There is no shortage of ways that plants enrich our lives, from reducing anxiety to (possibly) improving indoor air quality to brightening our work desks. But when they start to look a little overwhelmed from doing so much good, you might need to bring in the experts. The Sill, a modern plant store with online and brick-and-mortar locations, now offers video-based consultations to keep your herbaceous children in tip-top condition.

The plant store's virtual appointments came in handy for me a few weeks ago. My two adorable marimo moss balls—colonies of algae that are, in nature, shaped into spheres by wave action—normally appear fuzzy and bright green in their fishbowl of water. Over several months, though, I noticed that they had developed an unappetizing brownish coating. Was it another type of algae? Or some moss disease? A deadly moss disease?

I staved off panic and got in touch with the Sill, whose mission is to make caring for plants fun. On the plant store's website, I scheduled a $29 15-minute, one-on-one consultation with one of the shop’s plant care experts and then made a list of questions to ask when the time came. According to the store, the 15-minute consultation can cover care issues for three to five plants, and a 30-minute option ($39) can handle up to 10 plants. Afterwards, the store emailed me a Google Calendar invite to confirm and link to the Zoom video platform.

When my appointment time arrived, I spoke with Paris Lalicata, a customer experience coordinator. I described my concerns about the brownish crud and even held up the marimos in their bowl so she could take a close look. She quickly diagnosed the problem—excess algal growth soaking into the porous moss balls—and recommended some easy fixes. I was advised to squeeze the li’l guys several times under cold running water to wring out the crud, and then change the water in the bowl once weekly. I was amazed to learn I could manhandle the marimos this way, but Paris said they can withstand the pressure—she even uses them as stress balls when needed. After our meeting, the Sill emailed a summary of the plant care tips we discussed.

Now, several weeks later, my marimos are looking perkier and greener, and the frequent water changes have minimized algal scum collecting on the bowl. The virtual plant consultation gave me an opportunity to ask a lot of questions, and Paris delivered simple solutions with a reassuring attitude—key for any plant parent still developing their green thumb.

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