The Ficus Wrangler's Profile

Display Name: The Ficus Wrangler
Member Since: 2/12/13

Latest Comments...

A lot of those lazy susans are great for setting plants on -- protects the floor or table, and makes it easy to turn them for cleanig or just to keep them from leaning toward the light.

Best of the Lazy Susans... Er... The Busy Susans!
4/14/14 01:16 PM

I agree with all the comments, except the one about all the toxic common houseplants. While those plants may make animals sick (or dead) who have been forced to ingest them, a bite or two doesn't cause more than a barf. The people who have had all these plants along with cats or dogs or babies is legion.
And I would add the advice to get the correct name (botanical name) for any plant you buy, so that you can seek information or ask intelligent questions about it.

Off to a Strong Start: 5 Tips for Buying Healthy Plants Apartment Therapy's Home Remedies
4/11/14 02:30 PM

I think this would have been a good article for before-and-after shots.

3 Common Color Missteps (And How to Fix Them)
3/9/14 10:04 AM

Thanks for putting this out there. How cool. You might be interested to know, however, that the phrase "original hipsters" actually belongs to the 40's and the Bebop Jazz musicians and their friends in Greenwich Village. I am currently working on a biographical piece for one of them, Robert Boardman Vaughn.

Meet the Original Brooklyn Hipsters Dinanda Nooney Photo Collection at NYPL
2/7/14 01:03 PM

Don't usually comment on such old articles, but reading this and the comments, I am overcome with the need to throw in some observations. It appears that the author of this piece has no direct knowledge, just pulled some stuff off the internet willy-nilly. Many errors: First, maidenhair fern is NOT (big NOT) a low-light plant It is also a very difficult plant - as you can see by the number of commentors who reported dead ones.
None of these plants are low light plants, they are all medium high to high light, except possibly for moss. (And no, moss does not throw off mold spores. Instead of seeds, moss and ferns propogate themselves through spores, but these aren't the same as mold spores.)

Many people are confused by terms such as "low light" and "moist." You might want to look at some of my posts and videos, where I try to clear up such confusion, and I always answer questions. for instance
BTW, medium light is comfortable ambient working light, low light is where you can read, but you wouldn't be comfortable reading for more than a couple of hours.

5 Overlooked Plants That Can Survive The Dark (Almost)
1/29/14 03:15 PM

Dear DAVISAS23- the plant by the Eames lounger is a Schefflera arboricola, or dwarf schefflera. It is on the ASPCA list of toxic plants. These folks, like the majority of those with plants and pets, have found that their animals are not affected by the presence of so called "poisonous" plants. What you all need to understand is that because plants are listed as toxic, that doesn't mean you can't have them if you have pets. A cat might bite into one of these, even eat a leaf or two - IT WON'T DIE. Likely it won't even get sick. Of course, the possibility always exists of extreme sensitivity, like a child who is allergic to peanuts, but generally cats aren't interested in these plants. Presumably they don't taste good.

Lauren and Chad's Vintage Comfort House Tour
1/14/14 09:37 PM

Since discussion on this old post has reopened itself, I have a few comments to make. I've been an Interior Landscaper for 30 years, so I have quite a bit of experience. I would say that the 5 easiest indoor plants are sanseveria, pothos, aglaonema (Chinese evergreen,) peace lily, and corn plant.
RE: toxic plants, and you folks who read those lists and think you can never have those plants if you have pets (cats, dogs, or horses) or kids. Did you notice how many people said they had those "poisonous" plants, and pets, and never had any problems? Does that tell you anything about those lists? Take them with a grain of salt, people, and if you want plants, you should have them. You might want to read a blog post I wrote
RE: some fairly easy plants that are not on the toxic lists include palms, spider plants, ferns, and begonias. Know what my cats do to them? Eat them down to stubs - well, not the begonias, but the ferns, palms, and spiders. I don't have any of those in my house because they look ugly all eaten up, but you can certainly give them a try. Growing, not eating, I mean.
My mission is to teach people who want plants how to keep them alive. (Attn: Ficus killers.) If you're interested, drop by my blog and YouTube channel, and don't be shy about asking questions.

5 Hard-to-Kill Houseplants
1/13/14 08:36 PM

Nice use of plants. Easy to see here how they warm up and humanize a minimalist space, while maintaining a clean and uncluttered look.

Joshua's Functional Warm Minimalism Workspace Tour
1/4/14 10:13 PM

And to echo GINNIELIZZ, air plants don't really live on air. They must be watered regularly, by soaking in a container of water. I think probably every couple of weeks would not be enough either. More like twice a week. So any display mounting, etc, needs to take watering into consideration

Buy or DIY: 5 Ideas for Displaying Tillandsia
12/16/13 10:01 PM

Indeed VIRGINIA, though not born in the South, I've lived here much of my life. It never crossed my mind that anyone ever thought of Spanish Moss as "horrible!" While it's true than Spanish Moss is in the genus tillandsia, it is an entirely different species than those little "air plants," and there's really no resemblance unless one looks very closely. There is also nothing dangerous about Spanish Moss. Some people think it kills trees, but this is a myth, probably arising from the fact that as a tree dies and loses leaves, more light is able to fall on the interior of the tree, allowing more moss to grow. I think I speak with the majority who find Spanish Moss beautiful, and I always look forward to seeing those first wisps hanging from the trees when I drive home from the north.

Buy or DIY: 5 Ideas for Displaying Tillandsia
12/16/13 09:38 PM

Your Jungle-On-The-Wall is fabulous. Totally agree that you wouldn't want to mess with it. What a perfect example of how plants don't follow the rulebooks. Potbound? Incredibly so, without a doubt. But they've adapted. They're getting what they need, and they're cool with that.

Amy's Vintage Jewel Tone Apartment House Tour
12/13/13 03:32 PM

"Air plants" are a type of bormeliad (tillandsia, mostly) that do not grow in soil but hanging off of trees, hence the name air plants. It doesn't mean they live on air. They are living plants, and need light and water and a little fertilizer to thrive. Probably the best way to water them is to soak each one in a dish of water for 15 minutes or so, twice a week. After soaking turn them upside down to drain for an hour or so. Best to water early in the morning so they're drained by evening. Spraying them with water doesn't provide enough moisture, and besides it's awfully messy, especially if they're hanging on the wall. They need bright indirect light from a window, no more than 10' away from the window, and avoid direct sun. You can also put them directly under cool white fluorescent lights. For fertilizer, use a low-nitrogen fertilizer with no minor elements, mixed into the water at 1/4 recommended strength, every other month. Google for more information.

Of course, when they die, they still retain a greenish hue, and I suspect that most folks who get them because they "don't need a lot of care" have dead ones and don't even know it.

How To \"Frame\" Airplants Apartment Therapy Tutorials
10/29/13 03:10 PM

As usual, the article writer treats the plant(s) as if invisible. That beautiful Ficus lyrata is a HUGE part of the decor of the dining room, and its container, the way it harmonizes with the table, is obviously very special. Yet it's not even mentioned. Come on AP, Green People Want To Know!!!

Jonathan's \"What I Did Last Summer\" Rental on a Budget House Tour
10/13/13 04:31 PM

Very nice plants. They add alot to the Southwestern feel and the comfortable vibe.

Lauren & Stiles' Southern Bohemian Homestead House Tour
9/22/13 03:20 PM

Constantly love the light in our place, and how well my plan of having the interior colors echo the outside colors - greens, yellows, grays, tans, a touch of blue - is working out. Also appreciate every day all my plants, and the original (mid 50's) touches - jalousie windows and doors, bathroom and kitchen tiling, yellow stove that matches the kitchen tile.

Get Happier at Home: Take Time to Notice Small Pleasures
7/31/13 09:51 AM

Minimalism is most refreshing. I especially like the way you used plants. Speaking of which... the article writer, and most of the commentors, never even noticed the plants. Especially the article writer. To say something like "sparsely furnished space adorned with art, yet left open on the floor..." - are those green things invisible to you? The living-dining-studio space is defined as much by the plants as by light and architectural details.

The plants bring life and warmth to what might otherwise be pushing on sterility, they contribute serenity and calm to meditative functions, they evoke welcome, spiritual awareness, creativity - a host of subconscious reactions.

Plants are never meaningless nonentities. In any environment in which they are found they are as integral to the total effect as wall coloring, furnishings, art, and collections.

I for one think plants are indispensable in homes, and are hugely necessary to the healing of the fractured societies in which we live.

Apologies for the rant. Climbing off the soapbox now.

Catherine and Georgi's CASA VEDA House Tour
7/26/13 06:40 PM

I thought it was interesting that, while the article writer and many of the commentors picked up on the open, welcoming, warm, and comfortable feel of the space, no one made any mention of the plants. Plants contribute as much, if not more, to the feel of a home as any other element. The use of plants throughout the apartment was really nice. I was wondering, Manuel, if you as a designer use plants in your work?

Manuel & Colt's Southwest Modern Apartment House Tour
7/26/13 05:12 PM

What a beautiful, light-filled home. To me,though, it cries out for "More Plants Ple-e-ase." The plants you have are nice, but kind of lost in so much space. Super opportunity for some really creative horticulture.

Paola and Steve's Light-Filled Modern Home House Tour
6/13/13 10:03 AM

Everyone has lots of thoughts on these "trends," very interesting, but I would just like to weigh in on the fake plant thing. Fake plants have a place, and it's usually in a spot with NO light, or that's too hard to reach regularly, or for people who simply have no interest in seeing/feeling/tuning in to live plants. Fake plants today are very realistic looking, although if you touch them, you can tell instantly that they are fake. Also, they need to be dusted often, and cleaned 2 or 3 times a year. (Of course live plants need to be cleaned also.) But live plants just aren't for everyone.

However, for all the people who would like to have live plants, but who feel that they can't keep them alive, let me assure you, the color of your thumb has nothing to do with it! It's a matter of knowledge that you just haven't picked up yet. You can go to my blog or YouTube site,, for help. I've only recently started to blog, so there's lots more to come. Some plants (money tree, cactus, succulents) are much harder to grow than others, so if you've had sad experience, please don't be afraid to try again, something simpler this time.

In fact, I'm looking for some "plant killers" that I can work with to help you mend your ways, and blog about your journey to successful plantsmanship. If you send me a message through my blog, I promise to respond.

Also, I noticed a lot of people felt they had to have silk plants because they had cats. I have a blog post about cats-and-plants that might give you a different perspective. It's at my blog site for the date 5/14/13.

On the subject of allergy problems around live plants, few indoor foliage plants flower (peace lily is the only reliable one), so pollen is not a problem. Mold in the soil is not going to happen if plants are correctly watered and kept in a well-drained potting medium. Soil wet enough to support mold is going to kill plants. In fact, the advantages of live plants as air cleaners would seem to work in favor of people with allergies. So once again, that is no reason to have fake plants if you would like live ones instead.

To Canadian - for your office, the first question is how big a plant do you want? For a floor plant 4' - 6' tall, a corn plant, or janet craig. will work in that light; a shorter floor plant, around 3', could be a peace lily, Chinese evergreen, or sanseveria; a small desk plant could be a pothos or philodendron, or a smaller version of any of those mentioned above. The main secret to keeping plants in low light is to allow the soil to get almost dry all the way to the bottom of the pot. More about that on my YouTube videos.

And for the rooms with north windows, all the above-named plants would work beautifully.

Five Controversial Decor Items (And Why You May Want Them)
6/10/13 09:51 PM

Excellent call, jcf817 - tapla at the GardenWeb has good information. It is quite true that potted plants don't need a "drainage layer" in the bottom, even though it's been common practice, and included in almost all books on houseplants. If you want to know about taking care of potted plants, you might consult with the experts, the people who make their livings by taking care of plants - growers and interior landscapers! Try my blog and videos at As for potting (I don't have a potting video up yet, sorry), have you ever found stones in the bottom of a plant that you bought from a store? All you need is soilless mix (not water-retentive potting soil.) Anything you put in the bottom of the pot just reduces the amount of soil area available to the roots. You don't even need stuff over the drainage holes to prevent soil from washing out. I think the reason so many people say, "I do it and it works for me," is that they understand the basics of soil moisture, maybe without knowing it, and that's why they're successful with plants. The drainage layer has nothing to do with it.

Gardening Tip: Use Old Terracotta Pots For Plant Drainage
6/7/13 09:25 AM