Pinching and Pruning: A How To Guide

Flower beds can be frustrating and messy. There are so many different plants in one location and it seems that too quickly one can overpower the others. In wanting to preserve the life of the other plants in the bed, it’s easy to immediately want to be rid of the dominant plant. But, with using the right techniques, all of your plants can live together. By pinching and pruning, your flower beds at home can look as beautiful as we keep ours here at NPK Associates, Inc. – just by following a few simple steps.

 

Learn more about how you can help each plant in your at home flower beds below:

 

Knowing simple insider tips like these will make a huge difference in your gardens at home. Look for more how to’s coming soon!

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Coming to a Close

Where has the summer gone?

At the end of this week I’ll be packing my things and heading out of Chicago. My internship will be over, technically, and the time I’ve spent at NPK will be remembered through the work done and these blog posts that I’ve written each week.

I don’t know when I’ll have the opportunity again to do all of the things I’ve done these past few months, or let alone this past week.

I went and saw the Corpse Flower! If you remember my post from last week, the Chicago Botanic Garden is housing a very rare and very foul smelling flower. It still hasn’t bloomed – hopefully this upcoming week – but it was still very exciting to see.

But as a whole, the Chicago Botanic Garden was gorgeous. I went on a perfect day with great weather and was able to enjoy each part of the garden, even if it was huge.

There were gardens designed like Japanese and English gardens, an aquatic garden and even a Bonsai exhibit that looked like large forests scaled down and in a container. They were beautiful to see and I loved being able to have the experience through my internship.

But, also being an intern, I wrote blogs on blogs on blogs this week. In order for NPK to keep up with their blogging dedicated solely to business related topics, I’m creating a file of blogs that they can choose from biweekly. This week I wrote on plant care experts’ advice for house plants and where to go to enjoy plants in the city. They were both very cool to write and I think that it has a lot to do with knowing these are posts that everyone can benefit from reading but are also interacting with NPK staff.

I have one more week left in the city and with NPK. It’ll be a busy week but I’m looking forward to that feeling of accomplishment when I look back over the projects created and executed throughout the summer.

 

 

Caring for Pollinators – NPK Blog

Blog written for NPK Associates, Inc. with a collaboration with Rose Pest Solutions.

 

 

Pests come in all shapes and sizes – flies, bees, bats. But there’s only so much one can do in order to control the population and you may want to think twice before doing so. While you’re looking up reviews and the phone number of the best pest control business in the area, it’s important to consider if those “pests” might just be helping you and your environment.

Bee house used to attract bees to the pollinator garden for the installation at Rose Pest Solutions.

We live in an ecosystem that relies on balance in order to keep all biotic and abiotic elements in harmony. This past week our company, NPK Associates, Inc., partnered with a local pest control company, Rose Pest Solutions, to promote pollinator awareness. Pollinator Health Awareness Month, celebrated during the month of August, is very important to both of our businesses. The National Community Day of Service is August 22nd, but pollinator health is important year round! One may find it funny that a pest control business and an interior plantscape company would want to promote longevity for bugs and critters, but there’s much more about these pests than meets the eye.

According to the Pollinator Partnership, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of pollinators, many of these pollinators bring us one in every three bites of food as well as help us to maintain the environment. In recent years, the population of pollinators has been on a steady decline which will bring about substantial negative impacts to sustainable food. Pollinator Awareness Month promotes discussion about using pesticides only as intended, rather than totally eliminating all so called pests.

Here at NPK Associates, Inc., we do not use pesticides to handle horticultural pest issues. Live plants may sometimes host insects but there are ways to control their population without hurting the environment. We use a gentle soap, leaf shine and water mixture to rid our interior plants from spider mites, mealybugs and other interior pests. By using this method we are able to control the infestation before it gets out of hand without harming the overall health of the environment.

At Rose Pest Solutions, the exit from the term “exterminators” is in full effect. Not in the business of killing, the company prides themselves on being guardians of the environment, taking special care to determine the root of the issue before applying pesticides. It’s a science to maintain public health while balancing the benefits for all other living creatures. Janelle Iaccino, Rose Pest’s Marketing Director, has a passion for protecting and maintaining what these pollinators do.

“While we work every day to keep insect and rodent invasions from entering homes and businesses, it’s still important to make sure that these creatures are able to play their instinctual roles in our ecosystem,” said Janelle.

Rose Pest Solutions is helping to raise awareness about the effects of parasites, predators and improper usage of chemicals that are affecting pollinators. They also want people to know that they understand the definition of “pest” is an individual preference.

“Generally speaking, an insect, rodent or animal becomes a “pest” when it finds its way into structures or habitats that are unnatural,” said Janelle. “For example, ants belong outdoors. When they find their way inside homes though, and begin to interfere with our living conditions, we take measures to get them back outside where they belong.”

The difference between Rose Pest’s tactics in pest control and other companies is that they take the time to discover the root of the problem and how effectively they can control the situation without a prolonged use of chemicals. Rose utilizes Integrated Pest Management methods to ensure that they try all options before using pesticides. For example, like we do at NPK, simply adding a layer of sand to a potted plant can prevent fungus gnats rather than using harmful chemicals.

An important aspect of these full time pollinators and part time pests is that some of them are natural pest controllers. In our installation at Rose, we included a mason bee house, a hummingbird feeder and a bat house. Hornets and wasps are predators along with bats, helping to naturally control the pest environment. Although these may not be wanted, they have a huge impact on the environment. All of these animals play a pivotal role in our food chain – enjoy them!

Leah Rogers, sales representative at NPK Associates, Inc., knows how important each pollinator is to our environment. She encourages allowing pollinators to cross-pollinate to create a stronger plant and ecosystem. Strengthening our native environment is vital, and NPK Associates, Inc. together with Rose Pest Solutions wants you to join us in doing so! Our installation in Rose’s storefront windows is meant to show urban homeowners how easy it can be to attract the desirable pollinators with plants and feeders – check out the guide below to learn how you can create a pollinator garden right in your back yard.

HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN POLLINATOR GARDEN

Pollinators are attracted to plants that have nectar, fragrance and color. Try these plants in your garden at home!

POLLINATING (2)

 

 

 

 

 

Bees:

Bees love plants that are yellow, blue and purple.

If you have a dead branch hanging around your yard, add it to your garden! Native bees can nest in

these limbs and stick around to help make your garden healthy and beautiful.

Try these plants:

Zinnias

Speedwell

Lavender

Cherry Trees

Red Clover

Sunflower

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Butterflies:

Butterflies love red, orange, yellow, pink, and blue plants. While they love plants, they are attracted to salty and decaying elements as well. Putting a sponge soaked in sea salt in your garden or bits of overripe fruit will help to attract butterflies to your home garden.

Try these plants:

Zinnias

Lavender

Honeysuckle

Butterfly Weed

Yarrow

POLLINATING (4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hummingbirds:

Hummingbirds have long beaks that allow them to suck the nectar from cone-shaped flowers. They are attracted to red, orange, purple, and red flowers that have lots of nectar. Be careful not to plant hybrids as they do not have fragrance or nectar to bring hummingbirds to your garden!

 

Try these plants:

Speedwell

Red Clover

Cone Flower

Blazing Star

Trumpet Honeysuckle

POLLINATING (5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bats:

Bats are blind but are attracted to large, light colored plants. It is also beneficial for bats for these plants to be night blooming, as this is when they are out flying about. They are great for pest control, so having these around your house will help keep the mosquito population down!

Try these plants:

Agave/Cactus

Eucalyptus

Cone Flower

Yarrow

Lavender

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fine Tuning

Guys… this week, I’m going to see a giant Indonesian flower, hopefully, bloom at the Chicago Botanic Garden. This Titan Arum, or Corpse Flower, is already close to 5 feet tall and its girth alone is a little over 2 feet. This thing looks like it could be straight off a Dr. Seuss cover – it’s so comical looking and the smell is something you can not make up. The Chicago Botanic Garden’s blog describes it as smelling like Limburger cheese, rotting meat, rotting fish, sweaty socks, Chloraseptic, moth balls, but also a sweet floral scent to top it all off.

Anyway, this flower is massive and it’s going to be so cool to see even if I don’t get to see it in bloom. Click the picture below and you can read more about the flower from the Chicago Botanic Garden:

Time-lapse footage courtesy of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, August 2014. Photos taken every 20 minutes from 9:10 a.m. at the start of bloom to 8:50 a.m. the following day.

 

You can also see a live feed of a Corpse Flower at the Denver Botanic Gardens here:

This is one of the many cool things I get to experience from working at NPK Associates, Inc. No, we do not have a giant corpse flower in stock. Thank goodness. But if I wasn’t within the plant world, would I ever know of a huge flower that can grow to be taller than me and emits a scent that attracts flies miles away? Nope. Nope, I wouldn’t.

This week at NPK will include lots of writing. Blogs, content edits, social media posts, blogs, content, blogs, blogs – did I mention I’d be writing a few blog posts? I love the writing that I do for NPK because the plant world, the ones that I know truly get to enjoy the posts, is so passionate about their interests. I mean, the Titan Arum is the perfect example – who else in the world would be so excited and want to house a giant flower that smells like rotting fish? Plant people. They love this stuff.

But what I love is sharing all of the things I’m learning about in the plant world. Today, after having to completely re-film our first video blog last week, I’ll be trapping Leah in a room with no sound so that I can get perfect voice over material from here and then I’ll edit the footage we have to be able to present, seriously this time, our first ever NPK Associates, Inc. VIDEO blog.

I’m also meeting lots of people within the plant world – this past week I was able to connect with AmericanHort for an interview in an upcoming blog post. It’s great being able to connect with organizations and companies through blogging. If I am able to catch the blooming of the Corpse Flower, I hope to be able to hold my breath long enough to catch a few viewers there as well to interview and connect them with a whole other side of plant life – NPK Associates, Inc.