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#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Holiday Gifting, How-to, Plant Care, Plant History, Plant of The Month

Marimo 101

January 2, 2018

The name Marimo (毬藻, Aegagropila linnaei) originated from Japanese botanist Tatsuhiko Kawakami: 毬 ‘mari’ = ball and 藻 ‘mo’ = generic term for aquatic plants!

The Marimo ‘Moss’ Ball, as it’s commonly called, is not moss at all – but a freshwater, filamentous green algal colony! Native to previously glaciated areas of the world including Japan, Russia, Iceland, and parts of North America – the Marimo’s round shape is the result of freshwater lake motion. And although Marimo live in water, they’re not as slimy as you’d think they are. They’re actually quite fluffy, almost velvety, in nature.

Pet Marimo - The Sill

MARIMO FAQs

1. How do I care my Marimo at home?
Clean, cool water – and minimal light!

The lakes that Marimo have evolved in are alkaline, calciferous lakes – so for the optimal health of your Marimo at home, always use filtered water. Because Marimo balls live at the bottom of lakes, and roll along the bottom with the current, they receive very little light. In caring for your Marimo – keep it out of direct sun. An hour or so of direct sun is tolerable, as long as the temperature of the water stays cool. Freshwater lakes, especially at the bottom where Marimo live, are cold – and temperatures can range from 5C to 35C.

2. What type of light source do I use?
Moderate to low, natural or artificial light will help keep your Marimo happy and healthy. An hour or so of direct sunlight is fine, as long as it is far away from a window, and the Marimo’s water doesn’t heat up.

Trio of Marimo balls - The Sill

3. Do I need to change the water? What water do I use?
Although tap water is OK, we prefer to use either brita-filtered water, or bottled water. If possible, change your Marimo’s water once every two weeks.

4. What should I do when changing water?
Gently squeeze your Marimo to remove any dirt trapped in it’s fluff, then roll your Marimo back and forth on a soft surface, like your palm, to help it retain its circular shape.

Gently roll your Marimo in your palm to help it retain its circular shape - The Sill

5. How long will my Marimo live?
Marimos are slow growers – growing one or two tenths of an inch a year. However, the world’s largest Marimo is almost 40 inches in diameter, making it an estimated 200+ years old. Your Marimo can last for decades with the proper care and environment.

6. Help! My Marimo is changing in color. 
A yellow or brown Marimo is a sick Marimo. Your Marimo could be receiving too much sunlight, have an infection, or its water quality could have decreased. We recommend washing your Marimo under running water, replacing its water, and adding some salt. Make sure to use aquarium salt – not table salt! You can find it on Amazon, or at your local pet store. Add this directly to your Marimo’s container – about 5% of your water volume.

7. How long can a Marimo last without water? 
If conditions are ideal – Marimos can live for one month without water.

Marimo balls - The Sill

8. Will my Marimo float or sink?
Your Marimo will spend its majority of time at the bottom of its container, like it would in its native lake environment. However, a Marimo does perform photosynthesis, and makes oxygen. These oxygen bubbles may make your Marimo float up to the surface of the water for a period of time. The more sun your Marimo receives, the more oxygen it will produce. You can also make your Marimo float by squeezing the water out of it, but we don’t recommend toying with them too often – they’re happiest when left to float or sink on their own.

9. Will my Marimo reproduce? 
Your Marimo might reproduce when large enough and kept in a large container. You will see a bump growing on your Marimo – that’s a baby Marimo in the making. We do not recommend forcing your Marimo to reproduce by splitting it in two – more often than not, it will not be able to bounce back.

10. Is there anyway to get my Marimo to grow faster?
Marimo are slow growers! Be patient. Lower water temperatures, better water quality, and an extremely diluted amount of fertilizer can help. More light equals more growth, so a few hours of sunlight can also give your Marimo a boost, but be very careful not to cook your Marimo in direct light.

11. Can my Marimo survive in a fully sealed container?
A Marimo can survive in fully sealed container, but we recommend picking one with a loose lid, which will allow your marimo to breathe with its environment.

Happy Marimo - The Sill

12. Fun Fact
According to a Japanese legend, there were two lovers who longed to be together. One, the daughter of a tribe chief; the other a poor commoner. When the chief forbade them from being together – the couple ran away, fell into the water, and became Marimo balls – able to live together forever. Because of this, Marimo balls, sometimes referred to as ‘love plants’, are thought to bring luck, love, and happiness, and have the ability to heal a broken heart.

P.S. ADOPT YOUR VERY OWN MARIMO: Shop now.

 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Plant Care

Our Favorite Air-Purifying Houseplants

December 28, 2017

Indoor plants don’t just look good – they make us feel good mentally and physically, too. Studies have shown indoor plants…

– Boost morale, productivity, concentration, and creativity
– Reduce stress, fatigue, sore throats, and colds
– Improve indoor air quality by absorbing toxins, increasing humidity, and producing oxygen
– Improve offices by softening sterile interiors, dividing areas, and reducing noise levels
– Are pleasing to look at and therapeutic to care for

This is because the presence of plants improves indoor air quality, and improved indoor air can positively impact our overall health and wellbeing.

Have you heard of Sick Building Syndrome? The term is used to describe symptoms experienced by individuals working or living in large commercial buildings – when no other cause can be detected for their illness. Dr. Bill Wolverton, a leading scientist in NASA’s Clean Air Study (1989), explains, “When the building occupants are away for a given time, the symptoms usually diminish, only to recur upon re-entry into the building.” These symptoms can include sudden allergies; irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; headache, dizziness, and fatigue; respiratory and sinus congestion; and nervous system disorders.

What’s the cause of the majority of these symptoms? Indoor air pollution. Not great news when the Environmental Protection Agency estimates Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. Indoor air pollution is generally a consequence of toxic emissions from synthetic building materials, airborne mold, viruses, and pollutants – along with energy efficient construction, like making spaces as airtight as possible, which reduces the circulation of air. These contributors release toxin emissions such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene.

It is important to try to improve your indoor air quality in the home and office even if symptoms are not noticeable. And one of the best ways to do that is with indoor plants. Plants absorb these harmful toxins, break them down into gentle organic byproducts, and store them in their soil to use later for food!

Not only can the presence of indoor plants lead to a decrease in Sick Building Syndrome symptoms, but studies have shown that, where indoor plants have been installed, office work performance increased, staff wellbeing improved, and sick-leave absences were reduced (see lean vs green study).

In addition to the benefits associated with improved indoor quality, contact with nature in general has been shown to reduce mental fatigue and stress, and increase relaxation and self-esteem. Even brief exposure to nature has been shown to make us more altruistic and cooperative. In a 2013 study, touching real foliage – rather than fake foliage made from resin – was shown to elicit an unconscious calming effect on participates.

We are only beginning to understand the impact indoor air quality has on our mental health and work performance – but we do know it is a positive one.

FAVORITE AIR-PURIFYING PLANTS:

1. Snake Plant

This no-fuss tropical plant has thin, upright leaves with irregular banding that resemble the skin of a reptile. Its adaptations for surviving drought make it a suitable plant choice for anyone, anywhere.

Snake Plants have been shown to filter benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene.

2. Pothos

Nicknamed the cubicle plant at our office, the Pothos is our go-to for brown-thumbed clients with less than ideal conditions. Like the similar-looking Philodendron, the Pothos’s trailing vines can grow to over 10 feet long.

The Pothos has been shown to filter benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene.

3. Rubber Plant

A popular houseplant, this variety of ficus has thick upright stems with glossy, oversized leaves that can store water in case of drought. They prefer bright to moderate indirect light.

Rubber Plants have been shown to filter formaldehyde.

4. ZZ plant

A ZZ Plant is a spectacular choice for any low-light environment. They are extremely dry-tolerant and low maintenance. In addition, the plant meaning of ZZ is prosperity and friendship, making it a gift choice for a beginner!

5. Bird’s Nest Fern

The Bird’s Nest Fern is characterized by ripple-edged fronds that grow out of a nest-like crown. It makes for a lovely hanging plant indoor. They thrive in indirect light and a humid environment.

Ferns have been shown to filter formaldehyde, xylene and toluene.

6. Philodendron

In the right indoor conditions, the Philodendron’s heart-shaped leaves and trailing vines can trail to over 10 feet long, making it the perfect plant for a high shelf. Did we mention it has a reputation of being one of the easiest houseplants to grow?

Philodendrons have been shown to filter formaldehyde.

*NASA recommends 1 potted plant per every 100 square feet of space. For more information, check out NASA’s Clean Air Study and Dr. B.C. “Bill” Wolverton’s “How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants That Purify Your Home or Office”.

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Plant Care

The Benefits of Houseplants In Your Home Infographic

November 2, 2017

Fellow plant enthusiast and Sill fan Kacey made this wonderful infographic on the benefits of houseplants and we knew we had to share! 

Kacey Bradley is the lifestyle and travel blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Along with writing for her blog, she frequently writes for sites like US Travel News, Thought Catalog, Style Me Pretty, Tripping.com and more! 

Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts. 

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Holiday Gifting

Thoughtful Hostess Gift Ideas

October 27, 2017

There’s something about the fall that makes us nostalgic. It’s a great season to spend quality time with friends and family, in between shopping for new cozy sweaters and prepping your plants for the shorter days ahead, of course. So you don’t show up empty handed, we’ve rounded up seven of our favorite host and hostess gifts that we’d be thrilled to receive this fall. Not included – but equally as special – anything homemade and delicious!

1. Reusable Beverage Bottle ($35) via S’well – shop now
This reusable bottle keeps beverages hot for 12 hours- perfect for the cold weather ahead!

2. Keytag in Dustry Rose ($15) via The Wing – shop now
The perfect mantra and reminder for your mom, sister, babe, best friend… anyone.

3. 90s Pop Music Quiz Game ($12) via Lou & Grey – shop now
This pop trivia game is sure to be a hit. Added bonus, it comes in a coffee-table worthy box!

4. Potted Philodendron Plant (48) via The Sill – shop now
It’s time to bring the outdoors in, and this tropical plant makes it easy by coming pre-potted in our locally-made August ceramic planter.

5. Body Hero Wash and Cream ($35) via Glossier – shop now
Treat your hostess to this cult favorite. She’ll be thanking you for her dewy skin all winter long.

6. Glass Candle in Forest ($22) via Madewell – shop now
They’ll be sure to appreciate this warm, wintery scent long after you’re gone.

7. 30-Minute Facial Gift Card ($60) via HEYDAY – shop now
As they point out on their website: “A facial? I really don’t want this gift,” said no one ever.
*Outside of NYC? Opt for a gift card to their online store instead.

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Holiday Gifting, Plant History, Style Tips

Behind The Names of Our Planters and Plant Pots

October 27, 2017

Meet the movers and shakers in the botanical and landscape world that our locally-made, designed-in-house, indoor planters and plant pots are named after!

AUGUST

The August planter is named after Augusto Weberbauer (1871-1948), a German botanist and professor that began his career studying Peruvian seagrass. On Weberbauer’s first trip to Peru, he collection over 5,200 seagrass species. He also spent time teaching at Peru’s National University of San Marcos.

The ceramic August planter is locally made in New Jersey through the method of slipcast. The tapered bottom of the pot gives it a classic feel, yet its simplicity makes it quite modern. It comes paired with a matching saucer to catch extra water that escapes its drainage hole.

 

OLMSTED

The Olmsted pot is named after Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), an American landscape architect who is considered to be the father of American landscape architecture. Olmsted is most famous for co-designing Central Park in New York City, along with Calvert Vaux, and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Although deceased, his work continues to influence landscape architecture in the U.S. today! 

The rectangular, ceramic planter was designed in-house and is manufactured locally in New Jersey through the method of slipcast. Because there is no drainage hole at the bottom of the pot, we ship the Olmsted with lava rocks to line the bottom with before potting.

 

CALVERT

The Calvert pot is named after Calvert Vaux (1824-1895), a British-American architect and landscape designer who is best known for co-designing Central Park in New York City along with Frederick Law Olmsted. Together, Vaux and Olmsted also co-designed Prospect Park, Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, and Morningside Park in Manhattan. Unfortunately Vaux met his untimely fate when he drowned in Brooklyn’s Gravesend Bay. 

Similar to the Olmsted in shape, but smaller in scale, this ceramic pot is manufactured locally in New Jersey through the method of slipcast. Because there is no drainage hole at the bottom of the pot, we ship the Calvert with lava rocks to line the bottom with before potting.

 

JULES

The Jules planter is named after Jules Cardot (1860-1934), a French botanist and bryologist who was considered to be one of the world’s leading experts on Antarctica’s mosses during his lifetime. Cardot named about 40 genera and 1,200 species. Unfortunately, his collection of plant specimens was looted and damaged during the first World War. 

The ceramic Jules planter is a petite triangular shape with a matching seamless saucer. It is locally made in New Jersey through the method of slipcast. Its triangular shape lends itself to being grouped together to create a circle or semicircle – but it also looks great solo.

 

EZRA

The Ezra planter is named after Ezra Cornell (1807-1874), the founder of Western Union and Cornell University. A lifelong enthusiast of agriculture, he also served as President of the New York Agriculture Society. Fun fact – it is claimed that Ezra Cornell wrote over 30,000 letters in his lifetime.

The ceramic Ezra pot and saucer are portioned to fit almost any sized sill. The petite pot is perfect for a starter plant, or for propagating a leaf cut from a larger plant. The locally made slipcast pot comes with a matching saucer to catch extra water that escapes its drainage hole.

 

TILLANDZ

The Tillandz stand is named after Elias Tillandz (1640-1693), a Swedish-born doctor and botanist who wrote Finland’s first botanical book: Catalogus Plantarum. As a doctor, Tillandz relied heavily on his extensive knowledge of plants to prepare medicines for his patients. The air plant genus Tillandsia was named after him. 

Locally made in New Jersey, the Tillandz stand is cut by a CNC plasma cutter and then powder coated. It can sit upright on a flat surface, or be attached to a wall for a solo or multi-piece display. It is lightweight enough to adhere with a single Command Strip, or there’s a small hole on the back of each stand that can accommodate a screw. 

 

Shop our locally-made indoor planters and plant pots empty HERE – or potted HERE

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Behind The Scenes, Plant Care, Plant History

Pumpkin Spice Season

October 23, 2017

It’s officially Pumpkin Spice season! Which makes us curious, if not Starbucks, where did pumpkin spice come from? And what about it makes it so popular? To begin, we have to go back a few thousand years… (pre-Starbucks, that is.

view from above: latte and succulent

view from above: latte and succulent

Pumpkins are within the plant family Cucurbitaceae, and are related to cucumbers, squash, watermelons, cantaloupes, and gourds. The species, Cucurbita pepo, produces the pumpkin. The pumpkin itself is botanically a fruit – not a vegetable – as it comes from a flower, and has seeds. Being native to the New World, pumpkins were first domesticated in Central America about 7,500 years ago. These pumpkins were small, hard, and bitter – dramatically different from the pumpkins of today. They were grown primarily for their flesh, rather than their seeds.

Cucurbita pepo is a vining annual, able to be planted in most parts of the United States after the danger of last frost passes. It will take the whole season to produce pumpkins. It has been a vital part of the Native American planting tradition called “three sisters” – where gourds (pumpkins), corn, and beans are planted together. The corn provides a trellis for the beans, which provide the nitrogen for the corn to use, and the gourds cover the base of the bean and corn plants, and the surrounding area, suppressing any weeds that might try to grow. 

pumpkins galore

pumpkins galore

Like many plants that were domesticated, the wild ancestor of today’s bright orange pumpkin was small and came in different colors. Through selective breeding, the largest and most orange colored ones, and least-bitter ones, were chosen, consumed, and regrown.

After French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding “gros melons.” The name was translated into English as “pompions,” which has since evolved into the modern “pumpkin.” When the European settlers came to America, the native peoples shared with them the pumpkin as a food.  Spices were added to the pumpkins to make them more palatable.

today's traditional pumpkins

today’s traditional pumpkins

Pumpkin spice is actually a spice for pumpkins. In-fact, pumpkin spice contains no pumpkin at all! It is made up of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Merely a flavoring for pumpkin, the spice was marketed in the 1930s as “pumpkin pie spice” by popular spice and seasoning companies like McCormick. It was eventually shortened to simply “pumpkin spice”.  

So does your pumpkin spice latte actually contain any pumpkin? A little pumpkin puree, maybe.

 

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Plant History

A Horticulturalist’s Halloween

October 20, 2017

In honor of Halloween, meet twelve strange and bizarre plants from around the globe below!

1. Buddha’s Hand (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis
This extremely fragrant citron-variety of shrub or small tree has long thorny branches from which hang fruit segmented into finger-like sections! The rind of the fruit is commonly used in cooking for its zest. Its origin can be traced back to northeastern India and China.

2. Split Rock (Pleiospilos nelii)
The common name of this flowering succulent refers to the appearance of its leaves. Stemless, there is a deep fissure in the middle, with two or four opposite leaves surrounding it. Its resemblance of a small rock might have evolved as a defense mechanism against predators. It is native to South Africa.

3. Brain Cactus (Mammillaria elongata f. cristata)
The eery shape of this cactus generally occurs due to injury at a young age or a mutation which causes a hormonal imbalance within the plant.  The normally dormant lateral buds start to grow unregulated and out of control. It is covered with harmless but prickly spines, and should be handled with care (or gloves). In its native habitat of central Mexico, it produces white or yellow flowers in the springtime.

4. Old Man Cactus (Cephalocereus senilis) 
This tall, columnar species is categorized by a shaggy coat of long, white hairs. Historically, the hair has been used as a cheap alternative to cotton! As the plant ages, it beings to lose its silvery mane. It is native to Guanajuato and Hidalgo in eastern Mexico, although its mass appeal means it is now threatened in the wild.

5. Sticks On Fire (Euphorbia tirucalli)
Here at The Sill, we call the Euphorbia tirucalli by its other common name – Pencil Plant. This plant, native to Africa, produces a poisonous latex which can be converted to the equivalent of gasoline! The white, milky substance is used in traditional medicine in many cultures – yet research shows it might actually suppress the immune system… Bottomline: look but don’t touch… and don’t consume either.

6. Pitcher Plant (Nepenthes
This carnivorous plant has dangling pouches filled with a syrupy fluid that captures and drowns prey! Another common name for it is Monkey Cups, which refers to the fact that monkeys have been observed drinking rainwater from them in their natural habitat, across the Old World tropics.

Photos via Wikipedia 

7. Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula
The carnivorous flytrap’s leaves are trigged by tiny hairs on their inner surfaces that help them know to snap shut, trapping prey! Although the speed of closing leaves vary depending on the environment and type of prey – it can generally be used as an indicator of the plant’s health. It is native to wetlands on the East Coast!

8. Dracula Orchid (Dracula sergioi
The name Dracula means “little dragon”, which refers to the two long spurs of the sepals enclosing the orchid’s piranha-like mouth. It is a epiphytic species of orchid in the genus Dracula, and is said to smell like mushrooms! This is to help trick mushroom-pollinating fruit flies, to populate the orchids as well. Most Dracula Orchids call Antioquia, Colombia home.

9. Ghost Plant (Monotropa uniflora
This herbaceous perennial plant, also known as the corpse plant, is commonly white or pale pink with black flecks. It does not contain chlorophyll – instead it generates energy through parasitism! – making it great for dark environments, like dense forest floors. It is native to temperate regions across the world, including North America.

10. Doll’s Eyes (Actaea pachypoda)
This herbaceous perennial plant and its globular white fruit with black, iris-like center are poisonous to humans! The fruit contains cardio-genic toxins which have a sedative effect on the human cardiac muscle tissue – but are harmless to birds, the plant’s primary seed dispersers. They are native to North America – although we haven’t yet seen one in the wild!

11. Black Bat Flower (Tacca chantrieri)
The Tacca chantrieri is a species of flowering plant with rare, black bat-shaped flowers that can grow up to a foot across while its ‘whiskers’ can grow over two feet long! They are native to tropical regions of Southeast Asia, like Thailand, Malaysia, and the Yunnan Province of southern China. Understory plants – they prefer to lurk in the shade.

12. Devil’s Tooth (Hydnellum peckii)
This inedible fungus has a mutually beneficial relationships with its host trees – it gives out minerals and amino acids in exchange for carbon. When the fungus is moist and healthy, its fruiting bodies ‘bleed’ a bright red juice, while poor health and age make it become brown and nondescript. You can find this funky-looking fungus in places in North America, Europe, and – more recently – Iran and Korea.

 

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, How-to, Style Tips

Halloween Costume Inspiration

October 18, 2017

Can you believe it’s mid-October already? We barely can! With Halloween less than two weeks away, we decided to round up a few of our favorite costume ideas from around the web. The only requirements? They have to be budget-friendly, plant-themed, and easy to DIY!

Our favorite is this classic Cactus Costume by Studio DIY. All you need is a green dress, some yarn, and a glue gun (or thread & needle). If it’s a bit chilly on come October 31st – simply add green leggings, or swap the form-fitting dress for an oversized hoodie and comfy sweats!

Dressing up with a buddy? Equally as charming is Studio DIY’s Pineapple Costume! Did you know the pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a bromeliad from the family Bromeliaceae? That’s the same family as air plants (Tillandsia). It is the only bromeliad that is a commercially important food crop. Most other bromeliads are grown simply for their good looks!

Have a little more time on your hands? The Houseplant Costume by Oh Happy Day below is slightly more involved then the two above… but oh so impressive! Added bonus – keep your candy away from greedy hands by adding a hidden pouch inside your burlap basket!

We’re thinking those crepe paper fronds (looks almost like a bird’s nest fern to us!) could be swapped for construction paper, whose sturdier shape would lend itself to some awesome oversized Monstera deliciosa leaves! Or opt for the real thing.

Looking for a creative costume with a bit more room to move around? This Potted Plant Hat by the super duper crafty blog The House That Lars Built is for you. The plant itself is made entirely of paper, making it incredibly light-weight (and removable if your plans change). If you’re not that crafty – opt for using fake foliage from your local craft store instead.

Also deserving of a mention is The House That Lars Built’s Bouquet Costume below. This doesn’t look like the easiest thing to move around in… but if you plan to spend Halloween night relaxing on your couch like I do, it’s absolutely perfect.

And if you are the kind of person that likes to subject your pets to costumes (isn’t that the whole point of having one?) – may we present, the Chia Pet:

Adorable mug not included.

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Plant Care

Go ‘Back To School’ with Our Top 10 Plant Care Tips!

September 14, 2017

THE SILL‘S​ ​TOP​ ​TEN​ ​PLANT​ ​CARE​ ​TIPS 

Because plants are for everyone. No “green thumb” required. 

1.​ ​Always​ ​pick​ ​your​ ​plant​ ​based​ ​on​ ​your​ ​light 

Our number one rule of thumb is to determine the amount of sunlight your space receives, and then to choose your plant accordingly! If you’re not sure just by looking – start by figuring out which direction the windows in your space face. If there’s something outside your window – a large tree or building, for example – that could obstruct sunlight, make sure to take that into consideration, too. Generally speaking:

South-facing windows = bright light 

East/West-facing windows = moderate light 

North-facing windows = low light 

Remember that most houseplants prefer bright (indirect*) light – be careful to protect them from intense direct sun. If the summer sun is intense enough to burn your skin, it’s certainly too much for your plant’s leaves! To protect your plants from burning, draw a sheer curtain during the day or move them a foot or two away from the window.

*For your tropical plants! Most cacti, and some other types of succulents like the aloe below, can handle bright, direct light. 

2.​ ​Be​ ​mindful​ ​of​ ​your​ ​work schedule + social​ ​life 

Be sure to consider your daily schedule, travel frequency, and general forgetfulness (nothing to be ashamed about!) when deciding on a new plant. If your absent-mindedness or crazy work schedule is what stands in the way of plant ownership – pick a plant that tolerates from neglect. For example – if you have bright light, try a bunch of super low-maintenance succulents; and if you have lower light, try a low-maintenance snake plant or ZZ plant.

If it’s just the opposite (re: plenty of time on your hands), try a bunch of air plants or a fern, which both like a little extra TLC – a daily spritz of purified water to keep humidity high.

3.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​better​ ​to​ ​underwater,​ ​than​ ​to​ ​overwater… 

Beware of over-watering – it’s the easiest way to kill a houseplant! You may be tempted to water your plant on a strict schedule, or create a Google Calendar alert (guilty!), but the best thing to do is to water it only when needed. Always check the soil first before giving it a drink to make sure it’s dry.

Keep in mind that environmental and seasonal changes can throw your plant’s watering schedule off. For example – plants need less water in the winter, when they’re growing slower, days are shorter, and light is less intense. But if you’re blasting your heater… their soil might dry out quicker, and they might need more. A telltale sign your plant is past due for a watering? Wilting leaves or soil pulling away from the sides of the planter. If the soil is darker in color and sticks to your finger, your plant should be fine for the time being.

Always use tepid water to water your plant! Water directly into the soil, around the base of the plant. Never water directly on top of the plant, as most plants do not absorb water through their leaves*. Let the potting soil soak up the water for half a day or so, then empty any remaining water from the saucer.

*Epiphytes, like the air plants (Tillandsia spp.) flanking the cacti below, are an exception to this tip. 

4.​ ​Increase​ ​humidity​ ​when​ ​necessary

For plants that prefer more humid conditions such as ferns, ivies, or some tropical plants, don’t be afraid to mist them using a small spray bottle in​-between regular waterings. During the dry months of winter, grouping your plants together also helps to create a more humid microclimate. A humidifier can help, too, and is an added bonus for your skin!

Keep in mind that drought-tolerant plants like succulents and cacti do not need added humidity – they don’t mind being dry! In fact, their native habitat – the desert – is pretty damn dry, and that’s how they like it. Misting them will do more harm than good.

Keeping a houseplant’s native environment in mind should always apply to your plant care routine. You are trying to recreate that environment inside your home to help your plant thrive. Most tropical plants prefer high humidity and bright to moderate, indirect light; while most desert dwellers prefer dry air and bright, direct light (there’s no shade in the desert!).

5.​ ​Keep​ ​your​ ​plant’s​ ​environment​ ​as​ ​stable​ ​as​ ​possible 

Plants, just like us, are most comfortable between 65 and 75 degrees F. Extreme fluctuation in a plant’s environment can seriously stress them out. Do your best to avoid placing your plant near temperature hazards like vents, radiators and exterior doors, which might create hot or cold spots and drafts.

6.​ ​It’s​ ​totally​ ​OK​ ​to​ ​skip​ ​fertilizer 

If you’re a plant novice, it’s OK to stay away from fertilizer. Too much fertilizer is another easy way to kill your plant. Plants get their minerals from the soil, and their food from the sun. Houseplants tend to not need fertilizer as often as outdoor plants do, and it is possible to have a healthy houseplant without additives. If you do choose to fertilizer your plant, it’s best to only do so during the growing season (early spring to early fall) and follow the general rule of thumb ‘less is more’. Most store-​bought fertilizers should be diluted with water before use.

Find our top 5 tips for fertilizing houseplants HERE.

7.​ ​Purchase​ ​a​ ​healthy​ ​plant​ ​from​ ​a​ ​reputable​ ​source 

Do your best to buy a quality plant from someone or somewhere with a little expertise. In most cases, you’ll want to stay away from larger department stores and supermarkets, where plants are stored in basements and dark warehouses, and instead stick to your local nurseries, garden centers, and specialty stores or florists. Definitely give your plant a once-​over before purchasing: watch out for yellowed leaves, powdery mildew, leaf spots, brown leaf tips, weak or wobbly stems and other obvious signs of poor plant health.

An added bonus of purchasing from a source with plant expertise – they can answer all your questions. Don’t be afraid to ask, either. Most people who sell or work with plants, love talking about them! (We definitely do.

8.​ ​Show​ ​a​ ​little​ ​extra​ ​TLC​ ​in​ ​the​ ​beginning 

Show your plant a little extra attention in the beginning of your plantship. When you bring a new plant home for the first time, establish a routine of checking in with it every 3 to 4 days to ensure it’s looking happy and healthy. A little extra attention can go a long way – and it can be pretty therapeutic, we promise. Slight environmental changes can cause fluctuations in the frequency of your care, so best not to just assume “every Monday is watering day for all my plants.”

Besides, it’s nice to check in and say “hello!” to your plant every few days. Watching it adapt and grow in its new environment can be fulfilling, even if you are not a first-time plant parent.

9.​ ​Do​ ​not​ ​be​ ​afraid​ ​to​ ​repot 

A common misconception – repotting does not necessarily mean putting your plant in a new planter, but rather, changing out your plant’s soil with fresh potting mix. This is because plants receive some of the nutrients they need to thrive from their soil. This is great news if you love your current planter.

If you’re looking to splurge on a new one to change up a space’s decor, or if you plant needs a little more wiggle room, try to choose a planter that is no more than 2 to 4 inches larger than the current planter, depending on your plant’s current size. You do not want your plant swimming in soil! Excess soil can lend itself to overwatering, and eventually root rot.

Find our signs you need to repot your plants, and steps for how-to, HERE.

10.​ ​Make​ ​sure​ ​your​ ​planter​ ​has​ ​drainage​ ​–​ ​or​ ​create​ ​it

Most plants are sold in plastic grow pots, which are not meant for long-term growth. More often than not, the plant has already overgrown it’s plastic pot at the nursery, and needs to be repotted into something more substantial. We recommend picking a planter slightly larger in size than the plant’s current grow pot, in a reliable material like ceramic, terra cotta, or fiberglass.

If your plant’s new planter does not have a drainage hole at the bottom of it to allow excess water to escape from the potting soil – it is extremely important to create makeshift drainage. You can do this by lining the bottom of your planter with rocks to create crevices for the water to drain into. Here at The Sill, we use lava rocks because of their porous nature. This added precaution helps you from overwatering your plants in the long run.

But most importantly, remember to have fun! Being a plant parent should be a positive experience. Enjoy learning about your new plants, caring for them, and watching them grow.

Questions about your particular plants? Email our help hotline at help@thesill.com

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, How-to, Plant Care, Plant Myth Mondays

USE MOISTURE-MANAGING POTTING SOIL FOR HOUSEPLANTS – PLANT MYTH MONDAYS #5

August 28, 2017
MONDAY 08.28.17 MYTH: YOU MUST USE MOISTURE-MANAGING POTTING SOIL FOR HOUSEPLANTS

Moisture managing soil is often soil that’s higher in peat and sphagnum content – which means that it holds onto water for longer. Here at The Sill, we’ve found that ‘moisture managing’ soil, although meant to be helpful, can do more harm than good. It can become a problem for your plant’s health when the soil surrounding its roots holds too much water for too long, especially for plants that prefer a dry environment like succulents. It is also extremely easy to overwater plants that are potted in moisture-managing potting soil! Generally speaking, we actually recommend not using it for your houseplants – but will make exceptions for plants that prefer to stay moist, like some types of ferns. Another thing to note – the moisture-holding ability can set up a perfect breeding ground for fungus gnats, and who really wants those hanging around their plants? Not us! Best to stick with regular ‘ole indoor potting soil when it comes to your house – and office – plants. 

Find previous Monday Plant Myths HERE.

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