Plant Care 101 with The Sill: 7 Tips


Some are lucky enough to be born with green thumbs, but for the rest of us, those skills could often use some serious, ahem, cultivation. Enter, The Sill. Founded by Eliza Blank with the simple ambition of inspiring people to bring the outdoors in, this thoroughly modern online plant shop (and compendium of all things plant related) is just the thing for greenery-deprived urban dwellers. More than apartment eye candy, plants have been proven to boost creativity and productivity and curb stress and fatigue. But before you take the plant plunge, Blank shares a few rules of (green) thumb.

1. There is such a thing as a foolproof plant, even for city apartments.

“In cities like New York, there are a lot of challenges, like low light or the high heat in prewar buildings, so we deal with a lot of plants that can withstand that type of abuse. Snake plants or philodendrons are safe even from a black thumb. Certain plants are better for certain spaces. I have a fern in my shower and that’s pretty much the only place it could exist because it needs humidity.”

2. Plants can make it in a sea of cubicles.

“To survive, plants need two things: light and heat. So in some cases, fluorescent lights are going to provide enough of that to keep a plant alive. Opt for a small desktop plant since a lamp should be about 18 inches above the plant to give it the light and heat it needs.”

3. Go easy on the water.

“Overwatering is the number one killer of plants. People tend to not take the extra step to just feel the top of the soil before you water. Wait until the first inch of soil is dry—then it’s time to water. If it’s still wet or moist, you should hold off.”

4. Pruning is key.

“Whenever you see a yellowing leaf on your plant, just trim it off. All that’s doing is sucking food energy from the rest of the plant, so by trimming it off you are just strengthening the plant overall.”

5. Repotting doesn’t always require a new pot.

“Repotting doesn’t necessarily even mean that you need to choose a bigger pot. In fact, that is also a common mistake. You should only go an inch or two bigger than your current pot. Otherwise, the plant will be sitting in this big container of heavy, wet soil and that can lead to root rot.”

6. Shelf the chemicals.

“Chemical things like Miracle-Gro can be a major way to kill your plant. If you feel like you need to fertilize, cut back to 25 percent of the suggested dose. In most cases, if it’s just a green foliage houseplant, it doesn’t need it.”

7. Air plant does not equal easy plant.

“Many people think air plants are a solution for someone with a black thumb, but it’s not true—these plants still need light, water and also air flow. You will want to water it at least once a week by soaking it in a bowl of water for 10 to 20 minutes or frequently misting it.”