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!


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