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#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

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#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

 

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#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…

SUNLIGHT

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.

HUMIDITY

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.

TEMPERATURE

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!

 

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Plant Care, Plant Myth Mondays

Plant Myth Mondays – Myth 8

September 26, 2017

MONDAY 09.25.17 MYTH: AIR PLANTS DON’T NEED WATER

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.

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#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 help@thesill.com, 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

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 7

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

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

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

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

The yellow leaves!

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

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

Too much *or* too little water 

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

Nutrient deficiency

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

Natural aging

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

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

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

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Plant Care, Plant History, Plant of The Month

Meet Our Fall Plant Pick – Ferns

September 15, 2017

Ferns – we have all heard of them, yet we fail to completely understand, and maybe even appreciate, them. It seems that people either love them, or hate them. But ferns, as houseplants, are relatively easy to care for once you get to know them! They might be a little needy, in comparison to say snake plants, but that can be great for people who enjoy taking care of their plants everyday. (I am looking at you, overwaterers!) Either way, they have became one of the most popular houseplants. If you are looking to add a new addition to your sill this fall, try a Fern!

So What is a Fern?

The ferns that we see and know today are actually quite ancient and mysterious. They first appeared on Earth as far back as 360-400 MYA! Fossil records indicate that they have outlived dinosaurs, saw the civilization of man, and survived numerous extinction threats. Before ferns – there were mosses, lichens, algae, and fungi scattered about, but nothing taller than those grew on the landscape. Ferns became the dominant plant life form because unlike their predecessors, the mosses, they had evolved a primitive but true vascular system. And around 360 MYA, the landmasses of the earth collided, forming the supercontinent Pangaea. Ferns spread throughout Pangaea, covering it almost entirely! Interestingly enough though, most surviving ferns that we see today actually evolved much later, during the Cretaceous Period, after flowering plants existed (about 100-70 MYA).  Many of the original ferns went extinct due to the several ice ages.  And to this day, there are still new fern species being discovered yearly!

Image via earthlyuniverse

How are ferns different from most plants?

Ferns are their own lineages. What that mean is they do not grow seeds, nor flowers, but reproduce by splitting, rhizomes, and spores.

Fern spores via here

Because the spores have no protective shell to protect it, unlike seeds, it also explains why they love high humidity environment. In addition, they are more primitive than other plants.

Common Ferns

Staghorn Ferns

Platycerium spp., natives to tropical South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. They are different from most ferns because they are epiphytes-living on trees instead of in the soil. They have pronounced sporophytes (the stags) and pronounced gametophytes (the shields), and both are separate parts in the staghorn fern’s life cycle.  Not to get to scientific-y here, but each ‘stag’ frond is created upon successful fusion of gametes produced by the gametophyte. Staghorn fern looks great, and does well, in hanging and mounted planters.Shop Staghorn Fern and Olmsted

 

Boston Fern 

Photo via Pinterest

Birds Nest Fern

Asplenium nidus, Birds Nest, is another easygoing fern that is native to tropical regions such as southeast Asia, Australia, east Africa and Hawaii. The fronds emerge coiled up from the center of the plant. As their unique ruffly leaves unfurled, they create a vase-like or bird’s nest shape. Hence the name, birds nest. Given the right indoor environment-high humid and medium to bright light-they will thrive.  They also make a great gift since they are known for the love ferns.

  1. Shop our Bird Nest Fern

General Ferns care

SUNLIGHT: Medium indirect bright light to low light.  Never direct sun, unless the species demands it.

WATER: Water weekly. Allow potting mix to half-dry out before watering.  However, soil can be moist or wet, but not sopping-wet.  Water more frequently during warmer months and drier months and fertilize during growth.

HUMIDITY: Any humidity level other than dry will do, but it prefers very moist air that will help lead to larger leaves and faster growth. A regular misting with a squirt-bottle will help raise the humidity.

TEMPERATURE: 65°F-85°F (18°C-30°C). It’s best not to let it go below 60°F (15°C).

In general, Ferns have been known to purify the air, and are excellent starter plants due to their low maintenance. There are thousands of fern species today. I am curious, do you have ferns? What’s your favorite? Comment below.

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Plant Care

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

September 14, 2017

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

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

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

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

South-facing windows = bright light 

East/West-facing windows = moderate light 

North-facing windows = low light 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find our top 5 tips for fertilizing houseplants HERE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 6

September 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Find previous Monday Plant Myths HERE.

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

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 5

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

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

Find previous Monday Plant Myths HERE.

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