Planting Succulents

This post was sponsored by Monrovia, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting TFS. 

Plant shopping is easily in my top 5 favorite things to do. I got the chance to pick up a few new plants at Lowe's and of course I had to look at each and every one of them, before picking up what I wanted. I settled on these two succulents, the first one, the flowering one, I spotted right away and picked it up because it was the only one. It's called a Torch Cactus.  It felt like a pretty obvious choice, and it definitely started a few conversations. The other one I picked out is an agave, I may or may not secretly harbor hopes of making tequila out of it someday. Apparently these plants take about 12 years to mature, but I mean, I can wait. 

I got a few pups off of my new plants too, and put them in separate containers to keep growing. They'll most likely be a gift. 

So, I have a few tips on getting these plants out of their containers. I have hurt myself many a'times playing with cactus. 

Here it goes:

Get gloves, leather ones

Cut the sides of the container so you don't have to pull the plant directly out. To do this make 4 cuts around the side of the plastic container, cut down as low as you can and pull the plastic back. The plant should lift out from there. 

Use cactus soil. It makes a difference. 

If your plant has pups, they usually come off easiest if you twist them slightly to loosen them off of the plant. 

Put a few rocks at the bottom of the planters, this keeps soil from leaking out of the bottom. 

 

I got these terra cotta planters at Lowe's too. I'm also a very big fan of these planters on Etsy. I was tempted to paint in the engraved parts, it'll probably happen one of these days but for now I like them how they are. I'm honestly really happy with how these turned out, and they really brighten up the space. I love going to look at the flowers on that Torch Cactus, those flowers bloomed so fast too. It was amazing. There were two bulbs that bloomed overnight into these pretty impressive flowers. 

Each of my plants was about $25, but you can get coupons for signing up for the newsletter, also check out Morovia's #growbeautifully campaign to get even more ideas on indoor or outdoor gardening.  

I hope you can draw some inspiration from my gardening experience. :)

Make Camellia Hydrosol at Home

"Could it be that only those things are considered worthy of being learned with which one can earn money or prestige, and that love, which "only" profits the soul, but is pointless in the modern sense, is a luxury we have no right to spend much energy on?" Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

So good, it feels like an age old dilemma, personal satisfaction vs. professional progress, spirituality vs. science, and in this case love vs. money, I actually don't think there is any "versus" to speak of necessarily, but we somehow create separation between things in our mind, and I might argue that these things can be separate, they can also comprise different pieces that make a whole human experience. That there are both love and money and sometimes they overlap, and sometimes they don't. Sometimes things are isolated, but most often the things we love work in tandem with other things. Some activities are solitary, until we bring them to a community, and sometimes we practice, as I do for example yoga, mostly alone, and sometimes in a group. It doesn't have to be either or, either you live a life your passionate about or your make money. I think the love vs. money idea is gone for me. I'll gladly open the door for it to leave, and create a spinning void for some new ideas, and a new experience of life. 

I've been thinking life is lousy with absolutes.  And I just don't think they're all that relevant. 

So it's had me thinking, do we as a society really think that only the things that will earn us money are worth learning? I guess this is a question mostly for myself as I continuously study the use of herbs and how to make more and more things out of them is, is the overlap of passion and finance really so terrible? I don't think so. In short, I think passions are well worth pursuing, and all things in life can mesh together seamlessly. 

On to what a hydrosol is, I like this explanation from Mountain Rose Herbs: "Hydrosols, also known as "flower waters," are produced by distilling fresh leaves, fruits, flowers, and other plant materials. With similar therapeutic properties to essential oils, these aromatic waters are much less concentrated. Their aromas are often soft and subtle when compared to their essential oil counterpart. These aromatic products usually have a scent similar to their essential oil, but also can have a greener note. This comes from the water soluble constituents in the plant material that are not present in the essential oil."

To me a hydrosol is basically a plant infusion, but without having to drain out the plant material. It's a little bit cleaner of a process and hydrosols for me last a bit longer. I keep them in the fridge for up to a month. I also think the smell of hydrosols comes out a little bit cleaner too, a little less perfume-y and a bit greener which I can appreciate. Much like essential oils you can pick which plant is compatible with your skin's needs, but essential oils are far more concentrated than hydrosols which I primarily use for toners or to thin down lotions or just mix up with some aloe vera for some after sun care. 

They're super easy to make, but can be a little bit time consuming depending on how much hydrosol you need.

    Here's what you'll need:

    • Plants to distill - I used camellias I couldn't find any dried varieties but you can buy camellia oil, which is getting more and more popular and add it to your hydrosol
    • about 1/2 gallon of distilled water - distilled water is important, it's the least likely to grow bacteria
    • a large pot with a lid
    • two small bowls
    • ziplock bag full of ice. 

    Directions: 

    • In a large pot place one bowl upside down in the center, and the other bowl on top right side up. The bottom bowl should serve as a table for the bowl that collects the hydrosol. This way you keep your hydrosol away from direct heat. 
    • Place the plants you chose inside of the pot and cover with water. You can use more or less than I did depending on how many plants you have to distill, but make sure they're covered with water. 
    • Place lid on the pot upside down and put the bag of ice on top. 
    • This facilitates the process although I've heard it's not entirely necessary. I always use the ice anyways. 
    • Place on medium heat and allow the mixture to stay at a very low simmer for the beginning of the process, and then reduce to low trapping the heat inside. 
    • I let mine go for approximately 4 hours and got about 2 1/2 cups of hydrosol from it. I replaced the ice as needed. 
    • When you have as much as you need remove from heat, and keep the lid on as it cools, it's likely that as it cools you'll collect a little bit more hydrosol. 
    • Store in the fridge in a jar with a lid, use it to make lotions, or you can even use it in place of rose water in recipes.