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

Meet the Norfolk Island Pine

December 5, 2017

The Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophillahails from Norfolk Island – a small island in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and New Caledonia. Norfolk Island is extremely important for botanists because it is one of the only islands left in the world with a number of surviving fossil species. Fossil species are species that have existed for so long on earth that there are fossils of them and they are still alive today. Over 50 of the Island’s native plants are endemic (exist nowhere else in the world), and almost half of those are threatened with extinction

Caption Cook Lookout on Norfolk Island by Steve Daggar

This ancient lineage of trees has been on earth for over 200 million years, evolving in the Early Jurassic period.  During the Jurassic, conifers and cone-bearing plants (gymnosperms) were the dominant plant life, and are thought to be a food source for dinosaurs.  During this time, major diversification of the gymnosperms occurred, which was due, in-part to the warming of the earth and rising of the seas.

They would have been lost to history during the Cretaceous Extinction Event (~65MYA, the same one that killed the dinosaurs and 75% of life on Earth), if it were not for a few members of the species surviving on Norfolk Island!  Previous to the mass extinction, Araucarias were spread all over the world, and as far north as Sweden!  Their propensity for growing in perfectly geometric shapes and patterns have given them (and other plants in the family) the nickname “monkey puzzle trees”, but it is no puzzle why these cone-bearing trees are great houseplants–their resilience, vigor, and ability to survive mass extinctions. Just give them plenty of natural light!

Norfolk Island Pines in their natural habitat – Credit

Strangely enough, the Norfolk Island Pine is not even a pine at all – but rather part of a more ancient lineage of cone-bearing trees in the family, Araucariaceae.  Norfolk Island Pines, being related to early pines, split off pine (Pinaceae) ancestors during the Jurassic, have been on the earth for millions of years before today’s pines even evolved. Norfolk Island Pines lack characteristic pine traits.  And although most cone-bearing trees like pines are better adapted for cold conditions, Araucaria heterophylla is actually a tropical plant!  Its quirky yet symmetrical shape has made it a fun, alternative option to the usual holiday tree. 

Norfolk Island Pine in locally-made August planter – The Sill

Norfolk Island Pines make excellent houseplants, as they are low-light tolerant, and help clean the indoor air from toxic pollutants. 


Medium light to bright light.  Some dappled sun is fine- so is a full day of sun.  Adjust water and humidity accordingly. 


Water weekly. Allow potting mix to dry out before watering (can tolerate drying out, but not for long).  Soil about 1-2” down should be dry to touch. Water more frequently during warmer months, and fertilize during the growing season.  

Do not overwater or keep the soil wet for too long, as this will encourage root rot.  A coarser potting mix that drains well may be necessary, as they do not like to sit in water, but do like to be kept moist – i.e. aim for frequent, well-drained waterings! 


Likes higher humidity.  Normal room humidity is fine, but prefers more, if possible.


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


This plant is considered toxic by the ASPCA to cats and dogs (and humans) if consumed, but not fatal.  Best practice is always to keep houseplants out of reach of small children and pets. 

Shop Norfolk Island Pines on

Questions about the Norfolk Island Pine? Email us: 




#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.


#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Plant Care, Plant History, Plant of The Month

Plant of the Summer: Succulents

July 3, 2017

The perfect summer plantsucculents thrive in hot, sunny weather, and their drought-tolerant nature means you don’t have to worry when the weekend rolls around!


Botanically-speaking, the term ‘succulent’ (from the Latin word “succulentus” for juice or sap) refers to any plant that has evolved adaptations to survive hot arid environments. It is a term that does not refer to any specific family or clade of plants, and in fact many succulent plants are not related to one another at all! Over twenty-five plant families have multiple succulents within them.

The trait of succulence has evolved multiple times throughout the history of plants – each time as a response to climate shifts to more arid conditions. Succulence can include a bunch of morphological characteristics – like thickened, fleshy leaves, and an alternative mode of photosynthesis. Many plants would, by botanic definition, be considered succulent even though we do not normally think of them as such. For example, snake plants (Sansevieria) and ponytail palms (Beaucarnea) have adaptations for surviving in desert conditions. Snake plants have thickened leaves and CAM photosynthesis, and ponytail palms have a thickened, woody trunk for water storage.

Horticulturally-speaking, and in the garden retail world, a succulent is anything that is not a cactus, doesn’t usually have spines, and is considered to be completely different from cacti (even though all cacti are succulents). This definition is arbitrary, and excludes many plants that are succulent, botanically-speaking, or have succulent traits, such as bromeliads and other various tropical plants. It has been used by collectors and in the marketing world for so long that the term ‘succulent’ is simply an accepted colloquialism at this point.

All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. Cacti are succulents from the family Cactaceae, which are native to the New World/Western Hemisphere. Euphorbs (commonly confused with cacti) are also succulents – but are from the plant family Euphorbiaceae, and are cosmopolitan in their distribution. Examples of plants in other families that have evolved succulent characteristics, include Yucca, Agave, and Aloe. All succulents are adapted to dry environments with full sun and no shelter. If you have a sunny spot – they are excellent starter plants due to their low-maintenance!


SUNLIGHT: Bright, full sun to medium, filtered light. (A very select few, like the snake plant, can tolerate low, indirect light.)
WATER: Water weekly or monthly, dependent on species. For example, cacti require less water than other succulents, like fleshy Echeveria or Aloe. Allow potting mix to completely dry out before watering again. Water more frequently during warmer months, and fertilize weakly during the growth season. Do not overwater, which will cause this plant to rot. When in doubt, it is better to underwater than to overwater.
HUMIDITY: Succulents do not care. Normal humidity is fine.
TEMPERATURE: 65°F-90°F (18°C-33°C). It’s best not to let it go below 60°F (15°C).
SIZE: Dependent on species. Most grow slowly, so will remain the same size, or increase in size in flushes of growth.
COMMON PROBLEMS: Succulents are generally very easy-going plants. May get scale and mealybugs. Treat pests as soon as they appear with weekly sprays of horticultural (Neem) oil.
PRECAUTIONS: Do not consume. Best practice is always to keep houseplants out of reach of small children and pets.


Join The Sill team this summer at our New York City Shop for a plant care workshop on succulents. For dates and tickets, visit our Weekly Workshops page HERE.


The following plant picks are drought-tolerant: Miniature Succulent Assortment, Snake Plant, ZZ Plant, Aloe vera, ‘Hedgehog’ Aloe, and shop more perfectly pre-potted HERE. (Domestic Shipping) 

Plant care questions? Comment below.

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Plant Care, Plant History, Plant of The Month

ALOE – June Plant of the Month

May 31, 2017

Meet our June Plant of the Month – the Aloe!

The succulent genus Aloe contains over 300 species, but the most widely known is Aloe vera. Commonly used for medicinal purposes, Aloe vera or “true Aloe”, is a member of the family Asphodelaceae, and has its origins in northern Africa. The specific origins are quite murky, but they are believed to have originated from the Arabian Peninsula and Egypt. There is also quite a lot of variation in Aloe vera plants, which has led to the rise of the theory that Aloe vera is not a species at all – but rather a natural or ancient hybrid. 

Aloe vera in The Sill locally made August planter in Yellow (Shop)

Aloe vera has been known and used since ancient times, and is well-documented in ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian records. Aloe is even referenced in the Egyptian Book of the Dead as part of the skin-preservation process during mummification! Know for its skin-healing properties, Aloe gel has been used throughout time as a treatment for many types of skin aliments. 

Depiction of Aloe from the Juliana Anicia Codex written in Constantinople in 515 AD (Source)

Additionally, ingesting Aloe was also used as a laxative in ancient times. Although aloe juice now exists as a beverage at most health food stores – the National Institute of Health does not recommend the consumption of raw aloe! In fact, for many beverages that contain aloe gel, the aloe extract must be processed first to remove toxic compounds (the same compounds responsible for the laxative action).

Aloe drinks by our NYC Shop

Other Aloe species do exist, and come in a wide variety of colors, patterns, variegations, and shapes! In fact – aloe species come in every color except for blue. (Blue is a rare pigment in nature, and most natural things that appear blue are actually a shade of purple.) 

Aloes are closely related to Gasterias (Gasteria) and Haworthias (Haworthia), and the jury is still out with regards to species placement within the genera and ultimately, the family. Intergeneric hybridization, the ability to cross-breed with an organism in another genus, is often rare, so there is a strong argument for placing all these organisms together as one genus (and recently, as one family). However, the morphologies of each species vary too greatly to fully support that. 

Aloes are distributed across Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, Gasterias are native to the southern Africa, and Haworthias are native to South Africa proper. Natural hybridization occurs within these ranges, and interestingly enough, southern Africa has given rise to many new plant species. Southern Africa has a unique climate that is mostly responsible for the unique species of plants that can be found there and nowhere else in the world. 

Hedgehog Aloe in The Sill’s locally made Olmsted planter in Black (Shop)

Aloe Houseplant Care 101


Bright, full sun to medium, filtered sunlight.


Once weekly or monthly – depending on the time of year and amount of light your place is receiving. For example, in full summer sun, you may need to water once weekly. In the winter, when the plant is semi-dormant, once a month should be sufficient. Make sure the soil has completely dried out in-between waterings.


Aloes will tolerate many soils, but a well-drained loamy soil (potting soil) amended with sand is best.

Temperature and Humidity

Aloes like dry environments. Regular room humidity and normal room temperature will do. Between 65-85ºF (18-30ºC) is ideal. 


Feed Aloes only during the spring and summer months once every 3 weeks or month. Be sure to follow the standard application rates on the label of whatever fertilizer you choose. Do not feed in the winter. 


Aloes will flower about once a year if the conditions are ideal (bright, full sun). 


Aloes don’t need to be trimmed, but one can pluck the larger leaves to use the gooey insides for burns or skin ailments. 

Split Aloe Leaf (Source)

Common Problems

Yellowing leaves, possible black stems

If the leaves of your Aloe are starting to yellow it is usually due to overwatering, but occasionally it can be due to nutrient deficiency or pot-boundedness. If this occurs, let the soil dry out first and if it continues to show signs of distress, re-pot your Aloe.

Leaves turning brown or wrinkling, curly leaf edges

This is usually a sign of underwatering, or potassium deficiency. If this occurs, give your Aloe more water.

Leaf Spots

Bacterial leaf spot. Try to avoid splashing water on the leaves when watering.

Aloe vera in The Sill’s locally made August planter in White (Shop)

P.S. Shop Aloes, or join us for an Aloe workshop

Shop all Aloe plants at The Sill here (ship nationwide), or join us for an Aloe Workshop at our New York City Shop here (ticket required). 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Plant Care, Plant History, Plant of The Month

Meet Sempervivum (aka Hen and Chicks)

May 19, 2017

The common name “hen and chicks” usually refers to the ground-hugging and clumping Sempervivum succulents. Sempervivum is a genus of succulents in the stonecrop family Crassulaceae. It is one of the few succulents native to Europe and Asia.

Hen and Chick and Ezra (Shop Now)

Sempervivum grow close to the ground, have a rosette shape, and propagate through offsets – giving them the appearance of a mother hen with a group of baby chicks gathered around her. The “hen” refers to the main plant – and the “chicks” are the offsets. These offsets start as tiny buds on the main plant, and even when they sprout their own roots, they take up residence right next to the main – or mother – plant.

Sempervivum arachnoideum by Schnobby (Image Credit)

They are also called stonecrops because they are often seen growing in-between cracks on rock faces and boulders. In ancient times, it was observed that thunderbolts would never strike these plants! Because of this, they were thought to ward off thunderbolts, sorcery, storm damage, and more – making them a popular plant for the roofs and siding of houses. We now know that it is likely the boulders – that the plant grew on – that are the real reason why these plants were rarely struck by lightning.

Supervivum tectorum on roof by Arnoldius (Image Credit)

Also because of this, Sempervivum became associated with the gods of thunder – Jupiter, Thor, and Perun (or depending on your flavor of mythology – Roman, Norse, and Slavic respectively). The plant’s clumping habit is said to resemble the gods’ beards.

Sempervivum, a clumping rosette-forming succulent, is native to the mountainous regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa. They are frost-tolerant, and have been used successfully on green roofs for thousands of years (although ancient peoples planted these on roofs not for the environment – but as a way to ward off lightning strikes!) They flower about once a year, but mostly reproduce by clumping, forming tight mats of plants. Unfortunately, they are monocarpic, so once an individual rosette flowers, it does die – but it produces multiple offsets before then. They occur in many colors, with the most color being expressed with the most sunlight.

Hen and Chick and Jules (Shop Now)

Most plants produce pigments to adapt to high-light conditions. Light exists as photons – and full sun is a massive amount of photons bombarding the plant. The excess energy from the light is actually absorbed by these pigments. A good way to know if your sempervivum is getting enough natural light is to monitor its color! More light means more vibrance or color, which means a healthy plant!


SUNLIGHT: Bright, direct sun to medium, filtered light.

WATER: Water weekly or monthly, depending on season and amount of light. Allow potting mix to completely dry out in-between watering. Water more frequently during the warmer months, as the soil dries out quicker, and fertilize weakly during the growing season. (Do not overwater – overwatering will cause this plant to rot! Remember that it is always better to underwater than to overwater.)

HUMIDITY: Not applicable. Regular indoor humidity to dry.

TEMPERATURE: 65°F-90°F (18°C-33°C). It’s best not to let it go below 60°F if possible (15°C).

SIZE: Dependent on species. Can grow slowly, or increase in size in flushes of growth.

P.S. Shop ‘Hen and Chicks‘ houseplants at The Sill here!


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Fiddle Fever: Meet The Fiddle Leaf Fig

May 1, 2017


The Fiddle Leaf Fig, or Ficus lyrata, is a species of fig tree native to western Africa that is most at home in lowland tropical rainforests. In its native habitat, the Ficus lyrata can grow over 40 feet tall – and produce green figs! Even though indoor fiddles are significantly smaller, grow slower, and do not produce fruit – they make for majestic houseplants.

The leaves of a Fiddle Leaf Fig can vary in shape, but are often broad, and leathery in texture, with prominent veins and a vibrant green hue. Their silhouette usually resembles that of a fiddle – hence their common name.

Whether you’re a plant lover or not – chances are, you’ve been seeing fiddles everywhere recently. “Fiddle Fever” seems to coincide with the popularity of online social platforms, like Pinterest and Tumblr, and the rise of home and design blogging. Our hunch is the trend was sparked via aspirational image sharing on the web.

A little background: Pinterest soft-launched around 2010-2011, but it really didn’t take off as a popular social platform till 2012. Its peak as a trending search on Google was in February of 2012. This coincides with the sudden appearance of fiddle leaf fig trees, and a handful of other popular plants like miniature succulents and cacti, on just about every design-focused blog.

From 2012 to 2013, designers, bloggers, DIY-ers… everyone had fiddle fever! Since then, the fiddle leaf fig has only become more and more popular – and more accessible, which has directly contributed to the growth of its popularity even more so. For example, IKEA has been selling the Ficus lyrata since around 2010, but they saw an influx of fiddles sales within the past three years.


It is the aspirational images of stunning 6+ foot fiddles in homes in the glossy pages of magazines like ELLE Decor, that made their way to Pinterest – and arguably jumped started the fiddle movement, as we know it today.

Some of these iconic images include: the dramatic fiddle in the living room of Laurie and Adam Herz’s Hollywood Hills home by interior decorator Peter Dunham (in Elle Décor*); the two statuesque fiddles flanking the paintings in Claiborne Swanson Frank’s Manhattan apartment’s dining room (in Elle Décor*); a large, wild fiddle in front of the fireplace in Anna Burke’s West Village apartment (in Lonny Magazine*); and the matching large fiddles in bright orange planters in Jonathan Adler’s dining area in his NY apartment (in Elle Décor France*). *Click the links to see the original photos.

And thanks to technology – those images really started to circulate. Bloggers started to share these aspirational images, and show how they recreated something similar in their own space…


If you’re lucky enough to have the space and the sunlight, then a fiddle leaf fig can make for a wonderful houseplant. It is one of the easier ficus plants to care for – making it an excellent choice, even for beginners. To keep it happiest – think of its native environment. It is going to want to be in a spot that receives bright, indirect light, including some sun and warm air (don’t let the temperature drop below 65 degrees).  The more direct sunlight, the better. If it is not receiving enough natural light, then it will start to drop leaves. This makes sense, as light equals food, and each leaf has hungry cells that need to be supported! Remember that this plant is native to the tropics near the equator, and loves to bathe in sunlight.

Be aware that fiddle leaf figs can be finicky when placed in a brand new environment. When stressed, their leaves tend to brown and drop off. Make sure to give it time to acclimate to its new home before sounding the alarm. Keep it far away from drafts or heat sources, as it likes its environment to stay consistent in temperature and humidity. And note, it can be toxic if ingested.


  • Leaf crinkling, loss, and rot —> Sign of overwatering
  • Surface burns, leaf loss —> Sign of extreme heat or too much direct sun
  • Leaves overly soft and flexible —> Sign of underwatering
  • Brown disc-shaped spots under leaves —> Sign of scale/pests  



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

Phalaenopsis Orchid 101

April 25, 2017

Meet the Phalaenopsis (Phalaenopsis spp. and hybrids) 

The Phalaenopsis, also known as the moth orchid because its flowers resemble moths in flight, is an orchid genus of approximately 60 species. It’s easy-care nature makes it arguably the most popular orchid genus when it comes to choosing one as a houseplant. It is native to China, Taiwan, and the majority of Southeast Asia (including Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia). Phalaenopsis orchids are generally epiphytic, but can also be terrestrial or lithophytic. 


Although they are often called the “moth orchid” – Phalaenopsis is actually pollinated by bees! Most Phalaenopsis are not fragrant and rely on showy flowers to attract the pollinator bees (whereas moth-pollinated orchids rely mainly on scent to attract moths, which are most active at night).  These bees land on the modified labellum (lip – or lowest petal of the flower) and pollinate each flower by acquiring pollen on their backs. As they go deeper into the flower, they rub that pollen onto the stigmal surface as they reach for the nectar.

Many Phalaenopsis flower once a year, but due to increasing hybridization and polyploidy, many can be induced into blooming twice a year.  It has been found that stable, cooler temperatures during the day actually influence flowering time and production. Regular fertilization can also helps. 


They belong to the family, Orchidaceae, which is the second-most diverse family of Angiosperms (flowering plants) – second only to Asteraceae (the sunflower family). Like many orchids, and monocots for that matter, there are three sepals and three petals – arranged in a triangle and an inverse triangle, respectively. The lower petal, referred to as the lip or labellum, is usually the most modified part of an orchid. Many orchids have evolved modified flower structures in order to form complex symbiotic relationships with their pollinators.

Because of such diversity within the family Orchidaceae, there is a need to divide plants in groups that are broader than Genera, but more specific than Family, and we call those Tribes.  For example, the genus Phalaenopsis is within the tribe Vandeae along with Vanda, Angraecum, Aerangis, and Aerides – to name a few. 


Phalaenopsis species generally evolved in three different habitats: seasonally dry areas, seasonally cool areas, and constantly warm and humid areas. In the seasonally dry, or seasonally cool areas, some species are semi-deciduous, losing some of their leaves when the weather becomes unfavorable. Many have evolved some level of succulence, too. However, most Phalaenopsis are evergreen (not deciduous), and the greatest number of species are native to the constantly warm and moist areas of the world – i.e. your Phalaenopsis at home probably prefers bright to moderate, indirect light and high humidity! 


Orchid obsession has never gone out of style – and even oligarchs and dictators have had their fair share of it! In 1964, the orchid hybrid ‘Kimilsungia’ was named in honor of the North Korean Leader, Kim Il-sung. It is said that on a diplomatic mission to Indonesia, Il-sung – 

“stopped before a particular flower, its stem stretching straight, its leaves spreading fair, giving a cool appearance, and its pink blossoms showing off their elegance and preciousness; he said the plant looked lovely, speaking highly of the success in raising it.  Sukarno said that the plant had not yet been named, and that he would name it after Kim Il Sung.  Kim Il Sung declined his offer, but Sukarno insisted earnestly that respected Kim Il Sung was entitled to such a great honour, for he had already performed great exploits for the benefit of mankind.”  

Kimilsungia flower shows are held every year in Pyongyang. Traditionally, diplomatic missions & embassies of foreign countries in North Korea each present their own bouquet of the flower to the annual exhibition. 


The original fascination with orchids began during the Victorian Era (late 1850s), and “orchid mania” thus ensued – with hundreds of wealthy collectors scouring the world for a sample of all the world’s orchids. It wasn’t until much later in 1921 that the American Orchid Society (AOS) was founded to satiate our own obsession with orchids. Many chapters of the society exist throughout the country, each with its shows, awarding certificates of cultural merit (CCM), and other awards to the best-grown orchids. The largest show on the east coast is the Philadelphia Flower Show, where the American Orchid Society works with the Philadelphia Horticultural Society. Much of the proceeds of AOS membership go towards orchid conservation, research, and awareness. 



SUNLIGHT: Bright to medium, indirect light. Can handle a few hours of direct sun. 

WATER: Spritz with purified, warm water daily. Soak once a week. Let orchid dry between waterings. Water more frequently during warmer months, the fertilize during the growing season. Generally drooping and wrinkling will be signs of under-watering. Do not over-water, which will encourage root rot. 

SOIL: Plant in orchid mix, never regular potting soil. 

HUMIDITY: The more humidity – the better. Normal room humidity is fine, but your plant will want more. Try not to let the air become too dry. 

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

COMMON PROBLEMS: It is generally a very easy-going plant. Like all plants – it may get scale and mealybugs. Treat as soon as they appear with weekly sprays of horticultural (Neem) oil and regular wipe-downs. 

I. SYMPTOM: Leaves turning brown and crispy at leaf edges

CAUSE: Under watered, low humidity, high salts, or potassium deficiency

II. SYMPTOM: Wilting/wrinkling

CAUSE: Under watered

III. SYMPTOM: Yellowing, possible black stems, mushiness

CAUSE: Rot or root disease; overwatering

PRECAUTIONS: Generally OK (non-toxic) to cats, dogs, and humans if consumed – but best practice is always to keep houseplants out of reach of small children and pets. 

P.S. In New York City? Join us in-person for a Plant Care Workshop on the Phalaenopsis this May. Learn more here!


#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Holiday Gifting, How-to, Plant Care, Plant History, Plant of The Month

Marimo 101

April 22, 2017

The name Marimo (毬藻, Aegagropila linnaei) originated from Japanese botanist Tatsuhiko Kawakami: 毬 ‘mari’ = ball and 藻 ‘mo’ = generic term for aquatic plants!

The Marimo ‘Moss’ Ball, as it’s commonly called, is not moss at all – but a freshwater, filamentous green algal colony! Native to previously glaciated areas of the world including Japan, Russia, Iceland, and parts of North America – the Marimo’s round shape is the result of freshwater lake motion. And although Marimo live in water, they’re not as slimy as you’d think they are. They’re actually quite fluffy, almost velvety, in nature.

Pet Marimo - The Sill


1. How do I care my Marimo at home?
Clean, cool water – and minimal light!

The lakes that Marimo have evolved in are alkaline, calciferous lakes – so for the optimal health of your Marimo at home, always use filtered water. Because Marimo balls live at the bottom of lakes, and roll along the bottom with the current, they receive very little light. In caring for your Marimo – keep it out of direct sun. An hour or so of direct sun is tolerable, as long as the temperature of the water stays cool. Freshwater lakes, especially at the bottom where Marimo live, are cold – and temperatures can range from 5C to 35C.

2. What type of light source do I use?
Moderate to low, natural or artificial light will help keep your Marimo happy and healthy. An hour or so of direct sunlight is fine, as long as it is far away from a window, and the Marimo’s water doesn’t heat up.

Trio of Marimo balls - The Sill

3. Do I need to change the water? What water do I use?
Although tap water is OK, we prefer to use either brita-filtered water, or bottled water. If possible, change your Marimo’s water once every two weeks.

4. What should I do when changing water?
Gently squeeze your Marimo to remove any dirt trapped in it’s fluff, then roll your Marimo back and forth on a soft surface, like your palm, to help it retain its circular shape.

Gently roll your Marimo in your palm to help it retain its circular shape - The Sill

5. How long will my Marimo live?
Marimos are slow growers – growing one or two tenths of an inch a year. However, the world’s largest Marimo is almost 40 inches in diameter, making it an estimated 200+ years old. Your Marimo can last for decades with the proper care and environment.

6. Help! My Marimo is changing in color. 
A yellow or brown Marimo is a sick Marimo. Your Marimo could be receiving too much sunlight, have an infection, or its water quality could have decreased. We recommend washing your Marimo under running water, replacing its water, and adding some salt. Make sure to use aquarium salt – not table salt! You can find it on Amazon, or at your local pet store. Add this directly to your Marimo’s container – about 5% of your water volume.

7. How long can a Marimo last without water? 
If conditions are ideal – Marimos can live for one month without water.

Marimo balls - The Sill

8. Will my Marimo float or sink?
Your Marimo will spend its majority of time at the bottom of its container, like it would in its native lake environment. However, a Marimo does perform photosynthesis, and makes oxygen. These oxygen bubbles may make your Marimo float up to the surface of the water for a period of time. The more sun your Marimo receives, the more oxygen it will produce. You can also make your Marimo float by squeezing the water out of it, but we don’t recommend toying with them too often – they’re happiest when left to float or sink on their own.

9. Will my Marimo reproduce? 
Your Marimo might reproduce when large enough and kept in a large container. You will see a bump growing on your Marimo – that’s a baby Marimo in the making. We do not recommend forcing your Marimo to reproduce by splitting it in two – more often than not, it will not be able to bounce back.

10. Is there anyway to get my Marimo to grow faster?
Marimo are slow growers! Be patient. Lower water temperatures, better water quality, and an extremely diluted amount of fertilizer can help. More light equals more growth, so a few hours of sunlight can also give your Marimo a boost, but be very careful not to cook your Marimo in direct light.

11. Can my Marimo survive in a fully sealed container?
A Marimo can survive in fully sealed container, but we recommend picking one with a loose lid, which will allow your marimo to breathe with its environment.

Happy Marimo - The Sill

12. Fun Fact
According to a Japanese legend, there were two lovers who longed to be together. One, the daughter of a tribe chief; the other a poor commoner. When the chief forbade them from being together – the couple ran away, fell into the water, and became Marimo balls – able to live together forever. Because of this, Marimo balls, sometimes referred to as ‘love plants’, are thought to bring luck, love, and happiness, and have the ability to heal a broken heart.



#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Plant Care, Plant of The Month, Style Tips

Meet the Tillandsia (Air Plant)

March 27, 2017



Air plants, Tillandsia spp., are native to Central and South America, the southeastern United States, and the West Indies. Instead of using roots to absorb water and nutrients from soil – they use their specialized leaves to absorb both from the air and sun, hence their common name: air plants!

In their native habitat, air plants also grow high up, usually attached to other plants, like trees, or rock formations. When it rains or there is moisture in the air, their special scales called trichromes transfer the water to storage areas inside the plant.

Air plants can be incredibly adaptable and can tolerate a wide range of conditions. They prefer bright to medium, indirect light – and high humidity. They’d be happiest in a bathroom or kitchen with a sunny window.


There are about 650 recognized species of air plants, and the diversity in appearance among them is truly remarkable! They can be seen in colors from a silvery white to red and pink to bright green – and many have stunning blooms that can last for several months, even indoors.

The Tillandz - Air Plants + Holders - available at


Most Tillandsias are native to humid climates – so they appreciate high levels of humidity indoors, too. We recommend misting your air plant daily (or couple of days depending on your schedule) to help keep humidity high. Placing your air plant next to potted plants in your home will be a great help too, as the air plant will be able to absorb the moisture that evaporates off the other plants when they’re watered.

In addition to misting your air plant with warm water multiple times a week, a once-a-week (or every other week) soak for about 10 minutes can do wonders. After soaking, gently shake your air plant to help remove any excess water and decrease the possibility of rot.

Fortunately, air plants are not typically bothered by insect pests. Scale and mealy bugs are the most common – but are easily eradicated with a short soaking of the plants in soapy water.

The Tillandz - Single in Yellow - available at


Bright to moderate, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight.

Mist frequently with tepid water (increase frequency in spring and summer months); in addition, soak once a week or every other week. Make sure excess water drips off air plant, or help it with a gentle shake.

Prefers average home temperate and normal to high humidity. Keep air plant in a well ventilated area with plenty of air circulation!

Curling or “rolling” leaves can be a sign of dehydration, while mushiness and discoloration can be a sign of over-watering. Have an unhappy air plant at home? Send us a photo via email at and we’ll try our best to diagnosis it for you.


  • Ample air circulation is paramount to the health of your air plant. If you’re looking for a container to keep your air plant in, opt for one with large holes allowing for air flow, or a fun plant stand.
  • Although air plants thrive in sunny conditions, they can fry in full sun. A good rule of thumb – if it sun is too strong for your skin, it is too strong for the leaves of your air plant. Make sure to keep your air plant in a partially shady spot where it receives bright to moderate, indirect light.
  • Like with other houseplants, increase your air plant’s watering schedule from late spring to early autumn when days are longer and the sun is stronger. For example, if you mist your air plant 2x a week during the winter, increase misting to every other day (or even daily) during the summer.
  • Although tolerant of lower temperatures than most common tropical houseplants, make sure to keep your air plant in an environment that’s above 50 degrees F at all times.

P.S. Shop all Air Plants (ships nationwide!) or join us for an Air Plant Workshop in NYC 


#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Plant Care, Plant of The Month

Meet The Monstera

March 13, 2017


Meet The Monstera

Don’t let their name fool you – these plants are not scary at all 😉 Below you’ll find all the plant care tips and tricks you need to know to help keep your Monstera deliciosa happy and healthy.

The Monstera, nicknamed the ‘swiss cheese plant’, is native to Central America. Monsteras are characterized by the natural holes in their broad, green leaves – and their irregular, bushy growth!

Monsteras belong to the Aroid family – and are one of the few Aroids that produce edible fruit, which both humans and animals can enjoy. They rarely flower outside of their native tropical habitat, but if placed outside if a semi-tropical climate, they will have a better chance to. The individual flowers are borne on a fleshy spike and are covered by a bract, known as the spathe.


Monsteras were formally introduced into the botanical world in the early 20th century; however, many of the indigenous peoples of Central America were already familiar with them! In 1949, Eizi Metuda, a Japanese-born botanist, was the first person to properly describe Monstera. Recently, Monsteras have become super popular in fashion and design – with clothing, home goods, and even tattoos featuring the swiss cheese-like leaf popping up everywhere.


Monsteras come in many shapes and variegations, which help the plant to blend in to its native surroundings. The two most popular species of Monstera are: Monstera deliciosa (pictured in this post) and Monstera adansonii (also called Monstera obliqua). Both can be popular houseplants, and can be distinguished by the shape of both their leaves and their leaves’ holes.


Monstera Care 101


Bright to medium, indirect sunlight. Avoid bright, direct sunlight (which can burn your plant’s leaves) – filtered, ‘shady’ sunlight is preferable!


Monsteras can tolerate many different types of potting soil, but a well-drained loamy soil is best.


Water your Monstera weekly – and make sure that the soil has dried out completely in-between waterings. During the warmer months, you can water more frequently as it will dry out faster.

Generally, your plant will visibly droop when it needs more water. Try not to overwater your plant – or keep the soil wet for too long – because it will encourage root rot. In the winter, you can water less frequently, about once every 1-2 weeks should be sufficient.

Humidity and Temperature

Tropical natives – Monsteras prefer a more humid climate, but normal room humidity will do. Try to keep the room temperature between 65°F – 85°F if possible. (It is best not to let it get below 60°F!) 


With the right conditions – the Monstera will ideally reach a height of around 3-5 feet tall, and can have a spread of even wider! Monsteras grow more horizontally, as opposed to vertically. “Wide and wild”, we like to say.


You can fertilize your Monstera during the spring and summer months (i.e. ‘the growing season’) once every 3-4 weeks. Just follow the directions on whatever fertilizer you choose. We do not recommend fertilizing during the winter.

Common Problems

If given the right conditions – Monsteras are super easy to take care of. They are generally a pest-free plant; however, if pests appear, treat them as soon as possible with weekly sprays of horticulture (Neem) oil and regular wipe-downs of the plant’s stems and leaves.

1) Symptom: Leaves turning brown and crispy at edges

Cause: Under-watered, high salts, or potassium deficiency. Give your plant a good soak!

2) Symptom: Wilting/drooping green leaves and stems

Cause: Under-watered, or too constrained by current pot. Give it a good soak, trim leaves, or re-pot if watering doesn’t fix the wilting. 

3) Symptom: Yellowing, with bright yellow leaves. Can be drooping, too. (Usually the leaves at the base of the plant will yellow first.) 

Cause: Over-watering, rot or root disease. Let your soil dry out completely. 

P.S. Shop Monstera Plants

Vist The Sill Shop in New York City – or shop online at (*due to size, the Monstera deliciosa is currently available for NYC delivery only.)