End of Winter Houseplant Checkup

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.

 

Click images for related posts. 

   

 

 

 

Employee Appreciation Day

This Friday, March 6th, is Employee Appreciation Day - a chance to reward and thank the individuals that help you in a multitude of ways each and every day. Happy employees form the fundamental core for a strong, profitable business. In other words, investing in your employees is not only the right thing to do...it also pays off. Below are our top tips for securing happy employees, cultivating a healthy workplace, and consequently, building a strong business. 

HOW TO MAKE FOR A HAPPY EMPLOYEE 

1. Fair pay.

Bottom line, your employees need to earn a living. That's why they have a job - not a hobby. 

2. Useful benefits.

Whether it's health care or free lunch - if you're not willing to go the extra mile, why should they be? 

3. Occasional bonuses.

Let them share in good times, too. They'll feel like a part of company, not just employed by it. 

4. Comfortable workplace.

Encourage employees to be themselves in the workplace. In a no-judgement space, creativity blossoms. 

5. Celebrate occasions.

Whether it be a national holiday or an employee milestone - celebrations reduce stress and build bonds. 

HOW TO MAKE FOR A HEALTHY WORKPLACE 

1. Light

Windows make all the difference when you're sitting inside for 8+ hours. No windows? Invest in full-spectrum bulbs and SAD lamps.

2. Coffee

And tea! This not only saves your employees a couple bucks a day, but provides the added comfortable of drinking from a mug instead of a styrofoam cup.

3. Snacks

We've all seen the Snicker's commercials. A hungry employee is not a happy employee.

4. Plants

Plants not only enhance the overall appearance of your office, but they also boost moods, strengthen morale, reduce stress, and eliminate indoor air pollutants.

5. Music

Your workplace playlist is as important as your workout playlist. Music can instantly lift your mood, boost your energy, reduce your stress, and create an ambiance.

10 Ways To Wake Up Your Winter

Starting to feel that seasonal slump? You're not alone - around eleven million Americans suffer from some sort of winter blues. Although spring's thaw might seem far off, there's other easy ways to combat the cold and lack of light. See our top ten tips below. 

1. Get Moving

A little effort like taking the stairs instead of the escalator makes a big difference. Get your body moving and releasing those 'feel good' chemicals. 

2. Eat Healthy

What we eat affects our mood and energy. Load up on complex carbs like whole wheat and veggies, and don't forget to stay hydrated with lots of water.

3. Vitamin D

Keep your window shades up during the day, and sit near windows whenever you get the chance. Invest in "full spectrum" bulbs, which are said to mimic natural light and can have similar affects on your mind as the real thing.

4. Treat Yourself

Whether it's a planning a weekend getaway or making a reservation at a new restaurant - planning something to look forward to will keep you motivated, and anticipation will instantly improve your mood.

5. Just Relax

Don't be afraid to say no - nicely. Unplug. Take time for yourself. Catch up on those Real Housewives episodes. We're not judging.

6. Embrace It

Find a winter hobby. If you have a lot of free time, learn a sport like skiing. If you don't (who does?) - buy a cute new scarf or upgrade your winter boots. Equally as mood-boosting, and definitely warmer. 

7. Be Social

Never underestimate the mood-boosting power of an unexpected phone call or cozy coffee date. Keep on hugging, kissing, and loving. 

8. Buy Plants

The benefits of plants far outweigh the effort it takes to care for them. Houseplants boost morale, productivity, and creativity - while reducing stress, fighting fatigue, and improving indoor air quality.

9. Home Upgrades

Your home, especially during the winter, should be your indoor oasis. Invest in it. A new rug, a cozy blanket, or a DIY project, can do the trick.

10. Sleep More

It might be a stretch, but aim for 8 to 9 hours each night. Try to keep your bedtime consistent. And skip the snooze button - oversleeping can actually make you more tired.

 

Tastemakers: Local Creative BK

Being a small business with locally-made product is something we pride ourselves on. And ever since the opening of our first brick-and-mortar last November, we've been able to finally connect with some of our customers face-to-face and realize they, too, appreciate that aspect of our company. So it was no surprise that when the founders of the lifestyle blog Local Creative reached out to us for an interview corresponding with their site relaunch - a beautiful local-maker relationship was born.

We're thrilled to return the love and reverse the roles by featuring them on The Plant Hunter in the first of our Tastemakers series. Meet Nicole Steriovski and Jenna Saraco, co-founders of Local Creative in Greenpoint, Brooklyn –

      

Can you share a little bit about Local Creative and its corresponding Kickstarter 'A Local Creative Loft'?

Local Creative is a collaborative lifestyle collective. Through our images and words we tell the stories of local makers, artists and entrepreneurs in communities where we live, shop, eat, travel and gather. With our curated project we hope to move others to choose local and make a difference in supporting these small businesses.
Our Kickstarter is a love letter to our maker, entrepreneurial spirited community. The local loft will be a space we can run the day to day of our blog but will also be open for workshops, events, gatherings, photo shoots and rentals to public. Essentially a one-stop shop for all that is local. The loft will also be furnished entirely by local makers, artisans and artists – and act as a showroom for their exceptional products. 
   

   

Secret skill:

J: Nicole and I can read each others minds
N: I can bake which comes as a surprise to most people who know me

Best present you’ve given or received:

J: Just thinking about this question makes me feel so grateful for all the gifts I’ve been given, but one that stands out is a trip to Savannah my boyfriend took me on for Valentine’s Day one year.
N: My boyfriend got me a really beautiful off-white colored bicycle with tan leather seating for my birthday. It’s super useful but still pretty to look at.

Your space is on fire – what’s the first thing you grab?

J: Cat and computer… Sorry that’s two – but in that order.
N: My cat Los – don’t know what I would do without him. 

Today’s to-do list:

J: Update the blog, feed the cat, take some photos, email people about Kickstarter, edit some photos, grab drinks and talk about clothes with Jessica from Objects without Meaning, obsessively check the Kickstarter page for donations!
N: Email people about our Kickstarter, film something in motion for a class project, then drinks with this awesome girl we just met named Jessica from a new fashion brand we are very into.

Green thumb?

J: I wish I did, but I just don’t think I do. I think I’m well intentioned but my attention span fails me. I always forget to water when I should. Though, I’m not a complete loss, I’ve managed to keep a few plants alive through this winter – an improvement since last year.
N: I would say yes – I get a lot of compliments that my plants are nice and green in my apartment. This winter has proven very difficult to keep them all alive with the heating pipes vs. cold weather.

Top plant care tip:

J: Pay attention to your plants. They’ll tell you what they need.
N: When I am watering my plants I like to pretend the plant is drinking a glass of water. I try to really put myself in the plant’s shoes (or roots) to see when it’s had enough to drink. I think that’s why they are healthy – each plant needs special and individual care & attention.

Houseplant wish-list:

J: One fiddle leaf fig tree as tall as I am.
N: ALL the plants. Just a house full of green. I would really love a rubber tree, also a bunch of mini cacti and succulents.

 

(all images via Local Creative

 

 

Valentine's Day Gift Guide

Don't be a prick (pun intended) - get your sweetheart something good this Valentine's Day. 

 

Shop Now 

 

#GrowYourLove with the Hoya kerrii

 

The valentine, redefined.

Skip the roses this year… there are more unique ways to covey your love. Meet the Hoya kerrii plant. It's no surprise that its fleshy heart-shaped leaves have earned it the nickname of the sweetheart plant.

A species of Hoya native to southeast Asia, the Hoya kerrii is a slow-growing succulent vine. Particularly easy to care for, it is one of a few species of Hoya plants that makes for an ideal houseplant. A low-maintenance gem, it requires infrequent waterings and bright-to-moderate, indirect light - care similar to most succulents and cacti.

Hardy like its drought-tolerate relatives, we recommend watering about every 2 weeks. Better to underwater this fellow than to overwater it. Nervous its parched? The Hoya kerrii leaves will start to show little wrinkles if not given sufficient water.

Looking for a sweetheart of your own? #GrowYourLove is the perfect sized surprise to sweeten anyone's Valentine's Day. Each hand-potted heart-shaped Hoya leaf is rooted in soil, starting the propagation of your own Hoya kerrii plant! With the right amount of love, water, and time (they're slow-growers by houseplant standards) - heart-shaped leaf after heart-shaped leaf will grow. Did we mention they're non-toxic? Making them also perfect for that special cat-lady in your life. 

Hoya Kerrii 101

Family: Asclepiadaceae
Genus: Hoya
Species: kerrii

Plant Care

Light: Bright to moderate, indirect sunlight
Water: 1x every 10-12 days; let soil dry out between waterings
Humidity: Normal
Temperature: Normal (65 degrees F - 80 degrees F)

Troubleshooting

Rotting: Overwatering; high humidity; cold temperatures
Shriveling: Under-watering; root rot
No Growth: Patience is a virtue!
Color Loss: Needs more sunlight

 

Keep Your Love Alive: Valentine Plants

When it comes to Valentine's Day, plants definitely get the short-end of the stick, with sweethearts opting for pricey cut flowers instead. Unfortunately, cut flowers usually die in a matter of days - leaving your love with a vase of withered blooms and mushy stems. So we urge you -- ditch the flowers -- and embrace the lush, long-lasting greenery. Give the gift that grows.

There is a vast selection of amazing plants out there, but we narrowed it down to the list below based on aspects like easy-care, heart-shaped leaves, petite proportions, and unique hues & textures. 

- Hoya kerrii

Light: Bright to moderate, indirect light
Water: 1x weekly; let soil dry out in-between waterings
Humidity: Normal
Temperature: Normal

- Hypoestes

Light: Bright to low, indirect light
Water: 2x weekly
Humidity: Mist 1x weekly 
Temperature: Normal

- Fittonia

Light: Moderate to low, indirect light
Water 2x weekly
Humidity: Mist 1x weekly 
Temperature: Normal

- Cactus

Light: Bright, direct light
Water: 1x every 2-3 weeks; let soil dry out in-between waterings
Humidity: Normal
Temperature: Normal

- Succulent 

Light: Bright, semi-indirect light
Water: 1x every other week; let soil dry out in-between waterings
Humidity: Normal
Temperature: Normal

- Philodendron

Light: Moderate to low, indirect light
Water: 1x weekly; let soil dry out in-between waterings
Humidity: Normal
Temperature: Normal

- Ripple Peperomia

Light: Moderate, indirect light
Water: 1x weekly; let soil dry out in-between waterings
Humidity: Normal
Temperature: Normal

 

P.S. The plants above - and more - are available at The Sill Shop now through Valentine's Day! The shop is located at 84 Hester Street, corner of Allen St., in the LES/Chinatown neighborhood of NYC. We're open Monday through Saturday from 12pm to 6pm, and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm. 

 

February 04, 2015 by The Sill

Prolong The Life of Holiday Houseplants

Unlike cut flowers - houseplants don't have an expiration date, which is one of the many reasons we love them! Popular holiday houseplants like vibrant poinsettias and miniature evergreens can survive long after the holiday season is over. Below are our top four tips to make sure your holiday plants outlast your holiday decorations. 

- Light

Common holiday plants like poinsettias, evergreens, and christmas cacti prefer moderate, indirect light. Keep them on a windowsill to give them the most amount of daylight as possible. If the sunlight is direct, draw a thin curtain during the day. If your apartment lacks natural light altogether, you can try placing your plants directly under a fluorescent lamp during the day. 

- Temperature

Be mindful of the temperature indoors. You might want to blast your heat when you get home from work - but ideally holiday plants like it humid but cool. They prefer 60-70 degrees fahrenheit during the day, and 50-60 degrees fahrenheit at night. Unless you live in southern Florida, don't plan to place your plants outside until late spring. Remember - poinsettias are native to Mexico.

- Water

Water your plants about twice a week, but be careful not to overwater them, which leads to root rot. Empty the planter's saucer if there's excess water. You can help keep smaller evergreens moist by misting them with a spray bottle two to three times a week. Poinsettias can benefit from some extra humidity as well.

- Trim

You can save significant pruning for the springtime, but remove all dead leaves and flowers from your holiday plants - like crispy poinsettias leaves. If they're in holiday packaging, for example a paper or foil sleeve, it's time to remove it. Decorative sleeves usually push leaves up and block light, which ultimately shortens a plant's lifespan. And repot those in plastic nursery pots into something more substantial, like ceramic or terra cotta. 

 

Winter Break Plant Care

We all deserve a break once and awhile, and the holiday season is ideal for taking one. Whether you're headed to Hawaii for two weeks (take us with you?) - or simply planning on not getting out of bed till the New Year - we have your houseplant care covered. The last thing you want to come home to - or wake up to - is a sill full of dead plants. Don't fret… follow our top 4 tips below to ensure your houseplants survive winter break (hey, you survived the months leading up to it!) 

  

1. Maintain moisture

- For short departures:

Soak it. While you shouldn't regularly overwater your plants, this is an exception to the rule. If you're going to be gone for up to a week, a good soil-soaking before departure is be sufficient. Make sure to let drain so the soil is soaked but your plants aren't sitting in water. Leftover water can attract pests, so check saucers 15 minutes after watering and empty saucers. We like to transport our plants to the kitchen sink or bathtub and give them a good shower. It also provides a great place for them to drain - aside from all over your hardwood floors, of course.

- For longer absences:

a. Add it. Add mulch, rocks, or wood chips to your plant's soil to help hold moisture.
b. Bag it. Water thoroughly and then cover with a clear plastic bag, creating a makeshift greenhouse. Make 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.
c. Move it. Transport your plants to your bathroom (provided you have a window) or another small room with medium light. The smaller the room the easier it is to maintain humidity. Grouping your plants together also helps.

2. Tweak temperature

Plants are likely to wilt in direct sunlight - and if you're not home to catch it, the results after a week or two can be devastating. If you usually keep your plants on a sunny sill, move them 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. Turning down the thermostat a smidge helps, too. Once you return, be sure to move your plants back to their usual spot on the sunny sill.

3. Forgo fertilizer

If you use fertilizer - hold off on until you return. You want your plants to grow as slowly as possible while you're gone. They deserve a little rest and relaxation, too. 

4. Please prune 

Prune off any dead or dying foliage. 

Remember, these tips do not apply to your drought-resistant and sun-loving cacti and succulents! 

P.S. The Sill Shop will be closed December 24th - 28th, December 31st, and January 1st. We will have limited hours December 29th - 30th, and resume our normal schedule of 12pm to 6pm on Friday January 2nd. Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday & new year!

 

Happy Holidays from The Sill team!

Eliza Blank

Team Position: Founder
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Local Recommendation: Brooklyn Flea or Fort Greene Farmers Market for apple cider donuts
Favorite Holiday Activity: Playing in the snow; sledding; cozying up by a fire - - in that order.
Favorite Gift To Give: Anything subscription based - a gift that keeps on giving
Holiday Wish List: A cashmere beanie, please! It's going to be a cold winter. 

Andrew Erdle

Team Position: Director of Product
Neighborhood: Morningside Heights
Local Recommendation: Walk in the park
Favorite Holiday Activity: Wearing moccasins/White Russians
Favorite Gift To Give: Books
Holiday Wish List: Books

Erin Marino

Team Position: Head of PR & Marketing
Neighborhood: Stuyvesant Town
Local Recommendation: Breakfast at Ess-a-Bagel
Favorite Holiday Activity: Watching christmas movies; wearing pajamas all day
Favorite Gift To Give: Something I've made or potted. 
Holiday Wish List: Ceramic classes; a [much needed] manicure  

Adam Menzies

Team Position: Gardener/Plant Specialist/Ceremonial Jester
Neighborhood: Bushwick
Local Recommendation: Cicro's Bakery
Favorite Holiday Activity: Singing/humming/whistling christmas music pretty much any time & place. For a good 30 days or so.
Favorite Gift To Give: Laughter and lottery tickets. 
Holiday Wish List: A good haul in the old stocking 

Kristin Monji

Team Position: Plant specialist/gardener; design/create/maintain client gardens
Neighborhood: Jersey City, NJ
Local Recommendation: Hiking in Liberty State Park followed by tacos at Taqueria Downtown 
Favorite Holiday Activity: Eating all of the special holiday food!
Favorite Gift To Give: Something I've grown myself
Holiday Wish List: A trip upstate to go horseback riding in the snow. 

Sam Sheppard 

Team Position: Studio Manager
Neighborhood: Bushwick
Local Recommendation: Eat at Bunna Cafe, Montana's Trail House, Arepera Guacuco or Dear Bushwick; see a show at the Bushwick Starr or Silent Barn; check out the Bushwick Collective murals 
Favorite Holiday Activity: Cooking, sharing, and consuming comfort food with friends. And going to lots of dance parties (to make room for more food). 
Favorite Gift To Give: Something made by hand, or experience gifts like classes, shows, or adventures.
Holiday Wish List: Travel! Anywhere will do. 

Joel "Ric Flair" Rogers

Team Position: Delivery/Installation
Neighborhood: Flatbush
Local Recommendation: Santana's Premium Cigars & Lounge
Favorite Holiday Activity: Meditation in the woods
Favorite Gift To Give: The best book I read during the year. 
Holiday Wish List: Peace in the Puzzle Palace on the Potomac