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How to care for succulents and keep them alive

Here’s how to care for succulents, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve got a green thumb.

Everyone should know how to care for succulents. After all, these small, sweet plants can make a huge difference to your indoors. Whether they’re scattered around your home office, or dotted around your bedroom, succulents can improve your mood and give your decor a more natural finish. And while some can be very hardy, they still need some regular TLC; otherwise, you’ll end up looking for tips to save a dying plant.

That’s why we’ve pulled together this guide on how to care for succulents. We will look at what you should be doing, as well as what you need to avoid. So whether you’re new to the succulent-world or you’re a regular aficionado, there’s something here for everyone. Here’s how to care for your succulents and keep them thriving.

How to care for succulents

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1. Give them enough light — It might sound like common sense, but plants do need light to survive. So if you shut your succulents in an enclosed bathroom, they will inevitably die. Ideally, established succulents should get about six hours of full sun first thing in the morning, followed by partial shade for the remainder of the day.

If your succulent is more of a sapling though, too much sun can do some damage, so reduce the exposure as necessary. It’s also worth flagging that some succulents do require more light than others, especially those from the southern regions, such as cacti and yuccas. On the other hand, low light succulents also exist, such as snake plants and aloe vera.

2. Keep them watered and fed — An obvious point again, but many succulents are killed by either over or under-watering. And with so many being such a small size, this can be very easy to do. Succulents will naturally need more water in the summer, and less during the winter months. For general guidance, watering in the summer once a week is good practice, while as little as once a month may suffice in the winter.

You can always check how dry the soil feels using your finger — if the top inch feels dry, then it’s time to water. If you’re new to succulents, it’s also a good idea to use pots with drainage holes. This prevents you from over-watering, and you can re-use any excess in the tray on other succulents. You can also add a small amount of fertilizer during the spring or summer months to help with growth. We recommend Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food ($8.40, Amazon).

3. Watch the temperature — While succulents are pretty hardy, few will survive temperatures which drop below freezing, so keep them tucked up indoors during the colder months. Likewise, if the temperature is too high, say above 90°F, this too will kill most succulents.

Ideally, you want the temperature to range from 40-80°F for your plants to stay happy. But, remember, the higher the temperature, the more often they will need watering.

4. Rotate your pots — Wherever you’ve placed your succulents, odds are one side is not getting as much light as the other. Over time, this can result in your succulent growing in the direction of the sun and “leaning.”

Preventing this is easy: Simply rotate your plant every so often to give the other side some sun. This makes them look better and gives their growth better support.

5. Keep pests at bay — While you might think indoor succulents will be free from pests, think again. Gnats and mealybugs are attracted to damp soil and fertilizer, which can make them an unwelcome guest on your succulents.

First, you need to isolate any plants which show signs of infestation and clean the area to prevent it from spreading to others. Next, mix up a solution of one part 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and one part water. Then spray the soil as well as any pests you can see on the leaves to kill them. Make sure the succulent is free of pests before putting it back with the others.

6. Use the right soil — Soil does matter and you might be using the wrong stuff. You need a soil which isn’t too dense and allows for fast-draining, which means everyday compost won’t work. Instead, buy a dedicated succulent soil, such as The Succulent Cult Store’s Organic Potting Soil ($9.89, Amazon).

You should look to repot your succulents every two years; you should do this during its growing season. Just be careful with the roots, as these can easily be damaged.

7. Give the leaves a once over — It’s always annoying when you notice dust building up on the leaves. Some of us won’t do anything about it for fear of damaging the plant, but this myth needs to be busted.

Excessive dust can actually slow the growth of your succulent, so you’re better off getting rid of it. Plus, the colors will look much better without it. All you need to do is wipe the leaves down every so often with a damp microfiber cloth. You can also use a brush to reach any tight spaces.

For more planting tips, tricks, and how-tos, check out- Gardening


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BEST ESSENTIAL OILS FOR SKIN RASHES & POISON IVY NATURAL REMEDIES

Essential oils can help ease the discomfort of poison ivy rash. After all, essential oils have been used as natural remedies for many years. They offer relief from a wide array of ailments including poison ivy.

Before we cover natural remedies and essential oils for poison ivy, let’s cover the basics of this pesky plant and the symptoms it causes.

WHAT IS POISON IVY?


Poison ivy (toxicodendron radicans) is a common plant that grows in the United States. It is an as an invasive species throughout many parts of North America and can be found growing along roadsides, on fences and walls, or even in your garden.

POISON IVY RASH

The vines and leaves of the poison ivy plant emit a sticky oil called Urushiol, which can cause a contact dermatitis allergic reaction. If you are allergic to poison ivy (most people are), it may cause an immediate reaction when touched. If you have been exposed to the oil of the plant, your skin will usually develop rashes after 24 hours. Poison ivy symptoms include itchy inflamed skin and many small blisters in the skin’s affected areas.

You can even have an allergic reaction without actual physical contact with poison ivy. Urushiol oil can cause a break out just from touching tools, pets or clothing that have come in contact with the plant. The sticky oil can remain active for a long time. Urushiol has even been known to travel via air when burning brush or logs entwined with the vining plants. This can be particularly dangerous, if inhaled. You don’t catch poison ivy from someone else’s skin rash though.

Poison ivy symptoms and description. Leaves of the poison ivy plant compared with poison oak and poison sumac.

HOW TO PREVENT A RASH

Before discussing the use of essential oils in the treatment of poison ivy, let’s try and avoid the problem altogether.

The first tool in preventing exposure is learning to identify the leaves of the vine. The leaves are green and sometimes tinged with red in the spring and summer months. The leaves grow in clusters of three, hence the old saying “leaves of three, let it be”. There is sometimes a shine to the leaves, but often not.

If you are removing poison ivy, wear gloves and long sleeves and pants. Be mindful of cleaning anything that is touched by plant or your gloved hands and clean up well. Even the dried up plant has urushiol, so handle with care.


Caution: Don’t burn poison ivy, due to dangerous fumes.

IMMEDIATE ACTION


If you are exposed to poison ivy, wash immediately with soap and water. Use cool or warm water, not hot, which will open pores and invite rash.

washing hands with cool water and soap after poison ivy exposure.

You may also use rubbing alcohol or apple cider vinegar to cleanse the affected area. Both are astringent and effective at cutting the toxic oil which contains the irritant.

Remove any clothing that may have touched the poison ivy plants and wash in warm soapy water before wearing again.

Warning

Home remedies and essential oils are great for treating mild cases of poison ivy but are no substitute for professional medical advice. The reaction can go far beyond simply itchy skin in some cases.

If you are developing a rash around your eyes, mouth, genital area, or the afflicted area covers more than a quarter of your body seek medical help. Also get medical attention if you develop a fever, breathing difficulties or the rash area gets any pus or yellow scabs. [ref]

POISON OAK AND POISON SUMAC

Rashes from these poisonous plants can be treated the same way we treat poison ivy. In fact, you may not even know which rash you have. They have such similar symptoms.

9 ESSENTIAL OILS FOR POISON IVY RELIEF

If despite your best efforts to avoid poison ivy vines and wash properly when exposed, the next day you still end out with a poison ivy rash essential oils can help bring relief to your itchy skin.

TEA TREE OIL

Tea tree essential oil is distilled from the leaves of the Australian tree, Melaleuca alternifolia. The oil is often used in poison ivy remedies, since it contains terpenes such as cineole, camphor and pinene which are useful against the rash. These compounds help reduce inflammation by inhibiting histamine release. In addition, tea tree oil helps prevent infection by killing bacteria like Staphylococcus Aureus.

LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL


Lavender essential oil contains linalool, limonene and geraniol. Linalool inhibits the production of prostaglandins responsible for swelling and itching. Geraniol reduces irritation caused by urushiol. Limonene has helpful anti-inflammatory properties. Lavender oil relieves pain and promotes skin healing. It is also antibacterial which is aids in avoiding infection of open skin areas from scratching.

This oil is used in my oatmeal bath recipe, which is a natural remedy that is very helpful in easing the discomfort of poison ivy rashes. It is a great way to aid in treatment of young children before bedtime. Just make sure you use lukewarm to cool water, rather than hot water.

PEPPERMINT ESSENTIAL OIL

Peppermint oil is often recommended for treating poison ivy rashes. Its menthol has a cooling effect which helps soothe redness and itchiness. Methyl chavicol works against bacterial infections and eucalyptol provides analgesic properties.

Peppermint oil along with soothing aloe vera, witch hazel and lavender oil are all used in my Sunburn Relief Spray, the spray would also ease the discomfort of a poison ivy outbreak.

CHAMOMILE ESSENTIAL OIL

The calming and soothing characteristics of Roman chamomile essential oil make it a good alternative for all skin types, even those with sensitive skin. Roman chamomile essential oil is also great for bug bites, skin allergies and of course, rashes like poison ivy.

Tip: Don’t have chamomile oil on-hand. Soak chamomile tea bags in warm water, then chill to use as a cold compress on the affected area to reduce inflammation.

YLANG YLANG ESSENTIAL OIL


This oil is rich in sesquiterpenes called nerolidols. Nerolidol is a sedative compound that calms nerves and relaxes muscles. It is also helpful in reducing anxiety and stress. The scent of ylang ylang is very relaxing and calming.

ROSEMARY ESSENTIAL OIL


Rosemary oil is great for soothing irritated skin. The oil contains rosmadial, carvacrol and thymol. Rosmadial is antiseptic and antimicrobial. Thymol is antibacterial and antiviral, which is great for avoiding infection of a blistering rash. Carvacrol is an antioxidant and insect repellent.

EUCALYPTUS ESSENTIAL OIL


If you want to cleanse the rash, use Eucalyptus oil as it can help remove urushiol, which is a cause of irritation and has antiseptic properties. It will also help to keep the skin hydrated and prevent flaky skin at the end of the healing process. Eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus) is recommended to be used when your poison ivy rash is nearly gone, to aid in final healing.

GERANIUM ESSENTIAL OIL


Geranium oil works wonders for skin, but it’s really amazing when it comes to allergic reactions such as the rash from contact with urushiol. The oil stops the release of extra histamines thus reducing the inflammatory reaction itself. It may be helpful in limiting the immune system reaction and calming inflamed skin.

MYRRH ESSENTIAL OIL


The antimicrobial properties of myrrh make it one of my favorite natural ingredients for treating any rash and encouraging the healing process.

HOW TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS FOR POISON IVY


When you use essential oils for poison ivy, it is important to dilute them before applying to the skin. This is especially true for sensitive areas or of there is even the slightest break in the skin. Diluting them with other natural remedies for poison ivy, sumac and poison oak rash boosts results.

CALAMINE


One of the first things most of us will do when facing a poison ivy rash is apply calamine lotion or soap to the itchy rash. The zinc oxide in calamine is primarily what brings relief, by drying out the rash. You can add a couple drops of essential oil to the lotion to boost effectiveness.

If you are sensitive to calamine, try making a simple bentonite clay or baking soda paste to aid in gently drying out the skin area. Simply mix with a little lukewarm water and a couple drops of essential oils.

CARRIER OIL

Of course, a carrier oil can be used to apply essential oils to the area. Virgin coconut oil is the ideal choice for this.

SALT WATER

Perhaps you have noticed your rash fading faster after a trip to the beach. the salt and minerals in ocean water help dry up a poison ivy rash. We don’t want to put the proverbial salt in the wound, but if your rash is not oozing a cotton ball dunked in a mild saline solution with an essential oil booster may just be the solution you are looking for.

ALOE VERA

Mixing your oils into aloe vera gel is a great choice when skin conditions are a bit rougher. If you have small abrasions in the affected area from scratching, this will help soothe the symptoms and accelerate skin healing.

ASTRINGENTS

Natural astringents such as apple cider vinegar and witch hazel not only help dry out the tiny blisters from the rash, but also provide immediate relief to the area, since they create a cooling sensation as they evaporate.

Colloidal Oatmeal

OATS

Oatmeal bath can be an effective remedy for poison ivy. Colloidal oatmeal actually leaves a thin protective coating on the skin and encourages healing. Lavender, chamomile and eucalyptus are great choices to use in an oat bath for rashes.

Poison Ivy Gel Treatment

Essential Oil Poison Ivy Gel Author: The Naturally Blooming Total Time: 2 minutes

This quick simple essential oil gel will help ease the symptoms of poison ivy. A natural poison ivy remedy for mild cases.

INGREDIENTS
2-ounce glass bottle

1 ½ tablespoons Aloe vera gel
½ tablespoon witch hazel
5 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops of geranium essential oil
5 drops of rosemary essential oil


INSTRUCTIONS
Pour the aloe vera gel and witch hazel into the bottle with a small funnel.
Add the essential oil blend and shake well.

NOTES

Home remedies are only meant for mild to moderate poison ivy symptoms. Seek medical advice if your rash is near eyes, other sensitive body parts or covers 25% or more of your body. You should also do so if fever, loss of breath or pus comes from the rash area.

It is also wise to do a test patch before applying any oils you have not used in the past, even when diluted. An adverse reaction on top of a painful rash needs to be avoided.

Prep Time: 2 min

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HOW TO STORE FRESH CILANTRO

Are you a fresh herb lover? Have you ever wondered how to store fresh cilantro and other herbs a way that will help last them longer? There is an easy way to store leafy herbs that can make them last up to 6 weeks!

What’s the secret? Treat bunches of cilantro just like you treat fresh-cut flowers!

Like a florist, you need to trim the ends of your leafy herbs, place them in fresh, cool water and store them in a fridge. Once a week or so you need to replace the water and retrim the ends. Freshly trimmed ends will be able to absorb more water, allowing the herbs to stay fresh.

You can loosely cover your herbs with a plastic bag once they are trimmed and in cool water. I use a disposable bag from the grocery store vegetable section (I usually get one with my cilantro).  Or ziplock bags work as well Herbs can also be stored uncovered. See which works well in your fridge, it depends on the humidity in your area.

My cilantro lasts a LONG time with or without a plastic bag cover. Just remember to trim it regularly and keep the water fresh. This storage tip works with many leafy herbs. Check out my parsley!

My current batch of cilantro, can you believe it is more than six weeks old? No slime in sight!

I hope you try this technique to make your fresh herbs last longer!

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HOW TO REGROW YOUR VEGETABLES AND HERBS FROM SCRAPS AT HOME

HOW TO REGROW YOUR VEGETABLES AND HERBS FROM SCRAPS AT HOME

Regrow your vegetables and herbs from scraps at home

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Lemongrass

Lemongrass grows just like any other grass. To propagate it, place the root end (after you’ve cut the rest off) in a glass jar with a little water, and leave it in a sunny position.

Within a week or so, new growth will start to appear. Transplant your lemongrass into a pot and leave it in a sunny outdoor position. You can harvest your lemongrass when the stalks reach around a foot tall – just cut off what you need and leave the plant to keep growing.

Ginger

Ginger is very easy to re-grow. Simply plant a spare piece of ginger rhizome (the thick knobbly bit you cook with) in potting soil with the newest (ie. smallest) buds facing upward. Ginger enjoys filtered, not direct, sunlight in a warm moist environment.

Before long it will start to grow new shoots and roots. Once the plant is established and you’re ready to harvest, pull up the whole plant, roots and all. Remove a piece of the rhizome, and re-plant it to repeat the process.

Ginger also makes a very attractive house-plant, so if you don’t use a lot of ginger in your cooking you can still enjoy the lovely plant between harvests.

Garlic

You can re-grow a plant from just a single clove – just plant it, root-end down, in a warm position with plenty of direct sunlight. The garlic will root itself and produce new shoots. Once established, cut back the shoots and the plant will put all its energy into producing a tasty big garlic bulb. And like ginger, you can repeat the process with your new bulb.

Mushrooms

You can grow mushrooms from cuttings, although they are a bit more difficult than many other vegetables. You will need a warm area with a lot of humidity and soil that is rich in nutrients. It is much better to grow your mushrooms in a pot as opposed to in the ground because you have a better shot at controlling the temperature and the humidity. You just have to cut away the head of the mushroom and plant the stalk or stem in the soil. Leave the very top exposed and this base will begin to grow a new head.

Onions

Onions are one of the easiest vegetables to propagate. Just cut off the root end of your onion, leaving a ½ inch of onion on the roots. Place it in a sunny position in your garden and cover the top with soil. Ensure the soil is kept moist. Onions prefer a warm sunny environment, so if you live in a colder climate, keep them in pots and move them indoors during frostier months.

As you use your home-grown onions, keep re-planting the root ends you cut off, and you’ll never need to buy onions again.

Peppers

You can grow a number of hot peppers from the seeds that are leftover. Just collect the seeds from your habaneros, jalapenos or any other peppers that you have on hand. Plant them in potting soil and keep in direct sunlight unless it is warm outside and then you can just plant them in your garden area. Peppers grow relatively fast and don’t require a lot of care. Once you get a new crop, just save some of the seeds for replanting again.

Leeks, Spring Onions, Scallions ,and Fennel

You could go out and buy some vegetable specifically for growing but I like to wait till I actually have a call for them in my cooking. With all 5 of these examples you will use the end of the vegetable with the white roots.Take the left over white roots and place them in a container with a small amount of water in it. You want the roots to be wet but you don’t want the entire thing submerged. Take your container and place it in a sunny window sill. I’ve actually grown green onion scraps in a fairly shady window on the north side of our house, your success may vary. I like keeping some in a window in the kitchen for my morning eggs, and in my office for snacking on (the wife loves kissing me after that). Within 3-5 days you will begin to see new growth come up. Remove the produce as you need and just leave the roots in the water to continually harvest your kitchen scrap crops. You should refresh the water weekly to keep the plant healthy.

Romaine Lettuce, Celery, Bok Choy & Cabbage

Just like the scallions, you will take the white roots of these vegetables to grow your produce. By cutting of the stalks or leafs with an inch or more and placing them into a bowl of water with the roots facing down you will be on your way. You want to make sure the roots are in water but you don’t want to submerge the entire plant. Make sure to place the bowl into a sunny window and spritz it with water weekly to keep the top of the plant moist.

Several days later you will begin to see the roots and leaves sprouting. 7 to 10 days in remove the plant from the water and plant it into soil with only the leaves above the soil. Your plant will continue to grow and in several weeks you will have a new head ready to be harvested.

If you want a different way to go with your pant you can try planting directly into the soil, skipping the water staging step from before. Keeping the soil from drying out will be very important that first week.

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