Work Hard, Plant Hard

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So You Want to Host a Plant Swap?

ResourcesChristine K3 Comments

Having hosted 3 swaps now, I’ve received a lot of questions about the best way to do it. I learn a bit every time, so here are some tips thus far.

1)    Find a good venue. The most obvious place would be a local plant shop or nursery, who are often happy to host this type of event at their space. It brings them revenue since plant lovers like to plant shop! Make sure they have their own tables to fit the number you’re anticipating. (I’d recommend about 2 square feet of table space per person) and a nice open space. It’s also good to have the event somewhere that’s used to hosting. They may even have their own sign-up site you can use, and a group of regular customers who might be interested.

North Park Nursery (@northparknursery) is experienced at holding events. When we arrived, they had this sign ready to go.

North Park Nursery (@northparknursery) is experienced at holding events. When we arrived, they had this sign ready to go.

2)    Recruit people to help if you can. Even if they are just assigned to help recruit swappers, it’s nice to have a team! And unless you’re in the plant business yourself, you’ll be using your free time to organize. Having additional help will come in handy!

My team for the last swap made all the difference. From L -> R: Marsi of @northparknursery, Me (@workhardplanthard), Suz of @shopsuccsandstuff, Shannon of @horticulturistaa and Maryrose of @soiledplanties.

My team for the last swap made all the difference. From L -> R: Marsi of @northparknursery, Me (@workhardplanthard), Suz of @shopsuccsandstuff, Shannon of @horticulturistaa and Maryrose of @soiledplanties.

3)    Create an event sign-up and decide on the max number. This is typically set by the amount of space you have. EventBrite works well, but keep in mind they do take $1 per sign-up.

4)    I recommend a small fee (we’ve done $5). This not only increases the likelihood that people who sign up will show, but also provides money for light drinks/snacks, materials, and possibly a little giveaway. If the cost is too high, you risk pricing people out of coming. Plant swaps are all about community and sharing, so try to make it accessible to everyone.

5)    Provide basic instructions on your event sign-up. People will be nervous and have a lot of questions. These can preemptively be answered by giving lots of information up front in your sign-ups. I’ve included an example at the bottom of this post. I also included an email update we sent for the last swap.

6)    Start recruiting. Stories and posts on Instagram are one of the best ways. If you have a swipe-up function, use it. There are also Facebook groups you might announce on. (I’m seldom on Facebook, but if you are, you probably know where to find them).

7)    Consider bringing to the swap:

a.      Name tags

b.     Signage

c.     Basic instructions (can be on a whiteboard from Michaels, for example)

d.     Scissors

e.     A roll of paper towels and rubber bands to transport plants with a damp paper towel wrapped around the bare roots.

f.       Labels for plants or plant flats. At the last event we used masking tape and labeled peoples’ names on their flats.

g.      Cups, plates, snacks, drinks, ice/ice bucket or cooler. We were able to provide alcohol at the last swap by shopping at Trader Joe’s and Costco. Of course it’s important to have non-alcoholic options as well. As you can see in the instructions, I encouraged people to bring their own water/water bottles since I’m not a fan of plastic water bottles for environmental reasons.

h.     If you do a giveaway, bring a jar for giveaway names to be placed in along with entry cards

i.       Sharpies – lots.

j.       Plant flats – this was a first for this swap, and I think it worked well. The black mesh plastic flats are usually abundant at nurseries. They are not a must, but they allow an easy way to determine whose plants are whose. The entire flat can be labeled with that person’s name instead of individual plants. Special thanks to Shannon Stone of @horticulturistaa for this idea.

8)    At the swap: Welcome your attendants! Ask people to sign in and get their name tag. People will be nervous at first. This is normal. Many will be first-timers and feel awkward walking up to each other asking to swap plants. I make announcements with basic instructions that encourage people to grab a snack/drink and mingle first to loosen the atmosphere. Some people come to socialize with fellow plant lovers more than anything. I also encourage people to approach their host(s) with any questions. Any time they want to approach someone about a plant, just ask if they might be interested in seeing what they have to offer in a swap. Typically after about 20 min there’s no stopping anyone! Often there are a few generous people who just want to give away cuttings, which is fun as well.

Some experienced plant swappers go all out. Here is Joseph @plantdaddy_sd’s setup from the last swap. Plants are labeled and even on stands. This is not necessary but very cute and fun!

Some experienced plant swappers go all out. Here is Joseph @plantdaddy_sd’s setup from the last swap. Plants are labeled and even on stands. This is not necessary but very cute and fun!

Example event information:

“It’s plant swapping time! Come join us for a Plant Swap on Saturday, March 9 from 2-3:30pm. Bring your plants and cuttings to share with others, meet other plant nerds, make new planty friends, eat some snacks and check out all the goodies for sale in the nursery!

How does a plant swap work? Each attendee brings plants or plant cuttings to share with others. New to the plant world? Bring something simple like some succulent cuttings or babies. Plant enthusiasts — bring some of your special stuff to share with the rest of the collectors. Remember that everyone is in a different place in their plant journey so be prepared to chat, trade & learn. Learning is half the fun (ok, collecting is half the fun). Please, no plants for sale, just trades.

Space is limited, so sign-up soon! A $5 fee will help defray snack costs and secure your place. Once you register, more details will be forthcoming. 

Street parking will be available; but please be prepared to possibly walk a block or two, as things can get a little busy on the weekends.

$5 per person payable upon registration via EventBrite. Registration is only complete once you receive a payment confirmation email.

—    $5 fee is non-refundable”

Here’s an email update we sent a couple of days prior to the event (the nice thing about EvenBrite is you can easily email all the attendees): 

“Hey Plant Swappers,

Greetings! Thank you so much for signing up for our plant swap this weekend. At 60 people, it's sure to be lots of fun! We wanted to review a few things before the event; for additional information, see the EventBrite signup page. 

We recommend you come prepared to walk up to a few blocks. 
There's neighborhood parking around the nursery. We will have drinks and snacks, but please bring your own water bottle/water as we are staying away from plastic bottles for environmental reasons.

When you arrive at the event, please find one of the event hosts to get your name tag and sign in. 
We’ll also have more information for you to get situated and swapping.  We'll also have a giveaway, so be sure to put your name in the jar for that.

Say hi and get settled.
Typically the first part of the event is full of mingling--don't be nervous! It's a great time to connect with our plant community. We'll guide you through how to go about swapping, or feel free to dive in. Remember, no selling; just swaps or giveaways. Please feel free to grab us if you have any questions. We're excited to host you!”

Here’s some additional information that might be helpful to include, especially for new swappers. I borrowed it (with permission) from a post by Folia Collective (https://foliacollective.com/):

-Use a sharp knife or shears, taking care not to crush the stem. 

-When taking cuttings of most leafy plants, cut low enough on the stem to leave 3-4 leaf nodes, or sets of leaves, intact. Other plants can be propagated from one leaf, sections of leaves, or simply dividing new plantlets off the mother plant, depending on the plant. 

-Place cuttings in water immediately, or wrap in a wet paper towel and place in a plastic bag. This is not necessary for cuttings that need to callus over, like succulents, cacti, sansevierias, etc. “

Katie of @learning_2_grow is happy with her haul!

Katie of @learning_2_grow is happy with her haul!

I always have fun meeting new people and seeing old plant friends like Manny of @perennialpapi.

I always have fun meeting new people and seeing old plant friends like Manny of @perennialpapi.

Three generations of plant lovers attended the last swap together. So heartwarming!

Three generations of plant lovers attended the last swap together. So heartwarming!


I hope this information helps you host your first plant swap and many more! If you do, be sure to message me @workhardplanthard on Instagram so I can see. If you’d like to check out scenes from swaps I’ve held, check my highlights on Instagram – I’ve saved them as Swap 1, Swap 2, Swap 3 etc. Happy swapping!

What a crew! We limited to 60 for this last swap. I recommend starting smaller - my first swap there were 20 in attendance.

What a crew! We limited to 60 for this last swap. I recommend starting smaller - my first swap there were 20 in attendance.

Watering

Plant CareChristine K1 Comment

Last year, while researching the best care for my Fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata), I came across a lot of sources that said these plants prefer filtered water. As an alternative, one could let the water sit out for 24 hours to “evaporate the bad stuff.” I proceeded to usually use filtered water from my refrigerator. However, the water comes out cold (and somewhat slowly) so I would either let it sit out to warm or even sometimes microwave it. Occasionally I would use tap water that I would sit out because I’d read that would work. As someone with a science background, I probably should have questioned that to begin with.

My collection of watering cans. I use them all - the larger ones I fill with filtered water from the garden hose (read on), bring inside then fill the smaller ones. I prefer the smaller, long narrow spout for watering container plants.

My collection of watering cans. I use them all - the larger ones I fill with filtered water from the garden hose (read on), bring inside then fill the smaller ones. I prefer the smaller, long narrow spout for watering container plants.

Hard Water

What is “hard” water? Some of us have a lot of calcium and magnesium carbonates in our tap water. The water tends to be more alkaline. Calcium and magnesium are not bad for plants (or us) in and of themselves, however theoretically if you are using them all the time on your plants you could be throwing the balance of your minerals and pH off. Some plants prefer less alkaline water as well. As for drinking, I prefer to filter it since I don’t like the taste. These compounds are not gas, and therefore they don’t dissolve if you let the water sit out. In fact, they will concentrate since they are salts.

Softening your hard water (using a water softener) does not help this issue. Water softeners contain salt and this alters your plants’ abilities to use the water that’s available to them.

Treated Water

Most people living in developed countries have treated water. I don’t want to minimize how important it is to have our water treated. There are many water-borne illnesses that kill millions of people around the world every year. Many of these diseases happen in places with untreated water.

Most water is treated with cholorine. Chlorine comes in many forms, including compressed gas. This is where I believe the myth of letting water sit out came about. The chlorine in gas form will dissolve. However, most water treated with chlorine nowadays is in the form of chloramines. These are solid compounds, not gas. Not only will they not dissolve, they will concentrate if you let water sit out because some water evaporates.  Some of us also have sodium fluoride in our water. I won’t get in to the debate over that here, but the idea is that chlorine and fluoride regularly used on (especially container) plants can concentrate over time. Results can be browning/yellowing of leaves. There are other potential ill-effects such as killing some of the good microbes in the soil.

Bottom line: I’d rather not take the chance. Based on my research, my new system is to use a carbon filter. I’ve attached it to my garden hose so I can easily and quickly fill all of my watering cans and have them ready when I need them. You can find the filter I’m using on my Planty Products Recommendations page on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/shop/workhardplanthard. There are other filters available, including ones for your sink in case you don’t have an outdoor hose.

This is the filter I’m using, recommended to me at my local hydroponic store. Not all carbon filters are the same but I haven’t fully researched that issue yet!

This is the filter I’m using, recommended to me at my local hydroponic store. Not all carbon filters are the same but I haven’t fully researched that issue yet!


I hope this helps dispel the myth of “dissolving the bad stuff” by letting water sit out. Have fun planting!

Scouting Pots and Plant Stands

StyleChristine K

I frequently get inquiries about where I find all of my pots and plant stands. I thought I’d break from my typical blog post content and focus on this for a change!

First, I am fortunate to live in a city with lots of amazing nurseries and a couple of shops with well-curated pots. And as many of you know, I visit other Planty Places as often as I can, often walking away with at least one pot to remember my stop by.

Terra cotta pots are extremely affordable but tend to only be available at brick and mortar nurseries and shops. The shipping costs would far outweigh the cost of the pot! To that end, I have been lucky to find some varieties on the traditional terra cotta shapes and colors at Anderson’s La Costa, Solana Succulents, Mickeys Plants, Folia Collective and Green Thumb Nursery.

I found this nice curved terra cotta at Mickey's Plants in Los Angeles. Incidentally I was lucky to find the last of these brass shelving units at my local World Market. I love the little hooks underneath!

I found this nice curved terra cotta at Mickey's Plants in Los Angeles. Incidentally I was lucky to find the last of these brass shelving units at my local World Market. I love the little hooks underneath!

One of my favorite variations on standard terra cotta is this clean lined shape. I especially love the lighter, rosy color. The pot with the cactus is from Pigment (shoppigment.com). The little face airplant holder is actually a votive holder designed by Jonathan Adler (jonathanadler.com). 

One of my favorite variations on standard terra cotta is this clean lined shape. I especially love the lighter, rosy color. The pot with the cactus is from Pigment (shoppigment.com). The little face airplant holder is actually a votive holder designed by Jonathan Adler (jonathanadler.com). 

I love to find cute pots with character. Some of my favorites have come from Urban Outfitters Home collection, Folia Collective (www.foliacollective.com, @foliacollective) and Eden San Diego (@eden.sd), a local plant shop.

Pots in this photo are from many sources including local plant shops and nurseries as mentioned, Urban Outfitters (ubiquitous eyeball planter), Waldmade (the small stand wtih cactus, @waldmade), and Knight Ceramics (@knightceramics).

Pots in this photo are from many sources including local plant shops and nurseries as mentioned, Urban Outfitters (ubiquitous eyeball planter), Waldmade (the small stand wtih cactus, @waldmade), and Knight Ceramics (@knightceramics).

I am always on the hunt for modern style pots. A couple of my local nurseries carry Chive pots, a Canadian company that makes lovely modern planters in many shapes and sizes. If you’re local to the San Diego area you can find them at Barrel’s and Branches and Anderson’s La Costa. Folia Collective also has a great selection of modern pottery, some of them handmade in the LA area. North Park Nursery (@northparknursery) and Pigment (@shoppigment) also have a great selection of modern pots. West Elm has some nice options including candle vessels that can double as terrariums or airplant vessels.

I found the cute gray Chive planter at Anderson's La Costa, and the small white planter at Barrel's and Branches, both local nurseries. 

I found the cute gray Chive planter at Anderson's La Costa, and the small white planter at Barrel's and Branches, both local nurseries. 

Every once in a while I splurge on a pot that is a statement piece, such as my Modernica Case Study planter and my Hudson and Oak Shop (@hudsonandoakshop) cachepots that hold my big ZZ plant and Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Fig), respectively.

My Ficus lyrata (fiddle leaf fig) hangs out in a cachepot by Hudson and Oak (hudsonandoakshop.etsy.com, @hudsonandoakshop). Other planters in this photo are from brick and mortar sources including Eden San Diego, Folia Collective, Solana Succulents and Andersons La Costa. The photo also shows plant stands from Kellan Carr (@crowleykel), Ikea, Home Goods and Eden San Diego. See below for more on plant stands!

My Ficus lyrata (fiddle leaf fig) hangs out in a cachepot by Hudson and Oak (hudsonandoakshop.etsy.com, @hudsonandoakshop). Other planters in this photo are from brick and mortar sources including Eden San Diego, Folia Collective, Solana Succulents and Andersons La Costa. The photo also shows plant stands from Kellan Carr (@crowleykel), Ikea, Home Goods and Eden San Diego. See below for more on plant stands!

Last but not least with regards to pots, I love finding pots that were handmade, especially if I can get them directly from the maker. Hudson and Oak is actually one of these. Additional ones include Potting Pink (@pottingpink, the potting feed for Morgan Doane, of the fame @plantingpink/@houseplantclub); Poured Formes (@pouredforms), lovely poured concrete planters by @succulentbff and her hubby; and Knight Ceramics (@knightceramics, pictured above in the plant shelves), darling little pots with drainage perfect for little succulents or cacti. Momma Pots (@momma_pots, www.mommapots.net) makes darling handcrafted pots as well. Etsy is a great resource for cute handmade pots!

I got this cute little black planter from @potting pink. I love sourcing directly from makers!

I got this cute little black planter from @potting pink. I love sourcing directly from makers!

What about stands? They are a little harder to find. I’m always looking for modern stands – nothing too ornate. I love boho style wicker stands but they don’t go well with our décor. Some nice modern options: Waldmade (@waldmade, purchase on Etsy), Ikea (lots of inexpensive options, but many you have to purchase in store), Plant Works Los Angeles (cute little midcentury inspired stands that hold a 4-6 inch pot fairly well) and Amigo Modern (@amigomodern). One of my favorites is a locally made wooden stand by Kellen Carr (@crowleykel, see tall wooden stand with white pot in prior image). Home Goods has some cute stands sometimes and is always worth a check! I found my 3 tier metal stand there. I didn't like the pots it came with, so I swapped them out for modern terra cotta.

The white stands are from Amigo Modern (amigomodern.com, @amigomodern). An Ikea side table elevates the Monstera. You can also see when compared to the other photo of the same space that I switch things up quite a bit - it's fun to move things around and play with styling! 

The white stands are from Amigo Modern (amigomodern.com, @amigomodern). An Ikea side table elevates the Monstera. You can also see when compared to the other photo of the same space that I switch things up quite a bit - it's fun to move things around and play with styling! 

The black stand on the far left is from Plantworks Los Angeles (plantworkslosangeles.com, @plantworkslosangeles). The small wood midcentury inspired planter is from Waldmade (@waldmade). The ZZ plant is housed in at Modernica Case Study planter with stand. 

The black stand on the far left is from Plantworks Los Angeles (plantworkslosangeles.com, @plantworkslosangeles). The small wood midcentury inspired planter is from Waldmade (@waldmade). The ZZ plant is housed in at Modernica Case Study planter with stand. 

Of course, you can always get creative and make your own stand (concrete is fun to work with!). You can also use something that wasn't originally intended as a stand such as a stack of books (another favorite of mine), or a wire wastebasket. Whatever you decide, have fun and enjoy your plants!

Humidity: Maximizing the Health of You and Your Plants

Christine K

Humidity is a hot topic in the plant world right now. In many places, it’s the dead of winter. Many of you are running your heaters 24/7. Full disclaimer – I do not have to worry very much about humidity. Although it feels very dry in San Diego compared to Hawaii (where I grew up), we are close to the ocean. This provides significant humidity that is ideal for many of my plants. The humidity does periodically drop to lower than ideal levels. And, believe it or not, the temperature does drop to the 40s sometimes at night – that’s when we run our heater. But it’s not a huge problem for me. At the same time, I am fascinated by plant science, especially when there’s interplay with human science. And I love learning and researching new topics, so I took some time and dove in to this one.

Increasing ambient humidity prevents water loss from foliage. Putting water directly on leaves does not do this. In fact, having water sit on foliage regularly can increase the chance for disease such as fungal and bacterial infections. Standing water is, in general, not good for plants. And it’s not good for humans.

misting

 

Up until recently, I used my cute little misters to periodically mist my calatheas and ferns. I would never spray the plant directly, just the air around the plant 2-3 feet away. But that only increases the humidity for a brief period of time – about 15-30 minutes maximum. In the scheme of things, it doesn’t do much. It may not hurt the plants, but theoretically it could. Thankfully I still get to use my cute misters for my tillandsias. (I like to soak them but if they are overdue for a soak and I haven’t had time, I mist to tide them over.)  At the same time, I am not interested in having another device to maintain. Thankfully I think my plants will be okay because of where I live. I also use the grouping method (placing clusters of plants together around the home) which helps increase humidity around them. However, many of you really do need to consider humidifiers during these cold months. Read on.

airplants

The same way that standing water on foliage is not good for plants, standing water sitting in trays under plants or sitting in a humidifier can breed bacteria and fungi. These microbes can be aerosolized into your home. Keep in mind, there are bacteria and fungi (microbes) everywhere. Many of them are good; diversity of microbes can help keep “bad” microbes in check at lower counts. In fact, there is research going on about houseplant microbes helping keep human pathogen levels down. (But that’s for another time.) If you have standing water sitting around, it could allow for a small number of microbes to overgrow. For this reason, I don’t recommend trays with pebbles and water unless you’re sure you will empty and refill them regularly. Standing water could create issues for people with allergies, asthma, or immune conditions and is a breeding ground for mosquitos. Theoretically you could develop sensitivity to the fungi over time that you didn’t have before, due to repeated exposure. Additionally, if you don’t monitor your humidity levels (or get a humidifier that does that for you), you could end up with such high humidity that you have precipitation in the home and on your plants. I have actually seen black mold growing on walls in rooms where people have humidifiers set very high.

Here are some great articles listed below on the topic of humidifiers that I hope you will read if you are looking to buy one. I would recommend one that turns itself off if it gets to a certain level of humidity. Alternatively, you can get a hygrometer and check levels regularly. Consider placing it at least 2-3 feet from your plants and don’t direct the jet directly on to foliage. Be careful with humidifiers that use steam around kids. And please consider cleaning it very regularly (empty and refill most days, and thoroughly clean weekly) as the first article below explains, for the health of you and your plants!

Importance of cleaning your humidifier regularly:

https://www.consumerreports.org/humidifiers/why-you-should-clean-your-humidifier/

Humidifier buying guide:

https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/humidifiers/buying-guide

Good brief resource on misting:

https://extension.illinois.edu/houseplants/needs_humidity.cfm

Research on bacterial growth in humidifiers:

http://abc7chicago.com/health/consumer-reports-bacteria-breeding-humidifiers/1174563/

Moisture Needs of Plants and Skin

SkincareChristine K

I see so many similarities between skin care and plant water needs. Many of us know our plants vary in the amount of water they need/use. In fact, the first steps in being a good plant parent are knowing what level of light your plant needs and how the soil should feel before you water it again. Some plants, such as ferns and calatheas/marantas, should be somewhat damp to the touch – they enjoy a humid climate and really don’t like to dry out. (There are many ways to create humidity even if your air is dry, but I’ll let you research that on your own and maybe touch on it myself in a future post). Others, such as the ever-picky fiddle leaf fig, like to have dry topsoil before being watered again. The worst mistake I ever made was watering my first fiddle fig too much. No, I didn’t kill it---it’s hard to kill a plant from overwatering if it is getting enough light-- but it did shed all of its underside leaves and ceased new growth. The whole reason I bought a water meter was because of my fiddle fig. Since the first 3-5 inches like to be dry, I didn’t feel I could reliably determine when it was time to water again without a tool. image1

Succulents, widely thought of as “easy” to care for because they “don’t need watering” can survive on very little water and lots of sun, but they often won’t thrive under these conditions. I’ve been guilty of forgetting about some of my succulent plants for months (such as my postpartum periods – no time or energy for plants!). Living in San Diego, I always found them alive but definitely not thriving. The good thing is they are almost always easy to perk back up with a bit of TLC that includes occasional watering.

IMG_5367

Like plants, we all have slightly different skin that will alter its moisture based on our environment. You might notice that plants that like to dry out between waterings have thicker/denser leaves (peperomias, succulents); they have good storage mechanisms for water, preventing evaporation. Thin-leaved plants (ferns, calatheas) can’t store as much water in their leaves and allow for more evaporation, so they rely on having a more constant source from the soil.

IMG_5543

image2

Skin is one of our main barriers to infection. This is such an important job! So it’s important to keep skin moist. Moisture helps preserve its integrity. Even if you were born with naturally moist or even oily skin, I would still recommend moisturizing after every shower (which sucks moisture out of our skin) with a lightweight moisturizer. In fact, keeping oily-prone skin properly moisturized can actually balance the surface oil production. If you’re prone to dry skin, you will need a heavier moisturizer or even cream. Parts of your body may even need ointment (think Vaseline consistency). This is especially true on the heels, which can dry out and crack easily. Nightly ointment on the heels works wonders for this. For the body, buy a large bottle of moisturizer with a pump and have it readily available by the shower. Get in the habit of using it every time everywhere you can reach. I also recommend avoiding very fragrant moisturizers that often can be quite irritating to the skin (and sometimes to those around you). If you have very dry skin, especially eczema (see below), you should stick to ONLY fragrance-free, sensitive skin products such as Cetaphil, Eucerin, Lubriderm, CeraVe and some Neutrogena products.

Part 2 – Common Skin Problems.

“Doc, I have a rash.” One of the most common rashes is caused by eczema, a common skin condition. In simplified terms, eczema is a sign the skin cannot hold on to moisture well in those areas. This causes inflammation resulting in redness, flaking, and cracking. Preventing eczema flares requires constant attention to skin moisture and regular use of lotions/creams/ointments. Treating flares may require anti-inflammatories (steroids) for short courses.

What about oils? Essential oils are used all the time on the skin. Keep in mind, though, that these can be irritants as well. Lavender is a classic one. You can develop a skin sensitivity at any time to an ingredient. Lavender is great for your aerometer but not necessarily as a topical ingredient. Despite this, many skin products have lavender in them because of the lovely smell. Beware. Similarly, many people use avocado as a facial moisturizer or even mask. I have seen countless cases of “contact dermatitis” from this – an itchy, red, sometimes painful rash. Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s harmless!

Can our skin have too much moisture? In a way, yes. Fungus infections of the skin can be a sign of too much moisture. Patients always ask “How did I get that? Who gave it to me?” In reality, fungus is everywhere around us in our environment. It’s just looking for opportunities to overgrow and cause problems. Loving moisture and heat, it will thrive in places on the body that trap moisture/sweat such as under the arms, under the breasts, and in the groin. Candida (fungus/yeast commonly found in these areas) will cause a red, sometimes itchy rash. Simply making sure to dry under the breasts (for large-breasted women it may help to use a blow dryer on a cold setting), around the groin and under the arms can help prevent candida. Changing clothes after a sweaty workout is equally important.

Tinea, also caused by fungus, results in circular lesions that are usually about coin sized, typically red but sometimes white, in the case of tinea versicolor. My husband has a symbiotic relationship with this fungus due to all of his surfing – the moisture and warmth inside his wet suit creates the perfect environment for it to thrive. Treating and preventing tinea can be as simple and inexpensive as using a selenium sulfide based shampoo (such as Selsun Blue) as a body wash in affected areas (the fungus don’t like this). Apply and leave on for several minutes before rinsing off.

I’ll save plant fungal infections for a future post. For now, I hope this helps you keep your skin (and your plants) thriving, not just surviving!

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