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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Don't Miss Chihuly!

     The Chihuly glass exhibit now at the Denver Botanic Gardens is about half-way through its five-month Denver stay.  If you haven't seen it yet at least once, don't put it off.  This stunning exhibit should not be missed!

Glass + Gardens = Amazing!

     The work of international glass artist Dale Chihuly is beautiful in its own right.  But Chihuly's meticulous placement of the pieces throughout the gardens at D.B.G. turns the plants and the glass into a sprawling 24-acre work of art.  Chihuly says he wants his glass sculptures to be organic, as if they're as much alive as         the plants surrounding them.  He's a master at doing just that.

Light and Time of Day

     People who've seen the Chihuly exhibit more than once say the sculptures almost seem to morph into different forms, depending on the light....  looking one way in the morning, a different way in the afternoon.  And on most  dates in November,  the Denver Botanic Gardens has scheduled night viewings, with special lights accenting the flowing colors and curves of the glass pieces. 

Mark you Calendar

     The Chihuly show will be at the Botanic Gardens until November 30th.    Like any great exhibit, the crowds will no doubt swell as that closing date approaches.  I'd urge you to make a point now to plan a visit to the Gardens.  Make it a priority on your "acitivites" list.... maybe something special when friends or families get together.  Or simply treat yourself to this amazing display.  It's fantasy and art and the science of glass all rolled into one amazing





Sunday, March 2, 2014

Being your houseplants' best friend, Part Two

     In my last blog, we looked at how to be your houseplants' best friend.... specifically, in terms of watering, drainage and re-potting.  High time we looked at the notion of the "right" light for houseplants.  Light can dramatically affect your plants' overall health.  But how do we know what light is "right?"

Too much?  Too little?  

     At Tagawas, our Houseplant Department is always ready to help you choose the best plant for home or office.  One of the first questions that Dee  (our houseplant queen) or her staff will ask you is about the light your new plant will be getting..

     Feel free to ask for one of Dee's "Houseplant Instruction" tip sheets.  Here's how she describes the different types of light.

     High light -- full direct sunlight for three to six hours
     Bright light -- indirect sunlight for six to eight hours
     Medium light -- full morning sun for two to four hours or
     bright indirect light for four to six hours.
     Low light -- diffused indirect sunlight for more than three
     to four hours
     No light -- diffused indirect light for three hours or less

 Save the labels!

     I always urge people to save the labels and descriptive tags that come with their plants, whether they plan to grow them indoors or out.  There's a library of information on those tags, not the least of which is the name of the plant.  Knowing specifically which plant you have can be a huge help in diagnosing problems.

     The labels will also tell you how much light a plant requires.
Plants that don't get enough light will tend to stretch.... to get leggy and unattractive.  They're reaching out, struggling to get more light.  Until their lighting situation improves, those plants can't thrive.

     Plants that get too much light can show signs of sunburn... light brown papery patches that will never "heal."

Want flowers?

    With a very few exceptions, houseplants that flower need higher light conditions before they can produce their blossoms.  One big exception, a plant well worth having, is a "Peace Lily."  It's happy with moderate to lower-light conditions, and will give you elegant milky-white flowers without ever getting any direct sun.

     A lot of other flowering plants will do very well with a few hours of bright, morning sun.  Sunlight early in the day can be enough to feed many plants flowering needs without burning their leaves.

     Be careful putting plants in a south- or west-facing window when the sunlight can be especially intense, especially in the winter.

     Dee's tip sheet on "Houseplant Instructions" includes lists of dozens of plants that are suitable for differing light conditions from high light to no light.

     Growing the right houseplants in the right place is easy, with a little help from Tagawas!




Monday, January 6, 2014

Being Your Houseplants' Best Friend, Part One

     I've certainly killed my fair share of houseplants.  Who hasn't?  But I still refuse to accept  the notion that some people just have "black thumbs," and are beyond help.  Not so! Help is waiting for you right here at Tagawa's!

     You don't have to resort to plastic to have healthy (looking) houseplants.  Sure, there are some plants that qualify as "fussy."  But there are far more houseplants that will thrive by following a few basic care guidelines. 

     Let's take those guidelines one at a time.  Over the next few weeks, we'll look at watering, soil and repotting, light requirements, temperature and humidity, fertilizing, pests and summer care for winter health.  Here we go.

Houseplant Rule #1:  Mind your watering!

     Dee is the supervisor of Tagawa's Indoor Plant department.  If you ask her about the most common cause of houseplant death, you'll always get the same answer:  overwatering!  She cites a time many (many!) years ago when she bought a few dozen houseplants, and then proceeded to kill them all because she watered them when it was convenient for her, not necessarily when  the plants needed it. 

     Healthy plants need healthy roots.  Plants that routinely get more water than they can use will get root rot.  The constantly-moist soil is simply an invitation for disease.  Bottom line:  water your houseplants only when the soil has begun to dry out.  And remember that light levels can dramatically effect how much water your plants will need.  We'll talk in detail about plants' light requirements in the next blog.   

      Tagawa's has moisture meters that can help you understand how quickly (or slowly) your plants take up water.  It's impossible to say that thus-and-such plant will use X amount of water in a given period of time.  It depends on where the plant is in your home or office, how dry the air there is, and how large the plant and its root system are, among other factors. 

     A helpful tip from Dee:   Most plants do well if you allow the soil in the top one-third of the pot to dry out before watering again..  Then, make sure you water thoroughly, until water comes out the bottom of the pot. (That's a not-so-subtle hint that you should always grow your houseplants in containers that have drainage.)  Never leave the pot sitting in excess water. 

Houseplant Rule #2:  Good soil and good drainage are vital!

     Even if you think your garden soil is terrific (does anyone around here think their soil is terrific?), don't use that soil for your houseplants.  The most basic T.L.C. for houseplants includes using a good, fresh commercial potting mix that drains well. 

     Don't skimp!  Buy the best soil you can afford.  Tagawa's has lots of good choices.  Dee and our expert houseplant staff will be happy to help you pick the one that's best for you. 

     It's in the nature of organic matter to decompose... to break down over time.  That means the "fluffiness" of the soil will decrease.  It will become finer and more compact and won't drain nearly as well as when it was fresh.  The beneficial little pockets that once held bits of water and soil will disappear.  Not a welcoming place for roots....

Houseplant Rule #3:  Don't repot too soon  

     A lot of times, when a plant isn't doing well, people assume that repotting it, and increasing the pot size, will help.  That could be a bad assumption.

     Dee's best advice is to investigate first.  Knock the plant out of it's pot.  If roots have filled half or more of the pot, then you can usually move the plant to a slightly larger pot... maybe two inches larger. 

     If you jump to a much larger pot, the outer rim of the new soil won't have any roots actively working in that area.  The soil will stay too moist too long.... just what several plant diseases love to call home. 

More help awaits at Tagawa's

     Our good folks in Houseplants have lots of plant lists and care guides to help you overcome any sense of having a "black thumb."  And check back on my blog soon.  Lots more tips coming on "Being Your Houseplants' Best Friend."