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Behind the Scenes of our Go Green event with Andie

August 2, 2017

Last week we hosted Andie, a revolutionary women’s swimwear company, at our 84 Hester Street shop in New York City to celebrate the launch of their newest collection, featuring swimsuits in our favorite color – green, of course.

Check out all the behind the scenes photos from the event below:

And don’t forget to follow our friends Andie on Instagram to see where they’ll be popping up next!

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#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, Plant History, Style Tips

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston

July 5, 2017

Isabella Stewart Gardner was an art collector, philanthropist, and patron of the arts. She was also a regular in the newspaper gossip columns, for her eccentric and, at the time, scandalous behavior and tastes. The Globe’s Jack Thomas writes: “There was only one Isabella Stewart Gardner, which is too bad, for nobody was better at shocking Boston society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries…” (Fenway Park, John Powers, P 37).

Isabella Stewart Gardner (1888), by John Singer Sargent. This painting was considered provocative at the time because of the low neckline and pearls around the waist.

Isabella Stewart was born in New York City on April 14th, 1840. At the age of 18, her former classmate Julia Gardner invited her to Boston, when she met Julia’s brother John Lowell “Jack” Gardner. Three years her senior, he was considered one of Boston’s most eligible bachelors. They were married two years later, and moved into a home at 152 Beacon Street in Boston.

After the death of her two year old son from pneumonia, learning she could not bear any more children, and the death of her close friend/sister-in-law, Gardner became depressed and ill. Her doctors advised that Jack bring her to Europe to improve her health and lift her spirits. The trip had the desired effect – when Gardner returned to Boston, she was as vibrant as ever.

Inside one of the galleries surrounding the courtyard at the Gardner Museum.

The Gardners’ frequent travels allowed them to put together a world-class art collection of paintings, statues, tapestries, silver, ceramics, stained glass, and more. Although already enlarged once, they struggled to fit their collection into their Beacon Street house. But Isabella realized their shared dream of building a museum after Jack’s sudden death in 1898. She purchased the land in Boston’s marshy Fenway area, and was involved in every aspect of the design and building process. The museum opened in 1903. Its glass-covered garden courtyard was the first of its kind in America.

The glass ceiling above the museum’s courtyard garden.

Isabella died in July of 1924 at the age of 84. She is buried in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but her vibrancy lives on at the Gardner Museum in Fenway. The museum is home to a world-renown collection of more than 2,500 works of art. Artists represented include Rembrandt, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Degas, Raphael, Matisse – and more. But one of the most astonishing works of art on display is the museum’s interior courtyard…

Four walls, four stories tall, surround the museum’s enclosed courtyard garden.

A living work of art, the plants on display in the Courtyard change seasonally.

Despite how lush the courtyard looks, the environment isn’t ideal for plants. “The UV light filtering glass and humidity levels are appropriate for artworks but not plants,” the Museum points out. “It takes hard work to keep the garden looking spectacular.”

One way the gardeners keep the courtyard looking fresh is through a technique called ‘successive gardening’. The plants, a majority of which are in pots, are continuously rotated so they’re only in the courtyard when in peak condition. When not on display, the plants are nurtured in an offsite greenhouse, and then onsite greenhouse. There are nine different plant displays throughout the year.

Here’s what plants I spotted on my recent visit…

Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica)

Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ (Dracaena deremensis) and Philodendron xanadu

Norfolk Island Pine Tree

Tree Ferns (Cyathea australis), Boston Ferns (Nephrolepis), and Orchids

Looking into the lush courtyard through a first floor window.

What plants do you spot?

Don’t forget to check out the museum’s greenhouse, which houses some of the courtyard’s potted plants when they’re not on display, on your way out! (We’ll be sharing photos of our favorite plants from inside the envy-inducing greenhouse next so stay tuned.)

#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Interview

Having Pets AND Plants

June 22, 2017

We interviewed a few of our team members that are parents to both pets *and* plants for their top tips about keeping the peace in a jungle-like apartment… 

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Above is Tweeks, one of our Marketing Director Erin’s cats, sharing her favorite sill with a few potted plants! 

MEET ANGELA, PLANT SPECIALIST

NAME: Angela Muriel

PETS: I have 5 cats living in my apartment. I got involved doing some TNR (trap, neuter, return) volunteer work in my Crown Heights neighborhood and in the process found an abandoned litter of kittens. I was able to get a few adopted but a couple still remain in my care so they are now a part of my crew.

Cisco _ Helios (Angela)

PLANTS: I currently have a Boston Fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata), a Grape Ivy (Cissus rhombifolia) and several terrariums. I always keep a flat of grass for all the kitties to enjoy and to provide them with some nature.

TIPS: Cats will find their way into just about anything and are incredible climbers. My large plants are in hanging baskets out of their reach and of course the terrariums are enclosed in glass so they can’t get to those (ha ha!). I am able to enjoy a huge variety of plants in the terrariums, as well as create a whole environment in miniature form.

Sally on grass (Angela)

I have reviewed many poisonous plant lists and quite frankly if one were to adhere closely to them your choices would be really limited (find all our non-toxic plants here). One thing to keep in mind is that with many plants the animal would have to ingest a substantial amount to become ill. It is most important to observe the behaviour of your pet in regards to your plants. Many pets will simply ignore the greenery, where as others may be attracted to certain leaves or growth habits. That said, there are certain plants that can be fatal if eaten i.e. Sago Palm (not a “true palm” but a Cycad which are a primitive group), some plants from the Euphorbia family which produce a milky sap when cut, a few Aroids especially the Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia) and any bulb plants such as Lilies, Hyacinth, Daffodil, Amaryllis, etc.

Never assume that an animal will instinctively “know” which plant is “good” or “bad” and this isn’t any measure of their intelligence. Our pets are domesticated animals and so much of nature is just not in their realm of experience. A good pet owner will just have to practice keen observation.

 

MEET PEGGY, SHOP MANAGER

NAME: Peggy Lu

PETS: I have a 2-year-old French Bulldog, Olivia, and a 10-month-old cat, Mia, who my husband rescued off the street.

Peggy's dog-2

PLANTS: I cohabit with probably 40ish plants now. Most of them are air-purifying plants – Fern, Snake plant, ZZ plant, Pothos, Ivy, Philodendron, Spider plant, terrarium plants, and many cacti and succulents – that I bought since I started working at The Sill. Yes, I am that girl who wants to put her plants to work: providing fresh oxygen.

Peggy's cat-2

TIPS: My dog, Olivia, could not care less about plants, the one I had trouble with was my kitty, Mia. She is only a baby – she has so much energy in her. She bites and swaps my plants ALL THE TIME. It used to bother me a lot; however, I realized she only does it out of boredom or when she is in a playful mood. I’ve learned some tips that hopefully will help your pet and your plants live in harmony:

1. Buy cat grass. Bonus: you’ve got another plant!
2. Don’t discipline your pet when they’ve chew/attacked you plants. Especially cats will react to negative and positive reinforcement the same. Trust me, they will do it while you sleep. I pretend to not see it while Mia is at it now, and quietly clean up after her while she is not looking.
3. Try a citrus spray! Dogs and cats do not like anything that is in citrus family. Bonus: your home will not only will look nice with plants, but it will smell amazing too!
4. Play with them! Enjoy one-on-one time and tire them out. A happy and tired dog/cat will leave things alone.
5. Live with it. I’ve learned to live with imperfect foliages. Overall, It is your pet’s home too!
6. Do your research before buying a plant – both for the health of the plant and your lovely companions at home.

Peggy's cat-1

 

MEET CATHERINE, OPERATIONS + PLANT SPECIALIST

NAME: Catherine Cummings

PETS: I recently adopted a kitten from the Somerset County Shelter in NJ to grow my little family! Her name’s Lana after the character on Archer. She’s non-stop energy and endlessly curious.

PLANTS: My house is filled with plants of all kinds, including hanging pothos and philodendrons, cacti, succulents, ferns, etc. I’ve completely lost track of how many I have at this point, but they cover every available surface…

TIPS: I keep most plants up out of her reach on shelves mounted on the walls. The plants that take over the windows I always make sure are safe for pets, such as haworthia succulents and bromeliads. She’s never shown any interest in chewing any of them – and I make sure she has plenty to keep her busy while I’m gone by leaving out boxes and new things for her to explore. Luckily she’s more interested in trying to catch my fish than chewing on the plants!

 

MEET SARINA, PLANT MAINTENANCE

NAME: Sarina Perez

PETS: My chubster, Gideon. I adopted him after a former roommate found a box of kittens in the dumpster three years ago. Back home, we have a dog named Cash who lives in my mom’s country garden on the outskirts of San Antonio.

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PLANTS: I have around 30 houseplants, but unfortunately only one window in my LES apartment’s living room. My bedroom is actually subterranean. Thankfully through my time working at The Sill I’ve found there are so many types of plants that can tolerate moderate to low-light situations. I have a lot of philodendron and pothos variations, snake plants, a few broadleaf ferns, and palms.

Being a Texas native – I really miss all the cacti that line the streets, so I cram what I can into the biggest spots on my window. I love large plants, so I have a nice big rubber tree (Ficus elastica), Philodendron vellum, and Monstera deliciosa right by the window. My mom has everything from a prickly pear cactus over 7ft tall, to ivy, to begonias, to elephant ears, to palm trees. Cash pulls some weeds every now and then – but he also loves to nap amongst them.

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TIPS: Gideon loves hiding behind the large ones and jumping out to scare me. Also has been known to nap under the wide leaves of my monstera, which I totally understand. Sometimes when he is mad at me though he will dig the soil of the larger plants. I’ve found that if I put a few large rocks on top of the soil, he won’t do it again. If you’re thinking about getting a cat – I would keep small plants off the edges of your shelves and tables, since they’re bound to knock a few over. If you notice your pet going around a certain plant, try surrounding it with a few potted cacti…

 

MEET JENNA, SHOPKEEPER + PLANT MAINTENANCE

NAME: Jenna Kohl

PETS: I have two Siberian cats named Munch and Finn. I adopted them from the Meow Parlour a few blocks away from The Sill shop. My boyfriend named them after detectives on Law and Order SVU.

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PLANTS: I have over one hundred plants the last time I counted; they are everywhere. Luckily, my apartment has space to fill, so it doesn’t look overwhelming – i.e., there is still room for more plants. I have snakes and aglaonema in a hall with low light. Then scattered everywhere else are monstera, ponytail palm, pilea peperomioides, calathea, aralia, a lot of pothos and philodendron, fiddle leaf fig tree, peperomia, fern, and the list goes on.

TIPS: If you’ve got a furry nibbler like mine are, the ASPCA has lists of toxic plants that are worth looking at, and The Sill has a special pet-friendly, i.e. non-toxic, collection page. All my toxic plants live either on high shelves, kitchen cabinets, plant stands, or a wardrobe. My cats aren’t great jumpers so they don’t even attempt to get them. The accessible plants are all pet friendly; if they chew on one I don’t have to worry. I also deter them with wheatgrass which is good for their digestion.

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MEET RACHEL, DESIGNER + ACCOUNT MANAGER

NAME: Rachel Lyons

PETS: Peloton Seelyons

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PLANTS: My Brooklyn apartment houses a few Monstera deliciosa, Pothos, Bird of Paradise, Agave, Schefflera, Prickly Pear Cactus, Fiddle Leaf Fig, Calathea, Xerographica, Boston Fern, Orchids, Snake Plants, Jade, and much much more…

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TIPS: My 1.5 year old barn kitty rescue rarely tries to eat any of the plants. He was raised with them from a tiny kitten, so for Pelo it’s more about using the greenery to get my attention – by rustling leaves, teetering terra cotta, or snapping branches in the early morning hours to say ‘feed me now’. Sometimes he’ll chew my aloe, which is toxic, but he never swallows it or shows signs of distress. Don’t let feline friends ruin the bliss of having houseplant friends. Put up shelving, get creative and wall-mount your greens. Or have one sacrificial non-toxic plant that takes the pouncing each day so that the others can flourish safely.

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MEET ROBYN, DESIGNER + ACCOUNT MANAGER

NAME: Robyn Moore

PETS: My dog Disco!

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PLANTS: Succulents, Cacti, a Snake Plant, an Avocado Tree (yes…!), an Aglaonema, and assorted Ferns

TIPS: I keep all my plans up high (countertops, planter stands, shelves, etc.) so Disco is less likely to be distracted by them. I have friends who have had issues with their dogs eating more toxic items – like bad foods, or garbage – but plants have never been an issue. Dogs are smarter than cats (sorry…) and will leave it alone once they realize it doesn’t taste good or make them feel good! It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior. Most often, the warning signs of consumption are clear and rarely fatal. But it’s always best to just avoid any occurrence – if your dog is prone to chewing, stay away from plants with a latex-like sap (pencil cactus, rubber plant, ZZ).

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P.S. Shop our team’s favorite pet-friendly houseplants.

 

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

Darryl Cheng, @houseplantjournal

May 8, 2017

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

MEET DARRYL CHENG

img_4379_monstera

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

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

Darryl plant hunting

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

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

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

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

Darryl in his element!

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

Darryl's Houseplants

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

Plant Portrait

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

snakeplant_inhongkong

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

plantshelf

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

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

Time for a drink

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

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

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

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

 

 

#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Plant Care, Plant History, Plant of The Month, Style Tips

Fiddle Fever: Meet The Fiddle Leaf Fig

May 1, 2017

THE PLANT

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.

THE IMAGES

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…

THE CARE

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.

COMMON TROUBLESHOOTING

  • 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  

P.S. SHOP THE FIDDLE LEAF FIG FOR NYC DELIVERY

 

#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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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! 

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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. 

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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. 

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PHALAENOPSIS PLANT CARE

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

MARIMO FAQs

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.

P.S. ADOPT YOUR VERY OWN MARIMO: Shop now.

 

#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Holiday Gifting, How-to, Plant Care, Style Tips

Terrariums 101

April 19, 2017

Doctor Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward developed the first terrarium in 1842. Ward noticed that a fern and grass had sprouted from the damp soil inside an airtight glass container that he had placed a chrysalis of a moth inside. The glass containers, which came to be known as Wardian cases, could maintain a constant humidity. During the day the evaporated moisture condensed on the container walls, while at night it would drip down, back into the soil. The cases became especially popular as a way to transport plants across long distances, when they would otherwise perish.

wardian-case-wikipedia

Now widely called terrariums, they are a generally low-maintenance way to add a little life to your space. Terrariums make it possible to grow things in places that aren’t exactly conducive to growth, and can pretty much be self-sufficient aside from the occasional watering. Making a terrarium can be a great way to experiment with new plant varieties, or to unleash some creativity.

There are two general types of terrariums we pot here at The Sill (although arguably the first type doesn’t fall into the same category as Dr. Ward’s namesake case) –

1. OPEN TERRARIUM

An open terrarium provides ample air circulation and low levels of humidity. It is not airtight, and there is no tight bottleneck or removable top. Instead, it creates more of a contained space for plants that require similar care to grow together. It is perfect for assorted varieties of succulents and cacti. Think of it as a miniature desert:

2. ENCLOSED TERRARIUM

An enclosed terrarium, with a removable cover or lid, provides ample humidity and can create its own tiny ecosystem. The plants inside an enclosed terrarium release moisture, which condenses inside the vessel and trickles back into the soil. For an enclosed terrarium, it’s best to choose varieties of plants that are compact, to keep pruning to a minimum, and thrive in high humidity, like ferns.

OUR TERRARIUM POTTING TIPS

  • Pick generally slow-growing plants – which will require less pruning, and are less likely to outgrow the container
  • If you’re mixing plant varieties, choose plants that thrive in very similar environments – i.e. plants that prefer a similar amount of sunlight, humidity, and water
  • Choose a clean, clear container to allow for natural light to flow in
    • We recommend choosing a glass container
  • Before adding potting soil to your terrarium, layer half an inch or so of gravel at the bottom to create drainage for excess water
    • Here at The Sill we use lava rocks because they’re porous, but any material that creates crevices for excess water to trickle down into should do the trick
  • When you add the potting soil, lightly press down on it to remove any air pockets
  • Arrange your plants inside, making sure to leave some room for new growth

  • Once the plants are securely potted – use a paintbrush (or toothbrush) to remove any excess soil from the sides of the container or the leaves of your plants
  • Place your terrarium in a spot that receives natural sunlight
    • Enclosed terrariums, usually home to plants that prefer high humidity and moderate light, should be kept out of direct sun (a couple hours of full sun can easily fry the contents inside)
    • Open terrariums, usually home to plants that prefer dry conditions and bright light, can be kept in bright, direct to indirect light – like your windowsill!
  • Water directly at the base of the plants/into the potting soil so the water is able to reach the root systems

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  • Do your best to not overwater your terrarium
    • An enclosed terrarium can be watered about 1x about every 2-3 weeks, and you can help keep humidity high by misting in-between waterings
    • An open terrarium can be watered 1x about every 3-4 weeks, and requires no misting
    • Because there’s no drainage hole for excess water to be released from the terrarium – make sure not to completely soak the soil – is should be moist but not sopping wet
    • Remember that it is much easier to add water to soil than to subtract it!
  • Let an enclosed terrarium breathe every 1-2 weeks by removing it’s lid or keeping the lid ajar for a few days
  • If you see any dead or dying foliage inside your terrarium, remove it immediately
  • To keep plants grow upward and fill-in extra space, rotate your terrarium every 1-2 weeks

Questions? Reach us directly at help@thesill.com, or leave a comment below! 

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

Meet The Monstera

March 13, 2017

the_sill_floor_planter_case_Study_monstera

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.

History

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.

Diversity

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.

TheSill_Monstera

Monstera Care 101

Sunlight

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

Soil

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

Water

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!) 

Size

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.

Fertilization

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 TheSill.com (*due to size, the Monstera deliciosa is currently available for NYC delivery only.)

 

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

Meet the hardy Haworthia

March 6, 2017

THE HAWORTHIA

A genus of succulent plants native to South Africa, Haworthias can vary in shape, color, and size – there are over 150 accepted species of Haworthia – but share many common attributes, such as a central rosette, fleshy dark green leaves, and small white flowers (when in bloom). Their hardiness and adaptation for semi-shaded conditions has made the Haworthia a popular garden and container plant for both indoors and outdoors.

Haworthia_740x

Haworthias, like many succulents and tropical plants, use CAM photosynthesis, a type of photosynthesis that evolved in plants as an adaption to arid environments. In CAM photosynthesis, the stomata (leaf pores) are only open at night, which allows the plant to conserve water and consequently be drought-tolerant – making it a perfect pick for a forgetful or busy owner.

The Sill Mini - Haworthia

PLANT CARE

LIGHT – Bright light. A few hours of direct sun, or a whole day of filtered/indirect-sunlight.

SOIL – Haworthias can tolerate many types of soils, but a well-drained loamy soil (potting soil) amended with sand is best.

WATER – Before any watering, make sure that the soil has completely dried out. In the summer, water frequently as it dries out (in a sunny location, we’d estimate this at every 1 to 2 weeks) to encourage growth. In the winter, water less frequently, like once every month or two. Haworthias can survive drought for months (!), but ideally would not like to be subject to that. Do not overwater.

FLOWERS – Haworthia will flower when mature and large enough if the conditions are right. It will produce small white flowers on a spike.

TEMPERATURE – Normal room temperature will do – between 65-85ºF (18-30ºC) is ideal.

FERTILIZER – You can fertilizer Haworthias during the spring and summer (once every 3 months), if you want. We do not recommend fertilizing Haworthias during fall and winter.

HUMIDITY – Normal room humidity.

Haworthia close up #plantporn - The Sill

TOUBLESHOOTING

YELLOW LEAVES – Almost always a sign of overwatering, but occasionally due to nutrient deficiency. Let the soil dry out completely before the next watering.

WRINKLES – A sign of under-watering – give your Haworthia slightly more water.

NO FLOWERS Be patient! Haworthia not only have to be mature to flower (generally a few years old), but also need the right conditions. Haworthias will flower only during the warm months.

TOXICITY – Haworthia are considered by the ASPCA to be safe to cats and dogs (i.e. non-toxic)! Their sap may irritate the skin, so make sure to wash off any sap after handling.

SHOPPING

The Haworthia is available both for NYC Delivery and Nationwide Shipping in our locally-made Ezra, Calvert, and Jules ceramic planters. Care instructions + 30-day guarantee included.

Haworthia Options 740x

Shop for delivery in NYC: Haworthia and Ezra, Haworthia and Calvert, Haworthia and Jules

Shop for Nationwide Shipping: Haworthia and Ezra, Haworthia and Calvert, Haworthia and Jules