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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Plant History

A Horticulturalist’s Halloween

October 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos via Wikipedia 

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

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

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

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

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

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










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

Halloween Costume Inspiration

October 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adorable mug not included.






#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

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





#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Plant Care, Plant Myth Mondays

Leaf Shining Products – Plant Myth Mondays – #10

October 9, 2017

MONDAY 10.09.17 MYTH: You should use leaf-shining products

We do not recommend using leaf-shining products on your houseplants. PERIOD.

Image via Jeannie Phan

Sadly though, you can still see many commercial plant shine products on the market, or retailers who use it to beautify their plants today. So why are leaf-shining products bad news? Because they can potentially suffocate a plant by clogging its pores. Think of a leaf’s surface like your skin – you can get blemishes when you have too much residue on the surface blocking your pores. For plants, congested pores are even worse. They may even be life-threating because the plants can not properly breath and photosynthesize!

In addition, the high shine looks very artificial. It makes your living plant look almost plastic and fake. And the glossy look actually draws clouds of dust and requires more maintenance afterward. We always say that a happy plant should have healthy leaves that are free of dust and calcium residue. Learn a few easy and gentle methods to achieve that natural, shiny-leaf look that you love below:

Damp cloth

This is an oldie, but a goodie. Wet your cloth (or sponge) and wring out any excess water. Support each leaf with one hand, and wipe down away from the stem very carefully with the other. Make sure you get to the undersides too, which is where pests usually like to hide! For delicate or very small leaves, try using a soft brush.

Soap + water

Another foolproof method is to try a mixture of liquid dish detergent and water. There are two ways to do this: you can either dip a soft cloth in the concoction and wipe the leaves carefully, or lather your hands with soap/water and gently apply it to the plant. Either way, be sure to clean both the top and bottom of the leaves, because it will also help to remove pests like spider mites. Thoroughly rinse the plant and you are good to go.

Vinegar and water

Mixing vinegar with water is especially effective at getting rid of residue buildup on leaves. However, do not overdo it! This one is not meant to be part of your routine plant maintenance, but instead only when needed. Start by mixing one teaspoon of the vinegar with about a gallon of water. Then dip the cloth in your concoction – and apply to gently to your plants. An added bonus, the vinegar scent is great at repelling pests or your naughty pets!

Dusting feather 

Use a dusting feather to gently sweep through your plants’ leaves. Obviously, this one will only work on larger, leafy plants. For example, a Monstera deliciosa, ZZ plant, or Bird of Paradise. Make sure you get the undersides as well. FYI, we do not recommend this method with a fern, since you may disrupt its spores. Try using a soft makeup brush or paint brush for smaller, more delicate plants.

Keep in mind that it is imperative that you treat plants as carefully as possible when implementing any of the methods above. Steer clear of leaf-shine products, which will clog leaf pores. Keeping your plant’s leaves shiny and clean the natural way will also help to keep pests at bay. You can use this maintenance time to inspect the plant for damage, disease, or any early signs of an unhappy plant. Natural means may not leave the glossy appearance leaf shines do, but we do what’s best for our plants so they can thrive.

P.S Did you think this was awesome and informative? Then you may like more of our Plant Myth Monday Series











#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Interview, Plant Care

Creating an Herb Garden in Your Kitchen – by Katie Kuchta

October 4, 2017

We’re thrilled to feature a guest post by our friend, Katie Kuchta, on creating an herb garden right in your own kitchen.  Katie came to appreciate nature’s beauty through her plein air painting and finds passion in designing gardens and outdoor living spaces. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing Tai Chi on a nearby beach and taking meditative walks through forests. 

Photo via online

Transitioning into the fall weather has its ups and downs. Frequenting lawn care on the weekends to prepare for a lush yard in the springtime and the dwindling sadness of cleaning out your garden bed. Gardening doesn’t have to end there!

You can do one of two things or both– utilize your freshly cleaned out garden bed for quick growing vegetables or bring the gardening indoors. Lettuce is easy to grow and with some varieties can keep the cold where the winters are mild. If you prefer to bring the garden indoors instead of bearing the chill to exercise your green-thumb, try growing something similar and rewarding like fresh herbs.

Fresh herbs will add zest to the most ordinary of meals. Dried herbs are good enough, but there is no comparison to the vibrant scent and flavor of fresh herbs. Besides, when have you ever been satisfied with “good enough” in your culinary artistry?

There are no fresher herbs than those that you grow at home, let alone in your own kitchen. Not only is it easy to establish and maintain your indoor herb garden, but it’s also an extremely satisfying way of exercising your green thumb year-round. Here are some tips on bringing the outside in by creating an herb garden right in your kitchen!

Let there be light

Photo via online

Of course you want your herb garden in the kitchen where you can reach over and snip the fresh herbs as you cook, but if there is not enough light in the kitchen, an herb garden in any other room works just as well.

Herbs need as much natural light as possible—at least four to five hours of sun a day. Four seasons rooms and rooms with a skylight or larger windows work best. Windows with south or southwest sunlight exposure is ideal, but windows facing the east or west work fine as well.

None of those in your home? Purchase grow lights and position them so that they light the area over your herbs for four to six hours a day. No matter how your herbs receive light, remember to turn them regularly for even exposure and growth.

Keep the herbs comfy

Photo via online

Indoor herbs prefer the same temperatures that most people do— around 65 to 70 degrees F. If you’re comfortable, they probably are too. At night, the temperature near a window may drop to 55 or 60, most herbs are okay with that, just don’t let foliage touch the cold glass. It will turn brown and the plant can die from thermal shock.

Herbs find it difficult to deal with dry air, whether it’s from air conditioning or heating. They’ll appreciate a weekly shower with lukewarm water. Put the pots in the sink, spray them gently but thoroughly and let them drip dry.

Pot and Plant

Photo credit: dogeared (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Now that you’ve found the right spot, select the pots. You may automatically head for clay pots, but they dry out quickly, a real problem in dry climates or when the heater is on in the winter. Stick with glazed or plastic pots. They are better for your herbs, in particular– the glazed pots are so beautifully made that they add another dimension to your home’s décor. Be sure that the pots have drainage holes.

Use a fast-draining potting mix with perlite or vermiculite rather than garden soil to keep the soil loose and aerated. You will need good drainage and protection for your window sill or table top. Place the potted plants on a saucer, liner, or drain pan to catch the drainage.

Photo credit: online

Herbs to start with
When taking care of herbs indoors, it’s best to start with established plants rather than seeds. You’ll have herbs months sooner.

  • Basil: “Genovese” for classic aroma and flavor or “Siam Queen” for a more exotic spicy flavor.
  • Chervil: Also known as French parsley, with delicate overtones of anise.
  • Chives: “Grolau” has a delicate onion flavor and loves growing by a window.
  • Cilantro: Also known as Chinese parsley, with a distinctive flavorful blend of parsley, sage, and citrus.
  • Dill: Grows best indoors. “Fernleaf” dill is an ideal compact variety.
  • Marjoram: This Mediterranean native is related to oregano, but the flavor is sweeter and more delicate.
  • Mint: Peppermint, spearmint or “English” mint—all are good choices. Each needs its own pot. They can get aggressive with other herbs.

Once your herbs are planted, they aren’t particularly demanding. The most important thing to do is to snip or prune back your herbs, once a week on average. Keeping them pruned will make them sturdier and more productive.

Thanks for the tips, Katie! Now you can exercise your green-thumb in the cooler months and enjoy your own farm-to-table herbs year-round. How amazing is that? Do you have any tips when it comes to growing herbs indoors? Comment below! 

P.S Check out more plant care tips and tricks HERE





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

Plant Myth Mondays – Myth 9

October 2, 2017

image via Dwell

MONDAY 10.02.17 MYTH: I can put a plant anywhere 

As the temperature is dipping outside, a lot of you may be thinking about giving your houseplants a little extra love inside before winter comes. While you’re repotting, pruning, or bringing inside – you may want to consider the spot you usually place your plant for the coming months. Remember as you sadly say goodbye to summer – your plants probably feel the same way.

Today we are going to talk about why where you put your plant really matters! Especially come fall and winter…


First thing first, 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 vice versa, how much natural sunlight your plant needs. Some questions you may want to ask yourself: how much sun does my space receive, what direction does my window(s) face, are there any obstacles outside my window blocking natural light, and so on… For example, if you have a floor-to-ceiling window, and live all the way up on 20th floor with nothing blocking your view (lucky you!), your best bet is a sun-loving plant like a succulent, parlor palm, or aloe. If you have tiny little window that faces the back of a building, you would want to try a plant that can tolerate low light, like a snake plant, marimo “moss” ball, or pothos.


The second question you need to ask yourself is, what’s the humidity level in my home like? Generally speaking, most houseplants will like slightly higher humidity level then you may like since the majority of them are native to tropical environments, like the rainforest. For example, you may want to put your ferns in a spot that’s near a water source that creates some humidity, like in a bathroom or kitchen. However, there are also plants could not care less about humidity, such as ZZ plant or succulents. You wouldn’t want to put them right next to your shower or bathtub. Best bet is to find out what your houseplant’s native environment is like – and try your best to recreate it inside your home.


Once you nail down the sunlight and humidity, you’ll want to think about temperature. Most common houseplants prefer a stable environment! Extreme fluctuations in temperature can stress them out. Make sure you don’t place your houseplant right in front of an AC unit, radiator, or drafty window. Ask yourself, would you like to sit on a radiator or be blasted with AC all day long?  Probably not (it could make you sick!). And neither does your plant.

Be mindful of your surroundings- your plant generally likes the same temperatures that you do. “70 and sunny”, anyone? You may say, “what should I do if I only have a window right next to my radiator that’s accessible to provide enough light for my ferns?” Try to mist your plant regularly. In fact, make it a priority to do so especially in the colder months, as the radiator will dry them out considerably. 

Overall – remember that a plant is a living thing – not a piece of furniture (although aesthetically-speaking, plants can really up your decor game!). If you are overheated or freezing, so is your plant. Hate sitting in bathwater too long and getting pruny? Your plant does, too. Although plants are beautiful where you put them – you can’t place one somewhere just because it looks good. Inside pick the perfect place for them based on the sunlight, humidity, and temperature that will help them thrive (hint: a spot that mimics their native environment!) 🙂 

Find more debunked Plant Myths HERE!








#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Interview

Stressed? Plants are The Answer – by Carrie Ingoglia

September 28, 2017

We are thrilled to feature a guest post by Carrie Ingoglia on why incorporating plants and meditation into your life is important.

If you’ve been feeling any stress lately, you’re not alone. There’s a lot going on in the world of ours.

Maybe you’re constantly running through your to-do list. You feel impatient or frustrated. You have trouble sleeping or digesting. Or maybe you get stuck endlessly scrolling through your social feeds (This morning I went to look up the weather, and 20 minutes went by while I checked Twitter and Instagram. Meanwhile, I totally forgot to look at the weather.)

No matter how stress manifests for you, nature offers a biological antidote that we often forget.

We’re built to respond to the seasons and the natural environment —being close to nature helps us go with the flow. But because our daily lives are often so far removed from the natural world, it’s easy to feel disconnected. Luckily, you don’t have to immerse yourself in bioluminescent pools or spend hours forest bathing to get the positive effects of nature.


When we are stressed, our bodies react by turning on our “fight or flight” response. This is a chemical response that makes our hearts beat faster, our breathing get faster and more shallow, and our digestion slow, redirecting energy to the big muscles of the body so we can run away or stand our ground against the tiger that’s chasing us through the forest.

The problem is, our body doesn’t know the difference between a very real threat from an animal of prey and a message on social media that makes us angry or defensive. It reacts with the same stress response to a tiger or a tweet. And being in a constant state of fight or flight is exhausting and can lead to all sorts of ailments big and small.


The good news is, the stress response has a built-in counter balance. We can reverse the whole thing, and we can do it just by breathing. Becoming aware of your breath has a way of getting us out of our heads and into our bodies. Deep breathing is known to slow the heart rate and helps bring us down from fight or flight.

Our breath and our bodies are our instant connection back to the present moment. By paying attention to that, we can more easily come back down to earth — no matter where we are.


Adding natural elements to our daily lives can help us feel more connected and less stressed out.

It’s no surprise that a hike helps calm us down. Or that gardening can be used as a kind of meditation. In fact, according to Psychology Today, several scientific studies have shown the presence of houseplants has been found to be lower blood pressure, increase focus, and lower anxiety in schools, at work, and even in hospitals. (Learn more about the benefits of indoor plants here.) 

Plants help keep us grounded when we’re all up in our heads.

  • Take three deep breaths.

This one is easy and you can do it anywhere. But it may take some practice. Wherever you are, pause. Sit or stand with your feet planted on the ground and let your spine be long. Breathe in through your nose to the count of three. Then breathe out through your nose to the count of five. Do this three or more times and see how you feel.

  • Go for a walk outside.

Even if you’re not in the woods or on the beach, just being outside can help make us feel more connected. If you’re at work, try going for a walk around the block without your phone. Stand on the corner waiting for the bus without checking your email. Spot a little dandelion sprouting through the cracks in the sidewalk. Just be outside.

  • Do a guided plant meditation.

Spend some quality time with whatever plants you have around you, whether it’s a big Fiddle Leaf Fig or a tiny succulent. Luckily, you’ve got a guided meditation right here to help start you on you’re way.


Thank you so much, Carrie! Have you ever meditated (and do you have plants around you when you do it)? What else would you add? 

PS Carrie is a yoga teacher and the writer + producer of the podcast, Yoga For the Revolution

PPS Find our plant picks that will purify air while you meditate HERE!








#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Plant Care, Plant Myth Mondays

Plant Myth Mondays – Myth 8

September 26, 2017


The Tillandsia, also nicknamed the “air plant”, receives a lot of hype because of its weird, sea-creature like appearance. But how much do you really know about air plants? Do you assume they don’t need water- because they grow in the “air” instead of in a planter with potting mix like most houseplants?

Tillandsia is a genus of plants native to South and Central American and parts of the southern United States, and they have been come to known as ‘air plants’ because they can grow without soil. Most people don’t know that air plants are in the same family as the common bromeliad – Bromeliaceae! The difference is that the common bromeliad we see at our local plant shops, with big colorful leaves, grows in the soil – whereas air plants don’t. Hundreds of different air plant varieties (over 600!) grow on trees, rocks, and cliffs. Because of their natural habitats, they have adapted, and use their root system to clutch on to surrounding surfaces, rather than for absorbing water- what most plants do with their roots.

But just because they’re not absorbing water through their roots- does not mean they don’t absorb water at all. Actually, they require more water than most common houseplants! How do they receive this water? Air plants absorb most of the water and nutrients they need through their crazy-looking leaves!

Shop our  Tillandz and Air Plants!

The ideal growing conditions for air plants: 

  • Bright, indirect light, or partly sunny (some direct sun is recommended)
  • Water, or mist, your air plants two to three times a week! Remember, the more light it gets, the more frequently you will want to water and mist it!
  • Make sure you shake off excess water after watering. You can also turn it upside-down for 5 minutes before putting it back to its usual spot.
  • Don’t keep your air plants in air-tight containers- they need air circulation! (Opt for an air plant stand instead of a container!)
  • Use warm, purified water when watering and/or misting. In the wild, they only receive warm rainwater, which is very pure. You might want to use purified water when watering. They are also extremely cold-sensitive, so keep out of the way of drafts.

Mount your airplants! Shop plants + stands here.

So remember- air plants DO need water. And arguably even more than other common houseplants. They’re called air plants because they live ‘in the air’, not because they can magically conjure things from the air 😉  Did I mention they are pet-friendly plants too?

Learn more about the Tillandsia HERE, and check out more of our Plant Myth Mondays HERE.










#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Plant Care, Style Tips

Fall Plant Care Tips and Tricks

September 22, 2017

Happy 1st day of fall 🙂 As the weather gets colder and dryer, it will probably be our poor skin that will feel the environmental changes first. But your dry skin and extra layer also signal that it’s time to change-up your plant care regimen. While finding that perfect new sweater is (somewhat) easy enough, knowing exactly what to change up in your plant care routine is a bit trickier. But as the temperature changes outside – know that your care routine should change inside.

Modify your current plant care routine and make the transition from summer to fall flawlessly with our tips below. Because we should do our best to help our houseplants survive during the colder months – when we’ll need them the most.

Maintain Light

Have you ever noticed days are shorter, and your place turns darker faster, during the winter? It is because the angle of the sun changes considerably during seasonal transition. That being said, you want to pay extra attention to your indoor plants at this time. Some plants might require a new location – i.e. a spot closer to the window – to receive close to the same amount of sun as they did during the summer, when days were longer and sunnier. For example, you might want to move your succulent to your windowsill, instead of sitting on coffee table. In addition, you might want to rotate your plants every week or two so they receive similar amounts of light on all sides. Another tip is to make sure your curtains are up during the day so your plants can get as much light as possible.

Water Less (Frequently)

We just talked about how significant less light plants will get during colder months. Less light (stimulation) means slower growth rate which equals less water — you don’t want to drown your plants basically… For example, you could find yourself watering half, or even two-thirds, less frequently. (This is exactly what plant myth 6 is about.) A good rule of thumb is to check your plants regularly to see if the soil is completely dry. For example, that snake plant might find itself thirsty once every six weeks now, instead of every three weeks like in the summer. In addition, it is important to keep in mind though how dramatically drier the air might be – so even if your houseplant might require less frequent waterings, it might also require more humidity. Make sure you poke around in it’s potting mix and see if it’s dry before you water your plants.

Increase Humidity

I often find myself waking up with chapped lips once the weather gets colder and the humidity drops considerably. Most common houseplants are native to tropical environments, and the dry air can be devastating to them. Try to mist your indoor 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! Another way to combat the low humidity situation is to group plants together that require similar care — they will help each other out. (You would definitely want to do that with Ferns.) Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also an easy way to increase humidity levels.

Move Them 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! It is best to relocate them back inside before nighttime temperatures dip below 50 degrees F. Also, make sure you check your plants very carefully for any pests, as it might have picked up a few during those hot, humid, summer days. Even if you don’t initially spot anything, you might want to give your plant a gentle hose down just incase. It is also a good idea to be extra cautious and spray your plant’s leaves with a generous amount of diluted neem oil (never hurts to be too careful, right?).

Repot Your Plant (Last Call!)

Spring and summer are the time, with warmer temperature and longer days, when plants push out most of the new growth. The being said, some of your plants probably have increased dramatically in size – maybe they’ve even outgrown their current pots and need to be repotted now. (Find our top tips and tricks to repot your plant here.)

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. Give your houseplants the essentials (light and water) to sustain them through winter, but don’t fuss over them or kill them with kindness.

Get Creative

Fall is also a great time to work on checking off some tasks on your design wishlist. If you always dreamed of installing floating shelves, hanging baskets, 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.

With all things considered, remember it’s OK to ditch some plants outside, too. If a plant has struggled to survive during spring and summer, colder months with less than ideal conditions, like low humidity and dry heat, will likely cause it to get worse. Really, it is ok to say goodbye — we all grow through what we grow through 😉

As always, shoot us an email at, or tweet us at @TheSill, if you have any questions. We will brave the winter together.

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


September 18, 2017

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.