Archive for ‘Plants’

August 25, 2015

Quick Fig Update

That didn’t take long…


August 20, 2015

Pruning My Fig

You may have noticed in my previous post how tall my Fiddle Leaf Fig has gotten. In the two years that I have had it, it has grown at least a foot. That seems slow, but I haven’t exactly taken the best care of it. Unfortunately, the height increase of the tree hasn’t quite had the affect one would hope. Instead of a full, lush tree, I had a tall, lanky one. The lankiness was further exaggerated by the ‘Y’ shape of the tree: the taller the tree got, the wider the ‘Y’ spread.

Our Living Room, March 2013

I searched for options for how I might make my tree look fuller and less lanky. Could I stake a branch, or somehow bind the branches to lessen the spread? Those options seemed like it could only hurt the plant. So I started doing some research and found that I could prune the tree, actually lop off the top, to force new growth further down the branch.

Our Living Room, February 2015

But taking shears to my (sort of) lovely tree made me nervous. Where exactly should the cut be made? Should the cut be treated with something? Can I fertilize after I cut? So many questions that I couldn’t really find answers to online. I thought, surely there’s someone I can talk to who can walk me through this. On a whim, I called a local company, Calvert’s, which provides plants to commercial facilities and also maintains them. The woman who answered the phone was able to answer all of my questions in a way that made it sound like she had actually done it before. I was filled with confidence. So here’s what I did…

I made sure my shears were clean and sanitized, and then identified where I wanted to make the cut.


One branch was slightly longer than the other, so I wanted to even that out a bit. I could have pruned both branches, but I was nervous about stressing the plant out too much in one go.


Once I lopped off the top, the entire branch bounced back from the lost weight. I should end up with two separate branches extending from this cut. I’ve heard that you can also nick the bark above an existing leaf to encourage additional branching.

What’s fun about this next step is, in the end, I may end up with another tree! I took the piece of branch that I just lopped off, dipped the cut end into rooting hormone, and stuck it in a vase with water. It’s been just about 2 weeks and the beginnings of roots are starting to emerge. I’ll let these babies become a web of roots before I set this propagated plant into soil.



Let’s get back to the tree. A word of caution: when cut, the Fiddle Leaf Fig will leak sap that is mildly caustic, so be prepared to dab it up once you have made your cut. I was caught off-guard by just how quickly the sap came out. Picture me frantically running around my living room looking for a napkin while balancing a teaspoon’s worth of sap on an upside-down Fig branch. Once pruned, the tree side of the cut doesn’t need to be treated anything and will actually heal on its own.

Right after, I fertilized the tree and plan to continue to do so monthly until the end of time. Why? because it seems like every time I fertilize, the plant goes wild. Here’s evidence:


This new leaf didn’t come from the pruned branch, but I’m still excited about it because that means the pruning I did didn’t cause any stress to the plant. I consider that a success!

Have you had any good or bad experiences pruning plants? Have you been able to do any propagating? I’d love to hear about it!

May 12, 2013

Fiddle Leaf Fig

Did I ever post about my Fiddle Leaf Fig? No? It was probably because I thought even looking in its general direction would kill it.

Rob let me cart it home as a Valentine’s Day gift and I have loved it ever since. It made an informal debut in this post about my newly upholstered living room chairs.

And there is actual visual evidence of why I hesitated to share my new love – a yellow leaf. I had three of those yellow leaves. Not long after they turn yellow, they fall off completely. Talk about devastation. After doing some online research, I came to the conclusion that I was either under-watering or over-watering. Since I have only known myself to successfully grow succulents, which require very little water, I figured it was likely the former. So, at the advice of an online forum, I planted live moss on top of the existing soil to help retain moisture and doubled my watering efforts. And guess what?!

New growth!

June 23, 2012

New Growth

It’s always so satisfying to see new growth on my plants.

A couple months back, I moved Pete out to the front porch to get some sun and rain water. I knew I would start to see some growth from him, but I didn’t expect what I saw today – a whole new arm complete with spines!


I got Pete back in 2008 after wanting him since 2004. Seriously. What sophomore college student dreams of buying a cactus and naming it Pete? At that time, there were two Petes and both were significantly shorter. Pete #1 was lost after I misdiagnosed his corking as rot. True story – the Pete you see today is actually Pete #2.

Petes 2008

Back in 2008, Pete (#2, background) was about 18 inches tall and had one arm.


Pete 2012

Pete today stands almost 3 feet tall and has seven arms (including his new little nub)!


January 8, 2012

Cacti Maintenance + The Naming Game

So you think a cactus requires no maintenance, eh? At least I did until Pete started leaning.


For some time I had chosen to ignore it, but when my 3 year old nephew informed me that cacti should not lean, I decided something needed to be done about it. My dad gently reminded me that cacti need to be repotted every few years. So that’s what Pete got.

Plus some additional perceived inches.


You have just met Pete. Let’s go meet some of the other plants that populate the House on Penny Lane.

This cactus is Pierce. I have only Mark to thank for that name. It just suits him, I think. Especially since I had to dig one of his needles out of my finger yesterday. He is a particularly prickly fellow.


This lovely lady is Ruby. I’ve had her for a year or so and in that time she has doubled in size. Ruby is a Jade plant, which is non-toxic to cats. That is a good thing considering the bite marks that can be seen on her leaves.


Just like Ruby, this little gal is also a Jade plant, so I find it fitting to name her Judy. Judy came with Pierce, but they have different watering requirements (and different soil needs than their original planter), so they were separated. They were a bit of an odd combination if you ask me.


This is Aloe Vera is Susan. She looks a bit lazy, doesn’t she? Susan came with the cactus that now lives in our master bedroom, but she deserved more than to be hidden behind our bed.

Obviously, I have only scratched the surface of our plant population. Yet to be named are a Snake Plant, another Aloe Vera and a Pony Tail Palm, just to name a few. I will introduce them all eventually.

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December 24, 2011

Name That Cacti!

I found a guy selling cacti on Craigslist. Seriously. Add ‘houseplants’ to the list of the household items I’ve purchased through this modern day classifieds.

The guy was a little kooky – just as you would expect from someone with a huge cacti collection – but I left with several new plants, including the 60-incher below, for just $20.

Looks like I’ve got some naming to do…

January 4, 2011

The New Black

Completely out of character, I made an observation the other day:

The Fiddle Leaf Fig is the new Snake Plant.

And I am completely on board.

image courtesy of


image courtesy of


image courtesy of


image courtesy of


image courtesy of


image courtesy of


One of my goals for the house on Penny Lane was to fill it with house plants. The Fiddle Leaf Fig is certainly one of the few contenders (as it is for everyone else with their eye on good design). My only reservation is the rumor of fickle Figs. One can’t purchase and forget a Fig as easily as they can a Snake Plant.


image courtesy of


image courtesy of

May 4, 2010

Pretty Flowers

Just some pretty flowers I got last week.

Roses from a rep at work:

And Kermit Mums from my sis-in-law:

January 24, 2010

$15 Weekend Project

This weekend, I assigned myself a project; Transplant a gifted garden arrangement into individual planters.  The only requirement: spend as little money as possible.

In December, my mom and Deb sent me a beautiful garden arrangement as a congratulations for passing my test (woo!).  I don’t have a picture of it as a whole, but it looked something like this:

A basket filled with several different types of plants that were planted in dirt rather than just cuttings.

Lately, some of the plants had been struggling and I thought they would work better as several smaller plantings rather than one big, cumbersom planting that could only fit in one location.  I knew I wanted white ceramic planters, but the only ones I could find that wouldn’t break our barely there budget were from IKEA, which is a good 3 hours away, a trip that only comes once a year.  My next idea was to buy terracotta planters.  Terracotta planters are fairly basic with a price tag to match, leaving me room to customize them however I want.  I found a tutorial online with simple instructions to paint the planters and then set out to find my materials.

I visited several home improvement stores looking for inexpensive terracotta planters, but found myself at a local nursery which had exactly what I needed for $0.99 each.  Most other stores had the exact same planters for $2.99 or more.  One of the employees at the nursery even gave me some of their cheap plastic planters for me to place inside the terracotta planters.  After a quick stop at my mom’s for free soil and some additional plastic planters and a return to one of the home improvement stores for spray paint, I was ready to get home and start planting.

I purchased 2 different spray paints; one in a white gloss for the outside of my planters and one in a clear gloss for the inside.  The clear gloss is used essentially to protect the paint job on the outside from any moisture created by the plants.  Here are some progress shots:

The planters pre-painting.

And post-painting.

I then duct-taped the drainage holes in the planters, since I’ll be planting directly into the plastic planters (say that 5 times fast!) rather than into the terracotta planters.

And with all of the beautiful plants inside!

Does anyone have any idea what these plants are?  I know the plant in the lower left is Mother-in-law’s Tongue or Snake Plant and the plant in the upper center is a Peace Lily.  all of the others, I haven’t a clue.

**Edited to add: I think I’ve figured some of these out. Clockwise from upper left: Philodendron, Peace Lily (?? starting to question that now as these have very thin leaves and the lily part of the flower is green rather than white), Unknown – looks similar to Devil’s Ivy except the variegation is yellow rather than white, Spider Plant (non-toxic to cats!!), and Snake Plant.**

I ended up with more plants than planters, so I found an extra planter to accomodate.

I don’t know what this one is either!

**Edited to add: I’m fairly certain the above plant is Devil’s Ivy.**

So for less than $15 and a couple hours, I was able to spread even more green all around my house.

Oh yeah, remember this air plant from my post the other day?  Well, it’s starting to bloom.   Any guesses on the flower color? I’ll give you a hint: it’s pretty interesting!

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