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How to Bring Nature Inside With the Right Houseplants

It’s no surprise that greenery has gained popularity during the pandemic. Here’s how to make the most of it at home.
Source: The New York Times
Photos Source: The New York Times

“I always suggest people cluster plants for maximum impact,” said Eliza Blank, the chief executive of the houseplant retailer The Sill, who said her company’s sales have skyrocketed over the past year.
“I always suggest people cluster plants for maximum impact,” said Eliza Blank, the chief executive of the houseplant retailer The Sill, who said her company’s sales have skyrocketed over the past year.Credit…Courtesy of The Sill
Source: The New York Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Tim McKeough

By Tim McKeough

  • March 2, 2021

Spending more time inside has accelerated any number of trends that existed before the pandemic, including bingeing of all kinds. But here’s one that’s actually good for you: Bringing nature indoors.

The appeal of interiors draped in greenery is no mystery: Houseplants are a natural salve for spaces filled with artificial materials and products, reminders of the far-flung gardens and landscapes that may be difficult to visit these days — and even stand-ins for the friends we used to entertain in our homes.

“You can actually be a minimalist, but if you have plants, all of a sudden the space feels warm and inviting,” said Eliza Blank, the founder and chief executive of the houseplant retailer The Sill, who said her company’s sales have skyrocketed over the past year.

Maximalists have found their stride too, inspiring legions of followers on Instagram with rooms that resemble private jungles. The National Gardening Association estimates that household spending on houseplants has climbed almost 50 percent since 2016, with a year-over-year jump of more than 12 percent in 2020.

But adding plants to your home isn’t always as easy as it looks. They can shrivel and die. And even if they live, they may not look as good in your home as they do on Instagram.

  • Dig deeper into the moment.

So what’s the secret to integrating plants into your living space?

“I like to have plants at all levels” — on the floor, on tables, near the ceiling — said Justina Blakeney, the founder of blog-cum-lifestyle-brand Jungalow.
“I like to have plants at all levels” — on the floor, on tables, near the ceiling — said Justina Blakeney, the founder of blog-cum-lifestyle-brand Jungalow.Credit…Dabito
Source: The New York Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

“When it comes to plant styling, it’s just like any design project,” said Justina Blakeney, the Los Angeles-based founder of the blog-cum-lifestyle-brand Jungalow, whose latest book, “Jungalow: Decorate Wild,” will be published next month. “You have to think about the greater context and the overall look and feel you’re going for.”

She added: “Of course, plants are living creatures, so you have to keep in mind what they want as well.”

Ms. Blakeney and other plant stylists and designers shared their strategies.

Many houseplants suffer simply because they’re put in environments that don’t suit them. Just because a big fiddle-leaf fig tree looks impressive in a living room you see in a shelter magazine doesn’t mean it will look good or flourish in your living room.

“My biggest tip is to assess the light in your home first, because light is the most important aspect of keeping plants happy,” said Danae Horst, the founder of Folia Collective, a plant store in Los Angeles, and the author of “Houseplants for All.” “It’s more important than watering; it’s more important than fertilizing. Light is to plants as food is to humans.”

Danae Horst, the founder of Folia Collective, recommended using shelves and risers to vary the heights of smaller potted plants.
Danae Horst, the founder of Folia Collective, recommended using shelves and risers to vary the heights of smaller potted plants.Credit…Danae Horst
Source: The New York Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Consider which direction your windows face; look for obstructions from neighboring buildings or trees outside; and study the quality of light. South-facing windows usually get the most direct sunlight, Ms. Horst said, while east- and west-facing windows get some light, and north-facing windows get very little, which makes them the most challenging.

Then, with help from a nursery or plant guide, choose the types of plants that are best suited to your home’s conditions. Desert plants like cactuses and other succulents thrive in rooms that get direct sun all day long, Ms. Horst said. Tropical plants tend to fare better in rooms that get a lot of indirect, filtered or dappled light, as they would under a canopy of trees. Snake plants and ZZ plants can tolerate darker conditions.

It’s also important to be realistic about your plant-parenting skills: Are you overzealous, or more of a hands-off plant parent? Some people insist on watering every day, and drown plants that would fare better with once-a-week watering; others bring plants home and forget to water them for months, or let the soil dry out when they travel.

Neither approach is necessarily a problem, so long as you choose the plants suited to your habits. “Understanding what is going to fit your lifestyle, and your personality, is helpful,” Ms. Horst said.

Hilton Carter, a plant and interior stylist, has a variety of plants in his office, including a board-mounted staghorn fern on the wall.
Hilton Carter, a plant and interior stylist, has a variety of plants in his office, including a board-mounted staghorn fern on the wall.Credit…Hilton Carter
Source: The New York Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

For instant gratification without amassing a large collection of plants, you could start with a single, eye-catching plant, said Hilton Carter, a Baltimore-based plant and interior stylist whose latest book, “Wild Creations,” will be published next month.

“I make decisions based on what I call the statement plant,” he said. “It’s the one plant that instantly grabs your attention and sets the tone.”

Mr. Carter’s home bursts with greenery, but there’s no missing the statement plant in his living room: a towering fiddle-leaf fig tree.

Any plant with impressively large leaves will do the trick, he said: “A larger foliage plant, or a bigger plant, in most situations — it’s all about what you want the statement to be.”

A bookcase in Summer Rayne Oakes’s Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment is draped in greenery.
A bookcase in Summer Rayne Oakes’s Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment is draped in greenery.Credit…Summer Rayne Oakes
Source: The New York Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Ms. Blakeney sometimes looks for a plant with a vivid pattern. “I am a huge fan of decorating with plants the way that one might traditionally decorate with textiles or color,” she said. “Some of my very favorite plants are ones that are polka-dotted or have stripes or bring different vibrant colors into the space.”

But make sure to choose varieties that won’t interfere with the way you use the space.

Shape, or what Summer Rayne Oakes, an entrepreneur, YouTube personality and author of “How to Make a Plant Love You,” calls “structure,” is important. A tall plant in a big planter is nice in an empty corner of a loft, but may be impractical in a tighter circulation area.

Similarly, if you use a hanging planter, “you might want a plant that drapes down,” she said, rather than one that reaches up to the ceiling. And in a functional space like a kitchen, a plant on a shelf should stand up rather than spread out, because when you’re trying to wash dishes at the sink, she said, “you can’t have something that’s flailing its leaves too much.”

Choosing containers with similar colors or materials creates a cohesive look.
Choosing containers with similar colors or materials creates a cohesive look.Credit…Courtesy of The Sill

As you begin adding more plants to your collection, build clusters of plants rather than spreading out the individual pots.

“I always suggest people cluster plants for maximum impact,” Ms. Blank said. If you have just a few plants, she recommended making a cluster with an odd number of pots — three or five, for example.

The plants don’t need to match: Usually, the greater the variety, the better the composition will look. “Take advantage of the natural texture and color, and pair plants with different attributes,” Ms. Blank said. “One might be very structured and upright, like a snake plant. One might be more delicate and trailing, like a philodendron. And you might add a pop of color with an anthurium.”

It doesn’t always require that much planning. Ms. Horst often advises people to simply identify the window in their home that gets the best light, “and then make that your crazy plant window.”

Woven baskets make appealing containers for plants, but require an internal pot and saucer, Ms. Blakeney noted. 
Woven baskets make appealing containers for plants, but require an internal pot and saucer, Ms. Blakeney noted. Credit…Loloi Rugs
Source: The New York Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

At a sunny window in her own kitchen, she suspended various plants from a ceiling rod and added others on the floor, a stand and the tops of cabinets. “One good window is enough to make a big plant statement,” she said.

Adding plants at different heights along one wall can create the impression of a verdant garden. “I like to have plants at all levels,” Ms. Blakeney said. “I oftentimes will have plants on the floor. I’ll have plants on tables, consoles or cabinets at waist level. And then I love to draw the eye up with plants high on shelves and spiller plants kind of cascading down. It creates a lot of movement and a very whimsical feeling.”

Mr. Carter sometimes mounts plants directly on the wall. At home, he has a propagation area where wall-mounted wood cradles hold test tubes filled with cuttings. He also installs air plants in wall hangers and sometimes mounts staghorn ferns directly to boards as wall plaques.

Mr. Carter’s home has a propagation area with wall-mounted wooden cradles that hold test tubes filled with cuttings.
Mr. Carter’s home has a propagation area with wall-mounted wooden cradles that hold test tubes filled with cuttings.Credit…Hilton Carter
Source: The New York Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

“You can mount a staghorn fern to any reclaimed piece of wood,” he said, because it doesn’t need to be potted in soil. “You can utilize this particular plant almost as a work of art. If you have a gallery wall, you can put up your other art and have a piece of living art there, as well.”

Plants are the stars of the show, but their containers have a crucial supporting role. If you use a hodgepodge of flowerpots, it may look cluttered. That doesn’t mean the containers have to match, but it’s helpful to have a vision of what you want to achieve.

One option is to choose pots with similar colors. Ms. Horst likes vintage and handmade ceramic containers with a lot of texture, but she focuses on collecting terra-cotta and white-colored pots because “they’re easy to mix together,” she said. “And I never have to worry about what plants are next to each other if I want to change things up.”

Another option is to choose a common material or construction technique. Ms. Blakeney, for instance, has designed rooms where plants sit in a variety of woven baskets.

Placing plants near a window that receives abundant natural light helps them thrive.
Placing plants near a window that receives abundant natural light helps them thrive.Credit…Courtesy of The Sill
Source: The New York Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

But none of this means that plants necessarily have to be repotted, Ms. Horst noted. She often leaves them in the plastic pots from the nursery — which have generous drainage holes and can be easily moved to the sink for watering — and places those pots in larger ceramic containers.

“Then when you do need to repot, it’s much easier because the roots haven’t attached themselves to the ceramic,” she said. And when you find decorative pots that don’t have drainage holes, there’s no need to break out a drill.

Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.A version of this article appears in print on March 7, 2021, Section RE, Page 5 of the New York edition with the headline: Bring Nature Inside With the Right Houseplants. Order Reprints.

What are some of the benefits of having plants in your home besides creating oxygen? How can you bring more of nature into your home with plants? Will your house plants be herbal or fruit bearing?

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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Flood risk is growing for US homeowners due to climate change. Current insurance rates greatly underestimate the threat, a new report finds

Flooded homes are shown near Lake Houston following Hurricane Harvey on August 30, 2017, in Houston. A new report finds that current flood insurance coverage rates greatly underestimate the actual financial risk flooding poses to millions of homeowners. Flooded homes are shown near Lake Houston following Hurricane Harvey on August 30, 2017, in Houston. A new report finds that current flood insurance coverage rates greatly underestimate the actual financial risk flooding poses to millions of homeowners.
Source: CNN
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Story by Drew Kann. Graphics by Renée Rigdon, CNN
Updated 9:32 AM ET, Mon February 22, 2021
Source: CNN
Photos Source: CNN

(CNN)Wildfires and hurricane-force winds produce stunning videos and headlines, but flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States.And almost no place in the country is immune as 98% of all counties in the US have experienced at least one flooding event. In the last decade alone, floods have caused more than $155 billion worth of damage, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).As the climate changes, the risk of financial loss from flooding for millions of homeowners is increasing.

After the snow melts, the flooding will begin. Here's how to prepare
Source: CNN
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

After the snow melts, the flooding will begin. Here’s how to preparenew report finds that there is a growing gap between the financial threat homeowners face from flooding and the insurance rates some pay to cover that risk.Currently, there are nearly 4.3 million residential properties around the country with a substantial risk of financial loss due to flooding. The report defines “substantial risk” as carrying a 1% chance of flooding in any year.Some, but not all, of those homeowners have insurance through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which provides more than 90% of the flood insurance policies in the US.close dialog

But the report finds that those homes face losses each year which dwarf the costs of their NFIP premiums. The average NFIP premium cost today for those properties is around $981, but their expected annual loses are $4,694 per property.If all of those property owners were to purchase flood insurance to protect against potential damage, premiums would need to increase by 4.5 times to cover the risk. The analysis was conducted by the First Street Foundation, a non-profit research and technology group that aims to shed light on the growing risk of flooding around the country due to climate change.The study only considered residential properties with between one and four units, but the authors say the actual financial risk from flooding around the country is likely far greater than the report captures.

Millions more US homes are at risk of flooding than previously known, new analysis shows
Source: CNN
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Millions more US homes are at risk of flooding than previously known, new analysis shows“Our numbers are large … but it’s not encompassing all properties that are inside the Special Flood Hazard Area, or many other residential properties like condos, apartment buildings and other larger buildings,” said Matthew Eby, founder and executive director of the First Street Foundation. “So if you take that and you extrapolate, there are actually a lot more buildings that have financial risk as well.”A separate report from the foundation last year estimated that there are a total of 14.6 million properties around the country with substantial flood risk. The owners of around 5.9 million of those properties may be unaware of their flood risk because they are located outside of FEMA’s Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA), and therefore aren’t required to buy flood insurance even if they hold a government-backed mortgage loan, the report found.Scientists are confident that climate change is fueling hurricanes capable of whipping up more dangerous storm surges, as well as increasing the odds of extreme rainfall events that can trigger inland flooding.Today, the 4.3 million homes with a 1% chance of flooding carry an expected annual loss of $20.8 billion due to flood damage, the foundation’s analysis found.However, within the life of a 30-year mortgage signed today, those losses are projected to balloon by 61% to nearly $32.2 billion per year by 2050 due to the effects of climate change.As massive storms like Hurricanes Katrina, Harvey and Sandy have hammered some of the country’s biggest coastal cities, the NFIP’s bottom line has already taken a beating. Today, the program is saddled with more than $20.5 billion in debt, according to a recent Congressional Review Service Report. That’s after Congress canceled $16 billion of the NFIP’s debt in 2017 to allow the program to pay claims to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.”With climate change and more development and more properties at risk, it just keeps going further in the hole,” said Sandra Knight, a senior research engineer at the University of Maryland’s Center for Disaster Resilience and a former FEMA administrator. “That tells you you’re not collecting enough premiums, but the long-term game is to have zoning and building codes that minimize risk. You can’t just depend on insurance.”Experts and even FEMA officials have acknowledged for years that there are shortcomings with the NFIP as it is currently structured.Chief among those is the process of drawing FEMA’s flood maps, which provide the basis for setting insurance rates for many policies under the NFIP.FEMA still has not completed flood maps for huge swaths of the US, said Michael Grimm, the acting deputy associate administrator of the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administratio, while testifying before a House committee in February 2020And though FEMA maps are required by Congress to be reassessed every five years, Grimm says it takes seven years on average to complete a new flood map, meaning that some maps may technically be out of date by the time they’re finished.An emergency worker helps evacuate people stranded by flooding during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. A new report finds that the risk of financial loss for homeowners due to flooding is expected to grow as the climate changesAn emergency worker helps evacuate people stranded by flooding during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. A new report finds that the risk of financial loss for homeowners due to flooding is expected to grow as the climate changesInsurance rate setting under the NFIP has seen little change since the 1970s.The rates are set depending on which of three broad types of flood zones a property sits in: low to moderate risk, high risk or high risk coastal area. The type of property, the elevation of the building, the number of floors and whether it has a basement are also factored in.But experts say the use of these flood zones is an unsophisticated way to gauge risk that doesn’t take into account key considerations, like the topography of the land where a property sits. FEMA’s flood models only factor in the risk of storm surge and river flooding, not the threat posed by heavy rainfall.”It’s actually sort of a crude way to price flood risk because it doesn’t account for changing flood risk across a landscape,” said Carolyn Kousky, the executive director of the Wharton Risk Center at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the advisory board for the First Street Foundation.To address these problems, FEMA is expected to roll out a new system for setting flood insurance rates later this year called Risk Rating 2.0, which the agency says will utilize the latest technology to better capture the risk for each individual property.David Maurstad, the senior executive of the National Flood Insurance Program, said that the First Street Foundation’s findings should not be taken as a preview of the rate changes flood insurance policy holders can expect when Risk Rating 2.0 goes into effect.”Any attempt to compare an outside entity’s premium estimates or premium recommendations to the Risk Rating 2.0 initiative is premature,” Maurstad said in an emailed statement. “FEMA is constantly working to leverage new technologies and provide national-scale flood risk information more efficiently, accurately and consistently to the public.”Still, Kousky says that the new findings are an important indicator of just how much the cost of flood damage could grow around the country as the climate changes, which the cost of insurance in any single year does not capture.”It certainly has shown how much flood losses are going to start increasing as a result of climate change,” she said. “That should be a red flag for the NFIP and communities everywhere that the cost of this risk are going up. And that means to stay solvent, insurance costs have to go up as well.”

Biden has introduced an aggressive environmental plan including mitigating climate change, such as rejoining the Paris Agreement. How can such policies improve our environment? How can you mitigate climate change (click the button below)? How can flood insurance be reduced and how can you prepare for flooding in your area or other extreme weather conditions as a result of climate change?

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What your Plants need from Soil

How to Fertilize Indoor Plants | A Beginner's Guide

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Fertilizing Plants
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Soil is the life line of your plant. Your plants get nutrients from the soil. The soil is where your plants draw some of its ‘food’ from. So, whether it is a house plant or a garden plant, one must make sure that it is properly fertilized. House plants must have fertilizer because it depletes its soil and is not outside. Plants in outside soil may or may not be properly replenished by being outside, so it is still important to make sure that your plants get the appropriate fertilizer aka ‘food’ aka nutrients it needs from the soil. In fact when one waters one should water the soil rather than the plant. How has this article helped you? Ever wondered why your house plans seem to die slowly? But you watered it, right! What is the importance of fertilizing plants particularly plants in containers? 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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Seniors choose between Food & Medicine

ZNEWS -SENIORS FORCED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN FOOD & MEDICINE OR HEAT!

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Seniors decide between Medicine & Food
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Also here in the U.S. Seniors have to often make decisions between Medicine and Food. What are your thoughts about this? Are you a Senior? Do you know a Senior? 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. Stay healthy!

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