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.
Try this: To help you choose the best plant for a room, you can now download an app that measures light intensity – how efficient is that! #nomoreexcuses
Look out for the *BF (beginner-friendly) options for novice gardeners.
1. Button fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)
Light likes: Pellaea enjoy humidity with no direct sun, high to medium light will do.
Soil & water: Let the top layer of soil dry between watering, he doesn’t do soggy.
On the weekends: He can be found chilling in a humid bathroom on the windowsill or in a hanging basket. His dark-green, evergreen, button-like leaves like to explore.
2. Blue star fern (Phlebodium aureum) *BF
Light likes: Medium to high light with no or partial direct sun, she’s very adaptable.
Soil & water: Enjoys moist over dry, water well when she’s thirsty.
On the weekends: Her forest-like foliage, with curious wavy blue-green fronds, can be seen fluffing about and grabbing attention everywhere she goes.
3. Bird's nest fern (Asplenium nidus)
Light likes: Medium to bright, no direct sun. She likes warmth, humidity, and moisture.
Soil & water: Moist, rich, and loamy does it.
On the weekends: She’s always cheerful with tropical light green fronds, resembling banana leaves. She’s good at limbo, but don’t touch her new fronds while she’s growing.
4. Kumquat tree *BF if you follow the rules
Light likes: Super bright light, even direct sunlight if possible. She enjoys the patio too.
Soil & water: Regular watering with excellent drainage.
On the weekends: This happy-go-lucky babe can be seen showing off dozens of bright little orange fruits. She’s good at inspiring new jam and preserves recipes!
5. Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa) *BF+
Light likes: Medium to bright, no direct sun, but they like warm corners.
Soil & water: Good drainage with weekly watering.
On the weekends: You may find them looking for things to climb on with their flamboyant, large and in-charge leaves. Beware, this beaut bites and is toxic to pets.
6. Triostar Stromanthe (Stromanthe sanguinea)
Light likes: Near a window with plenty of natural light, no sun. Rotate your pot weekly.
Soil & water: Well-drained, fertile soil that is kept moist but not soggy.
On the weekends: She’s the pretty, popular chick with impressive, vibrant pink foliage that’ll make you blush. Triostar’s gonna’ make you work for her though, be prepared.
7. Dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) *BF+
Light likes: The brighter the better, but he’s adaptable.
Soil & water: Good drainage and regular watering.
On the weekends: He’s a rugged, attractive guy with striking green, sword-like, red-edged leaves that stand at attention. Your friends may be jealous of his good looks.
8. Flaming sword (Vriesea splendens)
Light likes: They enjoy some morning sun with high light throughout the day.
Soil & water: Add some orchid mix to your soil, infrequent watering but not all the way dry.
On the weekends: They can be seen proudly parading their yellow-orange blooms that look like fun swords. Sadly, they do decline after blooming but they’ll leave you with offsets first.
9. Cymbidium orchid (Cymbidium spp.)
Light likes: Partial gentle sun and good light is her kind of vibe.
Soil & water: Loamy, moist, well-drained soil.
On the weekends: Her stunning sprays of large blooms are a sight to behold! Appreciate her while you can, it’ll be a while before you see her flowers again.
10. Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens) *BF
Light likes: They enjoy sunlight and warmth.
Soil & water: Avoid soggy soil but water them moderately.
On the weekends: These often golden-trunked, bamboo-looking darlings can be seen growing tall at their own pace, taking time to extend all their friendly fronds.
To help keep your indoor plants looking their best and breathing well, use a damp cloth to clean their leaves from any dust. Remember to checkout which lovelies are ready to plant now, or plan ahead for the right season and home your dream indoor gem. A spray bottle is also super handy to have around for quick watering touch-ups. See what’s potting at your GCA Garden Centre and have fun perfecting the art of indoor gardening!
As the last month of summer comes to an end, it’s time to start preparing the garden for autumn and winter growing. March presents ideal conditions for sowing seeds as the day temperatures are still warm enough, while night temperatures begin dropping gradually. This is also a great time for cool-season seed germination varieties, and let’s not forget that much-loved gardening maintenance.
The autumn climate is well-suited for planting as new roots get a chance to establish themselves before spring. Try sowing these lovelies now for a brilliant flush of colour and fragrance:
Before sowing sweet peas, prepare their new home by digging deep trenches and working in some nutritious compost from your local GCA Garden Centre. Bonemeal (if you don’t have dogs) and super-phosphate are excellent choices to assist in creating your sweet pea sanctuary. Remember to soak the seeds overnight in lukewarm water before sowing directly into the ground.
Roses are a simply spectacular sight in autumn! To ensure quality blooms into winter, continue with regular preventative treatments/spraying for black spot, beetles and bollworm. As the days get shorter, the roses start to go dormant and withdraw food from their leaves. To compensate for this and to provide enough food for new growth and flowers, fertilise with rose food – your GCA Garden Centre guy can advise you on the best option. Regular watering is very important if there is insufficient rainfall.
Tree tip: Plant new fruit trees from mid-March onwards in temperate regions to ensure a good spring and summer harvest. Your GCA Garden Centre has a tasty selection of fruits to grow, go check it out.
Winter veggies are ready to be planted for delicious soups and stews to enjoy during the chilly nights. Remember that your GCA Garden Centre supplies both vegetable seeds and seedlings to get you started. Sow/plant these cool-season sensations now for an autumn/winter harvest:
Bedding bestie tip: Do companion planting with wild garlic, yarrow, comfrey, and Marigolds to assist with soil nutrition and natural pest control.
For an on-demand homegrown supply of fresh herbs during winter, start harvesting and preserving your greens now. Chop mint, parsley, basil and lemon balm, place them in an ice tray, fill with water, and pop them in the freezer. Aromatic herbs such as oregano, marjoram, thyme, sage, bay leaf, and rosemary, are better air-dried. Continue to feed herbs monthly with a half-strength liquid fertiliser and water regularly.
March is a month of maintenance, for which you’ll be gloriously rewarded as we move into winter. Give the garden a little extra TLC in preparation of the changing season. A little goes a long way in terms of the overall appearance and fertility of your beds, plants, and harvest. Start these maintenance jobs now:
Although summer has loved and left us, autumn has come with its own wonderful variety of sowing opportunities. There’s always a flower, fruit, and veggie in need of a home, roses looking for a pruning, and a little maintenance to make all the difference. Enjoy March in the garden and tick off your to-do checklist with the help of tools, accessories, and seeds available at your GCA Garden Centre.
Welcome, novice farmers! We are delighted to see your green fingers in bloom, exploring the world of homegrown goodness. Experience for yourself what all the hype is about by starting your own little veggie garden or edible pot. There is something truly special about fresh greens from the Earth – their incredible flavour loaded with nutrients, the direct connection with Mother Nature, and the unbeatable sense of pride from harvesting the fruits of your labour. Find out how to start your own edible journey below.
For your first growing quest, we recommend starting small. Think about whether you would like to use containers, plant straight into the ground, or if you would like to make raised beds. Consider your space and available time to guide your growing style. Sowing a couple of seeds in an empty space in your flower bed is as good a beginning as any.
With the idea of starting small in mind, where you choose to grow is an equally important factor to consider. Veggies love the sun and will flourish in open areas that receive as much sunlight as possible with no big trees throwing shade on your new babies. Examine your space through eco-eyes: take note of the sun’s movement, surrounding foliage, and expansion space needed as your greens grow.
Your first go-to is Google where you can access all the LIAG articles on what to sow and when. Seasonal veggies (meaning the ones to plant for that season) are your best bets for success as these greens are naturally adapted to the climate of the given time. Also, consider how the plant grows – some grow like ground covers (pumpkin) and need plenty of space, while others like to climb (beans) requiring support structures, some veggies also need deeper soil (potatoes) and appear more bush-like on the top.
There’s always time and space, even for a single vegetable to be sown. Pick your favourite and plant it, it’s that simple, and the reward is marvellous! Gain a deeper appreciation for the food you eat by watching it grow and observing all the different phases of the life of a veggie – now that’s nature’s magic at its best!
The new year is always a great time to start afresh and get back into the garden. Remove any tired or spent annuals and fill the gaps with new babies that will flower into autumn. Planting fresh herbs and veggies will also help you stick to those healthy New Year’s resolutions. Happy 2021, dear green fingers, and please do remember that your Life is A Garden!
Tip: Use a thick, moist towel placed over a patch at night. If lawn caterpillars are the culprit, they will still be foraging on the lawn in the morning when you lift the towel. Consult your local GCA Garden Centre for a remedy.
Tip: Never fertilise a plant when it is dry.
Look out for plants wilting in the summer heat, especially in dry weather. Give plants a deep watering at night and mulch around them. There are also water retention products that you can use – these will be are available at your local GCA Garden Centre. Remember, you can always get great gardening advice at your GCA Garden Centre.
This Father’s Day, we’re taking dads back to their childhood with a superhero bat box, DIY style! Give dad a heartfelt, handmade gift with this fun activity for the whole family. It’s time to get out those tools, that leftover paint, a couple of nails, and a little bravery if needed.
This project will require some basic carpentry skills. It’s a good idea to get dad involved in helping you build his gift.
Then, attach the bottom half of the front plate, leaving a 2 cm gap between the top and bottom halves for ventilation.
Wait at least 30 mins for caulk to dry.
These shelters need to be placed in a mostly sunny location. East-facing is usually best, where it will get morning light while being protected from afternoon sun. Position your bat house at least 5 metres off the ground to protect them against predators. A water source nearby would be super so that mommy bat doesn't have to leave her young for too long.
Nothing says ‘I love you’ more than a hand-crafted, Mother's Day gift. Brush up on your knotting skills because the sassy 70's décor is back, baby! Try making this DIY macramé plant hanger for your mamma and gift her something genuine, from the heart.
Sweatheart Creepers (Philodendron scandens oxycardi) can be identified by their unique heart-shaped leaves. They are fast-growing climbers and one of the most popular foliage plants used as room or conservatory decor. This plant is adaptable, tolerates low levels of light for long periods, and thrives in summer or winter room temperatures. Click here to find your local GCA Garden Centre for more indoor plants suitable for this project.
Begin your DIY macramé plant hanger by cutting the pieces of the cottob macramé cord. You will need four, 2-meter cords and two, 30 cm long cords.
Fold the four, 2-meter cords in half and loop it through the bass ring.
Next, secure your cords in place by using the wrapped or ring knot. This is a simple knot that has a sophisticated, finished look. You will need your 30 cm piece of cord for this knot.
And that's it! We will be using this knot again later for the tassel.
Next, hang your rig on either a hook, door knob, or a friend’s finger. Group your eight cords into groups of two and tie the cords together using a simple knot. Continue this until you end up with four separate knots and make sure they are all the same distance from the top.
Now, you will continue to your second row of knots. Take two adjacent knots and one cord from each knot and tie the cords together. Repeat this until you have four knots and make sure they are the same distance from your first row of knots.
Make sure your pot plant fits, and if it does not fit, adjust the second row until you feel your pot plant is secured and will not fall through the knots.
To finish off your DIY Mother's Day macramé plant hanger, you will need to tie all of the cords together with one final knot. End off with a wrapped or looped knot.
To finish off your DIY Mother's Day macramé plant hanger, you will need to tie all of the cords together with one final knot. End off with a wrapped or looped knot.
Trim off the excess cord to create a tassel finish.
Insert your plant with care. Carefully arrange your plants' branches between the groups of cords and make sure that the hook you hang the plant from is secure and able to handle the plant's weight.
With World Water Day just around the corner, on the 22nd of March, Life is a Garden has put together an engaging water filtration experiment for the whole family. Get the kids involved and teach them about water pollution and how to get clean water.
Living in a drought-stricken country, water is a very precious resource. Sadly, many South African’s do not have access to clean water. Teaching kids about the importance of water in agriculture is an essential aspect of education and will help youngsters understand just how critical H2O is for a healthy environment.
This fun science experiment teaches kids about the importance of clean drinking water. It also demonstrates the process of how to clean dirty or polluted water using a natural filtration system.
You can make a water filter using recycled materials found at home. This water experiment is appropriate for kids aged ten and up, and can be used during science class or as a hands-on, educational experiment at home.
1. Cut an old plastic soda or juice bottle in half using scissors or a knife.
2. Place the bottle upside down into the glass jar..
3. Place cotton balls, cloth, or a coffee filter inside the bottle as the first layer. The first layer should be about two to three centimetres thick.
4. Add three to five centimetres of activated charcoal as the second layer, on top of the cotton layer.
5. Over the charcoal, add about three centimetres of fine sand as the third layer.
6. Add about three to four centimetres of gravel or small stones on top of the fine sand.
7. Add the rocks to the bottle as the final layer.
8. Add dirt to a glass of water to create muddy water. You can also get creative by adding other things materials such as glitter, beads, cooking oil or other materials to make dirty water.
Water filters reduce the concentration of contaminants such as suspended particles, parasites, bacteria, algae, viruses, and fungi. They remove particles and impurities from water. Each layer of the homemade water filter has a purpose:
Water is a precious resource that is essential for all life form from plants and animals to humans. While we need to consume and use water to survive, there are ways to reuse and recycle our water to get double the benefit from it.
Did you know that in South Africa 27% of the total water used is used for domestic and gardening purposes? By recycling your water for irrigation and other non-drinking purposes our gardens and world would benefit significantly.
Recycled water, better known as greywater, is water that you have previously used and is sourced from basins, washing machines, baths and showers. Often this water will contain traces of soap residue along with other matter that is harmless when used for irrigation purposes or even cleaning paving or external areas around the house.
Water is an essential commodity that we all need to work together to save. Visit your nearest GCA Garden Centre to find out which products are available to help you do your bit to reuse your grey water and save water and our environment.
Does the idea of spending an afternoon in a tranquil and breath-taking landscaped garden sound enticing? Well, with our help you’ll be digging in and transforming your garden into a haven just in time to have it ready for the festive season. Whether you’re looking to create a staycation spot or an entertainer’s dream, we have some tips that will help you get started.
To begin, you’ll need a better understanding of the canvas you have available to work with. Take a walk around your garden and make a note of the sunny areas that would benefit from sun-worshipping plants and flowers. Also, pay attention to the shadier areas that might be ideal for you to convert into your peaceful escape or a lively entertainment area.
Once you have an idea of the space you’re working with, it is time to get the creative juices growing.
Plants and flowers are an obvious first thought when thinking about your garden, and it is essential to have an idea of the types of flowers and colours you’d like to see dotted around this space as well as possible areas where you can plant trees and shrubs.
Having mapped out your flora you’ll have a better idea of where you want to place inviting pathways that lead you to explore your garden and soak up the beauty and fragrances that will linger around every corner. There are various paving and stepping stone options available to meet a variety of tastes.
Pots and a decorative bridge can be used as a focal point adding additional charm to the garden. Water features are also attractive additions to any garden and the soothing sound of water falling adds an element of calm to the environment. They also attract birds to the garden to further enhance the outdoor experience.
A tranquil and breath-taking garden can provide a gorgeous backdrop for relaxing family lunches soaking up the afternoon sun. However, at night, your garden can also transform into an enchanting paradise that dreams are made of. A fire pit in the centre of your night-time entertainment area will create a cosy atmosphere. It will also mean that there is no need to move indoors on cooler evenings. Add a few comfy outdoor couches and cushions, and you’re set to enjoy hours entertaining under the moonlight.
Garden lights could be positioned around the garden to emphasise large trees, stunning flower beds and walkways. To add to the sensory experience, consider planting some flowers that look their best under the moonlight and others that emit the most fragrance at night. Fairy lights can also add colour and magical sparkle to the area. You’ll also want to make sure that there is sufficient lighting around the entertainment area, allowing for easy access from the house when it is dark outside.
These are just a few of the options available to transform your garden. For more inspiration to creating the garden of your dreams, scroll through the pages at Life is a Garden. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for monthly inspiration and reasons to love your garden.