entertainingFood & Drinkoutdoorweeders digest

weeder’s digest: peonies, part 2

by Grace Bonney

When you wake up with the flu during wedding season and suddenly have to move your shop into a warehouse that is flooded, its not the best time to wax poetic on peonies. That being said, I give you these pretty pictures and a quick tip on house plants…

A QUICK TIP ON HOUSE PLANTS: Spring time in the city means that some of you with house plants will find yourself with an infestation of mites, aphids, or other life-sucking critters. These pests can wipe out a household of plants in a matter of weeks. They come from outside, through open windows (especially in the city) and sneak in on new plants you bring home. The first symptoms of an infestation looks like brown dying foliage close to the bottom of the plant. When you water you may see some flying up and around like tiny fruit flies. Here’s what you need to do to eradicate them:

Isolate infested plants! Put them far away from untouched plants. On a fire escape, in the hallway, outside, in a closet. The farther away the better. It’s going to be easier to eradicate bugs from one plant rather than 10 plants.

Keep you’re plants as dry as they will tolerate. Most houseplants need water only once a week, With the exception of most ferns, jasmine, etc…bugs thrive in moist environments.

Fill a spray bottle with water and about 1 tablespoon of joy or other dish soap. Spray the infected plant with this mixture near the roots, over the surface of the soil, and on any leaves that seem to be harboring critters. Repeat this every 3-4 days. Paying close attention to how the pests are responding to this. Sarah

[editor’s note: check out the awesome progress on the new saipua shop right here! i can’t wait to see it all finished…]


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  • Thanks so much for this advice! I had a bunch of house plants wiped out in this way last summer, and I had no idea what to do about it.

  • Thanks for the pest information, though it comes about a week too late for my rosemary, d’oh!

  • I look forward to the weeder’s digest every week. But do feel better – you’ve made a pretty post for someone feeling sick. Thank you! x

  • I just love peonies, and strangely enough, even more during their budding stage, your photos are stupendously beautiful, and thanks for the tips…I come via Kathy, who put a link up to you if we wanted to see you’re beautiful post. She’s lovely like that!

  • ooo love the darker peony arrangements. and thank you for that tip! i recently bought my FIRST plant (mhm) and i live in a busy busy city. thank you!

  • These pictures are lovely – I’m just blown away with these arrangements.

    As for the houseplant infestation, trust me, I’ve had one! One thing that my boyfriend does to eradicate them is get some “Neem Oil” from the health food store, mix it with water and spray them. They’re literally gone with one or two treatments which is amazing and the neem oil doesn’t hurt the plants or the air you breathe in the least….

    The catch? It’s so smelly!! Do it and then ventilation…ventilation and MORE ventilation!

  • As always, your arrangements and photos are divine.
    And I second the neem oil suggestion – works AMAZINGLY well and your plants end up even healthier afterwards. You do need to add a drop of dish soap to the spray bottle with the neem oil in it though, to break the surface tension of the oil.

  • neem oil works great too – i just never have any handy…
    as for the soap – you would be using a very mild solution – a scant tablespoon in quart sized spray bottle of water. i’ve treated many plants with this and never killed the roots…

  • Really beautiful bouquets! Kind of funny that you speak of bugs and all that when you have venus fly traps in the bouquets of the third and fourth photos. Great plants to eat up your flying creatures. I just got one recently and keep it in our kitchen.

  • What about scale? Will the soap solution work for that? Oh, and the peonies are AMAZING… Thank you!

  • ahhh so pretty!! the second picture is absolutely gorgeous! i would love to see you do a post on good plants for nyc apartments!

  • Im so excited that you wrote about what to do about those bugs because just last night I noticed bugs just like that on some of my herbs and I thought GREAT i have no idea what to do to get rid of those. Thanks for your help!

  • I’m am constantly in awe at your photos. They are all so delicate, reminding me of gentility with strength and perserverence. Also love your tips for growing. Do feel better.

  • your photos are so lush, immediate and intimate…truly beautiful…wouldn’t be surprised to see one on the cover of a large coffee table book one day…hope you’re feeling better!

  • The peonies in a flower arrangement are gorgeous. I love the way they were arranged on your pictures, especially the bottom one. Looks like it’s Bowl of Beauty?

  • Your arrangements are fantastic.I stumbled across your post looking for peonies. I love exotic flowers. You are truly talented and inspiring
    thanks for posting. What is the name of the pitcher plant in the third photograph please only if you have time