Category Archives: Indoor Plants

Calla Lily

The Winter Greenhouse Is Lush With Houseplants and Flowers

Bromeliads, Anthurium and Needle Palm in the GreenhouseIf you’ve never stepped into a lush greenhouse in the middle of winter on a rainy, cold day (or any day for that matter), you’re in for a real treat.

January was a turn the greenhouse upside down month, as pretty much every last thing was moved and rearranged, including one entire area that held an abundance of pots.Benches and Fountain Vignette In the Greenhouse

 

 

 

Anyone who ever said working in a greenhouse was a walk in the park never worked with us! Hard work aside, we’re pleased with the changes and hope you like it as well.

Tacca

Tacca, supervising…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cats took part too, though Tacca was more than happy to settle into a box and watch the goings on, and they all found new spots to take naps!

 

Liam, true to his personality, likes to be center stage, right at the front door where everyone who sees him gives him a pet, and sometimes Tacca joins him there.Tacca and Liam In the Greenhouse

Of course there are beautiful houseplants of all sizes in the greenhouse, and we pay attention to them so they’re at their best when you take them home. We’re all plant junkies too and are always on the lookout for new and different offerings (One for you, one for me…).Houseplants and Pots in the Greenhouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miniature Garden

Haley at work on the miniature garden display…

For everyone who loves tiny, miniature garden magic, Haley has taken over the display, transforming a corner of the greenhouse.

Our fairyland table now has a new backdrop and floating clouds above it. It’s a special spot for the young and the young at heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Margaret’s miniature garden…

Margaret was inspired to make her own little garden in a teacup. She had a little gnome; now he lives under a “tree” with a bench nearby if he wants to sit a spell. It is so cute!

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps you have an interesting container you’d like to work a little miniature magic on. They’re so much fun, and we have everything you need to make it happen.Greenhouse

If you’re on social media, we are too! We were discussing the other day that the shop is the perfect spot to take social media pictures, so look for us on FaceBook – Oak Street Garden Shop and Local Market,  Pinterest, and  Instagram too.

 

 

 

 

Houseplant Monstera deliciosaThen, while you’re visiting the shop, take a selfie and tag us (We have the perfect monstera for #monsteramonday !). The enormous pot ours is planted in was rotated, the huge leaves cleaned, and lots of pictures were taken of it. It has been our shop mascot for many years now, and we think it’s worthy of Instagram fame!

Moving the Monstera deliciosa houseplant

Jamie and Allen rotating the monstera…

 

 

 

 

 

Installing the New Heater

Replacing the heater…

 

We all appreciate being warm, and well maintained and reliable heaters are the backbone of any greenhouse. One of ours finally wore out after almost 30 years of use, and while replacing it took the better part of a rainy Saturday, we’re sure the plants (and us)  will feel the difference.Houseplants in the Greenhouse

 

 

One thing is for sure, a lush greenhouse is the perfect place to be on any winter day – among houseplants and orchids, flowers, succulents, and blooming spring bulbs. Take a moment to walk through, you won’t be sorry!

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

 

New To Houseplants? Let Us Help!

If you’re of a certain age, you well remember when houseplants were a mainstay in most houses. The home I grew up in in the 1970’s was filled with plants.

My mother tended them, each week working her way through the house with her watering can and sometimes a sponge to wipe dusty leaves. Even now, at the age of 86, she has a house filled with plants.

I remember floor-size planters and smaller pots grouped together on end tables and beautiful green and variegated leaves of varied shapes and sizes. If you looked up, macrame hangers supported pretty pots filled with hoyas, pothos, creeping fig, and ivy, the trailing vines winding their way here and there.

Today you can Google houseplants or look on Instagram and many similar images appear. Houseplants are making a comeback. Hallelujah, it’s about time!  Whether you’re a novice  with a few small pots on a windowsill in your first apartment or live in a downtown loft and need something bigger, there really is a houseplant for everyone.

Theories abound as to why houseplants are making such a comeback. Some say it’s that younger people need something to nurture. Others say it’s cyclical, and it was just time for them to reappear. Still others say it’s because the world is in such turmoil that  people are turning to their homes for comfort. Whatever the case, plants are a warm and lovely addition to any indoor space.

Plants help purify the air too. There are lists of those that researchers have deemed the most helpful for this. They include many old favorites like spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum), snake plant (sanseveria), pothos (Epipremnum), peace lily (Spathiphyllum), ivy (Hedera), parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans), aloe, dracaena, Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), rubber plant (ficus robusta), and nephthytis (Syngonium).

Of course this listing is just the tip of the houseplant iceberg. A few other plants pictured here include the puckered leaved peperomias, hardy Norfolk Island pines, alocasias, succulent jade plants, philodendrons, and, in the background one of our greenhouse “mascots”, a very large Monstera deliciosa, filling out its new pot. We love our plants too!

Monstera deliciosa

 

 

Some basic houseplant info: Light is important. Pay attention to how the sun moves through your home. Is your landscape outside filled with trees that block the light coming in on certain sides? Are there buildings that shade even western or south facing windows? Is your home bright and filled with windows that are unobstructed, or does it feel dark even on sunny days? Plants that don’t have enough light tend to “stretch”, leaning toward the sun and may be pale even with diligent fertilizing.

Assorted pothos

Plants that tolerate low light levels are the workhorses of the houseplant world. They’re also some of the best plants for beginners. Here are a few to try:

Pothos are virtually indestructible in low light and also prefer to be on the dry side. Don’t overwater and they’ll live happily in your home. Sanseveria thrive in bright light but also will add a lovely vertical accent in low light spots too. Philodendrons, spider plants, prayer plants, many ferns, and the indestructible ZZ plant are other good choices.

Fiddleleaf Fig Tree

If you have bright, light flooded rooms with plenty of windows, the choices widen. Peace lilies prefer this  light, though they’ll tolerate lower light levels too. Ficus, including ficus lyrata, the popular fiddle leaf fig, aralia, jade plants and other succulents, croton, ponytail palm, hoyas, grape ivy and aloe vera need the brightest light you can provide.

Anthurium

If you’re not sure you have enough light for those but want to try something other than the low-light plants above, Chinese evergreens, parlor palmsanthurium, bromeliads, ivy, creeping fig, Schefflera arboricola, fittonia, or peperomia are worth trying.

Each plant will have specific water requirements, and I remember my mom checking hers each week, watering if it was needed or simply “grooming”, removing yellow or dead leaves and clipping wayward stems.

Sanseveria

 

 

The amount and frequency of water depend on the brightness of the light, how warm or cool the room is, and the type of plant. Moisture meters can be helpful to determine the moisture in a planter, especially if they’re large. With so much information at our fingertips, researching individual plants is easy; so learn as much as you can about your new purchase to give it the proper care.

Healthy plants need food, and fertilizing should be done at least every two weeks during the growing season, spring through summer, and monthly in the winter when growth slows.

Cissus, Grape Ivy

Even with the best conditions, indoor plants may be susceptible to insect damage.  These pests might include cottony-looking mealy bugs that hide in leaf axils or along stems, spider mites (Common  when humidity levels are low and, in advanced infestations, even showing webbing on plants.), scale (Usually seen as dark bumps on stems and the underside of leaves.), and aphids, soft bodied insects typically found on tender new growth.

If you tend your plants weekly you should spot insect problems early on when they’re more easily managed with a natural pyrethrum or soap spray. There are also systemic granular insecticides that can be sprinkled onto the soil. Always read the labels before using.

 

Houseplants not only look good and purify our indoor air, they add to our interior style, give us something to care for, and bring a little of the outside in. So, with the “comeback” of the houseplant, we say, “Cheers!”

Plants to use with caution around children and pets: Dieffenbachia, Easter lily (very toxic to cats), and ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamifolia)

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

 

Fiddleleaf Fig Houseplants…Identifying Leaf Problems and Tips For Growing A Healthy Plant

The fiddleleaf fig is the latest houseplant wonder, used by interior designers and houseplant owners across the country. Its popularity is well deserved as it’s a striking, large leaved plant, often trained into a tree form and seen on the pages of magazines everywhere.

Maybe you’ve succumbed to the “Everyone has a fiddle leaf fig, I need one too.” pressure but now aren’t sure how to care for it?  Well, first things first –  It’s always smart to look at where a plant originated, then try your best to duplicate that in your home.

Ficus lyrata are native to western Africa, from Cameroon west to Sierra Leone, where it grows in lowland tropical rainforest.  Their large leaves enable them to catch as much light as possible, and in this environment they can grow up to 100 feet in height.

Creating this environment in your home can be daunting. Light is the first challenge. Ficus lyrata will prefer an extremely bright room, but bear in mind too much direct sun may burn its leaves.

The ideal placement would be in a spot that is in very bright light most of the day. If there’s direct light through southern or western windows, don’t place your fiddleleaf fig directly in them but back it off so it receives the light but not the hot sun.

Fiddleleaf fig leaves are very big and they can be dust collectors. It’s important to keep these large leaves clean so they can absorb as much light as possible to aid in photosynthesis. To do this, carefully cradle each leaf in your palm and gently wipe them  with either a damp sponge or a microfiber cloth. Do this at least once a month.

Water is the next consideration. In its native habitat, the fiddleleaf fig stays uniformly moist all the time. The trick is to keep it watered just enough, but not to let it stay too wet which can cause root rot and bacterial diseases. Root rot will manifest itself in older leaves developing brown spots, then dropping off, a very common problem with ficus lyrata in the home. Leaves typically remain dark green with one brown spot that gets larger and larger.

If you suspect this is the case, take your plant out of its pot and inspect the roots. If any are soft and mushy, root rot is the problem and is affecting the leaves and health of your plant. Remove the bad roots and repot with fresh potting soil. Groom the plant, removing any affected leaves.

Try to let your ficus go just dry. Push your finger into the soil 2”-3”.  If it comes out dry, it’s time to water. When you water, water thoroughly, then let it go for however long it takes until your finger comes out dry again when you test the soil. Never let your plant sit in water.

If your fiddleleaf fig doesn’t receive enough water, it will be easy to tell as you’ll notice the edges of the leaves begin to turn brown, dry, and begin to curl. The overall look of the plant may appear wilted as well. Remove the brown leaves and try to be more aware of how much and how often you’re watering.

If the soil is coming away from the edge of the pot, that’s a sure sign you’ve not been watering enough. Check to see if your plant is near a heat vent that’s drying out the air and try misting your fiddleleaf fig to raise the humidity around it.

A serious problem, and another that also shows itself by brown spots on the leaves, is bacterial leaf spot. The difference between this and root rot is that bacterial disease affects all growth but especially attacks new leaves.  You’ll notice small leaves and stunted growth, yellowing, and many brown spots on each leaf rather than one large brown area.

With bacterial leaf spot, the leaf  will also turn yellow as the bacteria spreads. Eventually leaves will fall off. If less than 50% of the plant is affected, the best course of action is to remove all the diseased leaves and repot with new soil. Do not overwater as it’s recovering and place it in the maximum amount of light possible.

If your plant continues to decline or if more than half your plant has diseased leaves, it’s better to discard it and start over with a new plant.

Fertilize once a month through the growing season as they are very light feeders and let it rest through the winter. It also responds well to light pruning if necessary.

Finally, ficus lyrata prefer to be a bit potbound, but, if you see roots coming out the bottom of the pot and it needs to be moved up, repot using quality potting soil (We use Fafard.) into a pot no more than 2″ larger. The best time to repot is spring as your fiddleleaf fig is resuming more active growth.

Once you’ve found the right spot and have a handle on the proper care of your Ficus lyrata, you’ll find it to be a very durable and tough plant that should give you many years of enjoyment.

We offer Ficus lyrata at Oak Street Garden Shop when they are available. Please stop in and browse – you might find some other plants too! 

~ We’re sorry, but we don’t offer online sales or ship plants at this time ~

 

 

Just In Time For Valentine’s Day – Flowering Plants For Your Love

If you need a beautiful flower for your Valentine, look no farther than your nearest independent garden shop.

 

 

Sure, you’ll see all sorts of blooming plants in every other store on the block  (They are everywhere!), but we like to think that, since plants are what we do, 365 days out of the year, we offer the best. And isn’t that what you want for your love today and every day?

The weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day really are beautiful in the greenhouse.

 

 

 

Orchids of all colors, forced hydrangeas in bloom, and the promise of spring with daffodils and other bulbs fill the tables.  It may be winter on the calendar, but it’s spring in the greenhouse!

 

 

 

 

 

Whether your gift is an elegant orchid in a pretty pot or an arrangement of mixed plants and flowers in bloom, we’ll make this holiday with your love special.

 

To place an order for a custom design give us a call at 205-870-7542.

 

It’s Spring In The Greenhouse!

For all of you winter weary souls, February is approaching and spring won’t be far behind. Here’s a peek into the greenhouse to brighten your day…

Bright bromeliads…

Orchids and more…

Twig and Pussywillow Wreath

Twig and Pussywillow Wreath…

Zen frog

Zen frog…

Rieger begonias

Rieger begonias…

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas…

Liam

Liam found a new spot…

Hydrangeas and Jasmine

Hydrangeas and Jasmine

Oncidium and Paph Orchids...

Orchid Arrangement…

Azaleas and Cyclamen

Azaleas and Cyclamen…

Pansies and Muscari

Pansies and Muscari…

Cyclamen – Winter Beauties For Your Home

Florist cyclamen, with their beautifully patterned leaves and pretty blooms, are one of the best flowering houseplants for winter color, and they’re usually available any time from November through late February, or until the weather warms. In nature hardy cyclamen grow naturally in cool, humid environments, and tubers gradually go through cycles of growth and dormancy.

In your home florist cyclamen prefer a bright spot with temperatures around 68 degrees during the day and preferably a bit cooler at night. If your room is very warm, or you overwater, the leaves will begin to yellow and the flowers won’t last long.

tiny buds unfurl from the center of the plant

Once you’ve found the right placement, water sparingly, but don’t let it get so dry that the leaves wilt. It’s best to water cyclamen from the bottom. Let it sit in a tray of water for about 30 minutes or until the soil is moist, then repeat when the soil begins to dry.

As flowers fade, keep them deadheaded to prolong the bloom. Usually there are tiny buds down in the very center of the plant, much like violets and another reason to water from the bottom. If your cyclamen is happy the buds will continue to offer flowers until it’s time to rest.

Eventually your cyclamen will bloom out and begin to go dormant. You’ll know this is happening because the leaves will yellow and eventually all disappear. This is normal, and hardy cyclamen in the garden do this naturally as the plant goes into a rest period through the summer months.  In your home, stop watering and place the plant in a cool dark place.

beautifully patterned leaves…

It will look like your plant is dying as the leaves turn yellow one by one.  After a period of some months of dormancy with little to no water, it will be time to bring it back into more light and begin to water again. Water it thoroughly until the soil is completely saturated, then resume normal care. You’ll begin to see leaves reappear, and buds should follow.

Cyclamen are a little more demanding in their water and light needs, but they more than reward you if you persist!

****If the buds on your cyclamen don’t open, you might have cyclamen mites. These tiny insects lay their eggs around the buds. The larva enters the bud after it hatches and suck sap from unopened petals. Unfortunately buds infested with mites won’t open and since these pests are difficult to manage its best to discard infested plants.

If you think your cyclamen has mites and you’d like to treat them, the information below is from the University of Kentucky:

“Often, it is better to discard infested plants than to attempt to control the problem with pesticides. If chemical control is attempted, isolate the infested plants to reduce potential spread of the mites. Spraying the plants with…insecticidal soap can provide effective control, especially after pruning back the growth. Three to four applications should be made at 3 to 5 day intervals with insecticidal soap.  Direct applications at both the lower and upper leaf surfaces.”

 

Southern Living’s ‘Grumpy Gardener’ Noticed This Orchid Arrangement

Orchid ArrangementWe try to have as many orchids and other plants as possible to fill customer’s containers for parties and special events. The amount of design work we do is certainly a far cry from our start 25 years ago when we didn’t even offer orchids for sale!

This orchid arrangement, in a customer’s beautiful footed container,  was spotted by Steve Bender, Southern Living’s ‘Grumpy Gardener’. He then “stole” it and featured it on his blog with our permission. But happily, it’s here too!

another in a dough bowl...

another in a dough bowl…

 

For anyone who may not know, we create arrangements like this on a daily basis for folks bringing in their containers or using ours.

 

driftwood pieces with orchids and houseplants

driftwood pieces with orchids and houseplants

If you have something at home you’d like filled with living plants,  (It doesn’t have to be orchids, it could be other foliage and flowers.) simply bring your container in, or choose one of ours.  Give us some idea of where it will be placed,  and if you’ll be using it for a party or need something  long lasting.

 

Finally, give us some guidelines on color preferences if you have any, and then simply leave it for us to create something beautiful for you.

The orchid arrangement he featured had some beautiful, large air plants in it.  For more information on air plants, look HERE.

 

During the holiday season and spring  we ask at least a week’s notice (or more) so we can do the best job possible – this also allows us time to gather the plants needed for your arrangement.

Calla Lily and Frosty Fern

Frosty Fern…It’s Not A Fern And Not A Moss…So What Is It?? (Or, What’s In A Name?)

When talking about plants, what’s in a name, anyway? Well, I’m glad I asked, because the plant you might have seen around town in every garden shop and grocery store that has the catchy name of “frosty fern” really isn’t a fern  at all. I know most of you don’t really care much whether it’s a real fern or not, but, having grown up with my name being spelled wrong constantly (It’s Kris with a “K”, thank you very much.), I do get a little touchy about providing the correct plant name for folks that care about these things. I can just see how it all came about…some marketing guru somewhere said brightly,  “I know!!! Let’s call it “Frosty” because it looks like the tips are frosted; and everyone will think it’s a fern, so let’s run with Frosty Fern!”

The tips of the leaves do look frosted...

The tips of the leaves do look frosted…

To confuse matters even more, some knowledgeable plant people  look at it and say, “Well, of course, it’s not a fern; that’s a spike moss, or club moss.” Now, actually, this is true, but in reality a “spike moss” isn’t a true moss either. Confused yet? Yeah, I thought you might be. Hang in there, though; it will all become clear, I promise.

Now is where we get to the good part…and the reason the plant marketers felt they had to  dream up a catchier name. The correct name for this pretty little plant is Selaginella kraussiana, a name that almost rolls off the tongue…sellaahhginellaaahhh. What do you think?  No? That’s what I thought. Okay, it’s enough  for me that you are at least now aware that this plant is not a fern and not a moss. So let’s talk about what it is and how to take care of it.

nephthytis, tooth brake fern, rex begonia and selaginella ‘Frosty’

This selaginella certainly could  be mistaken for a fern, with its tiny leaves and wispy appearance. But, if you look closely, the leaves are flat and look forked. Which, I suppose, is also how it comes by its other common name, spike or club moss.  The coloring of the leaf tips is natural; another selaginella, Selaginella uncinata, sometimes called peacock moss (Now it’s a moss; see how confusing this gets?), has beautiful iridescent blue-green leaves.

These plants are actually part of  an interesting group of plants called fern-allies, not actually related to ferns  but sharing the same reproductive means –  spores.

Selaginella ‘Frosty’ with a myrtle topiary

Selaginellas have  become naturalized in parts of Portugal, Spain, and New Zealand, though they’re originally from Africa. They make quite wonderful terrarium plants since they’re happiest with good humidity and consistent moisture during the growing season. Like most plants, growth slows in  fall and winter, so be sure to cut back on the water during those months and let them dry a bit between drinks.

Try to keep the humidity up as high as possible, especially if you plan on keeping one in your home through the winter months when your furnace is running and air gets drier.  An easy way to do this is to place your selaginella on a shallow tray of pebbles filled  with water just to the bottom of it. Sit your pot on the pebbles, taking care not to sink the pot in the water. As the water evaporates it will add moisture to the air around your plant.

Selaginella kraussiana ('frosty fern)They prefer temperatures above 50 degrees, the perfect range being anywhere from 75 – 80 degrees F.  If  temperatures drop lower, the foliage can be  prone to fungal problems and the tips of their tiny leaves will turn brown. So, if you are using them in outdoor shade planters through the summer, keep this in mind as the temperatures cool in the fall.

Bright but indirect light is best, either early morning or late afternoon if inside. Too much direct sun will cause the leaves to wilt and burn. Be careful not to over feed your selaginella, as too much fertilizer can also cause  wilting and yellowing of leaves.

So, whatever you choose to call it, you now know its proper name  (And don’t we all want to be called by our correct name?), and the marketing gurus haven’t got the last word after all!

By Kris Blevons

 

 

The End Of The Season…Fall Arrangements

A reindeer moss wreath, with burlap and pods...

A reindeer moss wreath, with burlap and pods…

A copper planter for a table. Jamie's colorful fall design of chartreuse, orange and white...

A copper planter for a table. Jamie’s colorful fall design of chartreuse, orange and white…

Autumn  passes far too quickly. As usual, when a season is nearing the end, I find myself wishing I’d made the time to take more pictures of the many arrangements that we’ve created the past few weeks. Jamie, Molly, and I looked through those we had and here are a few of them – a simple goodbye to the autumn season for another year as we set our sights ahead to the holidays.

A vignette Jamie created with an orchid, sedum, tiny pumpkins and more...

A vignette Jamie created with an orchid, sedum, tiny pumpkins and more…

Pinkie used little white pumpkins, succulents, and bittersweet in a dough bowl...

Pinkie used little white pumpkins, succulents, and bittersweet in this dough bowl…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This simple tray became home to a gourd, mushrooms and moss, with Heuchera and autumn Fern adding more rich color...

My simple tray became home to a gourd, mushrooms and moss, with Heuchera and Autumn Fern adding more rich color…

A dough bowl Jamie designed...

A dough bowl Jamie designed…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall is a favorite time, as the materials we work with are so interesting and organic. There’s none of the shiny, glittery, in-your-face glitz that will be here, oh, so soon enough, with the approach of Christmas. No, this time of year is quieter, as we embrace the down-to-earth beauty of mushrooms, soft green moss, natural branches, dark wiry angelvine, pods of all kinds, and interesting gourds. I enjoy the combinations that result, melded at times with the muted tones of burlap and raffia.

Molly's spirited fall arrangement with bright yellow Oncidium orchids...

Molly’s spirited fall arrangement with bright yellow Oncidium orchids…

I really enjoyed creating this "woodsy" piece...

I really enjoyed creating this “woodsy” piece…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall flowers in pretty pots for a fall luncheon...

For a fall luncheon..

Oncidium Orchid 'Twinkle' Arrangement With Okra Pods and Pinecones

Oncidium ‘Twinkle’ in a sweet combination of Jamie’s. Okra pods and pinecones add even more texture…

My simple lady slipper orchid arrangement, watched over by pretty Tacca, our garden shop kitty…

 

 

Dená carved this pretty blue pumpkin, and daughter, Molly, planted it...

Dená carved this pretty blue pumpkin and daughter, Molly, planted it…

We see such interesting pieces in the fall too. Earthy dough bowls, dark metal planters and copper containers, low wooden trays just perfect for mossy vignettes, a majolica bowl the right size and shape for a woodsy arrangement. Soon enough we’ll be making quite different sorts of combinations through the holidays, with quite different materials. For now though, I’m content to enjoy these last few days of fall.

A colorful fall piece Molly created using houseplants and mini pumpkins...

A final fall piece Molly created using houseplants and mini pumpkins…

 

Amaryllis – Beauty In A Bulb

Amaryllis, unquestionably, are one of the most dramatic and elegant of flowers. That bold, beautiful blooms of all colors and sizes can emerge from such a drab, unassuming brown bulb is amazing. They are truly a wonder of nature!

Decorative moss and pebbles dress up this amaryllis bulb...

Decorative moss and pebbles dress up this amaryllis bulb…

Amaryllis in the greenhouse...

Amaryllis in the greenhouse…

Our final shipment of amaryllis bulbs arrived the other day and now is the perfect time to pot them up for the holidays. It’s so easy to do too.  My  friend, Nancy Wallace of Wallace Gardens  in Atlanta,  swears by soaking the bulb in Haven Brand Manure Tea, an odorless tea that we have in stock now, for an even better display.

In a shallow saucer filled with about an inch of this concentrated tea, soak the roots of the bulbs for no more than 20 minutes, then plant. From her picture I featured in the above link, she’s on the right track. I’ll be soaking mine this year!

Amaryllis arrangement...

Amaryllis arrangement…

So, you want to purchase an amaryllis bulb (or more than one) for yourself or as gifts for friends? First, you need to know that the size of the bulb corresponds to the size and amount of blooms. Their sizes range from “miniature” amaryllis bulbs to jumbo amaryllis and there are midsize bulbs as well.

Large blooms of this amaryllis offer a contrast to the fragrant jasmine...

Large blooms of this amaryllis offer a contrast to the fragrant jasmine…

Beware of gift boxes and bags already prepackaged. I’ve stopped carrying them because, inevitably, the bulb begins to grow in the box prior to purchase. Believe me, there’s nothing sadder than an amaryllis, stem bent toward the light, growing sideways out of a box. It’s just not right!

Potting them up is quite simple. First, soak your amaryllis bulb as described above so the roots rehydrate. Next, find a pot that is no more than an inch or so wider than the bulb and fill it with good quality potting soil (We use Fafard.) about half way up the pot. Next, position the bulb on the soil, pushing the roots firmly in place. The “shoulder”, or widest portion of the bulb, should be above the soil. Fill in around the bulb, push down gently, and water with some of the remaining manure tea.

Amaryllis Arrangement

The hardest part is the wait for the bud to begin to emerge. It may take just a few days in a warm, sunny room, but it can just as easily take longer. Amaryllis don’t always cooperate with our timetables. Take a look at this “Holiday Flowers” post from last year and you’ll see what I mean. When you do see new growth starting to emerge, begin to water just so the soil stays slightly moist and watch the magic happen! You can also “dress up” the top of the soil with decorative moss or pebbles. Amaryllis

In bloom amaryllis can get quite tall  and will usually benefit from some type of staking. In addition to simple bamboo stakes,  stems of red and yellow twig dogwood, birch, curly willow, or branches from your landscape can be used. Insert the staking material at the edge of the bulb and tie it with raffia or ribbon.

Amaryllis, budded, with ferns, and stems of pussywillow...

Amaryllis, budded, with ferns, and stems of pussywillow…

The pictures here show what we’ve done in the past using amaryllis. They make wonderful presents during the holiday season and simply watching the bloom stalk grow taller and the enormous buds begin to open is a gift in itself!

In addition to bulbs that are available for you to plant, we also will be receiving many amaryllis already potted up from our growers. So, if you’re in the Birmingham area, there’s  no excuse not to have one of these holiday favorites!

 

 

 

Try Some Compost Tea This Year – Haven Brand Authentic Tea Is Easy To Use!

imagePlants are like people; they need food to grow…and nutritious food for best health.  I would take that one step further and say that, not only should you feed the plant, you need to add organic amendments and nutrients to create healthy soil that your plants will  thrive in.

My friend Annie Haven of Authentic Haven Brand Natural Brew created her product  with this principle in mind.  On her ranch in California (It’s been in her family since the 1800’s!), the cattle are free ranging and graze in native grass pastures, free of antibiotics, hormone-added grain, and pesticides. The manure that is produced is dehydrated, then packaged, and the tea bags are shipped out and ready for you to steep. What you make can either be used as a soil drench for roses and other plants or as a foliar spray.

Little "tea" bags, ready to brew!

Little “tea” bags, ready to brew!

At Oak Street Garden Shop we’ve carried Annie Haven’s Moo Poo Tea since last spring.  The most popular has been the Soil Conditioner Premium Manure Tea, labeled for houseplants, container plants, the vegetable garden, shade plants,  shrubs and lawns. Both are in sturdy, sewn-together “tea bags”,  ready to brew. I’ve used it at the shop and in my own garden.

They couldn’t be any easier to use; just drop each bag in a 1 gallon, or up to a 5 gallon container, fill with tap water, cover and allow to steep for one to three days.  Then use it to water any plants that need a good, rich organic boost.

steeping...

steeping…

One of my friends in Atlanta, Nancy Wallace, of Wallace Gardens, uses Annie Haven’s tea each year on her amaryllis bulbs and reports that her blooms are easily one third larger than they were on the same size bulbs before she started using this tea. She  soaks them in it prior to planting, then waters them  with it until they bloom. I’ve seen pictures of her amaryllis, and they are truly impressive.

Wallace Gardens beautiful amaryllis..

Wallace Gardens beautiful amaryllis..

Another way she uses it is as a “Super Brew”, placing 4-6 bags in a jug to make a very concentrated mixture. Then, using a hose end sprayer, she foliar sprays all of her plants with it. Summer foliar feeding like this also seems to deter bugs!

For a quick tea, if there’s none at hand, put a bag in a bucket and fill it up with water. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then begin squeezing the bag over and over; you’ll see the tea releasing into the water. Continue doing this 20-30 times and you’ve got yourself a fast made tea.

When you’re finished with the tea bags, cut them open with a pair of scissors and add the contents to your container gardens…it’s all useable!

Pricing for individual tea bags is $4.95 or you can purchase 3 for $12.95.

 

 

 

 

Myrtle Topiaries…Back In Stock!

Myrtle topiaries in pretty pots...

Myrtle topiaries in pretty pots…

Finally, after many years absence, we have myrtle topiaries back in stock!  Many moons ago we had a small specialty grower in Georgia who supplied us with these pretty plants. When she retired, we turned to another supplier in North Carolina, who, inexplicably (To us, anyway!), stopped carrying them a number of years ago. We’ve been searching for a good wholesale supplier ever since and are so happy to have finally found a source once more . These are available in 5″ and 6″ pots – hopefully there will be other sizes in the future.

Myrtle, myrtus communis,  was an integral part of Roman gardens and is widespread in Mediterranean regions where it is cultivated as a large ornamental shrub.  The topiaries we carry are a dwarf myrtle, Myrtus communis ‘Compacta’,  and are happiest grown outside in containers  through the summer in a sunny to partly sunny spot. Kept watered regularly, the long, hot summers will bring on small flower buds that open to white blooms. With fall and cooler temperatures, it’s best to trim it for the winter and place it indoors in a bright room.  The glossy and pleasantly aromatic leaves are a beautiful shade of green, and the entire plant takes to shaping very well – simply trim it when it becomes shaggy.

myrtle has glossy, aromatic leaves...

myrtle has glossy, aromatic leaves…

Myrtle Topiary Care

Give them plenty of light – they prefer to be in sun in their native habitat, so a dark room won’t give them the light they need. If you know you don’t have enough light where you really want them (on a mantle in a dark room) you may need to swap them out periodically, placing them in a sunny spot to grow well, then moving them back and forth.

Water! It’s important not to let them dry out, but be careful they’re not sitting in water too. If  your topiary is root bound, it will need more diligent watering. Repot it in the spring if, when you pull it out of the pot, you see a mass of roots.

During the growing season, March through September, fertilize your topiaries with a 20-20-20 fertilizer every couple of weeks.  An excellent organic feed is Annie Haven’s Compost Tea. We carry it, though  if you’re not in the Birmingham area you can also order it on-line.  When you bring it in for the winter,  cut back feeding to once a month.

When you trim your topiary, it’s best not to shear the tips. Try to cut back a bit into the plant. Remember wherever you cut, two stems will grow, creating a nice full head of foliage.

Note: We get many calls from people from around the country asking us to ship our myrtle topiaries when we have them in stock. Unfortunately we are not set up to ship at this time.

Orchids…Early Fall Arrangements

A lady slipper is framed by angelvine...

A lady slipper is framed by angelvine…

Orchids, succulents, dried pods and foliage are the common theme in these four arrangements. With the heat of summer receding (Thankfully!) and fresh material arriving to work with, it’s a happy time in the greenhouse. So, between new shipments of pots, plants, ribbon and more, these were a few of the pieces we created. Let’s take a look.

Orchid, succulents and dried pods Someone who worked for us many years ago called from North Carolina to order an orchid for her mother’s birthday. She likes succulents too; so a double stemmed phalaenopsis and a lady slipper orchid were paired in a container and succulents nestled at the base. The addition of  angelvine and a touch of brown ribbon complete the design.

The next two small containers both started with an orchid, then succulents, ribbon, and, in the second, Jamie selected just the right white miniature pumpkin and burlap bow…the perfect gift for someone!Fall Orchid Arrangement

No two designs are ever alike for us, though sometimes a customer will see something they particularly like and will request another version of it.  Our least favorite thing is when someone brings in a picture with the request that we copy it, though we’ll always accommodate as best we can.Fall Orchid Arrangement - Customer's Dough Bowl

Happily, this large dough bowl of a longtime customer is one we see fairly regularly and one that we have complete creative license with. This go-round I filled it with orchids and under planted it for fall with Rex begonias, a pretty ivy, and added dark, shiny pods for their color and shape. A touch of chartreuse mood moss picks up the light green veining in the begonia leaf. Some tiny cattails are placed as accents, and my design is done.

Cotton stems, dried sunflower seed heads from the garden, and fern fiddleheads were the starting point for the last piece in a pretty brown and white bowl. . I added an air plant at the base and wound angel vine up through the cotton for even more interest. Some days are so much fun in the greenhouse!

Cotton, sunflower seed heads, fern fiddle heads and an airplantThis is just a sampling of the early fall things we’ve been creating! Since we’re always searching for new ideas and ways to make our arrangements more interesting and  unique, who knows what we’ll come up with next…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crotons: Beautiful Foliage for Fall Color!

image

It’s after Labor Day, and fall is right around the corner. After going through a long, hot summer, planters and beds look, shall we say, a tad tired. Well, of course, they are.

If you planted pots at the first hint of warm weather in April, no matter how diligent you were at deadheading and cutting back, many of your annuals have had enough of the endless heat and periodic dry spells by September.

Croton 'Sloppy Paint'

So, what to do?  Well, there are certainly the ubiquitous mums, and we’ll have plenty of them in all sizes and colors for you to use. But work the pretty fall hues of yellow, orange, or red marigolds into your autumn flower planters, add a few ornamental pepper plants, and now you’ll be getting somewhere! Finally, to really take it up a notch, add some colorful foliage.

Croton 'Freckles' But “What colorful foliage?”,  you’re thinking by now. So glad you asked! What we have in mind are the brightly patterned leaves of crotons. Up to now you might have thought of them as simply a pretty houseplant for bright spots in your home.

But, luckily, these tough plants can also work beautifully outside too in combination planters or on their own.Croton 'Shoestring' Croton 'Mammy'

Some we’ve gotten in recently highlight the different sizes and patterning of the leaves. Who knew the hybridizers could come up with such variations! Even the names  – ‘Sloppy Paint‘, ‘Freckles‘, and ‘Dreadlocks‘, just to name a few –  bring a smile.

Croton 'Tamara'The best thing about crotons is that their coloration becomes more pronounced with plenty of sun, which is what the marigolds and other plants listed above prefer. Finally, surround your planting with pumpkins and gourds (or tuck a few into the base of your planting)  to create a festive tableau for fall…perfect!

Since crotons also do double duty as houseplants, bring yours inside when nighttime temperatures dip into the 40’s. Carefully remove it from your outdoor planter, and repot into a container just a bit larger than the rootball. Be sure your pot has a drainage hole. Spray the undersides and tops of the leaves with a soap spray to rid it of any insects that might try to hitch a ride indoors, and place your croton in as bright a spot as possible. Don’t overwater during the winter months, it’s best to let the soil dry completely, then water well.  During these colder periods of the year it’s growth slows, so fertilize no more than once a month with a liquid, even formula (20-20-20) fertilizer.

 

Terrariums – Planted for the Lilly Pulitzer Store – (We Can Plant One For You, Too!)

Succulents in terrariums...

Succulents in terrariums…

Terrarium for the Lilly Pulitzer Store

Proof that terrariums can be easy and beautiful design elements in your home or office can be seen in these that Molly designed for the new Lilly Pulitzer store at the Summit. The folks from Lilly Pulitzer brought them in, empty, for us to plant.

Terrariums for the Lilly Pulitzer StoreSince these terrariums are open at the top and the store gets plenty of light, succulents and air plants are a very good choice.  With the right light and minimal water, these plantings should thrive!

Terrarium for the Lilly Pulitzer StoreSome of the plants used include:  Rhypsalis, various Echevarias, Albuca spiralis, Cactus, Haworthia, various Tillandsias, and Portulacaria afra, sometimes called a miniature jade plant.

We’ve used succulents in other plantings , as well,  and really enjoy the variations of leaves and color so many succulents offer.

If you have a new terrarium and aren’t quite sure what to do with it or have an old one that just needs a “redo”, don’t hesitate to let us help!

Aloes…There’s More Than Just Vera Out There!

You're undoubtedly familiar with this Aloe vera...

You’re undoubtedly familiar with this Aloe vera…

A basic aloe plant - and it's soothing gel...

A basic aloe plant – and it’s soothing gel…

The succulent world is full of an amazing and beautiful variety of plants with mysterious names like Echevaria, Hechtia, Aeonium, Senecio, Crassula, Haworthia, and Graptoveria, just to name a few! Even the basic Aloe vera plant has been hybridized. It’s definitely no longer the aloe your mom had on the windowsill in the kitchen, there at the ready to soothe burns from the stove or the sun.

One of the preeminent hybridizers of aloes is a gentleman by the name of Kelly Griffin, formerly of Rancho Soledad Nursery. As is so often the case in horticulture, folks like him become interested in a particular group of plants, become educated in them,  and have the great fortune to be able to pursue their interest, traveling the world and crossing plants to create beautiful hybrids.

The link HERE  gives you a great picture of the man and his passion for aloes, agaves, and other succulents. The hybrids Mr. Griffin has produced really are very special, and many are a cross between Gasterias and Aloe to create the hybrid Gasteraloe. Pretty nifty, right? They are also commonly called “Table-Top” Aloes. Gasterias  have been in cultivation for hundreds of years and can easily be crossed with Aloes, so there are many of these hybrids available.

With the interest in all things succulent lately, it’s only natural that these aloes would cross our path, and we’ve added them  to the greenhouse collection of succulents as they become available from our suppliers.

Aloe 'Delta Lights'

Aloe ‘Delta Lights’

One of the most beautifully patterned  is the Aloe ‘Delta Lights‘, released in 2011. The parent plant, Aloe deltoideodonta, comes from southern central Madagascar, an island in the western Indian Ocean. Here in Birmingham, this, and the others mentioned here, will be a houseplant or one that can be summered outside in a container. Morning sun and occasional watering are perfect for this tough plant. Ultimately this beautifully patterned aloe can reach 18 inches tall by about 2 feet wide, with leaves on a healthy plant 3 inches wide at the base and tapering gently at the tips.

Aloe 'Green Sand'

Aloe ‘Green Sand’

If you like ‘Delta Lights‘, the next one, ‘Green Sand‘,  is even more colorful and unique and considered one of Griffin’s best. More compact, it boasts  reddish to maroon tones that  become  a very deep, rich red the more sun it is provided. The serrated, bumpy leaves add even more interest to this pretty aloe.

Gasteraloe 'Flow'

Gasteraloe ‘Flow’

 

The final Gasteraloe  is one called ‘Flow‘. It has thick, oblong leaves with white, bumpy protrusions that give it quite a wonderful texture. This fascinating plant is yet another  cross, this time using Gasteria verrucosa, a native of South Africa. If only world human populations could get along as well as these plants!

We will continue to carry these and other Table-Top aloes as they are available throughout the year. Any of them would make a wonderful gift for plant lovers in your life or an easy office or houseplant in plenty of bright light and minimal water.

Brassidium Orchids – These Are Beautiful “Spiders” in a Beautiful Display!

Brassidium orchids and succulentsJamie put together this stunning display the other day at the front of the shop, using  a beautiful mix of containers and plants. The picture doesn’t do her designs justice,,,a  pony tail palm underplanted with succulents; another succulent planting in cork bark; and a gorgeous arrangement of a standing cork bark planter with brassidium, or spider, orchids.

Brassidium orchid display - succulentsBrassidium orchid blooms - closeupThis closeup picture of the succulent plantings shows both the diversity of this group of plants and why we enjoy working with them so much. In addition to the drought tolerant ponytail palm, there are echeverias, string of pearls, string of bananas, crassulas, and variegated trailing jade plant, all right at home in her design.

The spider orchids are so exotic looking with their long, long stems holding spidery-looking flowers all along their length. These flowers actually evolved to attract a certain female parasitic wasp that lay their eggs on spiders in their webs. Since the flowers look like spiders, The wasp lays the eggs on the flower and is covered with pollen. Not getting the spider it’s looking for, it moves on to the next “spider”, thus pollinating the plant. Pretty amazing stuff.

As I’ve pointed out in other posts, the key to figuring out how to grow a plant is finding out where it’s native habitat is, and a previous post on bromeliads highlighted this. Brassia orchids are native to wet, tropical forests of Central and South America. They are named for the 19th century British botanical illustrator, William Brass.

Orchid hybridizers have crossed Brassias with Miltonia and Ondontoglossums to create some incredible hybrids, many of which are fragrant and have very large, spidery flowers.

How to grow your Brassidium orchid:

They require very bright light but not direct sun. Please don’t expect them to be happy in a dark, interior room! In the tropical forests they receive diffused light through the trees.

Keep your Brassidium orchid moist during the growing season. This is the period when the pseudobulb develops and flower spikes appear. After this period, when in flower, don’t overwater; the fat pseudobulb at the base is helping hold moisture. Water once a week or when the pot begins to feel light.

Brassidium orchids appreciate humidity, temperatures between 65F and 75F during the day, and good air circulation that can be provided by a fan. Since our homes tend to be dry, if you’d like to keep your brassia happy, add a shallow tray of pebbles in water that the pot can sit on (but not in the water). This  will help raise the humidity to the 50%-70% these orchids prefer.

 

 

 

 

Arrangement Inspiration – Spring 2014

Jamie created this Mother's Day gift using herbs and annuals...

Jamie created this Mother’s Day gift using herbs and annuals…

There isn’t much time in the spring for writing and work on the computer in the nursery business, and the pictures in this post and the ones to follow will  give you a glimpse why and are a fraction of what we’ve been working on recently.

This year especially, with Easter falling late and the Mother’s Day holiday arriving a little over two weeks later, the demand for help planting spring planters and beds and then gifts to give for Mother’s Day really kept us hopping!

Pinkie created this piece in a customer's container for a party using bedding plants and asparagus fern...

Pinkie created this piece in a customer’s container for a party using bedding plants and asparagus fern…

 

 

 

 

The past two months have flown by, and Mother’s Day is now past. Now the final push to finish spring planting is on, and the long, slow slide to summer begins.

Two corkwood pieces I fashioned into a planter - Bantel's Sensation sanseveria, calathea, trailing pepperomia and selaginella...

Two corkwood pieces I fashioned into a planter – Bantel’s Sensation sanseveria, calathea, trailing pepperomia and selaginella…

 

 

 

Here, then, is a sampling  of arrangements that we’ve created in the rush of early spring. Some are orchid arrangements in customers’ containers (and some in ours); others are arrangements in corkwood. Still more are short term plantings for parties, using bedding plants and herbs that can be planted in containers and in the garden outside after the festivities.  Enjoy.

This arrangement was for the wedding of a gardener. Variegated iris, ligularia, rosemary and nicotiana share space with the double spike orchid...

This arrangement was for the wedding of a gardener. Variegated iris, ligularia, rosemary and nicotiana share space with the double spike orchid…

This basket was a thank you gift - the hydrangeas can be planted in the garden after they've bloomed...

This basket was a thank you gift – the hydrangeas can be planted in the garden after they’ve bloomed…

A small corkwood planter for shade that will eventually get quite large...new guinea impatiens, torenia, creeping jenny and irish moss to trail,  a brake fern and  a bit of ajuga...

A small corkwood planter for shade that will eventually get quite large…new guinea impatiens, torenia, creeping jenny and irish moss to trail, a brake fern and a bit of ajuga…

Redtwig dogwood branches add to the vibrancy of this lively arrangement...

Redtwig dogwood branches add to the vibrancy of this lively arrangement…

Bedding plants and herbs in bright colors brightened tables for a party...

Bedding plants and herbs in bright colors
brightened tables for a party…

The silvery air plant leaves work well with this container.  Calathea leaves add even more interest...

The silvery air plant leaves work well with this container.
Calathea leaves add even more interest…

Branching Out…A Teal Bowl Planting

Laying the branches...

Laying the branches…

Adding the bird's nest fern...

Adding the bird’s nest fern…

Lichen covered branches are so beautiful in their own right, but we ultimately are a plant shop and every project we create begins and ends with plants; so, incorporating these branches into our designs has been a lot of fun.

This one started with a beautiful, large teal colored glazed bowl, really very pretty all on it’s own. I chose a few lichen covered branches and positioned one upright on an angle into the potting soil and laid the other across so I had some planting pockets to work with. The ends needed just a few loose lichens and moss glued to them to cover where they’d been cut.

The trick when using something like this is in not hiding the beauty of the branch and finding plants to compliment both the color of the bowl and the added texture of the lichen as well. Of course, the plants also have to work together as far as water and light needs.

Wandering the greenhouse contemplating the choices, I decided to go the woodsy route, with ferns as the go to for this planting. So, a bird’s nest fern, Asplenium nidus; button fern, Pellaea rotundifolia; a selaginella,; and an austral gem fern, Asplenium dimorphum x difforme, were gathered.

Finished...

Finished…

The bird’s nest fern was the largest, and I placed it toward the front and tipped forward to show off its form. The button fern was the next to be placed, the austral gem fern was tucked in the back (not shown in these pictures) and, last, a small selaginella was added to the front to spill over the edge.

A smaller, more delicate lichen branch connects the two larger ones and gives it a pretty, woodsy look in contrast with the glazed container – ying and yang in a pot!

Succulents…See Some Things We’ve Created!

succulents in the greenhouse...

succulents in the greenhouse…

air plants...

air plants…

With the spring planting season approaching, the nursery will be a plant lovers dream, filled with the best of everything we can find. These include fragrant, ornamental, and edible herbs, including the popular oregano ‘Kent’s Beauty’, sun and shade loving perennials for your garden,  bright, flowering annuals for pots and planting beds, and shrubs expressly selected for their ornamental qualities and durability in southern gardens.

Another grouping of plants we have all year around are succulents, and they are so beautiful arranged in containers for the summer or as a combination planting in the home all year around. Some shown here also incorporate tillandsias, or air plants because their care and culture is so similar.

living wreath...

living wreath…

The living wreath shown here that Molly planted was a huge hit on our Facebook page, and for good reason.  Just look at all the interesting textures and colors used, including echeverias, cryptanthus, air plants and even a tiny phalaenopsis orchid! This post on creating a living wreath give you some tips on how to make your own masterpiece. To see yet another that Jamie made, take a look HERE.

imageBecause succulents, air plants and even bromeliads (another great companion) come in so many different shapes, colors and sizes, it’s fun to come up with endless combinations. Here are more that we’ve created in the past few months.

In this long, narrow planter Lauren used a number of different plants including succulent echevarias, sedums, haworthias, and a pretty pink aloe. Meandering through this combination are pilea ‘Aquamarine.’

this will get large!

this will get large!

 

This two tier planting is going to get quite large! Flapjack kalanchoes share the space with a trailing succulent-like plant called dorotheanthus which will have charming little red flowers as the weather gets hotter. It’s also quite cold tolerant, though not completely hardy for us here. This container would be best moved in for the winter.

image

 

 

 

 

We’ve used cork bark planters to great effect in the past, and here Molly planted one with some really beautiful hen and chicks, sempervivum sp., and a couple of hardy sedums. This planting could be kept outdoors through the winter with the exception of the tiny aloes on each end, which can be repotted and moved inside during the colder months. The entire planting could also be moved into a sunny room for the winter.

one of two...

one of two…

air plants add height until the flapjack kalanchoe gets larger...

air plants add height until the flapjack kalanchoe gets larger…

The two pretty white pots shown here work together (There’s actually a third as well.) I used a tall tillandsia to add some height to this planting until the flapjack kalanchoe attained some size. The cryptanthus adds some color at the front and the pilea will contribute delicate trailing leaves to this composition.   In the second pot I added an echevaria to the planting, keeping the pinky color scheme going.

Be careful not to overwater if a container doesn't drain...

Be careful not to overwater if a container doesn’t drain…

Succulents can be planted in anything! This copper planter does not have drainage though, so the plantings need very careful attention to be sure they’re not overwatered – always be mindful of what kind of containers you’re using. Those that drain are always best. I have to confess I just really liked how this looked anyway! And, it’s been growing quite happily in the greenhouse since February.image

Succulents can be used as accents. too. Here a container is home to a tall sanseveria and  pussy willow stems with  sweet allysum tucked between for it’s dainty white blooms.

Finally, if you’re designing a container with succulents (Or anything!) remember the container you’re placing them in is part of the design as well.  This little log shaped planter is brown in color but  tinged with a touch of pink. I liked how the cryptanthus on the left picked up on that but contrasted with the other plants chosen to offset it in color and weight.image

So, with warmer weather right around the corner,  grab a pot, stop in , and find some succulents and air plants of your own to plant up – you can’t go wrong – promise!