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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Plant Care

Jesse Goldfarb, Plant Artist, @teenytinyterra

December 12, 2017

Our newest installment in our Tastemaker series features Canada-based plant artists – Jesse Goldfarb, aka @teenytinyterra! We came across his whimsical terrariums that he builds and wanted to know more about where his inspiration comes from. Check out our Q&A with Jesse below! photo via David Pike

Name: Jesse Goldfarb
Location: Toronto, Canada
Occupation: Plant Artist/Digital Marketer [at Hudson’s Bay]
Favorite plant:
Oh, great question. I go through little crushes with plants, but always find my way back to our
family’s Dwarf Barbados Cherry Bonsai. Making it happy enough to bloom is a fine art that is
rewarded with the sweet smell of hundreds of tiny cherry blossoms. When I first met my wife,
she had two bonsai and that’s what got me seriously into plants.

Can you share a little bit of background about yourself?
Sure. I grew up in Toronto. At school I was always bored; I wanted to do things rather than sit
around learning about the people who did them. My professional life has included a lot of
different jobs –– I’ve worked as a large-format screen printer, an apprentice to a corporate
events florist, a cold caller selling ads (which was actually fun), a DJ at raves and clubs (in my
heyday when I was way too young to be out all night), and spent too long in the salon industry
listening to stylists who believed they were saving the world. I ran social channels for mid-size
apparel companies before I started my current role in digital marketing. Now I do that during
the day, and play with plants evenings and weekends. I have a wonderfully patient wife and
daughter and another daughter on the way.

Can you share a little bit about your Instagram feed, @teenytinyterra?
@teenytinyterra is an outlet for me to share my creativity with terrariums, plants, moss and
everything tiny. I like to have fun with it and keep things fresh. 90% of my posts are shot from a
lighting shelf I installed aquarium lights on. As my plants are all very small, using this platform
makes it easy to move things around and create a different feel for each photo. My south-
facing kitchen windowsill is also a favorite spot for shooting, as the light is perfect for two hours
every day. (Timing a quick shoot using natural light is always a juggling act with a young family.)

What’s a secret skill you have?
I can whistle five different ways? Is that a skill? (Editor’s note: YES!)

What’s the best present you’ve given or received?
When I turned 18, my dad took me out for a birthday dinner with my grandparents. After the
main course he gave me a tiny model of a vintage Vespa. I thought it was great and all, but then
he threw me a set of keys to a full-size 1967 Vespa. It was a dream to drive when it worked
(which was 60% of the time). My love for both miniatures and Vespas began that day. Now I
own a 2005 150 cc Vespa. Every model manufactured after that year doesn’t seem to have the
brand’s classic look and feel.

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save?
If I was alone I’d grab a picture of my mother. She died when I was four years old and all I have
to remember her are some photos. If I was home with the fam, I’d throw them over my shoulder and jet out the door. I assume you want me to say plants, but they came from the earth and would be happy to feed other plants as ash.

What’s on your to-do list today?
Booking our family holiday to our favorite place in Mexico, Azul Fives, cleaning up after a
terrarium workshop I held over the weekend, watering plants, going ice skating with my
daughter, making bread pudding for a work event called Bakemas, and watching Christmas
movies on the couch with a few strong rum and eggnogs.

Do you have a “green thumb”?
Yes, but I believe everyone does. It’s about how much you want to invest in making your thumb
green, not if you naturally have one. When people say “I kill everything” it’s actually due to a
lack of interest.

Any plant care tips you can share?

  • Easy on the water, bro! Think of it this way: a person can live close to a week without water, but they’d die if submerged for more than three minutes. Your plants need air too, so don’t
    drown them.
  • Know your space and the light within it… Buy plants to suit that light.
  • Don’t buy a plant without knowing how much light it needs. It’s easier to adjust other conditions, but not as easy to adjust light.
  •  If you name your plants or dress up a dog, it’s time to start thinking about having a kid.

What tops your houseplant wish list?
More space and better light.
By the way, where do you shop for plants?
Sheridan Nurseries, Vallyview Gardens, Kim’s Nature and Plant World.

Favorite hobby: Cooking; Plants
Favorite television show: Currently? Stranger Things
Favorite movie: Cronos
Favorite food: Burrito (Duh, it has all four food groups)
Favorite weekend activity: Chilling with the family
Favorite home decor store: Thrift stores

Thank you so much, Jesse! Follow his Instagram page here if you would like. 

P.S Check out how Jesse builds a terrarium here under 24 seconds (not really though ;)).

P.P.S You can find more of our tastemaker series here, including plant time-lapse master @houseplantjournaland the lovely plant couple @warsawjungle

#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Interview, Plant History, Style Tips

Holiday Train Show at The New York Botanical Garden

December 8, 2017

Last Tuesday we had the honor to attend The New York Botanical Garden’s press preview for their annual Holiday Train Show. It was the perfect activity to do when the freezing temperatures are about to set in, and we’re all struggling to accept the long winter ahead of us.

The Holiday Train Show is an annual winter tradition at the NYBG. As soon as we walked in to the exhibit, we were dazzled by the liveness and intricateness of each famous New York landmark. We later learned that they are all made of natural materials such as bark, twigs, stems, fruit, seeds, and pine cones!

And this year, the 26th year of this beloved tradition, new replicas – Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, General Electric Building, and St. Bartholomew’s Church – joined the original 150 in NYBG’s collection. Being a New Yorker, there was nothing more excited than seeing all the famous landmarks and buildings in miniature sizes.

Insider Tip: You will hear different sound effects when you get closer to the miniatured landmarks. Try it!

Other visitor favorites include the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Terminal, and the original Yankee Stadium, all surrounded by large-scale model trains. More than 25 model trains and trolleys hummed along nearly a half mile of tracks! In addition, the new internal lighting schemes added more allure and wonder to the show.

After checking out the Holiday Train Show in its entirety, we wondered off to the Rainforest and Succulent showrooms. The incredible diversity of plants gives you a better understanding of how Mother Nature works.

Insider Tip: You will spot many common houseplants in their native habitats! Here at The Sill, we always say- you will make your plant happiest if you can mimic its native environment.

Here’s a short video for you to preview the show!

 

The Holiday Train Show is now open to the public and runs through Monday, January 15, 2018. For visitor information, visit their website here.

Insider Tip: Don’t miss it!

 

P.S Check out our Orchid show recap from last year here

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy

Earth Friendly Changes to Make in Your Home in the New Year – by Molly Kay

December 6, 2017

We cannot believe it’s almost time to say goodby to 2017. With the new year fast-creeping on us, we asked our friend, Molly Kay, to share how to make some friendly, earth-y changes at home. And more importantly, what changes can you make to have a big impact on the environment. Maybe make this your #newyearresolution 😉 ?

The new year is quickly approaching, and is a good time to reflect on the mark we are leaving on the world we inhabit. With so many large environmental issues that face us today, it’s normal to feel powerless and anxious about what the future may hold for our planet and its beautiful natural resources. We need champions of environmental causes, but even more so we need everyday people who are passionate about a sustainable future to know that they can have an influence as well. Here are a few small things to consider changing in your home in the new year….

 

Start a Collection of House Plants

There is something about being surrounded by greenery that makes you feel fresh and energized. Keeping plants on your desk at work or different rooms in your home can be aesthetically pleasing, and can help you feel more productive and less stressed. As you may have guessed, there is also a significant environmental benefit to bring plants into our living and working spaces. Plants help keep air temperatures down and naturally purify the air we breathe. Specifically, houseplants lower levels of carbon dioxide, benzene and nitrogen dioxide, which are all harmful to humans and mother nature. Check out this infographic for a variety of different house plants and the different benefits they can have in your home.

 

Buy from you Local Fruit Stand or Farmer’s Market

Growing up in the Northeast, I was never too far away from a local fruit and vegetable stand. My mom and I would often walk to a stand down the street from us during the spring and summer to pick up a basket of apples or half a dozen cobs of corn. As I grew older, I came to understand the impact that shopping locally can have on your community and the environment. Not only does buying from your local farmer’s market support hardworking members of your community, but it also cuts down on the amount of plastic packaging that you are bringing into your home. There are so many benefits to checking out the local market, but my favorites are cutting down on harmful waste and putting more money back into your community…a win-win for you and the earth!

 

Incorporate Eco-Friendly Furniture

If you are looking to furnish your home, or just add a few new pieces, take into consideration the environmental impact that your furniture may have. There are many furniture companies today that care about protecting the Earth and that are striving to make their products from recycled materials. Arhaus is one company that draws inspiration from the natural world and is involved in an environmental initiative with the American Forests where they plant a tree for every purchase made during their storewide sale. This could make a big difference when considering one mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds per year. Arhaus follows through on their mission, making their sectional couches from organic fabric and renewable material, and never from trees in our endangered forests.

 

Start your own Compost Pile

To maximize your environmental impact in 2018 and minimize your carbon footprint, consider starting–literally–in your own backyard. Starting a compost pile inside or outside of your home can have a number of benefits. When trash decays in landfills, it can contribute to Composting can make soil healthier and decreases the amount of trash contributing to landfills. When trash decays in landfills, it can release methane and other greenhouse gases. I always thought composting sounded like a daunting task, until I actually looked into it. With a few simple instructions and ingredients, you can have your own compost pile flourishing in no time.  

 

Thank you so much, Molly! Molly is a self-described tree hugger, and enjoys hiking and running on the weekends. During the week she works as the community manager at Arhaus

P.S Check out their Facebook here and Instagram here

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Plant Care, Plant Myth Mondays

YOU MUST FERTILIZE YOUR HOUSEPLANTS ALL YEAR ROUND – PLANY MYTH MONDAY #13

November 17, 2017


MONDAY 11.13.17 MYTH: You must fertilize your houseplants all year round

All plants, like all humans, need vitamins and minerals to grow big and strong!  When plants are in the wild, they have plenty of access to the world, and a theoretically infinite supply of nutrients (the Earth is an isolated system, so not actually infinite).  However, when growing plants in a container, they are essentially stranded on a desert isle with no real means of going beyond the pot.  And that’s where you come in (hello plant parents)!  

Plants that you just purchase on a whim are usually heavily fertilized by the growers. They are good to stay in the same pot and soil for up to a year.  Yet, as the plant exhausts its supply of nutrients in the soil over time, you must replenish them for the continued health of the plant (you probably are not aware of this, but every time you water your plant, nutrients unavoidably leach out of the soil). This can be done by either using a fertilizer of your choice, or by changing the soil with fresh soil, which comes with a baseline of nutrients.

How to Fertilize your plant

Fertilize your plants only once a month when plants are flowering or actively growing. What that mean is, you only give plant food from the spring time to end of summer time. During the winter,  plants are generally not growing much, so giving your plants fertilizer can only do more harm then good. Also, be careful not to add too much fertilizer at once—too much can burn your plant’s roots! Finally, read the instructions carefully before you apply any fertilizer. We usually recommend applying half the strength that the label suggests. Also keep in mind that faster growing plants, like a pothos, will want more frequent applications than slow growers, like a snake plant.

Things to keep in mind

Fertilizers are not your cure-all! If you see a plant is wilting, yellowing, or browning, it may be a telltale sign of a problem. Take the time to analyze the symptoms before you feed the plant food. Think of your vitamins, you wouldn’t take extra so that you can cure your toothache, right?  Adding fertilizer when a plant does not need it, or when a plant is actually sick, can be worse than doing nothing at all.

Fertilizer will only work on healthy plants, or plants that need the extra oomph 😉 Do you have any tips when it comes to fertilizer? Please share it with us in the comment below.

P.S Read more debunked Plant Myth Monday HERE.

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Interview, Plants on TV

Liz Kirby, Host and Author, The Indoor Garden

November 8, 2017

For our latest tastemaker series, we are so honor to introduce you to Liz Kirby. We were first introduced to her by a fellow workshop attendant, we were soon hooked on Liz’s genuine personality and informative plant care tips on her Youtube channels. Liz was in the plant world before the #urbanjubgle was even a thing. She is the plant lady you definitely don’t want to miss out! 

Meet Liz

 Name:  Liz Kirby

Location:  Arlington, VA

Occupation:  Realtor, Host of “The Indoor Garden” TV series and Author of the corresponding blog

Favorite Plant:  I have such a great appreciation, in general, for all plants that I just can’t say that I have a favorite. I have favored Aralias and orchids for my home.                                         

Can you share a little bit of background about yourself?   Like many eighteen-year-olds,   I did not know what I would want to study in college. Fortunately, after I graduated from high school, a friend of mine who sold wholesale plants from Florida had the thought that I might enjoy a job in a plant store and he found one for me.  So I did that instead of getting a college degree. I truly enjoyed working there with great people who taught me a lot about indoor plants. I ended up working in the horticulture and floriculture field for twenty-five years.

For those who haven’t watched The Indoor Garden on YouTube, can you share a little bit about the series?  The idea was conceived around 1988. For a long time, I felt that the general public did not get very good specific instructions on growing houseplants. There were some books but  sometimes they just got vague or even wrong instructions. Lots of good experience and a few good  books were my best teacher.  I met many customers who truly believed they could not grow plants and I was sure they could. I thought doing a television series on the care and appreciation of indoor plants would be a great way to share what I had learned. It aired for three years on a local PBS station. When YouTube came along I saw the opportunity to share plant care all over again. The show was videotaped but translates pretty well to a digital format.

What’s a secret skill you have?   I don’t think I have any that I would keep a secret. One skill I have and wish I used more, is that I can very easily come up with a harmony to many songs. It’s one skill I couldn’t teach, it just comes naturally.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received?   Friendship

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save?   The living things

What’s on your to-do list today?   Some housekeeping, getting the hummingbird feeder out, finding a rental apartment for a lovely woman from New Jersey and to catch up on correspondence

What is your favorite plant and why?  It’s difficult to pinpoint one but since I began learning about them, I’ve thought that ferns were amazing. They make you think. As best we know, they have lived on the earth longer than just about any other group of plants. You can find them all over the world. They appear somewhat delicate and fragile, but are they?

Do you have a “green thumb”?  I do now. I had to cultivate it, so that enabled me to encourage others that they could too. I heard many times from others that they did not have a ‘green thumb” and I just don’t accept that. I truly believe anyone who wants to, can develop that skill.

Any plant care tips you can share?  Watering plants once a week is not a good rule of thumb. It’s usually best to start out with hardier varieties if you are just beginning to learn how to grow plants. Get good instructions and look for an expert if your plant is not doing well. Most plants will recover and thrive with the right instructions.  

What tops your houseplant wish list?  If I had the space, I would love a cymbidium orchid.

How did The Indoor Garden television series start?   I befriended a television producer who had a local TV series airing in the area. I had the thought that a television series could be a great way to teach what I had learned about indoor plants, so I started looking into how to make that possible.

Do you have a favorite episode or show memory?  I especially enjoyed having guests on the show. It was quite easy to work with them.

Do you think there’s been a resurgence interest of houseplants recently?  It seems to be going that way. There are many different types of retail outlets and online places that have been selling plants for a long time. I do believe they’d stop if interest was low.

Any words of advice for plant novices?   Don’t give up if you aren’t very successful at first. There are many easy-to-grow plants and you may want to buy your first plants at a plant store, garden center or nursery where someone should be informed enough to help you choose a plant that suits you. For example, a busy person may want a large plant that doesn’t need water often. Make sure your plants are placed in the best light situation for your particular plant. Find out how to water them properly.  Those two aspects of care, light and correct watering, are most important to success.

Thank you so much, Liz!

PS: Check out more of our tastemakers series here 

 

 

 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Plant Care, Plant Myth Mondays

All Houseplants Have the Same Watering Requirements – PLANT MYTH MONDAYS #12

November 7, 2017

MONDAY 11.6.17 MYTH: All houseplants have the same watering requirements

image via here

With over-watering being the most common cause of death for indoor plants (RIP), it is important to first understand how over-watering can kill your plants. Imagine yourself standing still in a pool of water – your feet would get prunes after 30 minutes, right? Now imagine what your skin would feel like after 3 to 6 months standing in water… Definitely not great. When the roots of a plant are surrounded by water constantly, they can’t absorb oxygen. Plants need water and oxygen to survive and thrive. But over-watering kills the plant by rotting the roots – and preventing the plant from absorbing that much-needed oxygen.

There’s no universal answer to “how much water should I give my plant?” The amount can depend on the type of plant you have, where it is located in your space, the type and size of the pot it is potted in, your environment, and so much more… But it is important to understand generally how much and how frequently your plant likes to be watered. Different plants require different care and attention, but you can usually label them within one of two categories:

Dry-tolerant Plants

Succulent plants, like the cactus, snake plant, and aloe may only want to be watered once every few weeks. During the summer growing season, the most frequently you might find yourself watering them is once every few days. But during the dormant winter, it could be once every few months! We always recommend erring on the under-watering side, than the over-watering for these guys. Once their roots are rotted, there are no going back, sadly. So it’s best to keep them super dry – and only water when they start to wrinkle. 

Moisture-loving Plants

Ferns, air plants, and most tropical plants that are natives to environments with high humidity, may need to be watered thoroughly once a week depending on how much sun they are receiving. During the peak of summer, you may even find yourself watering even more frequently, like twice of three times a week! 

The best way to know when it is time to water your indoor plants is to touch the soil, or potting mix. Poke your forefinger down about 1 to 2 inches deep. If the plant’s soil is dry to the touch, than it is generally time to re-water! But if the soil feels moist still, almost like a sponge, you can wait a little longer to water it until the soil has mostly dried out.

Make sure to water the plant until the water comes out of the bottom of the planter (if you have a drainage hole). This will guarantee that the bottom roots in the planter have gotten water as well. However, make sure to dump out any excess water that’s sitting in the saucer! Lastly, keep in mind that if a plant wilts, it doesn’t always mean it is thirsty! Yes – you should still double check the soil before giving it water.

Read more of our Monday Plant Myths HERE, including everything you need to know about your potting soil, and why you should never mist succulents!

 

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Plant Care, Plant Myth Mondays

Houseplants Don’t Need Sunlight – PLANT MYTH MONDAYS #11

October 30, 2017

MONDAY 10.23.17 MYTH: Houseplants don’t need sunlight

Absolutely not true – saying houseplants don’t need sunlight is like saying humans do not need food to grow. Sunlight is food to plants. And food is energy that plants need to grow bigger and stronger. However, how much sunlight does your plant need? How much sunlight is enough

I am sure you have heard people saying “bright light”, “medium light”, and “low light” before, along with “direct light” and “indirect right”, when talking about houseplants. But what are these terms referring to? See their simplified definitions below:

Bright/Direct Light

Bright light, or full sun, means there are no curtains or blinds between the plant and the sunny window. There’s no tree, building, or anything outside the window to obstruct the light either. For example, the windowsill that’s right next to your widow is generally where your plant will receive the most light inside.

Medium/Filtered light

Medium or filtered sunlight is diffused by your curtains in the window. There also might be a building in front of your widows blocking some of your light during the day. Coffee tables or dressers that are few feet away is another example of medium light and a filtered light environment.

Low light

This means no direct sun will touch your plants. It is generally few feet a way from your widow (light source), or sometimes in a room without window with only artificial light.

Test

When in doubt, you can always do a shadow test to determine how much light your environment actually provides. Take a sheet of paper and put it where you would like to have your plant around mid-day on a sunny day. Now hold your hand a foot or so over the paper. If you see a clear, sharp shadow, that means you have a bright light environment. Like how you go to the beach and your shadow is vivid and clear on the sandy ground. On the other hand, you probably have a low light environment if the shadow is fuzzy and indistinguishable. Image on raining days when you can barely see your shadow walking down the street.

Plants

Aloes, succulents, and palm trees – are sun loving plants. Ideally, they should be getting direct sun for at least 6 hours a day. Generally speaking, you would want to put them the brightest spot you have at home. For example, your windowsills or coffee table that’s right next to your window.And some plants – like ferns and aroid plants (monsteras, aglaonemas, etc.) – have evolved to live on the forest floor, so they are used to being shaded from the sun. They have not evolved to handle the harsh rays of the sun directly and cannot protect themselves against them (like desert-dwelling cacti can). These types of plants, that prefer indirect light similar to their native environment, are perfect for inside spots away from windows. Hence, the medium or low light environment is great.

Remember sunlight is food for plants. When bringing a new plant home, make sure you understand how much natural sunlight your space can provide, and visa versa, how much natural sunlight your plant needs. In ideal situations, as in nature, a little bit of natural sunlight, even just a splash of light, is always better than none!  No natural light = no happy plants.

PS: Read more debunked Plant Myth Monday here, including where you put your plants and how much water to give your plants.

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview

Beata Malyska and Remek Zawadzki, @warsawjungle

October 25, 2017

Our newest installment in our Tastemaker series features Poland-based artists and plant lovers – Beata Malyska and Remek Zawadzki! We came across their Instagram and wanted to know more about their inspiration for incorporating plants into their living space. Check out our Q&A with Beata and Remek below! 

Name(s): Beata Malyska and Remek Zawadzki

Location: Warsaw, Poland

Occupation: Beata is a visual artist, Remek occupies himself with sounds

Favorite Plant: Beata: rose geranium, Remek: mirabelle plum tree

Can you share a little bit of background about yourselves? 

Beata: I work with visual arts such as photography and video. I graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Recently in my artistic work I focus on exploring the history of the war that happened in the 90s in the Balkans, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I work in music marketing company.

Remek: I deal with sound, record it, create it, destroy it, transform it. I produce music, record artists, do sound design, mix songs, write songs, score animations, play instruments. Whatever’s needed.

Together we made an exhibition of photography, video and sound (entitled „Nienaturalnie“). We created „Warsaw Sound Postcards“ – a series of ten playable vinyls with field recordings and photos of the places where the sound was recorded. We also made a short film about greenery in Warsaw for Goethe-Institut.

Can you share a little bit about your Instagram feed – @warsawjungle

Warsaw Jungle is a platform of exchanging inspirations which unites enthusiasts of plants, photography and interior design. Most often we upload photographs made in our little one-room apartment, which is quite a challenge for creativity – it’s not easy to make a new picture in the same 24 square metres. We also present photos made in homes of our families, friends, as well as pictures sent to us by Warsaw dwellers. We want to show through our blog that living in city doesn’t mean losing contact with nature.

What’s a secret skill you have? 

Beata: I‘m never fed up with vacuum cleaning.

Remek: My secret skill is keeping secrets.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received? 

Beata: It was my dachshund, Maja. I received her when I was 9 years old, we spent together almost 15 years.

Remek: I’m not really a presents person, I’m happy being absent 😉

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save? 

Beata: I hope it won’t! But if, I’d grab albums with photographs and portable disks (with photographs too). Without photographs, my memory would be lost. If I had more time, I would take plants. Photography and plants are my two loves.

Remek: Can’t decide. It’s everything or nothing, either you have the whole space, or you don’t. It’s the presence that makes the space important. Would be nice to catch a plant or two though, after all they are living organisms.

What’s on your to-do list today? 

Beata: Working, learning Croatian, cooking, preparing photographs and texts for upcoming exhibitions and hyggelig. And of course – vacuuming!

Remek: Buying fruit and vegetables for half of the week, working on songs of some artists, organizing a rehearsal, preparing a sound installation for an upcoming exhibition.

What is your favorite plant and why? 

Beata: I love a lemon scented geranium because of nice smell and good properties it has. I love to take a bath with a geranium oil.

Remek: I prefer the big wild ones, which are defined as trees. Preferably the ones with leaves rather than needles. Oaks are nice. They don’t care, and they won’t be bothered. I like their calmness. Of course the tropical ones are cool because some of them give nice fruit, or have spikes.

Do you have a “green thumb”? 

Beata: In our one-room city-center apartment we really have a tiny jungle. Not all plants accommodated well to that conditions, I had to send some of them to my mum, but overall yes, I do have a green thumb.

Remek: I’m sure I do, I just always forget to use it.

Any plant care tips you can share? 

Beata: First thing – don’t overwater the plants, second – talk to them and tell them compliments when they grow. And take photos of them, plants are living creatures, they grow, develop, you can compare how they do.

Remek: Don’t forget about taking care of the plants if you have any, that’s my tip for beginners.

 

What tops your houseplant wish list? 

Beata: The list is long, and the space in the apartment limited. But in a bigger space, my first choice would be cooking banana. Then I would bake a banana cake!

Remek: A cooking banana would be nice. One step closer to the garden of Eden…

Where do you shop for plants? 

Beata: The nicest way to get something new is to exchange the seedings with friends and family. Also sometimes I’d steal leaves that I’d later plant from for example stairways, or offices. A good place to go and buy plants are the wholesale stores at the outskirts of Warsaw.

Remek: I swear I had no idea that Beata steals plants. I have nothing to do with this!

Favorite hobby

Beata: I had problems with defining what my hobby is (which are visual arts, but this is also my occupation) until I’ve grown serious interest in plants, which are my real hobby.

Remek: If hobby is something that one does in one’s free time than my hobby is doing nothing, but I don’t have time for that.

Favorite food

Beata: Potatoes. Really! And my mum’s cake called karpatka (Polish Carpathian Mountain cream cake).

Remek: Peanut butter. Peanuts. Nuts.

Favorite weekend activity

Beata: Outdoor activities such as nordic walking, swimming in lakes, riding a bike.

Remek: Going deep into the forest. And listening to the frogs when it’s spring.

Thank you so much, Beata and Remek! Follow their Facebook page here if you would like. 

PS: You can find more of our tastemaker series here, including plant time-lapse master @houseplantjournal and plant illustrator @studioplants!

(All photos via Beata and Remek.)

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Plant Care, Plant Myth Mondays

All Soil Is Created Equally– PLANT MYTH MONDAYS #11

October 23, 2017

MONDAY 10.23.17 MYTH: All soil is created equally

The day when I purchased my first plant – a succulent – I armed myself with a bucket and a digger, and headed to my city-dwelling courtyard to start poking the ground. I made repotting a mission since I rewarded myself a pretty designer planter. In the middle of the sweat, a senior neighbor struck up a conversation on how nice to see young people caring about plants nowadays. I gently corrected her, telling her all my efforts were only for a small succulent I just bought and was uber excited about. She surprisingly laid down the law – that no indoor plants should be living in dirt. Dirt? Indoor plants? I was perplexed- don’t all plants live in dirt? 

Have you ever wondered what’s the difference between soil, potting mix, and dirt? Does it matter which one you use for indoor plants?

Image via Online

Soil VS. Potting Mix

Potting mix:

AKA potting soil is in fact not real soil from the earth. Instead, it’s a fine mixture made from compost such as bark, peat moss, perlite, and other ingredients.  In addition, it is low in mineral content and microbial diversity – but needs to be that way. Because potting mix is mainly used for indoor plants.

Soil:

On the other hands, is a rich medium that is rich in nutrients and microbes from the mother nature. Soil is what you see on the ground, in the park, or use in outdoor gardens mostly. Soil outside is the result of hundreds of years of erosion of rocks and a little bit of organic matter. Soil outside also contains insects and possibly plant pathogens that you won’t want to have indoors.

Other Media 

Dirt:

I don’t know about you, but I often confused the difference between soil and dirt. Frankly, I used it interchangeably. Little did I know that dirt is dead soil, basically. When you hold dirt in your hand, the consistency is often rocky and silty. In addition, dirt lacks beneficial nutrients and microorganisms that healthy plants need and thrive on.

Compost:

Compost is the decayed organic material and should only be used when it has broken down completely. Compost will often look dark and have a rich, earthy smell. In addition, it is used as a fertilization for garden soil, not meant to replace your regular soil or potting mix.

What media should you use? 

What media you use really depends on where you grow your plants. For example, you want to use a potting mix to grow plants, herbs, and vegetables that are indoors. Whereas soil is best for any outdoor planting, such as your garden. Why? You wouldn’t want to use soil for any potted plants indoors because soil is so heavy that it will make your containers much heavier than if you use a potting mix. Your indoor plants need good air circulation in their roots system. Using soil in a planter is often too heavy and compact, not allowing for plant roots to spread, and not allowing for moisture to penetrate the soil. As a result, diseases and bacterias can easily creep on your plant and attack it – your plant may die.

In addition, different plants sometimes will prefer different potting mix made up. For example, a succulent, snake plant, or aloe will like a media that is more porous, such as perlite, that water can run through quickly and not hold as much water. (We all know how they prefer to be on the dry side, right?) On the other hand, ferns and mini terrarium plants will prefer a medium with more peat.  Since it helps the soil to stay uniformly moist, which is what most tropical plants prefer.

The bottom line is potting mix is different from the soil outside! Remember, it’s best to use potting mix for any indoor plants. Use one that gives your plant roots the preferred air, moisture, and nutrition balance it needs. Oh, and if you are wondering what happened to my first succulent, it died after a few month because I used soil. Lesson learned!

PS: Not sure what kind of potting soil to buy? Email us at help@thesill.com.

PPS: Read more plant knowledge here, including know where to put your plants, and find the correct size planter for your plants

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview

Jeannie Phan, Illustrator, Freelance

October 13, 2017

Meet Jeannie Phan, an editorial illustrator residing in Toronto, Canada, with her furry best friend, Odin. Jeannie immediately captured our hearts with her picture-worthy and plant-filled apartment when we stumbled upon her on Instagram. Then we realized that she is also an amazing illustrator with a cult following. Swoon. 

Headshot by Dawn Kim

Name: Jeannie Phan
Location: Toronto, Canada
Occupation: Freelance Illustrator
Favorite Plant: Strelitzia nicolai (Giant White Bird of Paradise)

Can you share a little bit of background about yourself?
I’m above all, an artist, which explains why I can’t help but keep my hands moving and picking up things like plant care, home organization (or really, just the obsessive re-arranging of bric-a-brac) and DIY projects. If you’re into the Meyers-Briggers personality typing, I’m an INTJ, but far from a mathematician.
Originally, I’m from a small city in the prairies of Canada (Winnipeg), born from immigrant parents who brought us up on resourcefulness and appreciation of the outdoors. Although, I’d say I’m a definite late-bloomer in the latter, to the surprise of many! Currently, I hang out in the bustling city of Toronto with my feline best friend, Odin, and an uber supportive life partner. I work, live and grow in a home
studio.

Can you share a little bit about your art?
Sure, my art has developed from being highly ornate to now a body of work that appreciates the simpler forms of people, objects, and places. Hilariously, unlike my personal life, which is buttered in neutrals, my art is colourful, bathed in saturated primaries and overlayed with the colours inbetween. I’m an optimistic person with a dark sense of humour and I like to think my work radiates some of that, particularly with my personal series. To get to the nitty gritty, I’m primarily an editorial illustrator that draws for publications globally. But I also do work in advertising and have a few influencer
campaigns under my belt (I love social media!).

What’s a secret skill you have?
I have an incredible ability to forget birthdays.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received?
You know, I have to say when my friend Justine (@patternsandportraits) gifted me with my very first plants, which were two succulents I couldn’t even tell you the name of. I killed one overnight by suffocating it bare-root in a bag (yup…) and the other rotted. I give huge thanks to Justine and my other friend Elaine for really planting the seed with this whole plant obsession. If it wasn’t for that gift and a huge stubbornness to redeem myself, I probably wouldn’t be as big of a plant nerd. Thanks Justine!

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save?
My cat Odin, of course!! I have a thing where I don’t put a lot of value in physical objects so everything can burn, and so long as my loved ones are safe, that’s all I need. But alright, if I had to pick something physical, I’d grab my hard drive because it’s the lifeline to my work and an archive of a lot of priceless photos.

What’s on your to-do list today?
Work out. I’ve been really into fitness this year (after years of failed attempts) and valuing self care. Not only is being a freelance illustrator mentally straining, but it physically chips away at your body from hours of drawing at a table. So every day I’ll either go for a walk, jog, or pump some iron.

What is your favorite plant and why?
Strelitzia nicolai (Giant White Bird of Paradise) because it’s one of my oldest surviving tropicals. It was with me when I was a budding plant enthusiast not knowing what it wanted and stuck by when I became better versed with plants. Thankfully, like a trooper, it survived our move and grows bigger (it’s over 6ft tall!) and even prouder. The giant paddles for foliage strelitzia have are no short of majestic. It transcends me into a different world and I’ll often just sit and stare at it while having my morning coffee.
Do you have a “green thumb”? Not naturally, no. People are always surprised when I say I’m a former plant murderer because my mom had a beautiful garden, and I show my love for plants like we’ve been best friends since grade school. But, it just goes to show that anyone can learn the language of plants and appreciate nature, even if it’s not woven within their DNA.

Any plant care tips you can share?
Shower your plants one a month. Much less often for dessert plants of course, but your tropicals, like your garden plants, appreciate some “rain” even if it’s not actually from the outdoors. It helps clear dust, flush out the soil, and keeps pests at bay. Good circulation and adequate light is key afterwards though! To properly dry out the soil.

What tops your houseplant wish list?
I’d love a variegated monstera deliciosa but I’m much more of a plant opportunist, so I gather plants I like when I see them and seldom “hunt” for them. I have enough plants as is!

When did you start illustrating?
I started freelance illustrating full-time in 2013 but I was drawing since I was a kid. I went to art school at OCAD University here in Toronto, and graduated in 2012 with a bachelors. After working at a concept shop/gallery on Queen West or about a year, I decided to dive into freelancing full-time. I started off doing layout design as a graphic designer, but lost interest in it so I finally pushed to just do art 100% of the time. And here I am today!

Do you have a favorite illustration or project?
Recently, it’s the Acqua di Parma influencer campaign I did where I visualized all the scents in their Blu Mediterraneo collection. This collection was inspired by natural botanical ingredients and I just couldn’t imagine a more perfect project to mesh my love of plants and art. You’ll see the sketches for this project pinned on my wall as a momento. They were also kind enough to send me all the perfumes, so you can catch me swimming in the scent of citrus fruit or figs almost everyday.

What inspires you?
Nature, long conversations with friends, my cat.

Any words of advice for those looking to do their passion full-time?
No risk, no reward. You can be strategic in finding a way to freelance full-time but don’t lay plans that are too concrete (because this is a profession that’s fluid) and don’t let it paralyze you. Sometimes, jumping in and learning to swim is the best way. One thing I also really want to stress is, when your passion becomes your job, the dynamics of this relationship shifts. I have classmates from art school that realize that they don’t actually want a career that involves drawing 24/7. They want to be strategic thinkers, or creative in another way. Look at the core ability of what you’re passionate about and be open minded in what skills that can be applied to and maybe that’s a 9-5 job, maybe not. Disregard the topical idealism certain freelance professions have because that shiny coating wears out quickly after a few years.

Thank you so much, Jeannie! Following Jeannie on Instagram: @jeanniephan and @studioplants

P.S. More women share their plant passion, including an artist and a jewelry designer

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