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

Thursday, April 29, 2021

How To Grow Camellias In Your Garden Or Container Reviewed

I have always loved the beautiful Camellia. I see it as the beautiful rose of Springtime. When we first moved here I thought one would look lovely in the garden. 

This one is now twenty years old and about ten foot tall and four foot wide. It has been lightly pruned perhaps four or five times in its life so far. 




My Top 5 Reasons To Grow A Camellia 

I love them because all year round they are evergreen with thick glossy beautifully shaped leaves. Camellias provide a fantastic structure in the garden all year long and make a superb hedge too

They look stunning when covered in snow as the dark green leaves and the white snow complement each other beautifully.

They have the most stunningly beautiful flowers in Spring that lift your heart and are a perfect shape and come in pinks, whites, creamy yellows and reds mainly.  

They need very little care once established and grow a dense bushy appearance that no one can see through. 

A mature Camellia provides excellent cover for small birds who also like to nest in it. 


Camellia Flower Blossoms

However, for all these marvelous attributes their true moment in the spotlight arrives in early Spring and culminates in April and May.

From early March I am aware of tight fat buds appearing amongst the green leaves, a promise of what is to come. 

Battered by strong winds and rain here they hang on and remain tightly compressed until the weather calms a while and the sun starts to shine and warm up.

Then slowly the fat buds begin to unfurl revealing beautiful pink flower buds. Over the coming weeks more and more unfurl and the green shrub becomes a riot of pink blossom!

It is so stunningly beautiful and something I look forward to every year.



Each flower petal is perfect a gorgeous unique soft yet strong flower.

The petals are quite thick and not easily broken or torn and I noticed that the birds often take the fallen petals to use in their nests. I can imagine that each petal is perfect for laying eggs in and is very soft and insulating for the little chicks. 

The sparrows often nest in the Cammeilla and we often hear them chattering away to each other, squabbling and bonding. Sometimes a huge flock will fly into the Camellia and they disappear into it. 

As the weeks go by the petals begin to fall and the earth around the camellia is littered with a carpet of pink petals like a bride has passed this way and has been showered with flowers. 

Then by summer, we are back to a glossy evergreen shrub.




Where to Site A Camellia

Camellia generally needs to be sited in a position where there is light sunlight, they are essentially woodland plants so light sun to dappled shade is ideal. They do appreciate a more sheltered site and dislike cold biting winds. 

Never site your Camellia in an East facing spot as they actively dislike it. Also, the buds appear to become damaged by the morning sun when east facing so you will get fewer flowers. South or West facing is the best if possible. 

These shrubs do like acid soil but you may get away with a neutral soil that is slightly acidic. As a woodland shrub, it appreciates a good mulch with leaves each spring. You can also use pine needles or bracken or even fir tree clippings if you have them available. 

Probably the best time to plant is in the Autumn/Fall as the soil is still warm and you may have more rain at this time of year. 

When I first bought ours I planted it on one side of our garden and it basically did nothing for 3 years and looked very unhappy and started to die. So I dug it up and planted it on the other side of the garden where, as you can see it quickly flourished and grew and blossomed. 

I am still not sure why this happened as theoretically this first site was ideal, but there was something the plant did not like. It is worth trying an ailing plant in a different site before giving up. 


Watering Camellia 

When first planting, like any other shrub, do water regularly and deeply every week especially in very hot weather. Do not just sprinkle water on, give it a really good deep drink. Unless it rains heavily I continue to do this with newly planted shrubs for about a year to a year and a half. I find it gives them a good start in life then afterward they are little trouble. 

Light watering will be bad for the plant as it encourages roots to turn upwards to seek the water on the surface. You need to really soak the soil thoroughly so that the water is below the root level and the roots search down and out for water. 

Once it is mature and established you should not need to water at all unless you live in an extremely dry climate or suffer drought conditions. If small buds cease to grow or start to drop, or you do not see any buds, then you know it is suffering drought.

 



Pruning Camellia

This is good news for people who do not like pruning! Camellias do not really need much pruning. The only exceptions are if they grow either too big or are growing in a shape you do not like.

If you need to prune only do it immediately after flowering. If you do it any other time you will damage the emerging flower buds. 

Please do not use a hedge trimmer on your gorgeous Camellia. The result is so much better if you carefully prune with secateurs like these Wolf By Pass Secateurs It will take a little time but can be done gradually.

You can deadhead the faded Camellia flowers if you want to. I think this would be possible on a smaller plant. With a Camellia ten-foot high for me, it would be quite a time-consuming task.

Some people will want to do it though to prevent petal fall over the borders. I do not do this as I like to see it naturally fade and I love to see the pink petals fall to cover the earth and the lawn like a bride has just passed by and guests have thrown confetti! Once they have fallen to the ground, I just treat them as very pretty mulch.

Otherwise, you can let it grow and fade at its own pace and time and simply enjoy it.




Taking Camellia Cuttings

Once you have a mature Camellia I would recommend taking cuttings. This way you can over time have more Cameillas and if you ever move you can start a new plant. They also make lovely gifts. 

Cuttings are easy to take and so far I have had great success with them forming roots and growing on well. They are, however, fairly slow to grow from cuttings so plan ahead. 

Soil Conditions For Camellia

It is advantageous to have acid soil but it can cope with a neutral to slightly acid soil especially if you mulch with acid based materials or an ericaceous compost and feed each spring. 

To check your soil look around at your neighbour's gardens and see what is growing well. If Acers, Azelias, Camellias and Rhododendrons are growing happily in the soil then a Camellia should be just fine. 

The other way to check is to do a soil testing kit available in many places where you can easily test your own soil. 

If your soil is not suitable then do consider growing Camellia in a container with ericaceous compost and using ericaceous plant food.


 


Growing Camellia In A Pot

I always have a "can do " attitude when it comes to gardening. Many people have smaller plots and less room to grow in the soil so its important we consider any plant that can be grown in a container. 




In my experience yes, you can grow Camellia in a container. It will need to be size appropriate and have good drainage holes.

Even if you start with a small cutting which you can pot on in a small container, you will eventually need a large tree pot as they can grow large. You may well need to repot into a larger container every 2 or 3 years.

You will need to provide everything for the shrub in terms of water and food.

The big advantage is that you can move the shrub easily into its perfect position to give it the correct sunlight and shelter positions and you can take it with you if you move to another house. 

Make sure the soil is ericaceous or acid soil as it needs the best conditions to live happily in a container. I generally use this type of ericaceous compost below and every gardener has their own preferences as long as it is suitable for acid loving plants.

 

 


You will need to water well at least once a week. This is vital in the autumn/fall as this is when the buds for the flowers are forming. If you do not give it enough water at this time flower buds will not form and that means no beautiful flowers.

Many people chronically underwater Camellia in pots and do not get any flowers and think the shrub is not a good one to grow. This is so easily remedied by simply watering. Especially make sure you water enough in the autumn when buds are forming.

Rainwater from a water butt is best but if you do not have that simply use tap water and ensure you are careful with feeding enough so you maintain the acid balance in the soil.  Feeding is also vital for container grown Camellias and an ericaceous feed is recommended


You may find as I do that a little more pruning is necessary. The one in the container above is in need of both repotting and a prune to reshape slightly so it sits the container better. I will prune it after all the flowers have bloomed. 

I love the Camillia and would recommend growing it. I see it as an early rose-like flower without the thorns of most roses! I love to grow Roses as well but Camellia flowers early before roses are in bloom and gives a beautiful show of lovely colour along with the Spring flowers and bulbs before the summer flowers bloom.

In the ground it is a real low maintenance shrub that can be easily pruned into size and shape. In a container a little more care is required but it is always a pleasure to look after. 



I will always have at least one Camillia in containers and in the garden, but most likely two or three! 


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Monday, April 5, 2021

Spring Woodland Walks For Wellbeing Reviewed

 

Woodland Walks

Nature and wildlife are a huge part of my life in so many ways. They are an integral part of my life, my soul even. They are essential to my wellbeing. 

I had not been able to go for a woodland walk in a long time due to the Covid lockdowns in our country and having to stay local for walks.

I really missed our woodland walks and the absence of them made me realise how much I need to be connected to nature for my wellbeing. 

I love gardening and have done a lot of that this year but I know I also need the wildness of a forest. So today I would like to take you with me on our woodland walks and to discuss why connecting with nature and especially woodlands is so important.

Bluebells In Spring Woodland Clearing


Walking In Woodland

The obvious benefit to walking in woodland is the exercise. If you are on a treadmill or exercise bike I tend to notice how long I have been exercising. However, in a woodland walk, I can roam for hours up and down hills across streams and I really do not notice that I have in fact been exercising for maybe 2 hours.

In addition, you receive fresh air enhanced by the gorgeous trees and shrubs all around you and the experience being outdoors in a different environment. 

Also, I always find woodland to be so calming. Studies have shown that exercising in woodland decreases stress and anxiety.

There is always something new to see in a woodland from frosty winter trees against a blue sky, haunting misty scenes, to new buds and spring flowers.

We share the woods with many animals and birds and so far we have seen rabbits, squirrels, mice and many species of birds. In fact, it has made me want to learn more about bird songs as I can often hear the birds singing but cannot see them. 

Most of all I always feel tired yet refreshed after a woodland walk. There is something about the energy of the tall trees, the green environment, renewal and being surrounded by wild nature that makes the heart sing and sets me up for the rest of the day. 



Our forest walking began in late winter, early spring when we need some motivation to go out walking on a cold rather misty day. I love the photo below as it shows the woodland as a rather enchanted, mystical place.

The trees are bare with branches reaching for the sky and all around seems asleep, except that we know the buds on the trees and the flowers underground are just waiting patiently to emerge.

I have never felt afraid in a forest, it is all rather comforting and familiar to me. I like to feel small against the huge trees that are protecting, rather than intimidating. 


A Misty Woodland Walk In Early Spring


Tree Bark In Woodland

I love to look out for beautiful bark patterns on the trees. The bark is never just brown, it has amazing patterns and colours, shallow and deep rivulets.

If you look closely you may see a tiny creature or two going about its day. An ancient tree has lived so many years, seen so much and overcome drought with heat and damaging storms.

An ancient tree can give us hope and peace that we too can overcome many things. While our lifespan is not so long as many trees, we can experience and overcome so much, flourish and grow. 


Beautiful Tree Bark


Fallen Trees In A Woodland

I love to see the fallen trees gradually becoming a habitat for new life. The natural life of a tree is usually a long one. Trees seed, grow into young saplings,  mature and live long productive lives.

Then if trees are managed well they are either allowed to fall when old or felled if they become in danger of falling to cause damage or injury.

Importantly if they are allowed to rest rather than cleared away, there is a further opportunity in death for them to still live on providing sustenance and homes for all manner of bugs, insects and mammals.

Their bark eventually decays and enriches the soil and from that springs more new life and so the cycle of nature goes on just as it should. 


Fallen Trees Giving New Life


Stunning Snowdrops  

As winter turns to Spring I eagerly look out for the stunning Snowdrop. I do not have a favourite flower rather I like to embrace each flower on its own merits and the snowdrop is a perfect example of a flower that has its moment in time.

Snowdrops look so delicate, so tiny yet they are strong and tough little flowers that survive and thrive  at one of the harshest times of the year

I adore the white purity of the flower against the shining green stems and am always amazed how such a tiny flower braves snow and ice, winds and wet and comes through it all defying the harsh conditions to bloom so brightly, so splendidly.

To me, they are a symbol of Hope that the winter is behind us and the warmer, sunnier lighter days are just around the corner. We also look forward to bluebells, crocus and the wonderful fungi that appear in the forest. 



Woodland Birds

Birds fascinate me more than most animals in the woodland. I am mesmerized by their singing, the clever way they build their nests and care for their young and the beauty of their feathers.

I love to look out for blackbirds, sparrows, blue tits and woodpeckers. It is a lovely way to spend a morning to find a place to sit and listen to this sound which is as beautiful as the most accomplished orchestra.

In one of the forests we visit, the local Wildlife Trust has set up birdfeeder stations. If you are quiet and still and patient there is nothing better than watching the birds dart onto and off the feeders. Sometimes I take photos, other times I simply experience the moment, in a state of just being. 

I was so lucky we were in the right place at the right time and actually looking upwards to the tops of the trees, to get the opportunity to take this photograph of a cormorant perching high to dry his wing feathers after diving.

Cormorants are distinctive birds that often live in the woodland but nearby water and there is a large pond in the middle of this forest that is perfect for this bird to fish in. They have as you can see a long neck and an almost prehistoric appearance about them. After fishing, it needs to find a high perch in the open where it can hold its wings out so they can dry after each dive.  I feel so privileged to have observed this moment in nature.


Cormorant Drying Wings After Diving


Spring In The Woods, Nurturing The Soul

As we approach Spring, the clocks go forward, we have longer hours of daylight and suddenly the forest changes occur very quickly.

The tiny tight buds we saw in early spring now unfurl at a rapid pace and the previously brown bare branches almost overnight turn into bright fresh green foliage. This is my favorite time right now.

 Everything is fresh and new and bright, the days are longer and there is the promise of much more to come. Any worries we have seem more bearable in this beautiful magical environment. I feel a fresh resurgence of the desire to do things, to grow, to explore.


Early Spring In The Woods


It is far too easy these days to become caught up in the everyday noise of our lives, the television, the news, the traffic to see what is occurring right with us if we take time to really look and listen.

There is nothing quite like a forest to see that renewal to view the changes in nature, to feel the growth of new life, to smell the damp soil underfoot and to hear the beautiful birdsong. To experience the sheer joy of finding a new flower that was not there the day before. 


Beautiful Bluebells!


I love this poem by WH Davies which encourages us to "stand and stare" in nature for our own good.


What Is Life If Full Of Care...?

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

by W.H. Davies


Woodland Walking And Wellbeing

I gave some thought to what word I feel when walking in the woods and I have concluded that the word is "Serenity".


That is the feeling and that is perhaps why so many studies are now showing that it is vital for us all to spend more time in a natural environment.

Even if that is only one walk a week it gives us benefits but if we can make it thirty minutes a day it is beneficial to our overall health and certainly to our mental and emotional wellbeing.  

Life can be quite challenging at times and we all have things we need to deal with, perhaps more so these days, so we need a place to go to ground ourselves, to find peace, to find that serenity. 


If you, like me love to connect with nature and the countryside and have a love for trees and woodlands and have enjoyed this glimpse into my woodland walks, you may enjoy reading this book Wildwood by the late Roger Deakin. He was a British nature writer and takes us on a journey through the mysteries of woods, trees and nature in several countries around the world. His writing is quite beautiful and uplifting when looking into the spirituality of nature and people's connection with the natural world.  

  


So for me walking in woodland is not only an enjoyable activity I always look forward to whatever the weather and a way to connect with nature, but it is also an essential part of ensuring my health and wellbeing. I hope you have enjoyed this walk through the woods with me. 


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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Reviewing The Care Of Living Stone Flowers or Lithops As Houseplants

My Little Living Stone Plant

I bought a living stone flower or Lithop a few months ago and it is so beautiful! I used to grow these as a child from little plants and from seeds, but most of my adult life since I got my own garden has concentrated on outdoor gardening.

However last winter and this winter I have felt frustrated at not being able to get out in the garden due to poor weather conditions and leaned more towards learning about houseplants -so that I can still garden - even in winter  :)

I now love my houseplants as much as my outdoor plants. I take great joy in seeing them grow and I care for and propagate them. However, a return to living stones is a new venture for me. So I am relearning about these wonderful, beautiful, funny little plants.


Lithops Plant

Why Are Lithops Called Living Stones?

The name  Lithops is derived from the Ancient Greek λίθος (lithos), "stone," and ὄψ (ops), meaning "face". As a child, I always knew them as Living Stone Flowers, because well they look like little stones!

They are amazing to me as they have developed a clever strategy of looking like stones in their natural environment of Southern Africa in order to not be eaten by the local wildlife!

They can be hard to see in their native environment as they disguise themselves so effectively which allows this very vulnerable plant, with no defenses to survive and thrive. I find this fascinating and clever! 


Growing Conditions For Lithrops

Where living stones grow in the wild in South Africa they receive very little rainfall, often less than two inches a month across the whole year. 

This is really important to know because as gardeners we must try to emulate the same or similar conditions a plant would have had in its natural environment. This for me means curbing my natural urge to get out the watering can and being extremely careful not to overwater!   

For plants I grow in the garden I always try to grow Right Plant, Right Place, meaning to grow plants that will be happy in my garden conditions and not forcing an acid-loving plant in an alkaline situation or a bog plant in a dry situation.

However, when it comes to houseplants they can never be in a truly natural environment, so we must create the correct environment and give them all they need.  

  

Caring For Lithrops 

So what does this mean for us trying to grow and appreciate these fascinating little plants? Here are some aspects to bear in mind.

They do seem to be happier in the company of other Lithops which is of course how they would grow in the wild, so it is best to build up a nice group of them in a container.  

The fact they need very low watering requirements does not mean we do not need to water at all. Drought will also hurt these little plants. They simply need a correct watering regime to keep them happy. 

Living Stone Flowers must above all else have free-draining soil. This means soil that when you water it will pour through drainage holes quickly and not get heavy, soggy or waterlogged.  

You can buy special soil for Lithops which will give it the perfect conditions for growing, or if you can't get that, mix up the compost you have with lots of sand and grit.

I like to top dress with vermiculite or perlite so the leaves do not get splashed with soil. It suppresses weeds, assists drainage and looks good. 

The plant must never be in standing water. So if you keep a saucer or container underneath please check that it is always completely dry. 

 Any potting on should be done around May but is only necessary if the plant is overcrowded.  Otherwise, it is best to leave it alone.

  


Living Stones In Sun And Shade

These little plants require at least five hours of direct but not scorching sunlight each day if possible. Sometimes in my climate in autumn and winter, this is a struggle. However, my little one has survived the winter on much less sunlight than that! 

The best conditions are sunlight in the morning and shade in the afternoon. So if you have a position in your home like that it's ideal. Otherwise, if you keep Lithops in a sunny position all day, do provide extra shade in the afternoon. This can be as basic as a piece of folded cardboard, or maybe a drinks umbrella if you like a fun element!

These little plants, just like us can be badly sunburned! Think of yourself sitting in the scorching sun unable to move out the way. It is unbearable for these little plants and can be devastating.

Too much shade is always preferable to too much sun. You will need to monitor yours while you check the correct position in your house. If you ever see whitish scar tissue this is a serious issue and the plant may die. You must get it out of the sun as soon as possible for any chance of recovery. 


Watering Lithrops

If we water Lithrops like many other house plants we will undoubtedly kill it quite quickly. We have to remember in the wild natural conditions it receives a minute amount of rainfall and is uniquely adapted to that. Getting the watering right is key to the well-being of this plant. 

So all they require is very light watering in late Spring allowing the soil to dry out totally in between. During the summer we do not need to water at all. 

By early autumn/fall when they begin growth again, we can start doing deep watering allowing the water to drain right through and for the soil to dry completely in-between times. 

Watering over winter is minimal, maybe a very light misting once a month.  

When watering I now use a small watering can, or a mister is very good. In fact, using a mister will help those of us who are tempted to overwater! You will see in the photo below that one leaf has been damaged through my overzealous watering, which I remedied very quickly. 

If in doubt always water less than you think you should.   


A little too much watering left one Lithops leaf damaged

The Question of Lithrop Flowers.

We need to be patient gardeners for stone flowers. The plant may need to be mature before it will flower. 

I love my little plant as it is and flowers are a bonus, but if you are eager for flowers right now do ask how old the plant is when you buy. 

If you must have flowers it might be an idea to buy when it is in flower so you can be certain. To encourage flowering I have learned we should add a diluted cactus fertilizer in spring when we start watering again.

 

Growing Lithops From Seed  

Online you may find it easier to buy Lithops in the form of seeds. It is amazing to watch them grow into little plants. You will need to be very patient though. If you buy from a good seller then you should expect most but maybe not all of the seeds to germinate and you will need to take care of them and follow the instructions carefully.   

The seeds are really tiny, even dust like in some cases so do not be disappointed. Handle carefully with a toothpick or tweezers and plant ideally in a very sandy-based, light,  medium. This should be kept just moist but not damp for several months as the seeds germinate into tiny plants. The caution against overwatering still stands. 

Germination should in general take one to three weeks. I take extreme joy in seeing any seeds germinate into those tiny shoots. When it is a plant like a Lithops it is even more exciting!! Once they are little plants you will be so proud! 

There is no doubt that growing from seed requires more skill, attention and patience than buying a full-grown plant. However, anyone can do this and if you love to grow plants this can be a great way to have more mini plants and the pleasure of knowing them from day one.  

If you are interested in learning more about Lithops there are some good and interesting books on the subject.             



Living With Lithops as A Houseplant

I only have one little Lithrop so far in a small pot but I am keen to build up my collection with a mix of seeds and young plants and I feel in a year or two I will have a wonderful display! 

I love them best when there is a group of Lithops in a shallow bowl at waist height or above which shows them off at their best and allows us to get close to them. I love the look of them and they are so soft to the touch as well. Now people are never struggling to find a gift for me! 

Lithops are perfect little plants, very little trouble really but they do require just enough garden know-how and the willingness to learn and experiment a little with them to make you feel you are a gardener!

Stone flowers are great plants if you do not have much space inside or do not like large houseplants or simply as a fascinating unusual addition to your houseplant collection. From my research, the best online sellers seem to sell out quickly as Lithops are becoming increasingly popular. So do look around and keep checking back if they have sold out.  

If you do not have any outside space they are perfect little plants to enable you to develop quite a collection and satisfy your need for a garden and exercise your skills as a gardener. I am certainly still learning a lot about them!  I hope if you decide Lithops are interesting, you too enjoy your little "stone flowers".


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Saturday, February 6, 2021

The Spider Plant As A Houseplant Reviewed

 

Spider Plant With Spiderlings

I have grown up with spider plants or Chlorophytum in the house for as long as I can remember. My Mum always had at least six spider plants in the house all with a myriad of little baby spider plants hanging from the parent in glorious abundance. 

My Mum was a true master of caring for houseplants so that they grew healthy and abundant. All I knew as a child was that they were pretty and indestructible! 


Spider Plants In Our Home

Now I have six spider plants in our home, one in the bathroom, one in the living room, one in the bedroom, two in the dining room/study and one in the kitchen! I could have many more and probably will over time. In the meantime, I give away the little baby spiderettes potted up as gifts.

All mine are variegated, though you can buy all green ones as well. Four of mine are young plants taken from the parent so they do not have any offspring yet. I think they really brighten up a room!

Two are more mature and have beautiful little spider plants or spiderettes hanging down from the main plant. You may need to wait a while for the plant to mature enough to have offspring and a little patience will reward. Once you have a mature spider plant you will always have more! 

 

Mature Spider Plant With Many Spiderlings!

Where To Site Spider Plants.

As when I was a child these plants remain pretty indestructible! Ideally, they like well-drained soil and light but not too sunny position. They do prefer a slightly cooler environment, so I never place a spider plant in direct sunlight on a sunny windowsill or directly above a radiator.

In winter with the central heating on it can be a little more difficult to keep them cool, but as long as they are not directly on top of the radiator or heat source they seem to cope. They are the easiest and most forgiving plants I have ever looked after. 

If any of the leaves go brown I just gently pull them out and if the tip of the leaves only goes brown I just snip off with a pair of scissors. 


Young Spider Plant 

Watering And Feeding Spider Plants

They do need watering well but also like to dry out between waterings. I have a tendency to overwater but this can lead to soggy roots and make them very sick.

If this happens I have found the best thing to do is to take the plant out of the pot, allow it to dry out a little, then repot in fresh dry soil, then water normally, meaning lightly. All mine recovered this way but you do need to catch it early or the plant will be sick.  

The best thing is not to overwater in the first place and always let the soil dry so it is just slightly moist in between waterings. 

The opposite issue is if they get too dry. If this happens you will see them visibly droop and the leaves will start to go yellow and then brown.

 This is easily remedied by giving them a light watering over several days. It may also be advisable to mist them now and again if you know the atmosphere in your home is dry.

If they get to this stage of drought, it is better in my experience not to give them a big drink all at once as it seems to overwhelm them a bit, rather just a small drink to begin.

Then simply pull or trim off any dried leaves and the spider plant will look good as new.  You will soon see them perk up again! 

So with normal care, they respond to watering only when necessary, allowing any excess to drain off and then leaving it until the top of the soil feels dry before we water again. 

We can feed spider plants but they do not need it very often. Mine get a feed perhaps once or twice a month, only in the growing season of spring and summer when I remember and they are fine with that. Any general houseplant feed will do in either liquid or granular form. I give them a far weaker solution than is recommended on the bottle as too much feeding can result in browning of the leaf tips. There is no need to feed in Autumn and Winter. 

I only repot when the original pot has become obviously overcrowded. You will either be able to see the roots on the surface or bursting out of the bottom of the pot, or it will be so congested it becomes tricky to water them.  Then it's time to just pot on into the next size pot into compost that will drain well. This should only be necessary every two to three years.


 


How To Propagate Spiderettes!

I do love the name Spiderettes! Usually in spring when daylight hours increase they start out as tiny white flowers on the parent plant and then develop into a fascinating mini spider plant attached to the parent with a long stem. They can remain like this as they grow bigger for a long time and do look beautiful. 

However, I have found it best to propagate at least some of them before they get too large or too many of them and drag the parent plant down. The one in the first photograph now has a lot of young and really needs some spiderettes propagating this Spring. 

Propagation is so easy. Simply prepare a pot with well-drained soil and without detaching the spiderette from the parent, lower the spiderette roots into the soil, cover and keep watered. Once you see growth and roots developing well, you can snip the long cord from the parent. You can make so many new spider plants by this method! 

Alternatively, if when still attached to the parent, there are already good strong roots visible on the spiderette, you can snip it from the parent plant and pot on by itself. 

When spider plants are very young they have a more upright habit but as they mature they tend to hang down and so I like to place them on a bookshelf, cupboard or shelf so that they and their spiderettes can show off to their full glory.  

They also look great placed in lovely natural macrame baskets that can be hung in the house. This can make them look even more special. 

I like the white macrame baskets which make them stand out and pick up on the white variegation of the long leaves. This is a lovely selection of macrame baskets to suit many hanging houseplants and spider plants would love them. 

 

 


If you don't like macrame then a hanging pot like these  La Jolie Muse Planters in a speckled white colour is lovely to pick up on the white stripes in the spider plant leaves and will look modern and beautiful.

They are lightweight enough made of recyclable plastic and stone powder to hang with a beautiful spider plant inside. These planters come with drainage holes and a water reservoir to ensure that the plants get what they need. 


 


Spider Plants Are Good For Us! 

Spider plants are well known to be a cleanser of the air inside our homes.  It is a great idea to have one in every room. Our homes have more pollutants and chemicals than are good for us from everyday cleaning products to our technology.

Many of us do not open windows and ventilate homes enough especially when it is cold in winter and central heating can dry out the air. 

I especially like to have a spider plant in the bedroom and also in any room where we use technology. They are perfect for a home office.

Houseplants are fantastic at absorbing carbon dioxide and giving out oxygen and some are very good at cleansing the air. Spider plants have been shown in tests by NASA to be able to clean formaldehyde for the air. Tests were conducted under sealed conditions and those tests showed that one plant per 100 square feet would be required.

However, in the less controlled and much more changeable environment of our homes, this may be a bit different. I think if we have a spider plant per room it can do no harm and only help towards a healthier environment for us.   

Spider Plants are a great house plant gift for anyone starting out in their new home or for a student going to University. They cope admirably with conditions that are not quite optimal for them and can amazingly survive a degree of neglect. 


 Young Spider Plant With A Small Spiderling


They are one of the few plants I do not worry about when I go on a two week holiday and ours were all perfectly fine when we went away for a month once. 

I just watered them well in the weeks beforehand and left them in a shady spot.

If you would like pretty, low maintenance, evergreen and interesting all-year-round houseplant that is healthy for us and looks especially good where it can cascade down from a high surface, or in a hanging basket, then spider plants are well worth considering. 




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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The Benefits Of Using A Rebounder For Health And Fitness Reviewed

What is Rebounding?

The Benefits Of Using A Rebounder For Health And Fitness Reviewed.


Rebounding is effectively bouncing or jumping up and down on a mini trampoline. This exercise can be done very gently or it can be a serious aerobic workout.

As it is a low impact cardiovascular form of exercise, people from older children to older adults can use a rebounder, as long as their healthcare team approves it. 

I started using my rebounder 2 months ago. I was looking for something where I could exercise safely indoors during our cold winter months and something that would help me to get fitter and lose some weight. 

As I have had an ankle injury and severe back pain with two herniated discs in the past, to the point I could barely walk without pain and numbness, I am always wary of any new exercise. 

Exercises like jogging and running put too much pressure on my joints and back to be healthy for me. I love swimming but cannot always have access to a pool.  

After checking with my doctor that it was OK to use this piece of equipment I started very slowly and with very short sessions.


Stepping slowly and gently on Rebounder


Safety And Rebounding 

It is important that wherever you use your rebounder that you make sure you have enough clearance above your head to use it safely. You do not want to be hitting your head on the ceiling!

It needs to be placed on a strong stable floor that is even. You do not want the rebounder to be on an uneven surface. 

Also, ensure there is enough room around the rebounder to get on and off safely without bumping into or having to step over anything. Please take care that children and pets are not too close to you when using it. 

Also as it is a form of cardio exercise make sure the room is well ventilated and open one or more windows to let fresh air in.

From my personal experience, I would say to get a rebounder with as large an area of use as possible to make it easier for you. Some have very small areas to bounce onto and I think I would personally find that difficult and annoying.  

Then it is just a matter of making sure it is all fixed securely and you are good to go!


Bouncing On Rebounder. 


Who Should Not Use A Rebounder.

Rebounding is a pretty safe form of exercise for most people especially as if you need to, you can take it at a very gentle pace. 

However, If you have not exercised for a long time and are over 50 years of age please do check with your Doctor first.

If you are very overweight or have heart or lung conditions or any illness or previous accident or injuries, especially to your back or legs or have joint issues or circulatory problems or just feel generally unhealthy or very unfit you must check with your doctor before using a rebounder. 


What Are The Benefits Of Using A Rebounder? 

I wanted a rebounder to help me to increase my fitness and to lose weight. So far both are improving slowly. 

I wanted to be able to exercise effectively and easily indoors in the colder, rainy weather without having to go to a gym or pay gym membership prices. It certainly fulfills these criteria. 

I am also looking forward to taking it out onto our Patio in the summer and using it there. 

It certainly works the leg muscles and I have noticed my muscles, especially in my legs, are much firmer.

Rebounding apparently helps to strengthen the bones in terms of strength and density. This is especially important as we get older and at any age is healthy. 

It is said to help improve coordination and balance. My balance was Ok before I started but I do think it has helped me become more stable and hopefully less likely to have balance issues in the future as I age. 

As my husband had a major operation on his right leg several years ago, we have noticed some minor balance issues and they are gradually improving as he uses the rebounder more often.  

I understand it may help pelvic floor strength and help to prevent urinary incontinence. I cannot vouch for that but if it does that is a good thing as well. 

It certainly works the core abdominal muscles which I really need to be strong to offer support to my back. As I am unable, due to my back condition, to do many core exercises like sit-ups this is great to work my core muscles while standing up. 

It also works the large back muscles and I know having been told by my health care team that if I can keep the back muscles strong and flexible that will help my back long term. I am supposed to swim at least twice a week but have been unable to do that at all these last 10 months and so rebounding is useful for me. 

There are lots of videos on the internet that will show you exercises to do from the very gentle to the most advanced strenuous workout. Many exercises incorporate using your arms as well so you do get a great full body workout. 

Like any other piece of exercise equipment, it is of course only as good as how often you use it.


 


What I Found Difficult About The Rebounder. 

It is quite a large piece of equipment and takes up a good amount of space in a room.  At first I would carefully fold all its legs in and store it under the table. However, as I was using it every day for a short period of time it got to be a pain getting it out then putting it away all the time, so I just left it out. Now we are both using it, it's not worth putting it away, so we leave it propped up on its side in a corner and we do not notice it too much. For us seeing the results from the exercise it is worth it.

The one we bought does not have a stabilizing handle. Now we are used to it that does not matter so much, but at first, it would have been helpful to have that security there. If you know you may have some balance issues or would like to feel more secure on a rebounder I would strongly recommend a handle. 

You can buy rebounders that fold away easier and do have handles so both these can be overcome. 

Ours was not too bad to put together as it just meant putting each of the six legs on which once we got the hang of was doable. Some rebounders are more complex to put together so depending on your level of skill and patience do watch out for that. 


 

 

What I Like About The Rebounder

It is a sturdy piece of equipment that so far is still looking and operating as well as it was the first day of use. 

While it is an investment it is not overly expensive for exercise equipment and as most in the family can use it, does work out very cost-effective. 

It is fun to use! This is key for me as I would otherwise get bored and then not use it. 

I miss it when I do not use it! 

I am starting to see results! I especially like to see my tummy core muscles improving!  Bear in mind when I started I was literally using it only for 5 minutes a day for weeks so I could ascertain how it was affecting my back. It is only in the last 3 weeks that I have built up to 15 minutes a day. If you don't have health issues you would build up to 15 minutes or more much more quickly. 

People of any age can use a rebounder as long as approved by a doctor. I would advise that if used by children they are supervised. If used by an older person it may be a good idea to buy one with a stabilising handle and if possible have someone around if assistance is needed.     


 


What To Wear When Rebounding.

You can exercise in specific exercise clothes and that is advisable if you are doing a long serious workout. Usually, I just wear joggers or leggings, bare feet and a loose T-shirt or top.

I have often just hopped onto the rebounder for 5-10 minutes in my leggings and top in between working sessions on the computer. I would advise wearing a stretchy, forgiving material though just so you can move freely. 

I exercise in my bare feet. I think it would be Ok to wear trainers if that was more comfortable for you. However, footwear would need to be very stable and have a good grip. If you are not sure perhaps try to out both ways and see what you feel is best for you. Clearly do not use a rebounder wearing slippers or normal shoes as that is not safe.


Summary Of What To Bear In Mind When Buying A Rebounder

I have shown a few rebounder choices throughout this article. No one rebounder will suit all people. You will need to carefully consider all factors and what is important to you personally. 

What is a key factor for one person or family may not be important to another. It really does depend on what you are wanting from this piece of exercise equipment including your fitness, your skill level and experience of exercise equipment, the room you have and why you want a rebounder. However, there are a few things to bear in mind that I wish someone would have mentioned to me.


You can see the size of the surface area to bounce on in relation to my foot. 



1. Size.

I would suggest buying the largest surface area you can. I personally would not feel comfortable on ones with a very small area though these are often easier to transport and fold away. It depends on what is most important to you and is a choice to weigh up.  

2. Safely handle or not.

 I do not have a safety handle and now I would not feel the need to buy one. However, in the early days, I would have felt happier with one. As I get older I might buy another rebounder with a handle just for safety.  I think there are also some exercises you can do easier with a handle so a detachable handle would perhaps be useful. This is a very personal choice. 

3.Price. 

Rebounders vary quite a bit in price and often depends on durability and what comes in the kit with them. Usually, the wisest advice is to buy the best you can afford. You need to think how you will use the rebounder and the demands you will place upon it. I would always look for safety, reliability and sturdiness in a rebounder. You do not want parts of it breaking within months. However, do not feel you have to buy the most expensive when actually a less expensive model may fulfill all your needs.   

4. Noise level.

 Some rebounders are noisier than others. You will see some are sold on the fact that they are quieter. You may decide to choose on this basis alone if noise levels are important to you. For me, it was not an issue as I play music anyway when rebounding and I use it on the ground floor of our house and do not disturb anyone, but for others, this may be a key issue.  

5. Storage.

If you are going to leave your rebounder out then storage issues are not such a consideration. However, If you feel you will need to put away your rebounder every time you use it check carefully the packing away and storage requirements. Does it fold up easily and quickly, do the legs fold up or do they need to be taken off, can it slide under a bed without much effort or do you need to disassemble it before storing. In my experience the more difficult it is to get out and set up a piece of equipment the less you will use it. 

 
Gentle jumping on Rebounder

Using A Rebounder

With any piece of exercise equipment that is new to us it is best to start off slow and steady and gradually build up so you can monitor the effect it has on your body. You do not have to bounce high in the air even gentle bouncing with your feet hardly leaving the mat will give benefits. 

If you feel unsure do have someone with you when you first start using your rebounder for security. Children should be supervised and older people may wish to have someone with them especially at first. 

It is important to maintain the correct posture keeping a nice line from your ankle to hip to shoulder and your head held straight and tall. Do follow the instructions for the exercises so you are rebounding safely and effectively. 

In terms of how I built up time on my rebounder as I have known back issues, I first checked with my doctor that it was Ok for me to use this form of exercise for my specific condition. 

Once I had the medical go-ahead I literally tried bouncing for 2 minutes very gently then got off. When that was Ok for me 2 days later I tried it again for 2 minutes. All that first week I did a couple of minutes every other day. 

The following week I increased to 5 minutes every other day.  The week after as I had not had any pains I increased to 10 minutes every other day.

I dropped back to 7 minutes when I got a bit of backache and gave myself a few days off, then started gradually increasing again. I have now built up slowly to 15-20 minutes 4 days a week. Sometimes I do the 20 minutes in one session. Other times I split it into two 10 minutes sessions. 

I think as I want to lose weight I may need to increase to 30-minute sessions 5 days a week next.

At first, I needed to concentrate a lot on what I was doing to get the form and balance right but now I put on some great music, which for me is often a Queen track and rebound away !! I find, 20 minutes flies by so quickly! 


Higher stepping on Rebounder


Most of all I just love using my rebounder and enjoy the exercise! 

In the end that really is the key factor to improving fitness and losing weight through exercise. Choose something you feel you will enjoy and just go have fun!

   

 

 




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