How to Flush a Radiator (& 4 Common Signs that You Need New Coolant!)

A car is one of our most important possessions. Like other assets, a car requires proper maintenance to run smoothly. Maintenance routines such as regularly checking up on your car engine’s air filter and rotating your vehicle’s tires are necessary not only in extending your car’s lifespan but also in ensuring your safety while on the road. One aspect that some car owners tend to overlook is the radiator fluid. This coolant is tasked to keep your engine running steadily under safe temperatures. It prevents your car from overheating, which could lead to even worse car troubles. Keeping the right amount of coolant inside your car is just as important as gassing up your vehicle.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about radiator fluid, such as tips when adding coolant, how to flush it and signs that your vehicle needs a coolant flush.

Make sure to also check out our articles on Thermo King fault codes and Hibiscus trees – yes, we cover a lot of different topics on Atlantic Aspiration!

What does radiator fluid do?

Also known as antifreeze, radiator fluid is responsible for cooling your car’s internal combustion engine so your vehicle can run smoothly. It prevents your engine from overheating when the weather is too hot, as well as avoid freezing when it is too cold. Without it, the risk of damaging your car (and car parts) is severe. Antifreeze is generally a combination of propylene glycol or ethylene and water, with a 50:50 ratio. Other base types are also recommended by experts and we will discuss those in the succeeding subsections.

So, how does radiator fluid work? Liquid coolant circulates through your car’s engine block and gathers heat from there. The heated fluid passes through a rubber hose and goes through the radiator. The liquid then cools via the air stream as it passes through the thin radiator tubes.

If you are driving on the road and your coolant malfunctions or runs out, this could cause damage to your vehicle’s engine parts, particularly the ones that are prone to overheating. These include your car’s head gasket, water pump, piston timing and cylinder head. While you can always have them repaired, you may have to spend a huge amount of money on something that could have been easily avoided through regular maintenance check-ups.

Radiator fluid is just one of the many types of fluids that run inside your car. These types include engine oil, which is a lubricant that allows your car to run smoothly; power steering fluid, which is responsible for lubricating your car’s steering gear; brake fluid, the one that adopts pressurized fluid for brake activation; and refrigerant, the fluid responsible for your vehicle’s A/C system. With all these types of fluids required to run inside your car, you may want to consider buying a waste oil heater to make better use of old oil instead of disposing it completely.

How long does coolant last in a car (& how often should you flush it?)

Now that you know how a coolant works and the importance it plays in maintaining your car, the next question begs: how long do coolants last in a vehicle? Unfortunately, there is not a one-size fits all answer to that question. Some say you have to change it every three years, while others believe it is best to flush the radiator fluid annually. However, there is a consensus that if your car is new and has only achieved less than 10,000 miles, then there is no need to perform a coolant flush.

Beyond this, there are different factors to consider when determining whether it is time to flush your car radiator’s fluid. Generally, car makers recommend changing your coolant every 30,000 miles. However, your driving habits also play a role in knowing the frequency of your radiator’s fluid changes. For example, if you frequently use your vehicle under extremely hot conditions, then you may have to flush the radiator fluid every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, or about once a year. Your car’s brand (and model) is another factor. Some Mercedes-Benz models need a fluid flush within a 30,000-mile interval, while others can last up to 120,000 miles. Meanwhile, coolants on most Chevrolets last after every 150,000 miles regardless of driving habits. For modern cars, it is typically advised to flush out coolant after 160,000 kilometers, while others may need a shorter mileage than this. You may want to consult your user manual or check with your vehicle manufacturer if you are still unsure when to change your coolant.

Does antifreeze go bad in your car

The lifespan of a concentrated antifreeze or coolant is indefinite. That is why you would not see an expiration date on the labels of coolant solutions that have not been mixed with water. On the other hand, pre-mixed coolant may expire within 3 years from the time of purchase. If you have a leftover coolant solution after refilling your car’s engine cooling system, make sure to store them in a secure container so it can last for years. However, there are storage guidelines that you need to keep in mind. First, use the original container when storing the leftover solution because its airtight lid helps keep contaminants at bay. Second, make sure to keep the containers away from children and pets as coolants are toxic and poisonous. Lastly, always label the containers so that you do not mix them up with other fluids in your garage.

But what happens when you have already added the antifreeze to your car’s cooling system? Does it start to expire right away? Once inside your car’s system, the coolant begins to degrade. Hence, experts recommend replacing or flushing out the coolant at certain intervals. This depends on the vehicle’s model, make and driving conditions. Generally, it is advisable to check on the quality of the coolant inside your car every 50,000 miles.

What kind of coolant does my car need

Just like when purchasing an engine-drive welder, a plasma cutter or a gasless MIG welding buying radiator coolant requires careful consideration to make sure your money is well spent. There are two things to consider when buying radiator coolant: type and base.

The two types of coolant are Type A and Type B. Type A coolant has an antiboil and antifreeze component. This coolant contains either propylene glycol or ethylene glycol to raise the boiling level while lowering the freezing point. Its inhibitor is used to protect your car’s cooling engine from rust, cavitation and corrosion. Unlike Type A, Type B coolant does not have emulsions or antifreeze to accompany its inhibitor, making it only effective for preventing rust and corrosion. However, some variants may have anti-cavitation agents for better performance. Type B coolant was very popular among vehicles launched before the 1980s.

Another factor to consider is the base and this can be classified into three: inorganic acid technology, organic acid technology and hybrid organic technology. If you are shopping for coolants, you may notice that they come in a variety of colors. This is because most car manufacturers add dyes to differentiate one base from another. Organic acid technology typically comes in orange, dark green, bright red and blue. This base does not have phosphates or silicates but it does have corrosion inhibitors to make the engine last longer. Car models manufactured by Nissan, Toyota, General Motors, Honda, Mitsubishi and Volkswagen usually use this base.

Inorganic acid technology, meanwhile, is typically used on older cars, particularly those made between the 1920s and 1990s. With corrosion inhibitors and silicates, this base takes care of the engine and radiator. It comes in bright green color and is advised to be flushed out every two years or about 30,000 miles. Another type of base to consider is hybrid organic acid technology. As the name implies, this base combines the previous two solutions and is recommended for newer car models. It has silicates to prevent corrosion, as well as additives to avoid rusting. This coolant is available in turquoise, purple, yellow, blue or pink color. One popular example of this is the Prestone antifreeze coolant, which helps prevent engine failure. This is a universal coolant that can be combined with another product without risking any damage. Many European- and Asian-made vehicles work great with this coolant. American-produced vehicles also work well with Prestone antifreeze coolant, including pick-up trucks like the Dodge Ram.

A rule of thumb when deciding the right coolant for your car is to consult your dealer. They are in the best position to determine the right coolant specific to your car model.

Signs that vehicle needs a coolant flush

Imagine yourself driving on the road when you noticed an odd smell from your hood that reminded you of maple syrup or you heard some noise coming from your car’s engine. Most likely than not, that is your car coolant telling you that it needs to be flushed out. Here are four common indicators that your car needs a coolant flush.

The first telltale sign of a much-needed coolant flush is the pancake-like smell rising from the hood of your car. This is largely due to the sweet-smelling properties found in ethylene glycol. Overheating is also another sign to watch out for. If your car overheats easily even when you are not frequently driving under hot temperatures, then this is a sure sign that your coolant is no longer functioning properly and that you need to consider going to your mechanic to have your car checked. The third hint that your cooling engine system is compromised is leaking. If you notice tracks of colored liquid where your vehicle is parked, consult a professional mechanic immediately and have your car inspected.

Lastly, if your coolant level empties out earlier than it should, then there must be something wrong with your car. This is why it is important to regularly monitor your coolant reservoir to avoid having to top up repeatedly at shorter-than-recommended intervals. If you want to know how to check the coolant level of your car, check out the subsections below. And while you are scrolling, you may also want to check out our complete guide on the best wide belt sanders.

How to flush a radiator’s coolant (aka how to bleed your coolant system)

Now that you know the importance of a car’s coolant system, the next thing to learn is how to flush a radiator’s coolant. Knowing when to flush the radiator coolant depends on several factors including car mileage, brand and model, and driving habits. Flushing out the radiator coolant during the recommended time interval is also important to prevent the build-up of debris and other unwanted contaminants.

Before starting to bleed your coolant system, make sure that you have the following tools:

  • Drain pan or bucket that has a capacity of at least 15 liters
  • Distilled water
  • Radiator flush solution
  • Fresh coolant
  • Wrench or screwdriver
  • A pail of water or running faucet
  • Safety goggles

First, wear your safety goggles and park your car on a flat floor or surface. Make sure that the engine is cool. If you are unsure about how long you should wait for the engine to cool down, skip to the next few paragraphs. Letting the engine sit for a while to cool down is important to prevent burns when opening the radiator cap. You also need to ensure that pets and children are out of sight since the coolant is highly poisonous. You may likewise consider a working area that is free from litter or away from distracting shrubs or vines.

Next, place your bucket under the drain plug, allowing it to catch the fluid spills. To bleed the coolant system, remove the cap of the radiator and the drain plug, which can be found at the bottom of the engine. This plug can come in the form of a petcock, bolt or a screw. Once the drain is open, allow the fluid to flow until the container is empty. Afterward, put the drain plug back to its original position and properly dispose of the spills caught by the drain pan. You may want to purchase a large container similar to a fuel transfer tank where you can put these waste spills so you can get rid of them later in an eco-friendly way.

The next step involves the radiator flush solution. Pour this solution via the open radiator cap and into the container. The radiator container must be filled in with water through your hose. Make sure that the water is about an inch below the radiator’s neck. Next, put the radiator cap back in and tighten it. Go inside your car and start the engine, allowing it to run for about 10 minutes. The gear must be on neutral before starting this process. Then, turn off the engine and let it sit for some time to allow it to cool down. Next, turn to your drain plug, open it, and let the solution flow out if it once more and into the newly replaced bucket under the radiator. As in previous steps, put the drain plug back in and tighten its cap. At this point, you may need to consult your user manual to know the capacity of your cooling system. Refilling the radiator with a fresh engine coolant may require distilled water if you are using a pure solution. Check the label of your coolant solution to be sure if it is already diluted. Once filled, close the radiator by tightening its cap and let your engine run for another 10 minutes. This will allow an even distribution of the coolant.

Flushing a radiator with vinegar

When checking your radiator, you may notice floating debris, bugs and other gunk that can cause clogged drains and block airflow. If not addressed properly, this could lead to overheating. Thankfully, there is one household item that can help solve this.

Aside from pairing it with cucumbers, vinegar can also be used to flush radiator fluid, among the many other things that this versatile solution can do! Vinegar contains mild acetic acid that works safe enough with metals. But just like other solutions, you have to use this ingredient in moderation to avoid damaging your engine. Vinegar can also be used to clean the main cooling system if there are calcium carbonate deposits, but since radiator coolants often use distilled water, the chance of having these unwanted contaminants is slim.

How long does it take for a car to cool down

The exact time it takes a car to cool down depends on different factors including the amount of engine coolant, ambient temperature and the kind of material the engine block is made of. On average, a car needs 1 to 2 hours after the engine is turned off for it to completely cool down. If you are planning on checking your car’s coolant level, then you may want to wait up to 5 hours. That is because even after the engine is off, the residual heat is still taking its sweet time to travel through the coolant.

Inspecting your engine while it is still hot can cause serious damage such as burns and scalds so having the patience to wait before opening the radiator cap is a must. You can also check your car’s temperature gauge to see if it is safe to inspect your engine, although this should be done with caution as it can sometimes give a false reading.

How much coolant does my car hold

Knowing the capacity of your car’s coolant radiator is one step closer to making sure that your engine runs smoothly. Thankfully, this is a straightforward process that you can do by yourself as this information should be available in your car’s user manual. On average, a car has space for more than 2 gallons of engine coolant. You can also manually check your car’s coolant capacity by flushing the fluid out of the radiator and refilling it with 1 quart of distilled water at a time. The water level should hit the piping of the expansion tank. After calculating the result, empty the radiator again and fill it with a coolant solution and water. You can refill the overflow tank to adjust the coolant level.

How much coolant should be in the overflow tank

A radiator overflow tank gathers the expanding antifreeze or coolant heated by the engine. Afterward, it recycles the coolant and passes it back through the coolant system once the heat level eases. The function of the overflow tank is connected with that of the radiator cap, both of which help in engine protection and avoid overflowing that could lead to coolant loss. Cars that do not have a radiator overflow tank are more prone to rust. An overflow tank must be filled with just the right volume of coolant to avoid leaks.

How to check the coolant level

As mentioned in the previous subsection, regularly monitoring the coolant level is important in making sure that your car runs smoothly, allowing you to avoid expensive repairs. If your car’s coolant level runs low faster than it should, then this could be an indication that your coolant is malfunctioning.

To perform a check-up, make sure that the engine is cool. This means that you cannot check the coolant reservoir while the vehicle is running. Allow a few hours after driving before you remove the radiator cap as doing otherwise could cause burns especially when the coolant is still hot. Next, check for markings found on the side cover of the plastic overflow bottle, which is directly connected to the car’s cooling system. This bottle has a bright cap, usually orange, and is transparent, allowing you to see the fluid it contains. The coolant level should be in between the markings that show the maximum and minimum fluid level. If the level goes beyond the minimum, consult your user manual to know the right type and base coolant for your car and refill the fluid right away. You may also consider flushing your radiator coolant, if you see debris floating inside or if the color of the fluid is rusty and brownish.

Thermo King Alarm & Fault Codes

Food, medicine, and electronic components are only some of the several things that are temperature-sensitive when transported, whether through air, land, or sea.

Thermo King is leading the way to transport temperature control since 1938. From vans, trucks, and trailers to boats and airplanes, Thermo King has a temperature control system that can address all your needs.

How does Thermo King work?

Thermo King works by using liquid carbon dioxide as a coolant. Liquid carbon dioxide alone won’t produce cold air as it needs to undergo a process to make use of it.

Cooling is not needed all the time since the user sets the temperature. As a result, the liquid carbon dioxide has to be stored securely. A refillable tank mounted under the vehicle chassis is used to store liquid carbon dioxide. When the microprocessor controller demands cooling, the liquid carbon dioxide is then allowed to flow from the tank to the evaporator coils.

The coils alone won’t cool the cargo space. Remember the liquid carbon dioxide that is in the evaporator coils? As air pushed by electric fans pass through the coils, the liquid carbon dioxide evaporates, cooling the air that passes over it.

The product of this entire process is cold air, which circulates through the whole cargo space, maintaining the temperature set by the user.

What engine does Thermo King use?

The engine used by Thermo King is specific to its applications. It focuses on high-efficiency, which means high performance without sacrificing emission levels. Before the engine makes it to a Thermo King product, it goes through a rigorous testing and validation process to ensure compliance with standards.

Thermo King uses the GreenTech engine, which is known to have the lowest emissions and highest performance. Unlike its competitor brands, the GreenTech engine puts reduced emissions and pollution without sacrificing overall performance a top priority. Because of its commitment to the environment, the GreenTech engine exceeds all environmental requirements. Since we’re talking about saving the environment and reducing emissions, let’s plant seeds and grow flowers. You might also be interested in growing Sansevieria plants.

It is quite common for high-performance engines to have high emissions. That is not the case for GreenTech engines. Its engines are high-performance without sacrificing its commitment to the environment. GreenTech engines have the cleanest engines on the refrigeration market. It is also compatible with B5 fuels, placing it another step forward to being environmental-friendly. While we’re on the topic of fuel, we have an article about fuel transfer tanks you might be interested in.

How do I clear and reset the Thermo King alarm code?

Before we move forward to the specifics of each Thermo King alarm code, let us first discuss how to clear and reset a Thermo King alarm code.

A Red diamond warning indicates an alarm code, which may occur for many reasons. Don’t panic because it’s easy to clear and reset a Thermo King alarm code!

  1. Press the check button and the on button at the same time.
  2. Release the check button and the on button, then press the equal sign button.
  3. Wait for a few seconds.
  4. The red diamond warning should be gone by this time, which indicates the unit has reset.

Thermo King Alarm Codes

Here’s a list of frequent Thermo King alarm codes or APU fault codes that may get you into trouble. Do note that error codes with parenthesis may exist at the same time as alarm code 84. It may also clear out automatically.  

Code (63)

Code 63 has a red status, which needs immediate action. This error code indicates that the engine or vapor motor stopped working. It’s sometimes called vapor lock too.

A common cause of vapor lock is heat. When there is too much heat in the exhaust system, engine, or ambient temperature, fuel may vaporize in the lines, causing the vapor motor to stop working.

The most effective way to address this issue is to let the engine cool down. Look for a shade and park your vehicle. Allow the engine to rest for a few minutes. If it’s possible, pour cold water over the fuel pump and fuel lines. Be sure the engine has cooled before doing this. While on the topic of machines and engines, you might be interested in plasma cutters and mini metal lathes.

Code 17

Code 17 has a yellow status, which needs checking as specified. This error code indicates the engine failed to crank when the microprocessor requested a start. It is a frequent error code experienced by drivers, technicians, and operators.

Check the battery, cables, and starter. In most cases, troubleshooting these components can lead to knowing the problem and fixing code 17. 

Check the battery if it is receiving the proper amount of voltage. Load testing the battery checks if it can hold the right amount of charge. Next, check the relay interface circuit board, which controls the fuel shut off solenoid. When checking this, be sure to wear a wrist ground strap to avoid internal damage to the circuit board. Once you’ve checked the battery and the relay interface circuit board, it’s time to check for broken wires and if the pin connectors are attached appropriately. Take note of any broken wires and reattach loosely attached connectors.

Code (26)

Code 26 has a yellow status, which needs checking as specified. This error code indicates to check the refrigeration capacity of your Thermo King. The refrigeration capacity measures how effective the cooling capacity of your Thermo King.

While in use, manually monitor the temperature. A consistent drop in temperature could indicate that your Thermo King is low in freon, or it’s losing freon. If possible, monitor the temperature in equal time intervals and check the results at the end of the day. Doing so will make it easier for you to spot the temperature levels at different times.

If the alarm code doesn’t go away, report the alarm to Thermo King at the end of the day. Present the data you gathered to make it easier and faster to spot the problem.

Code 37

Code 37 has a green status, which indicates that it is OK to run your Thermo King. When you encounter Code 37, start by checking the engine coolant level. If it is within normal levels, check the sensor.

Residues stuck inside the reservoir cause inaccurate engine coolant level readings. Carefully pull out the sensor and wipe it with a clean cloth. If the error is still there, check pins 14 and 37 at the microprocessor and make sure all the pins are correctly attached.

If you just repaired a leak from your Thermo King, you need to refill the coolant. After doing so, press the TK button, then press and hold the equal sign button.

Code (10)

Code 10 has a red status, which requires immediate action. This error code indicates high discharge pressure, which makes troubleshooting difficult. 

The first option you can do is to check if there are any broken fan belts. Check for faulty or missing belts by opening the upper and lower front doors. If necessary, replace the belt that has worn out. While you are at it, check for loose bearings. On a completely different belt topic, check out our wide belt sanders.

The second option you can do is to check if the 12-volt battery is defective. A typical sign of a worn-out battery is if the unit loses power even before you engage the starter. Using a voltmeter, jump the starter and check if the battery voltage is 12V. If unsuccessful and the voltmeter reading is 0V or 1V, it is an indication of a bad battery. The only way to fix this is to replace the bad battery with a new one.

The third option you can do is to check if the high-pressure cutout switch is working correctly. You can find the HPCO on top of the compressor. If you bypassed the HPCO and the unit starts, it means the HPCO switch is defective.

Code 61

Code 61 has a yellow status, which needs checking as specified. This error code indicates there is a low battery voltage in your Thermo King reefer.

The design of the in-cab controller lets the voltage go through the on/off switches before the in-cab controller. In most cases, corroded switches cause a drop in battery voltage, which results in low battery voltage. You can find the on/off switches on the nearside of the fridge unit.

Code 25

Code 25 has a yellow status, which needs checking as specified. This code indicates the alternator needs checking. The alternator is a device that converts electrical energy from mechanical energy by alternating current.

Start by going through the small things, such as checking the tightness of the connections, checking the amps it is pulling, and checking the battery. After going through the wires and connections, clear the error code and run in continuous mode. Did the error code disappear? If the troubleshooting steps you took did not fix the issue, this could be an indication of a faulty alternator. A great option is to replace the alternator with a new one. If you just had it replaced, either you got a defective alternator, or your battery has a bad cell.

Code 35

Code 35 has a red status, which indicates immediate action is needed. The unit will not be able to operate and should remain shut down.

This error code indicates a problem with the run relay circuit. The first possible fix for this issue is a software update. A quick software update to your unit may fix the code 35 error. If it does not, check the alternator is properly working, the battery is in good health, and the connections are securely in place.

Code 66

Code 66 has a red status, which indicates immediate action is needed. The unit immediately needs repair if it is off.

This error code indicates your Thermo King has a low engine oil level. To fix this issue, you need to refill your engine with oil. In case you recently filled your engine with oil, check the oil level sensor. Speaking of oil, you might want to read on how to reuse waste oil instead of discarding it right away.

The oil level sensor is on the passenger side. To access, open the side door and look for the oil pan. You can find the oil level sensor by looking for the oil pressure switch. It has one wire going to it and two wires on the plastic piece on top of the oil pan.

If the problem is still there, this could be an indication of a defective oil level sensor. Before deciding to replace the oil level sensor, disconnect and clean the sensor first.

Code 84

Code 84 has a green status, which indicates you can report the alarm at the end of the day. This error code usually happens as a result of other alarms in your Thermo King. It is a temporary condition and should go away by itself.

Your Thermo King unit should shut down for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, your Thermo King should restart. If it does not, then you might have to wait for the condition to reset. In most cases, the other error codes that came with this error code should also clear.

If it does not seem to work, repeat two more times. If the error persists on the third attempt, the error code that caused your Thermo King to turn off will appear on your control panel. The unit will then automatically shut down. Once you fix code 84, the error should automatically clear after a restart.

Code 23

Code 23 has a red status, which means immediate action is required. This error code indicates a faulty cooling cycle.

The code 23 error is an indication that your Thermo King is low on freon, has run out of freon, the compressor is defective, or there is discharge pressure.

Start by making sure all your belts are in place. If they are secured, check the freon. The freon needs replacing if it is low level or it has run out. The freon is in the lower front cover of your Thermo King’s APU AC system. The ports you are looking for are the ones coming from the a/c compressor. Your Thermo King’s engine should be running in a/c mode while doing this procedure.

Code (18)

Code 18 has a yellow status, which means it needs checking as specified. If the unit is running, you can check on the alarm at the end of the day, then report it. If your Thermo King is off, the best action is to repair it immediately.

This error indicates that the engine has a high coolant temperature, which could cause the engine to overheat in a shorter period than usual. A code 18 error is a little tricky to troubleshoot as it may involve several factors such as a low coolant level or a leak.

Start by checking your Thermo King’s thermostat. It may be defective or covered with dirt. Clean it off and check if the same error code is appearing. Next is to check if the water pump is working correctly.

If you’ve checked the thermostat and water pump and have determined they are working correctly, you may want to pressure wash the radiator. A dirty radiator may hinder the circulation of air, which may cause overheating.

If the above steps did not work, try checking if the engine oil is within the usual level. While you are at it, check if the oil is in its normal consistency. The diesel can mix with the engine oil if there is leaking.

Code 50

Code 50 has a green status, which means it’s good to continue using your Thermo King. It has something to do with resetting the time of your unit.

This error code usually comes up whenever the main power gets disconnected from the microcontroller. To address this issue, turn on the unit and wait for the setpoint temperature and box temperature to appear. Once it appears, press and hold the TK button until you see “Pre-Trip” on your control panel screen. Then, press and hold the cycle button until you see the time/date. Continue through the following screens and make sure to press the equals button.

Once you have completed the above steps, the error code should go away. Note that the above steps are for alarm checking and will not affect the reefer on how it operates.

Code 32

Code 32 has a red status, which indicates immediate action is necessary. This error code appears if the refrigeration capacity is low. The refrigeration capacity is a measure of the cooling capacity effectiveness of your Thermo King.

If your unit is running, immediately turn it off. A compressor that is running in low freon may cause it to burn out. You will need to add freon into the unit. Be sure you use a set of gauges to monitor that you are getting proper pressures. Before restarting the unit, check for leaks.

Code (20)

Code 20 has a yellow status, which means it needs checking as specified. This error code indicates the vapor motor failed to start. Code 20 is a common alarm code that you might encounter with Thermo King products.

There is likely a problem with your fuel system, which is causing the vapor motor to fail. A problem with the fuel system involves several factors.

To check for solenoid failure, switch on the unit while keeping a finger or two on the solenoid. If the unit buzzes, that indicates a startup. The solenoid should clunk before the starter engages. If you hear a clunk, it means the solenoid has energized, and it is working as expected. 

For a clogged fuel system, check the inline fuel filter by removing the bolt and washer. Remove the filter and clean it well. Reinstall the bolt and washer you removed.

For air in a fuel system, start by loosening the hand primer found on the transfer pump. Check if the fuel tank is at least ¾ full. Otherwise, add fuel to the tank. Next, look for the bleeder bolt located on top of the injection pump. Let air inside the fuel system out by opening it. If the unit doesn’t turn on, continue to pressurize the tank.

Code 89

Code 89 has a green status, which indicates it is good to run. If you see this error code, you need to check the electronic throttling valve circuit.

The electronic throttling valve (ETV) circuit extends maintenance intervals, reduces fuel cost, and improves temperature control on Thermo King products.

The ETV circuit is on the top middle of the compressor. Check for loose plugs and clean the ground wires as these are the usual causes of code 89.

Code 13

Code 13 has a yellow status, which indicates it needs checking as specified. The sensors on your Thermo King need checking as one or more sensor is not working as expected.

To check if the sensors are working, you need to monitor the temperature manually. The sensors that need checking are the discharge air temperature sensor, return air temperature sensor and coil temperature sensor. Thirty minutes after a defrost is complete, the sensors should read within 30 °F of each other. You will have to observe and compare all three sensors to determine which sensor is faulty.

Once you have determined the sensor at fault, you can apply lube to the micro connection found on the back of the microprocessor. If it does not work, you will have to replace the sensor with a new one.

Code 44

Code 44 has a red status, which requires immediate action. This error code tells you to check the fuel system.

In most cases, this error code indicates that your Thermo King lacks fuel. Aside from adding fuel, look for the banjo fitting on the transfer pump line. Unscrew the screen and clean it. Also, check if you are getting fuel from the transfer tanks.

Hibiscus Tree and Plant Care: Leaves Turning Yellow, Fertilizers, and Pruning

Hibiscus plants are famous and grown by many gardeners for their large, showy flowers, while some are familiar with the plant due to its flowers’ medicinal properties when served as tea. Hibiscus is one of my favorite flowering plants, along with these plants that bloom purple flowers. These plants are originally native to tropical areas like Hawaii, Mauritius, Madagascar, and Fiji. Now, you can find other hibiscus species even in subtropical and temperate regions, grown either in pots or out on the lawn. With over 200 species, it’s easy to get confused about which hibiscus is best for temperate zones and which thrive in tropical zones. For you to easily determine which hibiscus plant will grow best in your area, we’ll focus on tropical hibiscus and hardy hibiscus plants.

Tropical hibiscus, as its name suggests, thrives best in hot, humid areas and cannot withstand cold temperatures. It is best to grow tropical hibiscus in Zones 10 and above, or shelter this plant indoors or in a greenhouse, if you live in Zone 9b. These plants produce bright blooms that vary in color, from red, orange, yellow, pink, purple, and white, among many others. Their foliage is glossy and has a deep green color throughout the year, perfect for their growth under the heat and of the sun in tropical areas. One of the most famous tropical hibiscus is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L., commonly known as Chinese hibiscus, grown as an ornamental plant in both tropical and subtropical areas. This bushy evergreen perennial shrub is native to East Asia and has various cultivars and hybrids that produce beautiful blooms as well.


Chinese hibiscus
Image source: World of Flowering Plants

Hardy hibiscus, on the other hand, can be grown in temperate zones. These plants are relatively easier to take care of because they can tolerate cold climates, withstanding the chilly air of winter even in Zone 4, as long as it is protected from the harsh frost. Some of the famous hardy hibiscus species include H. syriacus (also known as “Rose of Sharon,” “Korean Rose,” or “Althea”) and H. moscheutos (also known as “Rose Mallow” or “Swamp Rose”).

H. syriacus is a deciduous perennial shrub that can grow up to 13 feet tall, with pink, purple, blue, or white flowers that are short-lived and fall within the day, but the shrub continuously blooms during late summer or early fall. As a deciduous plant, its leaves drop once a year but comes back as a full hibiscus bush during spring.


blooming hibiscus bush (Rose of Sharon)
Image source: Proven Winners

H. moscheutos, on the other hand, is an herbaceous perennial plant that is native to North America. Its thin showy flowers, named “dinner plate hibiscus,” are 8-7 inches in size and bloom in different colors, such as blue, pink, red, and white, depending on the plant variety. As an herbaceous plant, its stems die back to the ground each year during winter and grows back during spring.


red Rose Mallow hibiscus bush in full bloom
Image source: White Flower Farm

These perennial hibiscus plants can live for more than two years, regenerating yearly during spring from protected buds, bringing you colorful blooms for years every late spring without much fuss.

Growing Hibiscus: How to care for hibiscus

It’s a given fact that you should plan your gardening efforts based on the hardiness of the plant. As mentioned, tropical hibiscus cannot handle cold and requires hot, humid areas, while hardy hibiscus can survive in cool climates. Thus, it’s less of a hassle to grow hardy hibiscus if you’re in a temperate region. Some people, however, are fine with growing tropical hibiscus as an annual plant, with the plant’s life cycle ending once the frost settles in.

Once you’re decided on which type of hibiscus you want to grow, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the growth requirements of hibiscus plants, so you can fully enjoy their daily bloom from late spring to summer.

SOIL

The easiest way to start your gardening journey is to buy hibiscus transplants from a nursery instead of growing hibiscus from seed. However, if you want to start growing from seed, you should sow your seeds indoors using a sterile potting mix a few weeks before the last frost. Follow the instructions in your seed packet. For more detailed instructions, read this article wherein we discuss how to grow plants from seeds.

Prior to planting, it’s important to check the pH and type of your soil. Hibiscus plants prefer slightly acidic soil, with a pH range of 5.5-7.5. If your soil is too alkaline, incorporate peat moss into your garden soil to increase its acidity. You can do this by adding 2-3 inches of peat moss on top of your soil and working it into the topsoil of your garden bed. For optimal growth, aim for a pH range of 6.0-6.5, since hibiscus thrives when planted in soil with this pH range.

Plant your hibiscus plants in well-drained soils since stagnant water will promote root rot and will cause your plant to wilt or get diseases. However, keep in mind that some varieties like H. moscheutos prefer wet soils, which is why it garnered the name “Swamp Rose.”

TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY

Hibiscus plants flower best when grown in humid areas with a temperature range of 60-90°F. For hardy hibiscus, when winter is approaching and the temperature drops to 32°F, you should transfer the plants indoors if they’re grown in containers. If you’ve planted perennial hibiscus outdoors, it will die down into the ground during winter, but you don’t have to worry since the plant will revive during spring.

However, for tropical hibiscus, when you notice the temperature nearing 55°F for a few nights, move your plant indoors since a temperature lower than this can kill the plant. Also, make sure to mist your plant when the temperature exceeds 70°F since too much heat may dry out the plant—remember that tropical hibiscus thrives in humid areas.

Of course, this temperature rule extends to the water you use for your plants, too. Especially for tropical hibiscus, it is important to never expose your plant to temperatures that they cannot handle, whether it’s the room or water temperature. Take that extra step towards the faucet that can give you warm water, or let that tap run until you get the right temperature, so your snake plant won’t suffer during watering. Make sure that you have a good hot water recirculating pump system in your home and an appropriate heater, such as waste oil heaters, to provide the environment to your hibiscus plants even during winter.

How do I take care of hibiscus in the fall and in winter

As mentioned, you should bring tropical hibiscus inside once the temperature drops to 55°F. For perennials, not all varieties of hibiscus can handle the winter season outdoors; these plants still need to be transferred indoors when the temperatures reach below freezing. These varieties are better off planted in containers or pots for easy transfer indoors.

To prepare your hibiscus plants for winter, prune up to a quarter of the new growth in fall. Remove all pests and insects from the plant using either neem oil or spraying the plant with a strong jet of water (but not too strong to damage the plant). For potted hibiscus, just move the pot indoors. For hibiscus grown directly in the soil, you will need to dig it up and repot it into a container. Make sure to use a soilless potting mix to avoid bringing in soil-borne diseases into your home.

Once indoors, make sure to provide proper light and water to tropical hibiscus. Place it in a sunny window and use heating mats. If you don’t have a good amount of light shining through your window, make use of grow lights. You will need to tone down watering once your plants are indoors during winter since the weather is cool. In contrast to tropical varieties, perennials will go into a dormant state during winter will require a cool, damp location.

You will know which perennials can handle winter temperatures below freezing based on their hardiness, and these plants are the ones best planted directly in the ground. Just make sure to protect the roots with 3-4 inches of mulch, so come spring, the plant will revive with no problem at all.

LIGHT

Hibiscus likes full to partial sun, but during the summer, when the sun gets too intense, there is a risk of damage for your plant. So if you live in a tropical region, aim for an area in your lawn that will not be too exposed to the blazing afternoon sun. However, if you live in a cooler temperate region, it is alright to plant your hibiscus plants where the light during noon will reach them. Make sure that your hibiscus plants are receiving around six hours of direct light daily.

When growing hibiscus indoors, you should situate the plants in a room with southwest facing window, where they can get enough direct light daily. If the sunlight cannot reach far into your room, it will be best to situate your potted plants on a multi-layered shelf, giving them enough space to be exposed to direct light without blocking other plants. If you’re worried about mold or fungi infestation in your shelves due to the chances of it getting wet while watering your plants, then I suggest you use a shelf made up of a material that won’t allow fungus growth that easily and can withstand humid conditions, which hibiscus plants prefer. One example is this marine-grade plywood, which can survive repeated contact with water, made up of high-quality wood that is cross-laminated, held together by waterproof glue. And while we’re on the topic of making shelves, you might be interested to check out portable bandsaw sawmills and wide belt sanders that can make woodworking much easier.

If you’re doing well with providing your hibiscus plants the amount of light that they need, they will consistently produce flowers every day during its blooming season. Lack of bloom signifies that your plant is not getting enough light; plants prioritize other growth or functions over flower production (reproduction stage) if the environment is not favorable.

WATER

Tropical and hardy hibiscus differ in water requirements. Since tropical hibiscus is grown in warmer (and sometimes drier) areas, you’ll need to water it more frequently, ranging from once to twice a day, depending on the heat and humidity. This is why your hibiscus must be planted in well-drained soil since frequent watering is needed, and you don’t want stagnant water to accumulate, which will encourage root rot.

However, in temperate regions, make sure to adjust your watering schedule based on the temperature. Water your plant once to twice a day during summer. Your plant needs less watering when the weather is cool, since moisture is retained well in lower temperatures. Always check if the soil is dry to the touch before watering during fall and winter.

If you’re a seasoned gardener or a dedicated hobbyist, and you have a lot of plants to attend to that need frequent watering during the summer, you might want to check out these fuel transfer tanks that you can use to store not only fuel but also water and fertilizer. These tanks will be especially useful if growing plants is your business, and you have more than one garden or nursery to take care of.

Why do hibiscus leaves turn yellow (and how to avoid it)

When hibiscus leaves turn yellow, this is a sign that you’re overwatering your plant. To avoid this, tone down watering during cool weather, and only water your plants when the soil is dry to the touch. But if you’ve already adjusted your watering appropriately, yet the leaves are still turning yellow, there might be an issue of stagnant water around your plant. If your hibiscus is planted outdoors, try to have an irrigation system that will drain excess water, and if your plant is in a container, make sure that its drainage holes are not clogged.

FERTILIZER

As a flowering plant, hibiscus needs fertilizers to support their blooming process. Unlike other plants that do not require much fertilizing, it is important to supply your hibiscus plants with a well-balanced liquid or slow-release fertilizers. However, remember to never overdo feeding, especially during winter when perennial hibiscus is dormant. Overfertilizing may lead to toxicity and burning of roots.

Best hibiscus fertilizer

Hardy hibiscus requires a lot of potassium, a moderate amount of nitrogen, and only a low concentration of phosphorus. You can opt for a fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 9-3-13 or 17-5-24 for your hibiscus plants. If you’re using diluted liquid fertilizer, only feed your plants once a week. On the other hand, you only need to apply slow-release fertilizers four times a year: during early spring, after the first bloom, during mid-summer, and during early winter. If your soil is fairly rich in nutrients to start with, lessen your feeding up to only twice a year, during early spring and at the end of summer.

PRUNING

Hibiscus plants do not really require pruning, but doing so will encourage more bloom and a bushier plant since new branches will grow.

When and how to prune hibiscus

For tropical hibiscus, it is best to prune in the fall or early spring. Trim the growing stem tips to encourage more growth. If you prune too late in the season, do not cut too far back on the stems. Always prune dead, broken, or diseased branches, and only trim just enough branches to make the shrub less crowded to let in more light. During summer, you’ll see your hibiscus thrive with more flowers and a fuller bush.

On the other hand, since perennial hibiscus dies down during winter, you can prune the plant down to the ground in fall, preferably six inches above the ground. No need to worry since the plant will revive in spring. When the plant has revived, you can also prune it just before the blooming season in early spring, trimming growing stem tips for more flowers.

Propagating Hibiscus

To propagate hibiscus, you can use stem cuttings or seeds, albeit the former one is much easier to and faster to grow. Check this article to learn how to grow seeds into plants.

Propagating hibiscus plants via stem cuttings

  • In spring, cut a section of a stem that has not fully matured yet (e.g., with leaves but no flowers), around 4-6 inches long. Make sure that there are no flower buds in the stem cutting (trim any flowers if you see one).
  • Prepare a sterile potting mix in a container, moist it, and make a shallow hole. Place the stem cutting in the groove, water the cutting, and gently pat down the potting mix around the stem. Cover the setup to create a greenhouse effect.
  • Place the pot in a warm area (60-90°F) and out of direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist until the cutting takes root.
  • After eight weeks or so, you should see new leaves and your stem cutting properly rooted in the potting mix.

Growing hibiscus in a container

If you don’t have enough space outside your home, or you’re growing a species of hibiscus that cannot survive winter, then it will be easier to grow your hibiscus in a container. Here are a few reminders if you’re planning to grow hibiscus in pots:

  • Pick a container that has proper drainage holes and use a well-drained potting mix. It will be better if you use a soilless potting mix to avoid exposure to soil-borne diseases.
  • It is better to use stone pots instead of clay pots. The latter can make the soil alkaline over time, and since hibiscus prefers slightly acidic soil, you should avoid clay pots.
  • Newly planted hibiscus transplants or stem cuttings must be kept away from direct light for the first two weeks so they can adjust and take root properly. Once the plat is well-established, place the container in an area where the plant can have six hours of direct light.
  • Feed your potted hibiscus with liquid fertilizers weekly, or use slow-release fertilizer that can last up to six weeks.
  • Water your plants only when the root is dry to touch in winter and fall, but water more frequently in summer (once to twice a day).

If you’re looking for more plants to grow that are easier to take care of compared to hibiscus, I have a few suggestions for you:

  • You can check out Sansevieria or snake plants, which are plants that can thrive indoors, surviving even in low to medium light and needing only minimal watering (once a week or every two weeks). There are cultivars of snake plants that can easily fit on your desk, growing only up to 6 inches tall, while there are also varieties that can grow up to 4 feet tall. These plants can remove toxic pollutants in your home and are featured in a clean air study conducted by NASA.
  • If you want another outdoor plant that can give you shade and bloom, check out these dwarf shrubs that are fairly easy to maintain. You can pair both non-flowering and flowering perennial dwarf shrubs with the hibiscus plants in your lawn for a wonderful and balanced bloom during spring through summer.

Making a microclimate for hibiscus plant

If you plan to grow and propagate a lot of tropical hibiscus plants (whether for business or as a hobby) but the climate in your area is not suitable for it or your home cannot shelter any more plants, then it will be best to exploit microclimate and make use of greenhouses to shelter your plants.

A microclimate is an environment within a restricted area that differs from the surrounding area, wherein your plant can thrive in. Exploiting microclimate can be done in numerous ways. For example, you can use grow lights as a source of heat and light indoors, or you can use greenhouse covers or humidifiers to increase moisture and humidity. It will be best to build a nursery in a greenhouse so you can shelter more plants.

If you plan to do this, make sure to use materials that will not easily rot nor get infested with molds and can withstand hot temperatures and humidity, such as this marine grade plywood that I mentioned earlier. Of course, wood is not the only thing that you will require to build a proper greenhouse. You might want to check out this plasma cutter that can easily cut through stainless steel, steel, aluminum, brass, copper, and even conductive materials with high precision. And since you’re still setting up a new greenhouse, power sources may not be readily available at the start. Check out this portable engine-driven welder that you can take anywhere so you can weld anytime, even without an external power source.

Why Tomato Plant Leaves Turn Yellow (& How To Avoid This Problem)

Tomatoes are one of the most versatile agricultural products and the list is endless when it comes to this fruit’s use cases. Whether you want to pair them with melty mozzarella as a spread or incorporate them into your skincare routine, tomatoes never fall short of being useful. Aside from vitamins and minerals, tomatoes contain antioxidant lycopene that is said to lower risk of cancer and heart ailments. They are also a good source of fiber, with an average-sized tomato containing about 1.5 grams of fiber. Tomatoes are likewise rich in potassium, which is essential in blood pressure control. Hence, it is no wonder that tomatoes are a must in vegetable gardens.

Just like these low-maintenance dwarf shrubs, tomatoes are relatively easy to grow and maintain. You can grow tomato seedlings in containers and transplant them into their own pots once their leaves start to unfurl. However, you have to be prepared to deal with problems such as wilting leaves, fungus and dark spots. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common challenges when growing tomatoes, including leaves that turn yellow, as well as tips on how to avoid such problems.

Be sure to check out our other article on cucumber leaves as well.

Common tomato plant problems

Identifying the problem of your tomato plants is essential in solving it. Tomato plant problems are commonly caused by diseases, poor cultivation, nutrient deficiencies, insects and fungi. Discoloration of the leaves, fruit production performance and the presence of spots or tiny holes are good indicators of these problems.

Tomatoes that lack proper nutrients or are poorly cultivated may have dark, leathery spots on the bottom of the fruits in a case called blossom-end rot. If you see holes in tomato plant leaves, then these are likely caused by insects. Slugs and flea beetles enjoy feeding on those poor leaves although tomato plants generally outgrow the damage caused by these insects. The presence of white spots on tomato leaves is also a common problem among cultivators. These spots are caused by different factors including humidity and air flow. On the other hand, tomato leaves with dark or brown spots could be suffering from bacterial problems. Some of these problems may even occur in select indoor plants like snake plants or aloe vera. But while these issues may sound like a burden, there are several ways to prevent them from happening.

Why are my tomato plant leaves turning yellow?

If you notice yellow leaves unfurling out of an otherwise healthy set of tomato plants, you are not alone. Many tomato cultivators experience this problem at one point in their gardening journey. This can be attributed to a number of reasons, including but not limited to: lack of sunlight, improper watering habits, soil deficiency, poor nutrients, plant diseases and pests. In some cases, tomato plant leaves turning yellow should not be a cause for concern. But if you are determined to solve this problem or prevent it from ever happening, here are some pointers.

One of the common reasons why tomato leaves turn yellow is nitrogen deficiency in the soil. Experts recommend growing nitrogen-rich plants such as alfalfas, peas and beans in the surrounding area to address this problem. Additionally, you can do a soil test analysis to determine whether nitrogen deficiency is the reason behind those yellow leaves. This can be done by getting a sample soil, which will then be incubated and tested in a laboratory. Another method is by conducting a soil nitrate analysis, which can be carried out either before the planting of the tomatoes or during the growing period.

Yellow leaves are just one of the many problems pests may bring to your tomato garden. In some cases, yellow leaves are accompanied by black spots or tiny holes due to the presence of whiteflies, flea beetles, aphids, spider mites and thrips. These pests tend to inject their saliva into tomato plants as they feed on their leaves, which turn yellow in the process. You can confirm if pest infestation is the main culprit by looking at the leaves’ underside. The damage may also vary depending on the type of pest that fed on the leaves. For example, aphids leave yellow and wilted leaves, while psyllids turn leaf veins into purple and distort the stems. While pests are a headache, the good news is that they can easily be treated using insecticidal soap or spray. These insecticides are readily available at your local stores, but you can also create your own at home. Simply mix vegetable oil with mild soap to have your DIY oil spray insecticide. Speaking of oil, you may want to check out this list if you want to know how you can reuse waste oil and convert it into heat.

Poor watering habits can also lead to yellow, crispy tomato leaves. Tomatoes are heat-tolerant agricultural products that need to be watered gradually. The frequency of your watering routine may vary depending on the type of tomato and where it is planted. For example, tomatoes that are planted in containers may need to be watered once a day, preferably in the morning to ease off the heat. To know more about proper watering habits for tomatoes, check out the succeeding paragraphs.

Another possible cause of tomato leaves turning yellow is lack of sunlight. This is more common among mature plants that are bushy. The upper part of these plants tend to block the sun, leaving the leaves at the bottom half with little to no sunlight. These yellow leaves are unlikely to contaminate healthy leaves so you can either cut them off or just keep them altogether.

Lack of proper air flow can likewise cause yellow tomato leaves. To prevent this, make sure to keep plants 24 to 36 inches away from each other as this will allow proper air circulation. If you are transplanting your tomatoes, make sure to set the root ball deeper than how they were in the pot.

If none of the above answers your question, “why are my tomato leaves turning yellow,” then the likely culprit could be a disease. One of the most common tomato diseases is early blight, which is caused by the plant pathogen, alternaria solani. This disease generally affects tomatoes and potatoes, and is widely notorious in North America.

Older plants are more prone to early blight. This disease starts off with odd-shaped dark spots on mature leaves and then slowly transforms into rings that are surrounded by yellow patches. Early blight usually targets the bottom half of the plant and works upward. If not treated properly, this disease can reduce fruit production and result in complete defoliation. There are several things to keep in mind to prevent early blight from infecting your precious tomato plants. First, make sure to keep proper spacing between plants to allow the passage of air and avoid risks associated with wetness and humidity. Next, consider using a fungicide to protect your foliage. Some of the recommended fungicides contain copper, mancozeb or chlorothalonil. These fungicides, which attack different targets in the fungus simultaneously, should be reapplied to each plant set every one or two weeks. Minimizing the level of moisture on tomato plants also helps in keeping early blight at bay since alternaria solani thrives in a moist environment to germinate. If yellow leaves start to appear, make sure to cut them off and remove the debris right away.

Another fungal disease that causes yellow leaves is verticillium wilt. This soil-borne disease attacks vulnerable plants from their roots before spreading through the vascular system. It can be distinguished from other plant diseases by the brown and yellow patches from the mid-section of the leaf’s vein down to its edges. This disease is notorious as it affects a wide variety of plants including shrubs, trees and perennials. It will begin to manifest through curled leaves, which will eventually turn yellow or brown before falling off. Unfortunately, verticillium wilt has no cure. The impacted plant has no choice but to die once the disease enters it. You can, however, protect other plant sets from getting this disease by immediately destroying the infected plants and rotating your tomatoes into a separate area for the next growing season.

A viral disease called tomato mosaic virus can also cause yellow leaves. This disease starts to manifest through yellow patterns on the infected plant’s leaves. It may also cause the leaves to curl and shrink. This virus generally lasts two years in dry soil or debris. If the soil is moist, the virus can last up to a month. Some of its symptoms may not manifest under cool temperature, so it is best to keep an eye on your plants when moving them to a dry environment. Buying seeds from reputable sellers is the primary way to avoid this virus. Do not hesitate to inquire about their sanitation protocols and inspect transplants before buying. Since the symptoms of tomato mosaic virus may not manifest right away, make sure to wash your hands before and while handling the plants, and clean your garden tools properly.

Other tomato plant diseases and treatments

In this section, we will discuss other common tomato plant diseases that do not necessarily manifest through yellow leaves. If early blight exhibits ring-like dark spots surrounded by yellow patches, late blight shows itself through leaf lesions that look like water-soaked spots, which can be distinguished by the white molds around the edges of the infected area. This disease can lead to defoliation within two weeks after the onset of symptoms. It can be prevented by proper spacing between plants and keeping foliage dry. Like in other cases, make sure to remove and destroy the infected plants to prevent the disease from entering other healthy plants.

Another fungal disease among tomatoes is southern blight. It also attacks weeds and crop plants, and is prevalent in tomato gardens in Oklahoma. Plants tend to wilt rapidly once infected by this disease and show off a lesion on its stem, which will then be covered by white molds called mycelium. Afterward, tiny white spots will appear on the mycelium, before turning brown. Crop rotation is the most effective way to control southern blight. To prevent this disease, consider alternating tomatoes with non-vulnerable crops like corn, while avoiding highly vulnerable ones such watermelon or cantaloupe.

White spots

Another telltale sign that your tomato plant has a problem is the presence of white spots on its leaves. These white spots are called oidium lycopersicum but are commonly known as powdery mildew. These spots typically appear on the leaves, but they can also be found on the stems in extreme cases. They are caused by high humidity, sun damage or fungal disease. Greenhouse-raised seedlings are highly vulnerable to powdery mildew due to the absence of proper air flow. You also have to keep an eye on recently transplanted seedlings as the change of location, including the varying temperatures between indoors and outdoors, could affect the plant.

Aside from sun damage, white spots on tomato leaves may also stem from fungal disease, which is typically caused by overwatering. Fungal spores are stimulated if the soil has excess water, causing common plant problems such as root rot and leaf spots. Tomato plants that do not receive the proper amount of nutrients are also prone to powdery mildew. If your plant is short on phosphorus or calcium, then prepare to see white or yellow spots on its leaves. You can treat infected plants by using a potassium bicarbonate spray. Alternatively, you can make your own spray by combining a drop of liquid soap, one teaspoon of baking soda and two gallons of water. Once done, transfer the mixture into a bottle and thoroughly spray the tomatoes, including the leaf undersides and stems. Aside from these sprays, there are many other things you can do at home to improve your garden. You can even consider investing in machines such as engine-driven welders, plasma cutters and belt sanders if you want to create more garden or farm projects.

Black spots

Another problem that tomato cultivators encounter is the presence of dark brown or black spots on the plant’s leaves. This problem may sometimes look similar to other symptoms that a plant will exhibit if it is infected with a disease. For example, septoria leaf spot is a fungal disease marked by dark spots, a grayish center and yellow patches. While septoria leaf spot is not fatal, its dark spots can enlarge and spread fast, leading to complete defoliation. In some cases, this disease can even lead to cracked fruits when not treated early on. To avoid this, immediately cut off the affected leaves and use clean hands when holding uninfected plants. You can also use organic fungicides containing potassium bicarbonate or copper to prevent the infected leaves from spreading further. For extreme cases, you can consider using chemical fungicides that have chlorothalonil.

If these dark spots are surrounded by a yellow halo, then your tomatoes may be suffering from a plant disease called bacterial speck. These spots often have a diameter of ⅛ to ¼ inch and are more noticeable on the leaves’ underside. You can prevent bacterial speck by using pathogen-free transplants or seeds. When watering, make sure to use a drip hose or a soaker instead of a sprinkler to hydrate your tomato plants. Investing in a reliable drip hose is a wise idea if you are planning to raise tomatoes in your garden. And while you are searching for the right drip hose, you may also want to check out our list of the best plasma cutters, which can be very useful for your DIY projects in the garden!

Brown spots

Brown spots on leaves are another indicator of a poor health status among tomatoes, Looking similar to septoria leaf spot, target spot starts as small dark brown lesions that enlarge to dark brown. Non-experts may find it hard to distinguish this disease from others because of many similarities, including the yellow halo that surrounds the lesions. One thing to look for is the concentric or ring-like pattern of the lesions that tend to eat up the entire leaf. Because it can spread rapidly, target spots need to be removed at the first signs of symptoms. During growth, you can cut off some branches at the bottom part of your tomato plant to improve air flow. You should likewise keep your plants away from weeds, which can be a host of fungus. If the unavoidable happens and your plant gets infected, you can control its spread by crop rotation, allotting up to three years before planting tomatoes in the same area.

Dark spots

Even the healthiest tomato plants can encounter problems when they begin bearing fruits. If you notice dark pots on your tomatoes, then this is probably a case of blossom-end rot, which is triggered by a combination of calcium imbalance and watering issues. This starts off by infecting the water-soaked part of the fruit, which enlarges and turns dark brown before starting to rot. The impacted area can also be distinguished by its sunken and leathery appearance. Tomato plants that grow first during the season are more prone to blossom-end rot, though this condition can occur at any point as the plant matures.

Cut off the affected fruit immediately to prevent it from damaging others. You may also consider using a calcium spray to treat affected areas as well as to protect the rest of your healthy tomato plants. Blossom-end rot can also be prevented by growing your tomato plants in well-drained soil, and by using lime, fertilizer and organic mulches.

Tomato plants not flowering?

While tomato flowers may not be as attractive as these purple flowers on our list, they are nothing short of fancy because they indicate that your plant is set to produce fruits! However, some tomato growers often complain about not having enough fruit set or flowers that do not yield any fruits at all before they even wither. Some of the common causes of this are inadequate light, high temperature levels, insufficient pollination and wrong type of fertilizer.

If your plant is not receiving sufficient light, this may cause nonproduction of fruits in tomatoes as plants in general require six to eight hours of sunlight to yield flowers and fruits. Consider moving your plants to a space where they can get adequate sunlight to encourage fruit production. However, if your tomato plant experiences elevated temperature levels, this may also lead to nonproduction of fruits. While tomatoes thrive in hot climates, too much heat, especially amid dry spells, can interfere with pollination.

To counter this, make sure to keep your plants hydrated.

While tomatoes can pollinate themselves, they may still need some help from pollinating insects like bumblebees to boost production. Tomatoes in greenhouses should have open vents and doors to encourage bee activity. You can also practice artificial pollination by gently shaking the tomato plants to imitate insects’ buzz.

Soil fertility is another factor that influences tomato plants’ fruit production. Potassium-rich organic fertilizer should be fed to the plant once its flowers start to bloom.

Holes in the leaves

Leaves with holes are never a good sign of a plant’s health status. One cause of holes in your tomato plants’ leaves are insects. Cutworms, slugs and flea beetles are just some of the common garden pests that you need to keep an eye on if you are cultivating tomatoes. Flea beetles typically hide underneath the leaflets during winter and come out in spring to feed on those leaves, leaving tiny holes that even a trypophobia would not endure. You can get rid of these pests by spraying insecticide containing organic liquid soap.

Slugs also thrive in spring and are easily attracted to tomato leaves. These nocturnal pests feed on tomato plants by creating oddly shaped holes in their leaves. One way to determine whether a slug is your suspect is by looking for slimy tracks on the leaves and on the ground. If you notice your plant’s stems are being chewed within at least one inch of its base, then the culprit must be cutworms. These pests love to feed on buds, stems and foliage, and measure up to two inches in length.

Earwigs are also notorious tomato leaf-eating pests. They feed on the leaves at night and hide in crevices or under pots when the morning comes. Thankfully, slugs and earwigs can be managed by using homemade traps.

How often should you water your plant?

Like any other organism, tomatoes need water to thrive. However, it is not enough to water your tomato plants whenever and however you like it. Watering your plant too much or too little could cause problems mentioned in this article such as root rot, low fruit production, stunted growth and brown leaves.

Generally, plants need the right amount of water so that it can absorb nutrients, including dissolved sugar, and grow healthily. Water passes through the plant’s root system, all the way to its stem and through the leaves and flowers. But watering routines may vary depending on the type of plant. For tomatoes, it is important to water them deeply and gradually, allowing enough time for the water to enter the moist soil and soak in there. A good indicator is moistened soil of up to 6 to 8 inches in depth. You also have to make sure to water at the tomato plant’s stem or roots rather than its leaves. Always keep in mind to water around the stem and not directly on it as this allows the roots to spread further.

Frequency is also important when watering plants. There really is no black and white rule on how often you should water your tomato plant. One factor to consider is the weather. If it is too hot, you may consider giving your tomato plant water once every three days. You also have to keep an eye on other signs such as wilting and dry soil, although these are not guaranteed indicators that your tomato plant is in immediate need of water. Tomato plants may droop in the middle of the day but they will return back to normal at sunset. However, if your plant remains bent after sunset, then this may be a sign of a parched ground. It is best to water your tomatoes at dawn as it gives the plant enough time to start the process of photosynthesis.

You can utilize a drip hose or a drip irrigation system to water your tomatoes. The latter is highly recommended if you plan to be away for weeks as it allows you to set a schedule. A drip irrigation system also offers a more efficient way of distributing water and allows the soil to gradually absorb the water. Installing your own drip irrigation system is not as easy as setting up your fuel transfer tank at home just like in this article, but once it is in place, you will save a lot on time, water and energy!

Cucumber Leaves Turning Yellow, Brown, or White: Diseases, Pests, & Problems

There’s nothing better than a crisp snack and a cool beverage during summer. Whether you want fresh slices of cucumber to snack on or a refreshing cucumber lemonade drink to battle the heat of the sun, it’s always more satisfying if the vegetable came straight from your own garden and onto your plate or glass.

Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are sun- and water-loving plants since these are native to sub-tropical regions. Cucumbers are fairly easy to take care of and can grow quickly, giving you a bountiful harvest. However, there are times when things go wrong—your cucumber plant may be wilting, its leaves turning yellow, white, or brown, or has black or white spots on its leaves, ruining the chances of your cucumber plant to set fruit. To help you have a bountiful harvest, we’ll enumerate some of the most common reasons behind these issues, along with their respective treatment and precautions.

wilting and yellowing cucumber leaves

Image source: Guan, W., Egel, D., & Ingwell, L.

Cucumber Plant Diseases, Pests, and Problems

There are a lot of diseases, pests, and external factors that can cause a loss of yield in cucumbers. If you noticed your cucumber plants wilting and developing spots or different leaf color, even though you’ve given them enough amount of sun, water, and nutrients, then you might need to check for diseases and pests. It’s important to quickly determine the cause behind the symptoms your plants are experiencing because a pathogen or pest infestation may quickly spread and destroy your crop.

Why are my cucumber leaves turning yellow / brown?

Abnormal leaf yellowing is called chlorosis, which happens when the leaf lack chlorophyll, an essential green pigment for the plant’s survival. This can be caused by damaged roots, poor drainage, nutrient deficiency, or high soil pH. However, other symptoms that accompany leaf yellowing, such as browning (scorched leaf) wilting, lesions, brown or black spots, may be caused by diseases or pests.

yellowing cucumber leaves

Image source: Garden.eco

Cucumber leaves turn yellow if overwatered

The most common sign of overwatering is leaf yellowing; leaves appear limp, stunted, and yellow. Roots become damaged and unable to absorb nutrients when the soil around it is too moist or submerged in water. Overwatering can cause root rot because moist areas promote the growth of molds. Since overwatering leads to the inability of roots to absorb nutrients, your plant will also suffer from nutrient deficiency, leading to chlorosis.

To solve this, all you need to do is reduce watering to only when the plant truly needs it and make sure to get rid of any standing water around the plant base. Ensure that your garden bed or pot has good drainage.

overwatered cucumber plant

Image source: Stack Exchange


Nutrient deficiency causes leaf yellowing (and browning)

Depending on the type of nutrient deficiency, the appearance of chlorosis (leaf yellowing) will be different in terms of where it manifests in the leaves (old or young leaves).

Nitrogen deficiency can cause leaf yellowing

This is the most common reason for chlorosis in most plants, since nitrogen is involved in production of an important pigment, chlorophyll.

  • SYMPTOMS – Chlorosis develop in older leaves first, and then it progresses towards younger ones.
  • REASON – Nitrogen is required in chlorophyll production, the green pigment that traps the energy from sunlight; thus, shortage of nitrogen reduces the plant’s capacity to get energy during photosynthesis.
  • A nitrogen-deficient plant’s vegetative growth (stunted growth) and fruit production are both severely restricted. If the plant is nitrogen-deficient during the flowering stage, the fruiting potential will be affected negatively. Yield will be low with distorted and discolored fruit, or worse, fruits will not develop at all.

How to treat nitrogen deficiency in cucumber plants

Fertilize your cucumber plants with nitrogen fertilizer (N fertilizer) with a proper dilution rate and form of nitrogen. For container-grown cucumber plants, fertilize the plant weekly with a water-soluble, low-nitrogen, high-potassium fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 2-3-6.[1] For soil-grown cucumber plants, apply a 20-50 kg/ha of N via side-dressing [2] (putting fertilizers in a shallow furrow along the side of the crops).

If your nitrogen is being sufficiently supplied to your plant but you still see symptoms of N deficiency, check your potassium fertilizer. Excessive potassium can also cause nitrogen deficiency in plants.

minimal (B), intermediate (C), and severe (D) nitrogen deficiency in cucumber plants

Image source: Little, C.R.

cucumber fruit from a nitrogen-deficient plant

Image source: Haifa

Excessive nitrogen can also cause chlorosis

If your cucumber plant’s leaves are turning yellow despite giving it nitrogen fertilizer, it may be caused by excessive nitrogen instead. Unlike most plants, cucumbers require lower amounts of nitrogen, and overfertilizing it with a high-nitrogen fertilizer will cause more damage than good.

  • SYMPTOMS – Chlorosis will be accompanied by wilting and downward cupping of older leaves. Lower leaves will exhibit chlorosis next, with brown burnt areas or leaf scorching.

How to treat excessive nitrogen or overfertilizing in cucumber plants

To remove excess fertilizer, leach it using fresh water. Use a fertilizer with the proper NPK ratio for your cucumber plants and fertilize accordingly.

overfertilized (excessive nitrogen) cucumber plant

Image source: Haifa

Potassium deficiency can cause leaf yellowing and browning

Unlike most plants that require nitrogen as the bulk of their nutritional requirement, cucumbers have high potassium requirements, one of the few plants that needs more potassium than nitrogen.

  • SYMTOMS – Cupping, yellowing, and scorching (appears burnt and brown in color) manifests in older leaves first. Chlorosis starts to occur at the leaf margin, then spreads inwards to the center of the leaf.
  • REASON – Potassium is an important nutrient for all plants, since it plays a major role in a lot of their physiological functions. Some of the many processes that potassium is involved in are transportation of sugars (food), plant growth and metabolism, regulation of water balance, protein synthesis, fruit development, and disease resistance, among many others.
  • A potassium deficient plant is stunted, with short internodes and small leaves, and exhibits low and abnormal fruit development, sporting brown spots and spongy-like texture.

How to treat potassium deficiency in cucumber plants

Fertilize your cucumber plants properly with the correct ratio of nutrients. Check if you’ve been overfeeding your plants with nitrogen, calcium, or sodium because these can cause potassium deficiency, too. During the flowering stage of cucumbers, their potassium requirements tend to be higher, so make sure to adjust your fertilizer and schedule according to the stage of growth your plant is in.

Since cucumbers need more potassium than nitrogen, the typical K:N ratios are around 1.8:1 and 2.1:1.[3] For cucumbers grown in medium or heavy soils, it will be better to incorporate potassium nitrate in the soil before you plant. For sandy or well-drained soils, you should do side-dressing of water-soluble potassium fertilizers.[2]

yellowing & scorched leaves of a potassium deficient cucumber

Image source: Haifa

K-deficient cucumber plant with yellow scorched cupped older leaves (L)

Image source: Haifa

Magnesium deficiency can cause leaf yellowing and browning

As mentioned, an excessive supply of other nutrients can cause deficiency or lack of uptake of another nutrient. Magnesium deficiency can be caused by excessive potassium, ammonium, or calcium. Just like nitrogen, magnesium plays a key role in the production of chlorophyll and photosynthesis.

  • SYMPTOMS – Yellowing of older leaves is the main symptom of Mg deficiency. It is followed by a light tan burn if the deficiency becomes severe.
  • REASON – Magnesium is a major component of chlorophyll; thus, lack of magnesium severely affects the production of this pigment. As a result, photosynthesis will be affected, and fruit yield will be low.

How to treat magnesium deficiency in cucumber plants

Use magnesium-rich minerals prior planting or use water-soluble magnesium nitrate for crops, which you can incorporate as foliar spray. Examples of magnesium-rich minerals are magnesite and dolomite; 300 kg/ha for the former and 800 kg/ha for the latter.[2]

old leaves of cucumber exhibiting chlorosis (left and right) and a light tan burn (right), and a young leaf (center) that is not as affected by the magnesium deficiency

Image source: Haifa

Iron deficiency can cause leaf yellowing and browning

Just like nitrogen and magnesium, iron is important in the production of chlorophyll. Iron deficiencies can be caused by poor drainage, alkaline soil, or high amounts of metallic ions in the soil or water.

  • SYMPTOMS – New/young leaves of magnesium deficient cucumbers are pale green to yellow. It is followed by scorching or browning due to sunlight if the deficiency becomes severe.
  • REASON – Iron is needed for chlorophyll production, and without enough iron, production of this green pigment is negatively affected. Iron is also needed for other processes like plant respiration.

How to treat iron deficiency in cucumber plants

Since iron becomes unavailable to plants (e.g., they cannot utilize it because it becomes insoluble) when the soil is alkaline (above pH 7), you need to correct the soil’s pH by acidifying it. Also, good drainage and aeration in soil will help your plants in the uptake of iron. For crops, you can use foliar sprays of iron sulfate at 150 g/100 L [2] or apply iron fertilizers to the soil.

young terminal leaves (at the top) of iron deficient cucumber showing chlorosis

Image source: Haifa

Phosphorus deficiency can cause leaf yellowing and browning

Phosphorus is important in all stages of plant development, from early plant growth up to the development of reproductive organs, such as flowers, fruits, and seeds. During crop establishment (i.e., right after transplanting when roots are still being established) and early plant growth, the phosphorus requirement of plants is higher. Since cucumbers continuously produce both vegetative and fruiting parts, they need a steady supply of phosphorus.

  • SYMPTOMS – The oldest leaf at the base of the plant turns bright yellow. However, the leaf directly above this leaf remains dark green. Brown patches also appear in the old leaves; these leaves will be scorched and spread.
  • REASON – Phosphorus is vital for cellular division and energy transformation of plants; thus, lack of phosphorus will negatively affect the plant’s growth.
  • A phosphorus deficient plant has weak roots, stunted growth, dull gray-green young leaves, and has low fruit production.

How to treat phosphorus deficiency in cucumber plants

For planted crops, you can solve phosphorus deficiency by fertilizing with a balanced NPK fertilizer or you can use foliar sprays. For soil, you can introduce phosphorus by using a soluble phosphorus source like mono potassium phosphate. [2]

oldest leaf of phosphorus-deficient cucumber is bright yellow, while younger leaves remain green in color

Image source: Haifa

phosphorus deficient plant (L) has stunted growth and dull gray-green leaves

Image source: Haifa

Why are my cucumber leaves turning white / yellow / brown?

As mentioned, there are other reasons for chlorosis and leaf scorching besides nutrient deficiency. These color changes may be brought upon by pests or due to a disease caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. Nutrient deficiencies seldom cause a leaf to turn white, but such symptom can appear if your plant is infected by fungi or other pathogens.

white spotted/colored leaf of a diseased cucumber plant

Image source: University of Minnesota Extension

Common cucumber diseases that turn leaves yellow/brown/white

Depending on the pathogen or pest that is infecting your plant, the symptom and treatment will vary. Some diseases are curable, while some are not. For the latter, it is important to let the threat pass or be completely removed before planting again.

VIRAL INFECTION

Viruses can cause your cucumber plant to wilt and develop white, yellow, or brown spots.

Cucumber Mosaic – Caused by Cucumber Mosaic Virus (CMV), this can be spread through contact with contaminated tools, but is primarily transmitted by aphids that carry the virus once it feeds on the plant.

  • SYMPTOMS – Leaves of an infected plant are covered with distinct mosaic (pattern of white, yellow, or green spots and/or lines) and are curling downwards. The plant’s growth is severely stunted, with small leaf size and deformed flowers with green petals. Fruits are also discolored (same as the leaves), distorted in shape, and small in size.

How to prevent cucumber mosaic disease

There are no treatments for a CMV infection, but prevention and management can be done.

  • Remove all infected plants immediately and sanitize all your gardening materials thoroughly after every use to avoid spreading the virus.
  • Control the aphid vectors that may infect your plant. If there is an aphid outbreak, treat it with mineral oils or insecticidal soap. Use insecticides with carbaryl and methoxychlor to control pests.
  • Avoid grafting cucumber plants. Some plants may not show symptoms but are still infected by the virus.
  • Plant cucumber varieties that are resistant to CMV instead.

cucumber leaf showing CMV infection symptoms

Image source: Scot Nelson on Flickr

cucumber fruits showing CMV infection symptoms

Image source: William Brown on Bugwood.org

FUNGAL INFECTIONS

Fungi can cause your cucumber plant to wilt and develop white, yellow, or brown spots.

Alternaria Leaf Blight/Spot – This is caused by Alternaria cucumerina and is common in areas with warm temperatures and frequent rainfall. This can be spread via fungal spores that are carried by wind, soil, or water. The fungal spores can survive winter and infect plants once again during spring.

  • SYMPTOMS – Irregular yellow- or brown-colored spots with yellow or green halo appear in older leaves first, and then these spots expand to become large lesions. As the disease progresses, the leaves will wilt and die.

How to treat and prevent Alternaria leaf blight

  • Fungicides must be used to treat fungal infections. There are a lot of available fungicides, but not all can be applied to plants that produce edible fruits. Consult with your local gardener at a nursery or store which ones can be used so you can still eat the fruits of your cucumbers.
  • Remove the infected parts to prevent the spread of the disease. If the whole plant is infected, you must remove it, treat the soil with fungicide (or better yet, replace it), and plant a new transplant.
  • Water your plants at the base and avoid getting the leaves wet. Moist and warm areas support the growth of fungi.

symptoms of Alternaria leaf blight

Image source: University of Minnesota Extension

Fusarium Wilt / Cucumber Wilt / Foot-rot– This is caused by Fusarium oxysporum. It thrives in areas that are warm and moist. This disease is more common in tomato and potato plants, but cucumbers can also be infected. The fungus targets the root system of the plant, restricting its water translocation. It spreads through insects, water, soil, and other contaminated tools. Watering consistently will not save your plant from dehydration.

  • SYMPTOMS – Stems rot at the base, near the soil line, and the leaves turn yellow and develop brown lesions. The plant will wilt due to the restricted water supply.

How to treat and prevent Fusarium wilt

  • Fungicides must be used to treat fungal infections, such as Mycostop. Use the fungicide according to its instructions, making sure that it reaches the root system.
  • Remove the infected parts to prevent the spread of the disease. If the whole plant is infected, you must remove it, treat the soil with fungicide (or better yet, replace it), and plant a new transplant.
  • Plant a fungicide treated seed instead of normal ones.

yellowing and wilting leaves with lesions in some areas

Image source: Garden.eco

Powdery mildew – This can be caused by Podosphaera xanthii or Erysiphe cichoracearum. This is a common disease among cucurbits, and warm, wet areas favor the growth of the causative fungi. P. xanthii is a more prevalent and destructive cause of powdery mildew. The spores of these fungi can be spread via insect, wind, water, soil, or contaminated tools.

  • SYMPTOMS – Both on the upper and lower surface of the leaves, white powdery spots are formed, which, as the disease progresses, will expand into large blotches that can cover the whole leaf and stem.

How to treat and prevent powdery mildew

  • Fungicides must be used to kill fungi. Apply these immediately once you see the symptom manifest. However, there are other organic treatments that you can use to treat this disease, such as sulfur products, potassium bicarbonate, baking soda, and vinegar.
  • Remove all infected plants to avoid spreading the disease.
  • Water your plants at the base and avoid getting the leaves wet. Moist areas favor the growth of the pathogen.
  • Plant resistant varieties instead of normal ones.
  • Space your plants appropriately and use sanitized tools when planting to avoid easy transmission.

infected cucumber plant showing symptoms of powdery mildew

Image source: University of Minnesota Extension

Downy mildew – This is caused by the fungus-like organism, Pseudoperonospora cubensis.This oomycete was once classified as a fungus, and it thrives in areas that are cool and humid. This can infect other plants via its airborne spores.

  • SYMPTOMS – Leaves have yellow or light green spots on the upper side, while the underside of the leaves have purplish mildew (sporangia of the pathogen) or fuzzy, dark gray or purple spots. When the disease progresses, lesions will appear and the leaf will die.

How to treat and prevent downy mildew

  • Fungicides can also be used for downy mildew. Use the fungicide according to its instructions.
  • Remove all infected plants to avoid spreading the disease.
  • Water your plants at the base and avoid getting the leaves wet. Moist areas favor the growth of the pathogen.
  • Space your plants appropriately and use sanitized tools when planting to avoid easy transmission.

Upper side of an infected leaf

Image source: University of Minnesota Extension

Underside of an infected leaf

Image source: Integrated Pest Management – University of Missouri

BACTERIAL INFECTIONS

Bacteria can cause your cucumber plant to wilt and develop white, yellow, or brown spots.

Bacterial / Angular Leaf Spots – This is caused by Pseudomonas syringae (angular leaf spot) or Xanthomonas campestris. This disease is common in areas that are cool and moist. The disease can be spread through contaminated insects, water, soil, seeds, or tools.

  • SYMPTOMS:
    • Angular leaf spot caused by P. syringae – Small water-soaked lesions that are angular in shape appear on the leaves, and the bacteria may produce milky substance that dries into a white crust. Lesions turn reddish-brown in color with yellow/green edges, and as the disease progresses, the lesions will dry and form a hole in the leaf.
    • Bacterial leaf spot caused by X. campestris – Small water-soaked lesions that are circular in shape appear at the underside of the leaves. Yellow patches or brown spots with yellow edges form on the leaves.

How to prevent bacterial leaf spots

As of now, there is no effective treatment for this disease. Doing preventive measures will be your key to avoid your plants from getting infected by bacterial leaf spots.

  • Avoid planting in areas that have been used to grow other cucurbits in the last two years.
  • Water your plants at the base to avoid spreading the bacteria.
  • Space your plants appropriately and use sanitized tools when planting to avoid easy transmission.

cucumber plant suffering from angular leaf spot

Image source: Schwartz, H.F. – Colorado State University

Cucumber pests that can turn your leaf yellow/brown/white

Pests can become vectors of viruses, fungi, or bacteria. Also, pests damage the plant by feeding on the plant’s sap, leaves, flowers, or fruits. All these can lead to changes in the leaf color, wilting, or death of plant if left untreated.

APHIDS

Aphids are soft-bodied small insects that suck sap from a plant. You can find these insects at the underside of leaves and stems, where they prefer to feed. The colors of these differ depending on the species, but the most common ones are yellow or green in color (other colors include brown, pink, red, and black). Common aphid species that infect cucumbers are Myzus persicae (peach aphid) and Aphis gossypii (melon aphid).

  • SYMPTOMS – Heavy aphid infestation causes leaves to turn yellow and distorted, and you’ll see the insects on the underside of the leaf, which looks like yellow or green spots (the bodies of the aphids themselves). Black or brown necrotic spots appear on the surface of the leaves, and parts of the plant may feel sticky due to the honeydew that aphids secrete.

How to treat and prevent aphid infestation

  • If the infestation is not severe, you can simply remove the infected parts. Make sure that you prune out all infected areas.
  • Use insecticides if the infestation is severe. Other organic treatments are also available such as the use of neem and canola oil.
  • Always check the transplant for any signs of aphid infestation before planting, and make sure your plants are spaced appropriately.
  • Create a shed or garden bed that can prevent the entry of other pests or animals that can be vectors of diseases. See the last section of the article for some of our recommended tools for building sheds, garden beds, and fences.

underside of a leaf infested with Myzus persicae

Image source: Jim Baker – North Carolina State University

underside of a leaf infested with Aphis gossypii

Image source: Penn State on Flickr

Cucumber beetles are also worth mentioning because they are common pests of cucumbers. However, these do not change the color of the foliage. Cucumber beetles feed on fruits, leaves, and stems, so symptoms will be wilt, damaged foliage, and the presence of larvae and adult insects.

Easy plants to grow for beginners

If your cucumber plants kept on getting various diseases, whether due to the soil or abundance of pests in your area, and you’ve given up on cultivating cucumbers, we hope that your interest in gardening hasn’t wilted yet. We suggest that you try growing these plants instead, for hassle-free upkeep:

  • Sansevieria or snake plants – These plants can be grown indoors or outdoors. Snake plants are one of the easiest plants to take care of because they can survive with moderate to low light and seldom need watering. These plants can improve the air quality in your home by removing toxic gases in the air (they were featured in a NASA clean air study). Read this article to know about the dos and don’ts on taking care of snake plants, where you can also find a list of Sansevieria varieties to choose from. There are varieties that can fit nicely on your desk, growing up to only 6 inches high!

Image source: Plants Bank on Pinterest

  • Dwarf shrubs – These are also hassle-free outdoor plants that only need minimum maintenance. Even if you only have a small or narrow strip of land at your home, these dwarf shrubs will surely be able to grow well, giving you a breath of fresh air and beautiful visuals of their bloom or foliage.

Image source: fast-growing-trees.com

  • Purple flowers – If you want to try growing flowering plants, then we have a great suggestion for you: check this article where we provided a list of plants that will give you a beautiful purple bloom. Check out this article on planting seeds, and this one that includes various gardening terms, too.

Image source: Botanical Interests

Handy tools for seasoned gardeners

If you have a growing business, then expanding your nursery might be on your next agenda. To help you with your business endeavors, we’ll provide you a list of tools that will surely be of help to you.

  • Fuel transfer tanks – These tanks can be used as a reservoir for water, fertilizer, and gasoline. Check them out here.

  • Plasma cutters – If you work with a lot of different materials for your garden, from steel to brass, then you might want to invest in a plasma cutter that can easily cut materials (stainless steel, aluminum, brass, copper, and conductive materials) with high precision. Check out the best plasma cutters here.

  • Wide belt sanders – If poor woodwork has been bothering you, and you want only the best materials for your shed, then you should check out wide belt sanders here. These provide a high-quality finish to wooden surfaces and adjust the wood’s thickness according to your requirements.

  • MIG welders – In business, it’s important to be able to produce products fast without compromising quality. If you want a welding tool that produces high-quality welds in a timely manner compared to other tools, then check out these MIG welders here.

  • Engine-driven welder – However, if you’re looking for portable welders, take a look at this list of engine-driven welders that you can operate anytime, anywhere.

  • Waste oil heaters – Plants need their environment to be at a certain temperature range to thrive. During winter, we’re sure that your bill ramps up a ton due to the heaters that you have to use to keep your plants from dying in the nursery or in your home. If this is an issue for you, then you might want to check out the best waste oil heaters here. Instead of simply discarding oil that you no longer use, you can use it instead to fuel waste oil heaters for an eco-friendlier practice.

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References:

  1. Asher, B. (2020). What is the best fertilizer for cucumbers. Retrieved from https://www.hunker.com/13427375/what-is-the-best-fertilizer-for-cucumbers
  2. Haifa. (n.d.). Crop Guide: Nutrients for Cucumber. Retrieved from https://www.haifa-group.com/cucumber-0/crop-guide-nutrients-cucumber
  3. Raudales, R. & McAvoy, R. (n.d.). The role of potassium in cucumber plants. Retrieved from https://www.hortibiz.com/news/?tx_news_pi1%5Bnews%5D=27321&cHash=ab46266c78d20da35bd2a9ceb19efa33#:~:text=Potassium%20plays%20a%20key%20role,is%20a%20highly%20mobile%20element

Gardening Facts, Terms, and Tips

Things you need to know before starting gardening

Starting your own garden, whether indoors or outdoors, can be very intimidating at first. There’s a lot of stuff that you need to learn, from sowing up to harvesting. However, despite the struggles you may encounter, you’ll be fulfilled and rewarded when your gardening efforts bear fruit (pun intended)!


indoor vegetable garden | indoor herb garden | outdoor flowerbed
Image sources: A Piece of Rainbow

First, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some terms so you won’t get lost in the sea of gardening rules and information. Even reading a seed packet’s instructions can make you confused if you’re a total newbie. So, in this article, we’ll provide you with some basic gardening facts, along with some tips, to help you transition into the life of a gardener smoothly.

What is ‘frost date’? | What does ‘last frost date’ mean?

Timing is everything when it comes to gardening, especially if you want to grow crops and do it outdoors because the climate greatly affects a plant’s survival. Knowing about the first and last frost dates is essential to the success of your gardening efforts if you live in a country within the temperate region (i.e., experiences winter or has four seasons).

Basically, a frost date is the average date of the last frost/light freeze or first frost/light freeze that happens in spring or fall. These dates are important to take note of because plants differ in the temperature they can handle. Some plants can handle frost and thrive in cooler temperatures, such as broccoli and lettuce, while some cannot handle frost and thrive in warmer temperatures, such as tomato and pepper.

So, if you sowed your warm-loving seeds way before the last frost date, your seedlings will get caught up in the cold temperatures of frosty spring nighttime, and your plant will be damaged, or worse, killed. Fortunately, almost all seed packets come with instructions on when to start the seeds or plant your seedlings. These instructions might vary from the cryptic “sow seeds after danger of frost” to a more straightforward “start seeds 30 days before last frost date.”

see #2 “Planting Instructions” for the use of frost date in seed packets

Image source: Houseful of Nicholes

Plants that cannot handle the cold, such as tomato and lettuce, must be germinated indoors to avoid the chilly weather of winter. Tomato seeds, which are to be sown 6-8 weeks before the final frost, are better off indoors when germinating. By the time the young tomato plants are ready to be transplanted outdoors, the frost will be truly over and the soil will be able to accommodate the plant’s growth.

To know the schedule of the last and first frost dates, you can easily look for it by typing “frost dates by ZIP” in your search engine, or you can simply check this compilation of First and Last Frost Dates by Old Farmer’s Almanac (for USA and Canada).

What is ‘hardiness zone’? | What does ‘hardy to zone x’ mean?

Also called a “gardening zone” or “planting zone,” hardiness zone is a geographical zone where certain plants can thrive in the specific climate of that area. Developed and updated last 2012 by the USDA, the Plant Hardiness Zone Map divides USA, Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico into zones based on the location’s annual minimum winter temperature. Meaning, the map is a standard that gardeners can use to determine which plants are most likely to survive in a specific zone/location. So, if a certain plant is described as “hardy to zone 9,” this means that this plant can withstand a minimum temperature of –6.7°C (20°F) to –1.1°C (30°F).

However, if your country isn’t on the USDA map, you can check out the worldwide hardiness zone map we included below or this list of hardiness zone maps by The Spruce, which includes Russia, Japan, Southeast Asia, and more.

What is a ‘microclimate’? and How do you make one?

Microclimate, by definition, is a climate of a very small or restricted area that differs from the climate of the surrounding area. In gardening, microclimates are utilized to offer optimal growing conditions or environment to a plant.

Sometimes, your location’s hardiness zone does not support the optimal growth of the plant that you want to nurture. Other times, due to climate change, your area’s temperature does not conform to the temperatures indicated in the hardiness zone of your country.

This is where creating a microclimate comes in—an environment where your plant can thrive. It is wise for beginners to choose a plant based on the standard hardiness zones, but if you truly want to grow something that your location isn’t suitable for, then you can create a microclimate for your plant.

Exploiting microclimate can be done in numerous ways, such as creating a warmer or colder area in a room or out in your yard. For example, you can use grow lights as a source of heat and light indoors, use greenhouse covers or humidifiers to increase moisture and humidity, or you can create a strategically placed structure around your garden bed.

Some examples of strategically placed structures around a garden are masonry walls, sheds, or fences. These can retain the heat it accumulated during the day, which then can warm up the garden beds through the evening. An additional benefit of these structures is that it can give extra protection to your plants against pests.

If you plan to try this out, make sure to use materials that will not easily rot nor get infested with molds. One example of a great material to build sheds or fences with is this marine grade plywood that doesn’t easily allow fungus growth, is held together by waterproof glue, can withstand high temperatures and moist environments, and is made up of high-quality wood. Pair this with a wide belt sander to help you polish your woodwork and provide the best material for your garden beds or sheds.

And if you’re a big-time gardener who’s looking to expand your gardening business, surely, you’ll need better materials and tools for your endeavors. You might need this plasma cutter that can easily cut through stainless steel, steel, aluminum, brass, copper, and even conductive materials with high precision. The business expansion would, of course, entail a higher volume of production and construction. A MIG welder, which can produce high-quality welds in a much timely manner, will be a perfect addition to your tools. And, if your new business location would require you to travel, you’ll surely need a portable engine-driven welder that you can take anywhere and a water reservoir for your new nursery or plantation. Fuel transfer tanks would be convenient to have, which can serve as a reservoir for water, fertilizer, and gasoline.

What are the differences between sowing, planting, and seed starting?

The terms ‘sow,’ ‘plant,’ and ‘seed start’ are used interchangeably and basically have the same meaning, with only a few differences depending on its use in a sentence.

  • plant – This is the most widely used term and can be applied to any form of planting. By definition, it means to place a seed, seedling, bulb, cuttings, or plant in a place (soil or any growing medium) so it can grow. This term, however, is most commonly used when describing transplanting or replanting a seedling/plant/transplant grown to another place (pot, ground, garden bed, etc.).

  • sow – This term is only associated with the use of seeds, unlike ‘plant’ that can be associated with the planting of a mature plant. Usually, ‘sow’ is used in formal settings like in seed packets instructions, manuals, and brochures, and is most commonly used interchangeably with the terms ‘start,’ ‘germinate,’ or ‘seed start.’ By definition, it means to plant a seed by scattering on or in soil, done in a controlled manner, to initiate sprouting or germinating of seeds.

  • seed, start, or seed-start – These terms are only associated with seeds, just like ‘sow.’ It basically entails the process of starting the seed germination process.

What is a ‘direct sow’ seed? | What does ‘direct sowing’ or ‘direct seeding’ mean?

Some seeds are better to be directly sown in the soil instead of being transplanted. Usually, this information will be in the seed packet’s instruction, as shown below. Basically, direct seeding/sowing is when you seed-start or germinate the seeds directly into the soil, outdoors or wherever you plan to let the plant grow—in an indoor vegetable garden, in your lawn, or inside your greenhouse. This means that you will not be using a separate seed-starting kit or container. Thus, you have to be sure where to plant your seeds; it must be somewhere it can thrive in and will not get damaged nor neglected because you must not move the plant anywhere after seed-starting.

Seeds that require direct sowing are usually plants that have a delicate root system or plants that are fast growers. A disturbance to the roots of plants with sensitive roots, such as tap-rooted vegetables, can cause damage or wilt. On the other hand, it would be impractical to germinate fast growers in a seed-starting kit because it would just outgrow the container and would require immediate transplanting to a bigger container or garden bed. However, there are some plants that can be transplanted but thrive better when directly sown, which is why their seed packets indicate direct sowing instead of seed-starting indoors.

Examples of plants that need (or prefer) direct sowing are zinnias, sweet pea, morning glory, poppies, beans, peas, carrots, beets, corn, squash, pumpkin, melon, cucumber, and spinach, among many others. If your seed packet does not include an instruction for this, then utilize your search engine to look it up so you can be sure.

the direct sowing requirement is shown in this seed packet of zinnia

Image source: Gardener’s path

What is ‘bottom watering’? | What does ‘bottom watering’ mean?

Bottom watering is a technique where, instead of watering your plants from above or on the soil (a.k.a. top watering), you let the water travel from the bottom instead, where it reaches the roots first. Of course, this method can only be done to plants or seedlings grown in a small- or medium-sized pot or container that has drainage holes at the bottom. If your plants are potted, but they’re too heavy for you to maneuver, then bottom watering is not something you can do.

Most gardeners prefer this method since it avoids root rot, which is more likely to happen when you water plants from above since the stem nearest the soil gets wet (a perfect place for molds to grow). Also, some plants that like to be root bound (or overcrowded in a pot) will resist watering from the top, and the water will just run down the sides of your pot or accumulate for a while at the bottom (which may encourage molding).

How to water plants from the bottom

  • Make sure it fits – First, choose a water container that is large and sturdy enough to fit your pot or planter. Fill it up with water up to the point where your pot will only be halfway submerged—remember, the water should enter through the drainage holes, not from above.
  • Make sure your plant needs water – Overwatering is just as bad as underwatering. Make sure that you know by heart the watering schedule of your plants, or check the soil if it needs watering. One way to check is to dip a finger in the soil at the edge of the pot up to the second knuckle; if the soil feels dry, then it’s time to water your plant. Alternatively, you can use moisture meters or hygrometers to keep your hands from getting dirty.

a soil moisture sensor meter or hygrometer

Image source: Gobetter on Amazon

  • Let it soak – Place your potted plant on the water reservoir and leave it there for a couple of minutes until you see the top portion of the soil getting damp or moist. Depending on the plant and the type of soil in your pot, soaking can take 10 minutes up to an hour.
  • Remove excess water – It’s important to situate your pot at an elevated place where the excess water can be drained. Do not vigorously shake your pot—it can damage your plant. Just hang your potted plant somewhere to drain by itself for a few minutes until you no longer see any water dripping out of the drainage holes.

What are the stages of plant growth?

A plant’s needs change as it grows, just like how a human’s needs change. This is why it’s important to know the different stages of plant growth; each stage of plant growth requires a different amount or type of light, water, moisture, temperature, nutrients, and soil. Below, we’ll list the basic stages of plant growth of a typical flowering plant (e.g., tomato, marigold, sunflower, etc.).

Image source: Safer Brand

Seed germination – the first stage of plant growth

Each seed contains nutrients that it needs to germinate. However, seed germination will not start unless the proper environmental conditions are present. The key factors that affect seed germination are temperature, water, oxygen, and light.

Temperature and water – A dormant seed will start to germinate/sprout if it’s exposed to the right temperature and provided with water.

  • Seeds have different optimal temperature ranges for germination to occur; once this temperature requirement is achieved and water is present, germination will start.
  • Imbibition takes place, the seed “drinking up” the water, and the seed expands as the nutrients in it become hydrated. The seed becomes activated, and its metabolic activities start up to produce energy, using the stored nutrients in it.
  • Then, the seed coat is shed, and the root (a.k.a. radical) emerges from the seed. This denotes that the seed is viable for growth.
  • Lastly, the remaining nutrients in the seed will be used up for the growth of the shoot, the first pair of leaves sprouting from the seed.
  • At this stage, the seed is already spent, giving rise to the seedling (young plant grown from seed).

seed germinating into a seedling

Image source: St. Mary’s Nursery & Garden Centre

Oxygen – A seed is respiring as it germinates; thus, it needs oxygen just like us.

  • The soil that the seed is sowed or planted in must allow proper aeration so that the gas exchange between the environment and the seed can happen seamlessly.
  • If the carbon dioxide being produced by the seed is trapped in the soil, and they cannot get enough oxygen from its surroundings, the seed will get damaged and will not continue its germination process.

Light – Unlike temperature and water, some seeds do not require light in order to germinate and will sprout regardless of light exposure. However, there are some seeds that strictly require light or strictly require darkness (inhibited by light) in order to germinate.

  • The soil that the seed is sowed or planted in must allow proper aeration so that the gas ex

Vegetative growth – the second stage of plant growth

Nitrogen – The plant will focus on carrying out photosynthesis at this stage to develop its shoot (stems and leaves) system, which is why nitrogen is important. It is a key component for chlorophyll production, the green pigment that enables the plant to utilize the sun’s rays of light to manufacture food.

  • The plant will require a huge amount of nitrogen to produce chlorophyll at this stage to continuously produce food for shoot development.
  • The first pair of leaves of the seedling will manufacture food, enabling the shoot and root systems of the plant to develop further. The leaves produced at this stage are now called “true leaves,” and the plant is no longer considered a seedling.
  • Vegetative growth will continue unless an environmental factor is changed, such as the amount of water, nutrients, temperature, air, or light.

Reproduction – the third stage of plant growth

Phosphorus and potassium – After prioritizing the vegetative growth (root and shoot system development), the plant will now focus on reproduction and will produce flowers, fruits, and seeds.

  • At this stage, phosphorus and potassium are now the nutrients that make up the bulk of the plant’s nutritional requirement.
  • This stage of plant growth might be governed by the change of length of daylight, which is called photoperiodism. Some plants require longer hours of straight sunlight exposure to trigger their flower and fruit production.
  • Phosphorus is an “energy unit” of plants, while potassium is involved in producing and transporting the “food” of the plant to various parts or cells, which is why these nutrients are important in flower and fruit production.

What is ‘thinning’? | What does ‘thin the plant’ mean?

A crowded seeding tray or garden bed will lead to poor seedling development. This is because the crowded seedlings will compete for the nutrients, moisture, light, etc., that are only available in limited quantities. Furthermore, their roots can also get damaged due to crowding. This issue can be solved by thinning. By removing other seedlings (weaker ones are singled out to be thinned if there are any), you’ll give the remaining ones plenty of room to grow, ensuring a healthy seedling development.

Some prefer to transplant the seedlings to another container, but this may cause damage to their root system. Also, transplanting is a more tedious process than thinning.

How to thin plants/seedlings

Remember to never pluck seedlings out of the soil or scoop them out! You have to snip them using a cutting instrument like garden snips or scissors. Using your fingers or a dull blade may cause damage to the nearby seedlings.

  • Choose wisely – Be sure to single out weak seedlings to thin out. However, if all seedlings seem healthy, then just pick the smallest ones or the ones that aren’t properly lined or placed in the garden bed or starting tray. Avoid snipping off the healthiest seedlings.

overcrowded seedlings

Image source: raiseyourgarden.com

  • Get as close as possible – Cut the seedling’s stem as close as possible to the soil but don’t dig in the soil, either. Leaving a few sets of leaves will not stop the seedling from growing.

Image source: Gardener’s Supply Company

  • Examine your work – Make sure that you’ve thinned your plants properly. Check for a slightly overcrowded spot and thin again. If you seeded in a seeding tray or pot, it will be best to leave only one seedling per cell or pellet. If you sowed your seeds directly outdoors, then check the seed packet to see the required or recommended spacing in between seedlings.

properly spaced seedlings in a seeding tray

Image source: SUNSET

What is a ‘transplant’? | What does ‘transplant’ mean?

By definition, transplant, as a verb, is the act of replanting/repotting a plant to another place/pot. The plant to be replanted can also be referred to as the “transplant.” Thus, as a noun, transplant can also be defined as the plant that has been or will be transplanted/replanted/repotted. Transplants can be seedlings or mature plants, depending on what stage the plant is at when it will be replanted.

Before you can transplant, it is important to harden off your plant first. If your plant is not yet acclimatized to the new environmental conditions that you’ll be exposing it to, then it will not survive. To learn about how to harden off your plants, visit How to Plant Seeds and Grow Them into Plants.

Gardening tips for beginners

  • Start with an easy plant
    • If you’re not used to taking care of plants, you should start with something that is easy to grow. For example, you can start with Sansevieria or snake plants, which do not need frequent watering nor fertilizing, and can survive indoors even with only moderate to low light. If you want a hardy plant that can survive on its own outdoors, you can opt for dwarf shrubs like hydrangea instead.

Image sources: Succulent City

  • Start with good soil (or none at all)
    • Use pasteurized/sterilized soil or seed-starting/potting mix for your seeds. Soil can contain pathogens, weed seeds, and other harmful organisms that can stop your seeds from germinating successfully. Sterilizing or pasteurizing soil will remove any soil-borne threat to your seedlings. Thus, using a pasteurized soil or growing medium will result to more seedlings.
    • Soilless potting mix is also a great choice to grow your plants in, especially if you’re growing them indoors. As mentioned, soil can be a vehicle for harmful organisms, which is why a lot of people are reluctant in bringing soil into their homes. A soilless growing medium or potting mix is a mixture of organic matter and inorganic materials like peat moss, sand, vermiculite, perlite, bark, and coconut coir.

Image source: Miracle Gro

  • Invest in gardening tools
    • High-quality tools may be more expensive, but these are more trustworthy and will last longer. Make sure to buy hardy tools, especially for cutting and digging tools. Surely, you’ve heard of some nasty and unfortunate gardening accidents where someone almost lost a limb (or two) due to some tool malfunctions.
    • Also, try to invest in some smart or advanced tools such as all-in-one soil meters that can monitor the sunlight, moisture, and pH. This will save you a lot of time and will make gardening easier. It’s a great investment since a plant’s growth will literally depend on how suitable the soil or growing medium is for them.

Image source: fomei on Amazon

  • Fertilize (using the right kind) at the right time
    • As mentioned earlier, there are different stages of plant growth, and their nutritional requirements change as they mature. Learning which nutrient your plant needs the most at a certain stage of development will save you effort and money. Some plants require only once a week or once a month of fertilization, so make sure to research their needs. Over (or wrong) fertilization can stunt your plant’s growth instead of boosting it and may eventually lead to the death of your plant.

How to Plant Seeds and Grow Them into Plants

How to start a garden

There are a lot of benefits that you can reap from having plants at home. Plants can provide clean and fresh air, like how snake plants (Sansevieria) can remove toxic pollutants in the air; attractive flowers and foliage can add color and brighten up your space; indoor vegetable garden can add fresh produce to your cupboards; and tending to plants can alleviate stress as a refreshing hobby.

indoor vegetable garden

Image source: diyparty99.com

As always, we want your journey to be as seamless as possible, so this article will summarize all the basics in gardening that you need to know! Whether you want your garden at home to be a small patch of land on your lawn or just having a few potted plants indoors, you must know these gardening essentials to learn how to plant seeds and grow them into beautiful plants:

Gardening Essentials – Things you’ll need to start a garden:

  • Proper location for your garden

You can’t just start a garden without having the right site for it. You need to have a good location where your plant can get the proper amount of sun and air but not too exposed to any harsh weather, especially if the plant is sensitive to water or sunlight. For beginners, it’s easier to carry out both seed-starting and growing plants indoors, but some plants thrive better when planted outdoors.

Indoor gardening

To pick which room in your home works best for housing plants, you need to consider the following: amount and direction of sunlight, air, and temperature.

A great place to situate your plants would be a room that gets a proper amount of light throughout the day and where air can freely circulate. Most houseplants thrive with a steady amount of indirect light and would do well at a plant shelf, on your kitchen counter, or your central table. However, some plants need direct light exposure, so place these near a window or right at the windowsill, where light can directly shine on them. For room temperature, it’s best to research about your plant first. Most houseplants require a temperature of around 65-75°F, but some require colder or warmer temperatures.

Outdoor gardening

Starting a garden outdoors requires more planning compared to growing plants indoors. You’ll need to consider the following: grass or weed removal, your lawn’s or garden beds’ soil properties (pH, nutrients, type), pests, and plant shelter.

For an outdoor site, it’s best to choose a spot in your front lawn or backyard where you can easily see and monitor your plants, especially if you’re a beginner. It’s very easy to forget something that’s not familiar to your daily routine. Furthermore, make sure it’s at a convenient place where you can easily transport your plants under a roof or where you can build a shed near it, in case of bad weather.

After picking a spot, you should plan for weed or grass removal in that certain area. You can’t plant in a place overgrown with weeds; these can destroy your plant or garden bed by stealing space and nutrition from your plants. You can remove grass by using different methods such as solarization, sheet mulching, or manual removal.

Next to consider is whether your soil is suitable for plant growth. If not, this can be solved by sheet mulching, too, or composting. Lastly, you have to consider if there are pests around your area and if your plant can withstand the outdoor environment. As a precaution, buy insecticides, build a fence, and make sure you have a place where you can transfer your plants if ever you need to shelter them from harsh weather.

  • Proper seed to plant

You can’t just pick whichever seed you want to grow and hope for the best if you want your gardening efforts to succeed. Especially if you’re a beginner who doesn’t know how to troubleshoot yet, you have to choose the right seed to plant based on multiple factors.

Plant hardiness and your location’s hardiness zone

Pick a plant that would thrive in your location. If you live in an area in Zone 8a or 8b, then you have to choose a plant that has a hardiness of 8; meaning, this plant will grow well and can withstand the minimum temperature in your area. So, if your seed packet show that the plant is “hardy to zone 7” but you live in Zone 10, then this plant may not thrive well in your area (unless you create a microclimate for it).

Schedule and frost dates

Scheduling is essential in gardening, especially with crops that need to grow outdoors. Follow the instructions in the seed packet (if any), or look for plants that are scheduled to be planted around the time you’re planning to start a garden. You can check this Planting Calendar by the Old Farmer’s Almanac or use your search engine to determine what plants grow best in the current month in your country.

Indoor or outdoor gardening

Seed starting

Some seeds thrive better when started indoors, while some thrive better if sown directly into soil outdoors. Usually, it’s based on whether the plant can handle having their roots disturbed, so it’s best to let the seeds germinate in a place where you plan to let them grow.

  • Which seeds are better to start indoors?
    • plants that can be easily transplanted or can tolerate having their roots disturbed: broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, eggplant, watermelons, etc.
    • plants that are sensitive to cold temperatures: tomatoes, peppers, etc.
    • plants that are sensitive to hot temperatures: lettuce, cabbage, etc.
  • Which seeds are better to start outdoors?
    • plants that resist transplanting or cannot handle having their roots disturbed: carrots, beets, radishes, etc.
    • plants that need long exposure to sunlight such as poppies

Growing plants

When choosing plants to grow indoors, it’s best to pick in terms of light requirement. If your house rarely gets light in, then choose a plant that can survive in low to medium light, such as Sansevieria (snake plant) and golden pothos, among many others. Pay attention to which direction your windows are facing if you plan to grow a plant that requires a good amount of light.

  • south-facing windows – strongest light intensity; get a lot of direct sunlight during the day; best suited for sun-loving plants that require direct light exposure during the day
  • west-facing windows – strong light intensity; get a lot of direct sunlight during the afternoon and evening; best suited for sun-loving plants or ones that only require medium light
  • east-facing windows – moderate sunlight intensity in the mornings; best suited for plants that need moderate light only
  • north-facing windows – weakest light intensity; best suited for plants that can survive with low to medium light

If you’ve decided to plant outdoors, make sure to take into account the pH and nutrient levels of your soil. A lot of plants can tolerate a wide range of soil pH levels, but try to pick a plant that has a pH requirement near your soil’s pH for optimal growth. For indoor gardening, this is easy to solve since you can just fill your pot with the most appropriate soil or growing medium. Nutrients in the soil can be easily adjusted through using fertilizers and compost, as discussed before.

  • Basic gardening tools

Seeing the long aisles of gardening tools when you visit the home improvement or gardening section in your local store can be overwhelming. And when you’re overwhelmed, it’s easy to over-spend, thinking that you might need every tool that you came across with. So here, we offer you a short list of the essential tools to help you with your to-buy-list:

  1. Proper container

What type of pot should I use for seed-starting?

Basically, you can use any container to start seeds as long as it has the proper depth and drainage holes. Self-watering seed-starting system kits are the most convenient ones, but here are some containers that you can also use:

  • DIY seed-starting containers
    • Make sure that it’s at least 2-3″ deep, has drainage holes, and is convenient for you to use.
    • Also, if you plan to put it on a windowsill, make sure that it can fit there without overcrowding.
    • If you’re planning to use grow lights, make sure to check if your grow lights can cover the whole area of the container.

DIY Self-Watering Seed Starter Pots

Image source: Seattle Sundries

  • Seed flats or trays
    • Flats or trays do not offer individual pockets. These are single flat containers that can house many seeds.
    • Best-suited for small seeds that do not have robust growth, do not have deep or big root systems, and can be easily transplanted.



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IY Self-Watering Seed Starter Pots

Image sources: Grow Organic

  • Plug trays
    • These have individual pockets for each seed; there are different sizes of plugs for different sizes of seeds.
    • Allows seeds to grow without root disturbance from neighboring seeds.
    • Offers a much easier transplanting process because the seedlings grown can be transferred easily from its pocket to a new pot or garden bed.

self-watering seed starting kit

Image source: Gardener’s Supply Company

  1. Proper soil or growing media

What type of soil should I use for seed-starting?

Seeds must be sown in a sterile seed-starting mix in order to avoid soil-borne diseases that can come from the usual garden soil from your lawn. It is also important that your seed starting mix is lightweight (drains well) and can retain water.

You can also use potting soil if seed-starting mixes are not available, but the latter usually ensures that more seeds will germinate because some seeds only become viable in a sterile medium.

Although ‘seed starting mixes’ and ‘potting soils’ are used interchangeably, the two actually have different characteristics.

seed-starting mix vs. potting soil

Seed starter mix/soilRegular potting soil
usually sterilizednot sterilized
lightweight: made up of finer particles; drains wellmade up of coarser and larger particles; does not drain well
nutrient-poor; with just enough nutrients to allow seed germination/seed-startingnutrient-rich; may contain manure or compost which is not suitable for seeds

seed starting potting mix

Image source: Miracle-Gro

What is a soilless growing medium?

Most people who carry out their gardening indoors usually prefer soilless seed starting or potting mix. This is because the soil may carry pests or pathogenic bacteria or fungi and does not drain well—these can promote root rot and bring disaster in our homes. Soilless mixes are made up of organic and inorganic materials that are good sources of nutrients for your plants. Some examples are peat moss, perlite, sand, and coconut coir.

sphagnum peat moss

Image sources: Miracle-Gro

  1. Grow lights

Do seeds need light to germinate? If yes, will light from my window be enough?

Most people confuse the light requirement of seeds and seedlings. For seeds, some require light to germinate (e.g., Begonia, Coleus), some are inhibited by light (e.g., Allium) and most can germinate well with/out light. On the other hand, all seedlings or sprouting seeds require light to proceed with optimal germination and seedling development, which is why light is an essential factor to produce healthy seedlings.

Using grow lights on your developing seedlings instead of relying on just your windowsill is a much better approach. Yes, seeds will sprout if you leave them on the windowsill, but when it’s spring or winter, the light won’t be as intense as the light during summer. Seedlings will reach for the sun and prioritize elongating their stems, resulting in long weak stems with fewer leaves. For sun-loving plants, short light exposure will just end in a disaster.

There are different types of grow lights, such as LED lights, fluorescent lights, fluorescent bulbs, and many more. There are other stylish grow lights as well, and these will fit in your home perfectly.

Image source: House Beautiful

  1. Fertilizers

If your seedlings aren’t developing fast enough or your plant is showing discolorations in its foliage, then you might need to ramp up the nutrients in your soil or growing medium. It’s best to buy water-soluble all-purpose fertilizers so you can use it on all types of plants, such as vegetables, fruits, houseplants, trees, etc.

However, some fertilizers are made specifically for a certain type of plant or for a certain stage of plant growth, such as high-phosphorus fertilizers (a.k.a. “fruit tree fertilizers”) to boost a plant’s fruit production and a water-soluble fertilizer for seedlings. So, if you want to utilize fertilizers properly, it will be best to know the changes in the nutrient requirement of a plant based on its stage of growth.

Image sources: Dr. Earth

  1. Gardening gloves

Gardening gloves may pop up last in your mind, but this is actually one of the most commonly used tools. Whether it’s to check the dampness of the soil or transplant seedlings, it’s best to keep your hands clean and soil-free. Buy gloves according to the type of work you’ll be doing. Buy leather palmed gloves if you’re going to deal with thorny plants. But if you’re only dealing with small houseplants or vegetables, buy lightweight gloves instead.

  1. Hand trowel or round head shovel

If you’re only gardening indoors, a hand trowel will be sufficient. This tool is essential for transplanting, digging up soil, mixing fertilizers, etc. But if you’re tending to an outdoor garden, you’ll need to buy a round head shovel, too. This tool can double as a spade or garden hoe, allowing you to dig up dirt, dig large holes, and transplant soil.

Image sources: Gardener’s World

  1. Pruning shears and loppers

This hand-held cutting tool is a must-have for both indoor and outdoor gardening. You can use it to harvest delicate herbs or to trim branches from your overgrown plant. However, if you’re dealing with larger plants and thicker branches, you might need to purchase loppers, which is a long-handled pruner.

It’s important to have sharp gardening tools rather than using usual knives or scissors; dull blades may injure your plant and lead to further damage.

Image sources: Everything Backyard (L)

  1. Spray bottle, watering can, or garden hose

Seedlings and water-sensitive plants cannot handle too much water, so it’s best to just mist them rather than pouring water into the soil. If you’re dealing with potted mature plants that need frequent watering, then watering cans are the best for you. However, if you’re dealing with shrubs, trees, huge garden beds, then a garden hose should be your top pick.

  1. Rake

If you’re gardening indoors, you won’t need these items. But if you have a garden in your front or back lawn, then these rakes are must-haves. You can use a rake to remove leaves, debris, and other unwanted stuff from your garden, or to spread compost and soil.

Image source: Good Housekeeping

Planting Seeds 101: How to grow seeds into plants

Now that you know the essential gardening facts and tools, it’s time to know how to proceed with the actual sowing, from seed-starting up to hardening-off.

Sprouting or germinating seeds (seed-starting)

  1. Start with a clean and proper container or seed-starting kits. Check if your container has drainage holes and is at least 2-3 inches deep.

  2. Fill the container with a sterile seed-starting potting mix or soilless seed starter mix. Do not use regular garden soil or potting mix; these two drains poorly and usually have too much nutrients or harbor soil-borne diseases.
  1. Dig shallow holes with your fingers (wear gloves!) or a pencil to spots where you’ll plant each seed. Make sure that the holes are the proper depth for your seed.

  2. Plant your seeds at a proper depth. Sieving a little bit of your starting mix over the holes, and then cover the seeds by gently skimming your hand over the surface.

How deeply do I plant seeds?

  • Seed packets usually have information about the proper planting depth; follow it accordingly.
  • The general rule of thumb is to sow seeds at a depth twice or thrice of the seed’s thickness.
  • Some seeds strictly require light to germinate, such as lettuce, and it’s best to let the seed rest on the soil’s surface instead—this is why it’s important to read the seed packet’s instructions.

  1. Water your seeds properly. Always keep the soil moist, but not soaked through.

    • Always use slightly warm or room-temperature water.
  • Bottom watering is preferable for seeds that are not sowed at the surface, allowing only the roots to take up the right amount of water, keeping the top layer from getting too drenched.
  • Seeds sown on the soil’s layer should only be watered via misting.
  • If your seeds need warmth and you want your soil to hold moisture longer, use plastic domes or plastic covers to retain both warmth and moisture.

plug tray with a plastic dome cover

Image source: The Culinary Herb Garden Team

How often do I water seeds/seedlings?

  • For self-watering kits or setups, check the reservoir. If the water is almost gone, fill it up again.
  • For normal trays, check the soil periodically (around 2-3 times a day if the weather is hot) if it’s still moist. If not, mist over the whole tray until it’s thoroughly soaked. Alternatively, you can also soak the underside of the tray in water, letting the water travel through the drainage holes, and wait for the surface to get moist.

  1. Keep it at the right temperature.

    • If the seed’s optimal germination temperature is on the warm side, use waterproof heating mats designed for seed starting, or place your tray at a place that is constantly warm.
    • Alternatively, you can also use grow lights, which can provide both warmth and light.

  2. Fertilize your seedlings. Once you see the first few leaves of your seedlings growing, it’s a sign to start fertilizing your seedlings.

    • When the seedlings are 1-2 inches tall, fertilize them using half-strength water-soluble fertilizers weekly. Spray it gently to avoid disturbance.
    • After 3-4 times of weekly feeding the seedlings with half-strength fertilizers, switch to full-strength ones and limit feeding to every other week.

  3. Let the seedlings breathe. Germinating seeds are respiring so it’s important there is circulating air in the room. Open the windows to allow a gentle breeze in, or turn on a fan nearby to let the air circulate in the room.

  4. Give the seedlings the proper amount of light. Do not get confused: a germinating seed and a seedling are two very different things. Some seeds do not need light to germinate, but all seedlings require light.

    • Once you see sprouts coming out of the moist soil, you will need to provide proper light exposure to aid in seedling development.
    • Seedlings need roughly 14-16 hours of uninterrupted direct light every day, which is why grow lights are essential for optimum growth of seedlings.
    • Keep grow lights around 6” above the seedlings. Too far and the seedlings will chase the light source, resulting in tall, thin, and weak seedlings.

basil sprouts with their first pair of leaves (L) and a basil seedling with true sets of leaves (R)

Image source: The Culinary Herb Garden Team

  1. Let the seedlings have space. You may have to thin your seedlings if it starts to get overcrowded, especially if you’re using a tray with no pockets.

    • To do this, single out the weak-looking seedlings and snip them off right at the soil line. If there are no weak seedlings, just let the strongest ones stay in the tray and remove the rest.
    • Always use sharp cutting tools such as small pruning shears; do not use dull blades since it can make it hard for you to snip seedlings and risk nearby ones to get snipped, too.

  2. Harden off seedlings before transplanting or repotting outdoors. Never expose your seedlings to a new environment without acclimatizing them first. Seedlings need to get used to the new environment slowly, and this is a process called “hardening-off” seedlings.

When do I know if it’s time to transplant my seedlings?

  1. When your seedlings get too crowded even after thinning, or when they outgrow their trays or pots, then it’s time to transfer them to a new pot or garden bed.
  2. To be sure, remove one seedling from its pocket or tray, and check if the roots are taking up all the space underneath it.

overgrown basil with its roots growing out of the drainage hole

Image source: The Culinary Herb Garden Team

How do I harden-off seedlings?

  • For 14 days, slowly expose your plant to outdoor conditions by simulating the harsher environment by less watering, less fertilizing, and placing them in a roofed area instead of inside a room.
  • Do not put a 3-day interval in between watering if your seedlings are used to being watered every day. Slowly stretch the intervals in between watering schedules (e.g., once a day to every 36 hours, once every other day to once every 3 days, and so on).
  • Stop fertilizing your seedlings three days prior the hardening process. Resume fertilizing only after transplanting or repotting.

Easy plants for beginners

There are seeds and plants that are very easy to grow, whether it’s in the comfort of your own home or on your lawn. Plants that are easy to take care of are either fast growers or easy to germinate, drought-resistant, do not require special nutrients, or can withstand cold or hot temperatures.

Seeds that are easy to start indoors:

  1. Marigolds (Tagetes)
  • Seeding marigolds is easy since these seeds do not need light to germinate! You can just place your seed-starting tray next to a warm spot and let the seeds germinate for around 2-3 days (keep the soil moist!).
  • Once the true leaves grow, you can now repot the seedlings and let it grow further indoors just until the last frost passes.
  • Marigolds can withstand full and direct sunlight and can grow in both dry and moist soil.
  • Potted marigolds need daily watering. Transplanted marigolds in your lawn only need to be watered once every week or every two weeks, when the weather has been too dry.

Image source: nurserylive.com

  1. Basil
  • Among herbs, basil is one of the easiest one to grow indoors. Its seeds sprout quickly, and you can already harvest it as early as 3-4 weeks after starting the seeds!
  • All you need to do is to sow the seeds according to the packet, keep the moisture in by covering the seeding tray with a plastic cover, and let the seeds germinate at a warm spot in your home.
  • Sprouts will grow after 3-5 days, and this is when the covering of the tray should be removed.
  • You only need to water the seedlings around twice a week and place the herb near your window or at the windowsill to get six hours of sunlight (or you can use grow lights).
  • When seedlings reach 1-2 inches in height, they are deemed ready to be transferred to a bigger container.

Image source: The Culinary Herb Garden Team

  1. Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum L.)
  • With just following the instructions at the seed packet, your tomato seedlings will be ready for transplant in about a month!
  • It’s best to use soilless seed-starting potting mix for tomato seeds; keep it moist throughout the germination process and make sure to place the tray at a sunny window.
  • Just cover the seeding containers with plastic too keep the warmth in the soil throughout the night.
  • Once the seedlings start to emerge, remove the plastic cover, and let the seedlings get enough light.
  • Once your seedlings reach a height of 1-2 inches, they’re all ready to be transplanted! Fertilizing can start after transplanting and should be kept up twice a month for a bountiful harvest. Start your indoor vegetable garden with these easy steps!

Image source: Balcony Garden Web

Plants that are easy to grow indoors:

  1. Snake plant (Sansevieria)
  • Snake plants are famous indoor plants that are well-known for being drought-resistant and can survive in moderate to low light conditions.
  • There are a lot of different varieties and species of snake plants, ranging from ones that have golden foliage arranged in rosettes to ones that have deep green foliage rising like spikes.
  • Here, we offer you a guideline on how to care for snake plants, along with a list of the most attractive varieties that you can add in your home.

Image source: @succsandpups on Instagram

  1. Spider plant (Chlorophytum)
    • Like snake plants, spider plants can also survive in moderate to low light settings.
    • Spider plants have rhizomes that store water, so it can tolerate drought, but not as much as snake plants.
    • You only need to water this plant when the top two inches of the soil gets dry, which can range from every week or every two weeks, depending on the temperature and weather.
    • Like peace lilies, some species of spider plants can be grown in water only!

Image source: The Spruce

  1. Peace lily
    • Peace lilies are also famous houseplants because you can grow it in soil or water alone. These plants thrive in indoor temperatures and can also survive in moderate to low light (and fluorescent lights!).
    • Its tolerance to low light settings is amazing enough that it can survive in rooms with no windows at all.
    • When planted in soil, all you need to do is water it whenever you notice the plant drooping slightly. When grown in water, just make sure the roots are submerged in water, and that the base of the plant is kept off water by stones or a divider to avoid rot.
    • You only need to fertilize this plant every six weeks!

Image source: proflowers.com

Low maintenance outdoor plants:

  1. Dwarf shrubs
  • Shrubs are probably one of our most favorite plants to grow outdoors. It can offer food and shelter to birds, seasonal beauty with their bloom, improved air quality, shade against the scorching sun, and protection against gusts of cold winds during winter.
  • Although shrubs require regular watering during summer or droughts, it is hardy and can fend for itself during calm weather.
  • Here, we offer you a guideline on how to care for dwarf shrubs, along with a short list of our favorite types of shrubs.

Image source: Crocus

  1. Air plants (Tillandsia spp.)
  • Even without the presence of soil, you can grow plants without any fuss! Air plants can be put in a bowl or vase filled with rocks or sand, and you can also tie them to a hanging décor for a more stylish look!
  • All you need to do is to soak the air plant once a week in rainwater or bottled water for a few hours, and then it’s good to go. Put them back in a sunny nook to dry for a few hours, and then hang anywhere as usual.
  • Species like T. xerographica can go longer than one week without a soak.
  • Add fertilizer only once a month during their weekly soak.
  • Air plants can thrive in fluctuating temperatures, so you can put them anywhere and not worry about heaters.

Image source: Beach Paradise Air Plants

  1. Catmint (Nepeta faassenii)
  • This non-culinary mint variety is a must-have perennial. It is heat- and drought-tolerant, repels deer and rabbits, and can give you beautiful purple-blue flowers and gray-green foliage.
  • Catmint is a sun-loving plant, but it can also survive in moderate light.
  • You only need to water new plants or transplants; once the transplants have established, you no longer need to water them!

Image source: Great Garden Plants

Expanding your garden

If you’ve fallen in love with gardening as a hobby, or you want to pursue gardening as a business (or both), then it might be a good idea to expand your garden. You can do so by building sheds, nurseries, greenhouses, and other buildings that can help you house more plants.

To ensure the success of your expansion efforts, we’re here to suggest these tools that will help you transition seamlessly from a hobbyist to a small-, medium-, or large-scale gardener.

When we think about gardening, four things immediately come into mind: water, soil, wood, and plant. To ensure that your shed, plant bed, or nursery do not easily allow fungus growth, it should be made up of marine grade plywood. This plywood does not delaminate, held together by waterproof glue, and can withstand high temperatures and moist environments. And if you deliver or transport your plants to various locations, you might want to check out these fuel transfer tanks that can be a water reservoir to keep your plants from wilting.

To help you streamline your woodworking and shed-building efforts, you can use these wide belt sanders to provide your sheds or plant beds with top-tier wood materials, and these plasma cutters that can easily cut steel, aluminum, brass, copper, and other conductive materials.

And if you’re already an established gardener with a booming plant business, you might want to check out these MIG welders, which can handle a wide range of type and thickness of metals, and these engine-driven welders, which are portable and can run even without plugging into an external power source.

14 Types of Purple Flowers: Perennials, Small, Spring

A symbol of royalty and elegance, purple is a favorite flower color that does a great job in enhancing a garden’s palette. When Pantone declared ultra violet, which is another variation of purple, as the Color of the Year in 2018, it described the shade as one that exhibits originality and ingenuity. While it may not be a popular choice when deciding on interior design or picking a wardrobe outfit, the color purple plays a key role in landscaping and gardening. It can anchor bright colors and is perfect for adding contrasting elements to your garden setting. Hence, there is no wonder why purple is one of the first things that come to mind when deciding on your garden’s color combinations.

There is a wide range of purple shades in which flowers bloom, but the mixture of blue and red is often associated with a calm ambiance and is used to create a relaxing mood. Purple flowers where blue is more dominant often creates a soothing effect and promotes spiritual calmness. In contrast, purple flowers leaning toward red are seen as more energetic. These different combinations yield an array of shade variations that are sure to add depth to your outdoor space. From dark violet, to soft purple, to lavender, the choices are far and wide depending on the shade and tone.

In this article, we identified some of the most popular purple flowers and categorized them based on their shape, shade, height, growing cycle and other characteristics.

What are Perennial flowers?

Perennial plants live on for multiple growing cycles. Its roots often die or go dormant during winter and regrow in the succeeding spring. It typically lasts more than two years and is easier to maintain as you only need to plant it once.

One popular purple perennial is Bears Breech, which is characterized by its tall flowers and glossy leaves. This perennial is sometimes grouped with the so-called architectural plants as it is widely used as a motif. Its blooms last throughout summer and come in faded purple shade. But aside from its exquisite blooms, this plant is prized for its large, lobed leaves, which were widely used in ancient art, particularly in the Greek and Roman period. Bears Breech does not require frequent watering and is not vulnerable to disease issues nor pets, though snails may visit from time to time to feast on the plant’s foliage.

Native to North America, Blazing Star or Gayfeather is another type of purple perennial that exudes an ornamental allure. This plant features tall stalks of lavender flowers that gracefully sway with the wind during summer. It attracts butterflies and bees, and sometimes deers, too! Resembling Blazing Star’s spiky blooms, Veronicas are more blue than purple, creating an extra dimension to your landscape. These carefree perennials grow in different soil types and thrive in full sun. There are various types of Veronicas depending on their size and form. The small ones are ideal in containers or for rock gardens while the taller variety looks best in borders along with other flowers.

Speaking of containers, be sure to check out our resource on fuel transfer tanks.

Small options

A favorite among pollinators, Lalla Aster makes for a perfect front yard plant, thanks to its tiny, light-purple flowers. This low-growing plant produces ray-shaped blooms that thrive in full sunlight. Blooming between April and July, Creeping Speedwell is another low-growing plant ideal as a ground cover. It also comes very handy in landscaping. It has four-petaled tiny flowers and kidney-shaped leaves, and prefers to grow in neutral soil with consistent moisture.

Even if you are new to gardening, Lavender will surely be no stranger. This familiar purple perennial is very popular for its lovely fragrance, making it a common ingredient to many household items. While lavender is best known for its deep blue-purple color, its other varieties come in white and light pink. If you are living in a cooler climate, English Lavender hybrids are the most recommended.

If you are into flower arrangements, then you may be familiar with Verbena, a purple flower with small blooms that come out in the summer. Fresh Verbena flowers are used to add depth to a garden, though they also look great when dried. This plant requires well-drained soil and full sun. Lilac is another excellent example of small purple flowers. This flower is widely used for bouquets and is commonly related to Easter as it is known as a symbol of rebirth. Aside from its pretty appearance, Lilacs are cultivated for its scent.

Be sure to check out this article on dwarf shrubs!

Tall options

Measuring 2 to 5 feet on average, Garden Phlox is a great choice if you are looking to add a variety of tall purple perennials to your garden. These flowers bloom between mid-summer and autumn, and lure hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. They are resistant to mildew and are a favorite flower for landscapes as they are relatively easy to maintain. Another low-maintenance but equally beautiful tall purple perennial is German Bearded Iris. While this flower comes in different shades, it is most popular for its purple hue. It enjoys some shade from time to time, but makes a full bloom when under full to partial sunlight.

Also known as Wolf’s Bane, Monkshood is a tall purple perennial that blooms through autumn, providing a nice lilac shade for the fall foliage. Unlike Garden Phlox and German Bearded Iris, Monkshood is more difficult to grow and maintain, and requires extra care. It grows in moist and well-drained soil, but too much water could drown its roots. While Monkshood makes for a perfect background plant, its owners must plant it away from pets or children as it is highly poisonous.

Allium is a nice cut ornamental that can be used for flower arrangements and dried bouquets. This purple perennial may not be as popular as its peers, but it is equally gorgeous with its bulb-shaped blooms. This plant keeps deers, rabbits and chipmunks at bay. It enjoys full sun and requires well-drained soil. Another tall purple flower is Vervain, which is used in herbal medicine. It is characterized by its jagged leaves and five-petaled purple flowers that bloom between mid-summer and early fall. This flower plant can reach up to 5 feet in height, thrives in moist soil and enjoys full sun. Herbal medicine practitioners use Vervain for its purported pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. But for aesthetics, this plant is a favorite in landscaped gardens.

Trees with purple flowers

Aside from plants, trees that bear purple flowers can also add a nice contrast of colors to your yard. One excellent choice is the Bloomerang Lilac tree, which is known for its jasmine-like fragrance. This tree grows up to a maximum height of six feet, while its flowers bloom twice each year. You can plant this tree beside your porch, in front of your yard or near your patio.

Known for its resilience, the Royal Empress is a fast-growing tree that provides a generous amount of shade, thanks to its huge leaves and high-branched canopy. It produces a sweet scent and offers gorgeous lavender flowers in spring. The Royal Empress requires partial to full sunlight and grows best using organic fertilizer that has high nitrogen content. With a height that peaks at 40 to 50 feet, this tree is converted into a hardwood by fine furniture makers in some countries using metal lathes, portable sawmills and wide belt sanders.

The Jacaranda tree is a spring-bloomer that reaches up to 40 feet in height and spreads up to 30 feet. A sea of lavender flowers cover this tree during spring, making it a nice movie-like backdrop. However, make sure not to plant this tree near a pool or the driveway as its flowers tend to cover the entire ground and create a mess once they drop.

Purple and yellow flowers

Purple and yellow may not be the best color tandem, but perennials that combine these shades prove to be nothing short of attractive. One example is Dwarf Iris, which can easily be identified by its dark purple petals with a touch of yellow in the middle. This flowering plant is ideal in containers or at the front of borders. It blossoms in late winter through early spring, making for a lovely display on balconies or patios.

A magnet to butterflies and birds, Cosmos also have purple petals and bright yellow blooms. This daisy-like flower grows easily by scattering its seeds and remains in full bloom for months. With its long stems, Cosmos are perfect at the back of borders along with other tall flowers. Bearing a slight resemblance to Cosmos are Coneflowers, which have light purple petals and a yellowish head in the middle. This type of plant is resistant to drought and is a favorite among pollinators. Pasque flower is another type of purple perennial with a golden yellow center. This plant is a native to Western Asia and central Europe, and naturally grows on moist meadows. It thrives in medium-moisture soil and full sunlight, and requires extra effort when transplanting due to its long roots. Aside from adding color to your garden, Pasque flower has other uses particularly in herbal medicine. Homeopaths recommend this flower for treating cough and clogged nose. It is also believed to help treat some skin conditions including inflammation, bacterial infection and chickenpox.

Dark purple

Another type of purple perennials is one in deep lavender shade. These dark purple flowers easily stand out given their rich and thick shade that offers a nice contrast to your green landscape.

Also known as Ornamental Onion, Allium has round flowers that bloom in spring and summer. These bulb-shaped flowers come in a range of purple shades but they are more popular for their deep wine purple color. Another purple flower under this category is Salvia nemorosa, which is also called Perennial Salvia, Garden Sage and Violet rRot. This gorgeous plant attracts onlookers with its violet-blue flowers and dark purple stems. A native to Western Asia and some parts of Europe, this perennial is easy to propagate, requiring only little sunshine and watering.

Wild Indigo is a robust perennial that produces pea-like flowers. They naturally grow in meadows or along streams, but Wild Indigos can also be used as plant anchors and is suitable for home landscaping given its height. This low-maintenance plant has branched and deep roots, allowing it to weather drought. Its seeds need to be soaked in water for about 24 hours before planting. Attracting pests should not be a problem when cultivating Wild Indigos, which remain attractive all year round.

Light purple

Adding contrast to deep-shaded, dark purple perennials, light purple flowers are warm to the eyes and offer a comfortable ambiance. Characterized by its ray-like flowers, Boltonia or False Aster is a charming perennial that blooms in late summer. A row of this flower will look excellent at the back of your garden as it grows up to 8 feet in height. Boltonias thrive in full sun, but do not mind some afternoon shade as well. If you are feeling a little bit creative, you can cut a few stems of Boltonia and place it in a ceramic or stainless steel vase and use it as a gorgeous accent for your foyer. The maker of the vase probably used one of these best plasma cutters in the process of doing their magic to the steel!

You can also consider growing Hesperis Matrionalis, or more commonly known as Sweet Rocket. This biennial plant produces blooms in white and purple, and has a lovely fragrance in the evening. Gardeners often mistake Sweet Rocket for Phlox because of their physical similarities, but they can actually be distinguished by their number of petals: Sweet Rocket has four-petaled flowers while Phlox has five. This plant has lance-shaped hair leaves, which some people use in salads.

Bushes with purple flowers

If you are looking to create a meditation garden, then consider bushes with purple flowers in your landscape. Bushes are perfect additions to your outdoor space whether as decorations, additional foundations or as borders. They also add structure and character to your garden especially when maintained properly. One of the most popular shrubs is Hydrangea, which grows in well-drained and fertile soil, and thrives in partial sunlight. Color correction is possible for this plant, allowing its flowers to transition from the purple shade to pink, depending on the soil pH and other factors.

Azaleas are also popular flowering shrubs that look best right at your front porch. This plant is nicknamed “Royal of the Gardens,” thanks to its vibrant flowers that come in different shades, including lavender. They thrive in partial shade and may require extra watering when under a dry spell. If possible, keep Azaleas away from direct midday sun as its leaves tend to get burned or dry out when exposed to too much heat, possibly creating fire.

Vines with purple flowers

If you want to add elegance to your home garden, you will never go wrong with wines with purple flowers. While they are harder to keep, vines can add depth to your outdoor space if regularly trimmed and maintained. One example is Bougainvillea, a type of thorny ornamental vine native to countries in southern America. This vine can be grown against a fence, as a ground cover, on a trellis or even in a container! It enjoys hot weather and requires at least 6 hours under the sun for its flowers to bloom best. This vine yields flowers in different colors, but the ones in purple clearly stand out.

Also a fan of tropical climate, Passion Vine is easily recognized by its exotic-looking flowers that come in white and purple. This vine rapidly extends, and grows on fences and walls. To control its growth, make sure to prune the vines in spring. This also ensures lush foliage and fast production of flowers. Another type of purple vine to consider is Wisteria, which yields gorgeous foliage and whose flowers turn yellow when autumn comes. This plant needs rich soil and plenty of sunlight. It also requires regular pruning to make sure that its vines do not overtake the rest of your outdoor space. While it may be invasive, Wisteria is hard to resist with its scented blooms in lovely lavender shade.

Bell flowers

There are different types of bellflowers but the most common are the ones in blue and purple shades. The Campanulaceae family is known among pollinators for its cup- or bell-shaped purple flowers. Canterbury bells, also known as Campanula medium, are a popular biennial plant that is commonly used in flower arrangements and honey-making. They enjoy cool zones and thrive in well-drained soil, and grow best in containers or borders. Similar to other flowers within the Campanulaceae family, Canterbury bells propagate easily through their seeds starting early summer or late spring.

Bellflower is another type of plant within the Campanulaceae family that blooms in light purple shade. This type of hardy flower plant comes in varying sizes, and reaches up to 3 feet in height. Its signature bell-shaped flowers bloom from late spring up to summer, making them perfect for cottage or rock gardens. Heliotrope is also a favorite for cottage gardens with its shrub-like lavender flowers and oval-shaped leaves. Aside from its gorgeous clusters of flowers, this plant yields a lovely scent that many gardeners compare with vanilla’s smell. If you plan to grow a cutting garden, then Gladioulous is a great option. This classic perennial features tall spikes and large blooms that look great in flower arrangements.Thriving in full sun and well-drained soil, this plant can produce flowers until early autumn. It is ideal to grow this plant in rows for easy harvesting of its flowers.

Plant with purple flowers and green leaves

Providing a nice contrast of its green leaves and bell-shaped purple blooms, Honeywort is a drought-tolerant plant that grows in different soil conditions and flourishes in full sun. Its leaves are thick and dominantly green with a hint of grayish tone.This self-seeding plant can be grown in containers and act as nice fillers for your ornamental borders. Another purple flower with prominently green leaves is Anise, which blooms in spring. This purple-bluish flower, also called Anise Hyssop, is a magnet to butterflies, beetles and bees. It can be used in herb gardens and as ornamentals.

Also a spring-blooming plant, Lungwort makes for a nice ground cover. While it is a low-growing plant, its stalks may reach up to 18 inches. This plant stands out with its lung-shaped leaves, thereby giving it its name. Lungwort is typically grown in pots during spring, and thrives in partial to full shade and moist soil.

Annual Flowers

While perennials grow back every spring, some plants only last for a single growing season. These are called annual plants, whose leaves, stems and roots die out after one cycle. There are many examples of annual flowers with a pop of purple that can be very useful in your landscape.

If you cannot afford to spend much of your time tending your garden, then you may consider growing Vinca flowers. These low-maintenance blooms tolerate drought and prefer full sun, and easily grow wherever you plant them. Its flowers have five soft-lavender petals with a yellow or white center and look nice in containers or hanging baskets. You can also use Vinca flowers for rock gardens or borders, and add an instant color to your outdoor space.

Another example in this category is Annual Purple Larkspur, a tall and elegant plant with spiky blooms. This plant thrives in moist soil and may produce flowers yearly through self-seeding. It grows between spring and summer, and grows up to 4 feet.

Lobelia is also an ideal plant to grow if you are looking for low-maintenance blooms. It produces tiny flowers from summer until the first frost, and prefers rich soil. Its blooms feature a violet-blue shade, though other varieties in white and pinkish red can be found, too. There are many types of Lobelias and not all of them can be cultivated in a home garden set-up. As the most common variety, violet-blue Lobelias are often used in borders or as ground covers.

Biennial Flowers

As the name implies, biennial plants need two years to finish their life cycle. Plants in this category develop their leaves and strengthen their roots during the first season. Then, they stay dormant for a few months, particularly during the colder season, before showing off their lovely blooms in the second year. After this, they die.

There are many purple biennial flowers to choose from depending on your purpose. One favorite choice is Foxglove or Digitalis, a strikingly tall plant with bell-shaped flowers. Other types of Foxgloves are considered perennials but most grow and die within the two-year window of biennial plants. Its stems may grow as high as 6 feet, making this plant a nice background against your flower beds. Aside from its height, one noticeable feature of Foxgloves is its bell- or trumpet-shaped flowers, which come in purple, pink, red or yellow, and grow in clusters. This plant prefers full sun, although it does not mind a little bit of shade as well.

Also known as the Money Plant, Honesty is another purple biennial featuring charming blooms. It earned its nickname due to its sought-after seed pods, which are often preserved and used in dried flower arrangements. Honesty prefers well-drained soil and thrives in partial shade. Its dainty looking flowers will look lovely beside bulb-shaped blooms like tulips.

If you are looking for plants that produce scented blooms, then Matthiola Incana is a great choice. Coming from the mustard family, this plant is popular in cottage gardens with its narrow leaves and fragrant flowers. It is relatively short and reaches only 1 to 3 feet in height. Matthiola Incana blooms in a variety of colors including lavender, white, yellow and pink.

Hearts Flower

Tradescantia Pallida is perhaps the most popular perennial that takes the shape of a heart. Hence, it is no wonder that this plant is nicknamed Purple Heart, though occasionally, gardeners also refer to it as “Moses in the Basket.” Tradescantia Pallida’s flowers grow on the end of its fleshy stems and come in pale purple shade, which perfectly contrasts its long and dark purple leaves. This low-growing plant is often used as a ground cover or bedding. It can also be placed in baskets, containers or hanging pots and be an instant welcome accent on your porch.

Another heart-shaped and equally stunning purple flower is Blackcurrant Swirl Moonflower, which is often called Datura or Devil’s Trumpet because of its swirling trumpet flowers. Datura has heart-shaped petals that bloom in pale to deep purple shade, and grow up to 5 feet, making this plant ideal for landscaping. This type of plant thrives in alkaline or neutral soil, and may sometimes attract pests such as spider mites or whiteflies. Once your Datura is ready to be transplanted, provide up to 4 feet spacing between each plant and make sure to avoid damaging its roots. One word of caution, though. This plant may look delicate and mysterious, but it is highly poisonous so make sure to cultivate it away from children and pets.

Want to keep reading? You can also find purple sansevierias, although they are very rare. Make sure to also check out our resource on engine driven welders and waste oil heaters.

Sansevieria (snake plants): Care, Types & Varieties, Propagation, and Watering

Sansevieria is one of the most common indoor plants, famous among plantsman and newbies alike due to its amazing adaptability and beautiful features. This plant has adaptations that allow it to survive in areas with low light and little water or moisture. If you’re new to plants, looking to start with something low maintenance, Sansevieria is the right choice for you. Perfect for your office, bedroom, or living room, this plant will surely brighten and freshen up your space without the hassle of worrying about it every day.

What are snake plants

We want you to delve into the world of nurturing plants seamlessly, so we carefully crafted this guide on how to care for snake plants. Read through our list of the different types of Sansevieria and some important things to consider before starting your journey of tending these plants. By the end of this guide, you’ll surely be able to choose which variety of Sansevieria is perfectly suited for you and your home.

Are snake plants safe or toxic to cats, dogs and other pets?

If pets and plants are what make your heart light with joy, you must be aware that, sadly, some plants can be harmful to your pets. Despite all their wonders and benefits, snake plants can also be toxic to dogs and cats when ingested. Snake plants contain saponins, which are natural toxins the plants use as protection against fungi. These saponins, however, can irritate the gastrointestinal tract when ingested due to its ability to destroy red blood cells, thereby causing diarrhea and vomiting.

Saponins are usually harmless to both mammals and other warm-blooded animals when ingested in small quantities, only producing short-term symptoms. But if consumed in moderate to large amounts, saponins will cause nausea, vomiting, pain, and diarrhea. So, if you notice your pets exhibiting symptoms of poisoning and you own a snake plant, contact your local veterinarian as soon as possible. Keep your snake plants out of your pets’ reach as much as possible. And keep an eye on your pets when they go near any type of Sansevieria plants to ensure their safety.

Benefits

Sansevieria plants have various benefits besides being ornamentals; it has medicinal properties and can be a source of strong elastic fibers. But the most significant benefit of having a snake plant in your home is its ability to remove indoor pollutants in the air.

  • As a medicinal plant:

A study by Takariwa & Nordal (2002) summarized the medicinal uses of Sansevieria, and it included treatment of hemorrhoids, toothache, earache, wounds, and sores, among many others. 

  • As a source of strong elastic fibers:

Sansevieria foliage is a great source of strong elastic fibers, and these fibers are used in the manufacture of ropes, bowstrings, and clothing.

  • As an air purifier:

Multiple studies have shown the benefits of having indoor plants in purifying air. Snake plants were among the common indoor plants that NASA studied, and results showed that Sansevieria could remove organic pollutants like benzene, trichloroethylene (TCE), and formaldehyde from the air.

A study by Rajapandian et al. (2017) developed a strategy to rank indoor plants on their ability to purify the air. Snake plants ranked 5th among the 38 plants studied, able to remove the most dangerous indoor pollutants (benzene, acetone, formaldehyde, toluene, carbon monoxide, TCE, and xylene) from the air efficiently.

Types and its Varieties

Sansevieria is native to tropical western Africa, and now, it also thrives in other tropical and subtropical parts of the world like Asia and islands in the Indian Ocean. Consisting of about 70 species, the names associated with Sansevieria include snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, cow tongue, devil’s tongue, bow-string hemp, good luck plant, and many more. However, the name ‘Snake Plant’ is the most commonly used one; thus, this name is sometimes considered synonymous with almost all species of Sansevieria. Below, you will notice that the other common names of snake plants usually reflect the appearance of their foliage.

  • Sansevieria trifasciata (“Mother-in-Law’s Tongue” or “Common Sansevieria”)

This is one of the most famous and common types of snake plants, with over 20 varieties being sold worldwide. Common Sansevieria’s foliage consists of dark green leaves with light gray-green cross banding. Below are some varieties of this plant that we think will suit your tastes, with their gorgeous color strokes, shapes, and patterns.

Image source: @succsandpups 

  1. S. trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ (“Variegated Snake Plant” or “Goldband Sansevieria”) – This cultivar is one of the most popular snake plants, with its eye-catching contrast between the green foliage and its golden margins.

Image source: The Sill

  1. S. trifasciata ‘Bantel’s Sensation’ (“White Sansevieria”) – For the minimalists, this cultivar of Sansevieria is definitely for you. Donning alternating variable pattern of white and dark green stripes on its tall thin foliage, this lush snake plant will surely complete your aesthetic while giving you fresh air.

Image Source: foreverplanty

  1. S. trifasciata ‘Black Gold’ (“Black Gold Snake Plant” or “Black Gold Sansevieria”) – Like ‘Laurentii,’ the deep green leaves of this snake plant have light yellow- or gold-colored margins, creating a wonderful contrast. This contrast is made more apparent by the black-green banding on its foliage. 

Image source: Hudson + Oak

  1. S. trifasciata ‘Twist’ (“Twisted Sister Snake Plant”) – This snake plant has twisted leaves, as its name suggests, with green horizontal stripes and yellow variegated edges. This cultivar is a dwarf Sansevieria, growing only up to 12-15 inches, and it will perfectly fit in your workspace.

Image source: Cellar Door Plants

  1. S. trifasciata ‘Hahnii’ (“Birdnest Sanseviera” or “Bird’s Nest Snake Plant”) – This snake plant has short funnel-shaped dark green glossy leaves. Despite the lack of bloom of this cultivar, its vase-shaped rosette foliage never fails to look good anywhere.

Image source: White Flower Farm

  1. S. trifasciata ‘Futura Superba’ (“Futura Superba Snake Plant”) — ‘Futura Superba’ resembles the cultivar ‘Laurentii,’ but its leaves are shorter and broader. The leaves have narrower yellow or gold margins, and each rosette contains more leaves compared to Black Gold. If ‘Laurentii’ is your favorite snake plant, but you want something smaller, this cultivar is perfect for you.

Image source: Costa Farms

  1. S. trifasciata ‘Robusta’ (“Robust Sansevieria”) – ‘Robusta’ resembles ‘Futura Superba’ because you can get the former upon propagating the leaf cuttings of the latter cultivar. ‘Futura Superba’ has yellow margins, while this snake plant has silvery green leaves with dark green cross-bands. Both cultivars have broad leaves and a robust growth habit. 

Image Source: Pigment

  1. S. trifasciata ‘Golden Hahnii’ (“Golden Bird’s Nest Sansevieria” or “Golden Hahnii Snake Plant”) – This compact rosette cultivar, growing only up to six inches tall, has light green leaves with thick gold margins. 

Image Source:  suculentas.com

  1. S. trifasciata ‘Silver Hahnii’ (“Silver Birdnest Sansevieria” or “Silver Bird’s Nest Snake Plant”) – Another compact cultivar, growing only up to ten inches tall, has silvery gray-green leaves with dark green margins, all arranged in rosettes. 

Image source: In Succulent Love

  1. S. trifasciata ‘Silver Queen’ (“Silver Mother-in-Law’s Tongue” or “Silver Queen Snake Plant”) – The young leaves of this cultivar are silvery gray-green in color with dark green margins. As the plant matures, the leaves darken. The silver-gray foliage is narrow and grows upright, with a vase rosette formation.

Image Source: Exotic Plants

  1. S. trifasciata ‘Black Coral’ (“Black Coral Sansevieria” or “Black Coral Snake Plant”) – This elegant cultivar has silvery gray-green variegated foliage that can grow up to 36 inches in height. Like the other cultivars, this Sansevieria forms a basal rosette. 

Image Source: Garden Goods Direct

  • Sansevieria francisii (“Francisii Snake Plant”) – This rare snake plant is a compact and herbaceous snake plant, with its spike-like leaves spirally arranged. Its foliage has dark green vertical lines, and has a slightly rough texture.

Image Source: Greenery Unlimited

  • Sansevieria ‘Cleopatra’ (“Cleopatra Snake Plant”) – This is a rare Sansevieria hybrid, a gorgeous hard-to-find snake plant that many plant collectors aim to add to their collection. It has a beautiful intricate pattern on its leaves, and its leaf margins are burgundy to brown in color. Its foliage forms a rosette, giving the plant a lush look.

Image Source: Sobesuccs

  • Sansevieria cylindrica ‘Boncel’ (“Starfish Snake Plant”) – This is another rare, hard-to-find succulent. Its leaves are short, cylindrical, fleshy, and grey-green in color, with dark green concentric circles up to the pointed tips. The foliage is spread out like a fan that resembles a starfish.

Image Source: AYANAS

  • Sansevieria zeylanica (“Bowstring Hemp” or “Ceylon Bowstring Hemp”) – The dark-green leaves of Bowstring Hemp are sword-shaped with pointed tips and are adorned with light gray-green bands. This plant closely resembles S. trifasciata, and thus, some mistakenly sell Common Sansevieria as Bowstring Hemp.

Image Source: Pistils Nursery

  • Sansevieria ehrenbergii ‘Samurai’ (“Samurai Snake Plant” or “Samurai Dwarf”) – This hard-to-find compact cultivar is a favorite of many, with its short stature that only grows up to 4-6 inches tall. It has V-shaped leaves, with a reddish tint along the margins. This dwarf Samurai Snake Plant is the perfect ornament for small spaces like your office table.

Image Source: Pistils Nursery

  • Sansevieria stuckyi or Dracaena stuckyi – This snake plant has stiff, upright cylindrical leaves, which are dull green in color and adorned with dark green bands. This plant can grow up to 2 meters tall.

Image Source: mentor100.blogsot.com

  • Sansevieria masoniana (“Whale Fin,” “Shark’s Fin,” or “Mason’s Congo”) – This plant is named after the leaves’ unique shape. The leaves are dark green in color with light green spots and reddish tinted margins. This snake plant can grow up to 4 feet long and 10 inches wide.

Image Source: Plant Circle

  • Sansevieria pinguicula (“Walking Sansevieria”) – The common name of this plant came from the behavior of its leaves when the plant matures: the leaves elongate and migrate to distichous. Its leaves are thick and fleshy, blue-green in color, concave-angular from base to apex, with reddish-brown margins, and are arranged in a rosette.

Image Source: Charlotsy on Reddit

  • Sansevieria ‘Fernwood’ (“Fernwood Sansevieria” or “Fernwood Snake Plant”) – A rare hybrid snake plant, ‘Fernwood’ is perfect for tabletops or countertops. Its foliage consists of dark green narrow cylindrical leaves with light green banding. A new hybrid, ‘Fernwood Mikado,’ has a more elegant look with its mature leaves arching slightly outwards, resulting in a foliage that resembles the shape of a fountain.

Image Source: (L to R) Plantscapers & Hortology

Growing Sansevieria: Care and Propagation

Since snake plants are xerophytes (Gr. xeros “dry,” phuton “plant”), meaning, they have adaptations that allow them to survive in dry environments like deserts. These adaptations make snake plants highly resilient, which is why these are the perfect plants for newbies and for people who are too busy or do not want to tend to a plant frequently. Leaving snake plants alone for a week or two at their preferred environment would do them little to no harm, and some may even thrive better since these plants are sensitive to overwatering.

There are three things that you have to remember when it comes to growing a snake plant: less water, indirect sunlight, and adequate temperature. Read further to know more about how fast snake plants grow, the environmental conditions best-suited for Sansevieria, and how to propagate a snake plant if you want to expand your plant collection.

How fast do snake plants grow? 

If your Sansevieria isn’t growing noticeably, you don’t have to panic. Snake plants are one of the slowest-growing plants. Yes, they might be easy to grow, requiring minimal effort in terms of watering and propagating, but it doesn’t mean the process will be fast. If you placed your snake plant at a place with moderate to low light, as most of us do, then the plant’s growth rate would be fairly slow compared to the ones grown outdoors. If you want to boost your plant’s growth, you can put it in a well sun-lit place. 

The final height and width of Sansevieria would depend on its species or cultivar. S. trifaciata ‘Laurentii,’ for example, grows to up to 1-3 feet, depending on its environmental conditions. And as expected, compact or dwarf cultivars can only grow up to a few inches high, such as the Samurai Dwarf, which can only grow up to 6 inches tall.

However, if your Sansevieria is not a dwarf or compact variety, but you want it to fit in a small area, there are ways to stunt its growth. The first thing to do is to limit the size of the pot it is in; the snake plant will be root bound and will prevent growth away from the base. Another way is to cut the tip of the leaves to limit the growth in the height of your snake plant.

How do I grow and take care of snake plants?

Depending on the environmental conditions of a plant, it can either thrive, survive, or die. Luckily for everyone, snake plants have a high chance of survival even when given little attention. The environmental conditions that you must focus on are light, water, soil, and temperature.

Light

As previously mentioned, snake plants can survive in moderate to low light environments. However, if you want to boost the growth of your snake plant, then it would be best to place your plant in well-lit rooms, which will allow your plant to receive a bright and steady indirect or filtered light. Some Sansevieria can produce flowers, and if you want to stimulate the production of its inflorescence, you can expose it to direct sunlight.

Although snake plants are resilient, it is important to let the plants transition gently from one setup to another. Meaning, if you plan to transfer your snake plant from a dim room (low light) to outdoors (direct light), you must place it first at an area where it can receive steady indirect light for a few weeks before transferring it outdoors.

Water and the best soil

The amount of water snake plants need is significantly less than other plants that need daily watering. Ranging from once a week to once a month, the frequency of watering snake plants depends on the temperature or the area where the plants are placed. Less water is needed for snake plants situated indoors or in shaded areas, especially if the temperature is cool and the soil used is moisture retentive. The simplest way to know if it is time to water your Sansevieria is to check if the soil is dry. Underwatering would do little harm to your snake plant because of its adaptations, but overwatering is a sure way to kill it.   

This is why we prefer to put our Sansevieria plants on a shelf, situated at a well-lit room where the plants can receive sufficient indirect light. Placing snake plants outdoors where rain can reach them is not ideal. If you’re worried about mold or fungi infestation in your shelves due to the chances of it getting wet while watering the plants, then I suggest you use a shelf made up of a material that won’t allow fungus growth that easily. One example is this marine grade plywood which can survive repeated contact with water, made up of high-quality wood that is cross-laminated, held together by waterproof glue. And while we’re on the topic of making shelves, you might be interested to check out portable bandsaw sawmills and wide belt sanders that can make woodworking much easier.

Soil

Sansevieria grows better in a fast-draining potting mix because snake plants are sensitive to water and are prone to root rot. A sandier mix of potting soil would be ideal to allow drainage. You can buy commercially available all-purpose cactus or succulent potting soil, which is perfect for water-sensitive plants. If you’re worried about soil-borne diseases and carrying harmful microorganisms into your home, you can opt for a soilless potting mix instead. Just make sure that the mix allows proper water drainage.

Temperature

Snakes don’t like the cold, and neither do snake plants. As xerophytes that are native to Africa and thrive in tropical and subtropical areas, it is expected that snake plants would fare terribly at a temperature below 50 ℉, especially in freezing temperatures. The ideal temperature for snake plants is around 70-90 ℉. Make sure to never leave your Sansevieria plants outdoor during winter; they’ll surely die after a few hours of exposure to freezing temperatures.

Of course, this temperature rule extends to the water you use for your snake plants. Even if your plants do not have the ability to nag at you when you give them cold water, you’ll surely see the effects of exposing them to the cold after a few days such as browning and mushy leaves. Take that extra step towards the faucet that can give you warm water, or let that tap run until you get the right temperature, so your snake plant won’t suffer during watering. If you want to remove the shortage of hot water in your home, you might want to install a good hot water recirculating pump system in your home. 

How do I repot a snake plant?

Snake plants grow slowly, as mentioned earlier, but if you expose them to ample sunlight, then they might grow more rapidly. The first thing to consider when repotting is the sturdiness of your pot and the presence of drainage holes. Choose a material that would be sturdy enough to handle strong roots and cramped space. This is because snake plants, unlike other succulents, prefer to be root bound (in simpler words, potted in a cramped space). You’ll only need to repot a snake plant if you notice signs of overgrowth like roots sticking out of the drainage hole.

To repot, fill the new pot with a fresh succulent potting mix or soil up until only a third of the pot isn’t filled. Get your snake plant from the old pot gently by holding a hand on top of the soil and then gently turning the pot upside down. If the plant does not pop out of the pot, tap the sides or water the soil for a bit to loosen it up. Then, place the plant in the freshly filled pot, making sure that it isn’t above the pot’s rim. Adjust the level by adding or removing the soil; situating your plant an inch or two below the rim would be ideal. Lastly, let your plant adjust to the new environment and establish its roots before watering it.   

How do I propagate a snake plant?

Propagating snake plants is pretty easy and straightforward. You can either do division by cutting your plant in half, or you can use leaf cuttings or rhizome cuttings. However, if you want to preserve the variegation of your snake plant, the former will give you your desired result compared to using leaf or rhizome cuttings. 

Propagating via division

It’s important to use a sharp knife when cutting your plant in half for a clean and swift cut. Cut your plant in half right down the middle, and then simply pot each half separately. Do not water or add anything to the newly potted plants; wait for a few days until the plants establish roots.

Propagating leaf cuttings

With a sharp knife or garden shears, cut a leaf from your snake plant. Make sure that your cut is close to the base. Then, cut the leaf into different sections, and mark the part of each section that was closest to the base since this is where the roots will take form. Let the cuttings dry out for a few days.

Next, ready your pot with fresh succulent soil and plant the cuttings, making sure that the marked bottom is the one touching the soil. Let your cuttings grow into a new snake plant in an area with steady indirect sunlight. For leaf cuttings, you do not need to wait for the roots to establish before misting the cuttings. Mist it once a day to keep it moist but not wet. Only water as usual once the plant grows larger, about the same size as the baby plants being sold in gardens.

Propagating rhizome cuttings

This process is essentially the same as using leaf cuttings. Spot a rhizome that already sprouted a leaf (do not use rhizomes that have not sprouted yet), and use a sharp knife to cut it as close as possible to the bottom. Let the cutting dry out for a few days. Then, plant it in a newly filled pot, with the cut facing down the soil. Like leaf cuttings, only mist the newly potted rhizome cuttings. Only water as usual once the plant matures enough to handle the water.

And if you’re someone who makes plant propagation a business, or someone who’d like to make your own fresh produce in your very own apartment, then you might want to know a few more things that can help you in propagating plants. Propagating large amounts of plants with different water and soil requirements can get taxing. Hydroponic farming eliminates the need for soil and allows you to utilize vertical gardens, giving you the freedom to grow your plants in small areas like your apartment in the middle of the city. For someone who owns a plant propagating business, on the other hand, you might want to check out these fuel transfer tanks that you can use to store not only fuel but also water and fertilizer.

18 Best Low-Maintenance Dwarf Shrubs: Low-Growing, Flowering

If you live in any major city in the United States and you don’t own a real estate property there, chances are you’re most likely renting a condominium, apartment, or townhouse. These types of living spaces usually don’t have a lot of space for a garden, so you’re going to have to work with what’s available with the property you have. But if you think that the small garden you have will only feature uninteresting lumps of green dotting a landscape, you probably want to reassess your assumption because there are actually a variety of compact bushes that blooms flowers with assorted colors. Here’s a summary of some of the many shrubs you can choose between, including many of the best low-maintenance dwarf shrubs, categorized by features and characteristics.

Benefits of Shrubs

Versatility would be the most obvious benefit of shrubs; however, they offer more benefits than what meets the eye.

Save Energy – For shade-loving folks, be sure to plant shrubs on the sides of your house where the sun rises and sets (east and west). They provide a cool shade in the morning and in the afternoon when the summer season arrives, but during the fall you’ll enjoy the warmth of the sun’s rays as the leaves drop off. Meanwhile, shrubs that are planted on northern part of your house protects you from the cold winds of the winter.

Food and Shelter for Birds – Your miniature garden will help provide birds roaming the city with shelter during winter and since some shrub are also fruit-bearing, they would be convenient in sustaining birds when food is not abundant. Some shrubs bear colorful flowers that attract hummingbirds and sometimes butterflies as well.

Seasonal Beauty – If you pick the right kinds of shrubs, then your tiny garden could sport multicolored bushes dotting all over the landscape. This may range from blooming pretty flowers that you’ll see in the spring and summer, or multicolored berries in autumn. Alternatively, deciduous shrubs also beautify your garden during the fall and winter seasons when the leaves turn yellow to orange to brown, or their textural bark.

Environmental Benefits – Like most vegetation, shrubs improves air quality by absorbing the carbon dioxide in the air. They also help in keeping the soil fertile and intact, which results in reducing the chances of soil erosion and minimizing stormwater runoff as well as hazardous chemicals running in the waterways.

Reliability – Shrubs are probably among the most reliable plants in the world, because they will thrive under the right soil and climate conditions. In fact, a lot of them will live for many years and beautify your garden.

Types

There are almost a hundred types of shrubs as far as botanical science is concerned, but for this article we will only feature 18 to get you acquainted with them. They are as follows:

  1. Winter Creeper
  2. Japanese Laurel
  3. Photinia
  4. European Box Plant
  5. Hydrangeas
  6. Camellias
  7. Daphne Odora
  8. Fatsia Japonica
  9. Dogwood
  10. Azalea
  11. Rose of Sharon
  12. Persian Shield
  13. Purple Ninebark
  14. Siberian Carpet Cypress
  15. Juniper “Blue Star”
  16. Yew “Densiformis”
  17. Dwarf Norway Spruce
  18. Juniper “Sea Green” and Juniper “Mathot”

How to Grow Shrubs

Select the Location

Take note on which soil is the plant most suited to grow before selecting a planting site. Determine its soil and light requirements. If the shrub will attain maximum growth in full display of the sun and well-drained soil, then avoid planting it in a location that’s different from its needs. It’s common knowledge that shrubs don’t grow tall or big, but consider its growth nonetheless and avoid planting it near potential obstacles exist. Otherwise it may create unnecessary problems in the future that will add to your already busy schedule pruning it.

Dig the Planting Hole

When you dig the planting hole, make sure that it’s 2 – 3 feet wider than the entirety of the root of the shrub, so the roots can spread unhindered to get water and nutrients for the plant. The dig depth should the full length of the root ball. Puncture the soil around the plant with a gardening shovel lightly after planting it to ensure nitrogen absorption of the soil and give proper nutrients to the plant.

Plant the Shrub

Remove the shrub from the pot and inspect the root ball. You may notice that the root growth is compact as it grew in the tight space of the pot. In order to loosen the roots use a sharp tool like the trowel, knife or pruners. Once the roots have been loosened, put it in the hole you dug earlier. When you cover the hole with dirt, make sure that the tip of the trunk connecting to the root ball is at ground level. Firmly but gently press the soil in place while being careful not to pack the soil too tightly.

Water the Shrub

Water the shrub immediately so that the roots will take hold, as it signals the plant that it is in a healthy environment allowing it to grow. Moreover, it helps reduces the shock of the roots while being transplanted from one location to another. Keep under a watchful eye the watering of the new shrubs for about 6 months and make sure it’s moisted, especially during summer or droughts.

Add Mulch

Pour 2 – 3 inches of mulch creating a layer surrounding the base of the shrub. The mulch will be beneficial to the plant as it helps keep moisture in the ground and ward off weeds. Just don’t pour them directly at the base of the trunk because they might do more harm than good condensing water where it should not be.

Are you enjoying this article so far? Be sure to also read our article on marine grade plywood and that on hydroponic farming.

Small Evergreen Shrubs

Winter Heath (Erica carnea)

It’s been reported by many first time gardening enthusiasts that they are very impressed with this shrub’s unusual blooming period. The reason why this shrub is called winter heath is (you guessed it) because it blooms in the winter, which is completely opposite to typical shrubs. It may even bloom for about 6 months or more under the right climate conditions. Typically, this shrub grows to a height of roughly 1 feet and spreads symmetrically with its height, or sometimes twice it, and it thrives in slopes and rock gardens.

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia ‘Minuet’)

If you’ve ever walked through the New England woods in summer, then you must’ve have already seen this shrub. It’s actually Connecticut’s state flower. The wild laurel bushes found in the forest normally grow large with thick foliage, but the minuet version is a dwarf shrub that will grow to no more than 3 feet in height. Also this dwarf shrub has one more advantage compared to its forest cousins – it boasts more colorful flowers. Prune the bush periodically after each blooming season to keep it looking full and bushy.

Blue Star Juniper (Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’)

This plant gets so big because it grows thick foliage. If you want to have blue spruce trees in your garden but you need to adjust to the small places, choose the blue star juniper. This dwarf shrub has a mean growth of 1 – 3 feet tall with equally dimension spread. You should plant it next to bushes with golden foliage as its short blue-green needles create a perfect color contrast. You can also create a ground cover if you plant them enmasse.

‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ (Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’)

The euonymus is a genus of the evergreen family of shrubs that has unique leaf variegation. For this reason it is called ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ as it possesses the bicolored feature in its leaves. Two-thirds of its leaves sport the emerald color on them, while their edges are gold colored. This bush is also a dwarf and its maximum height is 2 feet high with a 2 – 4-foot spread. This plant is actually very resilient and can grow on almost any environment, which also makes it a potentially invasive bush type. But as long as you keep pruning it, you can hold it at bay.

Want to make a nice fence that surrounds those fast-growing, dappled willow shrubs you are planting? The right 3 point post hole digger can help you get the job done. A fence is also a great way to add some privacy around your property!

Small Flowering Bushes

Flare Hydrangea

This compact flowering perennial shrub is excellent for small places or gardens as their maximum growth height is just 2 or 3 feet with an equally wide spread. Also the chances of any bud freeze are low because panicle hydrangeas flower on new wood. The flare hydrangea has a unique cone-shaped flower that initially blooms white, but turns bright red-pink when they age. Preferably you plant them in an area where they can get 4 – 6 hours of sunlight daily, so they’ll grow thick foliage and bloom beautiful flowers every season.

Nightglow Diervilla

This tiny compact cultivar shrub belongs in the honeysuckle is very useful in your garden. The leaves of the nightglow diervilla is deep burgundy in color and will grow to no more than 3 feet tall and wide, which will save you time to do any pruning. You may notice that the flowers of this shrub is in the shape of a trumpet with a canary-yellow shade, and they mostly bloom throughout the spring and summer as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds come to suck the nectar from these clusters. The nightglow bush requires at least 6 hours of sunlight and it’s quite resilient during winter – it can survive at temperatures of up to – 30 °F.

Bella Bellissima Potentilla

Its bright pinkish-red colored flowers are one the most attractive features of the bella bellissima potentilla. The potentilla shrub helps espouse all kinds of beneficial insects and gardeners can also help attract good bugs through it without additional paraphernalia. This shrub will grow at a maximum height of 2 – 3 feet tall with similar dimensions to its width and will regularly blossom in both spring and summer seasons. Shearing and deadheading are optional as it can hamper continuous blooming of the plant. Amazingly this shrub can withstand up to – 50 °F temperatures during winter, so there’s no need to worry about it dying throughout the 4 seasons each year.

Rainbow Fizz Spirea

The botanist that gave this shrub its name, rainbow fizz, is spot on when describing the mixture of copper, yellow, and red foliage of this plant. Although this shrub is a bit taller than the other shrubs in this article, it’s still the smallest in the spirea family of shrubs. You’ll see clusters of pinkish-red colored flower buds bloom to a fuzzy pink hue during summer.

Peach Lemonade Rose

The light multi-colored range of the flowers of the peach lemonade rose will captivate anyone who loves gardening in an instant! The flowers bear a sunny yellow color at the beginning of the blooming season, then they turn light pink once they age. If you’ve planted these across your garden, then you should have a breathtaking view on your garden and it will accentuate the entire landscaping of the area as well. This shrub will grow shy short of 3 feet tall which is perfect for your miniature garden.

Low-Growing Bushes that Stays Small

Franklin’s Gem Boxwood

Boxwood shrubs are known as the most favored shrub in evergreens due to the following reasons – they’re low-maintenance, deer-resistant, insect resistant, accentuates your garden with colors all year round and they can be trimmed to form different shapes and sizes. One of the best examples of boxwood bush is Franklin’s Gem. It’s essentially a dwarf shrub that grows to a maximum height of 2 feet and is typically rounded. If you occasionally prune it, the Franklin’s Gem Boxwood shrub elevates any landscape to a fresh and sophisticated look.

Magic Carpet Spirea

As the name suggests, this shrub enhances your garden with pink flowers and lime green leaves. Freshly grown foliage also has a red hue but then turns into vibrant gold at maturity. If you plant them in soil with black mulch their growth is unhampered. You’ll have two perfectly good reasons why you need to include this in your garden – its vibrant gold leaves and pretty pink flowers. t’s max growth height reaches about 1.5 – 2 feet and if planted in rows, then you’ll have your own personal enchanted garden.

Dwarf Norway Spruce

Tony Gullo, the famous professional landscaping 3D designer is said to be fond of using the dwarf Norway spruce in his designs. He stated that the reason why he likes them is because they’re limited to growing up to 3 feet in height, they have a nice rounded shape and they’re resilient. This shrub should be in your list of garden itineraries as it adds superb beauty to the surrounding all year round.

Pink Elf French Hydrangea

Planting this elf French hydrangea in shady places in your garden would be a sensible choice. At only 1 and 1/2 feet max height and compact size this shrub will make the landscape appear very neat. The pink elf French hydrangea’s flowers are shaped like a mophead and have a rich vibrant rose-pink color that lasts a long time after it blooms. Gardeners love this shrub because it’s low maintenance and is excellent when used as cut flowers.

Low-Maintenance Shrubs

English Lavender

Four out of five photographers choose to do photo shoots with their models with a field full of English lavender in the background, or sometimes they just take photos of the field itself. This Mediterranean herb has one of the most beautiful blooming purple flowers and a sweet scent that’s used to make perfumes. Not only will you add beauty to your garden, but you can also make them as a fragrant hedge and perhaps impress people who walk past it.

Butterfly Bush

If you prune the butterfly bush by late August, then it should have enough time to grow new branches and bloom by fall, as well as not die off in winter. Once their roots will take hold in your garden, they basically maintain themselves freeing up your schedule for gardening. You’ll absolutely love this shrub in your garden because when they bloom they attract all types of butterflies adding beautiful colors to your already impressive collection of shrubs and other plants.

Fringe Tree

You’ll appreciate the beauty of this bush during late spring to early summer, as it blooms with white, fringe-like flowers – then it bears bluish-black fruits that birds love. They’re even lovelier during fall with their leaves shift from bright shades of green to golden yellow. This tree is able to withstand air pollution, has no pests and requires no pruning. The only downside to this tree is that it grows from 12 – 20 feet, so you may need to choose a specific location in your garden to plant it, especially if you only have a small one at home.

Coral Bells

When they grow to maturity they look strikingly similar to coral reefs in the sea, thus the name. These plants are amenable whether in full sunlight or shady parts of your garden, and they bring a multitude of colors to beautify your garden. You can get creative with your photographs and use them as a background to your photos, or invite guests over and impress them with your plant collection. They’re frequently deer resistant and always carefree/ Coral bells are deer-resistant and requires low to zero maintenance.

Low Growing Bushes for the Front of the House

Anglo-Japanese Yew

This plant variety of the yew family is an ideal dwarf shrub for your garden with thick foliage that looks like green glossy needles. This bush has a maximum growth height of 3 – 4 feet tall. The densiformis genus of the yew is great for the shady areas in your garden. The Anglo-Japanese yew is perfect for enhancing your house foundations, because it’s low-maintenance, drought-tolerant, and evergreen leaves. The best place to plant this shrub is in front of your house and it can thrive in full sunlight, partial shade or fully shaded areas.

English Yew

Also great for foundations this dwarf shrub has a wide spreading growth, which is great for your tiny garden. The dwarf version of the English yew grows from 2 – 4 feet tall.

Rhododendron ‘April Rose’

The April rose is one of the most cold-resistant semi-dwarf shrubs known to botany. Its broad green leaves and beautiful purple flowers will be a great addition to your shrub and plant collection in your small home garden. Growing from 3 – 4 feet tall it makes this bush an excellent perimeter foliage for your garden.

Thuja occidentalis ‘Fire Chief’

This dwarf shrub looks like a tiny Christmas tree under the snow as it has a dense feathery foliage. Its leaves turn from dark green to bright yellow to red during the fall season. If you’re looking to fill your garden with foundation plantings, low hedges, or borders, then you should opt for this dwarf arborvitae shrub. The fire chief has a max growth height at about 3 – 4 feet high.

Small Shrubs for Full Sun

Sonic Bloom Pink Weigela

This shrub has some impressive tricks up its sleeves – it keeps blooming for almost 2/3 of the year! Its pink flowers attract hummingbirds across vast distances, so expect to see them a lot as your weigela puts up a stunning flower show. The sonic boom pink weigela grows from 4 – 5 feet tall at maturity and it also spreads at the same width.

Wine and Roses Weigela

Perhaps nothing else will excite garden enthusiasts than watching a floral fireworks in their garden with the wine and roses weigela. Its rosy tube-like flowers highlights the bush during late spring, attracting hummingbirds and other insects that want to suck the nectars in them. The contrast between the dark green leaves and bright pink flowers is very pleasing to the eyes and you’ll be happy to know that this shrub blooms irregularly throughout the summer season. Prune the bush after each bloom to keep it blossoming.

Mock Orange

To give your garden a different appeal, why not go for the orange blossoms scent? That’s exactly what the mock orange shrub does when it blooms in late spring to early summer – it releases a fragrance that smells a lot like oranges. Choose mock orange varieties that have single or double flowers and plant them along the walkway or patio, so you could appreciate the fragrance each time you visit your garden.

Midnight Wine Weigela

A very tiny weigela shrub but is excellent for your garden nevertheless. It grows to about 10 – 12 inches tall at maturity with a foliage spread at 18 – 24 inches wide, it is the smallest of the weigela varieties. It’s also the best choice for bedding plants, edging paths, or containers. Its pink flower buds will bloom starting early to late spring.

While technically not a low-maintenance, dwarf shrub, if you want another shrub that has some beautiful yellow flowers, we recommend the Forsythia, which will also provide slightly more privacy. The dappled willow is another fast-growing shrub that does well in full sun!

Shrubs with Small White Fragrant Flowers

Star Jasmine

The star jasmine belongs to the evergreen family of shrubs that blooms fragrant white flowers in summer and climbs wood trees, walls and fences.

Anne Russell Viburnum

The viburnum’s clusters of pink flowers will remind you of a wedding day bouquet of the bride. This compact deciduous shrub not only has beautiful flowers to display but they also have a sweet scent.

Christmas Box

Another shrub with strong fragrant white flowers that blooms during winter is the Christmas box shrub. You can opt to plant it in a small container and place it by your window to catch that fresh scent every morning.

‘Aztec Pearl’

Also goes by the name Mexican Orange Blossom, the Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’ boast exuberant white flowers that bloom in late spring.

Osmanthus Burkwoodii

A dwarf shrub perfect for the walkways and entrances to your garden. The Burkwood Osmanthus provides an amazing view with its high contrast of colors between its deep green leaves and tiny white fragrant flowers.

Daphne Pink

The daphne is a typical deciduous (leaf-shedding) shrub that blooms in early spring with purple-pink flowers that is also fragrant. However, you may want to be cautious when getting in close to smell the flowers because they’re toxic.

Sensation Lilac

If you want an extravagant floral display and if you have enough space in your landscape, then you definitely should plant this shrub in your garden! The white-edged, single bloom cluster purple flower array opens in mid-spring is mesmerizing. This shrub is not a dwarf but grows from 8 – 10 feet tall and spreads to about 8 – 12 feet wide as well.

Small Shrubs for Part Shade

Mountain Laurel

The mountain laurel’s flowers resemble elegant China wares which are clustered together contrasting its evergreen leaves. Its beautiful flowers blooms during late spring and if you want this shrub to bloom regularly in its season, then prune it after each bloom and use acid-enhanced fertilizer in order for it to thrive.

Japanese Rose

An array of colorful flowers adorn this tiny bush ranging from yellow, purple, pink and orange – it will drive you bonkers when you see them bloom. The Japanese rose is one of the most shade-tolerant shrubs you can find and it may also open its flowers several times a year, which means you’ll be seeing a lot of those colorful and lovely flowers.

Climbing Hydrangea

Climbing hydrangeas are actually vines and not shrubs; however, you can control their spread and make them look like shrubs. When they get enough sunlight they yield great floral displays, but they’re also tolerant to shaded areas.

Carol Mackie Daphne

Giving the carol Mackie daphne enough sunlight will enhance their growth and allow for consistent floral blooms each season. The daphne’s flowers have sweet aromatic smell that makes it very pleasing to stand next to it when they’re at full bloom. Keep in mind not to plant this shrub in acidic soil as it will choke them.

Full-Shade Bushes

Leatherleaf Arrowwood

In case you’re looking for a shrub that has a high tolerance to deep shaded areas, then you ought to plant the leatherleaf arrowwood in your garden. Their attractive evergreen foliage and clustered white flowers makes them attractive on cloudy days.

Inkberry

While this shrub produces flowers in small amounts and rarely blooms, its evergreen leaves are enough reason to grow them in your garden. The inkberry also goes by other names such as dye-leaves, gallberry and evergreen winterberry and is a native species of holly of the Eastern and Southern United States.

Japanese Andromeda

As far as having attractive flowers is concerned the Japanese Andromeda has got it in spades. They’re very easy to maintain as they thrive in fully shaded areas plus they can survive in droughts too!

Japanese Holly

This shrub is usually grown for ornamental purposes due to its dense, attractive, evergreen foliage. You may think that this plant is unattractive because it’s not producing any flowers, but it’s one of those plants that make great landscaping. The Japanese holly is native to eastern China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

Euonymus Low-Growing Shrubs

Eastern Wahoo

The eastern wahoo resembles the fire tree with its beautiful scarlet-red fruits that overshadows its leaves. Native to North America this shrub can grow up to 20 feet tall and spread its foliage 25 feet wide.

‘Coloratus’ Wintercreeper

A perfect groundcover shrub that features deep green leaves during spring and summer, but changes to pink/rose color in fall. The Euonymus fortunei ‘Coloratus’ is a must in your list of shrubs for your garden.

Burning Bush

It’s safe to say that the person who named this shrub may have thought about the story of Moses in the Bible, because during the fall season this shrub looks like a “burning bush” from some distance away. The reason for this is due to its leaves turning bold flame red and it also produces reddish-purple berries that birds love. It’s not a dwarf shrub as it can grow up to 20 feet tall and spread up to 10 feet wide.

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