11/20/13

Caring For House Plants: A fiddle leaf fig story... and an nameless orchid.

There's something about a pretty green houseplant that can pull a whole room together. For years, I had lusted over gorgeous open foyers with tall green banana leaf plants or fiddle leaf figs flanking the doorway, soaking up the sun. However, at our last house, it was a struggle keeping houseplants alive. We didn't get a whole lot of natural light.  However, looking back, I probably would've just kept the regular windows open a bit and said to heck with privacy for the sake of my plants.

But anyway, a big want on my list when we moved into our new house was some big pretty plants. I told the harrowing story of my fiddle leaf fig find of my life in this post months back.  Long story short, I had drooled over them for months and thought they were probably only sold at specialty nurseries and the such. You know... somewhere fancy.  They've been quite the trendy houseplant the past couple years. Just search "fiddle leaf fig" on Pinterest and see what I mean.

So when I found one at Home Depot (they're pretty common finds around the HD), I thought I had struck gold.
Here's Frankie the day after he came home.


Which brings me to my first tip. Always name your houseplants. I'm pretty one hundred on the fact that helps.

That same week, I went back for a second.


He's a baby. His name is Fig. Original I know.

So of course, I researched high and low about the exact way to care for these. Everything I found said that these don't like much water, but like a ton of sun. No problem. A ton of sun, they've got. It's also important to make sure the soil drains well. So both are potted in containers with drainage holes at the bottom. The one in the foyer is propped up on some little wooden blocks (that I need to pretty up in some way one of these days), so that it can drip into a little tray I have below it. The smaller one has a pot with a built-in little drainage well around the bottom.

So fast forward a little over two weeks...

Frankie started dropping leaves like crazy. I don't have a whole lot of photos of that time in between, because it's not that much of a difference, but you can really tell in the photo below...


Ugh, poor Frankie, right? It's actually not as dramatic as it looks. If you notice (by the trunk) in the two photos of Frankie above, I had rotated him in the second photo. You're basically looking at the back. So that's why he doesn't look so lush. But poor ol' Frankie got pretty thin.

I had mentioned in that previous post that I was concerned about him being placed in front of that air vent. So I moved him to the other side of the door and during that time, he was doing his worst. When I moved him back in front of the vent, he started improving. Ugh, who knows. Plants are finicky creatures.

However, I know that the vent can't be great for him. So I'm thinking of moving him away from it again. It's messing with my mind.

So weeks went by where I was keeping the soil fairly dry like all of the instructions I had read. Watering sparingly maybe once every week or two.

But then I noticed little Fig was wilting at the top. So I gave him more water and he perked up. So the little guy really taught me exactly how much water they needed, and how often.  Because with big Frankie, it was hard to notice wilt at the top because there are so many leaves. With the little one, I could really see when it needed water, about once every five days. So I started watering both of them on the same schedule.

And what do you know, absolutely NO leaf drop, yellow leaves, or new brown spots in months!
I've even noticed maybe some new leaves developing near the tops of both plants.



When I say I water them, I really water them. For the little one, maybe like 1.5 cups? For the big one, maybe three. Seems like a lot, but it's been working like a charm.

Frankie is still not looking his best, but he's grown a lot taller, looking 100% better than when he was at his worst, and hopefully, he'll begin to fill in over the next few years. I'm imagining the day when he looks like this.
A girl can dream.

But I'm still seriously so mad at myself for almost killing him these past several months. Caring for house plants just generally makes me nervous and turns me into a huge rule-follower. Turns out, you shouldn't always listen to all these hardcore plant rules you find online.  Heck, not even mine. Watching your plants and giving them what they look like they need is usually the best bet.

As for little Fig, he has really just improved since we got him. Growing a lot taller and only shedding two or three leaves early on that were touching the soil at the bottom that needed to go anyway.


He's actually hanging out in our guest bedroom for now. You can read all about that (and more details on the decor) in this post.



So long story short on the fiddle leaf fig... I'm for sure not an expert by any means, but I'm thinking that mine respond best to more water and of course, a lot of sunlight, which they've always gotten.  Unless you have a space that gets tons of sun throughout, don't even think about it. I hate to say that, but it's true. They need a ton of it. And my biggest suggestion is to make sure that they're in a pot that drains.

The only other live plant we have is this orchid in the powder room.  Brad brought me this guy one day after work a few months ago.  He's the sweetest.
Brad, not the orchid.


Ohhh this powder room. You can read more about it's transformation here and here.
Spoiler... It used to be brown and gold and wallpapered all over.

Oh shoot. Just realized orchid has no name. He's doomed for sure.

Not much to report on this guy. Orchids are actually super duper easy to care for if they get a lot of sunlight! I don't for the life of me understand how some look so great in people's homes that aren't in front of a window. I've seen beautiful ones in window-less offices. It boggles my mind. 
Do you guys have any orchid tips on that?
Is it magic?

Anyway, I water it just a tiny bit once a week. it's in a container that drains nicely too, although I don't think it even gets enough water to drain anyway.

Like I said, I'm no expert. This is just what's been working (and not working) for our plants.

So do you guys have any amazing tips on fiddle leaf figs or orchids that you've learned through caring for them? Please share them with us below!

36 comments:

  1. As usual, sweet decor!!

    http://mabulledepensees.blogspot.fr/

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  2. I can't get over how stunning your home is - from the decor to the plants to the paint on the walls! When I have a house one day, I'm totally referencing your blog for ideas! xoxo

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  3. I give my orchids 2-3 ice cubes a week -- my friend who I swear is the orchid whispherer gave me that tip and so far so good!

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  4. Nice to have plants around the home....although mine never seem to last that long!! ;(
    http://vodkaandarose.blogspot.co.uk Jess. x

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  5. Houseplants can be so intimidating! I've tried my hand at a few succulents and a snake plant, but I've been dying for a fiddle leaf fig. I saw some babies at IKEA once, but they were in rough shape and so tiny that I had to pass. Our house doesn't get the greatest light, but our bedroom has two windows and is super sunny most of the day so I have the perfect spot in mind if I ever stumble across a fiddle leaf fig (our Home Depot stores never have any, unfortunately).

    Thanks for the watering tips... hopefully, someday, I'll be able to put them to use!

    http://thatwinsomegirl.blogspot.com/

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  6. Hi Tiffany! been following the blog and beauty channel for about a year. First stop for skincare and beauty tips. Gotta say the Origins eye cream - life changing. Loved this post so much, laughed out loud. My place gets no light (Seattle living...but really my place is just situated in a strange spot) so all plants are out of the deck. But frost is coming soon and I will have to bring them in, which scares me so much...I kill every plant that comes inside! Maybe I should name them (: perhaps a closer attachment will make it work!

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  7. Your plant needs DIRECT sunlight! Not a room that has some sunlight coming through blinds or the top area of your doorway. DIRECT sunlight! Invest in a plant stand that has wheels, keep your frankie or whatever ridiculous name you have, roll it outside and allow it to have real sunlight. When you want to show off to your internet peeps roll it back it in.

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    Replies
    1. sheesh! Kinda figures you are anonymous. Apologies for the hijack!

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    2. There are ways to give people advice without being rude...

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  8. Cute plants and I love your decor it's gorgeous!

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  9. One cup of water per foot of height of fiddle leaf fig. Fertilize it every couple of months and keep an eye out for disease, like white spots or black ones on the underneath side of leaves. Spray with a fungicide or insecticide if needed. Rotate it so it doesn't get too lopsided. People often have two or more orchids and rotate their location so you can keep the blooming one where you want to enjoy it.

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  10. I had an orchid that lived for about 5 months and had no sunlight. I watered it once a week by putting four ice cubes in it. I really think if it had sunlight it would've lived longer but my house gets poor light due to all the trees that surround it. I'm still searching for the perfect green plant that survives with little-no sunlight.

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  11. I love these blog posts, Tiffany! Sadly, I don't have any advice for you. I always seem to overwater my plants and they end up looking like Frankie in the third picture...only I can never seem to revive them. :(
    I would recommend naming the Orchid, though....how about Coco? Poor guy probably feels left out. Anyway, just wanted to take a moment and tell you how much I have been enjoying your blog (LOVE your decorating style and your sense of humor). Your videos have been really great lately as well...love you, girl!

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  12. Nice story, looks beautiful. I also have an orchid and fiddle leaf fig, so I was curious about your experience with them. One thing that I've heard about the figs is that they're really sensitive about their roots, so Frankie may have just been recovering from having been repotted. I've always loved the idea of having small plants in the bathroom, but I've never had a bathroom with windows!

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  13. If that plant ever gets to be as big as the pinterest link you posted, I will be seriously concerned that it will eat you! Haha just kidding :) I have a huge problem killing every plant I bring into my home...but I might be ready to try again after this post of inspiration - thanks so much!

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  14. Beautiful plants, my orchids are not blooming for the moment, arrhhghh i want to see those beautiful flowers!!

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  15. You have just convinced me that I NEED a house plant in my new home! And a cute name to go with it! I love reading your home decor posts and have gotten several decorating ideas from you. The Nate Berkus rug you bought, totally got the runner on clearance for $20.98! Someone goofed up, but I'm not telling!

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  16. This is such a cute post! I am the kiss of death when it comes to house plants, but they add so much to a home.
    The Grass Skirt

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  17. this post made me giggle, I feel the same about plants there is no book on how to care for them and they're all different! It's rather mind boggling xx

    p.s name your orchid before he dies!

    http://the-prettylittlethings.blogspot.com.au

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  18. I love you decor ideas :) such a nice house you got :) love your style ! xoxo
    www.ambifashion.com

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  19. Totally not a plant related comment. But I wanted to share something I've been lusting after cause I thought you might think of it for a space in your living room. I've been dying to refurbish an antique hutch and dining room table set by sanding it and staining it a pale greyish color similar to the color of your chairs from Pier one. And buying those chairs to give it a more modern feel. (Thanks to your post about the chairs for the idea) But also instead of leaving the back of the inside of the hutch the same as the rest of the hutch, painting it black. Anyway, I thought it might look sharp in your living room built-ins. I am not at all suggesting you need my advice with regards to interior design, you do a wonderful job. Here's what I mean: http://betterdecoratingbible.com/2011/10/15/buy-it-now-%e2%80%93-gold-sheaf-wheat-tables/

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  20. I have an orchid who doesn't get a whole lot of sunlight. Mainly because my only source of light is a skylight window, but also because I live in Bergen, Norway, and it always rains here.. But still, my orchid looks pretty good actually, so I guess it's magic ;)

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  21. I think its super sweet/a really good idea to name them. I love indoor plants, I have herbs growing all along my kitchen window sill.

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  22. I loved the idea of plants in the house...itz gives so much of positivity...n i loved the way u have maitained them...

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  23. I really enjoyed this post. I love your home decor posts a lot. Although I can't really say anything about how to take care of a Fig tree I do know a little bit about Orchids (having 6 of them myself). Usually they need a lot of light, but no direct sunlight because that will burn their leaves and make their roots boil in the pot. A window that is facing north is best. Also, I do soak everyone of them in a bowl with water and fertilizer for 15 minutes about every four weeks so the soil and roots kann really soak up the nutrients. They like a light mist of softened water on their leaves (not the blossom) every once in a while.

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  24. Hello Tiffany. I discovered your blog and You Tube channel this week and I really appreciate your articles and videos. Thank you for sharing all your tips !
    I suggest a name for your orchid : France = my country ! + you stay in the F for all your plants ;o)

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  25. Add fertilizer to the water, that makes a big difference. There are different fertilizers available for green plants and for orchids. Never cut the orchid stem once it looses its flowers (after about 3 months), even if it gets brown and looks dead. It is not very pretty for a while, but you need to wait where it will develop the next stem. Be sure to cut them only when they are completely dried out like wood. Good luck and don't forget to name the orchid ;).

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  26. I adore this. So sweet and pretty. I have a black thumb myself :(
    You are the reason I bought my 1st ever Henri Bendel items. Check out my blog for my HB post, lots of other stuff too. Hauls, reviews, get-to-know me's. xoxo.
    Splashes of Charm

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  27. Thanks for the fig update!! Am still hunting for a HD that carries them here. You'd think same climate, just 4 hrs from you would keep us on the same delivery process, but nope! $45 at a local nursery is too scary for an unknown outcome of one. (Sigh). Maybe Santa will bring me one...

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  28. Hi Tiffany,
    Orchids should be in a clear container such as glass so that they get light, but not direct sun light. I have many orchids and I know this helps. And, I just love your figs. I am sure they smell great! Just reminds me Diptyque-Philosykos, perfect fig smell.

    -N

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  29. You should read this post and the comments... it explains how to care for those fickle fiddle leaf ferns. http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com/2013/10/cheap-and-easy-to-find-fiddle-leaf-fig.html

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  30. Home depot used to sell plant lights that looked like an ice cream cone, you planted them IN the plant container (I had mine on timers). Gave great shadows at night.

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  32. I have one orchid my daughters bought me for mother's day three years ago. I kept it even after the flowers fell off in an east window and just a few months ago it REBLOOMED. I was ecstatic! It's now in a west window - still giving it three ice cubes once a week. We'll see if I can bloom it ever again.

    I love plants and have varying degrees of success. That fig leaf looks wonderful and now I'm wanting one. Love your blog girl.

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  33. I adore plants in the house! Fig is adorable. // Carmen ☼

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  34. I give my fiddle leaf figs a 12-oz can of diet coke and a 12-oz can of water. Works like magic and mine has new growth. :)

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