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Plant Care

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Plant Care

Fall Plant Care

October 1, 2015

It’s that time of year again…

And as the temperature changes outside – your plant care routine should change inside. We know houseplants thrive during the spring and summer, but the real challenge is helping them survive during the fall and winter.

That’s where we come in. Modify your current plant care routine by following our top seasonal tips below:

– Move 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. Keep in mind they might have picked up a few pesky friends during their summer vacation – so check your plants carefully for pests before bringing them inside.

– Dust Leaves

Like dust accumulates on your bookshelf, it also accumulates on the porous surfaces of your houseplant. Lightly dust off leaves and stems with a damp cloth every week or so. Accumulated dust on leaves plug their pores – making it difficult for plants to “breath” and conduct photosynthesis.

– Increase Humidity

Indoor humidity levels drop considerably during the fall as buildings fire up their heating systems. This can be devastating for houseplants, considering most common varieties are tropical in origin. Try to mist your plants weekly, or invest in a humidifier. And remember to never place potted houseplants next to, or on top of, a heating system.

– Maintain Light

The angle of the sun changes considerably with the season, so pay close attention as fall settles in. Some plants might require a new location – i.e. a spot closer to the windowsill – to receive close to the same amount of sun as they did during the summer. In addition, rotate your plants every week or two so they receive light on all sides.

– Forgo Fertilizer

Foliage growth slows down considerably during the fall and winter months, so withhold from using any fertilizer until next spring, which is the start of the growth season.

– Water Less

This is one of the most important tips to follow. Because plants growth rate is considerably slower in the fall and waiter, your plants won’t require as much water as they did during the spring and summer. You might find yourself watering half, or even two-thirds, less frequently. For example, that snake plant might find itself thirsty once every six weeks, instead of every three weeks. And make sure to use tepid water – a freezing cold shower can shock your plants.

* Nervous about under-watering? Follow your gut (or our guidelines below…) and remember you can always add water, but cannot extract.

Is my plant thirsty?

1. Eye it. 

Small, tabletop plants typically need water as soon as the surface soil is dry. Take a peek under your plant’s foliage to check the color, and consequently moisture, of its potting mix. Moist potting mix will appear darker than dry potting mix.

2. Try it. 

Use your finger tip to check the consistency of the potting mix along the edge of the planter. If the first two inches of soil are dry – it’s usually a sign that it’s time to water your plant. Try to avoid poking around too much though. You don’t want to damage your plant’s roots.

3. Lift it. 

Your potted plant will feel much heavier after it has been watered. If it feels considerably lighter than after you watered it last, chances are it’s thirsty.

4. Water it. 

When watering, pour tepid water into the planter by the base of the plant until the water begins to trickle into the saucer below. Let the plant soak up the water for about 15 minutes, then empty any remaining water from the saucer. Do not let your plant sit in a saucer of ideal water, which can potentially cause overwatering and root rot.

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy

Why does my plant need water?

August 1, 2015

All living things need water to stay alive. However plants need more water than most living things because they use more water than most living things. The amount of water your plant needs to thrive is dependent on 3 things: what type of plant is it, how much light it receives, and how old it is – but how it utilizes that water is the same.

Two Fundamental Ways Plants Utilize Water

1. Turgor Pressure

Turgor pressure is the pressure that pushes the plasma membrane against the cell wall of a plant. The plasma membrane is the membrane that separates the interior of all cells from their outside environment. This pressure, turgidity, is caused by the osmotic flow of water from outside the cells into the cells, i.e. the water flows through a cell’s membrane to go from an area of low concentration to an area of higher concentration.

Healthy, or well-hydrated, plants are considered turgid – or expanded/blown up by fluid (water). This helps them maintain their structure, and not wilt. Hence wilting is a common sign of under-watering for most houseplants.

2. Photosynthesis (& Transpiration)  

Water is vital to conducting photosynthesis, too. Through a plant’s stem, water enters and travels up to its leaves where photosynthesis takes place. The water evaporates in the leaves as the plant exchanges it for carbon dioxide. This is called transpiration and takes place through tiny openings, like plant pores, called stomata (plural of stoma). Plants use the carbon dioxide to make food. They do this by combining carbon dioxide with water to create sugar. This action is possible thanks to the energy they receive from the sunlight. So it is no surprise that for most common houseplants, transpiration occurs during the day when there is natural light.

– Hence the common phrase ‘morning dew’ can be explained by photosynthesis and transpiration. Because most plants need sunlight (and the energy it provides them) to exchange water for carbon dioxide – the water that plants pull into their leaves at night does not evaporate through their stomata, and instead remains on the leaves as dew.

– When transpiration does occur during daylight, it also cools down your plant in the same way that us humans sweat to cool off.

– A mature house plant can transpire its body weight daily! That’s a lot of water. If people needed that much water – an adult would have to drink around 20 gallons of water daily.

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy

Prepping Plants for Summer Vacation

July 1, 2015

Before you fade away into sweet summer vacation oblivion, take a little time to prep your plants so you can focus on more important things – like strong sunscreen and a good book.

1. Watering 

– If you’re planning to be away for a week or less – a good soil-soaking before departure should be sufficient. While you shouldn’t regularly overwater your plants, this is an exception to the rule. Make sure to let any excess water drain from your potted plant before you’re on your way so the soil is soaked but your plants aren’t sitting directly in a saucer of leftover water, which could attract pests.

– If you’ll be away for more than a week – there are a couple ways to prepare your plant. You can try one of the tips below or a combination, depending on the length of your trip and the variety of plant.

  1. Add mulch, wood chips, or rocks directly on top of your plant’s soil to help hold moisture before thoroughly watering. Last minute trip? We’ve heard damp newspaper can also do the trick. Again, make sure your plant is damp (not soaked) to avoid possible pest problems upon your return.
  2. Water your plant thoroughly and then cover it from the top with a clear plastic bag, creating a makeshift greenhouse. Make sure to cut a couple slits in the plastic bag to allow for air circulation. Use birch sticks (or leftover chopsticks) to hold the bag up and away from the foliage. Do not cover the planter’s bottom and drainage holes.
  3. Line a shallow tray with small rocks, then fill the tray with water almost to the top of the rocks but not quite. You do not want the base of your planter to be sitting directly in the idle water – but instead resting on top of the rocks, with the water level slightly beneath the top of the rocks. This increases levels of humidity and moisture, but helps to prevent possible root rot.
  4. Transport all of your plants to your bathroom (provided you have a window that receives natural light), or another small room like a galley kitchen, and group them together. The smaller the room – the easier it is to maintain humidity and moisture.

2. Sunlight & Temperature 

– The more natural sunlight your plant receives, the more thirsty it is. (Why? Click here to learn why plants need water!) Most plants are likely to wilt if placed in direct sunlight for an extended period of time, especially if there’s a sudden lack of water. Because you will not be around to keep a close eye on your plants, move those that are usually kept on a sunny sill to the center of the room, or a spot lit by indirect sunlight, while you’re away. This helps to keep the plant’s soil from drying out completely, so it is still able to conduct photosynthesis and transpiration, and keep its leaves from burning. Once you return from your trip, you can move your plants back to their usual spots.

3. Fertilizer & Pruning 

– If you occasionally use fertilizer, make sure to hold off until you return. You want your plants to grow as slowly as possible while you’re gone – so they are exerting the least amount of energy and losing the least amount of water possible. Prune off any dead of dying foliage, along with flowers and buds, which require more water.

(The tips above do not apply to your drought-tolerate and sun-loving cacti and succulents. If you are an avid traveler, with a space that receives bright light, those are the perfect plant picks.) 

Whatever preparation you decide to take – give yourself a big pat on the back when you return to a healthy and happy houseplant. And if you don’t – don’t beat yourself up about it. Show me someone that hasn’t killed a houseplant and I’ll show you a liar 😉

Have a plant care tip you’d like to share? Comment below.

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy

Spring Plant Care: Seasonal Tweaks

March 29, 2015

Spring is the best time of the year for your houseplants – the start of the growing season, your plants will seem to come alive again right before your eyes. They’re excited for warmer weather and longer days, too! Up the ante in your plant care and reap the results in real time.

WATER

You might find yourself needing to water your plants more than usual to make for the increase in temperature and hours of daylight. The best time to water is early morning or early evening, when temperatures are cooler and water is less likely to evaporate.

Remember that overwatering is the easiest way to kill a plant, so make sure to increase your watering gradually, and check on your plant regularly turning this time of adjustment. If they begin to wilt – water and mist more frequently. If their soil is soggy more than a day or two – water less.

For plants that thrive in moderate to high humidity, continue to mist them lightly in-between waterings. If you find yourself now needing to water a plant daily – you can help it retain moisture better by adding rocks to the top of the potting soil, or covering it with a plastic or glass cup in-between waterings.

SUNLIGHT

If you kept your houseplants in a spot that receives direct sunlight for that hour or two during the winter, gradually move them further into a room or draw a sheer curtain during the day. The sun is stronger in the spring and summer, and the daylight hours are longer. Moving them to spot that receives indirect light will help them avoid leaf burn – ouch!

If you’re unsure if the sunlight your plant now receives with the seasonal change is too intense – put your hand in that same area during the middle of the day. If the sunlight is too hot for you, it’s too hot for your plant.

You can help your houseplant by rotating it weekly so each side gets equal sun exposure and nutrients.

* Remember that most cacti and succulents are considered exclusions from these seasonal tweaks – they prefer dry heat and direct sun. 

TEMPERATURE

Do not blast your air conditioning in the direct line of your houseplant! Move plants away from cooling devices that create fluctuations in temperature and humidity levels. Most houseplants are tropical natives and prefer a warmer, more humid climate – preferably between 65-75 degrees F.

PRUNE

Regularly prune off dying or lackluster foliage, which can use up nutrients and water, leaving little for the rest of the plant, and attract pesky insects. Do not allow dropped leaves to collect on top of the soil – which can also increase the chance of plant pests and diseases.

MOVE

Consider preparing your houseplants to be put outside for the summer. Most plants can be invigorated by a summer outdoors. Here in New York City, mid-April is usually a good bet to start the move – or when nighttime temperatures are higher than 55 degrees F. Just be sure to make the move gradual to avoid shock – for example, don’t move a plant from a dark corner indoors to a reflective rooftop outside in a single go!

We recommend placing them in a shadier spot first, followed by light conditions similar to what they enjoyed inside.

Make sure the planters have drainage holes in case of heavy rain, or place them where they won’t be soaked, which – like overwatering – can cause root rot. Shelter smaller plants from strong winds.

REPOT

Spring is the best time to repot your houseplants. Plants typically need to be repotted every 12 to 18 months – so if you can work it into your spring cleaning schedule every year or two, that’s ideal. A common misconception, repotting does not necessarily mean putting the plant in a new planter, but rather, changing its soil or potting mix. Fresh soil provides the plant with fresh nutrients.

You can find ‘signs you need to repot’, ‘what you need to repot’, and ‘how to repot’ – here!

Questions? We’re happy to help answer them! Tweet us @TheSill or leave a comment below. 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy

Meet the Kokedama: A Mini Living Landscape

March 20, 2015

A traditional Japanese art form, kokedama 苔玉 translates to ‘moss ball’ in English. Sometimes referred to as the poor man’s bonsai – wet bonsai soil and peat are mixed together and molded around the roots of the plant. The ball is then covered in moss and wrapped with string, transforming common house plants into miniature, living-landscape sculptures. Hang it by twine – or go a more traditional route and set it in a bowl or on a plate.

General Kokedama Care

SUNLIGHT

– Moderate to bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid bright, direct sun, especially in the summer.

WATER

– Submerge the ball, not the plant, in a container of room temperature water once a week, for 3-5 minutes. Try to water (and mist) only in the morning.

HUMIDITY & TEMPERATURE

– Average home temperature and moderate to high humidity. Mist lightly between waterings to increase humidity.

COMMON PROBLEMS

– Do not let the Kokedama dry out completely.

(Shop our handmade Kokedama here!)

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy

End of Winter Houseplant Checkup

March 20, 2015

Because most common houseplants are tropical natives, winter can be a stressful season for them – even indoors. They’re coping with less-than-optimal conditions like shorter days, lower natural light, and cool, dry air. Follow our tips below to help keep your houseplants happy and healthy until spring (we swear – it’s coming soon!) Short on time? Scroll down for our cliff notes.

Wilting

Diagnosis: A wilting plant is usually a sign of dehydration.
Rx: Water lightly a few days in a row and see if your plant perks up. Moderation is key.

Leaning

Diagnosis: Leaning to some extent is normal – indoor-plants tend to lean or stretch in the direction of the sun.
Rx: If it’s an extreme lean, or your plant is become more stem than leaves (we call this getting “leggy”), move it closer to a window, and rotate the planter weekly so all sides of the plant receive some sunlight.

Yellow Leaves

Diagnosis: Yellow leaves can be a sign of stress, or more often than not – a sign of overwatering, especially during the winter when most houseplants are semi-dormant (i.e. they don’t need nearly as much water as they do during the spring & summer months).
Rx: Give your plant a little extra TLC. Trim off any yellow foliage that doesn’t look like it will bounce back (FYI: a healthy plant’s leaves can turn yellow as a part of its natural shedding process – help it along by removing those leaves). Hold off on watering again until the soil feels completely dry, and water less than you did previously.

Crispy Leaves

Diagnosis: Dry, brittle leaves that crumble when you touch them is usually a sign of under-watering and low-humidity. Is your skin feeling usually tight and dry? Chances are your plants are feeling the effects of that dry air, too.
Rx: Up the moisture and humidity of your plant’s environment by misting it weekly, investing in a humidifier, or setting planters on pebble-filled trays of water (make sure they’re not sitting directly in the water, but just above it on the pebbles). Again, moderation is key.

Burnt Leaves

Diagnosis: If your plant’s leaves have brown, yellow, or pale spots – too much sun could be the culprit. If the sun is strong enough to burn your skin, it’s certainty strong enough to burn your plant friend.
Rx: Move your plant further away from the window and into the room, or draw a sheer curtain.

Pale Green Growth

Diagnosis: Your plant is lacking in Vitamin D.
Rx: Pump up that sunlight! Move your plant closer to window that receives bright to moderate sunlight. If your plant has been in a dark corner for ages, do this move gradually. You don’t want to shock the little guy.

Lackluster Foliage

Diagnosis: Dusty leaves and less than great looking foliage are usually a sign of a plant’s clogged pores, also called stomas. Think of the leaves of your plant like you think of your skin – if your pores are clogged, you are not going to look radiant.
Rx: Lightly mist and wipe leaves with a soft cloth whenever they’re looking dreary.

Unhealthy Growth

Diagnosis: Your plant is growing – but it doesn’t look healthy.
Rx: Because houseplants have little resources in the winter, it is best they conserve them. Too much growth during the winter can weaken a plant over time. Prune new growth to create a balance between foliage and root systems.

Winter Care CliffNotes:

  • Dust leaves with damp cloth. Accumulated dust makes breathing more difficult.
  • Humidity drops significantly. Mist your plants daily, or invest in a humidifier.
  • Change the location of your plant to maintain optimal light levels. And rotate!
  • Growth slows, so please withhold fertilizer until spring.
  • Cut back on watering (unless it’s by that crazy hot heater), and keep water tepid.
#PlantsMakePeopleHappy

Plant Care: Spring Break Edition

March 16, 2015

Whether it’s a long weekend away or a month abroad, we’re sharing our top four tips for prepping your plants before your spring break departure.

1. Watering: Maintain Moisture

– If you’ll be away for a week or less, a good soil-soaking before you leave should be sufficient. While you shouldn’t regularly overwater your plants, this is an exception to the rule. Make sure to let your potted plant drain completely before you’re on your way – so the soil is soaked but your plants aren’t sitting directly in a saucer of water. Dump out any excess water from the saucer, which could attract pests while you’re gone.

– If you’ll be away for more than a week, there are a couple ways you cam prepare your plant – try one of the tricks below or a combination, depending on the length of your absence and the variety of plant. First give your plant a good soaking, then…

  • Add mulch, rocks, or wood chips directly on top of your plant’s soil to help hold-in moisture. We’ve heard damp newspaper can also do the trick.
  • Cover the top of your plant down to the lip of the planter with a clear plastic bag, creating a makeshift greenhouse. Cut a couple slits in the plastic to allow for air circulation. Use birch sticks to hold the bag up and way from the foliage. Make sure not to cover the planter’s drainage holes – or let the bag rest against the foliage.
  • Line a shallow tray with small rocks – and fill the tray with water almost to the top of the rocks but not quite. You don’t want the base of your planter to be sitting directly in water, but instead you want it to rest on top the rocks.
  • Transport your plants to your bathroom, provided you have a window, or another small room, and group them together. The smaller the room – the easier it is to maintain humidity. No closets though, unless you have a spectacular walk-in with a window!

2. Environment: Tweak Temperature

– The more sun your plant receives, the more thirsty it will be. Most houseplants are likely to wilt if placed in direct sunlight for an extended period of time – especially if there’s a lack of water. Because you won’t be around to keep a close eye on them, move your plants that are usually kept on a sunny sill to the center of the room, or a spot lit by indirect sunlight, while you’re away. This helps to keep the soil from drying out and the leaves from burning. Once you return, you can move your plants back to their usual spot.

3. Health: Please Prune

– Before you leave, make sure to prune off any dead or dying foliage, which can steal nutrients from healthy stems and leaves, and attract pest while you’re away. Depending on the houseplant, you can also trim off any buds or flowers, which require more water to stay plump and healthy.

4. Growth: Forgo Fertilizer

– If you use fertilizer regularly, hold off until you return from your trip. You want your plants to grow as slowly as possible while you’re gone. FYI, we’re not big on fertilizer – especially during the winter when plants are pretty dormant.

P.S. Remember that the tips above do not apply to your drought-tolerate and sun-loving cacti and succulents. So if you are an avid traveler, those are the plants for you! Provided you have the sunlight they require. 

Whatever preparation you decide to do, give yourself a big pat on the back when you return to a healthy and happy houseplant. It missed you, too. Have a tip you’d like to share? Comment below or tweet us at @TheSill.

 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy

Enclosed Terrariums: Tips, Tricks, and Inspiration

March 12, 2015

A low-maintenance terrarium is a great way to add life to your space if you lack the free time or the green thumb necessary to care for a bounty of houseplants. 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. If you have both – the time and the thumb – making a terrarium can be a great way to experiment with new plant varieties, or an outlet of endless possibilities for your creativity.

There are two general types of terrariums: open and enclosed. An open terrarium provides ample air circulation and lower levels of humidity. It is perfect for succulents and cacti. An enclosed terrarium, with a removable cover or lid, provides ample humidity and creates 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, choose varieties of plants that are compact and thrive in hight humidity, for example ferns and mosses.

To coincide with the launch of Terrarium Plant Collects – (Shop The Sill Nationwide) – we’re sharing our top terrarium tips for enclosed terrariums, and some inspiration to get your hands dirty, below.

P.S. A handmade terrarium makes for a great gift for Mom for Mother’s Day! 

How-To Plant A Terrarium General Steps + Tips

  • Pick slow-growing plants that require less trimming and are less likely to outgrow the container quickly
  • If you’re mixing plant varieties, choose plants that thrive in similar environments – i.e. prefer a similar amount of sunlight, humidity level, and watering schedule
  • For your terrarium, choose a clean, clear container with a large bottleneck or removable top. We recommend choosing something made of glass. On a budget? A mason jar with removable lid is an easy pick.
  • Before adding potting soil to your terrarium, layer a 1/2″ layer of gravel at the bottom to create drainage. We’d recommend using lava rocks, followed by a thin layer of charcoal – but a mix of gravel, rocks, and sand works, too. Anything that creates crevices for water to trickle down into.
  • Add potting soil and lightly press down to remove any air pockets.
  • Arrange your plants inside. Make sure to not overcrowd the space – you want to leave room for new growth.
  • Once the plants are securely potted, use a paintbrush to remove any excess soil from the sides of the container or the leaves of your plants.
  • Make sure to place your terrarium in a spot that receives indirect light! A couple hours of full sun can easily fry the contents inside.
  • When watering, try your best to add water directly at the base of the plants – not pour it on top of them.
  • Make sure not to overwater your terrarium! An enclosed terrarium can be watered about once about every two to three weeks, or even less. Keep humidity levels high by misting weekly.
  • Let your enclosed terrarium breath every week or two by taking off the lid or keeping it ajar for a few days
  • If you see any dead or dying foliage inside, remove it immediately.
  • Not sure where to start? Our set of 6 Terrarium Plant Collections are now available nationwide! See our Colorful Terrarium Plant Collection, our Tall Terrarium Plant Collection, and our Short Terrarium Plant Collection — all perfectly suited for terrariums.

P.S. Scroll through our Greenhouse & Terrariums Pinterest Board for more inspiration. 

 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy

Plant Care: Spring Repotting

March 9, 2015

Early Spring, before the start of the growth season, is the best time to repot your houseplants. Plants typically need to be repotted every 12 to 18 months, but some slow growers can call the same pot home for years.

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

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

A common misconception, repotting does not necessarily mean changing a plant’s planter, but rather – changing its soil or potting mix. Fresh soil means new nutrients. This is great news if you love your current planter, but if you’re looking to purchase a new one that’s fine, too! If you are changing planters, try to keep the size no more than 3″ larger in diameter for tabletop planters, and no more than 6″ larger in diameter for floor planters. Remember you do not what a small plant drowning in a sea of soil in an oversized planter. A poor plant/planter match can lead to overwatering, which is the easiest way to kill a plant.

Repotting Toolbox

  • Newspaper (for easy clean up)
  • Fresh potting soil
  • A watering can, spray bottle, or makeshift water bottle
  • Scissors or pruners
  • Your houseplant, of course
  • A planter

Step By Step: Repotting 101

  1. Water your plant thoroughly the day or two before you plant to repot
  2. Pre-moisten the new potting soil if it feels dry
  3. Turn your plant upside down, hold it gently by the stems, and tap the bottom of its current container until the plant slides out (you can give it a bit of help with a couple gentle tugs on the stems)
  4. With your hands, gently loosen the roots, and prune any that are dead or extra long
  5. If your plant is root bound – footings growing in tight circles around the base of the plant – unbind them as best you can and give them a little trim
  6. Remove about 1/3 of the old potting soil
  7. Pour a layer of fresh, pre-moistened soil into the planter
  8. Set plant on top of the fresh layer of soil in the planter, making sure it’s centered
  9. Add soil around the plant until it is secure (sitting upright) – be sure not to pack too much soil into the planter, you want the roots to breath
  10. Even out the potting soil on top, water well, and let drain

*Remember to keep a newly potted plant out of bright, direct sun for about a week, as it acclimates to its new environment. Don’t be too concerned if you see some signs of stress during this period, too.

Questions? Don’t be shy – shoot us an email, or tweet us at @TheSill. Still need help? Stop by The Sill Shop – and we’ll repot your plant for you! Starting at $10. 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy

Fiddle Fever: Meet The Fiddle Leaf Fig

March 3, 2015

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 rain forests. In its native habitat, it can grow over 40 feet tall and produce green figs. However, indoor fiddles are significantly smaller, grow slower, and do not produce fruit.

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 the name.

THE MOVEMENT

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 aspirational image sharing.

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

From 2012 to 2013, designers, bloggers, DIY-ers…everyone had fiddle fever. Some tastemakers even called it that! Since then, the fiddle 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 them since around 2010, but they saw an influx of fiddles sales within the past two years.

THE IMAGES

It is the aspirational images, prior to 2012, of stunning 6 foot fiddles in gorgeous homes in the glossy pages of magazines like ELLE Decor, that made their way to Pinterest and consequently jumped started the fiddle movement.

In particular – the dramatic fiddle in the living room of Laurie and Adam Herz’s Hollywood Hills home by interior decorator was Peter Dunham in Elle Décor; the two statuesque fiddles flanking the paintings in Claiborne Swanson Frank’s Manhattan apartment’s dining room, also 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.

And thanks to technology, those images really started to circulate – more so than print circulation – and bloggers started to share these aspirational images, but also how accessible these plants are, and how easy they are to care for. Fiddles now make regular appearances in popular home décor catalogs (IKEA, West Elm, Jonathan Adler), blogs (Door Sixteen, Apartment Therapy, DesignLoveFest, Gardenista), and magazines (Elle Décor, Architectural Digest, Lonny, Dwell)…just to name a few!

THE CARE

If you’re lucky enough to have the space and the sunlight, then a fiddle makes for a striking houseplant. It is one of the easier ficus plants to care for – making it an excellent choice, even for beginners. Make sure to place it in a spot that receives bright, indirect light and the warmth of the sun.. Usually by a south or west facing window.

Be aware that fiddles can be finicky when placed in a 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 (it probably won’t kill your furry friend, but it will irritate their stomach and cause them to throw up – at which point, they’ll then leave it alone).

COMMON TROUBLESHOOTING

  • Leaf crinkling, loss, and rot —> Overwatered
  • Surface burns, leaf loss —> Extreme heat or direct sun
  • Leaves overly soft and flexible —> Under-watered
  • Brown disc-shaped spots under leaves —> Scale 

P.S. Looking for a Fiddle Leaf Fig to call your own? If you’re in NYC – you’re in luck!