How to Create an Indoor Succulent Container Garden

An indoor succulent container garden can bring instant beauty to your home or office. And, you don’t need a green thumb to achieve success with this gardening project – creating a beautiful display is easy, and the plants don’t need much ongoing care.

 

Ready to get started? Follow these steps, and you’ll have a gorgeous, easy-care indoor succulent garden in almost no time.

Succulent container gardening

succulent plants

Select a Variety of Succulents

 

To begin, head to your local garden center and choose an assortment of succulents with different textures, shapes, colors and heights. You really can’t go wrong by selecting what you like, but make sure the plants are healthy – look for plump, tender leaves and avoid any succulents that look leggy.

 

Gather the Necessary Gardening Supplies

 

While you’re at the garden center, grab up all of the other supplies for creating an indoor succulent container garden. You’ll need:

 

  • A planter that’s at least three inches deep
  • Pea gravel for drainage and, if you like, for a decorative touch
  • Fast-draining garden soil, such as cactus growing medium

 

Assemble the Container Garden

 

Once you have your plants and gardening supplies, you can create your indoor succulent garden. Here’s what to do:

 

  1. Cover the bottom of your planter with a layer of pea gravel.
  2. Add garden soil until the container is about three-fourths full.
  3. Arrange the succulents however you like, but make sure they have enough space to allow for future growth.
  4. Use more garden soil to fill around the plants and cover their roots. If you want, add pea gravel for a decorative finish.
  5. Water the container garden and place it in a sunny indoor spot.

 

Ongoing Care for an Indoor Succulent Container Garden

 

Succulents prefer bright, direct light, and they need at least four hours of sunshine every day. If the container garden isn’t in a good location, you’ll know it – you’ll see the plants growing stringy as they reach out toward the light.

 

An indoor succulent container garden doesn’t need watering very often. You can tell when the plants need a drink by touching their lower leaves. If they seem flat and deflated, it’s time to water. You can also check for moisture in the same way you’d check a cake to see if it’s fully baked. Simply insert a chopstick or bamboo skewer into the soil, pull it out and look for clinging crumbs – if it’s completely clean, the succulents are thirsty.

 

To feed your indoor succulents and keep them growing healthy and beautiful, you can fertilize between the months of March and September. Ask the staff at your local garden center for advice on which fertilizer to use and how often to apply it.

 

For more easy indoor gardening ideas and fun outdoor landscape projects ideal for northern Utah, visit Millcreek Gardens.

 

As Salt Lake City’s favorite garden center since 1955, Millcreek Gardens is the go-to source for practical advice and all the gardening supplies you need to complete any plant project. For more tips on creating an indoor succulent container garden, stop by and talk to the friendly Millcreek Gardens staff today.

Garden Center Guide to Pruning Flowering Shrubs

You can find all the supplies you need for pruning flowering shrubs at your local garden center – but is taking the time to prune really all that important?

 

Actually, pruning is one gardening task you shouldn’t skip. While many shrubs can turn out well without regular attention, flowering varieties need to be pruned to stay at their best.

 

However, proper technique and timing are essential when pruning flowering shrubs. For more on why to prune – and tips on when and how to get the job done right – read the following garden center guide.

 

Garden center guide for pruning flowering shrubs

How Pruning Helps Flowering Shrubs

 

With proper pruning, shrubs have a greater chance of reaching their full potential. When you prune, the plants enjoy several benefits, including:

 

  • Larger blooms
  • More frequent blooming
  • Improved health and growth
  • Decreased risk of pests and disease

 

Pruning can also rejuvenate plants that are overgrown or no longer flowering. And, of course, pruning works to give shrubs a more attractive, shapely appearance.

 

When to Prune Flowering Shrubs

 

Timing makes a difference when pruning shrubs. Prune at the wrong time, and you could end up with no flowers until the following year.

 

Every variety has unique needs, so it’s a good idea to ask your local garden center for guidelines on when to prune the specific types of flowering shrubs you own. As a rule of thumb, however:

 

  • Prune spring-blooming shrubs after their flowers have withered and died
  • Prune summer- and fall-blooming shrubs in late winter or early spring

 

When pruning is necessary for the purpose of removing dead, diseased or damaged branches, it can be completed at any time.

 

How to Properly Prune Flowering Shrubs

 

Before you begin pruning, you need the right tools for the job at hand. Depending upon the size and height of the branches, the task may require a hand pruner, lopping shears or a pole pruner – you can find all three tools at your local garden center.

 

If you already own the right pruning tools, make sure they’re clean and sharp before you start. And, if you need to prune any diseased or pest-infested branches, sanitize the tools between cuts to prevent the problem from affecting other parts of the plant.

 

When you’re ready to prune, the outcome you want to achieve will determine your approach:

 

  • To encourage fuller flowering, pinch back the growth at the branch tips
  • For denser interior growth, cut the branches back to just above a lateral bud
  • To open up the shrub, make thinning cuts to the interior branches

 

Do you have questions about pruning flowering shrubs? Stop by your favorite local garden center – in northern Utah, that’s Millcreek Gardens – and talk to the staff. As plant experts, they can tell you everything you need to know.

 

Don’t leave your shrubs to fend for themselves. For advice on the ins and outs of pruning flowering shrubs, visit our Salt Lake City, Utah, garden center today.

Plant Nursery Advice: How to Care for a Christmas Cactus

Did you get a Christmas cactus at the plant nursery this holiday season? This flowering houseplant, native to the tropical rainforests of Brazil, can live for years with the right care.

Fortunately, keeping a Christmas cactus happy and healthy is pretty easy. Here, the plant nursery professionals at Millcreek Gardens explain the basics.

care for christmas cactus

Light

Christmas cacti produce more abundant blooms when exposed to bright light, so keep yours in a sunny spot indoors. However, don’t place it in direct sunlight, as that can cause the leaves to burn. In the summer, you can move the cactus to a semi-shaded location outside if you like.

Water

Since Christmas cacti come from the rainforest – and not the desert like other cactus plants – they appreciate moisture. Plant nursery professionals recommend frequent, thorough watering. And, if the indoor atmosphere is on the dry side, boost the humidity by keeping a shallow tray of water near the plant.

Temperature

Warm temperatures, between 60 and 70 degrees, are better for a Christmas cactus, but the plant needs to be cooler at night during the fall and winter. For optimal growth, keep your cactus well away from any sources of hot air, such as heat vents and fireplaces

Fertilizer

In the early spring and throughout the summer, your Christmas cactus can benefit from monthly fertilization. A water-soluble fertilizer for flowering houseplants is best – the Millcreek Gardens plant nursery staff can help you find the right type.

Repotting

Christmas cactus plants need repotting every few years, when the soil appears depleted and the roots appear ready to burst out of the container. Spring is the ideal time to repot, as that’s when the plant is actively growing, but you can take on the task at another time of year if necessary.

Blooming

Did you know you can force a Christmas cactus to bloom? To initiate blooming, count back eight weeks from the date you want to see flowering. Put the plant in total darkness for 13 to 15 hours each day, watering just enough to keep the leaves from shriveling. Once buds start to form, move the cactus back to its usual spot and keep the soil moist.

Do you have questions about houseplant care? The plant nursery professionals at Millcreek Gardens, northern Utah’s favorite garden center since 1955, are always happy to share their expertise. Our friendly team can help ensure your indoor plants — and your outdoor annuals, perennial flowers, shrubs and landscaping trees – have exactly what they need to thrive.

For more detailed information on how to care for a Christmas cactus or any other indoor or outdoor plant, stop by Millcreek Gardens in Salt Lake City, Utah, and talk to our knowledgeable plant nursery staff today.

Outdoor Plants and Winter Damage – What You Need to Know

The cold spells and frosty conditions we get here in northern Utah can wreak havoc on your outdoor plants. Winter damage is a real problem for many local gardeners, and not all plants survive when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

 

Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent winter damage to vulnerable outdoor plants. Here’s how to protect your landscape and make sure it bounces back next spring – no matter how brutal the weather gets this winter.

 

Causes of Winter Damage

 

Winter damage affects the landscape in a number of ways:

 

  • Early cold spells can threaten specimens that aren’t prepared for winter
  • Frozen soil can prevent plants from drawing in enough moisture
  • Dry winds combined with bright wintertime sun can burn foliage and crack tree bark
  • Alternating freeze-and-thaw cycles can make plants heave out of the ground
  • Mid-winter warm periods can cause plants to come out of dormancy too early

 

Identifying Vulnerable Outdoor Plants

 

Landscaping trees, shrubs, rose bushes and plants that are native to Utah or that are hardy for our region can usually get through winter unscathed.

 

However, some landscape plants may not be so lucky. Winter damage is more likely to occur in:

 

  • Species at the boundary of their viable hardiness zone
  • Container garden plants
  • Newly-planted deciduous trees and shrubs
  • Broadleaf evergreens

 

How to Mitigate Winter Damage

 

Want to make sure the harsh Utah winter weather doesn’t take too much of a toll? To protect your vulnerable plants, follow these garden center tips:

 

Provide insulation against the cold.

Applying a three- to four-inch layer of mulch can help newly-planted landscaping trees and shrubs get through the winter.

 

Keep an eye on soil moisture.

If you discover dry soil, plan for a thorough watering on a day when the outdoor temperature is above 40 degrees.

Consider wind protection.

To guard against drying winter winds, you may need to erect a windbreak or wrap vulnerable shrubs and landscaping trees.

 

Wait for signs of recovery in the spring.

Some outdoor plants take longer to recover from winter damage than others. Resist the urge to prune or remove any specimens until the end of spring arrives.

 

Encourage healthy growth.

When you see new growth emerge, you can easily identify dead branches that are in need of pruning. After you prune, fertilize to speed up the healing process.

 

Are you worried about winter weather damage to your landscape? Millcreek Gardens, serving northern Utah and the Wasatch Front, is here to help. Our friendly and knowledgeable garden center staff can offer more pointers on how to protect your outdoor plants.

 

For expert advice and answers to all of your questions about indoor and outdoor plants, head to Millcreek Gardens in Salt Lake City today.

How to Build a Hugelkultur Raised Bed Garden

Hugelkultur raised bed gardens have been around for centuries, and today’s gardeners are embracing the sustainable practice.

Pronounced “HOO-gul-culture,” hugelkultur is a German word that roughly translates to “hill culture.” This type of raised bed garden uses woody debris, fallen branches or downed trees to create a hill for planting.

hugelkultur raised bed garden

The advantages of a hugelkultur raised bed garden are many. This type of gardening system needs no irrigation, no fertilization and no tilling after the first year. A low-maintenance, sustainable garden bed – what’s not to like about that? To build one, follow these steps.

Choose the Garden Site

First, you need to find a spot to build your hugelkultur raised bed garden. A sunny site is ideal for growing vegetables, but shady areas can also work. Once you decide on a location, mow the grass down and lay down cardboard to smother any plant life left.

Gather the Wood

Grab up some rotting wood to get your raised garden bed started. Use what you have, whether that’s a downed tree, a long-dead limb, old logs or punky firewood. Softwoods — such as birch, poplar, cottonwood and alder – are ideal. Hugelkultur experts recommend steering clear of black walnut, cedar, black cherry and redwood.

Design the Garden

Next, pile up the wood any way you like. A hugelkultur raised garden bed can be any shape or design, and it can be as long and tall as you want. Some northern Utah gardeners build super-high hugelkultur beds, but most people find that a height of two to three feet is easier to work with.

Cover the Wood Base

To finish up, cover the wood of your raised garden bed with grass clippings, straw, leaves, aged manure – anything you would normally put in your compost pile. Aim for a depth of about twelve inches above the wood pile. Finally, add a few inches of soil, and top off the hugelkultur structure with mulch.

What to Plant in a Hugelkultur Raised Bed Garden

Just about any outdoor plants can thrive in a hugelkultur raised garden bed. However, you may want to put off planting annual vegetables for a couple of years, as they need the nitrogen the rotting wood uses up as it decays.

Keep in mind, too, that the upper part of the raised bed will be naturally drier than the base. So, choose plants that need more water for the bottom, and place plants that require less moisture along the sides and toward the top.

Would you like more landscaping and gardening ideas? For expert tips that work for northern Utah gardeners, stop by Millcreek Gardens.

The plant nursery professionals at Millcreek Gardens understand the growing conditions in the greater Salt Lake City and Wasatch Front areas, and we’re always happy to answer any gardening question. To learn more about building a hugelkultur raised bed garden on your northern Utah property, stop by and see us today.

Beautiful Blooming Indoor Plants to Brighten Your Utah Home

Blooming indoor plants can bring vibrant color, fragrance and beauty to your Utah home – and in the winter, when everything outside is looking a little drab and dreary, flowering houseplants are a definitely welcome sight.

If you’d love to walk into a house filled with gorgeous flowers, stop by your local garden center and pick up some new blooming indoor plants. Any of the following varieties can help perk up your Utah home.

Blooming Indoor Plants

African Violet

With beautiful purple, white, pink, blue or bi-colored blooms that appear year-round, the African violet is a great choice for in-home color. And, it’s one of the easiest flowering houseplants to grow, blooming with a minimum of care.

Bromeliad

Eye-catching tropical houseplants, bromeliads have tall, spiky blooms that shoot out from rosettes of narrow, glossy leaves. The flowers come in a wide range of vibrant colors, including bright yellow, pink-purple and deep rusty red.

Crown-of-Thorns

A relative of the poinsettia, the crown-of-thorns is a cheery flowering houseplant with colorful blooms that last for weeks. This beauty is easy to care for, so it’s great for novice gardeners – but keep it away from children and pets, as the sap is poisonous.

Flowering Maple

With delicate pink, orange, yellow or red blooms that dangle among its speckled green leaves, the flowering maple makes for a fascinating addition to any Utah home. This fast-growing indoor plant is almost never without blossoms.

Hibiscus

Hibiscus brings a touch of the tropics to your Utah home. Featuring huge, bold blooms in a dazzling array of colors – some of the largest blossoms of any flowering houseplant – the hibiscus can enliven any indoor space.

Jasmine

The delightfully-scented white or pink blooms of a jasmine plant are a treat to the senses. With this flowering houseplant, you can count on fragrant, beautiful blossoms popping up all year long.

Oxalis

If you want a flowering houseplant that provides a dramatic show of color, you can’t go wrong with oxalis. This indoor plant features dainty pink or white blooms amid purple shamrock-shaped leaves that fold up at night and open in the morning.

Streptocarpus

With bright pink, purple, red or white blossoms, streptocarpus is a gorgeous indoor plant that blooms almost continuously. Like its cousin, the African violet, this flowering houseplant requires very little care.

For a wide selection of gorgeous blooming indoor plants, visit Millcreek Gardens in northern Utah. Our garden center is stocked with healthy flowering houseplants with vibrant-colored blooms, along with all the gardening supplies you need to help them flourish back at home.

And, if you have questions, our friendly garden center staff members are more than happy to offer expert answers and advice. If you’re ready to invigorate your Utah home with new beautiful blooming indoor plants, visit Millcreek Gardens in Salt Lake City today.

Garden Center Calendar – December Gardening Tasks

In December, gardening tasks might not be at the top of your to-do list for the month. But garden center experts recommend taking a break from the holiday madness to care for your indoor and outdoor plants. They may need a little TLC – and you could probably benefit from the stress-relieving effects of gardening right about now.

So, what December gardening tasks should you add to your already-busy schedule? Our month-by-month garden center calendar explains what you should aim to accomplish before the new year.

december gardening

Keep Your Houseplants Happy

Paying attention to your indoor plants is a key part of December gardening, as houseplants can succumb to winter weather if they don’t receive proper care. Use tepid water to give them a drink and move them away from drafts and windows on chilly nights. Also, if you purchase any new houseplants, safeguard them from cold exposure on the way home.

Protect Your Poinsettias

Did you receive a holiday poinsettia plant this year? To stay healthy, poinsettias need direct sun for several hours each day and a nighttime temperature of between 50 and 60 degrees. In addition, keep poinsettias away from drafts and radiators and only let the soil dry slightly between waterings.

Mind Your Mulch

To survive the freezing cold temperatures of winter, outdoor plants, shrubs and landscaping trees need mulch. If you haven’t done so already, put mulching on your December gardening to-do list. Look for an organic mulch at your local garden center and apply a three- to four-inch layer.

Consider Winter Watering

If the ground isn’t frozen and it really hasn’t rained or snowed much, your evergreen trees and shrubs may not have the hydration they need to make it through the winter. Watering now could be an important December gardening task, ensuring that your landscape looks its best when springtime rolls around.

Fill Your Bird Feeders

When winter weather is at its worst, your feathered friends may have trouble finding food. Make sure to keep your bird feeders full of nutritious seed and suet – available at your local garden center – and you’ll not only provide an easy food source, but you’ll also attract more birds to your property.

Would you like more tips and information on early winter gardening? For expert advice on keeping your indoor and outdoor plants healthy all year long, turn to Millcreek Gardens. Our friendly garden center staff loves to discuss plant care with other northern Utah gardeners!

Visiting Millcreek Gardens is a great idea any day of the year and our end-of-season sales mean you can get great prices on the gear you need to get all your gardening tasks done. To shop for bargains and talk gardening with our helpful staff, stop by our Salt Lake City garden center today.

Plant Nursery Tips for Choosing the Perfect Christmas Tree

Visiting your local plant nursery to choose a Christmas tree is a fun holiday tradition and, for many families, this annual trek creates lifelong memories.

However, finding a good-looking, healthy specimen that suits your needs and lasts through the entire holiday season isn’t always easy. Before you start your search, check our Christmas tree buying guide.

choosing christmas tree

Think About the Type of Christmas Tree You Want

Christmas trees come in a vast range of shapes, sizes, textures and colors. For an easier time navigating the selection at your local plant nursery, decide ahead of time which types you prefer.

Some of the more popular varieties include:

  • Fraser fir – Features soft, sturdy dark green needles with a silvery underside and strong branches
  • Douglas fir – Features soft, flat blue-green needles and a perfectly conical shape
  • Balsam fir – Features short, dark green needles and a slender, spire-like crown
  • Blue spruce – Features sharp, bluish-gray needles and stiff, strong branches
  • Scotch pine – Features short, bright green needles and sturdy branches that curve upwards

To decide which variety to purchase this holiday season, think about the needs of your household. If you have children, for example, softer needles may be crucial. Or, depending upon the type of Christmas decorations you plan to use, you may want a variety with strong branches.

Measure the Available Space for Your Christmas Tree

Before you grab your family for the annual holiday tree hunt at the local plant nursery, you need to consider the space you have available. After all, you don’t want to come home with one that’s way too tall or broad.

Measure ceiling height of the room where you plan to display the tree, then measure the available floor space to determine the maximum tree width the room can accommodate. Bring these measurements with you to the plant nursery, and make sure any tree you consider meets the guidelines.

How to Choose a Fresh, Healthy Christmas Tree

Plant nurseries typically take great care to provide the freshest, healthiest specimens. However, to make sure you choose a Christmas tree that will last through the holiday season, check the following:

  • Trunk – The trunk should be slightly sticky if the tree is fresh.
  • Needles – If you gently pull on the inside of a branch, the needles should stay put.
  • Coloration – Look for even coloring throughout the foliage.

For a large selection of fresh, healthy Christmas trees in northern Utah, visit Millcreek Gardens. Every holiday season, we fill our plant nursery with high-quality trees of various species – and each one is fresh, healthy and beautiful.

When you’re ready to go tree shopping, the Millcreek Gardens staff can offer expert advice and suggestions to help your family make a choice. To find your perfect Christmas tree, head to our Salt Lake City plant nursery today.

How to Properly Water Indoor Plants

For anyone with a green thumb, watering indoor plants is second nature. For novice gardeners, however, figuring out when and how much to water can be a challenge – and incorrect techniques can put houseplants at risk.

If you don’t seem to have an innate ability to keep houseplants happily hydrated, you can easily learn. Follow these do’s and don’ts of watering, and your indoor plants will be in the pink.

water indoor plants

DO Use a Watering Can

A watering can has a long spout that allows you to precisely direct the flow of water to the base of a houseplant. Use a drinking glass or bottle instead, and you’re just asking for a mess.

DON’T Use Softened Water

Water softening systems use sodium, which can negatively affect the health of your houseplants. If your softener connects to both the hot and cold faucets – or if you aren’t sure how it’s connected – fill up your watering can at an outdoor spigot. Or, use filtered or purified water.

DO Water Indoor Plants as Needed

To know when your houseplants need a drink, touch the soil. If it’s dry, the plant needs water. If the surface is moist, hold off on watering. Check every single specimen – just because one needs to be watered doesn’t mean they all do.

DON’T Follow a Watering Schedule

You can set a schedule for checking to see if your indoor plants need water, but don’t base your watering on the calendar. Sticking to a once-a-week plan can lead to overwatering and underwatering, as some houseplants may need watered more or less often.

DO Soak the Soil Thoroughly

When your indoor plants need to be watered, don’t just give them a tiny sip. Soak the soil thoroughly, until water starts to come out of the pot’s drainage holes. Giving houseplants a good, long drink encourages healthy root system development.

DON’T Let Indoor Plants Sit in Water

Soaking the soil is important, but don’t go overboard and add too much – if houseplants sit in water, they can develop root rot. If you accidentally overwater, use a turkey baster to remove the excess.

Need more tips on how to keep houseplants alive and healthy? In northern Utah, the friendly plant nursery professionals at Millcreek Gardens are always happy to offer advice and information on indoor and outdoor gardening.

Following the watering guidelines listed above will keep most houseplants happy, but some plants – like cacti and certain succulents – may prefer drier conditions. And, some exotic indoor varieties may need more of a drink.

If you’re not sure how much water your houseplants need, check the plant tags. Or, simply stop by Millcreek Gardens. We’d love to help you learn how to care for your indoor plants – come see us in Salt Lake City today.

Gardening Gift Ideas for Senior Gardeners

Are you looking for practical gardening gift ideas for the seniors on your holiday list? For many older adults, spending time out in the garden can be painful but the right tools and gardening supplies can make tasks easier and more enjoyable.

If any of your loved ones have problems with their hands, knees or back that make it difficult to plant and grow a garden, any of these gardening gifts are sure to please.

gardening gift ideas

Ergonomic Gardening Tools

Many gardening tools can be difficult for senior gardeners to use. Ergonomic tools are specifically designed to make tasks easier for older adults with arthritis, carpal tunnel, and other hand problems. Give your loved on an ergonomic garden tool, and they’ll have less pain when they’re taking care of their plants.

Water Wand

For senior gardeners, a water wand can be a great gardening gift idea. Simply attach the wand to the garden hose, and watering hard-to-reach plants becomes much easier. Look for a water wand with a telescoping handle, as that makes the garden tool all the more useful.

Rolling Garden Seat

Another gardening gift that’s great for seniors is a rolling garden seat. Older adults often have difficulty bending to pull weeds and prune outdoor plants – and a wheeled seat serves to make those tasks much easier. Some models can also double as a carrier for gardening supplies.

Padded Kneeler Bench

To complete some gardening tasks, like sowing seeds and planting seedlings in a garden plot, it’s necessary to kneel. For senior gardeners with knee problems, this can be painful. A padded kneeler bench with handles reduces the strain and allows for easier gardening.

Garden Wheelbarrow

A lightweight, easy-to-maneuver wheelbarrow is a smart gift idea for senior gardeners. With a wheelbarrow, your loved one can easily and efficiently move gardening supplies around their property – and for anyone with joint pain or back problems, this can make a big difference.

Raised Garden Bed

For older adults with back and knee problems, a raised garden bed could be the perfect present. This type of planter is easier to tend than a garden plot, as the plants are at a higher level. Raised beds come in varying heights, so this gardening gift can also suit senior gardeners who are in wheelchairs.

You can find all of these tools and supplies – plus many other thoughtful gardening gift ideas for senior gardeners – at Millcreek Gardens in northern Utah. Our plant nursery is packed with beautiful, healthy indoor plants that are great for gifting, and our unique garden décor, ornaments and home accents make for perfect presents.

The friendly Millcreek Gardens staff would love to help you with your holiday shopping. If you have senior gardeners on your list this year, drop by our Salt Lake City plant nursery for more inspired gardening gift ideas today.