The smells of a homestead. The damp soil after watering, the plants pushing through the soil. Upon opening the front door, the first smell is probably that of cat litter, I am afraid, but cats make a homestead a home. Baking bread lingers with fresh coffee. A big pot of broth bubbles away. The dog walks by with hints of eau d’skunk. His new fragrance since the incident. In the back yard the calming scents of pine shavings, compost, and chicken poop fill the air. It’s not for everyone, but I like it.
There are too many cats here to be lighting a ton of candles and too many migraines to let the smelly ones burn. I have many, many house plants. Pathos, and geraniums, mass cane, and bamboo. Aloes, poinsettia, succulents, and even ginger. Those are all lovely in their own right. But when I walk into my bedroom, a certain smell permeates just so.
Jasmine. The jasmine plant yawns and stretches across the curtain rod and swings carelessly in front of the window. All the while releasing tiny bursts of romance and sweet scent. The jasmine can be used as a delicious tea by snipping off every third new leaf if desired. Dry in a paper bag. The jasmine flowers are most prized for tea but it seems a shame to clip them because they are so beautifully fragrant and lovely. It is a nice change from the usual scents of a farm.
Jasmine house plants are available widely online. They love light and a deep drink every seven days or so. They love to climb, so a hanging pot or a small trellis is great.
I sit up in bed and pull the quilts around me. I put my reading glasses on and open a great book and reach for my cup of steaming tea. Surrounded by jasmine, I take a deep breath. That is how my nights begin.
The night air dipped and rose the past few weeks and autumn is certainly in the air. The houseplants have all been lazily sunbathing all summer (with me) on the front porch. They love the fresh flow of water from the hose each day and the sun shining on them. I snap off any leggy parts and remove dead leaves. Any bugs and diseases that jumped on from being cooped up last winter are gone. Yet, the thermometer lowers steadily in the night. At 50 degrees I start covering the plants with a large sheet before I go to bed. The days are still gloriously warm and they just need a little extra cover under the stars.
But when that fateful forecast shows 45 degrees at night, everyone has to come inside. Party over. By the end of summer a lot of the plants have grown. Trim them into proper shapes and transplant them into bigger pots. I put a little soil on the bottom, place the whole plant and dirt in the new pot, then top with fresh potting soil. Water thoroughly and let sit in the sun a bit longer. There should be holes in the bottom of your pots. Soggy feet are the death of many a houseplant. They should be able to drain completely.
Meanwhile, inside prepare a spot with a nice west, south, or east view-preferably south- and place drip trays or old plates where you want your plants. Carefully bring in each beautiful specimen.
The plants will go from daily to every other day waterings to once a week now. Water until it leaks into tray.
I don’t have typical houseplants, myself. I have two poinsettias, two Ephedra plants, two jasmine plants, a bamboo, an orchid, a few little succulents, a unique aloe, a behemoth aloe, a coffee plant, and four large geraniums. The ginormous plants have followed me from place to place for years and some are new. Last year I overwintered a tomato plant someone gave me in the south window. It grew a little and when I put it out into the soil this last spring it sprung to life in heaves of mass foliage and huge ripe tomatoes.
You can have anything as a houseplant. They just need light, the right amount of water, they enjoy a cup of room temperature coffee per month (no kidding), and talking to them doesn’t hurt either.
(The plants are getting to know the kitten…not thrilled I’m afraid!)
Hibiscus is a lovely house plant as well as prolific grower in the garden. There are varieties for less than tropical environments. It gives a nice Hawaiian feel to the window during a snowy day if you keep it in a pot. You may be familiar with hibiscus tea. Hibiscus is added to many a tea blend and imbues a rosy hue to the finished drink. But, hibiscus is not just a tasty, tart tea. It is, in fact, medicine.
Hibiscus is one of the most potent medicines in the health of the kidneys and blood. It will help regulate blood pressure in minutes. It’s good friend, Mistletoe leaves, helps it work in ten minutes or less to return blood pressure to its desired numbers.
Because blood pressure is regulated by the kidneys, it is an obvious conclusion that kidney function and detoxification must be assisted in order to remedy blood pressure. The kidneys filter a quarter of the blood every two minutes. We can safely assume that hibiscus assists in kidney function as well.
I use a lot of traditional spirit medicine in my practice, since you cannot reasonably separate the mind and body from the spirit. Hibiscus is used to help heartache, anxiety, or the sadness from loss. Not as an anti-anxiety, but as a beautiful plant who assists in healing the spirit. Incidentally, the circulatory system is affected by heartbreak. Hibiscus is used for blood…so that means the circulatory system…which is a connected with the heart. Fascinating, isn’t it?
Once the flower folds back up, snip it from its stem and dry it in a paper bag for a few weeks. Cut up and store in a sandwich bag or jar. Use 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of boiling water and let steep 5 minutes. It is quite sour so a bit of honey or maple is nice. Perhaps add combination of roses, lavender, hawthorn berries, yarrow, and/or dandelion for a lovely effect on the kidneys, blood pressure, and on the spirit.
I have been around aloe vera plants my entire life. I have always had one, my mother and grandmother always had one, my aunts always had one. Aloe is the staple you will find in any bustling kitchen as it brings immediate and effective healing to burns, cuts, and wounds. When the baby touched the wood stove on accident a piece of aloe was quickly dispatched, opened, and wrapped on the wound. It didn’t even blister.
My aloe vera plant is something else. I have never seen such a huge specimen in my life. All of my previous aloes and those of my family fit nicely in a kitchen window. Mine oddly thinks it lives in the desert. It outgrows its pot every year and this year is no exception. I sell its baby shoots at farmer’s markets so others can have the beautiful plants in their windows too.
This year my aloe did something I have never seen before. It shot up a flower. I have been waiting to see what it would look life when it was in full bloom. It is beautiful and interesting. What a fabulous plant!
Aloe vera is antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiyeast, and is demulcent. Which means you can use it on black heads on the skin, on warts, as a personal lubricant for yeast infections or herpes outbreaks, to remedy stomach ailments, to sooth inflamed skin, to fill a wound instead of stitches, to prevent infection in a cut, or to heal a burn quickly should you touch the wood stove!