Make your spekkie sparkle DIY

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December, spekboom, spekkie, diy, life is a garden, plant, Christmas, garden, greenery, garden, activities for the kids, decorations, decorate

Instead of a faux tree, why not go for an indigenous living lovely this year? Life is a Garden’s sweet and simple DIY will give you some inspiration to bedazzle your spekboom (Portulacaria afra) for that holiday spirit. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, you could always decorate your tree with other fun goodies and use your creations as cheerful table décor. 

Did you know? Spekboom leaves are edible and non-toxic to animals and humans. Add a few leaves to your salad for a juicy citrus flavour (and bragging rights). 

 

You will need

  • A spekboom from your GCA garden centre (or multiple trees if you have many children who would like to each make their own spekkie sparkle)
  • A lovely new pot 
  • Potting soil and compost for transplanting 
  • Decoration goodies (we chose a Christmas theme, but different coloured ribbons and bells would also look fab) 
  • A cohort of kids, or just one
December, spekboom, spekkie, diy, life is a garden, plant, Christmas, garden, greenery, garden, activities for the kids, decorations, decorate
December, spekboom, spekkie, diy, life is a garden, plant, Christmas, garden, greenery, garden, activities for the kids, decorations, decorate

How to 

  1. Transplant your spekboom into its new home. Remember to push from the base up and not grab your plant by the neck. Add your potting soil and compost mix, water well, and allow it to drain. 
  2. With all your décor charms on display, encourage the kids to play and have fun! 
  3. Once your spekkie has undergone the makeover, place it in a sunny spot outdoors, a bright light area on the patio, or indoors near a window. Water your plant well, about once a week (depending on its location) and check out our guide below to ensure your plant thrives till next year. 

Pest patrol: Although not prone to pests, high humidity can sometimes invite mealy bugs or scale. Visit your GCA Garden Centre for appropriate products that will take care of the nasties.

December, spekboom, spekkie, diy, life is a garden, plant, Christmas, garden, greenery, garden, activities for the kids, decorations, decorate
December, spekboom, spekkie, diy, life is a garden, plant, Christmas, garden, greenery, garden, activities for the kids, decorations, decorate
December, spekboom, spekkie, diy, life is a garden, plant, Christmas, garden, greenery, garden, activities for the kids, decorations, decorate

Unhappy spekkie symptoms and diagnoses 

 

  • Scorched yellowing foliage

Problem: Too much direct light or sun.

Thriving Indoor Gardening

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June: Indoor winter maintenance and scale control 

 

Follow Life is a Garden’s indoor winter checklist for happy and healthy plants. As we enter the depths of winter, bringing the garden indoors adds a warming touch of greenery while much of the backyard goes into hibernation. If given the right growing conditions and care, your indoor plants will reward you with year-round living décor and joy. Watch out for scale! 

indoor, winter, plants, flowers, garden, life is a garden, greenery, pests, colourful, maintain, flower, colour
indoor, winter, plants, flowers, garden, life is a garden, greenery, pests, colourful, maintain, flower, colour

Indoor maintenance checklist 

  • Fertiliser: Indoor foliage plants go into semi-dormancy during the winter, so it is not necessary to fertilise them. However, winter is the growing season of spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and hyacinths and plants such as cineraria, cyclamen, poinsettias, chrysanthemum, and begonia. Feed these plants every two weeks with a liquid fertiliser and water every two to three days.
  • Light and air: Most houseplants require good, indirect light – not direct sunlight, particularly damaging is sunlight striking them through glass. The light should be balanced and if not, turn the plants once a week to prevent them from becoming lopsided. Do not place plants near south-facing windows (they will feel the chill rather badly in cold areas). A north-facing window screened by a net or voile curtain is a good position.
  • Temperature: Many indoor plants originate in the tropics and therefore prefer to be kept in warmer temperatures. In cold areas and rooms heated by heaters and fireplaces, the plants will need extra humidity to keep them happy. Plants should therefore be misted with tepid water regularly to counteract the effects of reduced humidity.
indoor, winter, plants, flowers, garden, life is a garden, greenery, pests, colourful, maintain, flower, colour
indoor, winter, plants, flowers, garden, life is a garden, greenery, pests, colourful, maintain, flower, colour
  • Water: Use tepid or lukewarm water. Your plants will be able to absorb the water easier and avoid sending them into a state of shock. Reduce the watering schedule of indoor foliage plants but never let them become bone dry. A dose of warm or lukewarm water every 10 days is quite sufficient for most indoor plants as they go into semi-dormancy during midwinter.

Spicy Indoor Gardening Industry Expert

Topic: Indoor Plants
Theme: Trending indoor plants
Industry Expert: Robyn Sher
Garden Centre: Lifestyle - Happy Life Plants

 

We sat down with the passionately insightful Robyn from Happy Life Plants to get all the latest juice on trendy indoor gardening. Read all about her indoor hot list, plant parenting advice, botanical boss must-haves, collector plants, and much more! 

indoor, winter, plants, flowers, garden, life is a garden, greenery, pests, colourful, maintain, flower, colour
indoor, winter, plants, flowers, garden, life is a garden, greenery, pests, colourful, maintain, flower, colour

1. What makes indoor gardening so special? Why should gardeners opt for indoor plants in addition to or instead of garden beds outside?  

Indoor gardening is particularly special because of the benefits they share with people around them. Not only do they provide the obvious greenery, connection to nature, and a natural touch to an otherwise stark space, but indoor plants also take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Improved air quality creates a healthier environment for the grower and stimulates productivity, creativity, and happiness. Simply adding greenery evokes feelings of joy and accomplishment. Furthermore, nurturing a living thing and watching it grow and thrive is one of the most rewarding activities for humans. Indoor plants become like babies to plant parents and because they are in our space and in our direct care, we tend to them more closely than those outside in beds. The relationship formed with one’s indoor plants is truly special. 

 

2. Is it true that indoor gardening is messy and difficult? 

No, not at all! Indoor gardening is such a rewarding process and it is only as difficult as you make it. If you knock over your beloved delicious monster and the soil sprays all over your carpet, sure - it may be a messy ordeal. But general indoor plant parenting is easy to get the hang of with the right routine and simple care habits. Indoor gardening is beautifully decorative and so rewarding to anyone who endeavours to embark on the journey.

Plant Moms Botanical Boss

life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water
life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water

Plant Mom Addition 

May is for the plant moms! Embrace becoming a botanical boss and dig your way into the world of plant parenting with confidence. Celebrate Mother’s Day with a new addition to the family or gift mommy dearest something to help with that empty nest. Follow Life is a Garden’s guide to successful indoor gardening.

life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water

Seasoned plant moms

If you’re looking for a plant that says “this isn’t my first child”, these three high-maintenance favourites will glamorously show off your expert parenting skills. 

  1. Moth orchid

Tantrums about: could be anything but especially overwatering.  

Bribe it with: patience, loose bark potting mix, indirect sunlight, humidity, scheduled watering. 

  1. Maidenhair fern

Tantrums about: not being able to watch you shower. 

Bribe it with: misting, dappled light, and humidity. Also, some time outdoors where it can see the sunset. 

  1. Calathea

Tantrums about: being the only child and open spaces.

Bribe it with: bright, indirect sun, well-draining soil, lots of friends to increase humidity, and a shallow container (short-root syndrome). 

life is a garden, nurturing, garden, plants, nature, flowers, greenery, indoor, water

First-time plant parents 

When gifting or homing a plant as the first indoor offspring, go for these three easy greens that don’t always need to be the centre of attention. 

  1. Snake plant 

May give glares when: irritated by too many water kisses. 

Give pocket money and: only one or two waterings during winter and almost any light condition. 

 

  1. Spider plant 

May give glares when: it’s too hot to play inside  

Give pocket money and: well-drained soil, indirect light, occasional pruning of playful spiderettes.

  1. Pothos (Epipremnum)

May give glares when: grounded and unable to go anywhere. 

Give pocket money and: a hanging basket or trellis, a little pruning, and a chance to dry out between watering. 

 

Indoor growing guide

Regardless of what you are planning to grow, here are our top tips for successfully raising your bundles of joy indoors. 

Poppies and Petunias Balcony Besties

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As the sun sets to welcome the evening sky in all its colourful glory, sit back and relax on the balcony with some potted poppies and petunias for company. These lovelies are the perfect choice for all-year-round charm and vibrance. Here is Life is a Garden’s guide on how to successfully grow and care for your new patio and balcony besties.

Cute petunias in containers

 

Petunias are available in a range of colours, each as bright as the next. Position them in a mostly sunny spot and ensure they are never completely dry. Perform the finger test to see when to water petunias as you would rather want to underwater than overwater these babes. 

 

Soil:

Petunias require well-draining, aerated and slightly acidic soil. Potting soil mix works well, especially if you combine it with a little peat moss to lower pH levels. 

 

Fertiliser:

These ladies love lots of food. Most potting mixes have the right amount of nutrients but to be sure, use a slow-release fertiliser after planting. Alternatively, compost will give Petunias the feeding they need, just remember to make sure it doesn’t interfere with the soil’s drainage abilities. 

 

Deadheading:

This encourages plants to direct their energy into creating more flowers, rather than wasting it on already fading blooms. Deadheading also keeps your plant looking neat and tidy. Simply remove flowers that are beyond their prime by pinching them off from just below their base.

 

Perfecting potted poppies 

 

Poppies are a timeless classic. They might not be the easiest flower to grow but their vibrant colour and sweetness is certainly worth the extra care. Poppy varieties that grow well in pots include oriental poppies, Iceland poppies, California poppies, and Shirley poppies. Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule) provide an incredible, colourful show during winter.

 

Planting:

Poppies dislike being transplanted.

Trendy Very Peri

trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple
trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple

The Pantone colour of the year is Very Peri – a courageous, statement-making violet-blue that generates creativity and inspiration in the garden. Cultivate some confidence and curiosity this autumn by incorporating planting a striking variety of purple Veri Peri stunners. Here is Life is a Garden’s grow guide for 2022. 

 

Eternal purple bliss

According to the trend-setters at Pantone, “17-3938 Very Peri is a dynamic periwinkle blue hue with a vivifying violet-red undertone that blends the faithfulness and constancy of blue with the energy and excitement of red”. In addition, this colour represents:

  • Newness
  • Mending and healing  
  • Courageous creativity 
  • Imaginative expression 
  • The power of manifestation 

With such passionate connotations connected to this colour, there really is only one thing left to do – GCA Garden Centre here we come! 

 

trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple
trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple

Elated tasty edibles  

Did you know? The health benefits of purple food include anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Anthocyanidins are responsible for the purple pigment in our edibles and also helps to boost the immune system. 

  • Fruit: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, red grapes, figs, plums, and passion fruit. 
  • Veggies: Beetroot, eggplant, red cabbage, purple cauliflower, and sweet potatoes. 

 

Idyllic indoors for 2022

Did you know? Having shades of purple plants around the house helps to invoke peace and happiness. There’s a lot going on in the world, so if you’re looking to reap a little more optimism for the new year, grow these:

  • Calatheas, cyclamen, orchids, and rubber tree plant (Ficus elastica).

 

Top tip: Remember to check the sowing and growing season chart on all seed packets, seedling trays, and pots for the best time to introduce your new purple splendours to the garden. 

 

trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple
trendy, trending, Veri Peri, Plants, Flowers, green, Greenery, Life is a garden, purple

The most brilliant bulbs

Did you know? When looking at these Veri Peri inspired bulbs, the warmer red-purples are seen as more energetic to the human eye, while the subdued blue-purples are seen as peaceful and contemplative.

A trellis for your thoughts DIY Rope Trellis

DIY Trellis

Let your climbers come up and play with this rustic DIY rope trellis for all your indoor and outdoor explorer plants. You can create this trellis using upcycled materials lying around at home, or go totally eco-friendly with organic materials scavenged from the garden. Enjoy all the benefits of trellis growing and get the most from your curious creepers this summer.

 

A trellis gives you the edge

When planting edibles and decorative plants against a supportive trellis, you:

  1. Save space by going vertical and neaten up your garden’s appearance.
  2. Are able to home more indoor plants and grow more food in less space with easy-peasy harvesting.
  3. Grow clean, ‘normal looking’ produce, instead of odd shapes splashed with dirt.
  4. Reduce disease and insect damage by improving air circulation around plants and also by keeping foliage off the ground where soil-borne diseases can quickly spread.
  5. Make it easier for pollinators to access flowers.
  6. Experiment and play with architecture, landscaping, and visually intriguing décor.
  7. Grow healthier plants with increased exposure to indoor lighting or outdoor sunlight.
  8. Are able to prune and apply fertiliser much easier than if plants were on the ground.
  9. Equip your plants with better support to withstand strong winds and rainfall.
  10. Cover up baren walls and fences, and create your own indoor living walls.
Roses on Trellis
Trellis
Inquisitive indoor climbers

Here’s a list of five fabulous indoor creepers and climbers for inspiration.

  1. Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum)
  2. Pothos (Caution: toxic to cats, dogs, and children if ingested)
  3. Wax flowers (Hoya carnosa)
  4. Creeping fig (Ficus pumila)
  5. Maidenhair vine (Muehlenbeckia complexa)
Edible outdoor explorers

Plant and sow these scrumptious edibles on a trellis and maximise your harvest.

  1. Beans
  2. Peas
  3. Tomatoes
  4. Melons
  5. Summer squash

Available in pots, seedling trays and seed packets from your GCA Garden Centre.

Pothos
Maidenhair vine
Tomatoes on Trellis
Melons on Trellis
Begin your trellis assembly

You will need:

  • At least 5 sticks from the garden or 5 store-bought wooden rods
  • Some harvested fresh and pliable vines, or some bought twine
  • A nail and hammer

*Top tip: If you’re going organic, try collecting an interesting variety of sticks to give your trellis the ultimate rustic and raw look.

How to perfect the art of indoor gardening 101 Indoor Gardening

Indoor plants promote good mental health, super Zen vibes, texture, air purification, and something beautiful to appreciate as you go about your day. Life is a Garden, indoors too, and there’s a plant just waiting to bring that side table, desk, and bookshelf to life. Good old potting soil, fertiliser, and a watering routine makes all the difference in maintaining an indoor haven.

 

Checkout these 5 top tips to perfect the art of indoor gardening:
  1. Choose the right plant and place: Start off with an easy plant from our BF (beginner-friendly) suggestions below. Checkout your space and see where’s the gap to be filled. Choose a plant that likes the light conditions of your chosen area.
  2. Choose the right pot: Choose a suitable sized pot with good drainage holes and don’t forget the saucer that catches excess water (we’ve all been there, #rookieerror).
  3. Get good potting soil: A bag of delicious potting soil goes a long way! Visit your GCA Garden Centre and grab a bag to get you going. Add a couple of small stones to your pot before adding potting soil to help with drainage and root rot prevention.
  4. Get to know your new friend: Understand the light, watering, and soil requirements of your plant. Observe how plants react in the space and change their position if needed. Poke your finger into the pot and feel the soil, this will tell you if your plant is ready to be watered. Alternatively, you can also purchase a moisture meter from your nearest GCA Garden Centre.
  5. Feed your new friend: Generally speaking, every 6 weeks is a good time to feed. The new plant baby depends on you now to maintain the nutrient integrity inside the pot. Your GCA Garden Centre guy can advise you on the best soil and fertiliser for your plant.

May in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

Be a winter-winner, get your May maintenance in check, sow cool-season seeds, and grow with the flow as we enter our last month of autumn. We’re celebrating our adaptable green fingers by also highlighting Africa Month and all our glorious indigenous glory. The party doesn’t stop there – say hello to Phlebodium, the perfect indoor plant baby to gift to the woman you adore this Mother’s day!

 

Crispy blooms to plant

Bulb up: Honour our African heritage with a jive of colour from Sparaxis (Harlequin Flower), ixia, and Tritonia. Try also these perennial bulbous plants: Sweet garlic (Tulbaghia fragrans), Weeping anthericum (Chlorophytum saundersiae), Red-hot poker (Kniphofia praecox).

Bush out: Pork bush (Portulacaria afra) is a lekker local hero hedge. Good as a barrier plant, tolerates frequent pruning, extremely drought-resistant, and fast-growing.

Succ in: Aloes are in full swing, oh yeah Try Peri-Peri, Sea Urchin, and Porcupine.

The 4 P’s: Get down to your local GCA Garden Centre and start planting with the 4 P’s - poppies, pansies, petunias and primulas.

Rose bed revival: Long-stemmed roses can be picked now. If the plants are in full leaf, continue with your spraying programme but reduce watering. Plant winter-flowering annuals like pansies, poppies, or compact snapdragons, around rose bed edges to give them a revived burst of colour (and hide bare branches).

Split & divide: If the following perennials have stopped flowering, they’re ready for the operating table: Japanese Anemones (Anemone japonica) and Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana).

Be wise, fertilise: Annual stocks and larkspurs benefit from extra nitrogen to promote good growth and flowering throughout winter. Consult your GCA Garden Centre expert for advice on liquid fertilisers and other plant food.

 

Eat like a winter-winner 

Eye candy: Add rows of ornamental (and inedible) kale between other winter vegetables.

Giving life to 2021’s trends Trends Article

When life gives us manure, gardeners make compost! As such, Life is a Garden would like to invite all green fingers to welcome 2021 as The Great Reset – a time to reconnect with our home space, a chance to grow food and deepen our connection with nature, an opportunity to shape remote working environments, and the ideal excuse to expand outdoor entertainment areas. Here are the top trends for the year to inspire you and help support adjusted lifestyles at home. Let Mother Nature work her magic to lift those spirits and make every space a place for life to shine!

Trendy colours that celebrate life

The Pantone colour of the year is grey and yellow: grey representing fortitude and yellow symbolising happiness. Together, these colours send a message of positivity, supported by a solid foundation (grey) upon which to build joy (yellow). Cultivate resilience and hope by planting these beauties below:

Sun in your pocket

  • Yellow canna lily: full sun in beds or containers, bold and bright, frost-sensitive.
  • Alstromeria (Inca lily): full sun or semi-shade, good cut-flowers, needs winter munching.
  • Anigozanthos bush bonanza: full sun or semi-shade with bright, golden-yellow flowers.
  • Marigolds: full sun or semi-shade, drought-tolerant, attracts butterflies, repels pests.
  • Sundial yellow portulaca: full sun annual, fine-textured foliage, low ground-hugger.
  • Yellow capsicum: a full sun veggie, sprout seeds indoors in spring.
  • Cape honeysuckle: full sun or semi-shade, attractive ornamental shrub, good for hedges.
  • Snapdragons: full sun for beds or containers, gorgeous horizontally-growing blooms.
Yellow canna lily
Anigozanthos
Sundial yellow portulaca
Cape Honeysuckle

Grey for greatness

  • Senecio cineraria, or silver dust: create contrast with this fine, low-growing sub-shrub.
  • Senecio Angel Wings: robust in size with an angelic silver/grey sheen, an absolute stunner!
  • Dichondra silverfalls: drought, frost, and salt-hardy for full sun spots in beds and pots.
  • Lamium: grow best in partial/full shade to avoid scorching the leaves of these pretties.

April in the Garden Checklist Gardening Checklist

Protea

Like the calm before the cool, winter preparations are smooth sailing this month with Life is a Garden’s crisp April checklist. Gardening during the cooler months definitely has its own challenges, but also so many exciting flowers and veggies to look forward to. Did someone say spring bulbs already? Head over to your GCA Garden Centre and let’s plant right in!

 

Chillax with flowers
  • Bulba-licious beauties: You can plant all spring-flowering bulbs now, hooray! Bulbs with fingers or claws, like ranunculi, should be planted with their fingers pointing downwards. Try plating small bulbs like anemone, leucojum, muscari, lachenalia, tritonia, and ranunculus, or larger bulbs such as hyacinth, freesia, and Dutch iris.
  • Pretty and pleasing: April is the perfect time to buy and plant out pretty primula, poppy, pansy, and gazania seedlings.
  • Indoor inspiration: Spathiphyllum, known also as Peace lily, is an easy-care, low-light houseplant with majestic, long-lasting white blooms.
Leucojum
Ranunculus
Dutch Iris
Primula
Spathiphyllum Peace lily
  • Colourful corners: Try planting a corner of ericas, restios, leucadendrons, and Proteas – they provide stunning autumn and winter colour.
  • Balmy blooms: Plant cool-season annuals at the base of bare-stemmed bushes. Choose sun lovers like alyssum, calendulas, dwarf snapdragons, lobelias, Namaqualand daisies, phlox, and pansies.
  • Bedding babe: Available in many bright hues, Cineraria enjoy moist soil in semi-shade beds.
  • Pot of purple: Lavender is waiting to perk up your patio pots with an easy-going purple flush.
leucadendrons
Lobelias
Cineraria
Lavender
Feeding and frost
  • Feed aloes and flowering succulents for a glorious winter show.
  • If you’re living in a frost-prone area, be sure to purchase some frost protection from your GCA Garden Centre before winter arrives in full force.
  • Continue feeding your evergreen cool-season lawn to ensure it remains lush during winter.

 

In the grow-zone
  • Grow garlic bulbs, which you can purchase from your GCA Garden Centre. Pick a sunny spot with well-drained soil and plant the cloves about 15cm apart in drills of about 7cm deep.

Greenery Indoors

Indoor plants are high fashion and are being used to decorate all rooms in the house, especially the living areas and kitchens. Score some points on the trend barometer by going leafy indoors. Large leaf plants are trending in large and medium-sized pots. Here are some hot favourites:

  • Philodendron selloum, often just called selloums, have large, shiny, deeply lobed leaves. Selloums and their close relative, the delicious monster (Monstera deliciosa) are hot, hot, hot! Place them in high light areas in the home or patio.
  • Sanseviera spp. Known also as Mother-in-law’s tongue, is back in fashion. New varieties are more colourful and eye-catching. They are very contemporary in style, waterwise, and generally as tough as nails.
  • Stromanthe ‘Triostar’ has large green and white variegated upper leaf surface colours with pink and maroon undersides. The strong contrasting colours make a visibly interesting and attractive plant. Tip: Stromanthe love the coastal humidity and are best misted during the day inland. They do well placed on top of, or near a tray of pebbles with water between the pebbles.
  • Draceana marginata, or dragon tree, is a popular feature plant. It can grow in moderate light conditions and is rather easy to care for. A spot with good airflow will be beneficial.

Tip: Indoor plants will all benefit from regular feeding – consult your local GCA Garden Centre.