About Me

My photo
Always happy to meet fellow gardeners and dog lovers! Feel free to e-mail me with questions or comments about all things gardening, especially hostas!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Use of Epsom Salt on Hostas





Hostas continue to be one of the most popular perennials in shady and party shady gardens. It's no wonder. Hostas are easy to grow and care for, they don't require a lot of special attention and they come in a vast array of sizes, shapes and great leaf colors.




Since the real beauty of hostas lies in those gorgeous colorful leaves, it is only natural to seek out an organic soil amendment that will enhance leaf color and help the plant grow bushier and healthier. That's where Epsom Salt comes in.


The idea of using Epsom Salt in the garden is not a new concept.  It's been around for generations because it works.







So what are the advantages of using Epsom Salt in your hosta garden?



Well, the main ingredient in Epsom Salt is magnesium sulfate which is an important soil additive for healthy plant life. It allows plants to take in nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen and assists in the creation of chlorophyll which is used by the plant to convert sunlight into food.

The benefits of Epsom Salt on plants are many including that it’s organic, it’s gentle on plants and it’s inexpensive! 

Here are some specific ways Epsom Salt helps with plants in general.


  • Improves flower blooming.
  • Enhances a plant’s green color.
  • Helps plants grow bushier.
  • Greatly improves a plant’s ability to produce fruit and flowers.
  • Assists in seed germination and gives a stronger start to seedlings.
  • It’s safe, and there is little danger of problems from overuse.
  • It doesn’t build up in the soil and it won't have buildup that will clog the root cells of your plants. In fact, Epsom salt can be used for potted plants that have developed a salt accumulation.

Another big advantage of Epsom Salt is its versatility in the way it can be used. You can sprinkle Epsom Salt over a large garden area, you can use it to circle around plants or you can add a solution of Epsom Salt to a garden sprayer. Here's some specifics.







How to Use Epsom Salt on Hostas


  • For potted hostas, mix two tablespoons of Epsom Salt in one gallon of water.  Water the potted hostas once a month with this mixture.
  • With the same solution, you can use a sprayer to spray the mixture directly on the leaves to keep them lush and healthy,
  • A few tablespoons of Epsom Salt around your ground hostas in the spring gives them a great early boost.




On a New Hosta Garden Area


If you're starting a brand new hosta bed, sprinkle up to one cup per 100 square feet and work it into the soil.




gardener planting a seedling

To Help with Transplant Shock


Did you know that using Epsom Salt can reduce transplant shock? Plants can become weak and wither right after transplanting, and Epsom Salt can help reduce that transplant shock to the plant roots. The solution to use for this is one cup of Epsom Salt per 100 square feet. 




Slug Control


Hostas are known for their ease of care, but they do face one problem: Slugs! Damage from slugs appears as multiple holes chewed through the hosta leaves. The most damage will be done to varieties with thinner leaves or hostas that are variegated.


To fight this problem, apply a narrow band of Epsom Salt in a circle around the hosta. Since Epsom Salt is a scratchy substance, it will pierce the skin of any slimy creature when it crosses over it.


Epsom Salt is also effective for combating beetles and other garden pests. A solution of one cup of Epsom Salt per five gallons of water is a great deterrent to them.







Closing


Add the use of Epsom Salt to your hosta care regiment this season. Your hostas will thank you with their continued beauty and health!



~~~~~~~~~~

Where to go next!







  

Hosta flowers in full lavender bloom in perennial garden


Love hostas or know someone who does?
Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price!


Sunday, November 24, 2019

Common Reasons that Hypertufa Cracks





This article presumes that you are familiar with the basics of making projects with hypertufa.  If you aren’t familiar with the process, or just need a refresher, you may want to first go to our Hypertufa 101 article by clicking here.


Hypertufa projects are made by combining various aggregates (such as Peat Moss, Vermiculite and Perlite) and binding them together with Portland Cement.  The mix can be molded into nearly any shape or size.  


The number of projects you can create is only limited by your imagination.   And best of all, hypertufa projects can last for years and be left outside for the winter.




                    

Long Does Hypertufa Last?

 

A project created with the common recipe of 1 part Peat Moss, 1 part Vermiculite or Perlite and 1 part Portand Cement will normally last ten years.  Adding a strengthener like sand or synthetic concrete re-enforcing fibers can extend that shelf life to 20 years.

Here’s the most common reasons why hypertufa cracks.


 

Hypertufa Cracks during DeMolding



Anyone who has made a number of hypertufa projects has run into de-molding problems.  


The de-molding process must be done slowly and carefully.  How long a project will take to cure to the point where it’s safe to remove the mold depends on a number of factors including the humidity and temperature of the area where it’s curing and the size of the project.


To prevent a demolding problem, many people like to grease the mold with Vaseline, cooking spray like PAM, vegetable oil, mineral oil or even WD40.




Once you find the mold and project stuck together, though, here’s a few tricks you can use to help de-mold that challenging project.


  • Put ice cubes in a plastic mold to shrink it a bit and then slide out the project.  Some people have put a smaller project in the refrigerator for a time to get the same result.

  • Release any suction that’s built up between the mold and the project by drilling a hole in the bottom of the mold.  If it’s a planter, you will need drainage anyway.




  Hypertufa Cracks When It’s Moved


Hypertufa projects need to cure to a certain stage before being handled or moved.  Best practice is to leave a finished project where it was built for at least a few weeks.  


If you know you will need to move the project soon after building, build the project on a sturdy piece of plywood to make the move easier.



 Hypertufa Breaks off in Large Chunks



 Recipe/Mix Problems


 1.     Not enough Portland Cement
 

Since the Portland Cement is the binder, I never use less than a third of it in a mix recipe.  Not using enough Portland Cement weakens the entire project.


 2.     Not Dry Mixing

Thoroughly mixing all the dry ingredients together to the point where you cannot distinguish one from the other before adding any water is very important. 

Why?  You will be assured that there is no weak area where there is no Portland Cement.


Too much Perlite in one area will cause a weak spot.  Globs of peat moss will rot away and eventually cause holes.  Peat Moss should be sieved to remove any lumps or sticks that may stick together. 


If you substituted organic material for peat moss, like bark, pine needles, dried grass clippings or leaves, if these materials were clumped together, it will form a weak spot.
 

The Portland Cement must be mixed in well with all the other additives.


3.  A watery mix
 

Too much water in the mix, even though the mix may cling onto your project while you’re building, is a recipe for disaster.  





You want a mix that, when fisted and released, stays together like a nice hardy meatball.  See the photo above.  It should never be watery enough that the mix pours like a liquid.  


If your fisted “tufa meatball” leaks water, it’s not the right consistency.  Add more dry mix and fist again until the meatball holds together but doesn’t leak any more than a few drops of water.


 


The Main Body Cracks into Pieces 


Lack of extra strength.


Projects like stepping stones that will take some abuse need to be stronger than other projects. Larger projects, like large planters or troughs, will also need some added strength.


Here are some ways to strengthen a project.


My go-to s extra-strength recipe is 1 part Portland Cement, 1 part peat moss and 1 part sand.  (The sand replaces the usual Vermiculite or Perlite)  The project will be heavier, but stronger.
 

Mixing in a handful of synthetic concrete re-enforcing fibers or chicken wire will also give a project added strength.



Embedded Items Crack

  
The above picture is a perfect example of that.  The blue inserts were pieces of a blue plate that I inserted.  It only took one winter for the ceramic pieces to break and begin to fall off.  

The leaf in the middle is actually metal so it holds up well.  Lesson learned.



    Hypertufa Edges Crack or Break Off



One of the most important considerations while building a hypertufa project is ensuring that the edges are as thick as the body of the piece.  


Thin edges will crack much more easily.  Double checking the thickness in these areas will reward you with a project that will hold up longer.




The above picture shows edges that have broken off when I was attempting to use a wire brush to remove sharp edges.  I could leave it as is and enjoy the uniqueness of the planter or plant a plant in it that will drape over the edge and cover it.




  Older Hypertufa Planters Crack



Plant roots can grow quickly, and if the roots have made their way into the cracks and crevices of the planter, that will quicken the breakdown process.


If I were to leave this So Sweet hosta in this planter for a third year, the roots would certainly crack the planter.


Repeated excess water in a project can cause the hypertufa to break down over time.  Be sure not to place hypertufa in a place where excessive rain will pool in or around it, especially over the winter.


An insufficient amount of drainage holes in the planter will also cause pooling of water and will slowly deteriorate the hypertufa.


No hypertufa project will be perfect, but neither is nature.   Some of the imperfections in my final hypertufa projects have actually made the final project more unique, natural looking and beautiful.




Hypertufa is one of my favorite garden projects.  The internet is full of great ideas, designs recipes and tips. 


By avoiding some common pitfalls, there is no limit to the number of great garden projects you can do – and best of all, they will last for years!

~~~~~~~~~~

Where to go next!


Great Garden Articles -- Full List!

Hosta Articles - Full List

Join our Facebook Group 'Hosta Lovers'

Follow us on Pinterest!

Follow us on Instagram!


Back to Blog Home Page!


Love hostas or know someone who does?
Visit our website at SunsetHostaFarm.com
Great Hostas at Affordable Prices!


Popular Posts