Tag Archives: houseplants

Fiddleleaf Fig Houseplants…Identifying Leaf Problems and Tips For Growing A Healthy Plant

The fiddleleaf fig is the latest houseplant wonder, used by interior designers and houseplant owners across the country. Its popularity is well deserved as it’s a striking, large leaved plant, often trained into a tree form and seen on the pages of magazines everywhere.

Maybe you’ve succumbed to the “Everyone has a fiddle leaf fig, I need one too.” pressure but now aren’t sure how to care for it?  Well, first things first –  It’s always smart to look at where a plant originated, then try your best to duplicate that in your home.

Ficus lyrata are native to western Africa, from Cameroon west to Sierra Leone, where it grows in lowland tropical rainforest.  Their large leaves enable them to catch as much light as possible, and in this environment they can grow up to 100 feet in height.

Creating this environment in your home can be daunting. Light is the first challenge. Ficus lyrata will prefer an extremely bright room, but bear in mind too much direct sun may burn its leaves.

The ideal placement would be in a spot that is in very bright light most of the day. If there’s direct light through southern or western windows, don’t place your fiddleleaf fig directly in them but back it off so it receives the light but not the hot sun.

Fiddleleaf fig leaves are very big and they can be dust collectors. It’s important to keep these large leaves clean so they can absorb as much light as possible to aid in photosynthesis. To do this, carefully cradle each leaf in your palm and gently wipe them  with either a damp sponge or a microfiber cloth. Do this at least once a month.

Water is the next consideration. In its native habitat, the fiddleleaf fig stays uniformly moist all the time. The trick is to keep it watered just enough, but not to let it stay too wet which can cause root rot and bacterial diseases. Root rot will manifest itself in older leaves developing brown spots, then dropping off, a very common problem with ficus lyrata in the home. Leaves typically remain dark green with one brown spot that gets larger and larger.

If you suspect this is the case, take your plant out of its pot and inspect the roots. If any are soft and mushy, root rot is the problem and is affecting the leaves and health of your plant. Remove the bad roots and repot with fresh potting soil. Groom the plant, removing any affected leaves.

Try to let your ficus go just dry. Push your finger into the soil an inch. If it comes out dry, it’s time to water. When you water, water thoroughly, then let it go for however long it takes until your finger comes out dry again when you test the soil. Never let your plant sit in water.

If your fiddleleaf fig doesn’t receive enough water, it will be easy to tell as you’ll notice the edges of the leaves begin to turn brown, dry, and begin to curl. The overall look of the plant may appear wilted as well. Remove the brown leaves and try to be more aware of how much and how often you’re watering.

If the soil is coming away from the edge of the pot, that’s a sure sign you’ve not been watering enough. Check to see if your plant is near a heat vent that’s drying out the air and try misting your fiddleleaf fig to raise the humidity around it.

A serious problem, and another that also shows itself by brown spots on the leaves, is bacterial leaf spot. The difference between this and root rot is that bacterial disease affects all growth but especially attacks new leaves.  You’ll notice small leaves and stunted growth, yellowing, and many brown spots on each leaf rather than one large brown area.

With bacterial leaf spot, the leaf  will also turn yellow as the bacteria spreads. Eventually leaves will fall off. If less than 50% of the plant is affected, the best course of action is to remove all the diseased leaves and repot with new soil. Do not overwater as it’s recovering and place it in the maximum amount of light possible.

If your plant continues to decline or if more than half your plant has diseased leaves, it’s better to discard it and start over with a new plant.

Fertilize once a month through the growing season as they are very light feeders and let it rest through the winter. It also responds well to light pruning if necessary.

Finally, ficus lyrata prefer to be a bit potbound, but, if you see roots coming out the bottom of the pot and it needs to be moved up, repot using quality potting soil (We use Fafard.) into a pot no more than 2″ larger. The best time to repot is spring as your fiddleleaf fig is resuming more active growth.

Once you’ve found the right spot and have a handle on the proper care of your Ficus lyrata, you’ll find it to be a very durable and tough plant that should give you many years of enjoyment.

We offer Ficus lyrata at Oak Street Garden Shop when they are available. Please stop in and browse – you might find some other plants too! 

~ We’re sorry, but we don’t offer online sales or ship plants at this time ~

By Kris Blevons

 

 

New To Houseplants? Let Us Help!

If you’re of a certain age, you well remember when houseplants were a mainstay in most houses. The home I grew up in in the 1970’s was filled with plants.

My mother tended them, each week working her way through the house with her watering can and sometimes a sponge to wipe dusty leaves. Even now, at the age of 86, she has a house filled with plants.

I remember floor-size planters and smaller pots grouped together on end tables and beautiful green and variegated leaves of varied shapes and sizes. If you looked up, macrame hangers supported pretty pots filled with hoyas, pothos, creeping fig, and ivy, the trailing vines winding their way here and there.

Today you can Google houseplants or look on Instagram and many similar images appear. Houseplants are making a comeback. Hallelujah, it’s about time!  Whether you’re a novice  with a few small pots on a windowsill in your first apartment or live in a downtown loft and need something bigger, there really is a houseplant for everyone.

Theories abound as to why houseplants are making such a comeback. Some say it’s that younger people need something to nurture. Others say it’s cyclical, and it was just time for them to reappear. Still others say it’s because the world is in such turmoil that  people are turning to their homes for comfort. Whatever the case, plants are a warm and lovely addition to any indoor space.

Plants help purify the air too. There are lists of those that researchers have deemed the most helpful for this. They include many old favorites like spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum), snake plant (sanseveria), pothos (Epipremnum), peace lily (Spathiphyllum), ivy (Hedera), parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans), aloe, dracaena, Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), rubber plant (ficus robusta), and nephthytis (Syngonium).

Of course this listing is just the tip of the houseplant iceberg. A few other plants pictured here include the puckered leaved peperomias, hardy Norfolk Island pines, alocasias, succulent jade plants, philodendrons, and, in the background one of our greenhouse “mascots”, a very large Monstera deliciosa, filling out its new pot. We love our plants too!

Monstera deliciosa

 

 

Some basic houseplant info: Light is important. Pay attention to how the sun moves through your home. Is your landscape outside filled with trees that block the light coming in on certain sides? Are there buildings that shade even western or south facing windows? Is your home bright and filled with windows that are unobstructed, or does it feel dark even on sunny days? Plants that don’t have enough light tend to “stretch”, leaning toward the sun and may be pale even with diligent fertilizing.

Assorted pothos

Plants that tolerate low light levels are the workhorses of the houseplant world. They’re also some of the best plants for beginners. Here are a few to try:

Pothos are virtually indestructible in low light and also prefer to be on the dry side. Don’t overwater and they’ll live happily in your home. Sanseveria thrive in bright light but also will add a lovely vertical accent in low light spots too. Philodendrons, spider plants, prayer plants, many ferns, and the indestructible ZZ plant are other good choices.

Fiddleleaf Fig Tree

If you have bright, light flooded rooms with plenty of windows, the choices widen. Peace lilies prefer this  light, though they’ll tolerate lower light levels too. Ficus, including ficus lyrata, the popular fiddle leaf fig, aralia, jade plants and other succulents, croton, ponytail palm, hoyas, grape ivy and aloe vera need the brightest light you can provide.

Anthurium

If you’re not sure you have enough light for those but want to try something other than the low-light plants above, Chinese evergreens, parlor palmsanthurium, bromeliads, ivy, creeping fig, Schefflera arboricola, fittonia, or peperomia are worth trying.

Each plant will have specific water requirements, and I remember my mom checking hers each week, watering if it was needed or simply “grooming”, removing yellow or dead leaves and clipping wayward stems.

Sanseveria

 

 

The amount and frequency of water depend on the brightness of the light, how warm or cool the room is, and the type of plant. Moisture meters can be helpful to determine the moisture in a planter, especially if they’re large. With so much information at our fingertips, researching individual plants is easy; so learn as much as you can about your new purchase to give it the proper care.

Healthy plants need food, and fertilizing should be done at least every two weeks during the growing season, spring through summer, and monthly in the winter when growth slows.

Cissus, Grape Ivy

Even with the best conditions, indoor plants may be susceptible to insect damage.  These pests might include cottony-looking mealy bugs that hide in leaf axils or along stems, spider mites (Common  when humidity levels are low and, in advanced infestations, even showing webbing on plants.), scale (Usually seen as dark bumps on stems and the underside of leaves.), and aphids, soft bodied insects typically found on tender new growth.

If you tend your plants weekly you should spot insect problems early on when they’re more easily managed with a natural pyrethrum or soap spray. There are also systemic granular insecticides that can be sprinkled onto the soil. Always read the labels before using.

 

Houseplants not only look good and purify our indoor air, they add to our interior style, give us something to care for, and bring a littlle of the outside in. So, with the “comeback” of the houseplant, we say, “Cheers!”

Plants to use with caution around children and pets: Dieffenbachia, Easter lily (very toxic to cats), and ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamifolia)

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

 

The Greenhouse in Winter – Beautiful Foliage…

Some pictures from the greenhouse in winter…Rex begonias, agloenemas (Chinese evergreens), angel wing begonias, fronds of a neantha bella palm, variegated Algerian ivy, Sanseveria, plumosa ferns, aloe and succulents. Can you find them all?imageimageimageimageimage

More Cork Bark Planter Inspiration – We’re Having Fun!

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The last post on these cork bark pieces was an inspirational hit for many of you, and, since we’re having so much fun with them, I wanted to share some more photos. We’ve reordered them a couple of times because they’ve become so popular. And what fun to plant!!

 

The first post  focused on succulents, herbs and air plants – perfect for hot dry spots or areas that are hard to tend. The ones shown here are more woodsy in feel, very much in keeping with the bark material.

imageThe tall one that Jamie planted utilizes houseplants which work very well in shaded areas through the summer, and some perennials. This piece will take filtered sun and clipping of the houseplants to maintain the balance of the planting. A pot was inserted in the bottom, planted, and then soil filled to the top, filling the opening all the way up to create a cool vertical piece.

imageIn the next planting, I took 3 of the flatter, rounded pieces and actually “stacked” them at angles, creating planting pockets and  different levels and an overall shape I was pleased with.  Next, perennials, including tassel ferns, ‘Metallica’  and ‘Burgundy Glow’ ajuga, golden and peacock selaginellas, Scotch moss and Carex ‘Evergold’, were added,  creating sweeps of color and wispy trailers over the edges. An added bonus is that all of these plants are perennial and can be used in your landscape as they outgrow the container.

imageBoth of these have been lined before planting but will drain over the edges in the case of the stacked pieces and down through the bottom of the planting in the tall piece. We picture them in areas of restful shade, adding their green presence to  woodland surroundings…We hope you enjoy our creations as much as we enjoyed making them!

 

 

 

Garden Up! These Vertical Gardens Are Easy To Make!

These vertical gardens are fun to make!

These vertical gardens are fun to make!

Vertical gardening is hot! We have been searching for a user friendly vertical garden system for our customers to try, and think we may have found it!

These are sturdy frames with a coco liner insert. The liner has openings cut so insertion of plants is easy peasy…there are nine openings along the front and three on each side and, of course, the top is plantable as well. You can even put more than one together to make a larger vertical garden. We have the frames available for you to purchase and plants like those shown here if you’d like to give it a try! (Or, buy the frame now and save it for planting in the spring.)   We’re going to try a succulent version next – we’ll keep you posted!

Need Your Terrarium Planted? We Can Help!

Reindeer moss and small rocks enhance this miniature landscape in glass ~

Reindeer moss and small rocks enhance this miniature landscape in glass ~

Terrariums, gardens in glass, are everywhere these days. We’ve noticed many of our customers have them, either given to them as a gift, or purchased on a whim because they thought it would be a fun project. So…do you have one and not know what  to do with the darn thing? Well, that’s just the sort of thing we can help with!

Of course, a terrarium can be any glass container with a lid, or open at the top like the one shown here. A customer brought one in the other day that had been used as the centerpiece at her wedding in 1974 – she was thrilled to let us do the planting honors for the first time in 19 years! You want to plant one yourself you say? We can give you tips and advice to help you create a beautiful ecosystem to enjoy for years.

The terrariums shown here have a layer of pebbles mixed with aquarium charcoal, (The charcoal keeps bacteria from forming in the moist environment.) a layer of potting soil, and plants with decorative rocks and moss added for the final touch. Isn’t the 2 tier terrarium fun? What a wonderful focal point it would make in an office setting or home! Most terrariums need water rarely – if enclosed, the environment stays quite moist. Those with open tops will need water more often, but be careful not to overwater since there’s obviously no drainage. Ferns, fittonias, creeping fig, nephytis and selaginella are just some of the plants that thrive here. .

A double tier terrarium - twice the fun!

A double tier terrarium – twice the fun!

Terrariums in all shapes and sizes...

Terrariums in all shapes and sizes…

We Love Creating Great Container Combinations!

imageContainer gardening – putting together great combinations that are long lasting and beautiful is something we love to do! The planters here show groupings of houseplants (yes, you can use combinations of houseplants too!) chosen for the variation of leaf color, shape and size…and perfect for a summer on a shady porch or patio.

imageOne is a loose, informal combination and the second arrangement is much more structured – see the difference?

imageThe last example is a small planter filled to the brim (don’t be skimpy with your plants!) and designed to be seen on a table or shelf.  We’ll continue to showcase more container ideas to spark your imagination and creativity and help you choose the perfect combinations for your home and garden.  We may be in the middle of winter now, but spring is fast approaching and we want you to enjoy creating your own container gardens – or, if you’re in the area we’re always glad to help. Happy planting!

Happy New Year!

And here's something we can all look forward to!  Happy New Year!

And here’s something we can all look forward to! Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! Our sale continues on holiday items as we take time now to clear out the old and make way for the new – it feels good to clean house! We know as your cherished holiday decor is packed away, the tree taken to be recycled, and greenery dispatched to the curb, the house can seem a bit empty, especially without all the finery of the holidays..

To help fill those open spaces, we are offering our large houseplants (10″ pots and larger) at 50% off – not a bad deal to add a little fresh foliage to your home for the new year! We have dracaenas, spaths, aralias, fiddle leaf figs and more. Not sure what you might need? Swing by and take a look anyway – there may be something just right for your home or office!

We’ll of course continue to fill the greenhouse with blooms and foliage through the winter, so don’t hesitate to stop in, even if you just need a greenhouse “fix”.

On the social media front we hope you’ve “Liked” us on Facebook and are following us on Twitter, but we’re also very excited to tell you the web page will be getting a major makeover this year too…we’ll keep you posted!
Finally, our winter hours are 9am-5pm Monday-Saturday…hope to see you soon!