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

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 7

September 18, 2017
MONDAY 09.18.2017 MYTH: YELLOW LEAVES MEAN OVERWATERING

I saw six solid yellow leaves on my beloved Aralia one day last week. “Why?” I asked myself. “I followed every plant care rule in the book!” It is one of the most frustrating things a plant parent can experience: you work so hard to maintain and care for something, yet it doesn’t end up right!

If I’m being honest with myself, I noticed the yellowing slowly happen in the past couple weeks… but I kept following my usual care routine. Eventually I panicked and announced the unavoidable death of my Aralia tree to all my plant-nerdy friends. “It could be stress,” one friend said. “It could be the season transitioning,” another friend chimed in. “Oh! It’s not you, it’s them,” said another friend trying to make me feel better.

Luckily – instead of giving up on my beloved tree completely – I chatted with our plant specialist, Christopher Satch, the next day at work. He explained that yellow leaves do not always signal plant problems! So what’s the real deal here? Is my Aralia OK? 

The yellow leaves!

According to Christopher, it comes down to the plant and the symptom. Plants can have similar symptoms for completely different reasons! For example – yellowing leaves could be a sign of nutrient deficiency, overwatering, underwatering, a pest attack, and more. It’s always advisable to combine symptoms for an accurate diagnosis.

Below are few common reasons why a houseplant’s leaves could be yellowing:

Too much *or* too little water 

A watering issue is the most common culprit of the appearance of yellow leaves on your houseplant. For example, if you see yellow leaves that are curling, along with dry soil, that usually means that the plant is underwatered. Another tell tale symptom of under-watering is a droopy plant. But on the other hand, too much water can be just as damaging to leaves as too little. If you see yellow leaves, and feel the soil and it is too wet, then you know that you have probably been giving it too much water.

Nutrient deficiency

Little did I know that yellow leaves can also be a good indication that your plant’s nutrition level is out of wack! You can easily solve this by applying fertilizer. Just make sure to dilute it to half the recommended strength on the fertilizer’s packaging to avoid overfertilizing. Giving a plant too much fertilizer can do more harm than good! It can actually burn a plant’s roots (ouch), and cause more yellowing leaves.

Natural aging

Yup, plants are just like us: they age, too! Think of each leaf as having a solid cycle – baby leaves are usually lighter and more fragile, and as it matures, it turns darker (greener) and tougher. Ultimately, yellowing, browning and leaf dropping are all part of the leaf saying goodbye to the world. There could be nothing wrong with the plant itself – just the leaf’s time to go. The rule of thumb here is that you never want to see all the leaves doing this together at the same time, or the majority of the leaves. It should be a gradual cycle. Think of this as normal shedding.

The bottom line is *pay attention to your plant*! One or two yellow leaves? No biggie. More? Give your plant a good once over. Check it’s soil. As you can see below – my beloved Aralia is back – loving life! After chatting with Christopher, we figured out it was just trying to tell me to give it a little bit more water. I’m sure glad I caught on before it got worse, but if it did (and I lost my beloved tree), it would have been a learning experience for me.

P.S. If you don’t want to freak out (like me) over nothing, read more Monday Plant Myths HERE.

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

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 6

September 11, 2017

MONDAY 09.04.17 MYTH: YOU MUST WATER YOUR PLANT ONCE A WEEK

Myth: “I am all good because I set a once-a-week watering reminder on my Google Calendar to remind myself to water my plants…” 

When it comes to houseplants – being methodical can actually be detrimental. Nature is a variable. For example, it doesn’t rain in the desert on the first Thursday of every month. It is more about the average rain over time – that forms your plant’s native climate, and your goal is to recreate that climate to help your plant thrive. The golden rule? Water only when the soil is dry, and you can’t go wrong. (It’s better to underwater than overwater!)

If you are guilty of over-caring for your houseplants like I am – with a coffee in one hand and watering can in the other every morning – try a variety of Ferns! They love moisture – and can handle a bit of overwatering, as long as the soil dries out somewhat. This plant may also be a good starter for new plant parents because of their easy going personality.

Meet our Fern picks here: Staghorn Fern , Birds Nest Fern

Find previous Monday Plant Myths HERE.

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

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 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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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, How-to, Plant Care, Plant Myth Mondays

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 4

August 21, 2017
MONDAY 08.21.2017 MYTH: POT YOUR PLANT IN A GIANT PLANTER TO MAKE IT GROW BIGGER

Think of your houseplant and its planter as your foot and its shoe… if your foot is a size 6, you would never wear a size 10 shoe, right? That would make it super difficult to get around comfortably.

Well the same goes for your houseplants! They want a “comfortable” planter that is just the right size for them to call home for the time-being (yes – you will have to eventually repot your plant). The key to growth, when it comes to the role of the pot, is to increase the size of the planter gradually. 

Plant growth is more correlated with the amount of sunlight your plant receives and the amount of fertilizer you give it – than it is with pot size. Although pot size can do the opposite: it can limit plant growth. That’s when repotting your plant comes into play.

When repotting your houseplants, we recommend going only one to two inches larger than the previous size pot for tabletop plants (and a little bit larger, say three to four inches, for large floor plants). Otherwise, with all the excess soil around your plant’s smaller root system, you’re setting yourself up for a boatload of watering issues. If there is too much soil that your plant is practically swimming in it – there’s also a ton of space within that soil for water to pool and sit, that your plant’s roots won’t reach. The excess soil leads to excess water, which can eventually lead to root rot and, ultimately, a plant fatality.

Repotting your plants might sound like a chore at first – but keep in mind most common houseplants typically only need to be repotted every 12 to 18 months. And some slow growers can call the same pot home for years! Repotting can also be a fun and therapeutic activity. It gives you an opportunity to change up your planter’s style – and find a brand new plant for the older planter.

Not sure if your current plant needs a repot? Here’s some signs to look for:

  • The roots are growing through the drainage hole at the bottom of the planter
  • The roots are pushing the plant up, out of the planter
  • The plant is growing much slower than normal
  • The plant is extremely top heavy, and falls over easily
  • The plant dries out more quickly than usual, requiring more frequent waterings
  • There is noticeable salt and mineral build up on the plant or current planter

Need to repot? Click HERE for our step-by-step instructions!

Find previous Monday Plant Myths HERE.

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

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 3

August 14, 2017
MONDAY 08.14.2017 MYTH: HOUSEPLANTS GO DORMANT IN THE WINTER

Myth: “All houseplants go dormant in the winter, so I don’t need to water them then…” 

It is true that some houseplants do go semi-dormant in the wintertime – for example, euphorbia houseplants will lose their little leaves due to the seasonal light changes. But the majority of tropical plants are actually used as houseplants for the exact reason that they do not go dormant! This doesn’t mean they won’t need less water and attention though – as their growth will slow down due to seasonal changes outside – but they’ll still need a little TLC (natural sunlight and the occasional watering). Some of your houseplants might need to be moved closer to a window during the winter months, to receive adequate sunlight, while others might need even more water than usual, if you blast your heater. As always, never keep your houseplants directly in the line of drafts caused by air conditioners, heating units, or open windows. Try to keep them in as temperature stable of an environment as possible. 

Meet a few of our team’s favorite tropical houseplants: Pothos Plant, Parlor Palm, Peperomia obtusifolia, Rattlesnake Calathea, and Bird’s Nest Fern

Find previous Monday Plant Myths HERE.

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

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 2

August 7, 2017
MONDAY 08.07.17 MYTH: MIST YOUR SUCCULENTS

Myth: “I should mist my succulent plants…” 

There is no mist or humidity in the desert! It’s not necessary, or beneficial, to mist your succulent plants at home. Remember that to help a plant thrive indoors – you want to try your best to mimic its natural habitat outdoors. Succulents, including cacti, have spent so much of their time evolving to keep water inside of themselves that they have zero defenses against the fungi that attack when the plant itself is covered with water. This is also one of the reasons why they die so easily from overwatering – water rushes in and bursts the plant cells, and the plant has no chemical defense against the fungi that plunder all of the remaining cells. 

The moral of the story: never mist your succulent plants! Instead, water directly into the surrounding potting soil, and only when the soil is completely dry. It is always better to underwater, than overwater, a succulent plant.

Find previous Monday Plant Myths HERE.

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#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes

Behind the Scenes of our Go Green event with Andie

August 2, 2017

Last week we hosted Andie, a revolutionary women’s swimwear company, at our 84 Hester Street shop in New York City to celebrate the launch of their newest collection, featuring swimsuits in our favorite color – green, of course.

Check out all the behind the scenes photos from the event below:

And don’t forget to follow our friends Andie on Instagram to see where they’ll be popping up next!

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

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 1

July 31, 2017

We’re kicking off August with a new series: Plant Myth Mondays. Every Monday we’ll tackle a new myth related to plants and plant care. Submissions are welcome – simply leave a comment on any Plant Myth Monday post, or email us at help@thesill.com with the subject line ‘Plant Myth Submission’. 

 

MONDAY 07.31.17 MYTH: WATER YOUR HOUSEPLANTS WITH ICE CUBES 

The majority of houseplants – including desert-dwelling succulents, tropical plants, and orchids – do not come into contact with ice in their natural habitat! Ice can potentially cold-shock your plant and reduce its immunity against fungi. Remember that most houseplants prefer temperatures above 65 degrees. Additionally, ice will not provide enough water to the plant where it is needed – the roots below the soil. It is always best to water directly into your houseplant’s potting soil – with tepid water. 

P.S. If watering your orchids with ice cubes works for you – more power to you! Just keep in mind that according to the American Orchid Society, it is not the best practice, and can damage your orchid in the long run. Check out this article on watering orchids with ice cubes by the Oregon Orchid Society to learn more.

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, How-to, Plant Care, Plant History

Plants and Mushrooms

July 19, 2017

PLANTS AND FUNGI
Soil is life for plants. For millions of years, plant have been interacting with microbes in the soil – and have formed strong, intricate relationships with them.

Plants interact with both bacteria and fungi in the soil, and in fact, if it were not for fungi – there would be no life on land.

It is agreed on by scientists that fungi colonized land well before plants have! However, the question of when they colonized land is a difficult one to answer, as our approximations are based on the fossil record, which can only tell us when only some organisms have existed – i.e. organisms with hard or solid body parts or spores (which many fungi are anything but).

Regardless of when fungi colonized land, they added a component to soils that was not present in soils before – large amounts of carbon. This helped to not only break down the rocks on land, but also to help retain water on land, and consequently help pave the way for plants!

Image via Planet Permaculture (link)

LICHEN
One of the first and oldest interactions between plants and fungi is the symbiotic relationship known as a lichen. A lichen is formed from cells of algae and a filamentous fungus weaving together to form a unit that is different from either organism. The algae feeds the fungus sugars and the fungus helps to retain moisture and occasionally provide nutrients from either the substrate that they’re growing on or from dust in the air.

Lichen covering a tree

On the surface this relationship seems symbiotic, which would mean both organisms can exist separately, but cooperation makes survival easier for both organisms. However, this is not the case for the lichen. Lichen does extend the range in which each organism can survive, but although the algae can exist and live freely – the fungus cannot.

Whether or not the fungus was able to survive in the past by itself but has lost that ability is up for debate, but either way, the relationship has evolved to be either one of commensalism or parasitism.

ENDOPHYTES
Other fungi in the soil that we know are relative to plants belong to three major groups: the Basidiomycetes, the Ascomycetes, and the Oomycetes. Most endophytic fungi (fungi that lives between living plant cells) are Ascomycetes, with some being Basidiomycetes. And the relationships of many endophytes to their plants are symbiotic.

(Interesting side note – endophytes are responsible in part for the flavor of most wine grapes, such as the Cabernet Sauvignon!)

Yellow Parasol Mushroom (Leucocoprinus birnbaumii) 

Occasionally, the fungi which live in the soil or the endophyte (or in some cases, it is the same fungus) may be in ideal conditions, and will reproduce sexually by producing a mushroom. This is perfectly normal, and considered in to be good luck in some areas of the world.

HOUSEPLANTS
We think of houseplants as just the plants – but we often forget that each pot of soil is a tiny ecosystem. Microbes like bacteria and fungi live in the soil. Some of them are helpful to the plant, and some of them are hurtful to the plant. Some of them do nothing too! Most fungi in healthy soil exist to help the plant, and do so by many means.

Yellow Parasol Mushroom (Leucocoprinus birnbaumii)

To communicate with the plant, the fungus must connect with its roots. Through these root connections, the fungus can send and receive chemical signals to/from the plant. Some fungi will stay outside of the roots, while others may penetrate the root cells.

Regardless of which type of fungus the plant is interacting with – it accomplishes two major functions:

First – the fungus lowers the pH of the soil by selectively absorbing NH4+ (ammonium) and kicking out the H+. This helps solubilize and mobilize metals and phosphates that are essential for the plant! As a consequence of the ammonium absorption, this excess source of nitrogen also leaks into the plant. The plant trades carbon in the form of hexoses to the fungus for the phosphates and other minerals. Phosphate is essential for plant life.

Second – not only do fungi provide nutrients to the plant, but they also allow chemical communication amongst plants. This internet of fungi has been shown to allow insect-attacked plants communication to their neighbors. It has been measured that nearby plants will boost their own innate defenses if they hear over the mycelium that one of their neighbors is being attacked. (Some plants even use the mycelial network for more devious purposes – spreading toxins and growth suppressants so that other plants cannot grow. While others use it for more altruistic purposes – sharing sugars and nutrients to neighboring plants.)

Whether or not plants invented the idea of the internet first remains a discussion for the philosophers…

Yellow Parasol Mushroom (Leucocoprinus birnbaumii)

Either way, fungi – masters of the soil, can be beneficial for your houseplants! Consider mushrooms a sign of a happy, healthy mini ecosystem.

Questions? Comment below or shoot us an email: help@thesill.com