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How to Keep a Christmas Cactus Alive Forever

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Elizabeth Yuko
12/26/20 9:00AM
Source: Life Hacker
Feature Photo Source: Unsplash, Aaron Burden

When you’re going grocery shopping this time of year, it makes sense to want to get in and out as quickly as possible. So if you’ve breezed past the seasonal plants that usually live at the front of the store near the shopping carts and hit the aisles Supermarket Sweep-style, there’s a good chance that you’ve missed the Christmas cacti. (They’re the ones that aren’t poinsettias.)

They may not look very Christmassy—especially since many of them are varying shades of pinks, oranges and yellows—but that’s actually a good thing, because these plants deserve a spot on your windowsill year-round. Actually, there are reports of Christmas cacti living more than 100 years, so there’s a chance that grocery store plant could outlive you. Here are some tips for making that happen (or at least keeping it healthy).Use Chopsticks to Aerate the Soil of Your Houseplants

Whether you’re more of a casual houseplant owner who’s happy if you remember to water it, or are so

How to care for a Christmas cactus

If you picked up or were given a Christmas cactus this year, don’t throw it out at the beginning of the year, as you might a live Christmas tree. It’s basically part of your family now, so it’s time to learn how to take care of it.

In an interview with Tulsa WorldDr. Tom Ingram, a horticulturalist at Oklahoma State University, shared some tips for keeping that colorful cactus alive. (Which probably takes more effort than you think).

First of all, Ingram explains that Christmas cacti are what those in the plant business call “short day plants”—meaning that for them to produce flower buds, they need reduced sunlight and cooler temperatures. This works outdoors in Brazil, where the cacti are native, but not so much indoors in the winter. But there are ways to make it work. Per Ingram:

  • Keep the cactus in a cool, bright indoor location where daytime temps are between 65-70 degrees and evening temps are between 55-65 degrees. (That might mean on a drafty windowsill or somewhere that doesn’t get as much heat as the rest of your place.)
  • If the cactus is kept somewhere that doesn’t get down to around 55 degrees at night, it will need a minimum of 12 hours of darkness each night for about six weeks before they will bloom.
  • Make sure the pot has good drainage. Don’t overwater, but also keep in mind that this type of cactus doesn’t retain water like its succulent colleagues.
  • Re-pot your plant approximately every three years, but not more frequently than that. (They like to set down roots.)

How to Keep an Indoor Plant Alive

Keeping an indoor plant alive means providing it with what it needs on a long-term basis. Keeping…Read moreSubscribe to our newsletter!Type your emailSign me upBy subscribing you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Ingram offers more detailed advice in the article, but if nothing else, these tips will keep you from putting your Christmas cactus on top of the radiator because you assume it wants as much heat as possible and pretend like it is at home in a desert.Elizabeth YukoPostsTwitter

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is a bioethicist and adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham University. She has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone & CNN.

How was this article helpful? What works best for you with your house plants? Why? Why not?

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The 8 Best Indoor Plants: Top Picks From Plant Experts

Leah Koenig, Contributor
Source: Forbes

When it comes to caring for house plants, some folks are born with a green thumb while others swear they could kill a cactus. As a member of the latter category (or so I thought), I understand the hesitation that goes along with becoming a plant parent. I loved the idea of filling my space with the best indoor plants, but I was scared to end up with a bunch of dead foliage.

Indoor house plants from The Sill
Source: Forbes
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Then two years ago, a friend (who is also a gardening teacher) brought over a plant clipping to my apartment. She helped me settle it in a pot and shared advice on how to care for it. That gifted plant ushered me into the wide world of indoor greenery—my collection has grown to 11 house plants spread over three window sills—brightening my home and offering fulfillment along the way.

For aspiring plant parents who feel apprehensive about embarking on their own plant journeys like I once did, know that there are plenty of great indoor plant options for every skill level and environment. I sought out the advice of a few notable plant experts: Eliza Blank and Erin Marino, founder and marketing director, respectively, of The Sill; Christan Summers, CEO and co-founder of Tula Plants & Design; and Summer Rayne Oakes, founder of Homestead Brooklyn and Plant One On Me. They not only shared their extensive flora wisdom, but they also offered their picks for the best indoor plants, for beginners, less than hospitable conditions and beyond.

Check out their recommendations below, then read on for their expert tips on how to care for all your indoor plants.

  • Best Low Maintenance Indoor Plant: Marble Queen Pothos
  • Best Indoor Plant For Low Light: ZZ Plant
  • Best Indoor Plant For Small Spaces: Snake Plant
  • Best Flowering Indoor Plant: Anthurium
  • Best Indoor Plant for Clean Air: Parlor Palm
  • Best Indoor Plant For Pet Owners: Bird’s Nest Fern
  • Best Indoor Plant to Build Confidence: Philodendron
  • Best “Next Level” Indoor Plant: Monstera

Best Low Maintenance Indoor Plant

Known to be one of the easiest house plants to grow, the Marble Queen Pothos has lovely heart shaped leaves and growing vines that will quickly fill your plant shelf with beauty. Because it can thrive in low-light environments and with less-than-ideal watering practices, this very undemanding species is excellent for beginners or for anyone who is less than diligent about their plant care.


Best Indoor Plant For Low Light

The Zamioculcas zamiifolia, better known as the ZZ plant, is another reliable house plant option for beginners. It can withstand all sorts of less than ideal factors, like infrequent watering or dry air. And, most importantly for apartment dwellers or those who live in other shady spaces, they can easily tolerate low light environments. Attractive as a standalone or grouped with other plants, the ZZ plant is a happy option for the kitchen or bathroom.


Best Indoor Plant For Small Spaces

Available in a number of different varieties, this cheery succulent grows straight up, which makes it a great choice for people with small spaces. Snake plants are also said to purify indoor air, so some folks like them for their supposed purification qualities too. Group a few in different sizes near a bedroom window and you’ll have a nice arrangement to bring a little green to your sleeping space.


Best Flowering Indoor Plant

Known for their lipstick red (or dusky pink) lily pad–like blooms, anthurium are gaining traction on the list of best house plants. “They have a retro, ‘Mad Men’ vibe to them,” Marino says. “And the flowers are actually a modified leaf so the plant is in bloom year round.” Use your anthurium as an entryway or living room centerpiece, or add it to a green collection for a pretty pop of color.


Best Indoor Plant For Clean Air

The Parlor Palm is a tropical choice that’s often touted for it’s ability to clear out benzene and trichloroethylene, two chemicals that are commonly spread from furniture off-gassing. It’s also really low maintenance, thriving in indirect to low light and only requiring watering once every one to two weeks, and pet-friendly, so you don’t have to worry about keeping it locked up away from your fur babies.

While the science is still out on whether or not plants really purify the air—one study says that you’d need to have about 93 of them to really notice a significant difference—there’s something about being surrounded by greenery that just makes things feel cleaner and fresher.


Best Indoor Plant For Pet Owners

While ZZ plants and snake plants are inarguably great choices for beginners, they are unfortunately toxic to animals. “If you have a curious kitty or doggy, then I would recommend keeping those plants away from them,” Oakes explains. Instead, choose a Bird’s Nest Fern, a tropical houseplant with ruffle-edged leaves that provides a splash of green while being safe to furry friends.


Best Indoor Plant to Build Confidence

There is nothing like a healthy, quickly growing plant to amp up a new plant owner’s confidence. Philodendron vines deliver on this front, sprouting robust trails of vines dangling with heart-shaped leaves. “Philodendrons are easy to propagate, so before long you can take a cutting and make another plant,” Summers says. “Getting that positive affirmation makes you feel like a pro.”


Best “Next Level” Indoor Plant

Once you unlock your inner house plant mojo, Blank recommends graduating to a Monstera. The vibrantly green leaves are speckled with natural holes and lend a tropical vibe to the room. “They are still relatively easy but have a wonderful texture,” Blank says.


How to Care For Indoor Plants

Each expert I spoke with began with the same basic mantra: Light is food for plants. “Fertilizer offers extra nutrients and water helps, but your plant needs light to survive,” says Marino. She suggests standing near the window in your house or apartment around noon and noticing how hot and bright it feels. “You should be able to estimate if your apartment is relatively low light, medium light or high light at midday,” she explains. Assessing your home’s light situations serves as a guide for which plants you should choose to populate your sill (or mantle, shelf or desk).

“We think of plant buying a bit like matchmaking,” says Blank. We want your plants to fit your home, your style and your lifestyle.” Set yourself up for success by starting with low maintenance plant varieties, like a Marble Queen Pothos or ZZ plant, that can withstand a little accidental neglect while you travel up the learning curve.

Plants need good care in order to thrive, but new plant parents have the tendency to over-care for their plants. “Over-watering is the easiest way to kill your plant,” says Blank. “It’s easier to bounce back from under-watering than from over-watering.” Marino adds, “some people go into diagnosis mode the second they see a browning tip or yellowing leaf.” Her advice: don’t panic. “Just prune it right off and know that shedding is a natural part of the growth process.”MORE FROM FORBES14 Easy Indoor Herb Garden Kits, Plus Expert Tips For Growing SuccessBy Rachel Klein

Summers, meanwhile, advises against repotting plants too frequently. Some plant owners see a plant growing well and think that’s the time to switch it into a roomier pot. But that well-meaning impulse can backfire. “Repotting disrupts the plant’s root system, which means it has to focus on reestablishing its system instead of on new growth. You’re making it work harder than it needs to,” she says. Instead let your plants thrive in their current pots. “When you’re getting absolutely no growth — especially in spring and summer — then it is time,” Summers says. 

Just because some plants don’t need frequent watering doesn’t mean you should forget about them for too long. Take some time each day to touch base with your plant babies. “Developing a routine and ritual is important,” says Oakes. “If you get up to check on your plants when your coffee is brewing or tea is steeping, then you’re on the right path.” 

From YouTube and gardening books, to walking into a shop and chatting up the staff, there are endless sources to continue educating yourself about the house plants in your life. For those who can’t make it to a store, Tula offers robust educational resources like a plant care library. The Sill offers online workshops that answer burning plant care questions. And Oakes recently launched a 12-part mini course called Houseplant Basics that teaches the fundamentals of plant care. 

Which plant do you like for your home? Why? How was this article helpful?

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Growing in Autumn

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Echinacea

Its amazing how much people know about this site without ever, as stated, coming to the site. Nonetheless, one of the plants we sent out continues to do well even in the impending autumn and winter. The owner will soon be in the process of bringing her plant indoors. Echinacea requires much patience as it is reported to take up to 2 years to bloom. The medicinal properties of this tall plant are several. Keep growing!

What plants are you bringing indoors? How is it going? Have you made any adjustments?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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How to start a home garden

Source: CNN

May is not too late to start a garden. Here’s how to begin a vegetable garden for beginners, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, a print and online periodical providing planting charts for gardeners, sky schedules, weather forecasts and recipes since 1792. Pick the right spot.Choosing a suitable location is important because it affects the quality of the vegetables, the guide says. Most vegetables need at least six hours of sunlight daily, so pick a sunny location.If you’re not buying soil, you should have the soil in your yard tested for lead. Lead contamination is common in urban areas due to years of industrial development and pollution from man made toxins, according to Garden Collage Magazine. If your vegetables are contaminated from the soil, that could mean lead poisoning for you or any pets roaming around. You can have your soil assessed by sending several samples to a testing site for a low cost. Plant the vegetables in damp, not totally saturated, soil. If you have soil that doesn’t drain well, plant vegetables in a pot that’s raised from the ground. You should also garden in a place where your plants can remain stable — exposure to strong winds, floods or constant foot traffic could damage your plants.

Choose a plot size. Beginners should start small, considering what they can handle and what they’ll actually eat, the guide suggests. The size it recommends is 11 rows wide, each 10 feet long. But this guideline is to feed a family of four through an entire summer, so feel free to downsize if it’s just you. Make sure there’s enough space between each row to be able to easily walk through to weed and harvest your plants. The rows shouldn’t be more than 4 feet wide, as you probably won’t be able to reach over a bigger width to care for the vegetables. Select your vegetables (or any other produce). There are several vegetables that are common and easy to grow: tomatoes, radishes, chard, zucchini squash, peppers, cabbage, lettuce and carrots. Also consider what you like to eat, and again, how much you’re likely to consume. Here’s a guide to figuring out which vegetables grow best in your state. You could buy individual starter plants or opt to start from scratch with seeds. But the seeds should be high quality, the guide says, so your money isn’t wasted if the seeds don’t germinate. The almanac recommends buying seeds from a plant nursery; you can order them online, too. Decide where and when to plant. Planting one or two vegetables doesn’t require much strategic planning. But if you’re growing a whole garden, you’ll have to think about where each vegetable will go and when it needs to be planted.

Some vegetables, such as lettuce and root vegetables, grow in the spring. Others, including tomatoes and peppers, should be planted in the warmer months. Plant taller vegetables on the north side of your garden so they don’t shade shorter plants. Check to see whether the information along with your plant says it needs a permanent bed. Lastly, stagger your plantings. Don’t plant all your seeds at one time, or you’ll have a vegetable bounty that needs to be harvested and consumed in a tight time window. If you stagger your plantings, you’ll have a steady supply of food coming in.

How has this article helped you? How will you apply what you have learned? What will you grow in your garden?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Planning a visit?

echinacea plant shidonna raven garden and cook

Recently we had the pleasure of visiting one of the echinacea plants we sent out and her new owner in her new home. As reported she is doing well. She will grow to between 4 and 6 feet. Nonetheless, she has the potential to be a perfect fit for this urban environment. Like many flowers and herbs, echinacea has many medicinal benefits. Both her leaves and petals can be harvested for this benefit. One can also get echinaeca in pill form to take as a dietary supplement to help with booting the immune system just to name one of its medicinal benefits.

What type of environment do you live in? Urban or Rural? Where do you source your foods from? Which types of foods do you eat? How much processed and fast foods do you eat? How much whole foods do you eat? Do you grow any harvestbale plants? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Echinacea Flourishing at Home

echinacea plant shidonna raven garden and cook

When we sent this little echinacea plant to her new home she had 3 to 4 modest leaves. Since she has gone to her new home she has simply blossomed. Echineacea grows between 4 to 6 feet and should take up to two years to bloom. Her leaves and petals have many medicinal properties such as boosting the immune system, which is definitely a plus in the winter and particularly during a pandemic when people with pre-existing conditions can be at higher risk of catching COVID 19 than those who do not. Her new owner is looking forward to reaping the health benefits of this beautiful plant. Do you live in an urban environment like this echinacea plant owner? How do you care for your plants in your urban environment? What types of plants do you have or would like to have?

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Echinacea at home

Echineaca Plant Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

As we shared with you earlier this week, we are down to one plant. All other plants have found a new home and echinacea was one of them. I want to think her new care taker for being so patient as I prepared her for her new home. Since we are in the midst of a pandemic, I would be remiss not to tell you that among many medicinal benefits echinacea (one of our most requested plants) is a great source for building one’s immune system. With many with pre-exiting conditions being hit hard by COVID 19, Dr Peoples recommend that one take immune boosters to maintain good health during the pandemic. So echinacea, although it will take some time to bloom, is especially significant today.

Learn more about how echinacea can ‘enhance‘ your immune system and its healing powers:

Thank you for sharing an update and pictures with us! As we can see she growing up big and tall. She will grow about 4 to 5 feet tall. Plant holders like you are sending in pictures and keeping us updated on their plants progress. You can too by emailing us at contact@shidonnaraven.com. We love to get your updates and glad good things are sprouting around Hampton Roads and helping to keep people in good health. Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing.

Bring home your own parsley plant

Parsley Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Parsley Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

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For your Mother

Marigold Plant Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

My neighbor’s mother has many flowers and plants adorning her yard. Her plants are huge, beautiful and well kept. So, when my neighbor saw this marigold he was immediately attracted to the marigold that had not yet sprouted. Since he first spotted her, she has grown up into a little plantling. She is in a pot with plenty of room to grow. Her leaves are short and complex blades stacked closely upon each other. Many flowers sport their foliage long before you every see a bloom collecting in the sun’s resources and feeding its growth so that it can bloom. As we stated earlier this week, the last of our container plants went out this week to homes across the Hampton Roads area. This marigold was one of the last ones to be delivered this week. We are expecting beautiful things out of her. There are many varieties of marigolds so this one promises to be different from what you typically see.

We feel in love with marigold when we saw her because she was a much needed solution to our persistent ant problem. True to our organic goals we did not use any chemicals to manage the ant problem but strategically placed marigolds around the garden and in time our ant problem dwindled down to not visible. But, just because they are not visible does not mean they are not there. Nonetheless, it resolved our ant problems more than once. In fact, we sent one of these plants home to a neighbor’s house as a companion plant. The dill plant we sent to our neighbors house was covered in plants, so we sent the marigold over also. The ants soon disappeared.

Parsley Plant Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Parsley Plant Shidonna Raven Garden and Cooks

Have you ever given someone flowers as a gift? Were they living: a plant? What are the benefits of giving flower plants as gifts rather than cut flowers? Consider our last plant: parsley as a gift for someone special. She has harvested consistently and is doing great. She is a flat leaf parsley plant packing a punch of flavor. Share your comments with the community by positing them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Eggplant in Bloom

Eggplant Flower Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Our beautiful eggplant is in boom sporting elegant lavender flowers. She has grown slowly but steady. Unlike our other plants across Norfolk, she is in the ground. This week we delivery the last of our container plants and only have one left. We have a few updates on the plants that have gone out. We hear that most of the plants are doing well. While some ran into more challenges than the other ones. These plants are perfect for this urban environment that these homes are in. Container pots offer a great deal of flexibility as they can be moved for a variety of reasons. Regardless of where your plants are they are sure to bring you much pleasure and benefit. What are your favorite eggplant recipes? Where are you writing from? What types of plants do you have? Share your comments with the community by positing them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Preparing Lavender for her new home

It is always a joy to see plants grow from seeds into plantlings. This particular lavender is now a plantling and ready for her new home, so we got her all prepared for the trip. For this lavender plant we did the following:

  • Picked up a clay pot that she would have plenty of room to grow in. she can stay in this pot, but if one puts her in the ground she will probably grow bigger. We chose a glazed clay pot with a bottom drain hole. The clay is a natural material. The glaze will keep moisture in and reduce the amount of water needed to water lavender. The drain hole at the bottom will keep one from over watering any plant.
  • Filled the pot with organic soil especially since she is edible
  • Transplanted her from her old pot to her new pot
  • Gave her a healthy dose of water, although she likes little water, so she could settle into her new home and recover from all the disruption of being transplanted
Parsley Plant Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Pick up your own parsley plant today.

The final plant is what she should look like, although she is just getting started. Are you ready to transplant your own plant? What questions do you have? Post them below. What will you grow in your own urban, or otherwise, garden? Share your comments with the community by positing them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.