The Basics of Fiddle Leaf Fig Care

If your read my first blog EVER, you’ll remember that my very first plant was a fiddle leaf fig. I had seen FLF’s in all of the home decor magazines and decided I needed one in my house – because clearly I am a cool and trendy person (HA!). I found a gorgeous – expensive! – fiddle leaf fig at my local plant nursery, and proudly brought it home…then stuck it in a semi-dark corner, expecting it to thrive. I watered it faithfully, keeping the soil nice and moist. (Are you cringing yet?)

After living in my home for about a month, the leaves on my fiddle leaf fig began dropping off one by one. I tried to make changes to make it happy, but I literally had NO idea what I was doing. In the end, I ended up killing my FLF until it was merely a stick in the middle of a pot of dirt. (Major OOPS!)

 Today I am excited to have Claire Akin, author of “The Fiddle Leaf Fig Expert” (available on Amazon now) sharing tips and tricks on how to keep your own fiddle leaf fig happy. (Boy, do I wish I had these tips when I had mine!) I hope you find this to be a helpful and informative blog!

Screen Shot 2018-08-24 at 11.42.17 AM
Find this helpful guide on Amazon!

Incidentally, I haven’t been brave enough to bring another fiddle leaf fig into my home. However, after reading this blog, I just might brave it again!

- the {house}plant momma.png

 

Caring for your fiddle leaf fig can be complex and overwhelming, especially if you are a new to houseplants. In fact most fiddle leaf fig owners are first time plant owners! This creates a tricky situation, since ficus lyrata can be particular about their needs, and many times first time plant owners have no idea what they’re doing.

You may not know the basics of houseplant care or why good habits are important for your plant. Yet it’s important to know that good care makes your plant stronger and more resistant to disease; poor care creates a downward spiral of sickness and problems. If you’re having trouble with your plant, don’t give up! Follow these rules for a happy and healthy fiddle leaf fig.

lauren-mancke-60547-unsplash.jpg
Image by Lauren Mancke via Unsplash

Provide Adequate Drainage

A plant’s root system is the basis of its health. Many people are not aware, but to grow properly, as well as provide adequate nutrients to the plant, roots need both water and oxygen. Proper drainage allows your plant’s root system to breathe and stay healthy. Without adequate drainage, root rot can set in and kill your plant.

When it comes to fiddle leaf figs, lack of drainage is one of the most common problems that fiddle leaf fig owners face. Fast draining soil and adequate room at the bottom of the pot (allowing better drainage) can help prevent the dreaded affliction of root rot.

belle-hunt-570483-unsplash.jpg
Image by Belle Hunt via Unsplash

Don’t Drown Your Fiddle Leaf Fig

In addition to providing proper drainage, it’s important to let your plant’s soil dry out a bit between waterings. Too much water is one of the most common mistakes fiddle leaf fig owners make. Be aware of your plant’s water requirements and make sure you aren’t drowning your plant. Always err on the side of letting your fiddle leaf fig get too dry, instead of too wet.

mike-marquez-409620-unsplash.jpg
Image by Mike Marquez via Unsplash

Feed Your Plant Properly

Fiddle leaf fig plants require a lot of nutrients to grow their large, beautiful leaves. Feed them with a liquid fertilizer like Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Food once a week, which is specially formulated with a NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) ratio of 3-1-2. Providing plenty of nutrients allows your plant to stay healthy and supports new growth.

kara-michelle-551959-unsplash.jpg
Image by Kara Michelle via Unsplash

Give Your FLF Plenty of Sunlight

Many fiddle leaf fig owners underestimate the amount of sun their plant needs. Native to Africa, fiddles love the sun. Place your plant in the sunniest area of your house, preferably in a south-facing window just out of direct sun.

mike-marquez-384430-unsplash.jpg
Image by Mike Marquez via Unsplash

Act Quickly if You See Trouble

Fiddle leaf fig plants are relatively slow growers, since their large leaves require a lot of energy to build. This makes treating ailments quickly even more important, since it takes them so long to recover from problems. Be sure to act quickly if you see brown spots, leaf drop, or an insect infestation.

kendal-james-742719-unsplash.jpg
Image by Kendal James via Unsplash

Repot Every Few Years

If your fiddle leaf fig is healthy, its root system will begin to outgrow its pot after a few years. If you see roots growing near the bottom or edges of the pot, it may be time to repot to give your plant more space to grow. If you’ve reached your maximum container size, topdress instead of repotting by removing the top four inches of soil and replacing with new soil.

neslihan-gunaydin-3493-unsplash.jpg
Image by Neslihan Gunaydin via Unsplash

Check on Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Every Week

The best way to take good care of your plant is to get to know it better. Take the time to check on your fiddle leaf fig every week. First, take a look a the soil to see if it’s wet or dry before you water. Look at the leaves for any signs of wilting or brown spots. Rotate your plant to make sure it gets even sunlight. Finally, take an overall assessment of your plant and make a note of any changes like new growth.

sarah-sosiak-298060-unsplash.jpg
Image by Sarah Sosiak via Unsplash

How to Learn More

For more information about fiddle leaf figs, join the Fiddle Leaf Fig Club, watch the Fiddle Leaf Fig Care 101 webinar, and get your copy of “The Fiddle Leaf Fig Expert” on Amazon now!

FLF.png

Do you feel ready to take on the adventure of growing a fiddle leaf fig? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Claire.png

Products I {Heart}: Concrete Planters

For Christmas last year, my oldest son Alex (who had just turned 13) made me a special surprise. He came across a video on Instagram that showed how to make your own concrete planters. Knowing my love of plants, he took the video to my husband and said, “I want to make those for Mom.”

About a week before Christmas, both my husband and son spent a Saturday afternoon, cooped up in the basement; weird smells streamed from under the closed door. I was suspicious, but was told I wasn’t allowed to go see what was going on…that Alex was making me a present and I had to roll with it. (I am NOT a flexible, ”roll-with-it” kind of girl…but I sucked it up and endured.)

On Christmas morning, Alex proudly handed me a gift bag that was strangely heavy. I couldn’t figure out what could possibly be inside! When I parted the tissue paper, I found three awesome concrete planters inside, each one decorated with a unique design painted on with spray paint (hence the mysterious smell). I am NOT a crier, but I almost burst into tears I was so incredibly touched!

xIm%Quh5QDqOiRoGo593iw_thumb_8390.jpg
Awesome planters made by my biggest boy!

Concrete planters are majorly on trend right now and add a unique touch to any décor. I have seen a lot of the awesome planters online lately and, while none of them will ever be as special or amazing as the ones made for me by my Alex (insert alllllll the heart eyes), I wanted to share some of my favorites with you.

Cube Concrete Planter with Metallic Paint

MindtheMinimal Cube Planter with Metallic.jpg
Image via Etsy

Octagonal Concrete Planter

MakeAndMatter Octagonal Planter.jpg
Image via Etsy

Geometric Concrete Air Plant Holders – Set of 3

SimplyWhiteCo Geometric Air Plant Holders Set of 3.jpg
Image via Etsy

Cube Concrete Planter

SucculentsBox Cube Planter.jpg
Image via Etsy

 

Mini Mod Style Concrete Planter

AnnabelleTaylorCo Mod Style.jpg
Image via Etsy

Stairway Concrete Planter

Zakkr Concrete Entryway .jpg
Image via Etsy

Hanging Cone Concrete Planter

InGaConcrete Cone Hanging Planter.jpg
Image via Etsy

Brontosaurus Dinosaur Concrete Planter

PropsAndPop Dino Planter.jpg
Image via Etsy

Rose Gold Cylinder Concrete Planter

EMSAYstudio Rose Gold Cylinder Planter.jpg
Image via Etsy

Mini Geometric Concrete Planter

AnnabelleTaylorCo Geometric Planter.jpg
Image via Etsy

I have yet to experiment with making concrete planters myself, but I hope that one day soon, I will have the time – and courage – to give it a try! (And, if I do, you can be sure I will have pictures to show you of my adventure!)

Products I {Heart}_ Concrete Planters.png

Which concrete planter is your favorite? Tell me in the comments below!

- the {house}plant momma.png

 

A Birthday Terrarium

My life has been insane lately, with very little time for creativity. I am currently working two part-time jobs, as well as being a full-time stay-at-home mom to three kids (ages 13, 4, and 2). In addition, my husband and I have been working hard to remodel our house since moving in about a year ago. Most nights, I fall into bed with barely enough brainpower to watch a mindless show on Netflix or flip through my Instagram feed.

Last week, I celebrated my 33rdbirthday – woohoo! I decided that for my birthday, I was going to take the day “off” from work and responsibility, and was going to make time for creativity. That was literally the BEST gift I could have given myself!

The morning of my birthday, the little kids and I went to my favorite local nursery. I had told the kids that for my birthday, all I wanted from them was for them not to fight all day – HA! Oddly enough, though, they listened and were really well behaved while we were plant shopping. (Well…mostly well behaved…)

m0hnCN4aTX+bYZbtjyHETQ_thumb_838f.jpg
Are they fighting or loving each other? You’ll never know…
S4HgdKapS%uLUVYcwza7oQ_thumb_838a.jpg
I love this place!

As I pushed through the greenhouse, I remembered that I had a gorgeous fishbowl at home, just waiting to be turned a terrarium – and suddenly my birthday project took shape!

mYU9GYw2SKyAg12xNmRw5Q_thumb_838c.jpg
Hoping my plants survives better in this vessel than this little guy did…RIP Albus Dumbledore.

My local nursery has a big section of fairy garden/terrarium plants and, while I haven’t had much luck with ferns in the past, I decided to take a risk and make my terrarium hold ferns exclusively. I selected three itty-bitty varieties of ferns and excitedly added them to my cart.

I also picked up some other supplies for my terrarium that I didn’t have at home. I already had potting soil on hand (because I always do – of course), but I bought some horticulture charcoal and some decorative moss. I also went to the nursery’s little fairy garden section and picked out two bright red mushrooms to add – just to add cute, novel touch. (Plus, my kids were absolutely obsessed all of the little fairy garden items, so when I picked out the mushrooms, they were thrilled!)

oMnKBvYPQTOs7RphI%NYlg_thumb_8271.jpg

I had to wait until the kids went down for their naps to begin working on my terrarium, but as soon as they were in bed, I hustled downstairs and began my project!

The first thing I did was add a layer of charcoal to the bottom of my terrarium. If my vessel had been larger, I would have added a layer of gravel and then the charcoal. However, the bowl is not too big or tall, and I wanted to be sure my plants had adequate room to sit on top of the soil, so I just opted for charcoal.

02OdsDnATpSDcSoO0iAfHA_thumb_828d.jpg

Since terrariums do not have any drainage, adding this layer of charcoal (and gravel, if you use it) allows for excess water to drain to the bottom and keeps the soil from being too soggy, which can cause root rot. Charcoal is great to use, too, because it is absorbent and soaks up excess water.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_82a5.jpg

Please note that while you can use grilling charcoal at the bottom of a plant pot, most grilling charcoal includes chemical additives. These additives are not good for plants, so that type of charcoal should typically be avoided. I personally recommend finding horticulture charcoal either at your local nursery (like I did) or online. (Amazon has options available such as this and this.)

wlZWSo8PT3yKo51Oq9H37A_thumb_82ab.jpg
Oops!

After the charcoal was in place, I added a generous layer of dirt. Then, I used my finger to hollow out little wells for each of my ferns. I gently removed each fern from its tiny pot, broke up the root ball a bit, and carefully set it in the well I had made in the soil. Then I added extra soil around each of the stems and smoothed it out.

Zm4egnodQv+Vsb4sIYpZTA_thumb_82a3.jpg

Next, I added in the decorative elements. I had bought a bunch of moss – way more than I actually needed – so I broke it into pieces and carefully added the smaller pieces around the bases of the ferns. While this moss is honestly mostly just to make the terrarium look more lush and green, it will serve to hold in some of the soil’s moisture. (Fingers crossed that this extra help with keeping in moisture will help me have a successful fern-growing experience!)

+B4SkxyhQT6gZNqTmICdsA_thumb_8283.jpg

Finally, I selected the perfect spot to put my itty-bitty red mushrooms, and carefully pushed them into the moss and soil.

UZWsK857Rs+mhVKI2eyShw_thumb_82d2.jpg

Just about the time I was finishing up my terrarium, my kids woke up from their naps, and it was back to being a momma. But let me tell you how good this creative time was for my soul! I felt so refreshed after some time focused on me, feeding into the side of my personality that frequently is neglected.

LKzbmi4aTtmxBFfSbrLt4Q_thumb_82ae.jpg
The finished product!

My birthday ended with a delicious dinner with my entire family, and a humongous ice cream sundae (not pictured, because it was gone in a second!).

n2XK1EReSvK4UFd2gFrq+A_thumb_838b.jpg

Have you ever made a terrarium? If not, do you think you might be ready to tackle it now? Tell me in the comments below!

Terrarium.png

- the {house}plant momma.png

 

A Tale of Two Grandmas: Houseplants and COPD

Growing up, I had the privilege of having two, wonderful grandmas. They were as different as night and day, but both of them were special ladies.

My Mimi was a firecracker. She was always teaching my brother and I to do things that my mom hated (i.e. flipping off my grandpa behind a menu at a restaurant or letting us watch TV shows that my mom would NEVER let us watch). We loved it, and thought she was the coolest grandma ever!

Whenever my Mimi would visit, I would drag her to my room for some “talk time,” and would share my little world with her: boys, trainer bras, best friend drama – you name it. When I got older, I would talk to her every Sunday on the phone like clockwork.

04A8D3E9-1B61-4C6C-82AB-E5E6C6EED17F.JPG
A sweet moment between my Mimi and I (circa 1987)

My Grandma Joyce was the complete opposite. While she was sassy in her own right, she enjoyed teaching my brother and I church songs while she played the piano or would make (terribly inaccurate) birdcalls for us. When we would go visit her, we would enjoy roaming around her property in Indiana, looking for fossils in her creek bed and fishing in her pond.

ED4DEE39-0396-4E6B-9F5C-D84B92021201.JPG
My Grandma Joyce and I (circle 1988)

Despite these women’s differences, they both were hit by the same affliction at the end of their lives: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Mimi had COPD from her life-long smoking habit – an addiction that she just couldn’t kick. Grandma Joyce smoked when she was younger, but stopped when she was older. Yet the damage was done.

Both of my grandmothers died with COPD; because of this, COPD is a topic that is close to my heart. I am honored today to have guest writer Erin Lowry of 1stClass Medical sharing how houseplants can have a positive impact on those who struggle with COPD.

– the {house}plant momma

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a progressive disease that makes breathing continually harder to do. COPD is a broad term that covers multiple lung diseases, such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma. These diseases can trigger coughing, which in turn causes an excess amount of mucus, wheezing, chest tightness, as well as other similar symptoms.

COPD bronchitis emphysema graphic.png
Image from British Lung Foundation

While cigarette smoke is a main cause of COPD, you do not necessarily need to smoke a day in your life to get COPD. Any harmful pollutant in the air can also cause COPD; additionally, constant exposure to those pollutants (smoke included) can worsen the effects of COPD. Minimizing these triggers means doing what you can to avoid the irritant or keeping your home clean to lower the amount of pollutants in your home.

Many respiratory patients spend roughly 90% of their time indoors, as outside air has been believed to cause COPD flare-ups. However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there may actually be more indoor air pollutants than outdoor air pollutants. One reason is that many homes now have a better seals against the outside, which helps them be more energy efficient. However, this process also locks in pollutants. Also, pollutants such as harsh fumes from cleaners, dust, and pollen can get inside and embed themselves into carpets and upholstery. All of this may mean the home is not as safe for COPD patients as they might think.

A safe and relatively easy way to reduce these pollutants in your home is to invest in houseplants. Indoor plants are known to reduce harmful pollutants from the air by up to 87% in only 24 hours! How, you might ask? Plants use the process of photosynthesis to take in carbon dioxide and other pollutants in the air, and in turn, release clean oxygen. By absorbing the unhealthy gases and releasing clean gases, plants can help clean the air; this is much easier – and cheaper – than paying for an expensive machine to clean the air for you!

In 1989, NASA put together a list of plants they believe to help clean indoor air the most efficiently. English ivy, peace lilies, flamingo lilies, variegated snake plants, chrysanthemums, and bamboo palms are all great plants to remove many pollutants in the air.

If you aren’t familiar with these plants, here is some basic information about them.

English Ivy.png

English Ivy: English ivy needs to be grow in a shaded area with rich soil; it should be watered enough to keep the soil moist. It’s vines can grow up to 50 feet long – or more – over time.

Peace Lily.png

Peace Lily: Peace lilies need partial shade, but can survive off virtually no sun at all. They should be watered when they start to droop.

Flamingo Lily.png

Flamingo Lily: Flamingo lilies are from the rainforest, so they enjoy growing in a humid area, in a pot of moss-based soil. This lily requires enough water to keep the soil moist; however, do not allow the soil to get overly wet and make sure the pot has a way to drain.

Snake Plant.png

Snake Plants: Snake plants grow best in a pot with good drainage or in a soilless potting mix, so that it does not get overly moist. These plants can handle indirect sunlight, and only need to be watered when the soil dries out.

Chrysanthemum.png

Chrysanthemums: These plants need regular watering, poured under their leaves to avoid any fungus growth. Chrysanthemums do not like humidity and only bloom for 3-4 weeks total, leaving behind their beautiful leaves.

Bamboo Palm.png

Bamboo Palm: Bamboo palms only need indirect or filtered light. They like to have their soil kept moist, but be careful not to overwater, as it can lead to root rot.

All of the best plants for the air quality are also fairly low maintenance. This makes it easier for those with COPD and other respiratory diseases to maintain a plant without having to constantly provide care for it. Many of the plants listed only require enough water to keep the soil moist and a minimal amount of indirect light.

It should be noted that many of these plants are not pet friendly. If you have pets, make sure you get non-toxic plants or keep your plants in places you are confident your pet cannot reach. (To learn more about plants that are pet safe, click here).

Before bringing home any plant, I recommend making sure you are well educated about the plant you are buying. Speaking with a specialist at your local nursery or garden store, or doing research online, can help ensure you know how to care for the plant in your climate and region.

CODP .jpg

A note of caution: If you aren’t careful, an over-watered plant can produce mold; this will have the exact opposite effect of the plants air cleaning purpose.

Houseplants have many benefits for their owners, but for those with COPD, those benefits can be life – and health – altering!

Erin.png