THE WEEPING FIG i.e FICUS BENJAMINA

Close-up of branches from the weeping fig, on sitsitso.com

THE WEEPING FIG

i.e Ficus Benjamina

 

With the cheerless winter lingering on, we’ve been enjoying the company of our leafy friends at home and so the choice for this weeks houseplant post was as much inspired by it’s personality as by it’s name.

The Weeping Fig is a handsome character; it’s downward drooping branches and glossy pointed leaves giving it a moody charm. And with the whole of Berlin still gloomy and grey, the weeping fig is both a splash of happy greenery as well as a reminder of the melancholy of winter.

Dried leaves of the ficus benjamina or weeping fig
Dried ficus leaf of the weeping fig

 

The Benjamina (as it’s scientifically called) is part of the ficus genus and a popular choice for a houseplant, due to it’s relative ease in care. The reason I call it moody is because this beautiful tree can be quite temperamental. The weeping fig is rather intolerable of disturbances, and will quickly shed all of it’s leaves if you dare to move it. A protesting tree can look rather bare and dull, as if winter has find it’s way indoors.

 

Weeping fig or ficus benjamina on sitsitso

Close-up of leaves from the weeping fig tree
Beautiful leaves of the weeping fig on sitsitso.com

 

Weeping figs enjoy bright areas with a bit of sun and shade, so a spot near a west or east facing window should provide a good setting. Once in it’s place, let the ficus settle, and only move it if you have to. Benjamina’s are sensitive to colds and drafts so best not place it in areas with fluctuating temperatures. Make sure your pot drains quickly and well. The ficus dislikes soggy soil so be sure to water it less often during the colder months.

 

Close-up of leaves from a weeping fig on sitsitso.com
Ficus leaf ensemble on sitsitso.com

 

Much like introverts, Benjamina’s are great company as long as you don’t expect them to go anywhere. They will silently grow without any bother, and will look great doing so throughout the year.

 

Names: Weeping Fig, Benjamin Fig or Ficus tree
Family: Moraceae, native to Asia and Australia
Water: Moderate watering in Summer, less during Winter

Leaves dropping from over-watering: Fallen leaves fold easy
Leaves dropping from under watering: Fallen leaves are crispy

Soil: Fast draining soil mix
Prune: After Summer and before Spring
Toxicity: Mildly toxic to cats & dogs
Propagation: During Summer months by placing branch-cuttings into soil 

 

Post-inspired Etsy finds

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eco-friendly christmas with plants and lights

Candles in my home made christmas wreath

 

PLANTS AND LIGHT

for an eco-friendly christmas

 

This year, in honour of tip number thirteen on Plastic Free Friday, I decided to create a festive atmosphere without buying any plastic or cheaply made christmas decorations. My aim was to keep it as green and eco-friendly as possible and to try and use plants wherever I can. Combining them with lights and candles also meant that my christmas-plant-ensembles were perfectly suited for this months Urban Jungle Bloggers theme; Plants and Light

 

Christmas Wreath

My mom used to have advent candles and this year I wanted to partake in the tradition by making my own. An advent wreath is a Lutheran tradition where four candles–that signify the four weeks leading up to Christmas–is placed in a circle (often combined with an evergreen wreath) to symbolise the eternity of God. The candles are then lit every Sunday, starting with the first candle on the 1st advent and finally lighting all four on the final Sunday before christmas.

 

eco-friendly home made advent wreath with real plants

 

For my own advent wreath, I wanted an eco-friendly option that was made from real plants, so that I could use it every year or use the plants elsewhere once christmas was over. I decided to get four small plants that I could later repot. I positioned them in a circle with four candles and filled the open spots with chestnuts and pine cones. For the base I used a round baking tray and placed it in this pretty copper bowl – a previous christmas gift from my mum.

 

Christmas Lights

Maybe you’ll recognise my glass jars from last month’s Urban Jungle Bloggers post on plant pots. Well, I decided to give them a christmas spin by wrapping some christmas twine around the brims. Since the plants in here don’t need water I added the battery operated fairy lights to make it even more christmassy and added a white candle for a bit of warmth.

 

December's Urban Jungle Bloggers theme: Lights and plants.

 

Christmas Trolly

I found this trolly on the street back when I lived in London. It’s not very slick but works great for displaying plants, which gives it a rather bohemian air. I wanted my bohemian nook to look christmassy too, so I used old cardboard to create a fun mountainous backdrop (I saw this clever idea on pinterest a couple of years ago). With some candles lit, the setup looks undoubtedly festive, albeit a little unusual. I love it.

 

My eco-friendly christmas with plants and lights

 

Christmas Dinner

For our annual Berlin-family christmas dinner I wanted to create a super simple table setting that would be elegant but also a little striking. So I combined lots of candles in bottles and terracotta holders with cypress cuttings in glass jars. The table cloth is simply unbleached cotton linen to compliment the earthy tones. To add to the festive ambiance, I created a hanging “christmas tree chandelier” with home-made paper pendants that could hang above the table.

 

Simple table settings for an eco-friendly christmas

 

I got the idea for the hanging branches from this neat idea for an advents calendar. The pendants I folded from paper (using this tutorial) and just added some beads to round it off. I had so many paper corner cuttings from the folded pendants so I decided to turn them into little paper “leaves” to go with my wooden beads. It was really hard to get a good photo of the hanging branch, so I hope you can get a slight idea of what it looked like in the end.

 

Green christmas decor: plants and lights

 

Creating an eco-friendly plant-based christmas theme turned out to be much easier than I expected it would. Somehow the restrictions I had placed on myself (like not being allowed to buy any plastic or ready made decor) forced me to be a little more creative then usual and I had so much fun making it all.

 

I hope you enjoyed my contribution to this month’s Urban Jungle Bloggers post! Be sure to check out some of the other Plants and Light posts on Urban Jungle Bloggers and if you haven’t been there, both blogs by UJB creators Igor Josifovic and Judith de Graaff are well worth the visit!

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

 

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Plant pageant: Creative plant pots

Home made hanging planters for November's creative plant pots issue

 

 PLANT PAGEANT

Seven solutions for dressing up your plants

 

November’s theme for Urban Jungle Bloggers is all about creative plant pots. Having pretty plants is easy. Finding beautiful pots for them, not so much. So here’s a round-up of my seven favourite styles for displaying your leafy friends. Although many of my pots are either home made or second-hand finds, I’ve done a bit of e-window shopping to help you source your own. 

 

01. Glass

My favourite way to propagate cuttings is to do so in beautiful glass containers. This way the most precious part of the process – the sprouting of new roots – is magnified by the water and glass. I’m particularly partial to containers and vases that resemble old medicine or science jars. Maybe because they make me feel like a biologist, with my very important plant specimens. You can find a variety of different ones like these at Manufaktum. For the folks back home, Mr Price has a few that are quite cool. Off course, if you enjoy a drink every now and then, Monkey Gin and Hibiki Whisky come in pretty nifty bottles that in my opinion, are worth keeping in any event. 

 

Beautiful glass bottles, vases and jars for styling your plants

 

 02. Concrete

Concrete planters are a big trend right now, and with good reason. It’s such a beautiful material, and suits pretty much any style. Plus, judging by the myriad of DIY tutorials out there, it’s not even that hard to make. But if you don’t feel like getting your hands dirty; check out the new proudly South African Notation Design. They make a whole bunch of pretty concrete stuff. Their square planters are my favourite. I found the ones pictured below at Hellweg, but these white ones from Future Kept are also quite nice. 

 

Concrete plant pots

 

 03. Terrariums

Terrariums, if you don’t know, are glass containers, often sealable, that allow a water cycle to form due to the transparent glass and resulting condensation. They work really well for plants that require humid or moist environments. Also, it protects your plant if you have a ginger cat who loves to nibble on its leaves. I created my own terrarium using a glass dome from a cloche I found at Butlers. It fits neatly into a beautiful base I got as a gift. The other two are just upside down jars that fits into plant pots I already had. If you’re in the market for a real one though, I really like this one: Montra Vaas from Bolia.

 

Create your own terrariums with upside down jars and plant pots

 

 04. Fabric

My friend Meagie from Makers, gave me these beautiful fabric bags to dress up my plant pots. I love them cause they’re reversible – with completely different looks on either side. She has a great selection at her studio, so go stop buy if you’re in the area. Alternatively, apart from looking pretty, these washable paper ones, are multi-purpose.  

 

Fabric bags to dress up your plant pots

 

05. Hanging planters

I saw these beautiful wooden hanging plant pots at Anthropology and decided to try and make my own. For the macramé hanger I used this super easy to follow tutorial and appropriated an old wooden fruit bowl for the base. I also made the planter on the right, using the inside circle of an embroidery hoop wich, incidentally, fits neatly around those white socker pots you find at Ikea. I also really like these ones from Hallescheshaus.

 

Hanging planters as creative plant pot alternatives

 

06. Ceramics

This ceramic vase was one of the very first things I bought for my first home back when I was a student. I found it at a flea market and still love it. It’s rather small but works super well for displaying dried flowers and beautiful leaves. Maybe for my birthday or for christmas one day I could get one of these beautiful pieces, by the super talented Florian Gadsby. They are exquisite.

 

Ceramic vases

 

07. Terracotta

Next to being really affordable, terracotta plant pots are easy to find and work with any type of setting. Also, thanks to the friendly price tag, one is not as hesitant to venture a paintbrush toward their auburn exterior. I’ve done mine up in a few neutral tones and a spot of cobalt. Marij from My Attic has a great selection of pots that you can buy, if the thought of painting your own terrifies you.

 

Painted terracotta plant pots for a creative twist

That’s it for my November Urban Jungle Bloggers creative plant pots contribution. I hope you enjoyed my plant pageant! I’d love to hear which of my seven solutions are your favourite, or even if you have your own creative ideas for styling your plant buddies. Do let me know by leaving a comment below. And as always, thanks for reading!

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Check out some more awesome posts like these on Urban Jungle Bloggers, or visit the blogs of UJB creators;  Igor& Judith.

Philodendron xanadu

The philodendron xanadu
 

Philodendron xanadu

 

Add some latino flare to your home with the Philodendron xanadu. Native to Brazil this Araceae practically bounces with tropical delight. With it’s sleek long stems and heavy flared leaves it’s not hard to imagine this guy sambaing through your living room.

 

Close-up of philodendron xanadu on sitsitso.com
Philodendron Xanadu

 

The Philodendron xanadu belongs to one of three subgenera within the Philodendron genus named Meconostigma. As part of the Araceae family you might already know its brother; Monstera Deliciosa. Other than the Monstera, the xanadu is not a vine, but grows upright to form wide dense clumps of green foliage. They are very easy to care for and grow prettier with age.

 

Close-up of philodendron xanadu on sitsitso.com

 

The Philodendron Xandu are said to tolerate low light conditions but the plant will be much less dens with long stems and smaller and sadder leaves. So if you want it to really dance, place it an area with lots of bright natural light (preferably diffused or it may develop leaf burn or Chlorosis ). Enough sun will also keep the stem from rotting, given that you water it at moderate intervals. 

 

Top view of Philodendron Xanadu on sitsitso.com
A leaf from the Philodendron Xanadu on sitsitso.com

 

Location: Bright area with lots of indirect or diffused sunlight

WaterGive it a good soak when watering and wait until the soil is completely dry to the touch before watering again. The number of days will depend on the temperature and location of the plant in your home but usually it’s no more than once a week.

Propagation: A happy Philodendron xandu will grow fairly quickly, forming many new stems and eventually becoming too big or top heavy for it’s pot. This allows you to propagate by division. To do this, remove the entire plant from its pot and gently divide the root cluster into sections using your hands or a small shovel. Then you can repot each section in its own container in well draining potting soil.

 

Sitting between the leaves on sitsitso.com
Sitting between the leaves on sitsitso.com

Plant corner with Philodendron xanadu on Sitsitos.com

 

Aloe Vera houseplant

Aloe Vera Close-up

 

Aloe Vera

 

It’s speckled tentacles reach and bend like the liquid legs of a giant Octopus and yet this prickly pirate lives far from the sea and don’t swim well at all. The Aloe Vera, a short stemmed succulent, is cultivated throughout the world and widely regarded for its medicinal and cosmetic qualities.

 

Aloe Vera belongs to the largest succulent genus Aloe, which encompasses an elephantine number (450) of species! These are widely distributed across sub saharan Africa in dry climates with little rainfall so it’s no wonder a potted aloe adds instant warmth to indoor spaces.

 

Aloe Vera pot plants
Aloe vera potplant

Aloe vera in Terrakotta pots

 

Common names: Aloe barbadensis, Aloe Vera, Aloe vulgaris, Medicinal Aloe

Care: Plant your Aloe in well draining potting soil with corse grit or sand in a container that drains very well. I prefer keeping succulents in plastic containers inside terra-cotta pots as they drain far better this way. Keep them in sunny, bright areas, but preferably away from direct sunlight.

Water: Give the soil a thorough soak then allow it to dry out completely between watering to assure the roots do not rot. Test if it is dry by sticking your finger deep into the soil (about 4cm). In winter they need less water so be very careful of over-watering your Aloe. It can be anything between 1-4 weeks.

Propagation: Aloe’s produce offsets or baby plants that you’ll see popping up around the parent. Allow them to grow a couple of centimetres to ensure they develop a stable root system of their own. You can easily separate them by holding them closely to their roots and pulling them out gently. Be careful not to tug too roughly, you don’t want the roots to break off. Plant them into a similar potting mix and leave in a bright sunny location.

 

Propagating an Aloe Vera
Propagating an Aloe Vera

 

I’m fond of these nuggets not only because they grow so easily and proliferate so well, but they’re said to be superb air purifiers – releasing oxygen and absorbing CO2 at night. And although they’re not entirely as majestic as the Aloe Ferox, they do bring a little bit of South Africa into my Berlin home.

 

Aloes from the top 

STORY + PHOTOS: BARBARA CILLIERS

 
 

Delicious Monsters aka Monstera deliciosa

Close-up of monstera deliciosa

 

Monstera deliciosa

 

I am quite obsessed with houseplants, and there’s one particular guy that I simply cannot get enough of; with it’s massive leaves and funny tentacles the Monstera Deliciosa or Philodendron Pertusum is quite a character.

 

Monstera deliciosa
Close-up of Monstera deliciosa

 

There’s something about them that’s simply captivating. Perhaps it’s their allusion to the tropics or the sense of humour they embodythat swiss cheese smile and goofy elegance. Paradoxes aside though, this hardy philly will liven up any room, even if you forget to water it sometimes.

Description: The monstera is a member for the arum family Araceae. This climbing plant is native to the tropical rainforests from southern Mexico to southern Colombia and has large leathery green heart shaped leaves. Adult leaves develop holes and split edges that protect them from strong tropical winds (in their native environment) and can measure up to 45cm when grown indoors, giving them a beautiful sculptural quality.

Common Names: monstera deliciosa, splitleaf philodendron, philodendron pertusum, swiss cheese plant, monster fruit (to name a few)

 

Swiss cheese plant also known as  a monsteria
Monstera deliciosa in the home
Home with pretty Monstera
The home of Christopher Bastin for Åhléns Magazine from petrabindel.com

Location: Medium brightness. Bright location away from direct sunlight. Your plants will quickly show you when they’re happy or not with their location. A happy plant will grow big and look healthy. A sad one will look dull and remain small. Watch your plants closely to judge wether they’re comfortable in their spot, but be careful not to move it around too often, the monstera doesn’t like to travel.

Water: Once a week to once every 10 days.

Notes: Super poisonous! Best to keep them away from children and pets.

I absolutely cannot imagine a house without plants. However, if you cannot seem to keep plants alive no matter how hard you try, try adding some tropical greenery with illustrated artwork, fabrics or wallpaper.

Botanical wallpaper on etsy with tropical split leaf philodendron and monstera delisciosa
Botanical wallpaper on etsy