What is Forest Service?
Walking into our shop off the street you'd probably assume we're educated in botany and have been growing plants for years- you'd be right. We have a fundamental understanding how plants work, from a cellular level to macro forces. We can identify insects, birds and fungi and we're completely aware how one stray mite can decimate a large tree in just a few months. To top it off we're also very-well versed in Sonoran Desert wildlife and we're both born-again Phoenicians, yet we're still learning.
Because of our backgrounds, we're able to grow and torture plants for a living!
Ok, that may be a little dramatic. We don't torture many of, or even most of the plants we come across, but growing plants in unnatural spaces, in entire hemispheres they'd never naturally care to adapt to in is a daunting task, yet most tend to take it in stride. A plant, like every living thing, exists solely to get big and make more plants.
This takes a few simple ingredients that all vary depending on the ratio of every other ingredients :
- Water - the most essential part. Not too much or too little. EASY. We tend to keep most plants in moist soil. They don't stress as much if the soil is nothing more than damp as drowning a plant is very easy to do. If you were lost in our desert, you could survive a few days without water most times of the year with proper shelter. Too much of that water and you'd drown in a minute. Plants cells will literally explode if they get too much water for too long, especially if they are rooted in soil. The cells absorb too much water, they get stressed and then break down.
- Water it every 3-10 days. Feel it. It's needs, like yours, change slowly. A Birds Nest Fern (asplenium sp.) won't need to be watered but once a week at a steady temperature of 65. If their is a heater on, it will be burning humidity so that would need more. An AC on 75 is as bad at taking humidity away from a plant as phoenix shade at 85 degrees.
- Just feel the soil every few days. Don't keep it too wet or dry.
- Air - Right. Its everywhere. You don't need to do much with this one, but try to avoid direct drafts or winds. An air-intake or vent, while not deadly, can make it much harder for a plant to thrive if nearby. Don't care too much , just don't let it directly hit the plant. it can dry out the fragile fronds of a fern or the tender new leaves of a Ficus or the tank of a bromeliad. Try to keep a steady semi-warm temperature, most houses do fine and plants really will enjoy temperatures into the high nineties, especially if they aren't in direct...
- Sun - AH! AH! Sun is essential. Sun is life. If I were a worshipper of anything in more pagan times, it would be the sun. I would sacrifice lambs to keep this hot guy shining down on me. Most plants would not. Indoor plants, for the most part, are understory plants. Understory plants want to live under the shade of larger plants. They want sun, and many will grow towards it, like the creeping pothos, Philodendron, and Monstera. There are certainly exceptions, a Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica), Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata), and most Cacti (but not all - we'll cover jungle cacti in later posts). So we tend to recommend bright shade.
Bright shade? Yes. Shaded, maybe some direct sun in the morning or afternoon, but bright shade. The plant wants to see the sky but not the sun.
- Soil - Most plants need soil, but not all. (epiphytes are plants that live above ground in damp leaf litter and branches, that include tillandsia, bromeliads, staghorns, and a good amount of potted plants). Plants that do need soil want healthy soil. They want soil that's healthy and full of the decomposed tissues of their ancestors and neighbors, but also of themselves. This is called compost and compost provides almost everything they need. They also want their soil to drain well, the few exceptions I can think of off the top of my head would be our carnivorous plants. and a Marimo, which live underwater. You can mimic their natural conditions with fertilizers, and I tend to think of myself without breakfast is like a plant without fertilizer. You wouldn't be very active or productive, and your plant won't either. (particularly the older they get).
There are little tips and tricks and tidbits of information we have on a wide variety of tops on indoor plant keeping. We're learning all of this every day, but are a combined 10-15 years into indoor and unusual plant keeping in Phoenix and other dry places like: your home! The Southwest! Subtropics (like Phoenix, Arizona- A subtropical desert- not Phoenix, Illinois- a place I'll never go) or really anywhere you are reading this from. If you have any questions you can contact us here, on instagram or email!
Disclaimer: We sell cool plants, but do it for the sake of brining better plants into Phoenix. It's the 5th largest city in the country and we want to offer neat plants in a great environment, with knowledge to help you out.
- To do so we tend to spend a fair amount of money and time on growing everything from Epiphytic ferns, ferns from Singapore like P. ridleyi -to new Nepenthes and aloes. Some plant are exotic in Phoenix and readily available in nurseries in the midwest - like Jewel Orchids. We want to know if its possible to grow them because blogs like this don't have much info on these and how they acclimate to Arizona.
- We do so because we enjoy it. We try not to let it down too much. Ive killed 25 year old Tree Ferns and Bromeliads with patents - yet If they die I take it in stride, if not just a little let down. Thats ok- but don't give up if something happens. Sometimes plants will just die. same conditions as 15 others within a 10 out radius, but one will die. Maybe it has a parasite (spider mites, meaty bugs, scale, thrips or a fungal infection - none of which I've named are dangerous in any way to humans, btw.
- We just acquired 1/3 of an acre in a commercial/residential area near downtown! It's a pretty old house, built in 1893, or 100 years before myself. Rad! Although it won't be open publicly for the foreseeable future, we can soon plant a demonstration landscape and greenhouses, and do tours, which would be super cool + it has much more room to grow plants for the shop and helps us open up for online sales sooner. YUS!