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The Plant Hunter

Spring Plant Care: Seasonal Tweaks

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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. 

 

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Tastemakers: Joe Cafuir

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For the fourth installment in our new Tastemakers series - which coincides with the launch of nationwide shipping on our website (more potted plant offerings coming soon) -  we're featuring California-native and Landscape Designer, Joe Cafuir. We first stumbled upon Joe's vast houseplant collection via social media (you can follow him on Instagram here) and were totally hooked. I admit - we creeped on his plant pics for an unhealthy amount of time before shooting him a message. His Oakland-based studio apartment is a houseplant hoarder's dream, with a cactus collection that could make a desert jealous. Here at The Sill, we truly think the best inspiration for bringing plants into your home is real inspiration…and we hope you are as inspired by Joe as we are, to bring the outdoors in! 

Can you share a little background about yourself -- and a little background about your love of houseplants? 

My name is Joe - and I was born and raised in the Bay Area. I have been living in Oakland for the past 3 years and I love it. I work as a Landscape Designer for a small design firm in San Francisco, working mostly on residential projects in the Bay Area, Sonoma and Napa Counties. I get to draw a lot and design gardens, so it's a pretty sweet deal. In my free time I love to go rock climbing and try to get outside and do it whenever the weather permits, which is basically year round here in California! I'm done bragging.

I wasn't really interested in plants until I got to college and took an 'Introduction to Landscape Architecture' class - then decided to make it my major. I started getting into growing my own plants a lot when I first moved to Oakland with some friends, and we had a nice little plot in front of our building for veggies and a sweet balcony that got a ton of sun. I worked at a nursery at the time so I was starting to take plants home with me on a regular basis. When my partner and I moved into our own place and realized we could finally do whatever we wanted to our space, I started getting more into houseplants and filling the place up. It's safe to say that I am now pretty obsessed with plants. 

What's a secret skill you have?

I have surprisingly fast reflexes. I'm also clumsy - which isn't great but helps me prove how fast my reflexes are (I often drop things and catch them before they hit the ground). Unfortunately, it seems like people happen to not be around whenever my quick reflexes are in action.

What's the best present you've given or received?

Definitely our apartment. It was passed down to us from two good friends, Rikki and Jordan, who moved to Southern California. Our place has great big southeast facing windows - so we get a ton of sun and the plants love it. Also, a sweet view of the historic Grand Lake Theater sign and its flashing lights. 

If your space was on fire, what's the first thing you'd grab to save?

The first answer that came to mind was "wallet and passport," which is incredibly boring but honest so I'll stick with that.

What's on your to-do list today?

Walk to the Farmer's Market and get some groceries, go bouldering at the climbing gym, maybe check out some plant nurseries and see if there's anything I have to have…Meet my partner in the city for dinner after he gets off work, then we will probably end the night getting some drinks with friends. Please note that I purposefully waited to answer this on a weekend so I wouldn't have to say "work-gym-eat-sleep." 

What is your favorite plant and why?

This is a tough question when I learn about new plants almost every day at my job. In terms of landscape plants, I am really into Acacia 'Lime Magik' right now. It is one sweet tree. I worked at a succulent nursery for a couple years, so of course succulents and cacti are some of my favorites. I especially love Aloes because there are so many different varieties and they seem to do really well in my apartment. I got a tiny Spiral Aloe a couple years ago and have since planted it in the ground at my parent's house. It has been fun watching it grow and I am looking forward to seeing it start to spiral soon! In terms of favorite plants in my apartment, I especially love my Philodendron 'Hope', Euphorbia ammak 'Variegata', Neon Pothos, and all my Staghorn Ferns. I also have an awesome Peperomia vine that grows like crazy and propagates super easily, so whenever a friend says they like it I just snip off a piece and hand it to them. 

Do you have a green thumb?

Sure. I like to think that I inherited it from my grandma - who was an amazing gardener. She always put so much love and effort into keeping her plants happy, and I try to do the same with mine. 

Any plant care tips you can share?

Just choose the right plants for your space and sun exposure (see here for how to determine your space's sunlight). If you don't get much direct sun, choose plants that thrive in shade. If you do get a lot of sun, go crazy like me and get whatever you want! Once you find the right plants for your situation, plant them in some fresh soil in pots with good drainage and provide them with the appropriate amount of water depending on the plant. I have a pretty loose watering schedule for my plants that works for me - every 3-4 weeks for cacti, every 2 weeks for succulents, and every week for houseplants. If you keep it simple and don't baby them too much…you will be successful. 

What tops your houseplant wish list?

I would LOVE a Colocasia gigantea - I've seen some with leaves as big as people! But it would literally take up half the space in my apartment. I have also been keeping an eye out for a nice big Aloe 'Hercules', though I don't have anywhere to put it. I'm not worried about that though - I'm pretty good at making room for new plants. 

   

(All photography courtesy of Joe Cafuir) 

   

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Meet the Kokedama: A Mini Living Landscape

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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!

  

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Tastemakers: Sarah Goldschadt

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The third installment of our new Tastemakers series shines the spotlight on local maker Sarah Goldschadt, of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Sarah is a freelance art director and maker, who captured our hearts with her adorable, handmade knit and crochet 'carefree cacti' - no sunlight or water required!

Can you share a little bit about sah-rah.com and carefree cacti?

Sah-rah is a phonetic spelling and Americanized way of saying my name in Danish (normally it's pronounced with a guttural 'R' sound). Over the years it became my online identity to share my design and crafts. I was born in Copenhagen - and spent all my childhood summers there, which strongly influenced my simple, modern aesthetic. Then growing up in Minnesota, I was surrounded by a family of makers.

Currently, I work as a freelance graphic designer for various print and digital magazines - and because most of my day involves sitting in front of a computer, it’s nice to come home and make something with my hands. I started making carefree cacti a few years ago and have slowly become more obsessed with cacti ever since. Since I know how to knit, crochet, and sew, I experimented with different ways of making them until I felt comfortable selling them at local markets and on Etsy. I am currently making limited editions from recycled wool garments and am starting to create a line to offer as wholesale. 

What's a secret skill you have? 

I’m pretty decent at badminton. I joined my high school team my senior year and we placed first in our conference! 

What's the best present you've given or received? 

Last year I hand-sewed my niece a 3-D alphabet from felt and made objects coordinating with each letter. I photographed everything and designed and printed a book. At 18 months old she’s a little too young to enjoy it now, but I hope she'll enjoy it when she gets older.

If your space was on fire, what's the first thing you'd grab to save? 

My husband’s dog, Miso. She’s the cutest! 

What's on your to-do list today? 

Making 20 carefree cacti for a bride who wants to use them as centerpieces at her wedding.

Do you have a green thumb? 

My husband and I pretend to. We’re always on the search for fun planters and have run out of room on our window sills. 

Any plant care tips you can share? 

Don't be afraid to propagate succulents. 

What tops your houseplant wish list? 

A super-tall cacti. Maybe I just need to make one... : ) 

  

(Sarah's website, Instagram, and Etsy shop.) 

    

p.s. follow us on Instagram to learn how to enter to win a carefree cacti!

  

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Fiddle Fever: Meet The Fiddle Leaf Fig

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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! 

   

 

  

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