Have you had your first Pumpkin Spice Latte yet? Are you bravely trying to ignore the candy bowls sitting atop almost every desk at the office? Is everyone talking about costumes? Yes, it’s almost Halloween!

Black Magic Taro Elephant Ear

It’s one of our most favorite times of the year, and the kick off to the holiday season.

Of course, Halloween is known for its darker color palate. Admittedly, when you think about plants, you usually think light and bright. But, we’ve assembled a collection of plants in perfect step with the season. Come, explore this Dark Side collection that is ……frighteningly fabulous. Witch one to choose?

Black Magic Taro Elephant Ear-

The Elephant Ear is known for its dramatic appearance, but the Black Magic takes it to another level. The heart-shaped dark purple leaves are accented with an underside of dark veins. See more >>

Raven ZZ-

The Raven ZZ is a dark twist on the common ZZ plant. This easy care beauty shows off dark purple and black shiny leaves that cast a spell over any empty corner. See More >>

Spider Plant

Black Coral Snake Plant-

One of the darkest Snake Plants you’ll see, the dark stripes of the Black Coral are truly unique. Best treat of all? They thrive in low light conditions, and are almost maintenance free. See more >>

Spider Plant-

Spiders and Halloween – they go together like Tricks and Treats. This Spider Plant’s dark and light green hues are a spirited addition to a hanging basket. See more >>

Rubber Burgundy Plant-

The black and purple leaves of this Rubber plant are a lovely apparition at Halloween, and year-round. See more >>

Moonlight Philodendron-

In the darkness of a Halloween night, the bright green leaves of this Philodendron shine so brightly, some say they glow like the moon. See more >>

Not only are these picks spooktacular for Halloween, you’ll enjoy them all year long. They’re a perfect accent in any décor, and, ahem….a great gift for your mummy. Happy Halloween and Happy Planting!

Try gardening to boost your mood!

Getting through the winter months may seem like a difficult task at times, with dry air and short days, but it is about to get better!

“Seasonal depression is a medical condition that affects more than half a million of Americans every winter.”

I bet you’ve heard of the “winter blues” before. I sure have, as many of the people I encounter every day have run away from the northern states for good or do so every winter (the so-called “snowbirds”). It is not only for the inconvenience of shoveling snow or physical problems that get worse in the cold.

Seasonal depression is a medical condition that affects more than half a million of Americans every winter. It seems to be related to the less availability of sunlight, which alters the mechanisms that regulate mood, sleep and hormones in our bodies, leading to tiredness, sadness, weight gain, lack of motivation, among other symptoms. As other types of depression, this disorder is treated by means of pharmacological and lifestyle therapies that are initiated and guided by medical professionals.

Recently, horticulture has been introduced as an activity that may be used as a form of therapy, as it has shown to provide a mindfulness experience to those who practice it. Think about it. From the task of checking every single plant to determine if they need watering, to the meticulousness of pruning, gardening requires a good amount of concentration, responsibility and dedication. It is an activity that provides with the rewarding experience of seeing the plant thrive. Is an activity that puts you closer to light and even outdoors. It gives you a boost of confidence as you admire the fruit of your efforts and you learn a new skill. It beautifies the space around you and purifies the air you breathe. And now, in the era of social media, it connects you with people who share the same interest. Sounds like an all-around fantastic mood booster, doesn’t it?

It does! And there has been a lot of research in this area.

“Nature contact and mood benefits: contact duration and mood type”

Let’s look for example at the study published last year in the Journal of Positive Psychology “Nature contact and mood benefits: contact duration and mood type”. In this study, the researchers compared two group of students, one who sat in an urban park for just 5 minutes and another who sat in a windowless lab. The first group showed significant increases in positive emotions compared to the second group.

Another example was the 2014 study conducted in University of Exeter Medical School in England which found that moving to greener areas was an immediate mood booster. This was similarly proven in a study from Stanford University in which participants who walked for 90 minutes through a green park on campus, versus strolling next to a loud nearby highway, exhibited “quieter” brains and were less focused on negative aspects of their lives, compared to how they felt before the walk. This was also an almost immediate benefit of exposure to nature.

And the benefits go beyond mental health.

“greenspace exposure provides a wide range of health benefits…”

A study with the strongest level of evidence have been able to combine the findings of smaller research papers into a one, big conclusion: greenspace exposure provides a wide range of health benefits, with statistically significant reductions in blood pressure, heart rate, production of cortisol, development of diabetes and even a reduction in all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

There are also studies that show that having a plant in a room, whether it is at home, at work or even hospitals, improves stress, anxiety and even tolerance to pain. Even nature pictures promote short term memory, as concluded in a 2016 study which stated, “among a growing number of interventions, nature exposure offers a quick, inexpensive, and enjoyable means to provide a temporary boost in executive attention” in older population.

In a world that has become as fast-paced as ever, it is easy to miss the opportunity to receive all the benefits that nature has to offer. What all these studies prove, is that it doesn’t matter how little or how many plants you have around you. Even small doses of green will make you healthier, happier and more productive.

My invitation is to bring greenery into your home as the cold months approach. You may find that you outlook of live may improve significantly by caring for plants.

Take a quick look at your porch or patio.

Wouldn’t a new container arrangement really add some impact out there?

Tired and overgrown container arrangement.

It’s not hard to spruce up the area, but maybe you’ve been a bit worried about your success. Perhaps past experiences have made you doubt your green thumb? Fear not! Even if you’re a plant newbie, we’ve got you covered. Read on….

When plotting out a new arrangement, whether it is to feature flowering plants or just greenery, it’s important to remember there is no right or wrong plant combination. Your new arrangement should reflect your personal preferences and style. Here are six simple steps to create your own lush and lovely container arrangement.

  1. Choose a Pot that Inspires YOU

Start simple. With endless pottery options in a wide range of shapes and sizes, you’re sure to find a pot that fits your space and your vision. Be sure to choose a planter with a bottom drainage hole. This will help prevent overwatering.

  1. Plan with Bold Color

When developing a flower-filled planter, think color…and don’t be afraid of going bold. You may want to think about the season, and pick a complementary color scheme.

  1. Thrill, Fill, & Spill

This container has a thriller, spiller, and filler

With your color palette in mind, it’s time to determine the perfect mix for your planter. Just remember these three little words: Thriller, Spiller and Filler.

  • Thriller: This should be your container’s main attraction. The perfect plant should stand tall in the back/center of your planter. It is best to pick your “Thriller” first and build around it. Examples of thrillers: Egyptian Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) or Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’).
  • Spiller: Here we’re referring to a trailing plant that spills over your container as it grows. Your Spiller can be boldly colored, like a Sweet Potato Vine.
  • Filler: Time to fill in. Adding plants around your “Thriller” and “Spiller” allows you to fill up your container and visually tie your arrangement together. Add simple drops of color through flowering plants, or even add something edible, like Rosemary. Examples of fillers: Coleus, Pentas, and, Lantana.

(*When choosing your Thriller, Spiller and Filler, make sure to consider what lighting conditions your container will receive. Will the spot receive full sun? Partial shade? Varying light conditions must be considered as you pick your plants.)

  1. Time to Plant

Mockup of how you want to arrange your plants before unpotting

After purchasing your plants, it’s time to assemble. Make sure you’ve chosen a high quality, organic soil, such as our PlantVine Organic Potting Soil. The right soil is crucial to ensure the plant receives proper nutrients and will have good drainage.

  • Step 1: Fill the planter halfway with soil. (Remember you’ll be adding multiple plants to your pot, so don’t overfill.)
  • Step 2: Before removing your plants from their original containers, do a mockup of how you want to arrange your plants. Simply place the plants inside the container to determine your “layout.”
  • Step 3: After deciding upon your preferred planting arrangement, it’s time to plant! We always suggest starting with the main attraction (Thriller) first, and then build around it. When you first “unpot” your plant, make sure to shake away the excess soil to reveal the roots. Then place the plant in the new container. As you fill everything in, you may decide you’ve purchased more plants than you actually needed. No worries, this happens all the time. Think how lovely that “extra” plant will look on its own in another spot.
  • Step 4: Once you’re happy with the placement, add more organic soil to the container to firmly pack in your arrangement.
  1. Some Advice on Watering

Click here for a step by step guide on essential watering tips

After you’re done arranging, remove any excess soil. Then, water each plant to begin establishing the plant in its new container. Developing a healthy watering schedule is key to the longevity of your arrangement. For a step by step guide on essential watering tips, Click Here >>

  1. Enjoy!

As you admire your gorgeous new planter, we’d love to see your new creation and share it with our community of plant lovers. Get out that iPhone and snap a few. Please tag us on social media @plantvine. Congrats, you are on your way being a Green Thumb Legend!

(Please note: As your arrangement establishes itself, it is not unusual to experience some plant loss. Should this occur, simply remove the dead plant and replace it with something fresh and new.)

4 Container Arrangement Care Tips to Live By:

Container gardening can be incredibly rewarding, as it showcases your creativity and your signature style. Flower-filled containers are a beautiful way to accent a porch, patio or walkway.

Creating a container garden can be relatively simple – and as time passes, easy to maintain. Here are some tips to ensure your arrangement keeps looking its loveliest.

The process of moving the plant’s foliage aside to water

Watering:

It’s no surprise that watering is the crucial element to keep your plants thriving. Assess your plants’ moisture needs, factor in the climate (Warm? Cold?), and set up a consistent watering schedule. Do not let the soil dry out. Before you water, simply stick your finger into the soil. If it feels wet, you may want to delay watering. If the soil feels dry, water away! (To prevent overwatering, make sure you’ve selected a container with a drain hole at the bottom.)

When watering a container arrangement, it’s important to water each plant individually. By doing so, you’re ensuring each plant will get the water it needs. To start the watering process, gently move each plant’s foliage aside, and position the watering can’s spout directly above soil that holds the plant you’re watering. Watering the top of the plants will not evenly distribute the water. Water slowly, ensuring the water won’t roll off the top, and that the soil can evenly absorb the liquid. Repeat this step for each plant in the container.

Pruning:

Pruning your arrangement stimulates new growth and causes the plants to look fuller. Pruning also makes an unkempt arrangement look fresh again. Make sure to prune branches at the plant’s base. This method makes your plants look better, and it is more beneficial for them.

PlantVine’s Organic Outdoor Potting Mix in a pot

Fertilizing:

Choosing when to fertilize can be tricky. The right time depends on how nutrient-rich your soil is. If you use our PlantVine Organic Outdoor Potting Mix, you should start the fertilization process one month after planting. If you’re using a liquid fertilizer,( like a fish emulsion/seaweed blend), apply monthly to ensure your arrangement gets the nutrition it needs.

If you’ve used a different type of potting soil, check to see if the soil already has fertilizer in it. Overfertilizing can damage plants and cause chemical run-off.

Replacing:

Sad but true: sometimes a plant dies. Please don’t get discouraged if one of the plants in your arrangement doesn’t make it. This happens all the time to gardeners at every skill level. If one of the plants in your container dies, simply remove it and replace it with another. Arrangements are meant to be refreshed from time to time.