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Holiday Train Show at The New York Botanical Garden

December 8, 2017

Last Tuesday we had the honor to attend The New York Botanical Garden’s press preview for their annual Holiday Train Show. It was the perfect activity to do when the freezing temperatures are about to set in, and we’re all struggling to accept the long winter ahead of us.

The Holiday Train Show is an annual winter tradition at the NYBG. As soon as we walked in to the exhibit, we were dazzled by the liveness and intricateness of each famous New York landmark. We later learned that they are all made of natural materials such as bark, twigs, stems, fruit, seeds, and pine cones!

And this year, the 26th year of this beloved tradition, new replicas – Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, General Electric Building, and St. Bartholomew’s Church – joined the original 150 in NYBG’s collection. Being a New Yorker, there was nothing more excited than seeing all the famous landmarks and buildings in miniature sizes.

Insider Tip: You will hear different sound effects when you get closer to the miniatured landmarks. Try it!

Other visitor favorites include the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Terminal, and the original Yankee Stadium, all surrounded by large-scale model trains. More than 25 model trains and trolleys hummed along nearly a half mile of tracks! In addition, the new internal lighting schemes added more allure and wonder to the show.

After checking out the Holiday Train Show in its entirety, we wondered off to the Rainforest and Succulent showrooms. The incredible diversity of plants gives you a better understanding of how Mother Nature works.

Insider Tip: You will spot many common houseplants in their native habitats! Here at The Sill, we always say- you will make your plant happiest if you can mimic its native environment.

Here’s a short video for you to preview the show!

 

The Holiday Train Show is now open to the public and runs through Monday, January 15, 2018. For visitor information, visit their website here.

Insider Tip: Don’t miss it!

 

P.S Check out our Orchid show recap from last year here

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Holiday Gifting, Plant History, Style Tips

Behind The Names of Our Planters and Plant Pots

October 27, 2017

Meet the movers and shakers in the botanical and landscape world that our locally-made, designed-in-house, indoor planters and plant pots are named after!

AUGUST

The August planter is named after Augusto Weberbauer (1871-1948), a German botanist and professor that began his career studying Peruvian seagrass. On Weberbauer’s first trip to Peru, he collection over 5,200 seagrass species. He also spent time teaching at Peru’s National University of San Marcos.

The ceramic August planter is locally made in New Jersey through the method of slipcast. The tapered bottom of the pot gives it a classic feel, yet its simplicity makes it quite modern. It comes paired with a matching saucer to catch extra water that escapes its drainage hole.

 

OLMSTED

The Olmsted pot is named after Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), an American landscape architect who is considered to be the father of American landscape architecture. Olmsted is most famous for co-designing Central Park in New York City, along with Calvert Vaux, and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Although deceased, his work continues to influence landscape architecture in the U.S. today! 

The rectangular, ceramic planter was designed in-house and is manufactured locally in New Jersey through the method of slipcast. Because there is no drainage hole at the bottom of the pot, we ship the Olmsted with lava rocks to line the bottom with before potting.

 

CALVERT

The Calvert pot is named after Calvert Vaux (1824-1895), a British-American architect and landscape designer who is best known for co-designing Central Park in New York City along with Frederick Law Olmsted. Together, Vaux and Olmsted also co-designed Prospect Park, Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, and Morningside Park in Manhattan. Unfortunately Vaux met his untimely fate when he drowned in Brooklyn’s Gravesend Bay. 

Similar to the Olmsted in shape, but smaller in scale, this ceramic pot is manufactured locally in New Jersey through the method of slipcast. Because there is no drainage hole at the bottom of the pot, we ship the Calvert with lava rocks to line the bottom with before potting.

 

JULES

The Jules planter is named after Jules Cardot (1860-1934), a French botanist and bryologist who was considered to be one of the world’s leading experts on Antarctica’s mosses during his lifetime. Cardot named about 40 genera and 1,200 species. Unfortunately, his collection of plant specimens was looted and damaged during the first World War. 

The ceramic Jules planter is a petite triangular shape with a matching seamless saucer. It is locally made in New Jersey through the method of slipcast. Its triangular shape lends itself to being grouped together to create a circle or semicircle – but it also looks great solo.

 

EZRA

The Ezra planter is named after Ezra Cornell (1807-1874), the founder of Western Union and Cornell University. A lifelong enthusiast of agriculture, he also served as President of the New York Agriculture Society. Fun fact – it is claimed that Ezra Cornell wrote over 30,000 letters in his lifetime.

The ceramic Ezra pot and saucer are portioned to fit almost any sized sill. The petite pot is perfect for a starter plant, or for propagating a leaf cut from a larger plant. The locally made slipcast pot comes with a matching saucer to catch extra water that escapes its drainage hole.

 

TILLANDZ

The Tillandz stand is named after Elias Tillandz (1640-1693), a Swedish-born doctor and botanist who wrote Finland’s first botanical book: Catalogus Plantarum. As a doctor, Tillandz relied heavily on his extensive knowledge of plants to prepare medicines for his patients. The air plant genus Tillandsia was named after him. 

Locally made in New Jersey, the Tillandz stand is cut by a CNC plasma cutter and then powder coated. It can sit upright on a flat surface, or be attached to a wall for a solo or multi-piece display. It is lightweight enough to adhere with a single Command Strip, or there’s a small hole on the back of each stand that can accommodate a screw. 

 

Shop our locally-made indoor planters and plant pots empty HERE – or potted HERE

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

Halloween Costume Inspiration

October 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adorable mug not included.

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

Fall Plant Care Tips and Tricks

September 22, 2017

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

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

Maintain Light

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

Water Less (Frequently)

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

Increase Humidity

I often find myself waking up with chapped lips once the weather gets colder and the humidity drops considerably. Most common houseplants are native to tropical environments, and the dry air can be devastating to them. Try to mist your indoor plants weekly, or invest in a humidifier (your skin will thank you too!). And remember to *never* place potted plants next to, or on top of, a heating system – or in the line of a cold draft (i.e. a window you’ll open regularly come winter). These extreme changes in temperature will cause serious stress to your plants! Another way to combat the low humidity situation is to group plants together that require similar care — they will help each other out. (You would definitely want to do that with Ferns.) Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also an easy way to increase humidity levels.

Move Them Indoors

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

Repot Your Plant (Last Call!)

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

Forgo Fertilizer

Foliage growth slows down considerably during the fall and winter months, so you can withhold from using any fertilizer until next spring, which is the start of the growth season. Give your houseplants the essentials (light and water) to sustain them through winter, but don’t fuss over them or kill them with kindness.

Get Creative

Fall is also a great time to work on checking off some tasks on your design wishlist. If you always dreamed of installing floating shelves, hanging baskets, ceiling hooks, now is the time. Just make sure they’re sturdy enough to hold your houseplant after a thorough watering, which will make them heavier overall. Your trailing houseplants, like pothos and philodendrons, will thank you.

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

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

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Style Tips

MakeSpace for The Sill: 13 DIY Hanging Planters for Renters

August 1, 2017

(The following article is a guest post for The Sill by friends MakeSpace

With great leases often come great limitations.

On the one hand, rent stability and maintenance coverage are obvious godsends. On the other, aspirations to Pinterest-worthy renos usually require explicit written permission – triggering a whole minefield of miscommunications and migraines. 

So you play it safe. You’re hip to snazzy rugs and standout furniture, of course, but when it comes to vertical surfaces, you keep them bare. Sure, you lust after hanging planters (who doesn’t?). But installing that hook wouldn’t be worth sacrificing your entire security deposit. 

What if we told you that you could have your shrub and hang it, too? 

Get your watering can and tippy toes ready, because these hanging planters – most of which are DIY, too! – are safe for even the strictest of leases. 

 

1) Upgrade your loo with Sugru 

Image via Made Up Style

Incorporating greenery to your WC is the surefire way to convert it into a mini oasis. But if your baño’s floor space is more tub than tile, take a cue from textile designer Anna of Made Up Style. She hung her gorgeous DIY planter with a hook she sculpted from a renter-friendly adhesive known as Sugru

Suggested plant for hanging? The Bird’s Nest Fern, which thrives in high humidity and will, ahem, flush any air toxins. 

 

2) Eye-catching cacti

 

Image via Etsy

Magnets: They’re the ultimate temporary decoration. And these sweet little planters come from a 3D printer, making them cool enough in their own right.

But on top of that, they’re also magnetic – which means they’ll elevate your fridge design game to next-level chill. Pot ’em with low-maintenance miniature succulents

 

3) Dream a little dream 

Image via Be Frenchie

Daphne from Be Frenchie shows us how to suspend a trivet-based hanger using wool, wood, and some cheap IKEA accoutrements. To make this pretty mobile renter-friendly, use a Super Hook to hang it. 

Natural materials, a reversible DIY, and a plant? Sweet dreams are made of this.

 

4) Work your way up the ladder 

Image via Lobster and Swan

This has got the be the easiest DIY of the bunch. If we were to write a tutorial, it would go something like this: 

Step 1: Get a ladder.

Step 2: Trick out your living room with whatever photosynthesizing goodness is best suited to your home.

Step 3: Enjoy the joys of greenery without the hassle of installation.

For inspiration and more detailed how-tos, check out Lobster and Swan. Bonus points if you hang vines down along the side.

 

5) Prop a breath of fresh air 

Image from The Sill

Remember the Sugru hook from tip #1? It would work perfectly for hoisting a light air plant (or 12). 

All you need is an air plant stand, an assortment of air beauties, removable hooks, and plenty of sunlight. (Or save a step and purchase them together!) 

 

6) Take a seed – er, seat 

Image via Home Depot

Your walls may be off-limits, but furniture is ripe for the planting!

Although this tutorial from Gloribell Lebron for Home Depot is intended for patio use, we could see it working virtually anywhere with a chair.

Hang thyme and cilantro from a kitchen chair for easy cooking access, or add some peppermint (a reputed energizer) to the back of your home office roller.

 

7) Give new meaning to “on the rocks”

Image via Succulents and Sunshine

There are bar carts, and then there are bar carts loaded with smile-inducing succulents.

This wheely wonderland from Succulents and Sunshine is the latter, making for a mini-garden as adorable as it is transportable. You could easily leave one layer unpotted and fill it with actual, y’know, bar cart gear. Or not.

 

8) Hanging h20 

Image via The Merry Thought

Already got some shelves installed? Then you’ve got license to drill.

Take full advantage with this hanging water garden from The Merry Thought. And how cute would the Marimo Moss Ball be in this planter? 

 

9) 3 hooks for the risk of 1 

Image via A Beautiful Mess

If you’re going to hang one plant, you might as well hang three! That’s the glorious inspiration behind this tiered basket from A Beautiful Mess

For minimal impact (sans sacrificing a dazzling effect), you could use a Command hook to suspend the contraption.

 

10) A new definition for “green screen” 

Image via Ikea

The dilemma: Your dream studio allows for zero privacy… and also zero alterations.

The solution: This 100% reversible IKEA hack.

This lush partition serves as the perfect barrier for makeshift nooks. Divvy up a large space at will, or transform a corner into part jungle, part home office.

 

11) Shower flower power 

Image via Peaches & Salt

Rub-a-dub beneath your plant of choice using these waterproof super strong hooks

You could hang a simple macrame planter, or make like Madalyn from Peaches & Salt and go for a delightfully elaborate overhead jungle. 

We recommend picking fast-growing, trailing plants like pothos plants and philodendrons.

 

12) Make your window pop 

Image via Jill M.

So you want to cultivate some herbs. Great! But what if you don’t have anywhere in your tiny kitchen for a traditional, bulky herb box? 

No problemo, parsley. This herb garden from blogger Jill M. uses a shower curtain rod and S-hooks that ingeniously nestle into the window. 

The best part (besides cilantro for days)? No drilling is required.  

 

13) Win with a tie 

Image via ModCloth

And the ultimate hanger is… a literal hanger! As evidenced by these quirky pops of joy from ModCloth. If you’ve got an old tie handy, plus a hardy succulent and a touch of flair, then you’ve got the recipe for a fun, chipper, and totally non-permanent planter. 

This post was written by MakeSpace, a full-service storage company that picks up, stores, and delivers your stuff so you never have to visit a self-storage unit.

 

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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.)

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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

 

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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

cdn.shopify.comsfiles101506262filesThe_Sill_84_Hester_Succulent_Terrarium_Event-cc161afc4344c8a099d1f3ab43f9c0b61f1ba47d

  • 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! 

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Meet the Tillandsia (Air Plant)

March 27, 2017

AirPlant

MEET THE TILLANDSIA

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.

DIVERSITY

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 TheSill.com

WATERING AND CARE

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 TheSill.com

AIR PLANT CARE

SUNLIGHT
Bright to moderate, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight.

WATER
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.

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

COMMON PROBLEMS
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 help@thesill.com and we’ll try our best to diagnosis it for you.

AIR PLANT TIPS

  • 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 

 

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The Orchid Show: Thailand at The New York Botanical Garden

February 23, 2017

Last Thursday we had the honor to attend The New York Botanical Garden’s press preview for their annual Orchid Show.

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The NYBG’s Orchid Show is a spring tradition for New Yorkers. Almost at the end, but not quiet yet, of a long, cold and drab New York winter – we crave the warmth and color that’s abundant inside the Garden’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

The theme of this year’s Orchid Show was Thailand. The 15th annual show paid homage to the wealth of orchids (over 1,200 native species), acclaimed tropical gardens, renowned orchid breeding, and rich cultural history of the Southeast Asian nation.

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NYBG’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory was transformed into a classic Thai garden, complete with a sala centerpiece and hanging lanterns throughout. A sala (ศาลา) is a traditional open pavilion with a signature sweeping roofline that is used as a meeting place or space for relaxation and reflection. Found throughout Thailand, they offer visitors protection from the sun and rain.

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Trees and shrubs were pruned and trained into fanciful shapes, recalling the ancient Thai garden tradition of mai dat, and small ponds and pools were home to floating water jars filled with colorful orchids. Elephants, also symbolic of Thailand, flanked the Conservatory’s iconic reflecting pools, and traditional bamboo screens created multiple vignettes throughout the large space.

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The leading producer of cultivated orchids for over a century, Thailand is the world’s biggest exporter of native and hybrid tropical orchids. Because of the country’s hospitable climate – orchids have become almost synonymous with Thailand. Inside the Conservatory, orchid varieties that have helped Thailand earn its international reputation as a center for orchid horticulture and breeding – like Vanda, Dendrobium, and Paphiopedilum – were proudly on display.

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Dendrobium Orchids

NYBG horticulturalists assembled thousands of flowers from the Garden’s research collections, as well as from the finest growers across the country. The timing had to be perfect for the thousands of orchids used to be in bloom. It was spectacular – the Conservatory was filled with orchid varieties of every conceivable color and shape.

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The tour was led by Marc Hachadourian, Director of the Nolen Greenhouses for Living Collections and Curator of the Orchid Collection, and Christian Primeau, NYBG’s Conservatory Manager who oversees NYBG’s extensive tropical and subtropical plant collections, and was the exhibition’s designer.

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We were lucky enough to chat with both Marc and Christian after the tour to learn more about what they hoped visitors would gain from the experience. In addition to enjoying the beautiful show, Christian hopes visitors will learn a little about Thai history and Thai gardening, and gain appreciation for Thai cultural. Marc hopes visitors will also get a glimpse into NYBG’s monumental education, research, and display efforts – The Orchid Show being a perfect example of those continuous endeavors.

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It’s worth noting that since 1990, the NYBG has been a designated ‘Plant Rescue Center’, charged with nurturing and bringing back to health orchids that have been collected illegally in the wild and seized at international borders. Marc Hachadourian along with Matthew Pace, PH.D., Assistant Curator in the Garden’s William and Lynda Steere Herbarium, are at the forefront of modern orchidology and conservation.

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And their top plant care tip for indoor gardeners at home? Analyze your space’s conditions – and choose your plants accordingly. With so many wonderful options to choose from, don’t base your first choice off looks alone. Find what will thrive.

The Orchid Show: Thailand at The New York Botanical Garden runs through Sunday, April 9th – and it is not to be missed!

*All Images Courtesy The New York Botanical Garden