Botanicals with Libby

The Fiddle Leaf | Ficus Lyrata

Written by Libby Hockenberry

I'm here today to talk to you about the fiddle leaf fig...still one of my very favorite plants despite the fact that it's become very hip to have one. I'll tell you all the reasons why I love this plant and also how to keep yours alive! I've been asked to help save so many of your dying fiddles over the years so I'm here to give you some tips! 

The fiddle in the picture above is one of the oldest plants in my collection. I bought him when I first moved into my loft about 3 or 4 years ago from Home Depot actually, and he was so tiny! So small that he sat at the end of my couch and barely came above the arm. You can't even see all of him in the picture above but he's now about 8 or 9 feet tall which I still find crazy...he just keeps growing! That's the beauty of the fiddle leaf, they are prolific growers if given the right environment and care and I think one of the most satisfying plants to watch grow. I probably get way too excited when a new little leaf or three pop out but it makes me feel like I'm doing my plant mom job. 

So I actually have two fiddles in my collection - the one above that is more bushy, and one that is shaped more like a tree (pictured below). If you're trying to decide which shape you like better I honestly lean more towards the tree shape. But I also love the other one too sooooo maybe I'm not the person to ask hah! They both make for a really pretty house plant that accents any design style in my opinion. 

Here's a few tips on how to care for your fiddle leaf: 

Water | As a native to the tropics, the fiddle thrives in warm, wet conditions. You'll want to water it consistently and when doing so pour the water around the outside edges of the pot and not directly onto the roots. Water it enough so that you see it coming out the bottom of the pot. You'll know it's time to water your fiddle again when you can stick your finger in the soil 1 to 2 inches down and it's dry to the touch. (this point is typically true of most houseplants) If plants don’t get enough water, new leaves will turn brown and drop; on the other hand, if they are overwatered, the oldest leaves (toward the base of the plant) will turn brown and fall off. In addition to watering, fiddles also love humid environments so I occasionally mist mine with a spray bottle around the leaves to trick it - this is especially important in the winter months when the heat comes on in your home drying out the air. 

Light | The second most important thing for your fiddle leaf is light. I know not all of you have as much light in your house as I do (definitely the top reason I moved there), but fiddle leafs like bright indirect sunlight so if your home is shady or you don't have a lot of windows you might not want to invest in this tree. A snake plant or pathos plant would probably serve you better (they can live with almost no light). Place your fiddle ideally in a south or north facing window and he will thrive! Just remember, don't stick plants in places you think they look the prettiest - they need to go where they will be the happiest. 

Drafts | Fiddles don't like drafts at all. In their native environment the air is still so if you situate it next to a drafty window or below an air vent it may cause the leaves to drop. 

Soil | Plant in well draining soil and re pot about once every year depending on growth. You will be able to tell it has outgrown it's pot when the roots begin to grow out of the bottom drainage hole. If they don't get repotted, the roots can be subject to root rot. 

Fertilizer | Fertilize the fig during the spring and summer months every month or so according to the directions on the type of fertilizer you choose to use. I personally like the organic fish fertilizer even though it smells awful. I find it's a bit healthier than the more commercial brands and my plants seem to love it. You can by it at Home Depot or Lowes. 

I really hope you'll find these tips useful! My biggest advice though is just simply to pay attention to your plants. Having plants really does take a lot of time and energy and if you aren't willing to devote the time necessary to keep them alive then they really will suffer. I have a weekly routine of watering and tending to all my plants and it sometimes takes me an hour or two but it's a part of my week that I look forward to and watching the results and the new growth is super worth it. 

That's all for now! Let me know what plant you've been having trouble with or would like to know more about and I'll definitely try to talk about it next time! 

Botanicals with Libby

I Swear Your Orchid Isn't Dead Yet

Written by Libby Hockenberry

So I have to say that over the years I have found a common theme among orchid owners. It's something that constantly bugs me and if you know me well enough, you've probably heard me reprimand someone for throwing away their "dead" orchid. I don't know who is responsible for spreading this particular propaganda about this beautiful and fascinating plant, but it seems to be a widespread problem. If you haven't guessed what I'm talking about by now then allow me to explain and hopefully I can save a few little orchid lives in the process! 

So many people have come into my home and complimented my blooming orchids and made the statement, "Dang, I brought mine home and it died like the next week! What am I doing wrong?!" My follow up question to this is always the same thing - "by died, you mean...the blooms fell off?" The answer to that is always, "well...yeah." I find this to be really fascinating because nowhere in nature do we assume a plant has died when its blooms fall off....it's just the orchid. I know it can be frustrating to bring that beautiful blooming beauty home and have it lose all of its pretty flowers within a week, but I promise that with a little love and attention (and by that I mean VERY little) your orchid will definitely bloom again and again and again and again! 

I've had the two lovely little yellow orchids pictured above for about five years now and they have faithfully bloomed around Valentine's Day every year since...like clockwork. If I had to choose a favorite out of all my plants in our house, I think the orchid definitely wins. It was one of my first plants I ever got and I've had a fascination with them for years...spanning back to my college days. For my senior art show at GA State I did a sculpture project where I made 14 different types of hand forged metal orchids mounted on exotic wooden plaques. The entire install was pretty neat and highlighted the fact that the orchid is such an exotic and strong flower, but at the same time one of the most delicate. It's blooms can last for months at a time, however if moved to a different spot (I'll get into that in a sec) then they can all fall off within a day. So fascinating to me! 

Anyways, enough ranting about my obsession - here are some tips for you to keep your orchid healthy and happy and blooming for many years to come. 

 

Steps to Orchid Success:

- Bring it home and find a sunny window with lots of light.

- Orchids actually like to be watered frequently so give it a healthy amount of water once or twice a week depending on the season. 

- If the blooms do fall off, DON'T THROW IT AWAY! Simply cut the stalk off near the base of the soil. When it's ready to bloom again it will shoot a new stalk up from the base! 

- Orchids really don't like to be moved so this is usually the reason why all of their blooms fall off once you get them home. It shocks their system and causes them to freak out a little so if you find a spot that makes it happy - don't move it. Mine have sat in the same spot the entire time I've lived in my loft. 

- Another misconception is that you need to repot your orchid once you get it. I've never done this. If you put it in a larger pot, it makes the plant think it needs to fill it up with roots so it spends all it's time producing roots instead of blooms. If you leave it "root bound" in a sense, it forces all of it's new growth out of the top which makes those pretty blooms pop out! Also, if the roots start growing out of the pot this is ok - they have aerial roots -  which means they are coated in a protective substance which allows them to draw nutrients from the air instead of the soil. 

- You can buy orchid food from any nursery. I feed mine once every two weeks which also helps with the blooming process. It's super easy, you can either buy the pre made stuff that you just mist onto the roots and leaves or the kind you dilute in water. I think it really helps. Just like how we take vitamins! 

So these are all of my tricks for keeping orchids alive and healthy. I hope I answered any questions you may have had! I would LOVE to see your orchids so please share them on Instagram and use the hashtag #botanicalswithlibby. Seriously, I wanna see them! And remember....it's not dead!