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

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 7

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

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

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

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

The yellow leaves!

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

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

Too much *or* too little water 

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

Nutrient deficiency

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

Natural aging

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

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

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

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

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 6

September 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Find previous Monday Plant Myths HERE.

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

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 5

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

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

Find previous Monday Plant Myths HERE.

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

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find previous Monday Plant Myths HERE.

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

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 3

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

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

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

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

Find previous Monday Plant Myths HERE.

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

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 2

August 7, 2017
MONDAY 08.07.17 MYTH: MIST YOUR SUCCULENTS

Myth: “I should mist my succulent plants…” 

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

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

Find previous Monday Plant Myths HERE.

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

PLANT MYTH MONDAYS – MYTH 1

July 31, 2017

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

 

MONDAY 07.31.17 MYTH: WATER YOUR HOUSEPLANTS WITH ICE CUBES 

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

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

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