There's No Such Thing As a Houseplant

—Matthew Barlow/Earth Works Garden Center Manager
That’s right. I said it, there is absolutely, positively no such thing as a houseplant. That’s to say that no plant evolved or grows best indoors. As we all know, plants come from and are much happier outside. Let’s explore a few ideas that will help us keep our indoor plant friends happy, healthy, and looking good.

Number one, get to know your plant. Each plant is an individual, just like every other living thing on the planet, and although some living things may seem very similar, it’s likely that they might have different needs and preferences. The more you know about where your plant originated, its habitat, climate, and other conditions, the better prepared you’ll be to provide what it needs to thrive.
Second, you must tread the fine line between too much and too little care. It’s really easy to “over-love” your plants with water. If you only have a handful of plants but a lot of interest and passion, it can be easy to kill them with kindness. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience. There’s a certain tipping point when this factor diminishes. I call it the “passion to plant ratio.” The goal is to find a balance where you get the interaction you need with the plants, and they get what they need, but not too much.
Once your plant collection arrives at several plants that allow you to interact with each plant regularly with an adequate amount of care without exceeding the plant’s tolerance of interaction, you’ve achieved balance. Then you receive the positive feeling you need from caring for your plants, and they get what they require from you. This way, nobody feels like they’re not doing enough or suffering from being “over-loved.”
It’s like why some people say that only children are a little spoiled. If we just have one plant, it’s easy to “spoil” it. If we have dozens of plants, we can spread all of our love, passion, and care between them, and none of them suffer from excess attention. One or a few lonely plants have definitely suffered because I wouldn’t ever leave them alone. Too much water was usually my way of showing that I cared. The plants died. I bought new ones and then tortured them as well.
I was awful at first, but eventually, I gained experience and knowledge and grew my collection to its current state of a few hundred potted plants. (97.37496% of them are outdoors.) (I’m tired of just thinking about them now.) with a few hundred plants to care for, let’s just say that the “passion” and tendency to spend too much time with any given plant has severely subsided.
Third, Get the right plant into the right spot. A square peg won’t fit into a round hole. (Unless you sand off the edges. Hehe. That’s a hack for another day.) Don’t place sun-loving plants in the darkness and vice-versa. Just don’t. You might say, “But—” I say, “Nope.” It will only bring heartache and sorrow. Cause here’s the thing, it might work for a minute, a week, a month, and so on, but sooner or later, that plant will start stressing out and looking rough. Nobody likes that, especially our plant buddies. Do the homework and find out what they need, sun, shade, and everything else they might require or not.
This brings us to our fourth and final thought; There’s no such thing as a houseplant. In the last paragraph, I mentioned that having the wrong plant in the wrong lighting conditions might work for a time. The same can be true about having plants indoors in general. Houseplants are called such because they more or less, at varying degrees, tolerate being indoors better than others. They won’t suffer without letting us know. They give us clues, signs, and discolorations on leaves; some will just up and die without warning. (The last scenario is the worst. Devastating even. I call this “sudden death syndrome, and I ascribe it to something I must’ve done wrong in a past life like squooshing a snail by accident. I don’t recall. Please forgive me.)
Here are a few tips to prolong indoor plant life happiness for all; Try rotating plants indoors to out. Some are more tolerant than others, but I will say my plants enjoy recess outside. Ensure you have a suitable place outside to keep plants for some time. Sun for sunnies and dim for slim shadies. Have multiple plants that you can rotate. That way, you won’t have any empty spots inside while the others are playing on the jungle gym.
Consider a humidifier. There are some really nice budget-friendly models out there. If you buy one on Amazon right now, it will be at your door by the time you finish reading this. Lack of humidity is a huge stressor on our plant pals. Unless you keep your windows open in your house year-round, the plants will be somewhat stressed. Again, find out where your plants originate. Dry arid regions? Easy. Moist, swampy rainforest? Gonna need some moisture in the air. Humidity trays are also a good option and are easy to set up. If you’re crafty, get creative and make the humidity tray part of the presentation.
Feeeeeeeeeeed Meeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! Please feed your plants. Nobody buys a puppy and doesn’t pick up dog food. (If there are, there should be a law against that.) Don’t make me lobby for a “Plant food for Plant Friend’s Bill.” Just do it. There are several ways you can feed your plants. It’s important. It can take a plant from “Just Surviving” to “Look at me, I’m thriving! Somebody must love me.” Everybody wants plants that feel that way. Right? Liquid, water-soluble, or slow-release, find the one that works for you and your plants, then follow the directions and stick to it. Hangry plants are no fun to live with.
Lastly, don’t beat yourself up if a plant in your care dies. It happens even to the best-intentioned and conscientious plant parents out there. We live, and we learn. (The “learn” part is important.) Don’t keep doing the same things repeatedly and expect different results. That’s literally one definition of insanity. (Thank God, I’m finally cured.) But it’s true. Experiment, try new things, read, watch videos, and learn from others. We don’t have to recreate the wheel. Lots of good information out there. Now go on and get out there. Try new stuff, give your plants a squeeze along the way, and tell them I said ‘Hello.”

A custom firepit, seat wall, and landscape lights put the finishing touches on a backyard family paradise.
Landscape Designer Pam Poe walks us through a recently completed landscape design installation, sharing what the clients were looking with a super sized fire pit, walkways, landscaping, and landscape lighting.
You are going to love this Sizzling Red Hot Pot
This is no ordinary monochromatic design. She rolls out the red carpet for our favorite pollinators with varying-sized and shaped long-lasting blooms. This pot will do best in a partial sun area with plenty of indirect or morning light and some afternoon shade.

  1. Red Porterweed (Stachytarpheta mutabilis) - The Ruby Throated Hummingbirds and a host of butterflies are sure to search this beauty out to enjoy its rich, near-continuous supply of nectar. In the ground, it can grow up to 6'x4' and is deer-resistant and heat tolerant too!
  2. Red Gerbera Daisy Gerberas produce long-lasting 3-in. to 4-in. flowers from late spring through autumn in the garden, and their blooms make long-lasting cut flowers. They symbolize being surrounded by love.
  3. Dragon Wing Begonia Is famous for its dark, lush leaves and cascades of rich red flowers. It is heat and humidity-tolerant and blooms all season long, attracting hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees!
  4. Aptenia This hardy, drought-tolerant ground cover makes the perfect spiller in many container recipes. It is truly an easy-care plant, evergreen, and, like its pot mates, attracts pollinators.
Time to Fertilize!
Fertilizing Tips

Mid-April is the ideal time to put out that first fertilizer application on lawns in North Florida.

Fertilizers have three main elements—nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. A soil sample can be beneficial when deciding what your lawn needs. Contact your local extension office for information on submitting soil samples.
Many Florida soils are already high in phosphorous and don't need any added. Look for fertilizers with low or no phosphorous and containing slow-release nitrogen. Slow release eliminates burning your turf simultaneously, which is good for the environment. Chad Lakin, Operations Manager of Earth Works Lawn Maintenance, recommends a professional 24-2-11 application.
Mowing Tips

Avoid "Scalping" your turf (mowing too low). Removing more than 1/3 of the leaf blade will make it vulnerable to insects, diseases, weeds, and drought.

Keep mower blades sharp. Dull mowers tear leaf blades. This also stresses the grass and leave it more suseptible to pests and disease.
Do not mow wet lawns.
Wet grass clippings keep your mower blades from making the cleanest possible cut.

Let your grass clippings naturally fertilize your lawn. They actually act as compost, returning valuable nutrients to the lawn.
Irrigation Tips

Don't overwater. It is the most significant cause of lawn issues in NE Florida. A strong, healthy lawn needs deep roots. Less water encourages the roots to grow deep in search of moisture. Deep roots increase your lawn's ability to tolerate stress. Stick to the watering restrictions of twice a week in the growing season and once a week when the lawns are dormant.

Irrigate in the morning. This ensures that the leaf blades will dry out during the day. Watering in the late afternoon or evening leaves your lawn wet, and moisture can increase the grass's susceptibility to fungus and disease.

Keep Your Water Lilies Blooming all Season Long.
Jason Duffney explains the basics of water lily transplanting and care here in Northeast Florida, whether you prefer to grow in a container or directly in the pond substrate.
Earth Works Gardens provides high-quality water lilies year-round, as well as specialty fabric pots and aquatic plant fertilizer.

Learning Opportunities
Earth Works Garden Center Manager and plant guru Matthew Barlow will introduce Florida newcomers to need-to-know gardening and landscape information. Enjoy appetizers, drinks, and some fun FL swag while you mingle with other Jacksonville transplants, and get all your gardening questions answered!
Of course, Jax locals are always welcome too!

Come Grow With Us!
Garden Center Hours
Monday through Saturday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm / Sunday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
We would like to thank you all for your continued support!