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Houseplant Tastemakers

#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview, Plant Care

Darryl Cheng, @houseplantjournal

May 8, 2017

Our team has been a huge fan of the Instagram feed @houseplantjournal since we can remember, so we’re thrilled to finally feature the man behind the feed, Toronto-based Darryl Cheng, in this edition of our Tastemakers series

MEET DARRYL CHENG

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Who is Darryl Cheng? 
By day, I’m a business analyst for a tech company. In general, my job is to understand client requirements before delivering a product. By nights/weekends, I spend time with my fiancee; take care of my plants; play music (piano, vocal, guitar – I’m the music director at my church); play sports with my brother/friends; play with my niece.

What’s your ideal ‘happy place’?
A garden nursery of tropical plants.

Darryl plant hunting

What’s your favorite thing about living in Toronto?
Definitely the variety of neighborhoods. I work in the bustling downtown area but live in a peaceful, yet accessible suburb.

What T.V. show do you love to binge watch?
Star Trek Voyager

What can’t you leave your house without?
My iPod. Yes, I still use one for music.

Have you always dreamt about working with plants?
I still do since I’m technically not paid to work with them. If The Sill comes to Toronto, please hire me!

Darryl in his element!

Can you explain what the House Plant Journal is and how it started? 
House Plant Journal is the result of my love for photography and house plants. The thing I love most about plants is how they grow and become a long-term friend (well, most of them). I started documenting my plant hobby on Tumblr because it was easy to use its tagging system to find my photos on a particular topic: I still frequently refer to them when I get asked questions like “how do you propagate pothos?” or “what did your monstera look like when you first got it?” I just wanted a reference to my personal experiences with house plants. I moved to Instagram to share my more artistic photos, “plant art”, and time-lapse videos. More recently, I started a blog where I hope to instill the very basics of house plant care. I’ve also started a Youtube channel but I’m having difficulty finding time to shoot and edit videos these days.

Darryl's Houseplants

Do you have any tips for aspiring plant parents that you can share?
This mostly applies to indoor tropical foliage plants:
– If you want to keep a plant alive for a few weeks: you must give it adequate light and water.
– If you want to keep a plant alive for a few months: you must aerate the soil.
– If you want to keep a plant alive for a few years: you must repot and refresh the soil.

Plant Portrait

What’s your coolest plant find?
During a trip in Hong Kong, I spent an afternoon wandering their Flower Market district – 2 blocks of plant shops! It was really cool to see all the different varieties of plants their suppliers provide. I found many cool plants but I’d say the coolest would have to be three intertwined blades of a type of snake plant I had never seen before (photo below). Unfortunately, plants are strictly controlled items and I would never have been able to bring any home to Canada.

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Your Instagram feed is so inspiring! What is your favorite post on your Instagram? 
Thanks! In fact, I should thank @thesill for twice featuring my photos! My favorite photo would have to be the ones of my plant shelf (photo below). The landing of my stairway receives so much bright indirect light from my skylight, it seemed a waste not to have some kind of shelving system just for plants. I know I’m very fortunate to have such ideal lighting for plants, which is why I share it often.

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How many plants do you own?
I would estimate 100 to 120 if you combine my home, office, and church plants.

When did your love for plants begin?
I’ve helped my mom in the garden since I was a child but it wasn’t until we moved into our current house, which features two large skylights – that’s when I went plant-crazy indoors. I love to see new growth and flowering – signs that a plant is happy living in my home.

Time for a drink

What plant would you recommend for a person with a super busy schedule?
Sansevieria – they look good without much attention (photos below); they tolerate completely dry soil; they don’t need too much sunlight.

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What is on your to-do list today?
Survey my jungle to see which plants need water or other attention. Honestly, it’s impossible for me to keep any kind of watering schedule but it’s a testament to the notion that you should be watering the plant whenever it needs and not by adhering to a schedule (great tip!). I need to queue up my next few Instagram posts. Sometimes I’ll even type out the captions beforehand – I put a lot of thought into some of them!

What is your favorite plant at the moment? 
Snake plants – I’ve been collecting different varieties as I find them.

Thank you so much Darryl!  P.S. Check out Darryl’s Instagram feed here

 

 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview, Plant Care

Caitlin Ezell Waugh, Artist

January 26, 2017

Our newest installment in our Tastemaker series features Louisiana-based artist and plant lover – Caitlin Ezell Waugh! We came across Caitlin’s timeless stained glass pieces and wanted to know more about her inspiration for incorporating plants into her work. And the more we learned about Caitlin, the more we realized that she’d be the perfect coffee date, if only she lived in NYC. Check out our Q&A with Caitlin below. 

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NAME: Caitlin Ezell Waugh

LOCATION: New Orleans, Louisiana

OCCUPATION: Self Employed Artist, Paraph Studio

FAVORITE PLANT:  This question got me ranting to my boyfriend. “Nightmare question!” I began… and now that I think about it, I’m thankful for the question because now I’m thinking about how and why I love so many plants. I love all herbs, for their smell and taste and medicine and memory triggers.

When I plant basil, I yell and shout, like the Italian lore tells us to, as a way of ensuring a strong taste. I love the French lilac that blooms in spring outside of my childhood kitchen. I love snacking on leaves of the ever spreading chocolate mint whenever I pass it. I really enjoy chewing Calamus root for focus and calm. I ALWAYS stop and smell jasmine, gardenia and white ginger when I walk by them. I’m really proud of how well my little bay laurel and meyer lemon trees are growing. My whole back yard is full of banana trees that shade me and feed me. I’m grateful for an ecosystem of plants that usher me through the seasons.

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Can you share a little bit about yourself – and your art? I was raised in the woods in Maine, which is where I learned to love plants and discovered the pleasures of working with my hands. I focused on literary journalism and conceptual art at Hampshire College, and got clear that my art gets to tell stories and help me synthesize continued research into new subjects.

I’ve run my design and restoration business, ‘Paraph,’ from my home studio in New Orleans for the last decade. I apprenticed under a master glazier before moving to New Orleans, and I’m dedicated to the rejuvenation of the stained glass trade by using traditional techniques inventively. My workload is a balance of commission projects, retail collections, stained glass restoration, and conceptual gallery work. In each of these endeavors I’m fueled by a connection to people. As a maker and a preserver, I’m fascinated by humans’ attachments to objects, by the nostalgia and energies we infuse into objects. I strive to create and maintain a sense of the sacred with my work, and I increasingly see myself as healer as well as artist.

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What’s a secret skill you have? I really love to write. I enjoy writing and reading guided meditations and conducting small intimate ceremonies as a way to connect with plants, animals, the earth, and self. I do that in private settings, so it’s still pretty ‘secret’. It’s been a great way for me to dig deeper into using my observation skills, trusting my intuition and practice different ways of communicating.  I’m also pretty good at working through difficult conversations and situations.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received? When I graduated from high school my sister Kaiya told me to choose where in the world I wanted to go. We backpacked through Greece that summer and she taught me how to travel without a strict plan, which changed my life.

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save? The cats, Stagger Lee and Elwood. If I had time, I’d grab the wooden box of my journals and sketchbooks and I’d look longingly at my shop tools, my altars (so many beautiful crystals and precious little objects), my great kitchen knife collection, and all of the inspiring art I’ve collected.

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What’s on your to-do list today? I’ll work in my studio with the phone off until about noon, and then write follow up emails to clients and make a few phone calls while I do the dishes and fold laundry. Then I’ll write a couple of letters and package up several orders and go to the post office by 3pm. I’ll listen to NPR and work in my studio for another hour or two and go to my favorite yoga class at 6pm a few blocks from my house. Then I get to make dinner and figure out what to do with all of the ripe bananas I harvested from my banana trees!

What is your favorite plant and why? See above… but right now my favorite houseplant is a phlebodium aureum mandaianum. It’s a gorgeous huge fern that cascades over my bed. I’m also amazed by my night blooming cereus. It only blooms for one night, once a year, and it’s a gorgeous bloom.

Do you have a green thumb? Yes. So do my both of my parents and my sister, it was a huge part of my childhood growing up in an old farmhouse in Maine.

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Any plant care tips you can share? My relationship with plants, and food, is an extension of my art and ritual practices. Taking care of plants is about paying attention to them. Plants give lots of hints about how they’re feeling and what they like, so it’s important to watch them and listen. Ritual helps with that. For example I water my plants on Sundays (cactus every other Sunday), and it helps me feel grounded and ready for the week. I feed my orchids on the full moon, and I feed all of the outdoor plants around Easter and Thanksgiving (I live in the deep south). Most of us find health and a sense of well being in rhythm, so figuring out how to ground your weekly, and seasonal schedule to your interactions with plants is a wonderful way for your plants’ health to support your mental health. Along those lines, I was taught that sweet peas should be planted at Halloween here in the South.

When I realize that I no longer notice the artwork on my walls, I move it around. Plants are similar. If you find you don’t notice the plants when you walk by them, move them. Arrange them in ways that make you feel excited about the space. I also arrange my plants with objects I love, found pieces of ceramic or shells I’ve collected, sculptural objects, funny little figurines. I arrange vases of cut flowers near potted plants too, so I’m constantly paying attention to what’s changing.

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Keep plants that feed you. Harvesting from your plants (herbs and citrus trees come to mind) is a great way to really fall in love with them. When my herbs go dormant outside, I buy little hydroponic potted herbs for the winter kitchen. I love cooking with fresh herbs, and if you don’t cut them all the way back, they can often be potted in soil and become outdoor plants in the spring.

Healthy plants don’t always look like they’re thriving. I have a bunch of plants that look like sticks for a month or two, and then they come out of dormancy looking great. Don’t assume that your plant is dying just because it’s loosing leaves or slowing its growth! I find my plants need less water when they’re dormant, but they should still be in the watering rotation. I cluster my dormant potted plants together in one part of the yard in the fall so I can keep an eye on them. Any plants that I feel worried about I put on the back steps because that’s my favorite place to sit and watch the sun set, and I see them every day.

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I keep my orchids in the bathroom during the winter – so they can have the hot house effect. Don’t be afraid to trim, especially during the growing months, it produces more growth!  Also, get to know what the soil feels like in your plants when they are happy. That helps trouble shoot later when they’re not so happy. Soapy water is a quick way to get rid of mealy bugs. Also, sharpen your clippers for clean cuts, wash and dry your clippers if you’ve been working with a plant you suspect is diseased.

What tops your houseplant wish list? I saw a gorgeous old Cyprus bonsai the other day that I’d love to live with.

What or who inspires you? Ah. I really could go on and on with this list. I grew up around clever creative makers, they inspired me first. I have an incredible community of artist friends here in New Orleans (and spread across the world!) that inspire me daily with their own work, through conversation, and in collaborative projects which I find creatively invigorating. I’m inspired by walks in the swamp, by sunlight through tree canopy and by the rust and decay and growth of the cityscape.

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If choosing one, Liza Lou is the artist who most inspires me. Her work is obscenely patient, and her focus tunneled her from a place of working alone and unseen to a vibrant career working with others to create meaningful work.

How would you describe your work? My work is patient as well as spontaneous. I like to make decisions throughout the process, so I usually resist patterns and lots of planning. That said, I work with metal, glass, and clay primarily and much of my work requires puzzling out the best order of operations so the materials can function. Most of my work has a very ‘organic’ feel, very hand produced. For the last couple of years I’ve been focusing on a kiln process of fusing plants between glass. The delicate structure of the plants remains as ash fused in place. I call this process ‘enverre’.

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How do plants play a role in your creative process? I use my enverre process to preserve plants for two main reasons. One is to preserve specific blooms that clients have a relationship with, like flowers from wedding bouquets or funerals, plants from home gardens or travels or other special life events. I make those panes of glass into custom windows or furniture or sculptures. The moment in time that the plant was blooming drives the purpose, and I love listening to the stories, the nostalgia and emotion people have attached those particular plants.

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The other body of plant based work I make is driven by the symbolism, the medicine, the messages from physical forms of the plants. I harvest plants and research the medicinal uses, history, lore and symbolic meanings given by different cultures to the plants. I’ve learned the names of lots of new plants, and I record when and where they bloom. I fuse the plants in glass and my research informs how I make them into art objects.

Do you have a favorite project (or upcoming project) that you’d like to share? I have a new gallery space to play with at 5700 Magazine Street in New Orleans. I’m using the space to curate art events that encourage civic participation. I believe handmade objects help us ground and stay present and therefore support sustained engagement. These events are designed to connect people with specific ways to get involved and to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Additionally I’ve been curating collections of my work by plant symbolism to help support organizations. For example, one collection of objects I’ve made all contain plants that symbolize protection, understanding, sanctuary, innocence, and family. A percentage of the sales of that collection are donated to CASA, an organization that helps advocate for foster children. I also made a line of plants to help support the water protectors at Standing Rock. I’m excited about channeling messages and medicine from plants into healing in this way and am conscious of the line between support and opportunism. It feels very right to align my art and my politics.

P.S. To find out more about Caitlin and her work, follow her on Instagram and Facebook, and visit her Website. (And check out her beautiful collection for CASA here. )

 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview

Simon Posch, Plant Artist

January 12, 2017

The newest installment of our Tastemaker series features plant artist, Simon Posch! We came across Simon through his Instagram account, where we were inspired by the gorgeous photos of kokedamas that he has posted. We highly recommend that you give his Instagram page a scroll through for some great plant inspiration! Check out our Q&A with Simon below! 

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Name: Simon Posch

Location: Innsbruck / Tirol / Austria

Occupation: Student (Biology Bachelor) | Plant artist

Favorite Plant: Moss

Can you share a little background about yourself? I’m 31 years old, have two kids and an ever increasing love for plants which probably started out with helping my grandfather in the garden. Later on, I had my own little garden for a while but when moving to a flat my interest shifted to houseplants. I started making kokedamas (calling them mooslinge, which is kind of a diminutive of moss in German) to save space and increase air quality in the flat. I was still working my regular office job at that time. But as I was spending most of my free time working with and reading about plants I decided to take a chance and follow a long kept dream to become a botanist and started to study biology.

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What’s a secret skill you have? I am able to find the right plant for every environment or person – and can share my passion for plants, infecting others with it.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received?  This years birthday present for my significant other, I hope.

If your space was on fire what’s the first thing you’d grab to save? My kids…and maybe one or two orchids 😉

What’s on your to-do list today? Doing an interview with The Sill :-); caring for my houseplants is a continuous task; a stash of plants that have yet to be kokedamified, and many university exams.

What is your favorite plant and why? The most difficult question of all. I don’t have one favorite plant. I have a great interest in moss but other than that I have favorite current plants. This time of the year many of my orchids are in bloom. I love orchids. The favorite of the ones I have are my Brassia toscana followed by the Oncidium twinkle. I very much like succulents too and a good Monstera deliciosa of course, well and Staghorn ferns and on and on.

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Do you have a green thumb? I’d say so yes! The trick being, I try to only deal with plants that suit my environment. Which leads me to the next question.

Any plant tips you can share? Choose plants that work well at your place. Cut your losses. If a plant isn’t working for you, get rid of it and try another one. Don’t waste your love, time and energy on plants that just won’t do. And don’t start out with tiny delicate seedlings or cuttings, but get a well sized plant to start with.

What tops your houseplant wish list? Discorea elephantitis.

Thank you so much, Simon

P.S. check out more guest posts, including Darryl of @houseplantjounal, and Brain, an awesome ceramic artist.

(All the photos above were taken by Kathleen John – kathleenjohn.de )

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview

Olena Shmahalo, Art Director, QuantaMagazine

January 6, 2017

We are thrilled to introduce you to our featured guest in this newest installment of the Tastemaker series: Olena Shmahalo! While scrolling through Olena’s instagram feed, we fell in love with her tasteful and aesthetically pleasing photos of houseplants and vegetation. We knew we had to reach out and find out more about her love of plants. Check out our Q&A with Olena below! 

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Name: Olena Shmahalo

Location: New York, NY

Occupation: Art Director at QuantaMagazine.org.

Favorite Plant: I don’t like to pick favorites! However, if I had to, maybe Philodendron gloriosum — that’s the plant I’ve made into my instagram logo/icon right now, because it kind of invigorated my botanical obsession, for better or worse. I first saw it in photos of @aleajoy’s home and was amazed at its huge, velvety leaves. It’s unreal!

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I’ve always liked plants, but the specifics eluded me. I don’t think I knew that something like P. gloriosum existed, and better yet, that it could be grown easily indoors. It made me curious about other species and genera, and all the different sorts of leaves and shapes out there. I’m a visual person, so I was absolutely intoxicated by this whole new world of living sculpture, with all its colors, patterns, and textures.

Can you share a little about yourself?

I’m Ukrainian, spent most of my childhood in California, and then moved to New York. Not sure where I’m “from” anymore, but I’ve been here in NY for about a decade now and it’s where I feel most at home.

I was always sure I would be an artist. Everybody else told me so as well; I think other people were more convinced than I ever was! Ironically, it was during art school that I questioned it more and discovered a latent love of science.

Now, I’m working as the art director (/producer/illustrator) at Quanta Magazine, which is a really cool science news outlet. Every week, I get to visually interpret the latest esoteric, gritty work in math and science that more popular media usually doesn’t cover. Make invisible things visible — it’s really a puzzle! It’s a great mix of both worlds. (Promise I’m not trying to advertise; just excited by it and proud of our little team.)

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At home, I moonlight as an indoor gardener/botanist-wannabe. I have over a hundred plants in my tiny apartment. My SO jokes that it’s a second full-time job. I love taking photos of them (they’re such patient models!) and sharing in the plant love with other self-described “crazy plant people” around the world. Especially on Instagram, there’s such a great community.

What’s a secret skill you have?

Hmm. Secret is relative. Our professional lives and social media encourage a fairly one-dimensional view of people. Pick a theme and stick with it, right?

But that’s not reality, is it? Everybody is multi-faceted. I’m lazy (ahem, efficient), but if I find something super interesting, I get a bit overzealous in doing that thing to its fullest. I’ve always wanted to be a “Renaissance man”. So, people who knew me as an artist have been surprised by my work/education in science, and the plant stuff. People on Instagram might be surprised about the former.

(I also like to write a lot, whether or not anyone will read it. Can you tell? This is why real writers have editors.)

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

I’m having an inordinate amount of trouble with this question. Because, again, I hate picking favorites and I hate surprises. But I’ve always felt happy and grateful when friends have given me little things they thought I’d like — a cool rock, a hat, a dead bug, a weird little plastic thing that plays recordings of Buddhists chanting. Oddities and treasures.

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

I guess my boyfriend. I kind of like that guy. But assuming he could do his own saving, I’d grab my phone. Not very sentimental is it? I want to say that I’d grab some plants, but by the time I decided which ones, we would all burn.

What’s on your to-do list today?

Loads of stuff for work. It’s Saturday but I just remembered I need to check in with a freelancer. Some boring domestic stuff; cleaning. Then, a 6th anniversary dinner with the boyfriend!

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Do you have a green thumb?

No. People think I do; it’s a lie. There’s no such thing. I’ve killed a lot, unfortunately. But I’ve also learned a lot.

Any plant care tips you can share? 

Relax! You don’t need to immediately bare-root and repot your new plant because some internet person said your potting mix has to be a specific ratio of peat/perlite/bark. Leave it alone.

In fact, don’t do anything with your new plant. It’s just survived a bunch of upheavals. Let it rest for a couple of weeks. If you got it in the mail, keep it in a darker spot and let it transition to a lighter one, slowly.

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Get a moisture meter, stick it in. Don’t trust the reading alone — pull it out, wipe the soil off with your fingers and rub them together. If moisture comes out, don’t water. If dry, water. Also, “keep moist” doesn’t mean “water again even though it’s still/already moist”.

Get a feeling for light levels. Download an app that reports in foot-candles, test various areas, and cross-reference with a plant lighting chart online.

Fertilize weakly, weekly. Less is More!

If you’re having trouble, you could always ask @plantasshole (who is definitely not me) for help. I guess, if you’re desperate. They’re not very nice.

What tops your houseplant wish list? 

It keeps growing! I started listing some in response to this question but there are too many.I’ll just say, I wish I could have humongous plants. I actually like when they’re “in the way” and I have to duck under, step over, or brush past them to get around. I’d love a 20-ft Monstera deliciosa, or an Alocasia ‘Borneo Giant’ with leaves like blankets. But there’s not enough light and constant humidity in my home for that to happen right now. …I should just live in a conservatory.

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Thank you so much, Olena Shmahalo!

P.S. check out more guest posts, including jewelry designer, Yanna, and Joe, a landscape designer.

 

#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Interview, Plant Care

Tylor Rogers, Barista

November 2, 2016

This edition of our Houseplant Tastemakers Series features “your local plant boy” – Tylor Rogers. Not only are we envious of Tylor’s personal houseplant collection (check out his Philodendron ‘Pink Princess’), but we love Tylor’s genuine passion for plants which is evident by scrolling through his Instagram feed. This young Instagramer proves that houseplants aren’t just a hobby for the retired. Check out our Q&A with Tylor below! 

Tylor Rogers captured by Sam Davis

Tylor Rogers captured by Sam Daniels

Name: Tylor Rogers
Location: Valparaiso IN//Chicago IL – I split my weeks between the two places.
Occupation: I am a barista back at home in Valpo, and then I’m also fortunate to work at Sprout Home Chicago!
Favorite Plant: Oh man, that’s a hard one. I go through phases where I’m obsessed with a certain plant and then the next week it could be something completely different. I would have to say that a Variegated Monstera deliciosa has been my favorite plant since I’ve been into plants though.

Tylor Rogers in his element by Sam Davis

Tylor Rogers in his element by Sam Daniels

What’s a week in the life of Tylor Rogers like? 

My days usually are pretty busy. When I’m not slinging coffee I’m working around plants! Between my two jobs, I work 7 days a week. I really enjoy staying busy and for the time being I love what I’m doing! I’m crazy about plants and coffee so it only makes sense that I would find myself surrounded by the two. Working at Sprout Home Chicago is very fulfilling, I’m constantly learning about new plants (and constantly adding to my plant gang).

Sam @ Home

Tylor @ Home

When I’m not working I typically spend my time hanging around my plant jungle that is my room. I also really enjoy finding different conservatories/greenhouses to explore. Adventuring through new parts in the city also excites me.

What’s a secret skill you have?

I’m very receptive, I pick up on peoples needs very quickly and it makes working with others very easy. I also know how to get down on the dance floor, which not too many people know!

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

PLANTS! Always plants. Some of my favorite plants in my collection have been gifts. I also think gifting a plant fits any occasion. You can always find room for another.

Sam and Penelope

Tylor and Penelope

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

My jungle pup Penelope! She’s an English Bulldog and I’m lucky enough that she doesn’t mess with any of my plants. She only enjoys napping next to them.

What’s on your to-do list today?

I am finishing up writing a letter to my girlfriend Krysten, who’s studying at Indiana University, making my daily plant rounds, (I don’t stick to any type of schedule, you kind of get a feel for which plants need more maintenance and being diligent about checking them has worked best for me), I work at Sprout Home today, after I’m going to a plant auction (of course), and then lastly I’m going out to sing karaoke and to a club with my friend in Chicago!

A pencil cactus looms over some of Tylor's houseplant collection

A pencil cactus looms over some of Tylor’s houseplant collection

 

Do you have a green thumb?

Not to toot my own horn, but I would say yes! It would be a little difficult to take care of my 100+ plants at home if I didn’t have a green thumb. I counted earlier this week, 86 of my plants are in my bedroom! That’s not saying you can’t have a green thumb too! Reading up on plants and not being afraid to lose a couple in the process will help you cultivate a plant hobby! I actually just killed an air plant earlier this week, but thats okay!

Tylor's Houseplants

Tylor’s Houseplants

Any plant care tips you can share?

RESEARCH! Half the fun of having a plant gang is learning how to take care of your new friend. There’s a ton of plant books out there to help you, and google is there to help 24/7. With winter approaching and us cranking up the thermostat, our plants need extra love too! Invest in a humidifier and keep those tropical plants happy! Lastly, houseplants should bring you joy, if you find one of them is being more of a nuisance to you, don’t be afraid to give ‘em away or toss it out. This is something I still struggle with! 😉

Tylor's Anthurium crystallinum

Tylor’s Anthurium crystallinum

What tops your houseplant wish list?

There’s so many different plants on my wish list that it’s hard to keep track! Most recently it was an Anthurium crystallinum, but just this week I got one from work (Sprout Home)! Anything that I find unusual always makes it onto the list. The list is never ending!

 

Thank you so much, Taylor!

P.S More guest posts read here.

(all the incredible plant photos above were taken by Sam Daniels – iamsamdaniels.com@iamsamdaniels

 

#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Plant Care

Fall Plant Care Tips from The Sill team

September 13, 2016

It’s that time of year again… And as the temperature changes outside – your plant care routine should change inside. We know houseplants thrive during the spring and summer, but the real challenge is helping them survive during the fall and winter (when you need them most). 

That’s where we come in. Modify your current plant care routine by following our top seasonal tips below – and check out more Fall Plant Care tips from our expert friends like The Houseplant Guru’s Lisa Eldred Steinkopf and Garden Blogger Benjamin Thorton in our fall plant care series. 

Fall Plant Care Tips & Tricks – The Sill

– Move Indoors 

If you moved any of your plants outside for the summer, it’s time to bring them back indoors before it gets too chilly (before nighttime temperatures dip below 50 degrees F). Keep in mind they might have picked up a few pesky friends during their summer vacation – so check your plants carefully for pests before bringing them inside. Even if you don’t see anything, give your plants a good but gentle hose down. And if you want to be extra cautious, which definitely doesn’t hurt, spray your plant’s leaves with a generous amount of diluted neem oil, an organic vegetable oil and natural pesticide. It can be a bit smelly – so we recommend doing this outside if possible.

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Remember it’s OK to ditch some plants outside, too. Consider the health of each plant before bringing it back inside your home or office. If a plant has struggled to survive outdoors, bringing it indoors to less than ideal conditions like low humidity and dry heat will likely cause it to get worse. Add it to the compost pile.

– Potentially Repot 

For most plants, spring and summer is when you’ll see the most new growth. Some of your plants will have increased dramatically in size – maybe they’ve even outgrown their current pots and need to be repotted. Plan to have some fresh potting soil and new planters on hand just incase. First time repotting? Don’t fret! See our step-by-step Repotting 101 Guide (with photos!) on Refinery29.

– Dust Leaves

Like dust accumulates on your bookshelf, it also accumulates on the porous surfaces of your houseplant. Lightly dust off leaves and stems with a damp cloth every week or so. Accumulated dust on leaves plug their pores – making it difficult for plants to “breathe” and conduct photosynthesis. Also give your windows a good wash (if possible). The more light that can shine in and reach your plants – especially as the days get shorter – the better.

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– Increase Humidity

Indoor humidity levels drop considerably during the fall as buildings fire up their heating systems. This can be devastating for houseplants, considering most common varieties are tropical in origin. Try to mist your plants weekly, or invest in a humidifier (your skin will thank you, too!). And remember to never place potted plants next to, or on top of, a heating system – or in the line of a cold draft (i.e. a window you’ll open regularly come winter). These extreme changes in temperature will cause serious stress to your plants.

Consider grouping plants together that require similar care. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it’s an easy way to increase humidity levels.

– Maintain Light

The angle of the sun changes considerably with the season, so pay close attention as fall settles in. Some plants might require a new location – i.e. a spot closer to the windowsill – to receive close to the same amount of sun as they did during the summer. In addition, rotate your plants every week or two so they receive light on all sides.

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– Forgo Fertilizer

Foliage growth slows down considerably during the fall and winter months, so you can withhold from using any fertilizer until next spring, which is the start of the growth season.

– Water Less

This is one of the most important tips to follow – but cautiously. Because the growth rate of plants is considerably slower in the fall and winter, your plants might not require as much water as they did during the spring and summer. You could find yourself watering half, or even two-thirds, less frequently. For example, that snake plant might find itself thirsty once every six weeks, instead of every three weeks. It is important to keep in mind though how dramatically drier the air might be – so even if your houseplant might require more infrequent waterings, it might also require more humidity. A good rule of thumb is to check your plants regularly. If the soil is bone dry – it’s time to water. And make sure to always use tepid water – a freezing cold shower can shock your plants.

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– Get Creative 

If you don’t have set spots for each of your houseplants, enjoy moving them around your space until you reach your desired look. Just make sure each plant is receiving the recommended light it needs to thrive – and isn’t in the line of a draft or vent. If you’re unsure what type of light your plant requires, shoot us an email at help@thesill.com or tweet us at @TheSill.

Fall is also a great time to work on checking off some tasks on your design wish list. If you always dreamed of installing floating shelves, or ceiling hooks, now is the time. Just make sure they’re sturdy enough to hold your houseplant after a thorough watering, which will make them heavier overall. Your trailing houseplants, like pothos and philodendrons, will thank you.

 

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

Fall Plant Care Tips from Ben Thorton

September 13, 2016

In the second installment of our Fall Plant Care series – we’re featuring the fall plant care tips and tricks of owner and editor of T5fixtures, Ben Thorton. Ben is a Philadelphia resident, garden blogger, and avid gardener & grow light enthusiast. 

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My Fall Plant Care – Ben Thorton

I have been passionate about gardening as long as I can remember. However, I recall dreading the fall season because it meant I would have to stop gardening outdoors for quite some time. Luckily, I found indoor gardening – which allowed me to have plants no matter the weather. I started with a few plants on my windowsill, but now I have a full garden in my home so I can satisfy my craving. Growing plants is my ‘drug’ of choice, and I don’t intend to drop the habit any time soon. Hi, my name is Ben – and I am a gardenaholic…

It’s September so fall is basically here. Fall brings with it changes in weather and changes in plant care. The weather outside cools down, the heat indoors is cranked up, and the sunlight hours become noticeably shorter. So I’m sharing my top tips below for caring for your houseplants once the fall season comes.

Watering

When it comes to watering your plants it really depends on two things: 1) the type of plant it is, and 2) the environmental conditions in the space the plant is located.

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Usually in the winter the air indoors is dry and warm, thanks to heaters that are running on full blast to heat our homes, so plants that love humid conditions and a lot of water will have to watered quite a bit more. On the opposite side of the spectrum are plants that like dry and hot conditions, for example now trending succulents, so if you are growing these plants, then make sure you don’t overwater them and you let then enjoy the climate you have in your house.

Overall, the best plan of action for watering your plants in any season really is to check the soil and go from there. If the soil is still moist, the plan doesn’t need water yet, but if the soil is dry, then it might be time to quench the plant’s thirst.

Light

Probably the biggest thing in fall and winter plant care is light, since in this time period the days are shorter and the weather is often overcast, which doesn’t allow for much natural sunlight. For the colder seasons I would suggest placing your plants as close to the window as possible – so they can soak up the little light there is during the day. However, if that is not possible in your situation, then you might want to think about adding artificial grow lights, like T5 lighting, for those plants that especially love the sun.

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Humidity

As I mentioned before, dry air comes with the territory of indoor gardening during fall, winter, and spring. But since not all plants thrive in dry conditions – it might be worth it to employ a humidifier around your plants, or to place a bowl of water in all of the rooms where you have houseplants to help increase the humidity. And a bonus – air that is humid also is better for your health! Did you know bacteria and viruses have a harder time to travel through air when it is humid?

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Nutrients

And lastly, I wanted to talk a little about the nutrients and fertilization that plants can benefit from during the darker months of the year. Essentially nutrients are plant food and since in the fall, winter, and spring plants get a little less light and maybe not as favorable of growing conditions, it might be a good idea to give your plants extra nutrients to facilitate their growth. If you decide to go this route, I would suggest buying a fertilizer that is specially meant for indoor houseplants because these fertilizers have the right nutrients in them that plants growing indoors could lack. When it comes to deciding on naturally or chemically made fertilizer, it really depends on your preference. I usually choose the more natural fertilizers because they are less likely to shock your plants and stunt their growth. As for how often you should fertilize your plants, I would say around once time a month.

P.S. Find more Fall Plant Care tips here.

 

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

Fall Plant Care Tips from the Houseplant Guru

September 7, 2016

We all know that houseplants thrive in the spring and summer – when the days are long and the sun is plentiful – but what about the fall and winter? Here at The Sill, we tend to argue that winter is houseplant season, and fall is us gearing up for it. This might seem a bit crazy, considering the environmental conditions winter brings – think short, cold, overcast days here in New York City – but we ask you, in what season are houseplants more beneficial to our overall health and wellbeing?! 

As author and renowned plant authority Tovah Martin remarks, “I’ve never had the opportunity to explore whether I am prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder. With all this greenery around, I never feel the full brunt of winter. Sure, my back aches from shoveling snow and my fingers are swollen from chilblains. But my spirit is warmed by all the growing things performing around me.”

And with that sentiment, we decided to bring you as much fall plant care tips and tricks as possible this September. In the hopes that you, too, can dread the changes that are coming our way just a tiny bit less than usual. To kick it off, we’ve reached out to The Houseplant Guru herself, Lisa Eldred Steinkopf (even her license plate says houseplant), to share her top tips for keeping your houseplants healthy and happy as fall sets in. 

My Fall Plant Care – Lisa Eldred Steinkopf

Fall Houseplant Care

As the kids get ready for school and the garden outside is winding down, it is time to give some love and attention to our indoor plants. They are beginning to slow down their processes with the decreasing day length and many people are beginning to bring their summer vacationing houseplants back inside before the cold weather begins.

If your plants have been outside for the summer, they are used to a high light situation. Even if they have resided under a tree or in the shade outside, odds are the level of light inside your home is still much lower than the level of light outside. Acclimatization is key when bringing your plants back into the dim interior of your home, and now is the time to start that process if you haven’t already. What is acclimatization? It is the process of giving time to a living organism (plants) to adjust to a new situation. So how do you do that? Take your plant from the light situation it is in, and move it gradually to lower light situations for a couple of weeks so that it can gradually get used to the lower light it will be encountering in your home. For example, move a full sun plant into ½ day shade and then to full shade, such as the north side of the house or under a densely branched tree or shrub, over a two week time period. (P.S. This rule of acclimatization should also be followed when bring your houseplants from inside to outside in the springtime.)

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Okay, so you’ve acclimatized your plants. What next? Before you bring your plants in the door, examine them for any signs of pests, especially if you have other plants inside that did not spend the summer outdoors. Nothing is worse than bringing scale, mealybugs, or spider mites inside and infecting your other houseplants. Check the undersides of the leaves, the crevices between leaves and stems, and also the soil. The first line of defense is to spray the plant with a hard, but not damaging, stream of water and flood the pot with water, hoping anything that may be living there comes to the top or runs out the bottom drainage holes. Completely changing out the plant’s soil is also a practice some people have adopted. Additionally, there are products that can be used to help make sure any unwanted visitors are executed before bringing the plant inside. A systemic insecticide used in the soil will spread up into the plant, making it toxic to insects. You can also use a Neem oil spray which is a fungicide, miticide, and insecticide in one, so it may help with more than one problem. Insecticidal soap may be used as well. Find what works for you and your plants, and make sure you read all the directions on the label and follow them. Remember – more is never better for your plants!

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What next? Maybe something you haven’t thought of – wash your windows! Windows collect a lot of dirt from rain, dust, and smog, all summer long. What a difference it makes to have clean windows and it will benefit your plants immensely. Also, wash the plants themselves. Take them to the shower and really give them a good cleaning on a regular basis all year. The dust on your windows and plants interferes with their life sustaining photosynthetic processes. Light can’t reach the leaf cells when dirt and grime get in the way.

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Because here in the Northern hemisphere, our plants slow down their processes as the day length shortens, we do not need to fertilize our plants from late September through February. At this time, fertilizing your plants for the last time is recommended. Whether you choose to use a synthetic or organic fertilizer, my rule of thumb is to use full strength every 4th watering or ¼ strength every watering. And like before, more is never better.

Another thing to consider as we bring our plants indoors for the fall/winter seasons are the heat vents spewing their hot air onto our plants. Whereas it makes us comfortable, our plants aren’t as happy with the situation. Although most plants do prefer warmer temperatures, the hot air of a heat vent is drying to the plants. Even though there is less light and their processes have slowed down, the hot air of a heater will suck the moisture right out of the plants. Therefore, when we first bring in our plants from their summer outdoors, they may need more water than usual. Misting is often recommended, but that is a very temporary fix, and one I don’t necessarily recommend. Instead, I set my plants on a pebble tray filled with water which will raise the humidity around the plant on a more permanent basis and offset the drying atmosphere of the heat vent. Just make sure the bottom of the planter is not submerged in the water.

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With these few tips, I hope you can get your plants through the winter without any casualties. You can keep your houseplants happy and healthy by doing a few extra things in the fall, as you and your plants get ready for a long winter.

 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview, Plant Care

Joey Meyers and Mark Baehser, Vintage Buyer and Pediatrician

August 1, 2016

Meet Joey Meyers and Mark Baehser of Ball and Claw Vintage.

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Ball and Claw Vintage is an online website run by Joey Meyers and Mark Baehser. Joey is a vintage buyer and Mark is a pediatrician. They live in Jersey City in a turn of the century Victorian home with their adorable cat, Bridget.
We discovered Ball and Claw Vintage on Instagram – and instantly knew we had to reach out to them and learn more! Their page is filled with plant-inspired pictures, unique pieces of furniture, and vintage room accents; basically the definition of #homegoals.
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We asked Joey and Mark if they could talk to us about their home, their love for houseplants, and if they had any plant care tips…!
Joey’s first impression of the houseplant can be described in one word: silk. Growing up, Joey’s mother had tons of fake houseplants decorating their home. He remembers his mother dragging out the houseplants onto the driveway to hose the dust off them every once in a while. He told us that since then, his mother has given up fake plants and is giving Joey and Mark a run for their money in the real plant category!
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Thankfully, Joey did not inherit his mother’s love for fake fauna! When he and Mark bought their New Jersey home two years ago, one of their favorite features was the tremendous amount of natural light that poured into the place. Their house has over forty windows spread across three floors! Since the previous owner of the house was a florist; the front and back gardens are lush, wild, and inspiring.
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Mark and Joey both share a love for interior design and incorporating plants is a go-to when they are struggling when an area. If they can’t find a piece for a corner, they simply throw a plant there! In a statement about his use of houseplants, Joey said,
“They go with any style, are cheaper than furniture, and add color and texture. We love the feeling they lend to a space, and the constant care for them can be therapeutic. We now have over 150 plants throughout the home, and the number is growing rapidly!”
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We asked Joey and Mark if they could share any plant care tips with us and they gave us some great advice. They said that googling plant care is like googling a medical symptom: the answers are usually vague or terminal. For Joey and Mark learning how to best care for their plants has been a lot of trial and error. They suggest spending time with your plants each week because it will help you understand them better and develop more of a green thumb! Learn what works for them and if they are getting too much sun or water. Also, try switching up their placement or watering schedule until you get it right.
Thank you so much, Joey and Mark!
To learn more about Ball and Claw Vintage visit their website – and, of course, follow them on Instagram if you’re not already!  
#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview

Kay Lee, Founder, OTTE

July 21, 2016

Meet Houseplant Tastemaker Kay Lee, Founder of OTTE!

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Name:  Kay Lee

Location: New York, NY

Occupation:  Founder and Head Buyer, OTTE NY

Favorite Plant: Snake Plant

Can you share a little background about yourself, and about OTTE?

I established the first OTTE store in Williamsburg in 1999, which has now grown into five locations across Manhattan. My travels and previous experience in the fashion industry inspired my love of designing and buying. I now create the concept for each buying season and curate the merchandise for each of our stores. OTTE New York is a luxury, contemporary, womenswear boutique that features covetable ready-to-wear, shoes, jewelry, and accessories.

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

After a New Year’s resolution to pursue happiness and make more time for leisurely activities, I gifted myself with a trip to Africa.

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

My 16 year old Shih Tzu, Olive. My day just wouldn’t be the same without her.

What’s on your to-do list today?

Today is a busy, but exciting day in Paris for Pre-Spring Market Week. I am headed to brand appointments to find merchandise and inspiration for our stores.

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What is your favorite plant and why?

I love to fill my space with snake plants. They purify the air in my home, are easy to handle, and are perfect for someone like me who is always on the go.

Do you have a green thumb?

Not particularly, although I wish that I did.

Any plant tips you can share?

When in doubt, start small. If you don’t have much of a green thumb, start with plants that are easier to take care of and build your way up.

What tops your houseplant wish list?

Air plants definitely hold the top spot on my list. With their charming size and low maintenance care, what more could I ask for?

What inspired OTTE?

OTTE is continuously inspired by colors, vintage samples, and global travels.

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What is on your summer wish list currently?

There are a bold pair of Brother Vellies sandals that I have had my eye on.

Three things you can’t leave the house without:

Sleek Karen Walker shades, Aēsop hand balm, and a Sophie Hulme mini tote.

 

Thanks you so much, Kay!