Disease Control
1 qt. Concentrate

  • Fungicide and Bactericide
  • Concentrated Formula Makes 10 Gallons
  • Treats and Prevents Common Plant Diseases
  • For Houseplants and Outdoor Gardens
  • OMRI Listed® for Use in Organic Gardening
  • Pet-Friendly Fungicide
  • Bee Safe*
  • Safe for People, Pets & Planet*

*when used as directed 

Found at these retailers:



A new generation of disease control formulated from citric acid, Earth's Ally Disease Control is a fungicide and bactericide that leaves no harmful residues and can be used up until day of harvest. Use for all plants and trees: vegetables, fruits, flowers, ornamentals, trees and shrubs. Treats and controls: mildew, blight, canker, black spot and leaf spot.

How To Video

Natural Formula

  • Active Ingredients: Citric Acid (0.64%)
  • Inert Ingredients: Water, Lactose, Ethyl Lactate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Acetate (99.36%)
  • View the labels and SDS sheets here

Earth's Ally Disease Control is formulated with food-grade citric acid. The citric acid forms a protective barrier on the leaf surface that inhibits pathogen development. When used as a preventative treatment, it has anti-fungal effects to reduce bacterial growth and prevent disease on plants.

Directions for Use

For Preventative Care

  • Prior to mixing, shake the concentrate well
  • Mix 3 oz. (or 6 tablespoons) of concentrate with 1 gallon of water
  • Apply a fine mist to the stems and leaves
  • Thoroughly cover the plant until there is runoff
  • Spray every 7-10 days to keep plants healthy

For Heavy Disease

  • Treat at first sign of disease
  • Prior to mixing, shake the concentrate well
  • Mix 3 oz. (or 6 tablespoons) of concentrate with 1 gallon of water
  • Apply a fine mist to the stems and leaves
  • Thoroughly cover the plant until there is runoff
  • Wait 4 hours, then repeat application a second time
  • Repeat this process every 5 days, as needed

Available Sizes

  • 24 fl. oz. ready-to-use
  • 32 fl. oz. concentrate (makes 10 gallons)


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1 qt. Concentrate”
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By Angelo Randaci, Earth’s Ally Master Gardener and Horticulture Expert

Shade Loving Plants

Shade gardens are some of the most soothing comfortable places to spend a lazy afternoon. They are a respite from the summer heat, a quiet place for woodland creatures and a wonderful spot for meditation. But not all shade is alike. Shade comes in many shapes and styles. There is dense shade, full shade, light shade, and partial shade. There is shade created by shadows and shade created by a thick canopy.  Shade can be gloomy and dim or bright and enlivening. Understanding shade-producing factors will help with plant selection and over-all shade garden design.  A shady location is typically considered any area that receives less than 6 hours of full, direct sunlight.  There are several variables to consider when defining a shade area and shade loving plants as mentioned above.  First observe what is creating the shade: What are the sun-blocking structures; a building, a tree, many trees, tall shrubbery, fencing?  A garden next to a shade-creating building is different than a location underneath a tree. 

Next figure out how much shade is available.  Does the time of the year or time of day change the shaded area? What is the size and shape of the trees or shrubs creating the shade?  Your latitude is another variable: how far north or south is your location? The distance from the equator defines the intensity of the sun at various times of year.

While many plants are tolerant of shade, most plants that grow in shade benefit from bright light.  An hour or two of early morning sun and a splash of late afternoon setting sun can brush over most plants without harm. 

Shade gardens, like all gardens, start with a nutrient rich well-drained soil.  This is key to being successful with any garden.  All the plants mentioned here will benefit from amended soil.

6 Types of Garden Shade

  1. Dense Shade: The most challenging type of shade to successfully grow healthy plants is dense shade. Dense shady areas are defined as spaces that receive no direct sunlight and very little bright light. 
  2. Deep Shade: Deep shade is created from overhangs, dense canopy trees, tall shrubs, evergreens, buildings or walls.  If at all possible, these areas should be amended in order to create an environment where plants can thrive.  It may mean selectively pruning trees or shrubs to open up the canopy and allow more light to filter in. If your shade is caused by a dense canopy of trees, planting challenges exist below the ground as well.  Tree roots, especially from shallow rooted trees, such as maple trees, compete with your plants for moisture and nutrients.  Digging under trees is difficult and adding soil to make planting easier is only a temporary solution because tree roots will eventually penetrate the top layer of soil.  Instead of planting these difficult areas, consider installing garden art or carve out a seating area instead of plantings.  Plant along the outside edges of the trees where there is ample light and less root competition.  Add containerized plants to your composition and move them to brighter light when they become stressed.  If your dense shade comes from tall buildings, walls or fences, amending the soil or raising beds will allow you to grow plants that normally would not grow in a full shade garden.
  3. Tree Shade: The degree of shade varies among different species of trees.  For instance, the area under a linden tree would be considered dense shade whereas the area under a honey locust would be dappled shade (see below for description of dappled shade). 
  4. Full Shade: This type of shade is less demanding for plant selection than dense shade. Full shade plants need areas that are shady all day with very little if any direct sunlight but may receive some reflected light and more or less light during different seasons.  You can brighten these spaces for plants that grow in full shade by providing reflected light.  Use Light colored fences, pathways or other light-colored structures to bring light to these shady spaces.
  5. Light Shade or Dappled Shade: Light shade or dappled shade is defined as an area where there is shade, but some light is available at the same time. Many plants will grow in this type of light.  Plants for light shade areas may include a tree that provides a dappled shade underneath its canopy is the Thornless Honey Locust.  Its small leaves and open structure allow light to penetrate the canopy to provide a pleasant combination of light and shade. Woodland  plants such as ferns will thrive in dappled shade with moist soil.
  6. Part Shade: These areas receive direct sunlight, but only during predictable parts of the day.  There are two categories of part shade, morning shade, where areas are shaded in the early morning hours but receive sun in the afternoon and afternoon shade, in which there is sun in the morning but shade in the afternoon.  Many shade plants will thrive with morning sun and many sun loving plants with thrive with afternoon sun.

Plant Labels

Understanding plant labels is sometimes confusing where sun vs. shade tolerance is concerned.  A plant label might read “plant in shade” or “plant in part shade” but what part of the day? This is important when placing plants. If your garden area receives afternoon sun, you are basically looking at sun plants. If the area receives only morning sun then most shade plants will grow in that area.  So, if the plant tag recommends part shade or part sun conditions you can follow these guidelines:  If a label reads part sun to sun, this means it will grow and bloom with a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight.  Although these plants will tolerate some shade, they will achieve the best growth with lots of sun.  If a label reads part shade to shade, this indicates the plant prefers to grow in less than six hours of direct sunlight per day and grows best with morning sun. If a label reads sun or shade this plant will grow in any amount of sunlight.

Shade Garden Design Ideas

Assess your type of shade, dense shade, full shade, light or dappled shade, or part shade. In need of shade garden ideas? Make any changes such as thinning a tree canopy to allow more light penetration or adding trees to provide more shade.  Add heavy pieces of garden art while easy access to the area before putting in plant beds.

Consider how to get water to the garden.  Providing adequate water is often a challenge in shade because shady areas tend to be dry.  Even during a heavy rain, a good amount of the water is deflected from the canopy of trees or overhangs around buildings. 

Create curved garden beds.  Gentle curves add a calming effect.  The gentle sweep of a curve helps soften harsh lines and encourage movement through the garden. Use a hose to outline the curves to see where you want them before defining the beds.  

After the shape and location of the beds is decided, put in your garden paths.  Your garden path will create a sense of purpose and destination. You can use mulch, gravel, or visit your local stone yard to see the many types of stones that are available.  Keep in mind that while mulch is an inexpensive way to go, it will need refreshing every year or two. Irregular shaped stones will add to a natural look whereas square or round ones will look more formal. 

This is a golden opportunity to beautify a tired lawn area struggling from the shaded conditions. Keep a small area of turf but surround it with your shade garden plants.  If too much shade for turf, plant shade-loving groundcovers instead and create a pathway through them.

Add garden art.  Garden art creates a focal point and attracts attention to the garden.  Adding art to the garden will create contrast in texture and shape from the plants.  Use art to insert a splash of color to the garden.  A colorful container will increase color beyond the shades of green from your plants.  If you live in colder climates garden art will create winter interest while your plants are sleeping.

The backbone of your shade garden will come from foliage. Combine different leaf colors, shapes and sizes to create a colorful mosaic of texture and form.  Use plants with different textures by combining large bold-leaved plants such as hostas with finer textures such as gold-colored sedges, liriope and ferns.

Go with lots of light colors to brighten up the darker shaded areas. Use variegated selections of plants to add extra color.  Shade gardens are more about leaf color than flower color.

Plant shade-loving shrubs for dramatic color.  Hydrangeas are one of the most colorful shrubs for shade. They perform best when receiving morning sun with shade during the hottest part of the day.  Many varieties need ample moisture during the hot summer months to thrive. Other shrubs include azaleas, rhododendrons and viburnums, all worthy of a place in your shade garden.

Native plants adapted to woodland situations are maintenance free.  Once established, they will flourish in wooded areas.  Many of them will grow and bloom before deciduous trees leaf out, then go dormant during summer months.  Naturalize bulbs such as daffodils, snowdrops and crocus to grow among your wildflowers for an extra early spring show.  

If you have deer visiting your shade areas, choose plants from deer resistant plant lists.  Although no plants are completely deer resistant, there are many plants deer will avoid. 

Many vegetables will grow in partial shade. Leafy vegetables are the most shade tolerant.  Choose colorful varieties such as red leaf lettuce to plant in your shade vegetable garden to provide color as well as fresh additions to your meals.

Augment your garden with shade loving annuals such as impatiens, begonias and fuchsias. They will grow best in areas with 4-6 hours of shade with morning sun, east facing locations or dappled shade. Include caladiums to add vivid color and diversity of foliage.  

We’d love to hear how Earth’s Ally is helping you grow shade loving plants. Share your experience and stay connected with the #EarthsAlly community on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for access to our latest blog posts, giveaways and exclusive promotions.

quotation mark right Keep It Cool with Shade Gardens
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By Angelo Randaci, Earth’s Ally Master Gardener and Horticulture Expert

Creating the Right Planting Environment

“We lost too many plants in our impatience to possess them, because we had not achieved the proper growing conditions.”

-Beth Chatto, The Beth Chatto Handbook

Growing a plant labeled ‘easy care’ is not always easy. Unless given the right conditions, any plant can fail. When planted in locations favorable for their growth, the ‘easy care’ part becomes easier.   

One of the major solutions to gardening failures can be summed up with four words: right plant, right place.

The concept of “right plant, right place” simply implies plants will thrive best when planted in an environment most conducive to their growth.  Healthy plants grown in ideal conditions will be less labor intensive and less likely to succumb to disease, insect or environmental problems.  Here are some tips to help you place plants in their right place for optimal growth.

What to Plant and Plant Habitat

Find out how tall and wide a plant will be at maturity, so it won’t have to be moved if it outgrows its space.  A little research or advice from your garden center will help you choose a variety that will stay within your bounds. If there are aerial wires around your property you may want to choose dwarf or semi-dwarf trees and shrubs. When planting trees, don’t plant too close to a building because the roots and trunk can harm the foundation and will have to be removed at some point. Areas under windows require plants that will not block views.  The wrong selection of a ground cover can become an invasive nightmare, for instance a running-type of bamboo will send up shoots everywhere, whereas a clumping bamboo will stay in one place.  If tree space is limited choose a columnar variety that will grow tall and narrow or choose a dwarf growing variety.  There are plant selections to fit most any sized space in your yard.  

Planting Soil Conditions: Wet Soil, Dry Soil

An area that stays dry requires plants that thrive in various degrees of dry soil.  In this case, you are limited to succulents and other drought tolerant plants.  Likewise, if you have a wet area, you will need to select plants that thrive in wetter conditions.  If you don’t want to limit yourself to these conditions you can repair old, dry soils by adding organic matter, potting or construct raised beds to add healthy soil. A wet area may require adding drainage of some sort; a French drain, drainage pipes, or raising a plant bed to accommodate a well-drained soil.

Turf: Growing Grass

An emerald-green lawn in sun is beautiful but very high maintenance requiring regular watering and is often challenged by disease and pests.  Limit your turf area by removing it and putting in plant beds consisting of annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs.  

An area in shade will require a shade tolerant turf.  Even a shade tolerant turf will show signs of stress against competition from tree roots or heavy foot traffic in low light.  The solution to this issue could also become a new design feature on your property.  Where there is foot traffic you can add attractive paving stones, bricks or other material. Areas under trees could become beautiful shade gardens. Plants in an area under tree roots will compete for nutrients and water.  If this is the case hang containers from the tree branches and put containerized plants around the base of the tree.

General Tips:

Know your USDA hardiness zone. Knowing your zone will dictate what plants will tolerate your climate conditions. Plants you purchase will have a zone or zone range listed on either their plant tag or website.  If your zone is equal to the zone listed for the plant, it will grow in your area if you follow its cultural requirements.

  • Choose plants that are tolerant of low water conditions once established.  
  • Whenever possible, choose varieties of your favorite plants that are disease and pest resistant.
  • Avoid monoculture.  Choose a diversity of plants that will bring color and interest all season.
  • Do not mix plants with different water requirements.
  • If irrigating, purchase drip irrigation and soaker hoses. This puts the water where you need it.
  • Mulch your plants to conserve moisture, keep roots cool in the summer and hold heat during winter months.
  • A yard with a slope will gather water at the base. Plant moisture-loving plants there and more drought tolerant plants near the middle and top of the slope.
  • Place plants prone to diseases such as powdery mildew in areas that receive plenty of air circulation.
  • Amend the soil for best results.  Recycle kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, lawn clippings and leaves to your compost pile.  If space is limited, purchase compost either in bags or in bulk and spread it on your garden. 

The right plant situation can change as your plants grow. Plants that were once in full sun will be subject to increasing shade as your landscape matures.  If your plants begin stretching for more sunlight or have weak growth and poor flowering, then it is time to change to shade-loving plants in that area.

Planting the right plant in the right place or creating an environment for the right plant will reward you with beautiful, lasting garden spaces.  Experiment with your spaces, a little experimentation will open the door to greater possibilities in plant selection. You may even discover a niche where a fussy plant will be perfectly happy.  Remember even the most limited landscape situations have solutions to help broaden your plant palette.  

We’d love to hear how Earth’s Ally is helping you grow healthy plants in the right place. Share your experience with our formulas and stay connected with the #EarthsAlly community on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for access to our latest blog posts, giveaways and exclusive promotions.

quotation mark right Right Plant, Right Place
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By Angelo Randaci, Earth’s Ally Master Gardener and Horticulture Expert

By Angelo Randaci

The Art of Plant Staking

Staking plants is an essential part of gardening. Nothing is more frustrating than to see a wave of vibrant blossoms at the peak of beauty fall over with broken stems or trampled blooms.  Without plant supports, many plants will fall over from unforeseen factors such as strong winds, rains, animal traffic or plant stress.  This can devastate your garden.

Staking plants simply means to support a plant by any number of methods. It’s the plants we want to see, not a slew of plant props. If plant stakes are the first thing you notice in your garden, then read on for ideas and tips on how to stake plants inconspicuously so the beauty of your plants shines through.

Types of Plant Support Stakes

Plant stakes fall into two basic categories: preventative and remedial.  Preventative staking is providing supports to plants before they fall over.  Remedial staking involves the repair of plants that have already flopped. 

  • Preventative Garden Stakes - Plants with large flowerheads will often fall over by their own weight or after heavy rains.  Double peonies are a good example of this. Other plants with tall or heavily flowered stems are prone to falling over as well.  Some examples are: delphiniums, foxgloves and hollyhocks. These flowering beauties will benefit from preventative measures before issues occur. Staking plants early, when they reach about half of their mature height, will provide support for the plant and allow the foliage to hide the stake as it grows.  
  • Remedial Garden Stakes - Remedial staking is more challenging because you are in repair mode.  Broken stems will need to be pruned out along with bent over flower heads.  It may be too late at this point to save the flower by staking it unless the stems have not broken.  When you do stake them, the plant supports will be more conspicuous. 

Plant Support Stakes Tips & Tricks

Regardless of methods,the key here is to stake your plants as inconspicuously as possible. Here are some tips on how to discreetly stake your plants.

The color of your garden stakes and ties is important. Paint the stake shades of green to match the foliage. Green Velcro ties are available that will work well with the added advantage that they can be adjusted as the plant grows.

Do not tie your plants too tightly. The plants naturally require movement from the wind to thicken the stems. Be sure your stakes are thick enough and tall enough to support your plants. The stake will need to go in at least 12”into the ground to hold your plants upright. Keep extra stakes on hand for remedial staking or to add to existing stakes to reinforce your plants.

Things you can do to avoid having to stake your plants:

  • Description automatically generated with low confidence">Develop a good garden soil with plenty of organic matter. This allows plants roots to grow deep and helps anchor them in the soil.
  • Use proper spacing for your plants. Plants planted too close may stretch for light and develop weak stems.
  • Pruning certain plants early in the season will keep them at a shorter height and make them bushier.
  • Practice “right plant right place.” Choose plants that will thrive in the conditions you have. Sun plants planted in too much shade will stretch and fall over from weak stems.  Shade plants may be stunted or even burned from too much sun. 
  • Some plants will fall over naturally, then turn upwards again interweaving between other plants and appear to travel around the garden. There is nothing wrong with this because it adds a natural element to the design.  

Garden Staking Methods

A simple inexpensive way to make plant stakes is torip fencing boards into 1/2” strips andcut them to desired lengths. Oftentimes you can use an existing support to attach ties to your plants. This could be a hook, nail, or pipe that is already on your house. Attach your plants to a wall using self-adhesive anchors. Anchors are available that do not harm the surface; attach plants to a nearby garden ornament or trellis if you can.

Use one stake to attach multiple stems. Drive a stake into the ground behind the plant or hidden in the middle; tie each stem to the stake separately like the spokes of a wheel. Chicken wire is one of the best methods of supporting plants like peony or Baptisia australis. Place a square of chicken wire over your peony plants when the shoots first emerge from the ground in the spring. As the stems grow, they will raise the chicken wire off the ground. The chicken wire becomes invisible when the plants mature and flower. Use flags or some type of marker to identify yet to emerge plantsso you don’t step on them until they become obvious; you can write the name of the plant on the flags as a marker. This also prevents you from accidently pulling out a plant thinking it is a weed. Why not use a decorative garden stake to add color, beauty and whimsy to your garden? Plant stakes are available that add a vibrant spectrum of interest and color to your garden.

We’d love to hear how the Earth’s Ally blog is helping you grow healthy plants. Share your experience and stay connected with the #EarthsAlly community on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for access to our latest blog posts, giveaways and exclusive promotions.

quotation mark right Garden Stakes 101
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By Angelo Randaci, Earth’s Ally Master Gardener and Horticulture Expert

By Angelo Randaci

Celebrate World Bee Day with a Pollinator Garden

In 2017, the United Nations General Assembly declared May 20th as World Bee Day.  The purpose is to focus attention on the importance of preserving honeybees as well as other pollinators, which cannot be overstated. Three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants and about 35% of the world’s food production is dependent on pollinators. One way we can celebrate this very special day is to plant a pollinator garden.

What is a Pollinator Garden?

A pollinator garden is designed to attract butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, moths, and a wide range of pollinating insects. A pollinator garden should include a broad array of flowers to attract a diversity of pollinators. Attracting bees, butterflies, and birds will bring movement and a sense of serenity to the garden.

How To Attract Bees to Your Garden With a Bee Friendly Design

A great garden often begins with a great plan and the first step in creating greatness begins with creating healthy fertile soil.  The soil should drain well and contain plenty of organic matter. You can grow most plants in this type of soil.  

What Do Bees Like?

  • In general, bees tend to be attracted to purples, yellows and whites. Red flowers attract more hummingbirds and butterflies.
  • Bumble bees forage on members of the pea family. Lupines and beans are popular with bumble bee species.
  • Pollinators are especially attracted to plants they are used to, so choose native plants from your region.
  • Plant open single flowers. Their design is more user friendly to pollinators; geraniums, poppies, daisies and other daisy-type flowers. The single flowers provide easier access than double flowers.
  • Bees require water during foraging and collecting nectar, so create some type of water source. Fill a bird bath or other container with clean water and add stones just above the water level to serve as a landing strip.

For a constant supply of food for the pollinators, include nectar-rich plants that bloom from early spring until late fall. An assortment of long blooming and seasonal nectar plants provide food to attracted pollinators. Along with early spring, long blooming plants, and late season choices you can add a sprinkle of your favorite annuals to top off your design.

Bee Friendly Plants

Here are a few tips and some of the best pollinator plants to carry the garden from Spring to Fall.

  • Spring: For a delightful spring display, add early blooming bulbs. Purchase in the fall and work them throughout your garden for a stunning spring display. Crocus, bluebells, daffodils and grape hyacinths will attract early season pollinators. Columbines (Aquilegia canadensis) and foxgloves (Digitalis sp.) are biennials that will bloom in early spring and self-seed throughout the garden. If you have space for trees, plant trees such as apples, crab apples, serviceberry tree (Amelanchier spp.) and cherries.
  • Long-Blooming Plants: Sprinkle groupings of the following perennials to add long blooming color and insect food sources. Coneflowers (Echinacea sp.), Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia sp.), Tickseed (Coreopsis sp.), Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), Yarrow, Gaillardia, and Catmint (Nepeta sp.)
  • Late-Season Plants: The late blooming plants will extend the blooming season up until frost. Top late summer pollen plants include Asters, Goldenrods, Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana), Sneezeweed (Helenium sp.), Sedums, Joe Pye Weed, Ironweed, Blazing Star, Russian Sage, Asters, Mums (single flowered), Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) and Lavender.
  • Annuals and Herbs: Add bee-friendly annuals such as cosmos, dahlias (single flowered), ageratums, alyssum, milkweeds (Asclepias, annual and perennial species), and sunflowers. Favorite herbs of bees include anise, bee balm, borage, catnip, chives, hyssop, rosemary, valerian and mints.

All the plants on the above list will provide a bee banquet for your pollinator garden. Always check to see what plants will grow in your area.

A Few Tips & Tricks For Your Organic Garden

  • If you have limited in space, then plant pollinator plants in containers. Containers are versatile, moveable and changeable throughout the season.
  • Inter-mix bee friendly flowers with different flower/petal shapes and types. The reason to use different shaped flower parts is to provide pollen sources for insects with varying mouthpart types. Grow tubular-shaped flowers like foxglove, honeysuckle, penstemons and snapdragons.
  • Allow wildflowers such as clover, daisies and dandelions to populate your lawn providing additional nectar sources.
  • If you have an existing garden, simply add nectar plants to your annual or perennial border. Many of your plants may already be insect friendly plants.
  • Plant a variety of flowering plants around and in your vegetable garden to promote pollination of your veggies.
  • Add shrubs to provide flowering backdrop to your pollinator-friendly garden. Shrubs to attract pollinators include: Viburnums, Weigelia, Lilac, Sumersweet (Clethra alnifolia), Oak Leaf Hydrangea and Cotoneaster.
  • Many insects, butterflies and moths get most of their nectar from the thousands of flowers produced by trees. Here are a few good choices; Lindens, Hawthorns and Crape Myrtles. Besides being a food source, trees provide essential habitat. Leaves and resin from trees provide nesting material and wood cavities are used as shelters.

Use Organic Principles

When creating a habitat for pollinators to forage and thrive, avoid application of chemical pesticides that are toxic to the environment, to your family and to the pollinators. Sticky traps and organic controls are effective alternatives.

It is essential to check the ingredient list on all garden products. Beware of toxic pesticides, herbicides, and fungicide ingredients such as rotenone, pyrethrins, spinosad, diatomaceous earth, copper sulfate, and insecticidal soaps and oils. Moderately toxic ingredients include boric acid, neem, ryania, sulphur and copper. Review the “Environmental Hazards” section of the label to see if the product is toxic to bees.

If possible, wait until after blooming season to apply pesticides and only apply the products to affected plants. If you need to control pests, spray within 2 hours of sunrise or sunset to minimize risk to bees.

At Earth's Ally, we are committed to protecting our pollinators. We offer a complete lineup of Bee Safe® gardening products that have been scrutinized and tested by independent laboratories to ensure they are both effective and safe for People, Pets & Planet.

When we developed Earth’s Ally Insect Control, we tested extensively to ensure there was not harm to the bee population. It is formulated with rosemary, clove and peppermint oil to knockdown soft-bodied insects. The OMRI Listed® formula leaves behind no harmful residue and can be used up until the day of harvest.

We’d love to hear how Earth’s Ally is helping you grow healthy pollinator gardens. Share your experience with our bee safe formulas and stay connected with the #EarthsAlly community on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for access to our latest blog posts, giveaways and exclusive promotions.

quotation mark right How to Create a Pollinator Garden
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By Angelo Randaci, Earth’s Ally Master Gardener and Horticulture Expert

By Angelo Randaci

8 Natural Herbs to Grow for Tea

Imagine walking into your garden, picking an aromatic handful of leaves from your favorite herb plants, and making a cup of delicious tea. You can easily grow herbal tea plants in your garden to suit your taste along with their many health benefits. To help you get started here is a partial list of brew-friendly plants that can be used to make infusions that will soothe and restore, straight from your garden.

#1 Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

Elderberries are one of the easiest and most versatile shrubs to grow in a tea garden. They grow well in either full or part sunny locations and make a perfect backdrop for your shorter tea garden plants. The newer available varieties have highly ornamental characteristics such as purple or green and white variegated foliage. Growing elderberry is fairly straightforward. Elderberry gardens thrive in soils with plenty of moisture and even wet areas of your garden. For best fruit production plant at least two different varieties together. Elderberry tea is made from dried, ripe elderberries that have been boiled in water. The berries are rich in highly bioactive antioxidants which support the immune system. They could help soothe inflammation, lessen stress, and help protect your heart.

#2 Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Of all the herbal teas, peppermint tea is the most consumed throughout the world. Peppermint oil from the leaves contain high amounts of menthol which give the tea its strong, sharp, minty and cooling taste. Peppermint tea is said to be good for increasing alertness, enhancing mood, improving memory, helping people sleep, improving bad breath, boosting the immune system, and helping with symptoms of a common cold. Peppermint plant gardens are vigorous perennials that prefer moist but well-drained sites in full to partial sunny conditions. Peppermint plants have a running habit and will quickly take over an area if not managed by a containment of some sort.

#3 Spearmint (Mentha spicata)

Because spearmint contains less menthol than peppermint, it tends to be sweeter and milder with many of the same benefits of peppermint tea. Spearmint also has a running habit and is best contained and managed in the garden.

#4 Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)

It is believed that after the English tea was destroyed during the Boston Tea Party revolution, Bee Balm tea was used as a substitute. Because of its high thymol content, a strong antiseptic also found in thyme, bee balm is traditionally used for a variety of ailments including colds, flu, upper respiratory problems, fevers, and used topically for wounds. The species Monarda didyma is a beautiful garden perennial that attracts bees (hence the name bee balm) as well as other pollinators.

#5 Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum)

Holy basil is an Ayurvedic herb widely used as a therapeutic tea. Holy Basil tea is described as “The Incomparable One”, “Elixir of Life,” and “Queen of the Herbs.” This is another member of the mint family closely related to culinary basil. The Holy Basil plant has been used for centuries to cure symptoms of many diseases and ailments; asthma, bronchitis, colds, congestion, coughs and flu. It is said to promote a healthy response to stress, promote longevity, and nourish the mind. Inhaling the steam from a fresh cup of tea may help clear sinuses.

#6 Rose Petal/Rose Hip Tea

Roses with their timeless beauty and fragrance are often the centerpiece of the tea garden. Harvested buds, petals and hips add a tasty floral fragrance and tangy flavor when added either alone or with other loose tea combinations. Besides making a delicious red rose tea, rose petals may help lessen stress and anxiety, improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and encourage healthy skin. Because rose hips are high in antioxidants and one of the best sources of vitamin C they are often used in vitamin supplements. Choose varieties of roses for flower fragrance and large rose hips.
*Note about using rose petal tea: Do not use or eat flowers from nurseries, florists, or garden centers. The pesticides used may not be labeled for food crops. Treat your rose garden with Earth’s Ally Disease Control and Earth’s Ally Insect Control.

#7 Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Lavender is known for its soothing scent and oil. Lavender flowers and leaves are used in aromatherapy, alternative medicine, beauty products as well as herbal tea. Lavender tea is made from flower buds that grow on long, upright, purple flower spikes. Drinking lavender tea may improve your mood and have a general calming effect. It may also improve sleep quality and skin health. In the tea garden, lavender performs as a reliable perennial in zones 5 through 9 if grown in well-draining soil in full sun.

#8 German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman Chamomile (Matricaria nobile)

German chamomile is an annual and must be planted every year. It grows one to two feet in most any type of soil that is well-drained. Roman Chamomile (Matricaria nobile), on the other hand, is a perennial hardy in zones 4-9. This low growing chamomile will look its best when grown between flagstones or along pathways. Chamomile tea is made from the dried flowers of either species. Chamomile tea has long been used as a traditional folk remedy for a wide range of health issues. Some of its reported uses include; lowering blood sugar, slowing osteoporosis, reducing inflammation and helping with sleep and relaxation.

When preparing your tea harvest of fresh leaves, it is best to crush the leaves before brewing. Crush leaves using a mortar and pestle, kitchen utensil, or just use your hands. You do not need to crush flowers. If drying your herbs, you can hang them out of direct sunlight in an area with low humidity or simply place loose leaves and flowers on a tray or in a basket.

Here are a few final tips to gardening with tea-friendly herbs:

You can either grow them separately in a tea garden theme or include them in with your vegetables, annuals or perennial border. Many of them will attract pollinators while discouraging unwanted pests. Use them to add variety and flavor to your daily meals.

When growing your own, you can choose varieties that you will not find in your local store. There are some 30 different types of basil alone. Above all, have fun with the process; the growing, harvesting, and using these wonderful, healthy herbs.

Your tea garden herbs are susceptible to garden pests such as aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. Avoid non-organic pesticides in your garden by using Earth’s Ally Insect Control and Repellent. It is safe for all your plants and will not harm bees or other pollinators.

We’d love to hear how Earth’s Ally is helping you grow a tea garden. Share your experience and stay connected with the #EarthsAlly community on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for access to our latest blog posts, giveaways and exclusive promotions.

quotation mark right How To Start a Tea Garden
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By Angelo Randaci, Earth’s Ally Master Gardener and Horticulture Expert

Weed Trouble Zones

Weed trouble zones are areas virtually anywhere and everywhere that weeds spring up. Obvious areas would include cracks in driveways, pavers, and street edges. There are some unusual places to look out for as well, read on for all the details.


When scouting for weed trouble zones, don’t forget to look up.  Regardless of how tall your house is, leaves and twigs often find their way into your gutters.  As leaves decompose in your gutters, they become partially decomposed.  Gardeners call this leaf mold.  This leaf mold will provide the perfect conditions for the germination of weed seeds.  Not only that, if water flow through your gutters is blocked, it can pool inside the gutters, run over the side and send water to your foundation.  Leaf mold will hold up to 500% of its own weight in water.  If this water is trapped in your gutters for any length of time, they may even collapse. To remedy this, besides regular cleaning and inspection, you may want to purchase gutter guards. There are many types of gutter guards available that will keep your gutters leaf and weed free.  And while you’re at it, be sure to inspect other areas on your roof such as around chimneys, downspouts, and in between roofing shingles, especially if your roof is made of tiles.  

Areas Under Overhangs

Areas under overhangs remain dry for lack of natural rainwater, but that will not stop certain weeds. Weeds such as thistles and nettles will find a home there. Overhangs should not be planted unless you want to hand water because rainwater cannot reach these areas. The drip line where water runs off the house is a prime area for weeds to grow and flourish.  One solution is to use a weed mat in these difficult areas and cover with stones. Bring the mat and stone line beyond the overhang where water runs off your roof. You can even choose colored stones to match your house. Do not use mulch near your foundation as this can attract termites.

Low Areas in Your Landscape

Low areas will hold water and kill turf or many of our landscape plants. Water loving weeds such as chickweed, crabgrass, ground ivy, sedges and moss can find their way to these wet, unfavorable zones.  You can however, get creative with wet spaces by constructing a rain garden.  A rain garden is basically a depressed area in the landscape that collects water runoff that is planted with water tolerant plants.  Another solution is to put in a dry creek bed.  A dry creek bed is an effective drainage solution and a low maintenance landscape feature.  You can also change the elevation, add soil, a French drain, or add drainage pipes to the area.  

Bare Spots in Your Lawn                                     

Bare spots are caused by foot traffic, poor soil conditions, pet urine, grub infestation, chemical spills, or a variety of other reasons.   Bare spots in any open area are prone to weed infestation. If bare spots are in the lawn, disturb the soil lightly with a rake or hand trowel and re-seed.  You can also purchase grass plugs to immediately fill in the bare spots.  Grow a thick lawn by maintaining water and fertilizer levels and mow your grass high, taking off only about a third of the blade. The taller leaf blades will shade the soil and discourage weed growth.  Spot spray with Earth’s Ally Weed Control. This will effectively kill broad leaf weeds in grass.  Use a plastic cup with the ends removed to place over the weed to keep spray off the turf. 

Weeds Growing Through Groundcovers

One of the most challenging weed zone areas is among groundcovers.  In a well-established ground cover bed, weeds have a difficult time growing.  But weeds, especially in newly planted groundcovers, are a challenge. The key to groundcover planting is in the preparation.  Prepare your area carefully by first removing weeds.  Add compost or other organic matter.  In both established and newly planted beds you will need to hand-pull weeds from the beds until the groundcover is established.

Weeds Growing In and Around Your Garden Plants

Garden weeds often find shelter growing under and in between the stems of plants. Regular inspections are necessary to detect them.  Hand pull weeds that are inside the plants, but do not cultivate around your plants as this will encourage more weed seeds in the soil to germinate. Wondering how to keep weeds out of your garden in the first place? Keep a layer of mulch around your plants. Be careful not to put mulch on the plant stems.

Empty Beds

Cover empty beds left fallow during extended periods or over winter months. Cover with mulch or plastic. Black plastic can be used in the summer when it is hot. The heat will keep weeds from growing and burn out existing weeds.

Weeds Growing in Containers

Keep an eye out for weeds coming up through newly planted containers. They can quickly fill in and compete with your plants.  Water and fertilize your plants for fastest growth.  Add mulch or decorative stones around the plants to discourage weeds and retain moisture.

Habits and Persistence

Practice new habits to save work later on! Stroll through your garden with a good cup of coffee and pull a weed or two. Here are my tips:

  1. Persistence is the best tip; keep after them.
  2. Pull weeds after a rain, they will be much easier to pull. 
  3. Pull weeds before they set seeds.  
  4. Keep after obvious areas such as cracks in pavement or weed between pavers.
  5. Spray any of these trouble zones with Earth’s Ally Weed Control for immediate control. 

Earth’s Ally Natural Weed Killer

The Earth’s Ally formula is safe for People, Pets & Planet and eliminates common garden weeds, like broadleaf, dandelion, clover, ivy, chickweed and grassy weeds, including crabgrass. Earth’s Ally is a non-selective herbicide with zero pre-emergent properties, meaning it will not prevent the future growth of plants in the soil where it was used. It is a great garden weed killer for this reason.

I recommend incorporating a “Sunshine, Shake & Saturate” mantra when using the Earth’s Ally natural weed killer for optimum success. Sunlight works with the product’s vinegar and sea salt to kill common weeds to the root, with results appearing in about three hours.

We’d love to hear how Earth’s Ally is helping you tame troublesome weeds. Share your experience and stay connected with the #EarthsAlly community on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for access to our latest blog posts, giveaways and exclusive promotions.

quotation mark right Weed Trouble Zones for Gardeners and Homeowners
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