The Cultivation, Issue 4
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
May 28, 2020
The Cultivation by Staghorn Living is a new weekly newsletter offering expert insight for garden-filled living. Here you'll find ideas and hands-on guidance for everything from planting tricks and patio decor to the tools and tips we treasure.
As we put Memorial Day in the rearview mirror and get ready for a summer unlike any other, I’m thinking about simple ways to make the season ahead fun and familiar. Inspired by our first picnic as a family of three, this week’s issue features outdoor-friendly blankets — perfect for lounging at the park or cozying up by the fire-pit — and tips for getting your lawn into shape. Since we’ve all got a dimly-lit spot crying out for some foliage, I’ve included two hard-to-kill houseplants that even novice gardeners can grow with success. Here’s to a summer surrounded by more green!
Indoor: Low-Light Plant Stars
Whether it’s a dim corner away from the window or a tabletop in a north-facing room, the snake and ZZ plants are two indoor varieties that are perfect for brightening up your home's low-light spots. Bonus: They're among the easiest houseplants to keep alive.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifaciata)
These reed-like plants are commonly found in offices and shops — and for good reason. Their low-water requirement and low-light tolerance mean you can treat them like the cactus of darker spaces. With tidy, variegated foliage and an upright habit, a snake plant will bring color and verticality to areas with limited square footage. It also self-propagates, meaning it reproduces by creating mini-clones of itself, so you can spread them throughout your home or share them with friends.Great for greening up your desk, hiding cords, or transforming a windowsill.
ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamifolia)
Sprays of glossy green leaves are this plant’s defining feature, which makes it ideal for adding volume to open spaces. Like the snake plant, water requirements are low and adaptability to different light conditions is high. Great for setting up a sweet still life on a credenza or a dresser, or jazzing up an empty corner.
Outdoor: Watering Cans
Before choosing your next watering can, consider your needs: Are you sprinkling one herb pot or nurturing several trees? How many trips to the faucet do you want to take? How much weight are you comfortable carrying?
Here are three of our favorites:
French Blue Watering Can from Gardener’s Supply Co.
Removable pull-off stainless steel rose
French blue or taupe
Traditional Watering Can from Hudson Grace
Removable threaded rose
Behren's Steel Watering Can from Gemplers
Option for 2-gallon or 2.5-gallon capacity
Lightweight and highly durable steel
Removable threaded rose
Feed + Seed Your Lawn
If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to feed and seed your lawn. The most environmentally-friendly and effective way is to sprinkle existing grass with a light layer (½”) of compost. This will help put vital nutrients back into the soil without the risk of nitrogen runoff, which can happen with generic lawn fertilizers. The second best option is using a non-chemical lawn feed, such as Dr. Earth Super Natural Organic Fertilizer.
If you need to re-seed a bare patch, scratch up the soil with a stiff rake or hand-cultivator, sprinkle a generous amount of seed over the area, and top off with a light layer of compost. Keep the area moist by watering regularly with a sprinkler, watering can, or shower-setting on the hose nozzle. Stay off of it until the new grass is 3''-4'' high.
Avoid watering with heavy gushes, which can wash away the seed.
Don’t overfeed. Too much fertilizer can weaken a lawn's root development and can lead to a fungal issue.
We love an outdoor throw for cozying up on cooler nights by the fire pit or spreading on the lawn for a picnic. All three of these picks are made of washable cotton.
Adventure-Ready Throw from Orvis
We're especially big fans of the gray with orange border.
Striped Beach Throw by Turkish T from Food52
A detachable cotton + velcro handle makes for easy trips to the beach.
Cirrus Supersoft Organic Cotton Throw from Coyuchi
This one is woven with brushed cotton for extra softness; use it both indoors and out.
Plant Rx: Hydrangea Won't Bloom
Typically a show-stopper in the midsummer garden, a hydrangea bereft of blooms can be frustrating and perplexing. If you’ve found yourself in this position before, here are some things to watch out for and try this season.
Check your pruning timing! Different types of hydrangeas need to be cut back at different moments. Pruning at the wrong time will cost you next season’s flowers. Hydrangea macrophylla, quercifolia, or petiolaris (the vine) Blooms on last year’s wood, so prune them in late-summer shortly after they’ve finished flowering. Only remove dead wood if pruning in late winter/early spring. Hydrangea paniculata or arborescens (“Annabelle” is the most popular) Blooms on new wood, so feel free to prune in late winter/early spring.
Reevaluate your light conditions. While hydrangeas typically bloom well in part-shade, too much shade can lead to minimal blooms. Transplant to a sunnier spot in fall or early spring for better flowering. If it’s not too large, your shrub will be happy to grow in a container, too.
Use a fertilizer high in phosphate (the middle number) which is the nutrient that promotes flowering.
We're big fans of organic granular fertilizers like this one from Dr. Earth. Pro Tip: To apply, sprinkle this around plantings as if you're seasoning a steak.
We hope you enjoyed Issue 4 of The Cultivation. Since our biggest goal with this newsletter is to provide content that captivates, educates, and inspires you, let us know if there's something you'd like us to include next time. Please send your thoughts by emailing us here. See you next week.