms on pecans, crabapples and other susceptible trees and trim out webs as necessary or treat with appropriate products.
  • Sow wildflower seeds and press into soil surface to improve germination.
  • Divide and re-plant spring blooming perennials such as Iris, yarrow and daylilies.
  • Adjust your watering schedule for lawns, shrubs, flowers and containers. Pay close attention to containers, as they tend to become waterlogged.

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To begin your next landscaping project, book a consultation!

Southern Living Idea Home 2023

Southern Living Idea Home 2023

We were honored to outfit the 2023 Southern Living idea home with plants! Yes, that’s right – all the plants you see in the home are courtesy of your friends at G.O.B.! This house is an absolute dream – keep reading for a mini tour of the house. Photos courtesy Southern Living, a division of TI Lifestyle Group, LLC. Southern Living is a registered trademark of TI Lifestyle Group, LLC and is used with permission. Photo Credit: Laurey Glenn/Southern Living.

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From Southern Living: “The Tennessee countryside is musical. The land rolls here, dipping into tree-spangled valleys then cresting into grassy knolls that stretch toward the sky. But unlike the rollicking melodies of nearby Nashville, about 30 miles northeast, the rhythms of the Leipers Fork area are a bit more relaxed, with honky-tonk tunes and neon lights taking a back seat to birdsong and starry skies. In other words, it was a pitch-perfect choice for the site of our 2023 Idea House—a reimagined farmhouse that honors its surroundings and encourages gracious hospitality.”

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The plants in each room bring a breath of fresh air and add life. This home would have a completely different vibe if it weren’t for the plants! Plants possess a remarkable ability to transform the ambiance of any room they inhabit. Their verdant foliage brings a touch of nature’s serenity indoors, creating a soothing and refreshing atmosphere. The vibrant hues and varied textures of leaves and petals infuse a burst of color and life, instantly revitalizing even the dullest spaces. Beyond aesthetics, plants actively purify the air, releasing oxygen and absorbing toxins, thereby enhancing the overall air quality. Their presence also fosters a sense of tranquility and connection to the natural world, promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Whether perched on windowsills, adorning shelves, or hanging gracefully from ceiling hooks, plants hold the power to imbue a room with an enchanting and revitalizing energy.

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From Southern Living: “It was very natural for me to be inspired by the landscape when I considered the color palette, textures, and general energy of the house,” notes Laura. “We always aim for sustainability in our design plans, so we picked out materials that made sense for the property.” The footprint of the structure also takes its cues from the 67 acres surrounding it, with a main house that unfolds along the hilltop plus a garden folly and a multipurpose barn that snugly flank the pool and open-air entertaining space out back. “We thought it should be a home that looked like it had been there for a while, something that seemed settled and original,” says Bill. “We wanted it to appear as if the grounds had developed around the house, instead of the other way around,” adds Luke. Through architecture that prioritizes livability and interiors that feel harmonious with the land, our team crafted a bucolic retreat that is mindfully rooted in its environment and also intentionally designed for the future.” We love how important a factor that nature was when constructing this house! And special shout-out to our friends at Hatcliff Construction who helped create this house.

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Lacewings vs. Ladybugs

Lacewings vs. Ladybugs

Many gardeners and houseplant owners are familiar with using ladybugs for pest control – they love aphids, right? You can purchase ladybugs anywhere online, and release them in your garden, home, or greenhouse. We even posted on Instagram about our garden center using ladybugs for pest management last year. But did you know that most ladybugs you purchase are wild-caught? Did you know they’re harvested in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and are not native to Tennessee? After attending a lecture featuring Bug Lady Suzanne, of Buglady Consulting, our staff learned that ladybugs are not always ideal pest controllers – it’s the Lacewing that we’re looking to for sustainable pest management. Suzanne provided us with tons of fantastic information, and changed our minds on the use of ladybugs in a garden center. Want to learn more? Keep reading!

Why not Ladybugs?

To start, Ladybugs, or Convergent Ladybird Beetles, are not 100% carnivorous. For some species of ladybug, more than half their diet is pollen – they’re pollinators before predators. This being said, they are not as effective predators for soft-bodied pests like aphids or mealybugs. Also, ladybugs are often wild-caught in the Sierra Nevada mountain range – this means that they are mostly native to California. Around 14% of all wild ladybugs carry Microsporidia – a contagious fungus. These wild-caught ladybugs, when brought to other parts of the country, spread Microsporidia. These ladybugs aren’t native elsewhere and are meant to be there and nowhere else.

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Another downside to wild-harvested ladybugs is that they are often harvested while they are hibernating. This is a negative, because if the ladybugs are fat and happy and you release them in your garden, they aren’t going to want to feed on pests and other insects. Most likely, due to their migratory nature, the ladybugs will travel to another location and disperse. On the contrary, if you have acres and acres of farmland or plants, ladybugs could be a good choice. You could release ladybugs, and they would travel far to find other food sources. If you have a targeted area you are trying to treat, such as a greenhouse, the adult ladybugs would be released and then they’d likely leave the area.

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Another issue with ladybugs is that they are rather difficult to farm-raise. Ladybugs often carry parasites, and removing the parasitoids can prove difficult even after generations of careful breeding. Also, ladybugs have a very specific diet. Trying to create a diet that a ladybug is happy to eat is very hard. They require lots of specific protein and pollen, and even then they could turn their tiny noses up at the food provided. They are labor-intensive to grow and due to this, no large productions of ladybug rearers exist. Farmed ladybugs are much more expensive than wild-caught, which just perpetuates the need to harvest them from the wild.

Why choose Lacewings?

Lacewing larvae are the perfect pest management insect. Their larvae are glued onto “egg cards” with dead moth eggs. These moth eggs provide the larvae with a meal when they first emerge so they can get a boost as soon as they’re born. The larvae are voracious predators and can eat hundreds of soft-bodied insects shortly after hatching. They’re a fantastic generalist predator. Another benefit is that the larvae cannot fly in their adolescent stage, so they don’t leave once they hatch. It’s an enormous benefit to have in a garden center, as we don’t want them to leave! Lacewings can target specific sites, and they are very focused predators.

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Another benefit is the sustainability aspect – lacewings are not wild-caught. Lacewings are farmed in controlled environments, so they don’t have parasites or diseases. They’re easy to purchase online, and you can know that they were not wild-harvested and sustainably raised. Plus, once the larvae enter into adulthood, they are no longer predators – they become pollinators. They fly from flower to flower, pollinating as they go. They drink honeydew produced by aphids and then lay eggs near the aphids so their offspring will have food to eat once they’re born.

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At Gardens of Babylon, if you stop in to our garden center you can see some lacewing larvae egg cards placed strategically throughout the greenhouses! Stop by and see for yourself. We love learning new things, and pride ourselves in staying educated and up-to-date on sustainable pest management and the reduction of pesticide use.

Fall is Great for Planting. Here’s Why

Fall is Great for Planting. Here’s Why

Here’s good news for gardeners who feel they missed their chance to establish a garden in spring: Fall will be here soon.

While spring traditionally opens the gardening season, many gardeners are aware that fall is great for planting. In September, the soil is still warm from summer heat while the air begins to cool, creating the perfect environment for healthy root growth. “This, combined with declining pest and disease populations is a recipe for success” horticulture experts at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture explain. “Work and planning now will pay off in the spring with strong healthy plants growing beautifully in a home garden.”

And after the long, sweltering summer, cooler weather brings you back out to enjoy the outdoors again. Think of it as the garden’s “second season.” What to plant? You may be surprised at what thrives in a fall garden:

Shrubs and trees

Fall and winter months are a good time to plant shrubs and trees. Spring-planted shrubs need to be watched and watered regularly as the weather gets warmer and they try to get established in the ground during the growing season. Planted when they are dormant, trees and shrubs can put their energy into establishing good root systems before they begin active growth again next spring. 

Water trees and shrubs at planting time and throughout the season while it’s still warm and dry, but decrease watering as the weather begins to turn cold.

Perennials 

Those coneflowers, daylilies, peonies and other summer-blooming perennials may not look their best in the garden center right now, and they certainly won’t bloom this year. But planting them now gives them a chance to grow quickly into the still-warm soil before frost arrives. 

A layer of mulch at planting time will help keep the soil moist, and should protect the new plants from being pushed out of the ground during winter’s freezing and thawing. Next spring, fall-planted perennials will emerge as strong, healthy plants.

Kitchen garden

In late summer, many kitchen-garden veggies begin to fade, but the opportunities for those garden beds don’t come to an end. As you pull out the dying squash and cucumber vines, you can make space for vegetables that grow in cooler weather and continue to have homegrown produce throughout the fall and, in some cases, well into winter. Consider the possibilities!

  • Leafy vegetables: Lettuce, spinach, kale, chard and other leafy greens planted early spring grow quickly when the soil is cool, and go to seed and die back as the weather warms up. Planted now, though, as weather begins to cool, these leafy greens will again thrive. 
  • Root vegetables: Once they sprout, carrots, turnips and radishes grow fairly quickly, and continue to survive even through frosty fall nights. 
  • Cole crops, or brassicas: broccoli, collards, cabbage, kale, bok choy and others are among the cool-season vegetables that grow in fall and are tough enough to withstand the colder weather to come. 

Tips for success

Even though the calendar tells us it’s almost fall, warm weather can last for quite a while longer in Middle Tennessee. Provide plenty of water at planting time and throughout the rest of the season so that new plants’ roots are established going into winter. Use mulch to keep the soil moist and protect the plants’ roots (but never pile mulch up around the trunks of trees and shrubs). 

Particularly in kitchen gardens, know that extreme heat and drought may make seed germination a challenge; summer insects and fast-growing weeds can also thwart your efforts. Pay close attention and take care of fall-growing vegetables from planting to harvest.

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Getting ready to plant a fall garden? Seeds of cool-season vegetables are available at Garden of Babylon now; shipments of fall-growing vegetables to transplant will arrive early to mid-September. Visit the garden center or order online for curbside pickup.