Showing posts with label Raintree Annie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Raintree Annie. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Swiss Cheese Plant Or Monstera Reviewed As A House Plant And Fashion Trend


There was always a Swiss Cheese Plant in our home when I was growing up. I did not know then that its Latin name is Monstera, but as a striking and larger than average house plant, it is certainly appropriate. As a child, I loved its jungle feel and the fact that it was bigger than me! 

It is a beautiful and stunning indoor plant. In the 1970's it was a staple houseplant in many people's homes and was a background feature along with other plants. 

Now it is again a very popular houseplant but it has taken more of a center stage being used as a real statement plant in a prominent position and even as a fashion trend. 


Monstera Leaves and aerial roots.

 

The Beauty Of A Swiss Cheese Plant

Grown as an indoor house plant this plant can grow to about  3 to 8 foot so it is a substantial house plant. 

The leaves are pliable and very soft to touch and a pretty light or dark green glossy colour. 

When the leaves are young they are of a solid heart shape. As they grow older the leaf develops splits in the leaf and this process gives it its name as it can look a little like swiss cheese. 

It can grow large but we can also keep it at a manageable size to fit the space. Though if you can let it grow as large as it will it looks even more stunning.


Mature Monstera Leaf With Split Against My Hand 

Native Growing Conditions Of The Monstera Or Swiss Cheese Plant 

It is often useful and interesting to learn where the plants we have in our homes come from and what their native conditions are so we can better replicate them and keep them happy in our homes. 

In native conditions in Central and South America, it grows under large trees in a jungle. In natural conditions, it can grow to up to seventy foot in height but it will not reach anywhere near this in a pot indoors. We can expect our plant to grow to approximately no bigger than eight foot if left to grow as big as it can. 

Monstera does like to climb and has aerial roots which grow downwards from its main stem. As a houseplant, we can help it mimic its natural conditions by putting in strong support like a stake. As it can grow quite floppy and sprawling otherwise it can brace itself against the stake and do what it would in a jungle pushing itself onto a neighbouring tree or tangled vine for support as it grows upwards. 

In its native conditions, this plant can flower a lovely white flower but it very rarely does as a houseplant. I have never seen a flower. So when you grow this plant indoors grow it for its beautiful glossy leaves of shades of green from light fresh green to mid and then dark green. 


Swiss Cheese Plant or Monstera

Care of The Swiss Cheese Plant.

For such a big statement plant it requires remarkably little care. If you do not think you are good with houseplants then this is one that is hard to get wrong. I think it is one of the easiest plants I have. 

It likes moist soil but never waterlogged, so regular consistent watering is best. As usual with house plants the best guide is the stick a finger about an inch into the soil if it is wet do not water but if dry or in this case nearly dry then water. 

The soil should be water retentive but not too claggy so a good houseplant and compost mix on the neutral to acid side is best. 

In its native situation it grows in the shade of large trees so do not place this plant in a sunny position. It needs a bright but shaded spot. It can cope with a few hours of the morning sun but absolutely no more than that. 

As its large leaves can get dusty over time I like to take a cotton wool ball soaked in warm water and just gently wipe across the leaves. I only do this when they look dusty. This used to be one of my jobs when I was a child and I still enjoy doing it. 

Monstera likes to be warm and loves humidity so an ideal situation is a heated bright bathroom where the light is filtered via blinds or obscured window panes and where the family take showers or baths.

Feed it regularly with Baby Bio or similar once a month and you will have a happy plant.       

  

 

Swiss Cheese Plant Issues 

It can have pests and diseases such as whitefly, mealybug, spider mites, powdery mildew to name a few but I have never had an issue and if you keep it in conditions it likes it will be healthy. 

These infestations will rarely kill this plant anyway but look unsightly and weaken it so we have to control them and in this case I would use an insecticide or fungicide depending on the issue.

There are two things to watch for with the leaves. If you see a leaf or many leaves turning black then it is effectively that the plant has been sunburnt or scorched by being kept in a sunny place for too long. 

The individual leaf cannot recover from this so the best thing is the prune away that leaf from the bottom of the stem. This will only happen if it has been exposed to too much direct sunlight so is easily avoided. 

If you see the leaves turning yellow then we have overwatered. we must stop watering immediately, turn the pot and drain off any excess water and leave to dry. If very waterlogged we may be best repotting the plant into fresh dry soil and starting again with light watering. 

While it likes moisture it hates sitting in wet soil so this can easily be avoided by only watering when the plant is nearly dry.

All parts of this plant are toxic to pets so it is best to keep it well away from them. Another reason a bathroom may be the best spot.

The plant featured here was one I bought as a sale plant a few months ago and I had to do a lot of pruning away of damaged leaves and sun scorched leaves. It was very large but uncared for.  I have left one scorched leaf for you to see. This will need to be pruned away at the base. The plant was also unstable in its pot and rocking from its roots so I repotted in a new deeper pot so it is stable. My next job is to install firm support so it can climb. 

I reduced the plant considerably in size but as you can see there is a lot of new growth and one leaf is already mature enough to have developed splits. So I was really happy I rescued this plant! 


Swiss Cheese Plant old sun damaged leaf next to new young leaf. 

Monstera In Fashion Trend

Who would have thought this plant would have become so fashionable. I tend not to grow plants indoors or outdoors for fashion trends but because I love them. 

However, the trend is there for this plant to be used in wedding flowers, as centerpieces and large statement plants in prestigious offices.

People even cut a single stem with a large leaf on it and use it much as flower decoration in a vase of water, where it does look very striking.

It really suits an environment that is minimalist, clean and unfussy or where flowers would look too much. Its large size and dark glossy leaves do add understated style and substance.

There is even Monstera wallpaper which can look amazing as a real statement in the right place.


The Swiss Cheese Plant was so popular in the 1970's and then like many houseplants fell out of favour. However, now there is a thankfully increased appreciation of the beauty of houseplants and how good they are for us as well as looking beautiful and enhancing our home decor. 

Fashion and trends come and go but I hope the love and appreciation for houseplants are here to stay now and I will never fall out of love with this amazing plant. It will grace our home with its simple stunning good looks for a very long time. 




More Gardening And Houseplant Reviews

Care Of The Intriguing Carnivorous Venus Fly Trap House Plant Reviewed.


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Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Metal Wind Spinners For The Garden Reviewed

 

Metal Wind Spinners For The Garden Reviewed


I wanted to buy a wind spinner to place in our garden for some time. I have admired them in others people's gardens and a few months ago we bought two!


How Metal Wind Spinners Add To A Garden

I do like a wind spinner in the garden. In this review, I am covering Wind Spinners that stake into the ground. There are also those we can hang up. They are a joy all year round. In the winter they are a lovely sight when perhaps there is not so much interest in the garden and when the sun shines on a cold frosty day they really do look gorgeous

In a storm or even just when windy they do spin round and provide lots of movement for a sculpture. In Spring they seem to compliment the emerging bulbs and fresh green shoots and spin more gently in the breeze.

In summer they may be calmer and with perhaps less breeze a more static feature but beautiful and providing height and a lovely focal point. In autumn we have the breezes picking up and the wind spinners back in action shining out as the plants start to retreat. 

If a garden needs a sculpture or a little drama and movement or even just in winter when it may be a little lacking in interest a wind spinner can provide a little colour and drama to the space. 

Cup Or Spoons Metal Wind Spinner

If the garden is full of colour a natural bronze or silver wind spinner can calm and ground the space complimenting the flowers while they bloom and be a constant in the ever-changing bud to bloom to fading process. Or a fun colour Wind spinner can simply add to the riot of joy!

The weather can be dull, windy, rainy, snowy or bright or golden sunlight and a wind spinner or two can really shine out in the garden and give it a beautiful constant focal point. 

Leaf Metal Wind Spinner In The Breeze!

Ours are two bronze metal wind spinners. I wanted ones that are robust, long-lasting, beautiful and timeless.

I also wanted ones that really spin fast in the wind and have a reference to nature so a natural shape and feel to them. 

Ours have integral long stakes that you simply push into firm soil. I love the way the metal shines when it is sunny and gives a gorgeous bronze glow.

They certainly do spin well in the winds yet have not fallen over or become damaged even in a recent storm. 

Metal Wind Spinner On Stake

Where To Site A Metal Wind Spinner

Keep them in a place clear from other vegetation. If they are too close to the other plants the plants can become tangled up in the spinner and that is not good for the plants or the wind spinner.

They do need to have a firm anchor in the ground. This can be into the soil itself or into pots  I have mine in pots on the patio and the stakes are firmly deep into the soil. You do need to test that they are firmly anchored and secure.

I also find watching our wind spinners very relaxing. A gentle breeze and they turn around slowly almost meditatively and in a storm they really spin round with energy! 

We have them in sight of our windows so even on a very windy cold or rainy day we can watch them in comfort. I think it is good if you can see them from a window so you can enjoy them all year round whatever the weather. 

Wind spinners take up little room and would be totally suitable for a large garden to a small patio area as long as they can be securely pushed into the ground.

 I have not noticed any particular noise from ours but some do emit a gentle sound when they spin. 

Leaf Metal Wind Spinner On Long Stake

Wind Spinners And Wildlife.

Much as I wanted a wind spinner, I was a little concerned at first that our local wildlife might not like them and stay away from our patio. 

I had read that they can scare birds away and even that they can be useful as a benign deterrent if you want to keep birds off fruit or vegetables or freshly sown seed. 

However, I need not have worried as our garden birds took no notice of them at all! 

The sparrows still come in small flocks to pick grit from our wall, flying straight over one wind spinner, the blackbirds visit the patio for food in the pots happily kicking out the soil to look for food in even the pot I had spiked the wind spinner and nothing seems to mind in the slightest. We currently have small birds scoping out the bird boxes and sparrows noisily debating over who gets the best place in the eaves this year.

Even the neighbour's cat is not remotely afraid of the wind spinners as he calmly sat watching them while washing his fur the other day.   

Leaf Metal Wind Spinner In Bronze

However, I must remember that our garden birds are very used to us and to us moving things around on our patio. They have never been hurt or afraid. It is pretty much their garden, we just visit it from time to time! In fact, during the breeding season, we often get chittered and scolded for daring to be in their garden! They are wild birds but very confident around us. 

I do however keep the wind spinners away from the bird feeders and the birdbath and any known nesting sites in the shrubs just in case they find it distracting.

If you are concerned about scaring the birds but want a wind spinner simply place it in an area where either you know birds do not frequent much perhaps close to the house and monitor it. If you do have seeds, fruit or plants you want to protect from birds a wind spinner placed nearby may act as a deterrent but I can't promise it. Success with that may depend on how your birds view you and your garden! 

Spoon Or Cup Metal Wind Spinner In Bronze

A Wide Choice Of Metal Wind Spinners

I think they make a beautiful gift for anyone who loves their garden and would like some added interest. Wind spinners are available in such a wide range of choices there is something for everyone. 

Ours are bronze look and one is a leaf shape and one is a spoon or cup shape.

 There are wind spinners of plain colours or many vibrant colours and everything in between. Many have gorgeous shapes and either beautiful colours or natural tones, all equally stunning.

 There is a wide range of sizes and prices from affordable to high-end. 




 I would certainly buy more wind spinners for our garden and buy them as gifts. I love our bronze wind spinners and the next time we buy one it may be a cheerful brightly coloured one for fun. It was hard to choose just four for this selection but I have tried to show the variety available.  


More Gardening And Garden Product Reviews 

Gardening Articles On Review This Reviews

Diary Of A Wild Country Garden

Essential Wildlife Gardening Gifts

Raintree Earth Designs

 





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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Why Insect Hotels Are Good For Wildlife And Gardeners Reviewed


Insect Hotel


Bug hotels or Insect Houses are an essential item in our garden. They are a feature in themselves and are a vital component of our wildlife-friendly garden.

Insect Hotels can be bought or handmade and are both equally effective. When you have a bug house you are aiming to attract all manner of insects and wildlife to gain a balance of insects in your garden which is vital if you are aiming to have a harmonious wildlife garden.


Insect Hotels Benefits To The Garden

Having an Insect Hotel in the garden is not entirely altruistic. The aim of any wildlife gardener is to use no pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides at all. 

These chemicals kill "pests" and beneficial insects equally in most cases and are not good for wildlife.

For the gardener, an insect hotel can attract all manner of bugs and many predators that will help us to keep a good balance in the garden thus eliminating the need to use pesticides. 

Bee on Daffodil

In the early days of converting a normal garden to a wildlife pesticide-free garden, this can take some nerve. A garden needs a natural balance of predator and prey.

If you or a previous garden have been using chemicals then stop, undoubtedly in the first year or so you will see greenfly and blackfly and all manner of pests eating our plants. This is because your garden became unbalanced. It is now for us to redress this balance and installing insect houses is one easy step.   

However, if we want a wildlife friendly garden we must resist the urge to use chemicals. Instead, we must attract the beneficial insects, spiders and predators to our gardens who will easily and quickly dispatch those pests eating our plants.

 A great way to do this especially in the early days is to have an Insect Hotel or several bughouses. Provide insects shelter and a food source and they will arrive. 

Insect Hotel In Garden

Personally in the first two years of taking on this garden, I simply did not grow plants I knew would be susceptible to aphid attack. The previous gardeners had used chemicals and had a very non-wildlife friendly garden, so I knew once I stopped all chemical use I would face some difficulties. 

It took a year or two to fully balance the garden again. I was lucky as my neighbours also stopped using chemicals which helps a lot as wildlife do not know about boundaries. It was so worth it as since then I have not had to spend any money on insect prevention, the predators do it all for me free of charge night and day! 

In this article, we will mainly talk about insect houses with a mention and further resources to our ground-dwelling beneficial creatures need as well.


Location Of an Insect Hotel.

A Bughouse is best located in a warm undisturbed spot in your garden. For insects, it is important it is in a fairly dry area so under the house or shed eaves, in a tree or against a sunny fence. 

Some may be a thing of beauty or they may be something you wish to hide from full view. Either way, it does not matter to the bugs as long as they can go about their business undisturbed. We like the look of ours so we do not make any particular effort to hide them. 


Who Lives in an Insect Hotel?

Close Up Of Insect Hotel

So what can you expect to live in your insect house?

Generally, you can expect a variety of insects such as ladybirds and woodlice. You will get spiders of course and hopefully bees or maybe wasps.

These are all beneficial creatures to your garden. These creatures need a place to shelter, raise their young and keep themselves and their young hidden from predators. 

You can of course just put up your insect hotel and forget about it, but It can be good fun to carefully observe your insect hotel to see who has taken up residence.


Types of Wildlife Hotels. 

It is better to have several insect-specific bughouses around the garden in suitable locations than one great big multi-bug house.

The idea is that each will be more suitable for one species than another. Of course, there is no way of knowing who will decide to take up residence! 

The rationale is that different species require different approaches. For example, a home to attract bees requires a warm sunny dry location. Ideally, it should face south or as near south as possible and the area in front of it would be clear of vegetation. It is important to be a few feet off the ground and secured strongly to a wall, tree or fence.   

Insect Hotel In The Woods

Spiders are happy in a site with more cover where they can spin webs between tree branches and the insect hotel but in my experience, they are not too fussy.

In addition, while you are siting your bug houses spare a thought for ground dwelling creatures like hedgehogs who are also very beneficial to our gardens.

Hedgehogs are a species in serious decline. A lovely pile of wood and leaves in an undisturbed corner of the garden will go a long way towards helping these enchanting and ancient creatures. If you would like to take it a step further you can purchase a special house for them known as a Hogitat. Please read more about How To Help Hedgehogs In Your Garden  


Well Established Wood Pile 

If you are wanting to attract frogs and toads they will love a warm wet, damp environment in a shady spot down on the ground.

You can start a wildlife hotel at any time though you may be more successful if you put one up in early Spring or Autumn/Fall. 


Materials For An Insect, Bee Or Spider Hotel.

Ideally, you will have a bug house made of natural materials. The wood is best untreated with no paint or preservatives as that will only deter and harm insects.

Wooden tubes for insects in Bug House

If you are making your own do try to use items already in your garden to promote recycling within the garden. So small branches, hollow stems tied together, dried leaves, seed heads will all contribute to your insect hotel.  

The structure needs to be strong and solid with a sloping and wide roof to keep the rain out.

If you are buying a bug house with pre-drilled holes in the wood they should be smooth and if doing it yourself make sure there are no splinters. 

Think about the types of creatures or insects you want to attract and the habitat they require. 

Wood shavings for insects in bug hotel

Looking After An Insect Hotel.

You can expect an insect hotel to last about 2 years on average, maybe longer depending on the materials used. As it is made of natural material it will degrade over time. 

During this time it is recommended to clean it out at the end of each summer to remove any dead cells or insects and replace any worn-out sections. That is all that is really needed. 


Insect Houses Are A Learning Opportunity For Children

Bug houses are a great learning experience. It is also a wonderful fun and educational opportunity for children to learn about and appreciate the natural world. 

In a small wood near a busy residential area, primary school children have made insect houses to site all over the wood to help the local wildlife and they take great pride in their creations and interest in the inhabitants. 

Bug Hotel In The Woods Good For Winter Shelter

In our garden, we have a dry insect house 3 feet off the ground on a sunny fence, a log pile in a shady but warm corner to attract hedgehogs and in a corner near the garage a large saucer of water with dense habitat around it to attract frogs and toads. The spiders seem to make their home in many of these locations as well. 

 Having a bug hotel or two and making a habitat for wildlife is very enriching in our gardens and our lives.

Insect houses take up very little room, so most people could have an insect house in an outdoor space. The end result of all this care is a garden that is filled with the sound and sights of beautiful insects.

 Yes, we do still get greenfly and blackfly, but predator insects soon become aware of them and keep the numbers down or even eradicate them for me. We do perhaps have to accept some level of pest attack on our plants but when you achieve that crucial balance it becomes less of a problem.

I am certainly prepared to have some plant damage to know that I am not killing all insects indiscriminately. Chemicals kill both "pests" and beneficial insects.

I once had a houseplant that became invested with a type of whitefly, so as it was summer I put it outside during the day for a few days and the wasps ate all the flies for me and the plant survived.

Other insects like this gorgeous butterfly happily live in the garden now going about their daily lives and bring me a lot of joy. 

Beautiful Butterfly In Summer

People often think about the beautiful more visible wildlife like birds, but it all really begins with the small perhaps less beautiful or more scary insects. If we take more care of them they will help our gardens be more healthy and we will certainly see more birds and other gorgeous wildlife as well. 

 Without our negative influence of chemicals, over time the garden adopts an easy give and take, ebb and flow of natural processes and our plants and us benefit from that.

There are many useful and fun things you can do for wildlife in our own garden spaces, having a few insect hotels is a great start. 






More Wildlife And Gardening Articles

6 Ways To Help Wildlife In The Year Ahead

Spring Woodland Walks For Wellbeing Reviewed

Wildlife Gift Ideas Reviewed

Diary Of  A Wild Country Garden

Essential Wildlife Gardening Gifts

Gardening And Wildlife Articles On Review This Reviews 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Reviewing The Benefits Of Weighted Blankets

 


I recently purchased a weighted blanket. Ours is by Sleepeasy, but now many companies are producing them. 

I had read about them for a while and thought they may be helpful to me. Going through perimenopause has been quite stressful with many disrupted nights and I hoped it may help. There have always been other priorities but when I saw this one for a reduced price I could not resist!

They are essentially a heavy blanket filled with beads or similar in strongly stitched pockets or squares weighting between around 5 to 30 pounds and certainly heavier than a normal blanket or most quilts. They purport to produce a deep pressure stimulation that is said to relax the nervous system similar to a great big bear hug, except this comes from having the blanket wrapped around you.


What Are The Benefits Of A Weighted Blanket?

Weighted blankets are said to have several benefits. I have read that researchers are still studying the effects for physical and emotional benefits. 

Benefits so far are mainly listed as being helpful to reduce anxiety, relieve stress, aid restful sleep and essentially to give the body a big relaxing hug. Many people say that they have a fantastic sleep while using one. 

However, I cannot verify them so do your research and it is best to buy one based on whether you like it and feel you personally receive benefits from it. Any other benefits would be a bonus. 

If we choose to use them it should be because we find them comfortable and personally helpful.



What I Like About The Weighted Blanket

I like the colour of ours being a dark grey it goes with everything. I think I would always choose a dark neutral colour for these blankets as it is more versatile. They do come in many colours though so choose whichever suits you and your decor. 

I do like the way in mine that the beads are contained in individual pockets so they do not move about very much at all and the stitching is very strong and secure.

I have taken to draping the weighted blanket over me and hubby in the evenings while watching a film and draped over the sofa it looks great in our living room and not like just something for bedtime.

I do enjoy the feeling of a big hug and find it very relaxing. Hubby found it so relaxing the first time we tried the weighted blanket that within 15 minutes he fell asleep and did not see the film!!

It is warm, but surprisingly not too warm. When I use it I sleep really well without waking up several times as usual.

My personal experience is that I like to feel the weight of it over my body and find that feeling very calming and relaxing. I can never rest properly with only a light sheet for covering, so I was always going to be a good candidate for a heavier blanket. 

The first night I used it I did not struggle to drop off to sleep which for me usually takes about an hour. Now it is much less than that. I did not wake up all night and usually since starting perimenopause I have woken up two or three times every night. 

It is warm, but I bought it in late autumn and since then it has not been too warm. I am not sure if it will be too warm in the summer yet.

I do not feel that it is too heavy when using it as a blanket. Carrying it around I feel it is very heavy, but once on the bed, to me, it just feels comforting.




Can Everyone Use A Weighted Blanket?

Weighted blankets are generally safe for healthy adults, older children and teenagers. 

However, they are not suitable for everyone. If you are considering using a weighted blanket for an adult that has any underlying health conditions or for a child of any age please consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner first to ensure that it is safe for you to use.  

Our weighted blanket is for adults. It should not weigh more than about 10% of your body weight and so would be unsuitable for a child to use.

You can buy children's weighted blankets specifically for them although please check with a doctor first that it is suitable for your child.

Weighted blankets should never be used for a child under age 2 or older children with developmental difficulties or learning difficulties due to the risk of suffocation.

They are not recommended for people with epilepsy in case the person has a seizure under the blanket.

The heaviness of a weighted blanket may cause difficulties for people with certain pre-existing conditions, such as Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Asthma and sleep apnea where any breathing issues may be exacerbated and diabetes where any circulation issues may be further affected by the heaviness of the blanket. In people with Claustrophobia, a weighted blanket can feel too heavy and restrictive. Please always check with a Dr first if you have any health conditions.

As it is heavy I would not recommend it for anyone who likes only a light covering. When I took it out of the box it was so heavy I thought I would not like it. However, in my experience, it does not feel anywhere near as heavy on the body as it does when carrying it or moving it.



Things To Bear In Mind About A Weighted Blanket

The way the beads are stitched into the covering is something to watch out for in any of these blankets. I have read that in some blankets the beads fall into uncomfortable clumps when the individual pockets are too large or too weak.

You do need to look for quality design so the beads are held in their separate individual pockets and remain comfortable. The stitching needs to be secure and strong. 

Check if there is a washable cover or if the whole blanket is washable. Or do you need to handwash and is this practical for you? Some are dry clean or spot clean. You need to choose whichever suits you best. 

If the whole blanket is washable check if it will fit into your washing machine.

Personally, I would use this blanket over a sheet so that it does not require washing so much, or use a cover. I wash our sheets and covers on at least a weekly basis and I would not want to be washing this blanket every week. However, used as a blanket over a sheet or with a washable cover it will need washing much less. 

Check the size you need. You want it big enough to cover your chest to toe and some drape at the sides but not enough so it is falling off you onto the floor as that will be uncomfortable. Remember the bigger it is the heavier it will be to move around and also to wash. In hindsight, I would probably have gone for a single size as it is mainly me using it. 

I would go for the smallest size you are comfortable with using. If you are using it for yourself only I think a single size may be better. Or if there are two of you then either a double or two single sizes to give more versatility.

Check if there is a trial period and returns policy if you do not get on with it as it is such a personal item. 




Washing Weighted Blankets

I think the only concern I personally have is that my double bed sized one is so heavy my washing machine will not accommodate it.  

However, being dark grey and using it over a sheet or quilt in bed hopefully, it will not need washing so often.

To improve it I feel a detachable cover I the same colour would have been most useful.

I have now found a quilt cover that will fit to sort this issue when using it for sleep purposes. So will treat the blanket as I do our quilts. When using it in the living room we use it without the cover. 




Final Thoughts On A Weighted Blanket

You do importantly need to check if you have any health conditions if you are fine to use a weighted blanket.

If healthwise you are ok to use a weighted blanket and you like the feeling of a heavier cover you may find this type of blanket very relaxing. If you enjoy a light covering in bed you may not like this but if you like the feel of a comforting hug and the feeling of a heavier cover on your body you may well take to it. 

I cannot recall the last time I slept so well and so soundly since we had this blanket. 

Do your research and make sure you can return and refund if you do not get on with it. Give it a week or so to get used to it. I took to it immediately but some people have said it takes them a while. 

A good night's sleep is extremely important to me I do not function well on a disturbed sleep so this has made a huge difference to me.

Before buying a weighted blanket do your own research and see if it will be right for you. This is a very personal choice and requires some thought.

Weighted blankets will not suit everyone. However, if they do suit you they can make a big difference to the way you relax and sleep. I am very glad I got mine and as I am getting a much sounder sleep I am feeling much better these days. 







Product Reviews On Review This Reviews 




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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Reviewing Caring For The Stunning Polka Dot Begonia House Plant

  

I recently rescued two Polka Dot Begonias from a garden center. I wasn't intending to buy any plants but walking past the house plant sale stand I spotted it and took a double-take at this beauty!

Even though they were looking a bit poorly and unloved and were in a dark corner of the store and I knew there was a risk of losing them both I just could not resist taking both home.

I picked up one then just had to go back for the other one. They were much reduced in price and I was worried the other one would die if I did not take it. 

Of course, I would have to give the wise advice to buy only well cared for healthy houseplants for a good chance of success and a long-lived indoor plant. However, I just cannot resist the challenge of bringing an uncared or unloved plant back to good health.

Sometimes I lose them but often it works so for me is worth the risk. 



What is The Polka Dot Begonia 

The polka dot begonia otherwise known as Begonia Maculata is a very striking unmissable indoor plant.

It has beautiful distinctive leaves almost in a wing shape, with very elongated graceful leaves.

The leaves are a very dark rich green and the top of the leaves are exquisitely dotted with brighter green and almost silvery spots or dots. Hence the name "Polka Dot " 

Underneath the leaves are a beautiful reddish colour. When young the leaves are a lighter fresh green and develop into a darker colour as they age. 

Other popular names for the Polka Dot Begonia plant are Angel Wing Begonia and I can see this due to the shape and the way it holds its gorgeous leaves like an angel would. Other common names are Spotted Begonia clearly due to the spots on all its leaves.

I have more trouble understanding the name Trout Begonia but then I do not know so much about fish. Perhaps it's thought by some to have the markings of a Trout? 

Also known as Clown begonia though I am not sure why it got this common name as personally I do not see anything clown-like about it, this plant is far too exotic and beautiful!  

For the purposes of this article, we will call it the Polka Dot Begonia plant.  

In Spring and Summer, it can bear little pink and white flowers, but I love this plant mainly for its striking and unusual leaves. 

Flowers grow on a single stem and you are more likely to get them if the plant is totally happy in its environment.

Perhaps conversely if we want flowers we should allow the plant to become slightly potbound as this does encourage flowering. I would certainly not be disappointed if there were no flowers, to me they are a bonus, not a necessity. 




Where to Place A Polka Dot Begonia

As with all houseplants, the best way to ensure a happy healthy plant and a chance of flowers is to place your plant in the right spot in the home and for that, we need to know the conditions of its native country.

It originates in Brazil and as you will know if you have read my other houseplant reviews once we take these plants into our homes we are totally responsible for replicating conditions as close as possible to their native environment. 

This plant likes bright light but it needs to be indirect light so is best near a window but not on a sunny windowsill.

Too much sunshine will burn the leaves and cause them to turn brown and there is little that can be done once this has occurred. 

So any sunlight must be filtered light via an obscured window or blinds or by placing the plant far enough away from the window or perhaps behind other plants.  

It can cope with a shady environment or even a little dark if we cannot provide indirect sunlight. However, in that case, we must accept that its leaves may be smaller and shorter than they otherwise would grow and we are unlikely to get any flowers, 

It does like to be at a fairly constant temperature of 18 to 30 degrees centigrade which is good news as most of our homes will be around these temperatures much of the time.  

The Polka dot plant can be very happy in bathrooms and kitchens as it will enjoy the higher humidity in these rooms.

It can also be fine in living areas as long as the humidity is kept high. We keep our two in our living room on large saucers of pebbles. One is in a group with other plants and the other is about a foot away from each of its neighbors. 




How To Provide Humidity For Houseplants 

Regular misting around the plant is important to maintain high levels of humidity but this I find it difficult to do properly as we should not be getting the leaves directly misted. 

An alternative and easier way of raising humidity is to have a couple of plants grouped together, as a few plants together raises humidity. 

In addition, I place the plant on a large saucer or plant tray of ordinary pebbles and keeping those pebbles moist gives a higher humidity.

Problems to look out for are powdery mildew. This can occur if the leaves get wet, so when watering avoid the leaves becoming wet. 

It is difficult when misting as inevitably in my experience the leaves get damp no matter how far away you mist and I cannot get this right.

I think a better solution for this plant is to set it on a tray of pebbles with water and site it near other plants to give that higher humidity it likes. This will usually do what is necessary.

If you have a lot of plants that need high humidity you can invest in a houseplant humidifier which I understand is worthwhile, but I don't have one of these and so prefer to use the pebble and grouping techniques. 



Warnings About the Polka Dot Plant

The polka dot plant is somewhat toxic so best to keep it out of reach of cats and dogs.

As a mildly toxic plant, they may need to chew on it and eat a fair amount to do harm, but I would not be prepared to take that risk and prefer to be cautious and keep it out of the way of any pets. 


Soil Conditions, Feeding and Watering The Polka Dot Plant 

Soil should be light not heavy or clay, but it does need to retain some water. A light houseplant-specific soil is good and adding perlite for extra free-draining abilities makes a good mix to make sure it is well-drained but retentive. The pot needs to have good drainage holes and this houseplant must never sit in standing water. 

The Polka dot plant needs to be fed regularly in its growing season which is Spring and Summer. The feed should be a good quality balanced feed and given about once a month or a little more often if you feel it needs it. 

Overfeeding this plant can also be harmful so better to err on the side of caution. There is no need to feed at all in autumn and winter just resume feeding again in April.

 The other important note to mention is that although it likes a moist soil, It is important not to get the water too soggy as this can easily lead to root rot which tends to be fatal for the plant. 

In the winter it will need less watering maybe about once every two weeks and in the summer once a week watering is usually sufficient. 

If it is very hot then water every four or five days may be needed. 

A good way to tell if it needs more water is simply to put your finger into the soil for a depth of about an inch. If it feels dry to this level then more water is required, if damp or wet there is no need for more water. 



Final Thoughts About The Polka Dot Begonia 

Personally, I would not say this is a beginners houseplant. We cannot get away with not knowing its needs or forgetting to check it.

For example, I was worried when I first got it that the lower leaves started to drop off when I learned that it does not like being moved let alone taken from a warm indoor store outside in the cold to my car then back into a different indoor environment. Essentially it suffered a little shock. However, by being careful not to move it too much since it came home it has recovered with no more leaf drop. 


A Spider plant or Mother-in-Laws Tongue for example is very forgiving of any mistakes and will tend most of the time to bounce back from neglect or mistakes while this plant is more of a challenge.

It is easier to care for in summer than in winter in my experience just because of light and humidity levels naturally occurring.

If you want to buy it as a gift do make sure the recipient is good with houseplants and do write out a simple care plan for them in case they do not know this plant. 

However, it is an exceptionally beautiful, really striking houseplant that is a pleasure to look at and makes a really beautiful plant to have in the home.

In my opinion, it is one of the more stunning houseplants and one of the most gorgeous I own. So it is worth learning about and looking after, as if we do get it right, even with the neglected plants I bought,  there is a good chance the plant will survive and thrive. 


More House Plant Reviews

Care Of The Intriguing Carnivorous Venus Fly Trap House Plant Reviewed.


















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