Monthly Archives: August 2017

  • How Flowers Can Impact Your Health

    HOW FLOWERS CAN IMPACT YOUR HEALTH-03

    Medical technology has come a long way over the course of human history, and yet some things remain the same. At the top of the list of things that don’t change is flowers and their effect on health.

    The very first medications doctors ever prescribed were the plants and flowers they found around them. Some of these plants had medicinal properties while others were harmful to us, and ancient sages knew how to use or avoid all of them. Before there was aspirin and bacitracin, what passed for medicine relied on properties of plants to resolve the same symptoms. Poultices made with crushed herbs were used to heal wounds, while teas and even aromatherapies have been used for everything from easing pain to improving one’s mood.

    Today, science has confirmed that there was something to these archaic methods. From using the gel in aloe vera to moisturize the skin to drinking tea with chamomile to help sleep, studies have shown that plants really do have properties that affect our health in positive ways. Just having flowers around is a way to uplift your mood and keep the air around you clean. Since flowers are a common gift to encourage people who are ill or have been hospitalized, it also pays to know which flowers can have the most impact!

    When considering plants and health, most people look at benefits to humans. However, some flowers may be pretty to look at, have beneficial properties, and still have risks in your house. This is especially true with small children and pets in the home, because at least adults know which plants not to eat! Allergies are the most common health problem associated with flowers, with some flowers having intense effect and some having none at all.

    The following infographic is your one-stop guide to everything you need to consider about flowers and your health. Whether you are just trying to spruce up your own home or office, or you are buying flowers for someone special in your life, this infographic has you covered!

  • How To Turn Your Summer Flowers Into Dried Flower Wreaths

    dried flower wreaths

    Summer ending doesn’t mean your summer flowers have to go with it! Dried flowers are a popular material for crafts, and you can use crafting techniques to keep them lasting through any season.

    Dried flower wreaths aren’t just for Christmas, either. While many people think of poinsettias and evergreen when the word “wreath” comes up, wreaths have been used to decorate for every season and with every type of flower conceivable (check out this tropical flower wreath). Seasonal flowers make beautiful wreaths that can last year round.

    dried flower wreaths

    Summer Flowers to Use

    It is important to know exactly which flowers you are going to be drying for your wreath. Some flowers can be dried more easily than others, so knowing which flowers you want to use will help you research what techniques you are going to need in order to dry them for preservation. Here are some summer flowers that are really great for drying for crafts:

    • Gomphrena: this round flower offers a variety of colors, from reds and yellows to lavender and white. What a wide variety of colors to use for your wreath!

    • Celosia: there are a lot of different types of celosia, and a lot of different colors to choose from. Whether the more floral appearance of Cockcomb celosia or the more wispy look of Flamingo Feathered celosia, there is definitely a look that will give your wreath flare!

    • Statice/German statice: this floral bud comes in many bright colors, and the German bloom looks like lace!

    • Artemisia annua: this plant is more of a garnish than a flower, but can be easily used to compliment the flowers on your wreath!

    • Victoria blue salvia: these tiny flowers grow in a spike and really are blue, adding a flash of unique color to your wreath!

      dried flower wreaths

    Drying the Flowers

    No matter what kind of flower you are trying to prepare for your wreath, it will take time and planning ahead to do so. Drying flowers in the bulk required to make a wreath takes time! Hardier flowers can be dried using simpler methods, but the more fragile the flower, the more complicated the process can get. If you are willing to take the time for these more easily broken flowers, they can be used to make beautiful wreaths!

    • Some flowers can simply be bundled and air-dried; this is best done by hanging them from an overhead rafter or some kind of rack. The flowers need to hang freely, and the room should be well vented to prevent mold and dust from gathering on them as they dry.

    • Other flowers are more delicate and require more intricate techniques.

      • Sand can be poured around flowers laid bloom-down in a container

      • Desiccants, such as silica gel or cornmeal, can also be used on more delicate flowers to keep them from being damaged.

      • Glycerine absorbed through the stem can dry and preserve the flower from the inside.

      • Cat litter is absorbent and used for more than just the kitties. Mechanics use cat litter in their shops to clean up oil spills, and it can also be used to help dry your flowers one at a time in the microwave!

        dried flower wreaths

    Other Materials

    What will you use for a frame? Many craft stores sell plain pre-made wreaths for decorating, which can be used as a base. Some people get creative with their base, either making it themselves or using a base of an untraditional shape, such as a picture frame.

    Time is important to consider. Even if you get your dried flowers from elsewhere, actually assembling a wreath might take a couple of hours. Depending on your flowers or other materials, it could take longer or need to be finished in one sitting.

    Other materials might include a glue gun and sticks for it, decorative items such as glitter, tinsel, and non-floral garnishes (toys, ornaments, or even key fobs), and your imagination!

    dried flower wreaths

    Tying the Wreath

    The most common method of making a wreath is by tying the flowers onto a frame. This is accomplished by affixing them with yarn, twine, or wire, but the technique varies based on what sort of frame and flowers you choose.

    Some frames are made with wire, while others are made from hay, styrofoam, and even other plants. This video suggests using a hay one, which takes up a lot of the space that would otherwise be used by flower stems; the advantage of this is that you don’t need as many flowers. In contrast, here is a video that uses wire frames, which is great if your stems are thick or you have a lot of flowers.

    As you can see from both videos, tying the flowers onto the wreath is done in small bunches, one bouquet at a time. Yarn makes a very good material to tie flowers with because it is soft and won’t damage the flowers. Whether you use one long piece and wrap it around the wreath incrementally in the first video, or use separate pieces for each bunch like in the second, this method takes a lot of time and patience. It pays off, though, with a beautiful floral wreath!

    With some flowers or frames, you may want to consider glueing rather than tying. This is especially true for larger flowers that are harder to tie on, or have stems that don’t dry well. Flat flowers like daisies and odd-shaped flowers like dahlias may need this treatment to stay on the wreath, and flowers dried using the glycerine technique may also need glueing due to their weight. The frame should be smooth enough for glue to say, and all you need is a hot glue gun.

    dried flower wreaths

    Garnishes for the Wreath

    Garnishes might also be tied or glued on, but consider the flowers you are garnishing in this decision. Some flowers might get damaged by the glue, while others might get damaged from heavy items being tied on.

    During Christmas, we see ornaments on wreaths, but seasonal wreaths might have berries, autumn leaves, nuts, little toys, candies (or faux candies) or anything else you want. Fourth of July wreaths might have little flags on them while a dried flower wreath for a classroom might have pencils, school busses, and other back-to-school items. Whatever the theme of the wreath, be as selective of how you affix any ornaments as you were of how you secured the flowers.

    Making your very own dried flower wreath is really easy! It’s a great craft to do with kids, with friends, or by yourself, and it gives you another use for all those beautiful flowers.

    Got more flowers than you need? Dried flower wreaths can also make a thoughtful gift or a great decoration for a party or gathering. Making it yourself gives it that personal touch that makes us all feel great!

  • Flowers to Use for a Brighten Your Day Bouquet

    Sending flowers is a great way to say “I love you,” “I hope you get well soon,” “I’m sorry,” or “Congratulations!” But, you don’t have to wait for a certain occasion to send someone flowers. Why not send a bouquet of beautiful flowers just to put a smile on someone’s face? Here are some of the best flowers to include in a brighten your day bouquet:

    brighten your day bouquet

    Geraniums

    These unique-looking flowers come in a wide range of colors, including white, pink, red, orange, and purple. Regardless of which color you include in the bouquet, these flowers are sure to brighten the recipient’s day because of their sweet, soothing scent. In fact, many people take a whiff of geranium essential oils when they need to relieve stress. Send these flowers to someone who could use a little pick-me-up.

    Orchids

    Orchids are one of the most elegant flowers in existence. People love receiving orchids because of their beautiful colors and long-lasting flowers. Plus, orchids are known to boost positive energy in the room, which is why so many Feng Shui experts incorporate potted orchids into their interior design plans. Don’t forget to include orchids in the brighten your day bouquet that you send to someone who could desperately use a boost of positive energy in their lives.

    brighten your day bouquet

    Lily of the Valley

    The lily of the valley is a white, unusual looking flower that will be sure to take someone’s breath away when included in a floral arrangement. As a matter of fact, garden expert David Domoney conducted a study to identify the plants that make people the happiest, and lily of the valley ranked at the top of the list. He asked the public to submit nominations, and then created an exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show to display the top 20 plants. His team then closely monitored guests’ reactions and body language as they looked at each of the flowers. At the end of the study, Domoney concluded that no plant made people happier than lily of the valley.

    Roses

    Roses are often included in floral arrangements, not only because they’re beautiful, but also because they have the power to lift people’s spirits. A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology revealed that people who smelled or gazed at roses reported higher levels of happiness and comfort than people who were not exposed to the flowers. Therefore, sending a bouquet of roses is the perfect way to brighten someone’s day.

    brighten your day bouquet

    Sunflowers

    The sunflower is one of the most recognizable flowers in the world. Regardless of where you live, you are probably familiar with the vibrant colors and tall stalks of the sunflower. These flowers are just as bright and cheery as the summer sun, which is why they are known to bring joy and happiness to anyone who lays their eyes upon them.

    The next time a friend or family member is having a bad day, take a look at this list so you can remember which flowers you should send to brighten someone’s day!

  • Your Environmental Garden: Butterfly Flowers for Fall

    butterfly flowers

    Butterflies aren’t just beautiful, they also play an important role in the ecosystem. Bees often get all the credit for pollinating flowers, but butterflies are involved in this process as well, although to a lesser extent. Butterflies typically drink the sweet nectar of colorful flowers that are large enough for them to land on. As they sip on the nectar, they gather pollen on their legs, which is eventually transferred to the female part of a plant. Because many species of butterflies travel long distances—sometimes up to 3,000 miles—they are able to pollinate flowers in many different areas.

    Butterflies are also a source of food for natural predators such as birds, lizards, frogs, and toads. Without them, these animals would not have as much to eat. Unfortunately, the butterfly population is on the decline because of climate change, habitat destruction, and pollution in the atmosphere. If you want to do your part, encourage the growth of the butterfly population using bio-mimicry methods.

    Bio-mimicry is the use of natural methods, rather than chemical, to solve an environmental issue, such as the declining population of butterflies. One bio-mimicry strategy to save these beautiful creatures is planting butterfly-friendly flowers in your yard. To get involved, start planting these flowers:

    Butterfly Bush

    As its name suggests, the butterfly bush is perfect for attracting butterflies to your yard. This is a great choice for people who don’t want to spend a lot of time tending to their gardens, so the butterfly bush is a fairly low-maintenance plant. It can also grow well in most regions, including the Midwest, Pacific coast, and parts of the south.

    butterfly flowers

    Aster

    The aster flower is known for its dense and brightly colored blooms, but many people don’t know how vital this plant is to butterflies. The aster blooms in the fall and produces sweet nectar that butterflies love. In addition, some species of caterpillars also feed on the aster’s leaves, which means it is a food source for both caterpillars and full-grown butterflies. Fortunately, the aster can grow anywhere in the 48 lower states of the U.S. as long as you get the right species for your region.

    Pentas

    Plant pentas flowers to instantly add a splash of color to your garden. These plants grow unique star-shaped blooms that come in a wide variety of colors, including pink, white, and dark red. Once these are in your garden, you may notice both butterflies and hummingbirds stopping by for a sip of nectar. Unfortunately, the pentas will only grow well in the south and along the Pacific coast.

    Black-Eyed Susan

    The black-eyed Susan flower begins to bloom in the late summer and early fall. Many people believe this flower looks like a cross between a daisy and a sunflower because it is the shape of a daisy but has the colors of a sunflower. The bright and cheery flowers will liven up any garden, especially those in the Midwest and northwest.

    Joe Pye Weed

    If you want to add height to your garden, there’s no better way to do so than with the butterfly-friendly Joe pye weed, which can grow over six feet tall. Butterflies are drawn to this bright and beautiful flower that blooms in the summer and fall seasons. As long as you don’t live in an extremely hot or cold climate, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting the Joe pye weed to flourish in your yard.

    butterfly flowers

    Fennel

    Fennel is another plant that can grow almost anywhere in the U.S. with the exception of extreme climates. This plant tends to attract Swallowtail butterflies because the caterpillars enjoy chowing down on fennel leaves. If you decide to plant this in your yard, be prepared to keep it under control. Fennel grows quickly, so you will need to contain it to one area unless you want it to expand to other parts of your yard.

    South American Verbena

    The lavender blooms on this flower are so beautiful that you may think about cutting them to add them to a floral arrangement inside your home. But, resist temptation and keep the flowers where they are so they can continue to attract butterflies. This flower needs warmth, so unfortunately it does not grow in the north and areas of the Midwest. But, southern gardeners shouldn’t have any trouble getting this flower to bloom in their gardens.

    butterfly flowers

    Passionflower

    Add a tropical feel to your garden with the passionflower vine, which can climb up to 30 feet. This vine blooms all year long and produces a sweet smell that will attract butterflies and please your senses, too. The passionflower vine does not grow in northern climates, but it’s perfect for gardens in the south and areas of the western United States.

    Be Wary for Butterflies

    These flowers will not only transform your landscaping, but they will also put us one step closer to saving the beautiful butterflies. After planting these flowers, there are a few steps you should take to protect the butterflies that visit your yard. First, avoid using pesticides at all costs. Even if a pesticide is organic, it could still harm certain species of butterflies and bees. If you have to apply pesticides, make sure that you do not spray them on any open blooms that may attract butterflies.

    Soaking in the Mud

    Believe it or not, butterflies are also attracted to mud puddles, which contain nutrients and salt that they need to survive. If you’ve already planted some of the flowers listed above in your yard, then create a mud puddle for butterflies to relax in as well. Fill a shallow dish or pan with water and sand or gravel and keep it near the plants that are supposed to draw butterflies to your yard. This way, the butterflies that do stop by for a visit will have the opportunity to lounge in the mud puddle after enjoying the flowers’ sweet nectar.

    Planting certain flowers and making a few small changes to your yard is a small price to pay to protect the world’s butterflies. Spread the word to friends and family members so you can get more people involved with this mission. Together, we have the power to save the butterflies!

  • Take a Second to See These Flowers Even Darwin Can't Explain

    There’s nothing more representative of nature’s beauty than a flower in full bloom. But while we’re all familiar with the likes of lilies, roses, and marigolds, the beauty of ordinary flowers may leave us totally unprepared for the stranger, rarer varieties.

    Floriculturists have combed every corner of the world looking for strange, exotic, and unusual flower specimens. Now we’re bringing these astonishingly beautiful wonders of nature to you in all their alien glory. They are an amazing testament to the diversity of our biosphere. Let’s have a look, shall we?

    Kadupul Flower (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)

    flowers darwin can't explain

    Found on the isle of Sri Lanka off the south Indian coast, Kadupul means ‘flower from heaven.’ And it does have some arguably divine characteristics: it blooms only in the middle of the night and by dawn wilts and dies.

    Plus, it can’t survive picking, so it can’t be sold. That makes the Kadupul Flower truly priceless, and few people ever get to see it in full bloom. Even botanists are just beginning to understand the mysteries of this extraordinary plant, so it’s safe to say it would’ve stumped Darwin for good.

    Black Bat Flower (Tacca chantrieri)

    flowers darwin can't explain

    It may be hard to believe, but the dark and foreboding black bat flower is actually a species of yam. Black flowers are rare enough, but this one actually looks like the cave dwelling mammals that have inspired so much dread in humans around the world. In addition, this flower’s whiskery tendrils can grow up to 28 inches long!

    Youtan Poluo AKA the Udumbara Flower

    Mentioned in ancient Buddhist literature but believed to be a mere legend for centuries, a Chinese nun discovered living examples of these barely visible white flowers under her washing machine.

    In Buddhist texts, it is written that the Youtan Poluo blooms once every 3,000 years. While this hasn’t been confirmed, we do know they measure just a single millimeter in diameter. Since its discovery, more samples have been found growing on a statue of Buddha at the front of the Chonggye-sa Temple in Seoul.

    Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum)

    flowers darwin can't explain

    Would you be shocked to learn that the biggest flower in the world is also the stinkiest? Like a premise for a long lost Tim Burton film, the Corpse Flower is a twenty foot tall monster that generates a powerful stench reminiscent of a rotting flesh. The stench attracts flies and carrion beetles to assist in the flower’s pollination.

    Adding to the corpse flower’s haunting profile: it is a bodiless, rootless, leafless, stemless, parasite. It lives off the Tetrastigma vine in the low lying tropical rainforests of Sumatra.

    Kokia Cookei

    flowers darwin can't explain

    Source: David Eickhoff

    This flower is so rare it barely even exists anymore. Discovered in Hawaii in 1860, only three specimens were found initially. By 1950, the last remaining seedling was pronounced dead by distraught botanists.

    20 years after this extinction event, a ranger discovered a surviving specimen giving hope to Kokia fans everywhere. However, in 1978 a fire destroyed this survivor, dashing dreams of a revival until a living branch was recovered from the ashes. This single branch has been grafted onto 23 trees that are still alive today.

    The hundreds of bright red flowers of the Kokia Cookei are a rare pleasure to see in person so be sure to seek them out if you visit Hawaii.

    Sea Poison Tree

    flowers darwin can't explain

    In bloom, these flowers appear to be nothing more than particularly beautiful tangle of fiber optic cables. Their treacly smell draws attention from bats and moths at night. You can find them along the coasts of the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean.

    Jade Vine

    flowers darwin can't explain

    The captivating jade vine can grow as high as 65 feet. They’re pollinated by bats who find the jade vine flower’s luminosity to be extremely alluring. They grow in the Philippines, but unfortunately environmental degradation has pushed this species to the brink of extinction.

    Parrot’s Beak

    flowers darwin can't explain

    Native to the Canary islands, the Parrot’s Beak is completely extinct in the wild. Formerly pollinated by sunbirds, when the Parrot’s Beak biological interlocutor died out, so did the Parrot’s Beak itself. Luckily, Floriculturists continue to cultivate this gorgeous flower in greenhouses around the world. Even now, these flower whisperers undertake experiments to find new pollinators for the Parrot’s Beak as a way of reintroducing them into the wilds of the Canary islands.

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Flowers to get you out of the doghouse

Dried Flower Wreaths

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