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The Plant Hunter

Why does my plant need water?

Posted by The Sill on

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/skeleton, and not wilt. Hence a common symptom of under-watering for most houseplants is wilting.

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. 
 
 

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Tastemakers: Adina Grigore

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We're picking back up our Tastemakers series with Adina Grigore of the Brooklyn-based skincare line S.W. Basics. A quality over quantity approach to skincare - S.W. Basics products are made from scratch and contain five ingredients or less. Did we mention they make your skin look and feel dreamy? 


(the dreamy S.W. Basics cream - photo by Liz Andrien) 

Name: Adina Grigore
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Occupation: Most Stressed Person at S.W. Basics
Favorite Plant: Aloe, obviously

Can you share a little background about yourself, your skincare line S.W. Basics, and your new book Skin Cleanse? 

Sure! I'm a south Florida girl living in a NY world. Well Brooklyn, but let's be honest that's really more NY these days than NY is, you know? I started S.W. Basics out of my kitchen in 2009, then went full-time-whole-life in 2011. Now we're available nationwide in Target. This year my book Skin Cleanse came out, a guide to ditching your addiction to beauty products and getting better skin.  

What was the inspiration behind S.W. Basics? 

My extremely sensitive skin and body, and my anger towards the rest of the beauty industry. I wanted to make products that were simple, wholesome, more affordable, and didn't make women feel badly about themselves. Everything in the line is 100% natural, five ingredients or less, and we're certified organic. I believe that simple products work better and that a simple life is generally better, too. 

   


(S.W. Basics skin product & Skin Cleanse book - photo by Liz Andrien) 

What’s your favorite skincare product? 

This changes all the time but currently, and most of the time, our cream. I'm always dry and oily and in summer also peeling from too much time in the sun, so I drench myself in this product. It's gold.

What’s your top skincare tip(s)? 

Don't ever believe a beauty product will solve all of your problems (and don't blame the product when it doesn't!), wash your face with just water once in a while, hydrate your insides more, and try to mute out the BS that makes you feel flawed and ugly. You look great. 

 


(founder Adina Grigore - photo by Liz Andrien) 

What's a secret skill you have? 

Ha! I can tap dance! 

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

When I was on my honeymoon, my sis and her girlfriend cleaned our apartment like nothing I've ever seen before. I'm talking whole new place. I think it was hard, they were kind of grumpy about it. But wow was that nice. I'm wondering how I get them to do it again.

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

My little mean black cat!

What's on your to-do list today? 

Get through 100 emails, make dinner + lunch for tomorrow, shower, watch Game of Thrones!

   


(the S.W. Basics HQ - photo by Liz Andrien) 

What is your favorite plant and why? 

Aloe because I'm a living cliche. But come on, what an under-appreciated plant! I'm not sure why they aren't in every house. It's a free first aid kit.  

Do you have a green thumb? 

NO. The only plant I've kept alive is my aloe. Because as if aloe wasn't already awesome enough, it also grows no matter what you do.

Any plant care tips you can share? 

Buy aloe. 

What tops your houseplant wish list? 

More of a green thumb, and plants that don't need light because our railroad apartment is like a cemetery for green things.  

   


(the S.W. Basics team in BK - photo by Liz Andrien) 

P.S. Use the code 'THESILL20' for 20% off your purchase at swbasics.com! Expires 9/30/15. 

 

  

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Prepping Plants for Summer Vacation

Posted by The Sill on

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. 

 

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Singapore Botanic Gardens

Posted by The Sill on

At the 39th World Heritage Committee meeting, held this past weekend in Germany, four locations were awarded the status of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of those sites, the 150+ year-old Singapore Botanic Gardens, was acknowledged as a top-notch scientific center for conservation and education.

It is the first botanical site to be recognized in Asia, and now one of only four botanical sites to be recognized by UNESCO -- along with Orto Botanico in Padua, Italy; Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, England; and Richtersveld Cultural & Botanical Landscape in South Africa. 

The Sill team’s own Andrew Erdle visited the SBG in 2013. Enjoy his photos below! 

(Photography courtesy of Andrew Erdle) 

 

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Easy Apartment Upgrades from Move Loot

Posted by The Sill on

(In celebration of Move Loot's recent launch in NYC - we've partnered with the buy and sell furniture consignment company to share their top tips for easy, budget-friendly rental upgrades. We'll let them take it from here...) 

You’re all moved in to your new rental and ready to nest, but there are a few things holding you back from really feeling at home. Living in a rental can sometimes be frustrating: bad paint jobs, poor light, or a claustrophobia inducing layout. There are lots of ways to improve your space without upsetting your landlord or breaking your lease (or budget, for that matter). 

Move Loot's Easy Upgrades (5 Tips & Tricks) 

- Kitchen Hardware 

Starting in the kitchen, a great way to easily, cheaply, and non-permanently personalize your space is to switch out the hardware. Simply upgrading the knobs and pulls of draws and cabinets can turn a truly awful kitchen into a kitsch-en. Go cute or sleek, either way it will help you feel more at home in your new space. Another option is to remove the cabinet doors altogether for a clean, minimal look.

- Bathroom Fixtures
The fastest and easiest upgrade to create a clean, personalized bathroom is changing out the fixtures. A new showered can go a long way: there is not enough stock put in the restorative power of good water pressure! You can also add extra storage by mounting a medicine cabinet or open shelving on the wall.

- Lighting 

Just by switching out that outdated, grimy shade in your living room you can totally change the lighting and atmosphere of the space. Once you’re ready to move, simply change the fixture back and take yours with you. Also, never underestimate the power of ambient lighting. Table and floor lamps make a space feel like home - and their warm glow will make you and your guests feel at ease.

- Lean-To Storage
Looking to add storage without wall-damaging nails and screws? Forget about wall-mounted shelves - lean-to pieces are where it’s at. Whether it be a desk or bookcase, a wall-leaning piece will add a modern, sleek feel to your space while providing you with versatile work and storage space that doesn’t damage the walls. 
* Shop the Lene Desk on Move Loot New York

- Window Dressing
The answer to guy, cheap blinds - curtains, baby, curtains. Curtain rods can be pricy, but it is easy to create your own out of pipes or rods, and the internet is chock full of DIYs. You can go simple, hanging only light sheers, or find a brightly patterned fabric that makes your decor and really livens those windows up. Don’t forget what an impact small plants can make on a wide windowsill - bringing fresh, air-purifying benefits into your home.

You are now armed and ready to make your rental livable, personal, and clean. Make sure you carefully read your lead and discuss any questionable changes with your landlord before making them. 

 

P.S. Join Move Loot to receive a $25 credit automatically - exclusive to The Sill customers. Sign up here! 

+ Catch our Top 5 Apartment-Friendly Plants on the Move Loot Blog here

 

(*All images courtesy of Move Loot & friends) 

 

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