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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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Wildflowers in a time

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GARDENING TIPS: 10 WAYS TO IMPROVE SOIL FERTILITY

Gardening tips: 10 Ways to improve soil fertility

Starting your own garden is exciting, but it can be disappointing when soil quality becomes a problem and you can’t grow anything. If you’re having issues with your home garden, check your soil quality and try some of the suggestions below to improve soil fertility.

Understanding soil fertility

Like people, plants need nutrients to grow healthy. Fertile soil has all of the nutrients plants need to grow, like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Fertile soil also contains other nutrients like calcium, copper and magnesium.

Soil fertility is influenced by organic matter, pH levels, moisture and nutrient retention. Fertile soil also contains beneficial microorganisms, minerals and helpful insects like earthworms that aerate the soil.

The soil on the forest floor is a good example of fertile soil. It is usually dark, brown or black. It is also loose, rich and has an earthy smell.

Infertile soil, on the other hand, is usually hard, dry and difficult to dig. It might be pale, barren and causes water to run off instead of sink in.

Compaction, erosion and pesticide use can affect soil’s natural fertility. Growing the same crop in the same space over time can also reduce fertility and increase the presence of disease.

Soil type can also affect soil fertility. Your garden may have either clay soil, sandy soil, loam soil or silt soil.

If your garden soil does not have a well-balanced texture, you’ll have trouble with soil fertility. To ensure success in your garden, you need to determine what type of soil you have.

If your soil is unfertile, make amendments to its texture to improve soil fertility. The best kind of garden soil contains a mix of clay, silt and sand, which makes up loam. Use this jar test to determine your soil texture.

Factors like density, moisture content, organic matter and pH may affect soil fertility. If your garden soil is too compacted, water and air will not be distributed evenly throughout the soil. This is bad because it will hamper the growth of microbes and restrict the movement of nutrients in the soil.

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Testing for soil fertility


You can test your soil fertility through your local agricultural extension office. The soil test will help you understand how to address issues with your garden soil.

Try the earthworm test to check organic matter in your garden soil. It’s best to do this test in spring when the soil’s temperature has reached 50 F and its surface is moist.

Use a shovel to dig up about one cubic foot of soil. Put the soil on a piece of cardboard then break it apart to look for earthworms.

If you find at least 10 earthworms, your soil is healthy. If your soil has fewer than 10 worms, add more organic matter like aged manure, compost and leaf mold. Organic matter improves structure, slowly releases nutrients and increases beneficial microbial activity in garden soil.


10 Ways to improve soil fertility


Try these 10 suggestions to increase soil fertility in your home garden.

1. Amend soil texture

Once you confirm your soil texture, try the following amendments.

Clay soil

If you have hard clay soil, rainwater might run off. Amend clay soil by adding plenty of organic matter. Continue to add compost or mulch every year to build soil texture and fertility.

Sandy soil

Amend sandy soil by working several inches of organic matter into the soil. Continue to mulch throughout the year. Use cover crops like oats, rye, or sweet clover to build soil and soil fertility.

Silty soil

Amend silty soil by turning over the top layer of soil regularly. Add compost or aged sawdust and don’t overwater silty soils.

2. Plant deep-rooted plants

If your soil fertility is low, growing certain plants can help. Plants with deep tap roots can draw up minerals and nutrients from below the soil’s surface.

Once these plants die, the minerals and nutrients are returned to the soil near the surface where smaller plants can access them. The deep taproots also add aeration and channels in the soil that will provide water and oxygen to the plants you will grow.

Beneficial deep-rooted plants to grow in your garden include borage, comfrey, dandelion and yellow dock. Both borage and dandelion are edible and all four plants can bring up nutrients and minerals from the soil into the plant. Eventually, the plants will be composted or turned under to fertilize the soil.

3. Avoid tilling

Tilling breaks up the soil in your garden. It’s useful if you need to break up hard clay, turn the soil over and mix weeds and grass down into the soil.

However, tilling has its disadvantages. Tilling the soil can disrupt the natural processes of soil systems and reduce soil fertility.

The tiller will disrupt the natural bacteria in the soil by disrupting the air pockets and porosity of the soil, making it impossible for soil bacteria to survive.

Tilling also stirs up dormant weed seeds. Once this happens, weed seeds will reach the surface, grow and steal the nutrients that your crops need.

4. Liquid compost (compost tea)

Compost tea helps add plenty of nutrients and beneficial microorganisms to your soil. Either buy liquid compost or make your own compost tea.

5. Use a broadfork

If you need to break up garden soil, use a broadfork. This tool opens the soil up and is more friendly to natural bacteria and insects than a tiller.

A broadfork creates more aeration in the soil while a tiller creates less.

6. Mulch with hay

Note that commercially grown hay is treated with herbicides and pesticides that are bad for your garden soil. When mulching with hay, use organically grown hay.

7. Add sources of phosphate

Add phosphate to garden soil by using mineral sources like soft rock phosphate, hard rock phosphate and colloidal phosphate. These sources work best when added to manure and allowed to compost.

8. Add sources of calcium

Use lime to add calcium to the soil and moderate soil pH. Alternatively, you can use gypsum if your soil needs calcium and sulfur.

9. Add sources of potassium

Granite dust is a source of potash, but it doesn’t break down completely in garden soil. Instead, use glauconite, a slow-release mineral that allows potash to slowly break down into the soil. Note that glauconite can be rather expensive.

10. Use sources of nitrogen

Improve soil fertility by adding kelp meal directly to your soil. This option is expensive, but seaweed contains magnesium, nitrogen, phosphorus, potash and sulfur.

Blood meal is also expensive, but it has a high nitrogen content. Use blood meal sparingly to avoid burning your plants.

Fish meal or fish emulsion is also high in nitrogen, but some gardeners don’t consider it organic because it contains additives.

Before you start a home garden, test soil quality and boost soil fertility by using amendments and growing deep-rooted plants.

Do you have any more tips and tricks for gardening? Feel free to leave a reply I would love to know!

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Taking it easy on the heart❤️


Staying Hydrated


Reducing artificial sugar intake and replacing it with much more natural foods.

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Having a balanced diet with many great fruits, vegetables, herbs nutrients, fiber, and healthy proteins. 🥑🥦🍍

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If you would like a more detailed list on amazing natural herbs that help boost the immune system and can be included into your daily routines as well feel free to check out my other blogs on natural remedies and nutrition. 🌻

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