Archive for October, 2015

The Positives of Pumpkin

October 27, 2015

download (2)If the only thing you have ever done with pumpkin is carve it and fill it with a candle, you are not alone. Many people tend to think of pumpkins as little more than just a holiday decoration or a pie filling, but you may want to rethink this plump orange plant.

Pumpkin is an extremely nutrient dense food, meaning it is chock-full of vitamins and minerals but low on calories. There are many creative ways pumpkin can be incorporated into your diet, including desserts, soups, salads, preserves and even as a substitute for butter. Next time pumpkin season comes around, don’t carve it, cook it up and eat it!

Consuming one cup of cooked, canned pumpkin would provide well over 100% of your daily needs for vitamin A, 20% of the daily value for vitamin C, 10% or more for vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, copper and manganese at least 5% for thiamin, B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Pumpkin is one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant known to give orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant color and which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Consuming foods rich in beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, offer protection against asthma and heart disease, and delay aging and body degeneration.

Blood pressure: Eating pumpkin is good for the heart! The fiber, potassium and vitamin C content in pumpkin all support heart health. Consuming adequate potassium is almost as important as decreasing sodium intake for treatment of hypertension (high-blood pressure). Other foods that are high in potassium include cantaloupe, pineapple, tomatoes, oranges, spinach and bananas.

Increased potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.

Cancer: One particular type of cancer where research has shown a positive benefits of a diet rich in beta-carotene is prostate cancer, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition.5 Beta-carotene has also been shown to have an inverse association with the development of colon cancer in the Japanese population.

Eye Health: The antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene (all of which pumpkin has) have been shown to support eye health and prevent degenerative damage.  A higher intake of all fruits (3 or more servings per day) has also been shown to decrease the risk of and progression of age-related macular degeneration.

Fertility: For women of child-bearing age, consuming more iron from plant sources such as spinach, beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, and beets appear to promote fertility, according Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications. The vitamin A in pumpkin (consumed as beta-carotene then converted to vitamin A in the body) is also essential during pregnancy and lactation for hormone synthesis.

Immunity: Plant foods like pumpkins that are high in both vitamin C and beta-carotene offer an immunity boost from their powerful combination of nutrients.


Succulents are the New “It” Thing

October 20, 2015

succ2 (2)So when you think about succulents I bet you think about a barren desert or a drought resistant front yard for all of you in California. Well, my friends, not anymore! We here at Inside Plants are always scouring the internet and reading articles to keep us at the forefront of design, so we are here to tell you that succulents are the new “it” thing when it comes to design for your upcoming event. YES you heard (or rather read) correctly… I said design. Let me give you a few photo examples so you don’t think I’m pulling your leg.

And whether you’re planning a neutral desert themed affair or a bright colorful fiesta, these juicy plants are long-lasting, versatile and vibrant.

With palates ranging from greenish greys to deep purples, and a variety of shapes and sizes, succulents can be used as accents across your decor, offering a modern look to your florals, a rustic bent on your table placings or a more masculine touch to the usual floral hues.  thanksgiving1 (2)

Planting the Scare

October 13, 2015

Put away the jack-o-lantern carving and the spooktacular costume planning for a second because it is time for a very special Top Ten. This countdown is filled with plants that put the orange, black,freaky and frightening back into Halloween.

Atropa belladonnaDeadly Nightshade (Atropa belladonna)  Fact: This plant is a member of the same family as tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers. This may not seem like a scary family of plants but the Deadly Nightshade also has some very poisonous relatives like Herbane.  How it reminds us of Halloween: In the Middle Ages, Deadly Nightshade was believed to be the devil’s favorite plant. Witches and Sorcerers would use the plant’s juices in many of their ointments and brews. Even though this plant has been used in medicine be sure to stay away, it is so toxic that even touching it can poison you!

Devils ClawDevil’s Claw (Proboscidea louisianica)  Fact: This plant shares its scientific name with an unlikely species– proboscidea is also an order of elephants! Proboscidea comes from the word proboscis, which means trunk or horn.  How it reminds us of Halloween: As this plant matures, its seed pods dry out and turn grey or brown. Eventually the pods split down the middle and begin to look like sharp hooks (or horns). Imagine having one of those stuck to you. Scary! Plus, it probably doesn’t help that it’s named after the devil…

WolfsbaneWolfsbane (Aconitum)  Fact: Some wolfsbane species are used in traditional medicines, while others are extremely toxic and can be deadly.  How it reminds us of Halloween: Wolfsbane has long been associated with werewolves. In most stories, wolfsbane has been known to keep werewolves away. However, if you ask the writer of Harry Potter, it also prevents a person from turning into a werewolf during a full moon.

Wolfs DevilPurple Devil (Solanum atropurpureum)  Fact: This relative of the Deadly Nightshade makes a very good barrier hedge. It’s not a big surprise that if you plant a few purple devils around your yard, unwanted visitors will stay away!  How it reminds us of Halloween: What’s Halloween without a few spikes? The sight of the Purple Devil’s deadly spikes would certainly make us jump in the night.

Chinese lanternChinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi)  Fact: Chinese Lanterns produce edible berries, which have been used in medicine to reduce fevers.  How it reminds us of Halloween: The bright orange berries of the Chinese Lanterns are protected by an orange covering that looks a little like a pumpkin. Once this cover begins to waste away it leaves behind a skeleton that looks like a spooky cage trapping the berry.

CockscombCockscomb (Celosia cristata)  Fact: Although all members of the Celosia genus have fuzzy flowers, the waviness of the cockscomb’s flowers is pretty unique. It is caused by fasciation, which develops due to infections, certain insects or growing mutations. This isn’t just a cockscomb’s problem – any other plant can develop this way.  How it reminds us of Halloween: It may be just us, but this flowering plant looks a lot like a fuzzy brain, especially when the flower is yellow. This plant would make a perfect treat for Zombies. Yum! Brains!

Witch hazelWitch Hazel (Hamamelis) 
Fact: Not only is this plant interesting because it blooms in the fall, it also has some pretty cool seed pods. When the seeds are ready, the pods pop and the seeds shoot outwards. In fact, this pop is so powerful that you can actually hear it!  How it reminds us of Halloween: Witch Hazel plants produce thin yellow petals that look wild and stringy. Take a look at its silhouette and you’ll know what we mean. Very creepy!

Dolls eyesDoll’s eyes (Actaea pachypoda)  Fact: This plant is pretty toxic so most herbivores avoid them. However, birds appear to be immune. By carrying the berries, birds help spread the Doll’s eyes’ seeds to new places.  How it reminds us of Halloween: This plant is named after its white berries, which look like old-fashioned doll eyes. Sure, they are berries, but we wouldn’t want to be walking alone in a forest filled with doll’s eyes on a scary night. Hundreds of little eyes watching you? Ah…no thank you!

Dracula OrchidsDracula Orchids 
Fact: Dracula orchids smell like mushrooms and look a little like them too (the “tongue”). This is done on purpose to trick fruit flies that pollinate mushrooms into pollinating them as well.  How it reminds us of Halloween: This flower looks like a vampire! When Spanish scientists first came across these orchids, they were reminded of dragons and bats.

Ghost PlantGhost Plant (Monotropa uniflora)  Fact: This plant has a symbiotic (both benefit) or parasitic (Ghost plant benefits at the other’s expense) relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. It can only exist where this fungi is present, which makes it very difficult to grow in gardens.  How it reminds us of Halloween: This plant’s name is very fitting. Not only are Ghost plants white but they also live in the dark. Unlike most plants, they don’t rely on light (photosynthesis) to grow. All that time in the dark is awfully ghostly.

Falling into Fall

October 6, 2015

Autumn is one of the most critical times of the entire year for houseplants. Because it is at this time of year that thermostats are turned-up and the air simply becomes too hot and dry for most tropical houseplants. But, by providing adequate humidity, a good location and proper water the plants should do just fine.

The typical tropical foliage house- plants like philododendrons, ferns, spider plants, etc. should be fertilized sparingly the rest of this fall and winter. In fact, to fertilize them once every three months is enough during the fall and winter dormant season. Provide humidity and place in a bright light location in the home.

Humidity is probably the most critical part of caring for houseplants during the fall and winter seasons. Yet it is probably one of the easiest problems to correct. All one needs to do is place a glass or vase of water near the houseplants, then as the water evaporates it provides the humidity the plants need. Do not Mist with water as this will create more issues than it will help.

Almost all houseplants will need more light exposure during the fall and winter months. So select a bright light exposure for them. Flowering plants may need two to four hours of artificial light at night in order to keep them flowering during the fall and winter months.

Since most plants go into a semi-dormancy during the fall and winter months they should not require quite as much water as they do during the growing season. So check watering needs weekly to determine an exact watering schedule. One way to determine whether a houseplant needs water is to use a water metering device. Another, is to simply lift the plant, pot and all, if it is light you know it needs watering, if it is heavy then watering should be delayed a few days.  A little extra care at this time of the year will help keep your houseplants in tip-top shape this fall and winter.

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