How water can improve your sleep

We all know that drinking water is important. After all, our bodies are made up of nearly 60% water. However, sometimes it can be difficult to stay hydrated during the day as we go about our busy lives.

But did you know dehydration can actually begin to disrupt your quality of sleep? It’s true! Dehydration can lead to things like sleep deprivation, leg cramps, high blood pressure, and more.

Below, we’re sharing our top tips to help you stay hydrated so you can get a better night’s sleep. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of drinking a glass of water before bed and staying hydrated all night long so you can start improving your sleep habits today.

When you’re getting ready for bed, the last thing you want to do is be discomforted by dehydration. If you stay properly hydrated throughout the day, here are some top benefits that can help improve your quality of sleep:

  • Regulate your body temperature: If have trouble falling asleep because you’re too hot or too cold, drinking water may be able to help you fall asleep faster. If you sleep hot, drinking cold water before bed may help lower your body temperature. On the flip side, drinking warm water or hot water may help keep you warm throughout the night if you sleep cold.
  • Prevent nocturia and other symptoms: Nocturia is the term for frequently urinating in the middle of the night. Whether you have an overactive bladder or drink a lot of water before bed, this can disrupt your sleep duration. Consistently drinking water throughout the day (rather than guzzling a ton of water at night) may help prevent nocturia, bladder infections, and overactive bladder symptoms.
  • Mental health improvements: Better quality sleep may also assist in improving your mental health. By staying hydrated, you may find you have more energy in the morning and aren’t as prone to sleepiness throughout the day.

Side effects and health issues associated with sleep and dehydration

You might be wondering how, exactly, water plays a role in how well you sleep. It’s simple: When you’re not drinking enough water, you can become dehydrated.

Here are just some of the ways being dehydrated can interfere with a good night’s sleep:

  • Nighttime leg cramps: Dehydration increases your risk of leg cramps. The risk is especially high if you exercise a lot or live somewhere very hot. That’s because the more you sweat, the more fluids and electrolytes you lose—and that can cause your muscles to cramp up.
  • Snoring: If you’re not drinking the correct amount of water throughout the day, your nasal passages can get pretty dry. This can lead to snoring at night, which can not only make your sleep worse but also ruin your partner’s sleep. (If you or your partner has a serious snoring issue, check in with your doctor to make sure you don’t have sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous sleep disorder, and health condition. Here’s how to sleep better with sleep apnea.)
  • High blood pressure: Sometimes dehydration can cause you to have high blood pressure. That’s because your blood vessels have to work harder to pump out blood when you’re dehydrated—and that can cause trouble falling asleep. Consistently staying hydrated can also help prevent heart disease and irregular blood sugar levels because your heart won’t have to work as hard to get blood to other parts of the body.
  • Excessive thirst: You may wake up thirsty in the middle of the night if you don’t drink enough water during the day. This can lead to a lack of sleep and interrupt your sleep-wake cycle if it happens regularly.
  • Brain fog: When you don’t own enough H2O, expect to feel sluggish the next day. Tracking your fluid intake throughout the day can help you improve your alertness and energy levels the next day.

Signs you may not be drinking enough water

Potential sleep problems aside, pay attention to these other signals you may need to up your water intake. The human body needs a lot of water throughout the day to support your immune system and help you get enough sleep.

You may not be drinking enough water if you have:

  • Dark urine or low urine production: This is a telltale sign of dehydration. This is how your body tells you it’s time to replenish your water supply.
  • Dry skin: Even if you use moisturizer, your skin may remain dry if you’re not properly hydrated. You may also experience a dry mouth throughout the day if you’re dehydrated.
  • Trouble focusing: Dehydration has a negative impact on the blood supply to your brain. Since water helps to improve blood circulation, you may become foggy-headed and unable to concentrate for long periods of time if you’re dehydrated.
  • Headaches: These are also linked to blood supply issues and can be caused by dehydration.
  • Fatigue: Dehydration makes the heart work harder to pump blood out to muscles, which can lead to fatigue and sleep deprivation. (Take our quiz to learn how sleep deprived you really are.)

How to drink enough water (without waking up to pee)

It’s commonly said that the human body needs eight glasses of water a day. But your exact fluid intake will vary based on individual factors like your body size, activity level, and more.

The best way to tell if you’re drinking enough water throughout the day is to look at the color of your urine. If you’re properly hydrated, then your pee should be a very light yellow color—almost clear.

Here are more tips to help you increase your water intake during the day so you’re properly hydrated. (Just keep in mind that though it’s best to consistently sip water throughout the day, drinking too much water late at night can lead to middle-of-the-night bathroom trips—and those can hinder your sleep just as much as dehydration.)

  • Stick to drinking water that’s filtered: Some cities across the United States have water with unsafe lead levels. In order to truly reap the health benefits of staying hydrated, you should try to drink filtered water as frequently as possible. Try a filtered water pitcher for your refrigerator. Brita makes great ones!
  • Use your water bottle to keep track of how much you’re drinking: If you’re a visual person, you may benefit from investing in a water bottle with lines to tell you how much you need to drink by a certain time of day.
  • Set reminders: Your phone can help you remember to continue drinking water throughout the day. We like to use water tracking apps that have a calculator to help you figure out how much H2O you need daily. They also allow you to set up push notifications to nudge you to refill your water bottle.

Hydration isn’t just important for your health and wellness—it can also affect your quality of sleep. Hopefully, you found our top tips for staying hydrated throughout the day helpful so you can start to sleep better.

This article originally appeared on Saatva.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org

Can prison gardens help address the problem with mass incarceration?

Inmates carry boxes of produce at Correctional Institute

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Can prison gardens help address the problem with mass incarceration?

While there is no centralized system that tracks all crime data, FBI and Bureau of Justice Statistics data suggest that reported crime rates, on the whole, are falling.

Yet with nearly 2 million people in confinement, the United States has the largest incarcerated population in the world: both in terms of the total number and relative to the country’s overall population. This includes more than 1.3 million people currently serving out sentences in federal and state prisons and local jails, and close to half a million awaiting convictions.

This begs the question: Is the country plagued by crime, or suffering under an uncalibrated criminal justice system?

Stacker consulted academic research, program outcomes, and government data to look at what the U.S. prison population looks like today, and how horticulture therapy is being used to improve the quality of life for inmates currently incarcerated and after their release.

Beginning in the early 1980s, the “tough on crime” era in the U.S. ushered in a 400% increase in the federal and state prison population over the next two decades. Policy changes such as minimum sentencing requirements, the Three Strikes law, Truth in Sentencing laws, and the concurrent War on Drugs campaign meant more people were sent to prison—and often with longer sentences. The number of people incarcerated for drug offenses alone increased nearly tenfold, according to Bureau of Justice data, from roughly 41,000 in 1980 to 430,926 in 2019.

The idea that increased incarceration rates and longer sentences directly lead to lower crime rates—the core tenet of the “tough on crime” ideology—is widely debated. Some research suggests that over the last 20 years, nearly 0% of the reduction in crime can be attributed to the increased use of incarceration. Data also suggests that in certain communities, increased incarceration can lead to an increase in crime by perpetuating cycles of broken families, police mistrust, and economic disadvantage.

America’s prisons and jails are woefully, and intentionally, bad at preparing inmates to rejoin society because the criminal justice system operates, in large part, on punishment, not reform. As result, two out of every three people who serve time in prison are rearrested within three years of their release. Former inmates are also more than 100 times more likely to die of an overdose, and more likely than the general population to commit suicide.

Recidivism comes with a high price. According to a study conducted by the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council, which looked at recidivism costs in that state, a single instance of reincarceration can cost taxpayers more than $50,000.

Over the course of five years, recidivism could cost Illinois over $13 billion, a fraction of what it costs the nation as a whole. The U.S. spends near $81 billion annually on mass incarceration, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Most states spend more money to keep someone incarcerated than to educate a child.

Programs like prison gardens, which are part of a horticulture therapy movement and a relatively recent push for rehabilitation within the prison system, are helping inmates better prepare for life outside of incarceration by improving mental health, fostering socialization and problem-solving skills, and providing training that could eventually lead to employment. For those who may never rejoin society, prison gardens grow purpose—something beautiful amid something bleak.

Prison gardens are not the solution to mass incarceration or high recidivism rates. They are more akin to a bandaid on a deep wound. But they can teach us the value of providing rehabilitative services if the end goal is to reduce mass incarceration and break the socioeconomic cycles associated with it.

You may also like: Marijuana violations have taken over 10,000 truck drivers off the road this year, adding more supply chain disruptionsPeople work in garden at correctional institute

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

History

The first official prison garden program in the U.S. began at Rikers Island in 1997. Launched by the Horticulture Society of New York, the GreenHouse, as it is referred to, is the country’s oldest and largest prison garden. Six years later, the Insight Garden Program was launched at Solano and San Quentin State Prisons in California. Today, more than 15 state prison systems offer landscaping, gardening, and horticulture training programs.

It is important to note the difference between rehabilitative agricultural training and forced prison labor, which has become more common in the food industry in recent years. With fewer immigrants available for farm labor, many growers have turned to prison labor, or convict leasing, which is cheap and abundant. Inmates are excluded from federal minimum wage laws, and in some states make as little as $3 per hour before deductions. Prison gardens, even those that feed surrounding communities, are structured for the benefit of inmates.Inmates harvest and box up cabbage in garden

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Mental health in US prisons

The U.S. incarcerates a disproportionate amount of people who have mental health challenges and most prisons and jails are not designed to treat them. More than 40% of people in state prisons have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, and the majority of them never receive any mental health care.

Compared to the overall U.S. population, more incarcerated people suffer from bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, and the rates of mental illness among incarcerated women are nearly double that of incarcerated men.Peppers being picked at Berks County Jail

Jeremy Drey/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Benefits for the community

In addition to providing fresh food for the prison facilities themselves, many prison gardens donate portions of their harvests to the surrounding communities. In Missouri, for example, Restorative Justice Gardens across the state generate roughly 100 tons of fresh produce to donate to food banks, shelters, schools, and senior centers.

According to the WA Food Fund, the number of people in Washington who were at risk of not having enough to eat during the pandemic reached 1.6 million. The Washington State Corrections’ Hope Gardens donated nearly 74,000 pounds of produce to at-risk communities to help mitigate the risk of food shortages. Inmates across the country are giving back to their surrounding communities—to people perhaps a lot like them, who need help, and whose lives could be positively impacted by receiving it.An inmate consults garden books at Boulder County Jail’s organic garden

David Jennings/Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images

Benefits for the inmates

Research shows horticulture therapy increases self-efficacy, self-worth, and life satisfaction for inmates. It also decreases anxiety and depression symptoms and reduces recidivism rates for participants when compared to the rest of the incarcerated population. Less than 10% of the 117 California-based Insight Garden Program participants who were paroled between 2003-2009 were reincarcerated. California’s average recidivism rate over the same period was 64%.

Some programs, like Roots to Re-Entry, also incorporate vocational training into their therapy work so inmates leave with hands-on skills to improve their chances of landing a green job upon their release. Participants build connections with program instructors who can serve as references uniquely positioned to speak to their character and growth.Inmates tend to garden in Berks County Jail

Jeremy Drey/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Concerns, shortcomings, discussion

As mentioned before, many prison garden programs boast lower recidivism rates among participants than the general prison population—a positive result no matter how you look at that fact on its own.

However, participant selection, which is often left to the correctional facilities, may unfairly overlook some inmates, such as those with a history of serious or violent crimes—despite the fact that such inmates make up the overwhelming majority of the prison population. According to a U.S. Department of Justice study tracking recidivism rates between 2005-2014, such prisoners are less likely to be rearrested for committing crimes after release than prisoners released for property offenses. Unfortunately, the majority of states have criminal justice reforms that exclude people convicted of violent offenses.

Program participation does not guarantee a prosperous life upon reentry to society. People who were incarcerated will forever be labeled as criminals and not all employers are willing to take the risk of hiring someone with that history. Research shows that having a criminal record reduces employer callback rates by 50%. Inmates are not reentering a society free from the socioeconomic inequities that may have contributed to their incarceration in the first place.

While their experience with horticulture therapy can inform how they approach adversity, it does not get at the root of the systemic inequality leading to and exacerbated by mass incarceration.

Written by: Lauren Liebhaber. The article was produced by Stacker, and syndicated by healing-water.org.

Aircrete: What It Is, Pros & Cons, Uses in Homes/Domes

Building a new home incurs many monetary and environmental costs. One of the biggest sources of these costs is the material used in the masonry blocks, also known as the literal building blocks of your home. 

Concrete is a very popular masonry material and one of the most widely used synthetic materials on Earth. Its popularity no doubt stems from the fact that it is incredibly durable and structurally sound. 

However, manufacturing concrete produces a large carbon footprint – an estimated 5% to 7% of carbon dioxide emissions. 

But what if you want a building material that matches structural strength with environmental sustainability? Consider using aircrete, a cheap, lightweight alternative to traditional concrete that offers many of the same benefits. 

When building a new home, it’s hard to beat affordability and sustainability. But those are not the only benefits aircrete can offer. Keep reading to learn why you should consider using aircrete in your next building project. 

What Is Aircrete?

aircrete blocks

Aircrete is a building material often used in the form of masonry blocks. Builders increasingly regard aircrete, also known as Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC), as an eco-alternative to traditional concrete building blocks. 

Durable yet lightweight, this precast building material offers sufficient compressive strength for non-load-bearing walls while protecting against various climate elements. 

Aircrete is essentially a mix of water, foaming agent, and cement. The foaming agent creates tiny air bubbles that, when evenly dispersed, provide many benefits (outlined in the next section). 

The target amount of foaming agent depends on the intended application for the aircrete. As a rule of thumb, aircrete with more air bubbles offers greater insulation capacity but less compression strength.  

Blending traditional concrete relies on a coarse aggregate such as gravel. This composition creates a denser material with greater compressive strength. However, it lacks many of aircrete’s most attractive properties – particularly regarding insulation.

For increased structural strength, builders might mix traditional aggregate into aircrete.

Premade aircrete blocks will make variations to this basic recipe. For example, manufacturers such as H+H Aircrete use a mixture of cement, lime, pulverized fuel ash, and aluminum powder. 

Whatever the foaming agent, these uniformly distributed stable air cells are crucial to the performance of aircrete. For this reason, you might also hear aircrete referred to as aerated concrete, foam concrete, lightweight concrete, or cellular concrete.

Benefits of Using Aircrete

We’ll discuss aircrete’s sustainability properties in a later section. But, first, let’s look at the tangible benefits aircrete can lend to your building structure.

Cheaper Associated Costs

Many builders tout aircrete as a low-cost option thanks to the relative cheapness of the materials used to make aircrete: water, foam, and cement. 

As with any construction project, the exact cost of building with aircrete varies depending on several factors, particularly if you’re mixing aircrete yourself. Generally speaking, however, building with aircrete is less expensive than building with traditional concrete. 

Hajjar Gibran, the founder of DomeGaia — a company that builds quirky dome-shaped houses using aircrete, believes aircrete has potential as a building material for affordable housing. 

Gibran estimates DomeGaia’s aircrete costs $1 to $2 per square foot and inch of thickness. By this calculation, using aircrete to build a 1,000-square-foot building with 4-inch thick walls would cost under $8,000. 

Even if you’re not interested in living in a dome home, aircrete will probably be a cheaper building material than traditional concrete. And it is definitely more environmentally sound than timber. 

Greater Insulation

One of the most significant advantages aircrete offers over traditional concrete is its insulation abilities.  

The moment you step inside an unsealed concrete basement, you will feel the room’s chilly dampness. Some traditional concrete blocks increase their insulation capacity by adding rigid insulation such as polystyrene foam blocks. 

Aircrete blocks don’t require this addition. The foam or air bubbles dispersed throughout the aircrete naturally provide insulation properties. Aircrete is also very air-tight, allowing for much better heat consistency than permeable concrete blocks. 

Thermal mass is another key to aircrete’s insulation success. (Thermal mass refers to a material’s ability to absorb and retain energy from heat.) 

High-density materials such as traditional concrete blocks have high thermal mass and require a lot of energy to change temperature. Timber and other lightweight materials change temperature quickly because they have low thermal mass. 

The thermal mass of aircrete blocks lands between these two extremes, leading to more consistent absorption and distribution of heat within a building. 

By some estimations, aircrete could provide an insulation value of R-6 per inch. For comparison, popular insulation material loose fill cellulose offers up to R-3.8 per inch. 

Taken at face value, if aircrete offers an R-value of 6 per inch, a house in warm climates could easily meet the recommended R-30 with 5-inch thick walls. 

Builders might consider using a thicker application of aircrete in areas requiring additional insulation such as attics, ceilings, or foundations in some cases. 

Ease of Application 

installing aircrete block

Several qualities make aircrete easier to use than traditional concrete. 

Thanks to evenly dispersed air cells, aircrete has a lower density than concrete. So, in layman’s terms: aircrete is more lightweight, offering easier application and faster home construction.

Additionally, unlike concrete blocks, aircrete blocks can be cut with a handsaw and manipulated with other wood-working tools. Whether you need to carve, drill, or penetrate the material, this quality offers flexibility in construction. 

You can easily form aircrete into blocks or pour the liquid form into walls. Aircrete hardens over time, allowing you to shape the material before it has dried. When aircrete does dry, usually over one night, it self-levels. 

Aircrete’s flexibility and lower associated production costs make it an attractive material for DIY home builders.

Fire Resistance

houses in wildfire

Housing constructions made from lumber pose increased fire risks. However, aircrete outperforms even concrete in terms of its fire-resistant qualities. 

The materials used to make aircrete – water, foam, and cement – aren’t typically known for catching on fire; this means that aircrete, like concrete, won’t catch fire even when exposed to extremely hot flames. Aircrete’s fire-resistant quality also results from its porous nature and material makeup.

This quality makes aircrete a great material for building in areas increasingly at risk of wildfires.

In the event of a house fire, aircrete walls will offer superior protection, so consider placing valuable assets in areas walled using aircrete. 

Moisture Resistance

The foam or air bubbles within aircrete blocks protect the structure against moisture accumulation. Thanks to reduced moisture accumulation, aircrete will not rot or deteriorate when exposed to water — even in cases of humidity. 

Moisture resistance is crucial to preventing mold, decreased air quality, or structural damage caused by dampness. 

Use aircrete’s water resistance to your advantage. Identify cold spots in your building project. Apply aircrete in these areas to prevent future risks of moisture accumulation. Whether your building suffers from water accumulation or snow, aircrete will help the structure resist water damage. 

Pest Resistance 

aircrete homes are more protected from pests like slugs

At best, pests are a creepy-crawly nuisance. At worst, they can cause severe structural damage. Building with aircrete is a great way to reduce the risk of this nuisance and damage. 

Termites are common household pests that frequently attack timber structures. Building your house using aircrete rather than timber makes the risk of termites impossible and irrelevant. 

Working with aircrete allows builders to seal openings and enclosures tightly, making it much harder for pests to infiltrate a building’s interior space. 

Improved Acoustics 

As with many insulation applications, aircrete provides soundproofing, its many air pores reducing the transfer of sound from room to room. 

Building with aircrete is a great way to improve a room’s acoustic properties. This soundproofing doesn’t just benefit intrepid drummers who don’t want to disturb their neighbors. 

It can also block out unwanted noises that might come from outside your house, such as traffic or barking dogs. 

Aircrete Sustainability

If you calculate the sum of these benefits, you will probably realize that the benefits of aircrete amount to increased sustainability, especially when compared to concrete.

Creating aircrete uses less cement, water, electricity, and heat than concrete production. Plus, the composition of aircrete relies on all-organic materials: cement, water, and air bubbles (or foam). 

By some estimates, the right foaming agent can increase the volume of aircrete sixfold. It also produces fewer off-gas emissions than its cement counterpart. 

Additionally, the superior insulation properties of aircrete reduce the energy required to regulate a building’s temperature. 

Aircrete’s fire, moisture, and pest resistance properties result in a building that requires lower maintenance and is less likely to break down over time, particularly when compared to timber constructions. 

Aircrete is durable. Plus, in cases where aircrete does not withstand the tests of time, it’s easy to recycle aircrete. In some cases, you can even reuse aircrete for structural purposes. (It doesn’t even produce damaging emissions over time.) 

Disadvantages of Using Aircrete

Maybe you’re thinking aircrete sounds too good to be true. It offers many benefits, but what about the downsides? 

When you compare aircrete to traditional concrete, aircrete falls short in two key ways: strength and durability. 

Aircrete is not as strong as traditional concrete. Consider using it for internal support rather than foundational structures. Aircrete is better suited to absorbing shock than to bearing loads. 

If aircrete is composed too densely of foam, it can lose durability and become brittle. This brittleness won’t necessarily cause structural issues but might lead to chipping and cracking.

The measures of components and methods used to mix aircrete will impact the degree of these shortcomings. 

Remember that you can incorporate aircrete and traditional concrete into your building’s structure. First, consider using concrete blocks for load-bearing constructions requiring higher compressive strength levels. Then, use aircrete blocks for interior constructions that require better insulation. 

Possible Uses for Aircrete

Builders first developed aircrete to replace breeze blocks. Aircrete blocks are still primarily used for this purpose, placed on internal skins of cavity walls to provide optimal insulation. 

However, contemporary builders are starting to use aircrete for many other purposes. For example, some builders, such as the folks at DomeGaia, are using solid aircrete to build not just external skins but entire buildings. 

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly alternative to concrete, here are some different household applicationswhere you can use aircrete:

Countertops & Table Tops

Aircrete slabs can provide a lightweight, easy-to-transport alternative to heavy precast concrete slabs. 

Dog House

Building a dog house using aircrete can provide added insulation and bug resistance for your furry friend. 

Greenhouse & Shed 

Since aircrete offers excellent insulation properties, using this material to build a greenhouse or shed will help keep delicate seedlings toasty and your tools dry. 

Garden Beds, Planters, & Retaining Walls

When composed of all-natural materials, aircrete garden beds won’t leach chemicals into your raised soil mounds, unlike treated wood or concrete. 

Pizza Oven

Aircrete is easy to shape during its application, making it an ideal material to form into a dome to house tasty pies.

Rocket Stove

Completely fire-resistant and easy to use, aircrete is a suitable material for building a rocket stove. 

Roof and Roof Panels

Thanks to evenly dispersed air bubbles, using aircrete for poured roofs increases attic insulation capacity. 

Underground Pipes

In cold areas, it’s possible to use aircrete to provide an additional layer of defense against freezing. 

Pro Tip: Aircrete might not be the best material for applications that require load-bearing strength (driveways, garage floors, patios). Also, as aircrete is not 100% watertight, it is not a good material to use when building a pool. 

You can purchase aircrete masonry in various blocks and panels directly from manufacturers such as Aercon AAC or Hebel. It is also possible to make an aircrete mixture at home. 

Airing on the Side of Caution

If you’re purchasing pre-manufactured aircrete, be aware that some manufacturers use foam products containing harmful chemicals. However, it is entirely possible to make aircrete with non-toxic natural resources. In these cases, aircrete blocks are much safer than many other building materials and will not release toxic fumes. 

Whether you’re building a new home or making improvements to an existing building, structural safety is the most important thing to consider. When in doubt, hire a professional builder to assess the load-bearing requirements of your building project.

Frequent Questions

Is Aircrete load bearing?

As we mentioned in the article. Aircrete can handle some weight, but for projects that require high-compressive strength, you’re better off with concrete. 

What is the fire resistance of aircrete?

See our above section in this article, “The materials used to make aircrete – water, foam, and cement – aren’t typically known for catching on fire; this means that aircrete, like concrete, won’t catch fire even when exposed to extremely hot flames. 

Aircrete’s fire-resistant quality also results from its porous nature and material makeup.

This quality makes aircrete a great material for building in areas increasingly at risk of wildfires.”

Who came up with aircrete?

Mr. Willem van Boggelen invented aircrete around fifty years ago. Here was a mechanical engineer and also was involved with Fluid Mechanics. He also founded Aircrete Europe back in 2002.

References

CEMENT AND CONCRETE: THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT: Link

Building an aircrete dome home – PDF

ADVANTAGES AND IMPLICATIONS OF LOW DENSITY AIRCRETE PRODUCTS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY – PDF

This article was produced by Nature of Home, and syndicated by healing-water.org.

The Puzzling Snake Plant Flower: What It Means + How to Get Yours to Bloom

People love snake plants due to their low maintenance, sharp, pointed leaves, and ability to survive indoors and out (depending on the USDA growing zone).

Many homeowners are often puzzled to see a snake plant flower. While it is often a rare sighting and usually only happens once a year (typically in the spring), it does happen. Although, it is possible to have one never flower at all. This could be because of the variety you have or growing conditions.

This article will cover the meaning of flowering snake plants, their appearance, how to make your plant bloom, and what happens afterward. We will also cover some safety info you won’t want to miss.

Meaning of a Flowering Snake Plant

Most people think flowering is a good thing. But, that is not always the case. For example, when snake plants are in bright lighting and have minimal water, they often get stressed. This causes the plant to think it might be dying due to drought. 

So, it then starts to create flowers that turn into seeds. The seeds will then take root, and the species will continue to grow.

Is It Lucky?

Getting a snake plant to flower is not common, so yes, it can be a lucky sign that yours bloomed. But, more so, these plants are considered good luck because of their ability to filter toxins from the air rather than flowering.

Some people even think with the good luck associated with snake plants; the plant will attract money. If this is your goal, you should check out the Money tree. It has more meaning to money than a snake plant.

What Do They Look Like?

snake plant flower blooming

A long flower stalk is typically seen when a snake plant starts blooming, covered in flower buds that grow in clusters with thin petals. These flowers look like honeysuckle or small lily flowers. The evergreen perennial can grow as tall as 3 ft high with erect flower stalks or spikes; however, some snake plants don’t produce stalks. 

Instead, their flowers grow in clusters at the base of the plant. Depending on the species of snake plant, color varies. Meanwhile, there are about 70 species of snake plants. The flowers of Dracaena trifasciata are usually cream and greenish-white. 

Other varieties are white, yellow, light green, or white with lavender. While snake plants rarely bloom, when they do, their blooms are usually striking and fragrant.

How Often Does a Snake Plant Flower?

As earlier stated, snake plants seldom bloom, and it happens once a year, especially in spring. The flowers can last a few weeks, producing berries before they die. While it can flower yearly, you can’t tell when it will bloom, and a rosette that has previously borne flowers will not produce more flowers. 

Each blooming season begins with flowers growing on a new stalk. After blooming, you can prune the stalk from the plant’s base. Doing this will help the plant maintain a neat appearance.

Are The Flowers Fragrant?

Snake plant flowers have a strong fragrance at night, and this is due to blossoms closing during the day and opening in the dark. They usually release a spicy vanilla-like scent which is inconspicuous, and this fragrance varies among species. 

Moreover, flowers produce sweet, sticky nectar that trickles down the stem as dew drops.

Is Flowering Bad?

Generally, a snake plant flowers when it’s mildly stressed, neglected, and root-bound. 

While blooming is rare and induced by stress, you may assume that flowering is bad for your snake plant. However, there are no studies or facts about flowering harming them.

How to Make Snake Plants Flower

flowering snake plant

While snake plants are tolerant and thrive under harsh conditions, they may not blossom. You can induce flowering in snake plants by keeping them in a root-bound stage, reducing watering, and exposing them to lots of sunlight. 

The following factors can stimulate flowering in snake plants.

Light

Bright, indirect light favors the blooming of snake plants. As much as possible, avoid exposing the plant to direct sunlight since this can be detrimental to the plant’s growth. If you’re growing the plant indoors, it’s best to place it close to the window or in the corner of your room.

Water

Snake plants are succulent plants that store water in their leaves and require a small amount of water to thrive. Regular watering can cause the plant to rot; only water once a week and less during winter. Allow soil dry in between before watering again. 

Also, since it’s their growing season, you might need to water the Dracaena plant more during spring and fall. You should grow your plant outdoors if you reside in a tropical region as they receive abundant rainfall. 

Ensure the soil is well-drained so roots don’t become waterlogged.

Temperature

Dracaena plant adapts well to tropical climates. They require moderate temperatures to thrive, so avoid placing plants near the air conditioner or heating vent. 

Also, move plants indoors during winter since freezing temperatures can harm plants, leading to their death. 

Leave the plant indoors till spring while placing it under indirect light. Temperature ranging from 55 – 85℉ is suitable for snake plants.

Pot

It is widely believed that snake plants bloom when they’re slightly stressed. Being stressed means they’re not given full attention, are exposed to high light intensity, and watered less. Over time, plants will spread rapidly and become root-bound, allowing new shoots to spring forth. 

Propagation sets in, inducing flowering, but this doesn’t confirm that your plant will bloom when potted because other factors like soil, location, and soil influence flowering. 

On the other hand, pot condition affects blooming; therefore, ensure you grow snake plants in a well-drained pot, preferably a terracotta pot that supports evaporation.

Soil

A light, well-drained soil is best suited for growing snake plants, but you can use a potting mix or DIY soil-based medium. While snake plants don’t require many nutrients to grow, adding compost or manure to soil accelerates flowering. 

Ensure you don’t use excess fertilizer as it can negatively affect the plant, leading to death.

Age

There’s no definite age for snake plants to start blooming. Generally, new and young plants rarely flower, but the old plants have a greater chance of blooming under the right conditions. 

Other than this, some plants won’t bloom in the first season even after exposing them to a conducive climate or condition. If you’re looking to grow a snake plant, you should choose a mature one.

Are The Flowers Poisonous?

Although it has little effect on humans, snake plants are poisonous when ingested, causing nausea and vomiting. Snake plants contain saponins, which are used for producing insecticides and fungicides. 

These chemicals are dangerous to humans, making them susceptible to developing allergies. In addition, babies and pets should avoid playing with the plant, especially the flowers, long stems, leaves, and berries.

Videos

Will The Plant Die After It Flowers?

While it is true that snake plants typically bloom under stress, as long as you keep taking proper care, they should not die. The blooms will turn into orange berries. 

References

Saponins – PDF

This article was produced by Nature of Home, and syndicated by healing-water.org.

World’s Oldest Sealed Terrarium by David Latimer

In 1960, David Latimer decided to grow a sealed glass bottle terrarium. He never imagined that it would grow into an incredible research study and be dubbed “the world’s oldest terrarium.” 

Over the years, David’s bottle garden was sealed shut but remains healthy and robust as it can be. It has flourishing plant life even though it has not that has not been watered since 1972.

David established the terrarium by placing a quarter pint of compost and water inside the ten-gallon bottle (custom hand-blown glass makers usually make these). He then added spiderworts seeds with the help of a wire. After that, he sealed the bottle and put it in a corner filled with sunlight. Then, let nature do its job through photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis releases oxygen and moisture into the air via plants. The water will then build up and drip onto the plants. The leaves will also fall and rot, releasing carbon dioxide, which the plants require for their food. 

It is creating a self-sustaining ecosystem. It’s astunning illustration of how nature can preserve itself.

Latimer opened the terrarium in 1972 to supply the plants with water. However, it has been sealed with no air or freshwater ever since.

“It’s six feet from a window, so it is exposed to sunlight. As a result, it’s a little more oriented towards the sun and is rotated around now and then to develop uniformly. It’s also the standard for low-maintenance. I’ve never trimmed it. It just appears to have grown to the boundaries in the bottle.”David Latimer

David’s creation has been featured in the Daily Mail.

The garden has been set in the same room for the past 27 years at the home of the Latimer family (at the time of the interview, it was moved around before that). 

It is situated within Cranleigh, Surrey. The town was first made available via BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners Question Time on BBC by Chris Beardshaw. Chris is a TV host and garden designer. 

The designer said that David’s sealed garden was the perfect cycle of nature and an excellent illustration of the ability of plants to recycle. And he added that it’s similar to the method NASA is looking into bringing plants and seeds into space. 

Saying: “Plants serve as excellent cleaners, eliminating pollution from the air, to ensure that a space station can be self-sustaining.’. 

This is an excellent example of how revolutionary plants are and how they can survive if given a chance.

History of Terrariums

If you’re new to terrariums, let’s start with some background. The name terrarium comes from the Latin words terra(earth), and arium (place). So it’s similar to aquariums but only with earth and plants.

There are two main categories of terrariums:

  • Closed: The most classic (and interesting) kind and the one David chose to create. The sealing off of the terrarium and making it an enclosed system is what makes it an ecosystem. It captures humidity in terrariums and allows for the growth of fascinating tropical plants.
  • Open: This type may lose some of a traditional terrarium’s essential characteristics and features. They’re ideal for plants that don’t need a lot of water.

The first terrarium was created on accident by Nathan Bagshaw Ward

Ward first became aware of the benefits of hermetically-sealed glass bottles in 1829. He had put a chrysalis from a moth called a sphinx in moist soil on the bottom of the bottle and covered the bottle with a lid. Then, he noticed that a grass and fern seedling had sprouted from dirt the following week. 

Incredibly, the evaporated water condensed on the bottles’ walls in the daytime, then returned to the soil at night and maintained constant humidity.

He then adapted this idea for transporting plants across long voyages. The sealed Wardian Case kept the plants moist and alive so they could travel to foreign countries (PDF).

Nowadays, terrariums are used more for decoration and enjoyment rather than travel. Although it still is a great way to transport plants if you’re moving long distances.

Growing a Sealed Bottle Terrarium

As we have said earlier, the sealed terrarium functions by creating a self-sustaining ecosystem. Through photosynthesis, the plants recycle nutrients. 

Light is the sole input that is required externally. This is the source of energy needed for food and growth. The light beams off the leaves and is taken into the plant by proteins that contain chlorophylls (green-colored pigment). 

Plants store a small amount of light with ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to provide energy. The plant’s roots utilize the rest to remove electrons in water.

The electrons are then free to release oxygen through the conversion of carbon dioxide into carbohydrates by chemical reactions.

To compost organic matter like dead leaves in the ecosystem, it uses the process of cellular respiration. This is performed by bacteria that absorb excess oxygen, release carbon dioxide, and help the plant grow.

The plants also use the same process of cellular respiration to break down the substances it has stored up in the absence of light (during nighttime).

Water is cycled throughout, trapped in the plant’s roots, escaping into the air, and condensed in the potting mix. 

The cycle begins anew and continues to repeat itself.

Conclusion to David’s Sealed Bottle Garden

A lot of people are skeptical that David Latimer’s story is factual, and some, such as Bob Flowerdew (organic gardener), think, “It’s wonderful but not for me, thanks. I can’t see the point. I can’t smell it, I can’t eat it.”.

It’s shocking to learn that David feels the same. He says that the bottle garden is pretty dull. It’s not doing anything; however, it is fascinating to him to determine how long it will last.

He plans to pass on the “world’s oldest terrarium” to his children once they are older. Even if they do not have an interest in the meanwhile, if they do not want it, the terrarium will go to the Royal Horticultural Society in London, England.

While this experiment is not explicitly focused on home improvement, it does highlight how a simple project can be brought into the home and connect us with nature.

Also, it would be an excellent conversion piece when the company comes over. Think of the reactions one would get when you say you haven’t watered the terrarium in 50 years!

Sources:

Desmond, Ray. 1986. Technical Problems in Transporting Living Plants in the Age of Sail. Canadian Horticultural History 1: 74–90.

Loudon, John C. 1834. Growing Ferns and Other Plants in Glass Cases. Gardener’s Magazine. pp. 207–208.

This article was produced by Nature of Home, and syndicated by healing-water.org.

From design to landfill: the lifecycle of your $3 Shein shirt

Customers inside a Shein shop with a big happy display in the window.

RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images

From design to landfill: the lifecycle of your $3 Shein shirt

That cute top you purchased for less than your morning coffee, wore twice, washed once, and threw away because it fell apart as soon as it hit the washing machine agitator will sit in a landfill, leeching pollutants for up to 200 years.

To put that in context, if fast fashion (and polyester) existed during Susan B. Anthony’s lifetime, the dresses she would have worn advocating for women’s rights would still be lingering in a Rochester landfill today. It is doubtful Anthony would have supported the murky ethics surrounding fast fashion, but that’s beside the point.

In vogue, fast, and ultra-fast fashion—terms referring to the production speed—appeal to consumers because of their low price tags. To the individual, the financial burden is negligible. It may even feel like the responsible choice to buy from sites like Shein, Fashion Nova, or Zara. But in almost every other aspect, this type of clothing comes with a steep price to the planet. The fashion industry accounts for up to 10% of global carbon dioxide output, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

Stacker referenced news and fashion industry reports to break down the general life cycle of fast fashion. Before a polyester blouse is a blouse, it is a nonrenewable, petroleum-based synthetic that is resource-intensive to extract and produce. Garment workers around the world then manufacture it, often working in unsafe conditions and earning well below a living wage. After arriving at its destination via carbon-heavy international shipping, a blouse may serve its intended purpose for a year before spending the vast majority of its life as trash.

Primarily driven by consumers favoring quantity over quality and the rise of online shopping, the fashion industry is responsible for roughly 92 million tonnes of waste a year, the majority of which is either incinerated, dumped in landfills, or worse yet, polluting land, waterways, and coastlines around the world. Americans alone generate 12 times as much clothing waste today as they did in 1960, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Some estimates put the amount of clothing produced yearly to be 14 garments for each person on the planet.

The concept of recycling clothing, which many fast fashion companies have championed to help remedy the industry’s wasteful reputation, is largely a myth. Only 1% of discarded garments are reused or recycled into new clothing. The technology and infrastructure necessary to process textile waste do not exist on a scale that can effectively keep up with the pace at which the world generates it.

Fast fashion companies turn tremendous profits despite low prices, low quality, and environmental detriment. Shein was valued at $100 billion in April 2022—more than Zara and H&M combined. Just two years ago, the online retailer was valued at $15 billion—a testament to consumer values that don’t necessarily extend beyond their wallets.

You may also like: States with the largest unionized workforcesLarge selection of clothes on racks.

triocean // Shutterstock

New designs daily, weekly

The fashion world follows a four-season calendar: spring/summer, pre-fall, autumn/winter, and resort. These seasons are traditionally heralded by high-end runway shows and often appeal to wealthy consumers. The world of fast and ultra-fast fashion lives not from season to season as dictated by the weather but from week to week or even day to day.

Companies like Fashion Nova can churn out more than 600 new designs each week, with a design going from concept to sample in just 24 hours. Shein, which is in a league all its own, adds roughly 1,000 new styles daily. This pace and volume lead to an enormous amount of overstock that eventually becomes harmful textile waste.Textile factory and threads.

MikeDotta // Shutterstock

Material production

Polyester clothing, the most common material found on fast fashion sites, is manufactured from oil-based polyethylene terephthalate, a type of plastic. It is the most common material used for clothing manufacturing worldwide.

Polyester production for the fashion industry accounts for one-fifth of the plastic produced globally and emits triple the amount of greenhouse gases of cotton production. Polyester is constantly shedding harmful pollutants called microplastics into the environment, primarily through wastewater.

Clothes from upscale and designer brands also often contain polyester, but the trouble comes from fast fashion’s abundance and overproduction. Despite the harm, the polyester fiber market is expected to grow by more than $70 billion within the next decade.A worker makes clothes at a garment factory that supplies Shein.

JADE GAO/AFP via Getty Images

Product manufacturing

Roughly 65% of all clothing is manufactured in China, but the fashion industry also has footholds in developing countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia, where labor is cheap and too often exploited. Estimates suggest more than 75 million people work in the garment industry worldwide.

A 2022 investigation of multiple Shein factories in Guangzhou, China, by a U.K. news crew revealed the extent of the company’s notoriously opaque operations. Workers must make upwards of 500 pieces daily for as little as 4 cents per garment. Companies even withhold wages if a worker makes a mistake. Shifts are 18 hours long, and workers may only receive one day off each month, violating China’s labor laws.An industrial port with hundreds of shipping containers awaiting export.

Patrick Foto // Shutterstock

Worldwide shipping

Many fast fashion companies like Shein exist online only and rely on international shipping. Aviation and maritime shipping are massive sources of CO2 emissions. International shipping accounted for roughly 2% of all global emissions in 2021—that 667 megatonnes of CO2 emitted.A woman's hand with her phone showing the Shein online store.

Venn-Photo // Shutterstock

Consumer use

People are buying more clothes and wearing them less before throwing them away. In the U.S., the amount of textile waste equates to more than 80 pounds of clothing per person. Consumers wear most items fewer than 10 times—and in China, fewer than three times—on average before being discarded, partly because there are constantly new styles to update one’s wardrobe with, and partly because the quality is so poor, it doesn’t last.

You may also like: Cost of gold the year you were bornBurnt clothes in a large pile.

Ernest Rose // Shutterstock

Disposal by landfill or incineration

According to a 2016 report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the world sends the equivalent of one garbage truck full of textile waste to landfills and incinerators every second. Whether discarded clothing is burned or left to deteriorate in a landfill slowly, both outcomes release harmful greenhouse gases and petrochemicals into the environment. Polyester, in particular, can take between 20 and 200 years to degrade fully.

Fast fashion companies are not the only offenders of unethical practices. In 2018, high-end designer Burberry made headlines after it burned millions of dollars worth of unsold merchandise to prevent them from being sold cheaply, maintaining the brand’s exclusivity.

Written by: Lauren Liebhaber. Article produced by Stacker and syndicated by healing-water.org.

64% of Americans are now exposed to extreme heat. Here’s why that’s worrying

The infamous Dust Bowl years of the 1930s saw unprecedented extreme heat waves decimate the Midwest and the Great Plains. Temperatures climbed to well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in states used to a relatively cool climate. Over the span of six years, roughly 5,000 people died from heat-related causes, and intense drought made agricultural efforts nearly impossible.

The Dust Bowl heat waves were something of an anomaly at the time, as there was little climate science at that time to explain the event. However, climate scientists today have reflected on the event as one of the first human-influenced climate events, triggered by coal-reliant industrialization, and as a harbinger of climate change.

Today, record-breaking heat waves have emerged with alarming frequency and more intensity than ever before. People in cities used to temperate or cool summers across the U.S. have been contending with temperatures more suited to Death Valley. Meanwhile, heat waves are becoming even more intense in already-hot locales, including the Sun Belt. Despite this, Americans are moving to Southern states at high rates, increasing the number of people who will be exposed to extreme heat.

To investigate how extreme heat is impacting cities across the country, OhmConnect compiled a list of how heat waves in major U.S. cities have changed over time, with data from sources including the Environmental Protection Agency, the World Health Organization, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, Globalchange.gov, and other scientific research. The data available is from 1961 to 2021 across 50 large metropolitan areas.The sun rising behind lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center as a heatwave continues in New York City on July 23, 2022

Gary Hershorn // Getty Images

Heat waves have become more frequent across major US cities

U.S. cities are experiencing more heat waves every year. In the 1960s, cities endured an average of two heat waves per year. That number has grown to an average of six each year during the 2010s and 2020s, according to the EPA. Cities are particularly vulnerable to more heat waves because of factors like urban heat islands, an effect that makes urban areas hotter than surrounding rural regions. Many factors contribute to urban heat islands: darker surfaces like asphalt and roof shingles—which absorb rather than reflect heat—less shade from trees, and fewer plants emitting cooling moisture from their leaves.A sign marking Denman Community Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, as an Extreme Heat Cooling Centre

Margarita Young // Shutterstock

Current heat wave seasons last 49 days longer than they did in the 1960s

In addition to heat waves becoming more frequent, heat wave seasons have also become longer. In the 1960s, heat wave seasons lasted an average of 24 days a year. In the 2020s, that number has risen to more than 70 days a year. The expansion of heat wave seasons can be dangerous, since it widens the window for extreme temperatures during unusual times of the year. This can lead to situations in which people are not prepared, leaving them vulnerable.

The increased frequency of heat waves and length of heat wave seasons has inspired some cities to take action. In 2021, the mayor of Miami-Dade County appointed a chief heat officer, the first in the nation. This position is intended to strategize ways of keeping people safe from increasingly intense heat events in a city that is experiencing some of the worst heat waves in the country.John, who is homeless, sitting with his dog Daisy on a Manhattan street during a heat wave on July 22, 2022, in New York City

Spencer Platt // Getty Images

The average heat wave lasts about 4 days, a day longer than in the 1960s

Longer heat waves have grave consequences for people’s health and safety, particularly for those who are unhoused or who don’t have access to air conditioning. Living for prolonged periods at very high temperatures without being able to cool off can increase the risk of heat-related illness and even death. To make matters worse, record-breaking heat during the nighttime has been reported across the country, removing the usual respite from heat offered by the sun going down, and adding to the danger already caused by several days of extreme temperatures.A senior suffering from extreme heat and trying to keep cool in front of a fan at home

Yau Ming Low // Shutterstock

Temperature increases are now more extreme

The intensity of heat waves has steadily climbed over the past six decades. Both in regions accustomed to some amount of extreme temperatures, like the South, as well as in areas which have not previously experienced high temperatures, heat waves have become hotter and more deadly.

In 2021, the Pacific Northwest, a region known for its moderate weather, saw a blistering heat wave that peaked between 116 and 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The event caught many people unprepared, and hundreds of deaths were reported in Oregon and Washington, particularly among people who did not have access to air conditioning. Other cities in California and other parts of the Western U.S. experienced extreme heat waves in September 2022, making it the hottest September on record for the West.A person drinking water during a heat wave

FocusStocker // Shutterstock

Dehydration and weather-related deaths are on the rise

Heat is the leading extreme weather-related cause of death in the U.S. The EPA estimates that between 600 and 1,300 deaths occur in the U.S. every year from extreme heat. Heat-related illnesses and deaths can happen when the body loses its ability to regulate its internal temperature. Dehydration and increased internal temperature can cause blood thickening, which leads to organ and heart damage.A herd of cows in a dried meadow following a heatwave in Vensat, France

THIERRY ZOCCOLAN // Getty Images

Agriculture and energy: a point of no return

Extreme heat waves impact much more than people’s ability to be outside without air conditioning. They also have serious environmental, agricultural, and energy-related ramifications. Heat waves harm crops, cause issues with plant growth, and make it difficult for livestock to survive. They also exacerbate drought, creating water shortages and conditions that are conducive to wildfires and other natural disasters.

Energy systems can also be strained by an increased need for high-energy utilities like air conditioning, with demand outstripping supply in some cases. In July 2022, Texans were instructed to conserve as much energy as possible to alleviate strain on the power grid as temperatures neared 110 F.A phone notification for excessive heat

Tada Images // Shutterstock

Preparation is key to facing extreme temperatures

As extreme heat events continue to become more frequent and severe, experts caution that being prepared for intense heat waves is one of the best ways to keep people safe. On an institutional level, the CDC recommends having early heat wave alerts in place on a city or county level to warn residents of impending extreme heat risks. This would also enable public cooling centers to open at appropriate times, a vital measure for those without air conditioning and people experiencing homelessness. Keeping hydrated and avoiding the outdoors during heat waves is especially important.

At the same time, measures can be taken to prevent the continued rise of temperatures, as well as to mediate the risks of straining energy systems. Increasing energy efficiency and forms of renewable energy would prevent power grids from being overwhelmed while limiting further emissions, which contribute to rising temperatures in the first place. Introducing more trees and vegetation to urban areas could also work to introduce shade, increase air quality and reduce the harm of emissions, and limit the impact of urban heat islands.

This story originally appeared on OhmConnect and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio. Written by: Eliza Siegel

Baltic Blue Pothos: Plant Care Guide

baltic blue pothos plant.

A trendy new pothos,  called Baltic Blue, is gaining quick popularity. This indoor plant, a cultivar of Epipremnum pinnatum, offers a splash of color to any space and will take center stage once mature. Despite being more uncommon than other cultivars, this plant is excellent for beginners and is a great addition to plant collections.

The color of this plant’s leaves and shape make it unique among other pothos. As the plant develops in the ideal lighting circumstances, a blue tint may be seen on the slender, dark green leaves. Compared to different cultivars, the leaves also split or develop fenestrations early.

Continue reading to discover more about the ideal growth conditions for your Baltic Blue Pothos.

Quick Intro

Despite its name, it is not native to the area around the Baltic Sea. Instead, while visiting a nursery, Mike Rimland of Costa Farms discovered it in Southeast Asia years ago. 

The Baltic Blue Pothos cultivar was introduced by Costa Farms in early 2022 as a member of their Trending Tropicals® plant collection after an additional three years of development and propagation.

Care Guide

This indoor plant grows quickly and requires little care. It is naturally unassuming, can grow in average household temperatures and humidity, and can endure low light. It may also be set to trail downwards or encouraged to climb, making it flexible and adaptable.

Let’s examine this plant’s upkeep in more detail.

Light

This pothos needs just modest amounts of light. Although it doesn’t mind low light levels, strong indirect light is optimum for its growth. Avoid placing it in the sun directly since doing so will cause the leaves to become plain green instead of blue.

East or west-facing rooms, around 3 to 4 feet from a window, are the finest places for your new pothos.

Soil

The potting soil for Epipremnum pinnatum Baltic Blue must be well-draining and nutrient-rich. To allow for quick drainage, chunky soil is best. But to keep the plant from withering, it must also retain some moisture.

Costa Farms creates a unique potting mixture for their pothos plants using shredded wood fiber, coco coir, and slow-release fertilizer. Additionally, you may make your soil mix or utilize one already produced for your plant.

All pothos types respond well to an equal soil of general plant potting soil, pumice, orchid bark, or perlite. The bark of the orchid prevents soil compaction and improves drainage around the roots. In addition to enhancing drainage and aeration, perlite and pumice assist in maintaining soil moisture.

To keep the roots strong, sprinkle some horticultural charcoal into your potting soil. You are shielding the roots from damaging fungi and bacteria while assisting plants in absorbing nutrients.

Water

When the soil’s top 2″ feels dry, water. The ideal irrigation technique for this plant is soaking and draining. Slowly fill the pot with water until it begins to trickle through the holes at the bottom.

Doing this releases low-oxygen air pockets in the soil, and the potting mix is ensured to be equally hydrated.

For all pothos kinds, it is preferable to let the soil air out a little between waterings as opposed to keeping it drenched in soil. Baltic Blue Pothos is particularly sensitive to overwatering. Your pothos leaves will turn yellow, and the roots will begin to rot if the soil is too wet.

Remember that frequency of overwatering rather than quantity determines if your pothos gets too much water. Additionally, using soil that is excessively tightly packed may keep the roots moist for an extended period, leading to root rot.

Temperature

 65°F to 85°F is the temperature range that the Baltic Blue Pothos prefers. Therefore, it will flourish in a typical household environment but fail to grow in environments below 55°F (13°C).

Avoid placing the plant next to a heating radiator, air conditioner, or heating vent, as well as dramatic temperature changes. The plant will be shocked by sudden temperature fluctuations, making it droop and drop its leaves. 

Above USDA growing zone 10, you can plant outdoors. Otherwise, please leave it in a pot outside during the summer. Then, bring it inside when it becomes too chilly.

Humidity

Although this pothos plant is not fussy about humidity, it does grow best in an environment with humidity levels between 50% and 60%. More significant growth and bigger leaves will reduce moist air, lowering the threat of pests like spider mites.

The most straightforward approach to boost humidity is to place it on a pebble tray. Fill the tray with 50% water or combine it with other plants that like humidity, such as ferns and Calatheas.

Fertilizer

During the growth season,  a monthly fertilizer treatment is best. However, you may feed the plant with a diluted liquid fertilizer from early spring through autumn.

In the winter, the plant doesn’t need any nutrients when it goes into a temporary state of dormancy. However, it will continue to produce new growth if you use grow lights throughout the shorter days of the year, and you may continue giving it food each month.

Maintaining and Pruning

The growth rate of these plants is quicker. Regular trimming will help keep its form and give it an outstanding bushy appearance if you’re growing Baltic Blue as a tabletop plant. Propagate the longer stems to grow new plants if the pothos becomes a little leggy.

You may also water every four to six weeks. This aids in cleaning the foliage of dust, removing pests like aphids, spider mites, and flushing out minerals and salts from fertilizer that have accumulated in the soil. After giving your plant a brief shower, let the extra water drain before returning it to the stand.

Repotting

Every two to three years, they should be replanted. Like every kind of pothos, it doesn’t mind being somewhat root-bound. But if there isn’t enough room for new roots, the plant’s growth will be hindered, and its general health will suffer.

Checking the bottom of the pot is the most straightforward technique to determine when to repot. First, move the plant to a larger container or one 2″ wider if you can see the roots poking through the drainage holes.

If your pothos is rootbound, wait two weeks before repotting. This will allow the plant to acclimate and reduce transplant shock.

Always use a pot with drain holes. You may use any potting material. However, it will affect watering.

Plastic containers keep soil wet longer so you may water the plant less.  However, terracotta pots made of clay are porous and suck up moisture, so the plant dries up more quickly and needs more frequent watering.

Propagating

Stem cuttings may be used to grow Baltic Blue. First, cut a lengthy vine into single-node portions, then root in soil or water. The cuttings take just three to four weeks to grow roots, at which point you may plant in soil.

For further information, check out Nature of Home’s pothos propagation guide.

Common Issues

Being a hardy plant, Baltic Blue Pothos seldom ever gets attacked by pests or diseases.

But you will encounter typical pests like scale, thrips, mealybugs, and spider mites.

Scale, mealybugs, and spider mites may all be eliminated with a weekly application of a simple solution made of 1 part 70% isopropyl alcohol and four parts water. However, for thrips, a systemic insecticide will provide the greatest results.

The most typical plant care issues are brought on by a mix of frequently watered plants and poorly draining soil.

This will cause root rot, soft, brown areas, and fading leaves. For your pothos, always use a well-draining potting mix for aeration, and do not water it again until the top 2″ is dry.

Leaves Do not Have fenestrations

When a pothos plant reaches maturity, all of its leaves split, but the Baltic Blue variety’s leaves fenestrate sooner than other cultivars. So if your Baltic Blue Pothos’s newest leaves have no holes, it needs something to climb.

Well-defined leaf splits are often the result of using a sphagnum moss pole for climbing.

The Leaves Are Greening

Baltic Pothos leaves lose their blue hue if it receives too much direct sunshine. Therefore, avoid direct sunlight and place far enough away from a window.

Commonly Questions

Is the plant toxic?

Epipremnum pinnatum isn’t on the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants. However, poisonous calcium oxalate crystals are present in pothos plants (Epipremnum).

They result in vomiting, nausea, mouth and throat swelling, and breathing problems when consumed. Always maintain the Baltic Blue Pothos in a secure location away from children and animals.

Is it a rare plant?

Epipremnum pinnatum has a new cultivar called Baltic Blue Pothos. Even though it is less frequent than Golden Pothos, it is not so uncommon that only ardent collectors may get it.

Early in 2022, Costa Farms produced this cultivar, which is already available in several stores and online marketplaces.

In online groups for houseplants, you may also discover people offering cuttings for sale at reasonable prices.

Cebu Blue vs. Baltic Blue Pothos, what’s the difference?

Baltic Blue and Cebu Blue pothos are both Epipremnum pinnatum cultivars. Their biggest variations are in leaf growth and color.

Cebu Blue has silvery-blue leaves, while Baltic Blue has blue-green leaves. Additionally, Baltic Blue leaves will generate fenestrations before Cebu Blue. Here is an excellent guide for Baltic Blue pothos.

Is Broccoli Man-Made or Natural? (Solved + Surprising)

broccoli man made in a lab

If you’re wondering, “is broccoli man made?”, the answer is yes, broccoli is man-madeBut don’t panic. That doesn’t necessarily mean the vegetable originated in a laboratory.

In fact, broccoli isn’t even a recent invention. Read on to learn how ancient farmers used selective breeding to produce broccoli. 

A Quick Guide to Selective Breeding 

Selective breeding, also known as artificial selection, is a process of cultivating plants. 

Growers propagate plants with favorable traits to produce a better version of the original plant. Favorable characteristics might include hardiness, size, flavor, or resistance to pests and disease. 

To propagate plants, growers harvest seeds from favorable plants. But they might also duplicate plants by grafting, cutting, layering, and other methods. 

Selective breeding of plants is not a recent invention. Hunter-gatherers began this cultivation practice roughly 10,000 years ago. 

A mere 8,000 years later, farmers began breeding broccoli from the wild cabbage plant: Brassica oleracea. 

As the wild cabbage grew, gardeners were able to select premium buds. They would use these new buds to replace the less desirable originals, gradually cultivating bigger and tastier plants. 

Undomesticated wild cabbage is a biennial, meaning it flowers every other year. Artificial selection does not change the time it takes for a plant to grow. So using selective breeding to produce a new plant species is a long process. 

The Beginning of Broccoli

broccoli growing and ready to harvest

Historians believe that the ancient Etruscans first cultivated wild cabbage over 2000 years ago. Farming in the Italian region now known as Tuscany, the Etruscans bred the earliest species of broccoli as well as other cruciferous vegetables. 

In slightly more recent history, 18th-century Italian farmers continued growing broccoli in this region. But these farmers expanded broccoli’s territory, shipping the vegetable to England, America, and eventually the rest of the world.

When broccoli arrived in England in the mid-18th century, people called it Italian asparagus

In America, broccoli appeared at Monticello in the early 1800s. Along with broccoli, Thomas Jefferson also grew its fellow cultivar, cauliflower. 

Despite Jefferson’s early introduction of broccoli on American soil, broccoli didn’t experience stateside popularity right away. The surge of this superfood occurred in the early 1920s when it arrived in the luggage of Italian immigrants. 

Today, the broccoli crown wears the crown, reigning as America’s favorite vegetable – according to a recent Green Giant survey. 

But broccoli isn’t the only vegetable that emerged from the Mediterranean wild cabbage. Cauliflower, kale, collard greens, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi all stemmed (literally) from Brassica oleracea

And it keeps on growing. Broccolini, also known as tender stem broccoli, is a cross-breed of broccoli and gai lan. Romanesco is another broccoli hybrid that dates back to the 16th century. 

Broccoli Health Benefits

Broccoli is a man-made vegetable. So is broccoli a GMO? 

Scientists create genetically modified organisms by altering a plant’s DNA. Although designed with good intentions, GMOs can negatively impact environmental and human health. 

Broccoli is not a GMO. Scientists did not create it in a laboratory. Humans helped with matchmaking, but nature did all the growing and changing. No genome engineering occurred to develop this vegetable. 

So steam it, saute it, or eat it raw. Broccoli is nutrient-dense and flavorful. It provides an excellent source of antioxidants, proteins, and fiber. Not to mention an abundance of vitamins and minerals.

References + Resources

Breeding Field Vegetables; usaid.gov – PDF

Domestication, diversity and use of Brassica oleraceaL., based on ancient Greek and Latin texts; springer.com – Link

This article was produced by Nature of Home, and syndicated by Healing-Water.org.

5 Must-Have Cauliflower Companion Plants For Best Harvest

girl showing cauliflower plant.

Today, cauliflower is becoming more trendy, and it’s common to see it used in pizza crust, rice, bread, and crackers. It’s an excellent cool-season vegetable crop that’s adaptable to both partial shade and full sun. Cauliflower also comes in colors other than white and can be used for adding color to your garden and plate.

We’ll cover the best cauliflower companion plants, explain how they attract beneficial insects, and work together.

5 Best Companion Plants for Cauliflower

  1. Beets
  2. Lettuce
  3. Fennel
  4. Nasturtiums
  5. Cosmos

An explanation of why these plants grow well with cauliflower is below.

Beets & Lettuce

Cauliflower grows slowly and takes up a lot of garden space; most growth is more than 6 to 8 inches off the ground. You can underplant fast-growing crops like radishes, beets, and leaf lettuce in that space. 

In the spring, companion planting cauliflower can help control the two main pests that affect all brassicas: aphids and cabbage worms. 

Cosmos

Hoverfly larvae are beneficial insects and will eat aphids when planted with cosmos and are used as a good companion for cauliflower. 

Nasturtiums

To assist cosmos, plant nasturtiums as a trap crop near cauliflower; aphids will be attracted to the nasturtiums even more than your cauliflower. 

Fennel

In addition, planting fennel around your cauliflower will draw parasitic wasps, which will lay their eggs under the caterpillars’ skin and then plant their larvae on the worms from the inside out. 

3 Bad Companion Plants For Cauliflower

Avoid planting these three bad cauliflower companion plants:

1.) Tomatoes

Cauliflower will face competition with tomatoes because they’re both heavy feeders for vital nutrients in the soil. Being that they compete, cauliflower could stunt the growth of tomatoes. 

2.) Strawberries 

This is a bad companion plant for cauliflower because strawberries compete for nutrients like tomatoes and cauliflower. 

3.) Brassicas

 Brassicas, such as broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts, should not be planted next to cauliflower. Both brassica and cauliflower belong to the same family. So, together they would attract more pests and diseases to your vegetable garden, and compete with one another. 

Now that you know the best and worst cauliflower companion plants, here are some growing and harvesting tips.

Getting Started & Planting Cauliflower

planting cauliflower in the garden.

Cauliflower can be planted in the late summer or early fall and allowed to grow throughout the winter if your winters only experience light frosts. However, you should plant your cauliflower in the spring if you have freezing temperatures and winter snow. 

It’s generally best to start indoors from seed or transplants, regardless of the weather. However, since cauliflower will only plant in soil that is less than 70°F (21°C) in temperature, growing it from seed in the late summer or early fall is probably too hot. 

Since cauliflower and broccoli can occupy a garden for four to five months, they can eat up space for your warm-season crops, so you’ll want to start planning your spring sowing early. 

You can start cauliflower seeds indoors six weeks before your last frost date. As soon as your seedlings or transplants are prepared to be placed in the garden (can be planted two weeks before your last frost date), ensure they receive at least four to five hours of direct sun, but the more, the better. 

In rich, well-draining soil, space them 15 to 18 inches apart and keep them moist. 

Growing Cauliflower & Harvesting

growing cauliflower plant

Although cauliflower leaves can be eaten, most people grow them for the substantial central stalk and head. 

The plant’s top center is where the head develops; although it starts small, it will eventually get much more prominent. It would be best to cover the cauliflower heads once the leaves begin to part and the sun shines directly on them because direct sunlight can cause them to turn discolored. 

To do this, gather some leaves close to the head and rubber band or clothespin them together. This will protect the head from the sun. 

A cauliflower head is ready to harvest when it is still tight and 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) in diameter. Then, when the stalk begins to branch into the various segments, take a knife or pair of clippers and cut it off. 

Cauliflower plants stop producing once the central head has been harvested, unlike broccoli plants, which continue to produce a secondary crop of side florets. 

This article was produced by Nature of Home, and syndicated by healing-water.org.