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8 Winter Bloomers for Indoor Beauty

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When temperatures turn chilly and nights get longer, theres nothing like indoor blooming plants to brighten up a home and enhance the coziness of winter. Not only do indoor plants provide some welcome air freshening benefits, several winter-blooming plants can brighten up grey, cold days and bring summer cheer into the home.

Keep in mind that several of these plants naturally bloom as night length increases. This photoperiodic blooming requires those nights to be uninterrupted by light in order for flower buds to form. So, plants that are in rooms where they lights are on until midnight wont set flower. To combat this, you need to make sure the plant is either placed in a closet at night, or you can cover the plant with a box; anything to keep the plant in uninterrupted darkness all night. Just cover the plant when the sun goes down. But be sure to uncover it at dawn!

Here are my favorite winter-blooming plants for the indoor home!

African Violet: African violets come in a wide variety of colors and are a good choice for winter blooming (in fact, they bloom well all year). The secret to getting African violets to bloom is to have them sit in an east facing window. The light there is perfect for plant health and blooming. Set your African violet pots in over-sized trays full of pebbles, making sure to keep water in the tray (when you water from above, the excess water will drain into the pebbles). This will help increase the humidity level of dry winter air. Lastly, you can purchase fertilizer specifically to help African violets bloom! Be sure to follow label directions.

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African violets come in many colors. One blooming secret is locating plants in an east-facing window.

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Begonias: Not all begonias bloom indoors; specifically you will need rhizomatous or winter-flowering begonias for winter blooms. Winter flowering begonias are stimulated to bloom by longer nights, making them perfect for winter color. Provide your plants with bright, indirect light during the day, and make sure you let the top 1/2 of soil dry out between waterings. Over watering wont only inhibit blooming, it will kill the plant! (In fact, the #1 cause of houseplant demise is over watering.) After the plant blooms, give it a rest by letting the soil dry almost completely, and giving the plant a good pruning.

Blossoms and bulbs

Winter-flowering and rhizomatous begonias are stimulated to bloom with shortened daylight.

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Bulbs: Forcing bulbs indoors is a wonderful way to bring a bit of spring to the winter home, but a bit of skill is needed. Most bulbs including tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, iris, and more require 10 to 16 weeks of chilling at 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit in order to produce blooms. Some bulbs are trickier than others to force indoors. The easier chill-requiring candidates include hyacinth, crocus, and muscari. To learn more about forcing specific bulbs indoors, read this nice publication from the University of Missouri Extension office.

Most spring bulbs, like these hyacinth, need to chill for 10 to 14 weeks at 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit before forcing indoors.

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There are, however, two bulbs that do not require chilling before forcing since they originate from tropical climates. These include amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus. For this reason, these two bulbs are highly recommended bulbs to force for winter color. To read the specifics of forcing amaryllis and paperwhite indoors, read this publication from the Iowa State University Extension.

 

Red Amaryllis Flower

Amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus do not require chilling before forcing indoors.

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Cyclamen: This potted plant is a common site in florists at shops and grocery stores, and with good reason; the flowers are lovely and blooms come in a variety of colors. The plant also naturally blooms in winter. You can benefit from these positive attributes in your own home, and the flowers last a very long time with a bit of care! To this end keep your cyclamen on a window sill; they like chilly temperatures and will benefit from the cooler temperatures by the window. Ideally temperatures for the happiest cyclamen hover around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Indirect or filtered direct light is best, and keep the soil evenly moist in a well-drained soil.

Cyclamen in a pot with light from a window.

Cyclamen are natural winter bloomers.

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Christmas Cactus: As the name implies, the natural bloom time for this succulent is late December. As with begonias, Christmas cactus bloom as daylight length decreases. Christmas cactus appreciate bright, indirect light; full sun will burn their leaves. Also avoid warm, blowing air such as from a furnace. Setting the pot on pebbles in a large tray, and keeping water in the reservoir, will help increase winters low humidity level, too. Christmas cactus is a tropical plant, and as such proper watering is important. When you water, water thoroughly, making sure water drains from the pot well. But before watering again, make sure the top inch or so of the soil has dried thoroughly, then water completely again. Keep in mind that too much or too little water will cause flower buds to drop off.

Fragrant Jasmine: Jasmine is a tropical vine, and is treated as a houseplant in areas outside of its native Southeast Asia. But the heavenly scent keeps people coming back. In order to set buds, the plant needs temperatures that are consistently lower than 65 degrees Fahrenheit in an area with very little direct sun. After buds are set, however, the plant can be brought into a warmer location of the house to sit in an east window. As with other plants, humidity (or lack thereof) is an issue, and a water-and-pebble tray or a humidifier is needed to keep your plant happiest (just make sure the pot isnt sitting in water; soggy roots will kill the plant).

Kalanchoe: If you feel you have a black thumb, kalanchoe might be the plant for you. This succulent requires short winter days to bloom, and is very forgiving with a high tolerance for a wide variety of care. It does, however, require a south facing window with full sun for proper growth and best blooming. And like most houseplants, dont over water. In fact, in winter you can almost let the plant dry out; this is preferable to watering too much.

Winter blooms for indoors - www.ruralspin.com

Kalanchoe is a very forgiving indoor winter bloomer.

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Streptocarpus: This little-known gem (also called cape primrose) has a flower resembling an orchid, which lasts a long time indoors. The plant is related to African violets, and also require the indirect, bright light that an east-facing window provides. Only water the plants when the top inch of soil or so is dry; as with other plants, watering too often will cause the plant to rot. Even less water is required in winter. A fertilizer geared towards enhancing African violet blooms will work for this plant, too!

With this wide selection of indoor bloomers, you wont lack for winter color. Many of these varieties are also very forgiving to those who feel they are not good at growing houseplants. Once you are able to place a pot of blooming African violets or paperwhite narcissus on your table when a snow storm is blowing, youll be glad you took the time!

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Stupid Lifestyle

5 Elements of Home

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What does home mean to you?

Ive bounced around the US, moving from place-to-place, my whole life, yet Ive only recently started to think about what Home is and what it means to me. As a nomad in the midst of yet another move, with family scattered across the country, the concept of a specific place as Home does not resonate with me. Most people take it for granted that Home is the place they grew up, or where most of their family is located. Or Home is where the spouse and children are. But even if you are lucky enough to know where your Home is, a heartfelt investigation into the true personal meaning of Home and what it feels like may be one key towards a happier life. If we know what Home feels like, we can create it wherever we are.

Home is a very personal concept; what it means to one person can vary greatly compared to what it means to another. But after several months of discussion with people far and wide, Home has some key elements that come up again and again. In fact, I believe these five elements not only define Home, but their presence also allow us to grow as individuals into our full, happy potential. And is this not the purpose of Home?

PEACEFUL

This goes beyond musical taste, the loudness of the stereo, or whether or not kids are playing kickball in the kitchen. To some, the quietness of just sitting would be less peaceful than having a house full of teenagers during a sleepover. Instead of coming from external forces, the peacefulness is felt inside. It comes from a place of knowing your space and feeling relaxed, where you can retire from the troubles of the outside world in a fashion of your choosing. You feel calm inside because you can simply be yourself, with either a cup of tea and some Bach, or tattoos and some Slayer.

ACCEPTED

None of us is perfect. We all have our human flaws. Some have these more than others, and some flaws ebb and flow like the tide. But at Home we are accepted for who we are at each moment in time, even if we may not be all that pleasant to be around. Accepting someone doesnt mean you have to put up with nonsense (or that they put up with yours), it just means you arent going anywhere when it comes up. There is a difference between accepting someone and liking all of their facets all of the time, even your own children. But gently discussion our individual nonsense with each other without abject finger pointing or blame provides us all a place to grow positively. But many times acceptance is the only thing that is necessary, instead of discussion.

LOVED

It is no surprise that Home includes being loved and loving others. For some a cat can provide this; for others nothing less than a spouse, a half dozen children, and two dogs will suffice.While the package might look different from person to person, the love is a constant. We all want to be loved. But many forget that Home is also a place where the love you give is not only wanted, but appreciated and desired. Our happiness is fueled just as much when someone embraces the love we give as it is when we are the receiver of such expressions. Home includes both.

HEARD

At Home we should be able to express our opinions and be listened to. Many spend so much time deciding how to reply to what someone is saying that they forget to actually listen to what is being said. Home is not about ego or judging others, and it is not about winning. It is about working towards harmony in a space filled with flawed human beings. Having a voice, and quietly listening to the voice of others with compassion, is part of Home. We can never get to know someone if we never pay attention and actually listen. We all change every day, and this listening and hearing should never end. And it should always be two-way.

SAFE

Safety is the most important element when it comes to feeling at Home. It encompasses all of the other elements, and without safety the other elements cannot exist.  No one in the Home should have to worry of physical abuse, and they should also be free from suspicion, constant blame, undue scrutiny, distrust, or other forms of mental abuse. Home is a place where we feel safe because we are heard, accepted, and loved, and a place we feel peace because we are safe. We are safe because our family members are loyal to us, and we are loyal to them. Home is a place where your team is, and teammates will help you when needed, provide a safety net when required, and cheer you on when asked. Home is the ultimate I got your back.

Please leave your thoughts in comments! Id love to hear what you think, and other ways you feel Home for yourself and those you love.

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Stupid Lifestyle

Round Characters vs. Flat Characters

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How Do I Create a ‘Round’ Character?

In fiction, the practice of differentiating “round” verses “flat” characters is quite common. Flat characters are stereotypical, one-dimensional: The evil boss, the dumb cheerleader, or the supportive friend. These characters are predictable, and are incapable of surprising the readers. Contrarily, round characters react to conflict in unexpected ways. They have depth, and hidden fears and desires. Maybe that evil boss surprises everyone with holiday bonuses or lights up when asked about his dog. Or perhaps the shallow cheerleader is discovered reading Lord Byron’s poetry in the back of the library.

Character Background

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Stupid Lifestyle

Falling in love

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There is a pattern to the act of falling in love. Express this pattern by using the five expressions of love and youll write a dramatic romance that will sweep the reader away. Not all people feel love in the same way. One person in a relationship can feel unloved, even when the other person is trying hard to make things work. When writing a romance novel it is important to tap into the elements of love. In real life, a person has one type of expression for their love, but in a novel you need to include all five. If you eliminate one or two of these elements of love then some readers cant feel the love come through, no matter how well written the story is. Have you ever heard someone complain because your characters jumped into bed too soon?

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